Predictions for 2018's Housing Market

The Michigan real estate market is no exception, 2018 is projected to be a strong year in real estate.  Here are some pros and cons of buying and selling your home in the Michigan real estate market in 2018.

 

Mortgage Rates are on the Rise

Although rates are projected to increase in 2018, they are only projected to slightly rise. This means now more than ever is a great time to buy as they will only continue to rise over the next year or so, and you can still get a great rate!

Rent Prices Increase

Millennials are reaching the point in their life where they are having to make the decision of continuing to rent or becoming a homeowner. As rent prices rise it is becoming increasingly affordable to take on a mortgage. Many renters are finding they are able to take on a mortgage for the same, or at times, a cheaper monthly payment!

Low Inventory on the Market

Low housing inventory will continue into the new year, which will make it a great time for sellers. This trend will result in homes to selling quicker at a higher price. It's more important than ever for buyers to have a real estate agent working for them. Having an agent will get you the quickest access to homes once they're on the market.

Housing Prices on the Rise

As the demand for houses remains higher than the supply, many home prices will rise. Housing will become less affordable which will hurt Millennials and those that are renting the most. It's always best to work with a trusted real estate agent to best determine the listing price for your home. An experienced real estate agent has the knowledge and experience in your market and will be able to guide you to reach top dollar for your home.

The market for 2018 is really at a stage that can work well for both sellers and buyers.  Since rent prices are on the rise and mortgage rates are slowly increasing as well, now is a great time for renters to become homeowners!  with motivated buyers on the market and low inventory now is a great opportunity for sellers to get multiple offers on their home. If you are looking to buy, the first step is to consult an experienced real estate agent and get pre-approved for a mortgage.  Sellers will want to consult with a real estate agent for expert advice on their home value and the current market!

 

Sept. 5, 2019

What to expect after a home inspection

Inspections are an important part of the home-selling process. The home inspector will locate any potential problems with the property, making sure that all involved know what’s wrong and what needs to be fixed. It is after this that open ended questions begin to arise. Questions such as:

  • What happens then, though?
  • Whose responsibility is it to fix the issues that the home inspector discovered?

Here are a few things that will help you get a better idea of what comes next!

 

Gauging Severity

One big determining factor in how problems found in a home inspection are dealt with is how severe the issues are. A major problem with a property can be a deal breaker for many buyers. Depending on where you live, such a problem may even have to be addressed before the property can be sold. State-level restrictions vary, but most are rooted in making sure that sellers can’t avoid fixing potentially dangerous problems or leave them for the buyer to discover on their own. Even if a problem isn’t critical, most states require that any problems found by a home inspection be disclosed to potential buyers. This disclosure is a big deal, as it can significantly affect how much the buyers are willing to pay.

 

Loan Program Requirements

Beyond repair and disclosure requirements that vary from state to state, different loan programs (such as those offered by the Federal Housing Authority or Department of Housing and Urban Development) may have additional requirements when it comes to problems discovered during a home inspection. Many programs have very specific guidelines regarding the condition of the property that a buyer can purchase using those loans. If a loan program won’t allow a purchase while unsatisfactory conditions exist, the issues must either be repaired or have satisfactory arrangements made to facilitate the repair before the purchase can continue. Keep in mind that not all loan programs will make allowances for future repairs, either; in those cases, the repairs will either have to be made in full or the buyer will have to find a different lender that does not follow the same strict requirements.

 

Negotiating Repairs

In the event that there aren’t specific regulations at the state level or restrictions in the buyer’s loan program concerning problems with the property, it falls to the buyer and the seller to determine what repairs will be made. This is typically part of the price negotiation, as buyers are willing to pay more for a property that they don’t have to make extensive repairs to. In many cases, sellers may offer to cover the most pressing repairs and address any serious issues while the buyer assumes responsibility for any other issues found in the buyer’s home inspection disclosure. In many cases this will be agreed to in writing, either at the request of one of the parties or as a condition of the mortgage loan that the buyer is using for the purchase. By formalizing the agreement in writing, it ensures that both parties understand their responsibility and protects the seller from potential legal action regarding issues that weren’t addressed (provided that the seller completed all of the repairs that they agreed to.)

