Spring Tips for Homeowners

Spring Tips for Homeowners

This spring, homeowners everywhere will be mowing grass, trimming plants and planting flowers in preparation for warmer weather. Homeowners must also remember the need for spring home maintenance to keep their home in good condition and prevent costly repairs.

The preventative measures of quarterly home maintenance are the key to maintaining a home’s condition and value. The following tips will help to accomplish this.

  • Leaves and dirt from rain runoff can stain exterior surfaces. Clean leaves from roofs, gutters and decks. Clogged gutters can be a challenge to clear. Some potentially useful items in clearing clogs are barbeque tongs or a metal rod. Repair any loose or damaged shingles or loose gutters.
  • Clean and seal decks. Winter can be especially rough on decks. Apply deck cleaner and scrub the deck, then let it dry completely for at least 24 hours. Next, apply deck sealer. This provides water resistance, protects it and helps keep it clean and attractive.
  • Wash the house exterior using an ordinary garden hose and a mild detergent. Pressure washing is best left to professionals. If used improperly they can cause mildew and rot under the siding. If vinyl siding has stained areas that won’t come clean spray a little Clorox and water mixture on the stain. Start with a weak mixture of one part Clorox to four parts water. Refer to your siding manufacturer before using Clorox.
  • If windows and doors have damaged or missing caulk, remove the old caulk and reapply with new. Caulking prevents outside air from entering the home reducing energy bills. It can also prevent damaging water intrusion.
  • Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean chimneys. If repairs are in order this allows for ample time before the next winter season.
  • Clean the entire clothes dryer vent system from the dryer to the exterior vent cap or louver. Lint is easily combustible and is the cause of many home fires. In the case of a gas clothes dryer, improper venting can force deadly carbon monoxide into the home.
  • Check for the proper operation of attic fans and roof-mounted turbine vents. These provide large reductions in cooling costs and increase comfort inside the home during the hot summer.
  • Change air conditioner filters, and do so each month during the cooling season. Remove any furniture or other items blocking vents and air returns. Clear weeds and plant growth from outside air conditioning units. Blockage will impede function and can cause failure of the unit.
  • Check for adequate attic ventilation and insulation. A factor of at least R-30 is recommended for attic insulation. Adequate ventilation not only helps keep your home cooler, but can prevent damage to roofs.

Check exterior faucets and plumbing. Winter can damage exterior plumbing, Check for leakage or burst pipes in bibs, faucets, and other outdoor plumbing.

Birmingham Concrete Services

Stamped Concrete is the perfect complement to many styles of homes and landscapes. Available in a wide variety of colors and patterns, stamped concrete will enhance and beautify your landscape with this finish.

Stamped concrete is a beautiful, lower-cost alternative to paving stones with the added advantage of not having all of the joints for weeds to grow through.

For a custom look mix it with other finishes. Stamped, colored concrete hardscapes are in high demand and will add to your outdoor enjoyment and to your home’s value.

Exposed Aggregate Concrete provides a beautiful, natural look to your home and landscape. It is often used as the main surface or used with other concrete finishes as accents.

Exposed aggregate concrete mixture contains smoother and finer stones than conventional concrete, and they are very comfortable underfoot.

This exposed finish is achieved by applying a retardant to the fresh concrete. Later this is washed off the top layer of sandy concrete mix, exposing the stones. The stones are exposed just enough to reveal their shape and color.

Standard Finish Concrete is a cost-effective alternative for your concrete needs and is the perfect finish for many applications such as large driveways, basketball courts and garage floors.

Standard concrete can be smooth or brush-finished depending on the application or location.

Southern Home Services can show you ways to combine this finish with others or with paving stone edgings and trim to add a unique and very attractive look to your property while saving you money.

Concrete is much more durable than asphalt and eliminates the yearly hassle and expense of sealcoating.

Concrete is the most durable, lowest maintenance, and attractive outdoor surface available. However, is not indestructible, and does require minimum maintenance. Southern Home Services’ concrete maintenance program will help your new concrete installation to stay beautiful and retain its vibrant color for years to come.

When we install your decorative concrete, we apply 2 coats of high quality, UV inhibiting concrete sealer. This means no maintenance is required for the first 2-4 years. After this your decorative concrete should be resealed every 2-4 years. The variance of time between reseals depends on the amount of sunlight exposure and traffic on the decorative concrete.  Over time these factors will fade the colors if not resealed.

Our Concrete Maintenance Program:

If you notice your decorative concrete beginning to fade it is time to be resealed. Give us a call, and we’ll quote you a price based on the square footage of your concrete requiring resealing. Southern Home Services will pressure wash and reseal your decorative concrete with a high quality, UV inhibiting decorative concrete sealer.

Southern Home Services professional concrete contractors provide the following services:

  • Concrete Patios
  • Concrete Driveways
  • Concrete Sidewalks & Walkways
  • Concrete Garage Floors
  • Outdoor Kitchen & BBQ Slabs and Surrounds

We look forward to serving all your concrete needs.

Bathroom Remodel Tips

Master bath have certainly taken a turn toward luxury with personal indulgence being the star feature of almost any bathroom remodel. Gone are the days of a bathroom being-well-just a bathroom. Luxury can be full-fledged high end or just a little here and there to make your bathroom more than just functional.