 

Market Strength

The strength of the housing market can have a big effect on who does the bulk of repairs on a property. If similar properties are plentiful and interest rates are low, it creates what’s referred to as a “buyer’s market”; buyers have a lot of options and can easily walk away from the purchase if they don’t get what they want. In this situation, the buyer has a lot of leverage and can usually get the seller to agree to either a lower price or a higher percentage of the repairs. When the opposite occurs and there are few choices and higher interest rates, a “seller’s market” is created. Buyers can’t walk away as easily and be guaranteed a good deal elsewhere, so sellers can often hold their ground more and get buyers to agree to higher prices or a greater percentage of repairs.

 

Posted in Buying a Home
Aug. 20, 2019

Septic Tank Ownership

Septic tanks are common in rural areas, though depending on where you live, you might have a septic system, even close to town. So long as things are going smoothly, it’s often difficult to tell that there is even a septic system in place. If your septic tank starts having problems, though, it may not take long for it to become very obvious that something is wrong.

Whether you’re new to septic tank ownership or are wondering what sort of maintenance your existing tank requires, here’s a rundown of what you need to know about owning a septic tank.

 

How Septic Systems Work

Wastewater from your home flows into the septic tank, which is a large tank typically made of concrete, steel or other materials such as plastic or fiberglass. Once there, any waste solids in the water settle out and are broken down by bacteria. As particles settle out, the water itself is able to flow out of the septic tank where it is distributed through a series of gravel-filled trenches known as leach fields where the water is absorbed into the ground. Any remaining waste materials are then broken down by microorganisms in the soil. Some systems will also separate greywater (water that comes from waste-free sources such as laundry, bathroom sinks and showers) from the “black” water that contains waste. While this water is not directly recycled as drinking water, it can be filtered and used as part of an irrigation system for non-food plants and lawns. This not only makes more efficient use of your household water but also reduces stress on the septic system as a whole.

 

Basic Maintenance

Ideally, a septic system shouldn’t require too much maintenance to keep it functioning properly. With that said, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that your system doesn’t develop problems. Key points of septic system maintenance include:

  • Avoid flushing inorganic materials that cannot be broken down by bacteria
  • Conserve household water use to avoid flooding the tank and causing a backup
  • Don’t flush cooking fats, coffee grounds or other hard-to-break-down materials
  • Use septic-safe cleaning materials and avoid using an excess amount of any cleaners
  • Do not pour saltwater, antibiotic medications or other materials that could kill helpful bacteria into your wastewater. In addition, it’s recommended that you have your septic tank checked every 1 to 3 years and have solids pumped out of the tank every 3 to 5 years to maintain optimal function. 

 

Inspections

Whether you suspect a problem with your septic system or just want to stay on top of septic tank maintenance, periodic inspections will help you avoid major problems down the road. The most basic inspections are simple visual inspections, where water is run through the sinks and the toilets are flushed to check for backups or other obvious problems. These are often performed by home inspectors but provide only a very limited amount of information about the condition of the system itself.

 

If you have a septic company do the inspection, you’ll likely get a much more in-depth job. These inspections check for signs of septic tank problems such as visual damage to the tank or depressions around the tank area that could indicate sagging in the tank walls. They will also check for odd odors, signs of leaks, the condition of liquids and sludge within the tank and even backflow once a portion of the tank is pumped. You should receive a report on the condition of the tank after one of these inspections, and most likely will have the results explained to you as well.

 

Life Expectancy

Provided that it is well maintained, a septic system can theoretically last for decades. More realistically, though, you can expect a septic tank (and the system it’s a part of) to last for between 15 to 25 years. The actual lifespan of any given septic tank depends on the material it’s made of, how well it was installed, the types of waste that are dumped into it and how often it is pumped or maintained. The more care you put into maintaining your septic system, the longer it’s likely to last.

 

Of course, once a septic tank starts reaching the end of its life it is important that you deal with it before hazardous conditions can form. If a tank is leaking or sagging, it needs to be collapsed or crushed and filled in around. In some cases, a new tank can actually be installed beside or on top of the old one after it has been properly taken care of.

 

Posted in Home Maintenance
July 29, 2019

Pros and Cons of Filling in your Pool

An in-ground pool can be a great way to relax around the house, enjoying the water on a hot summer day. However there are a few potential issues with in-ground pools that  can get to you after a while. Not only do you have to spend time and money getting the pool back in swimming shape each spring, but the various other maintenance costs can really add up over time. As well as the legal issues, child safety concerns and home insurance rates that go along with pool ownership.

 

In time, you might decide that it’s just not worth keeping the pool around. The good news is that there are specialists who are experienced in pool removal that can get the job done for you. Before you rush into getting your pool filled in, there are a few things that you should consider.

 

Insurance Premiums: One big benefit of filling in your pool is that your home insurance premiums can go down. Swimming pools are considered to be a potential hazard by insurance companies, so removing the pool makes your home safer as far as your insurance provider is concerned. The amount that you’ll save depends on your insurer and how much they charged for pool risk, but in some cases, it could result in a substantial savings.

 

Removal Costs: Of course, a big con of having a pool removed is that you’ll have to pay someone to remove it. The cost of pool removal depends both on the contractor you hire to fill in the pool and the pool’s size, as well as any additional structures surrounding the pool that may be removed in the process. Depending on where you live, there may be additional costs for permits and inspections as well, as will be determined by city zoning ordinances.

 

Pool Safety Issues: If you’ve been concerned about accidents around your pool, another benefit of removing the pool is that pool-related accidents are no longer possible. With the pool filled in, pool-related falls, drowning risk and other possible safety issues are completely removed. Just make sure that small children and pets are kept away from the area until the removal is finished and it’s deemed safe by the removal contractor.

 

Land Use Restrictions: One potential con to pool removal is that some cities restrict what can be done with areas that once housed a pool. In some cases it may depend on exactly how the pool was removed, and whether it was what’s known as a partial removal (in which only part of the pool is actually removed and the rest is collapsed and filled in) or a full removal (in which everything is removed and the entire hole is filled.) If there are restrictions in your area, you may be limited to just basic landscaping and won’t be allowed to build on the area or do anything that would require digging deep in the soil.

 

Maintenance Cost Elimination: On the plus side, removing a pool removes all of the maintenance costs associated with pool ownership. This isn’t just the obvious things like maintaining pipes, fixing leaks and buying new chemicals each year, either. Just think about how much you’ll save on your water bill now that you don’t have to replace all of the water that’s lost to evaporation each week!

 

Property Value Effects: There are effects to your property value that are difficult to classify as a pro or a con because they depend so much on where you live and whether the pool was present when you bought your home. Getting rid of a pool changes your property value, but whether it’s an increase or a decrease depends on how much you paid and whether you were the one who installed the pool. It also depends on the type of removal that you choose; partial removals have to be disclosed to new buyers and may pull your resale value down. Full removals usually don’t have to be disclosed, but they can still affect your home’s value.

 

Posted in Home Maintenance
July 16, 2019

Gardening Doesn’t Have to Be Hard to Be Rewarding

 

If the idea of getting up early on Saturday morning to commune with your landscape is an idea that you cherish, but don’t dare pursue because of the high level of maintenance required, you may be surprised to find out that a perfect garden doesn’t always require backbreaking labor or gallons of water to keep it alive. In fact, there are lots of ways to make gardening easier. Here are a few things that might help make your gardening experience easier and more productive:

 

Sprinklers- The old standby for greener lawns everywhere, sprinklers can be used in other situations, too. For example, if it’s a nice sunny day and the risk of water standing on leaves is small, use one to water your vegetable gardens. You can also help young trees and shrubs get a good start by sprinkling them gently every warm, dry day.

 

Drip irrigation- Sprinklers are great for big areas, but when you just want to water a few specific plants, drip irrigation can be a great answer. You can use these systems with basic timers or upgrade to a much more sophisticated system that will let you slowly drip water at the base of plants that don’t like water on their leaves or otherwise need individual care.

 

Native plants- There’s no such thing as a plant that needs zero attention, but native plants come pretty close. Native grasses are a great start; those in the desert can do some pretty incredible things with barrel cactus and dramatic succulents. Visit your local nursery or ask your landscaper what plants are native to your area.

 

Containers- From pots on the patio railing to gutters loaded down with strawberries, containers make gardening so much easier. You can start with the perfect soil mix, ensuring that drainage isn’t a problem, then add a little fertilizer and your favorite plants. Now you just have to water and watch those babies grow.

 

Vertical gardens- Plants in and on the ground tend to end up in a mess — especially if those plants are vines! Vertical gardening isn’t limited to these twining climbers, you can also hang levels of containers, allowing you lots of extra space for growing things. Like with any containers, you are totally in control of the environment, but vertical gardening minimizes bending and kneeling.

Posted in Home Maintenance
June 17, 2019

Cleaning Common Household Appliances

 

For some people, cleaning is as natural as walking and breathing. But for the rest of us, it takes effort and probably some knowledge that we’re currently lacking. After all, it’s not such a big deal to clean a microwave, but for some reason it feels like it just seems to take forever. Here are a few tips and tricks for cleaning your household appliances! 

 

Microwave

STEP 1: Begin cleaning your microwave by placing a coffee mug or small bowl full of water and slices of lemon in the center and run the microwave on high for about three minutes, or until the liquid is turning to steam. This will help soften food splatter and the lemon smells nice. You can also use other citrus fruits or forego it entirely and use a drop of dish soap.

STEP 2: Take out the turntable and anything else that will come loose. You can toss these parts in the dishwasher or scrub them in the sink. 

STEP 3: Wipe down the walls of the microwave with a sponge, cloth or several paper towels, plus your favorite dish soap and water or all purpose cleaner. There’s not really a wrong way to clean a microwave. If you are already cleaning the inside, you might as well take some time to wipe down the outside as well! 

 

Garbage Disposal

STEP 1: Begin by turning on the garbage disposal while running some cold water to make sure there’s not any food left in the device.

STEP 2: If your garbage disposal has a removable baffle (the black part that’s just inside the drain) you can remove this to make the cleaning process easier. However is yours does not have a removable baffle skip this step!  

STEP 3: From this point cleaning a garbage disposal is really easy. Just clean your removable baffle and toss some citrus fruit inside. If it’s really smelly, drop some liquid dish soap inside and run the water until the bubbles stop.

 

Dishwasher

STEP 1: Get started by running an empty load with a measuring cup full of vinegar or bleach to start the process. These chemicals help eliminate chronic smells, you’ll be really happy you did. DO NOT USE DISH SOAP.

STEP 2: Remove the racks and anything else that comes loose, like cutlery baskets. Rinse them down in the bath tub or shower and give them a going over with soapy water and a sponge. Then go ahead and slide those bad boys back into the machine after you get them cleaned. 

STEP 3: First clean any screens that might be protecting food grinders or other moving parts. You can just wipe that out. Next you will need to clean the inside of the dishwasher. Your life will be immeasurably easier if you buy some dishwasher cleaner and use as directed to clean this inside area.

 

Refrigerator

STEP 1: Put food into a prepared cooler and turn the ice maker off.

STEP 2: Pull out the shelves and drawers at once and place them in or near the sink. 

STEP 3: Start with the empty fridge cavity and wipe everything down, from the top to the bottom. Warm, soapy water is fine for most residue, tough grime can be knocked out with all-surface cleaner. Next, do the door interiors. Now wash the shelves and drawers and leave them to dry. Once all of that is complete, put the fridge back together and repeat with the freezer. Change your water filter and turn the ice maker back on when you’re done. Wipe the fridge outside down last.

Posted in Home Maintenance
April 24, 2019

A few things you should know before installing a pool

With the sunny days of summer just around the corner, it’s hard to not let your thoughts turn to the cool, refreshing blue waters of a backyard pool. Maybe you’ve been considering putting a pool in for years or maybe it was just how hot it was last summer that has prompted your interest in being a pool owner. Either way there are likely aspects you’ve not considered.

A pool is hard to undo, which is why we’re going to address the top five need-to-know things about pool installation and ownership right now.

 

Pool Installation is Awful

Pools are really cool and fun to have! But only when you go into the whole process and future ownership with open eyes. A pool build is not for the faint of heart, for starters. Depending on the circumstances the process may literally destroy your entire back yard while the mess is being made. Grass will grow again, but in the meantime, it can seriously be the worst. While in the process of being set up there is such a mess that is created. If you can handle the stress, great. If not, your local gym or YMCA might have a pool you can use. They’ll take care of everything and it’ll spare your grass. For home buyers thinking they can save money by building their own pool rather than buying a house with one, this may be true. But this is a big project requiring a lot of dirt work, you may be happier to buy a house with a pool already installed.

 

The Less Obvious Points to Consider:

Digging a giant hole in your yard is clearly going to be a serious pain, but there are a few other points that aren’t as obvious. That’s what this is really about, after all. We want to be sure you’ve considered all the angles before taking the plunge.

 

“How much will this increase my home’s value?”

This is a question that real estate agents and appraisers get asked over and over. However, this is such a loaded question that it is really impossible to answer. How much a pool will effect the overall value of your home depends on the details. Here are just a few of the determining questions:

  • What kind of pool?
  • Is it in ground or above ground?
  • What kind of neighborhood are you living in?
  • Do a lot of homes in your market have pools?
  • How long will you live in your home?
  • What kind of equipment are you installing?

A pool is one of those items that you should consider to be a luxury purchase and not give a lot of care to whether or not it’ll pay for itself. A pool can simultaneously attract and terrify buyers, especially in the middle to low upper buying ranges. For a family with no small children, a pool might seem like a needed asset, but for a family with small children, it might be the single thing about your house that’s so wrong it can’t be made right.

 

Ask Permission, Not Forgiveness from the HOA

A lot of people go through life asking forgiveness for something they did that they knew was questionable to begin with. We’re not saying that’s you, just that this is a common practice among humans. The problem with this approach to pool building in a neighborhood with an HOA (which is most neighborhoods these days) is that if the HOA doesn’t like what you’re doing, you’ve spent a lot of money for a big muddy hole in the backyard. Find out if your HOA allows pools, even if your next door neighbor has one. The HOA rules can be changed by the membership. Learn the rules now before your end up learning a costly lesson. 

 

Budget Pool Buying is Worse Than No Pool

A lot goes into the decision to install a pool, including the cost of that cement pond. While you should be budget-aware, if budget is your driving factor you will not be happy with your pool. If you’re not happy with a purchase that can start around $20k and go up from there indefinitely, you might as well have not put it in. Pools are needy and have ongoing care and maintenance. They require you to constantly interact with them to keep them working properly. If budget is your first concern, the yearly costs may not figure in, either. Plus, there’s the bump in your insurance rates to consider. Having a pool is like having a sports car. Some people buy them and love them and can’t get enough. Some people want them, but realistically understand they can’t keep them in tip-top shape, so postpone the purchase. Some people buy the cheapest Porsche 911 they can find and then get frustrated that it’s constantly in the shop. Your pool priorities should begin with the purpose for the pool, the site location and appropriate equipment. Then you can start price comparing. There’s no reason to miss out on a deal, but buying the cheapest pool because it’s the only one you can fit in the budget is only going to end in disappointment.

 

April 15, 2019

Planning a family picture wall in your home

    

One of the best parts of owning your own home is that you can do pretty much whatever you want when it comes to hanging things on the wall. You can let your creative side have a heyday with a hammer and a bunch of nails. For a lot of families, putting together a family picture wall is a high priority in their new homes. It can be a fun project that can be the very first of many happy memories in the new place.

 

Planning your family picture wall:

If you hop on Pinterest and search for “family picture wall,” you’re going to find an overwhelming number of ways to put one of these together. There’s no one way to do a family picture wall, since every family is different. There are lots of things to consider while you’re planning your wall, though. Begin by doing some real prep work to ensure that your wall turns out as special as what you have envisioned. Here are a few tips that can help:

 

Pick a theme - You need something concrete to get you started in the planning stage. Choosing a theme can be a good place to start, this will give you the best idea of what images to choose. A theme could be anything from “vacation photos” to “photos with the color blue in them.” The best photo walls have some kind of unifying theme, choose one before you get started.

 

Use technology to simulate your photo wall - There are several apps that give you the capability to not just imagine what an image or set of images will look like on your wall, it actually can virtually add those photos to the wall using augmented reality. 

 

Choosy kids choose cool frames - The frames you choose are just as important as the images. If you’re looking for something pretty unusual, you can search flea markets and antique shops for old frames with unique designs. If you can’t find anything that you are liking, you can get creative and use trim from your local home improvement stores to build your own frames.

 

Sometimes, fewer is better - Family picture walls can get pretty overwhelming fast. Instead of hanging every photo you’ve ever taken of your kids, pick the two best from now and the two best from their early childhood. Capture those moments that really meant something and remember that sometimes less is way more. 

 

Posted in Home Maintenance
April 3, 2019

What to do before listing your home this spring!

As spring comes and the snow begins to melt another cycle of real estate begins. If you’re considering listing your home this year, it’s definitely not too late to get started. March and April can be great months for putting your house in front of prospective buyers, but the summer months are also great times to sell. Regardless of your timing, there are a few things you need to do right now to start getting ready to list. It’s not as simple as sticking a sign in the yard and waiting for the calls to roll in. Making sure that both you and your home are show ready will help turn the odds in your favor when its time to put it on the market.

 

Here is a quick checklist of what you are going to want to do before selling your home:

  • Hire a Realtor - Selling a home is a complicated process that really demands an expert, this is why 91 percent of home sellers used a realtor in 2017. When your try selling your home without a realtor you can be facing some serious financial risks since you don't have the education in real estate law. Since realtors are very experienced when it comes to selling houses they often will be able to point out items that are big turn-offs to buyers. This will give you a head start fixing up some cosmetic stuff before your house is ready to show.
  • Start decluttering - If you have to sell your home in order to buy the next, you’re going to be living in a showroom for the next few months. Take anything you don’t really need immediately and put it in a storage unit. Get it away from your house because pushing clutter around doesn’t really help anything. Declutter as much as you can bear to — it’ll make your house look bigger and more appealing to prospective buyers
  • Build your homes curb appeal - How your home looks from the street is one of the first things potential buyers will see. The better the curb appeal, the more likely potential buyers will come inside and look around. The interesting thing about curb appeal is how certain elements of your house affect the whole picture. 
  • Spruce up the landscaping - As you are building your curb appeal make sure that your landscaping is up to par as well. Prune any unruly plants, replace perennials that may have patchy growth, refresh your mulch, give the lawn a mow. Now that your landscape is radiating amazing curb appeal, keep it that way until your home closes. If you need to hire a landscaper, consider it an investment.
  • Get copies of your utility bills - People will ask what kind of utility costs are associated with your home. Does it just burn through the natural gas? Does the electricity use seem excessive? This is another place where you can get ahead of potential buyers by putting this information together and giving it to your Realtor on the day you sign your listing agreement.
  • Deep clean like you’ve never cleaned before - Painting is a quick fix to renewing your home’s interior, however deep cleaning is a less expensive alternative and can result in a better overall effect. For example, if you clean your windows, inside and out until they’re super clean, you’ll immediately notice how much more natural light penetrates the room.

 

Posted in Selling Your Home
March 7, 2019

Greeting your plants again after the long winter

Early spring is an amazing time for many gardeners, as well as those that want to be one. During this time plants are beginning to wake from their long winter's sleep. Although a lot of people sit back and wait for their plants to do whatever it is that they do in early spring, others, like you, are eager to help them be all they can be this year.

 

Many homeowners just let their plants come and go as they please. Due to this minimal care for plants, many varieties will start to die off from neglect. Obviously, you’re looking to do a bit more to help your plants get off to a good start. If you are consistently maintaining your landscape it will be healthier, live longer and produce more ornamental flowers than those of the neighbors who don't tend to their plants as often. 

 

Reduce the risk of early season fungus:

There are a variety of herbaceous that can survive the winter in many climates if they’re tucked in under a layer of organic mulch that’s two to four inches deep. While mulch protects them from drying out or freezing when it’s cold, once these types of plants start to grow in the spring, that life-saving mulch can become a real enemy. It’s vital that you pull back the mulch from your plants every few days to check for green growth above ground. Once you see it, hollow a moat out between the plant and the mulch. Make sure no mulch is touching the new growth and that the moat you’ve scooped is about two inches wide to allow for further safe development. Several opportunistic fungi will take advantage of young, green growth that’s constantly touching something moist, like that mulch. There’s a fine line here, tread carefully.

 

Test and amend your soil:

If you have a garden plot and failed to fertilize it in the fall, now is the time to get to it. As soon as you can work the soil, this is a great opportunity to take several samples and use a home test kit to determine the condition of the soil. This will give you some kind of idea about the condition that your soil is in, as well as an idea of what you can do to fix any problems. For example, you may find that your soil is low in nitrogen, a vital nutrient for plants that grow a lot of leaves very quickly, like your lawn. In this case, you’ll follow the instructions for feeding the type of plant you intend to place in the tested area, using a precise amount of fertilizer, so as not to encourage long, spindly growth in those eager plants. Most established perennials are fine with fertilizer that’s mixed into the top two to five inches of soil, but always check before you get too wild with it. A few species may have unusual reactions, including but not limited to developing an overall burned or wilted look due to root destruction. Never apply more fertilizer than necessary due to the risk of runoff and pollution of waterways.

 

Turn on those sprinklers! 

Once the nighttime temperatures are consistently above freezing, you’re ready to turn the water back on. Your plants will appreciate the long, deep drink and you’ll be happy to not have to water each one by hand. Remember, when turning irrigation systems back on after being drained, do so slowly. Opening the value too quickly can result in a high-pressure water surge that can rupture sprinkler heads or burst fittings. Be prepared to turn the system back off if a surprise freeze creeps on, but waiting as long as possible to get the irrigation started again is also a fairly safe bet.

Posted in Home Maintenance
March 1, 2019

Draining your hot water heater

Hot water is one of the very best things that civilization has brought to us. This is why we should all care for and protect the equipment that makes it possible! Whether it is done as a bit of regular maintenance or because you are about to leave a home unoccupied, draining your hot water heater is one of the simplest ways to keep it in great shape.

 

Why you should drain your hot water heater:

Many water supplies contain random minerals in all different quantities that can result in your water being considered "hard" if they build up enough. Over time, these minerals settle down in the bottom of your hot water heater. This layer of minerals will become thicker and eventually interfere with the function of the appliance. Before you reach that point, you can flush out your water heater. How often you flush depends on many factors including the size of the hot water heater and how often it is used.  A good rule of thumb is to flush your water heater every six to 12 months, whether you think it needs it or not. It’s better to wash those particles out before they become a problem. There are also other reasons that you would need to drain your hot water heater other then just for the flushing of particles. You can also drain them to prepare a home that is going to be sitting vacant for a significant period of time. Draining is also a very important step to winterizing vacant homes. 

 

How to drain a hot water heater: 

Draining a hot water heater is a really simple process. The hardest part is working with water hot enough to scald you. So before you get started you can grab some thick dish washing gloves or some other form of hand protection. With your skin adequately protected, draining or flushing your hot water heater is a piece of cake. Just follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the water heater. If it’s electric, flip the breaker; for gas units, turn the gas off or set the unit to “pilot.”
  2. Wait patiently for the water to cool a bit. The longer you give it, the safer you’ll be. (You can skip this step, but do so with caution)
  3. Turn the cold water off. You can’t drain a water heater that’s constantly filling up!
  4. Open some faucets. Pick a faucet or two close to the water heater and turn the hot side on and leave it on until you’re totally done with the draining portion of the show. This helps speed up the draining and prevents vacuums from forming in the pipes.
  5. Attach a water hose. It’ll screw onto the brass drain valve near the bottom of the unit.
  6. Pick a spot to dump the water. There’s a lot of water about to come out of that hose, so choose your disposal option carefully. Outdoors is a good place to run the hose (just not too close to the house), but if you can’t reach that far, a sump pit, floor drain or big bucket will do.
  7. Open the valve! If you’re flushing the hot water heater, then let it run a few gallons at a time into a bucket so you can tell when the sediment has finished coming out of the unit.

If you’re draining your hot water heater because you’re leaving the house empty for a while, you’re essentially done with the water heater now. If you’re flushing sediment, keep going until you see the water run clear, then do all those steps in reverse for a hot water heater with shiny clean insides and hot water.

 

Posted in Home Maintenance