First, you need to determine your personal style. Search magazines, online sites, home supply stores, and design and style books in the library. Check out kitchen, bath and plumbing showrooms and expos. If you are still unsure consider hiring a designer to help with the ideas and pulling it all together. At Southern Home Services, we offer an on staff designer to assist you in your choices and design.

Next, consider the type materials you want in your new bathroom retreat. Do you want budget friendly fiberglass or luxurious marble countertops and fixtures? Ceramic, stained concrete, stone, cork or wood flooring? Do you prefer ceramic, stone or glass tile walls?

The choices today are more numerous than ever before. Wood and stone from around the world is available from the common to the rare and hard to find. Have you decided to use stone? Artificial stone, even lightweight fiberglass stone is available as well as natural stone. Bath fixtures from Europe are showing up in American homes. Eco-friendly choices are more numerous each year.

You can save water, save gas and electricity and with a good plumber or designer you can even save money. Choose from among products to relax you or even fuel your imagination while you relax with led light shows, or watch television within the backsplash or rising from that luxurious spa tub. Natural looking waterfalls that double up as a shower are possible.

Your imagination and perhaps your budget is the only thing limiting your design choices in your bathroom remodel.

Furthermore, consider adding wider doorways and showers with no raised lip in the doorway and the use of stainless grab bars. Increasingly popular it is simply downright good sense as it provides not only good looks and universal appeal but will accommodate people of all ages and ability and disability. If you decide to sell, it is a part of the bathroom remodel that will help to sell your home.

Other luxury items that are increasingly in demand are towel warmers, luxurious chandeliers over high end soaking tubs, a pass through fireplace for warmth, heat strips under cold ceramic or stone floors, and toilets that provide for just about anything you would want a toilet to provide for.

Don’t forget to add textiles for their noise absorption properties, luxurious rugs, and even thick towels will absorb noise. Bathrooms are prone to mold and mildew due to their inherent nature to hold moisture. For this reason a good exhaust fan is an absolute must. Available with heat or lights what you absolutely must have is one large enough for the areas square footage. Choose a silent fan model as well to avoid a noisy fan intruding upon the relaxing spa-like atmosphere.

When you remodel the bathroom, remove the washer and dryer if it is currently a part of your bathroom. Laundry appliances are a detriment to any bathroom design that you are trying to create. After all, you want your bathroom to become a relaxing, luxurious spa-like retreat.

For more than 18 years our expert professionals have been providing exemplary contractor services for the bathroom remodel, new constructions and repairs to Birmingham and surrounding areas. Give us a call today and let us get started providing you with your dream. At Southern Home Services we make dreams come true, (205) 202-8797.

How to Protect Weather Stripping Doors and Windows

Sealing air leaks and drafts is a crucial part of preparing your home for winter. An easy way to cut energy costs and make your home cozier is to weather strip doors and windows. Over time weather stripping can become worn, loose or even lost completely. Doors alone can account for a loss of at least 11% of energy cost. Add poor fitting door or bad weather stripping and the percentage rises. For this reason, make inspection of weather stripping a part of your fall home inspection list.

One of the first things you will want to do is to check your door. Lift the door by the doorknob. If the door moves up tighten the top hinges. Now recheck for drafts.

The next inspection is by running your hand around doors and windows. A wet hand usually makes it easier to feel drafts. If you can feel a draft then the weather stripping probably needs replacing. In addition, visible light around closed doors may be a sign that the weather stripping needs to be replaced.

How you weather strip your windows will depend upon what type they are. The most common are double-hung and casement windows. Use the following instructions to weather strip these type windows.

Double-Hung Window

  1. First, using soap and water clean the bottom of the sash, the back of the sash and the jamb allowing them to dry completely.
  2. Next, cut the foam weather stripping to the length you need.
  3. Peel the paper from the back of the foam stripping. Press the adhesive side to the bottom of the sash firmly along the full length of the foam.
  4. Cut two pieces of V-channel stripping 1″ longer than the sash height. Peel the back from the adhesive side and work it in between the sash stiles and the jamb. With a hammer, drive finish nails through the V-channel stripping into the jamb to hold it securely. Check the sash to ensure it doesn’t hang on the nails.
  5. Cut a piece of V-channel to the width of the sash.
  6. Raise the sash three inches. Peel the back from the adhesive side of the V-channel and press into the back of the sash firmly and even with the top. It should be facing up so the weather stripping is compressed when the window is closed.

Casement Windows

Casement windows only require self-adhesive foam stripping.

  1. Open the window and clean the outside of the stops with soapy water. Allow to dry completely.
  2. Cut the self-adhesive weather stripping to fit the top, bottom and sides of the stops.
  3. Remove the paper strip from the back and press the stripping adhesive side firmly to the outside of the stripping.

Doors

For the best results, try to match new weather stripping with the old. In newer doors removal of the old may be as simple as sliding the old out of its frame and replacing it with new. Older doors may be a bit of a challenge. If you are unable to match the old weather stripping measure its width and height. At a home supply store try to match it up with foam or vinyl replacement weather stripping. Kits are also available in many sizes. Once you have the correct width and height gasket simply cut it to the length you need, remove the paper from the adhesive side and press firmly to a clean, dry surface. Vinyl stripping that must be screwed down will be longer lasting but can be less conforming to space depending upon the material and fit.

If you would like further information on improving your energy costs and improving your homes barrier against winter’s chill give Southern Home Service in the Birmingham area a call. Our professionals will be happy to assist you in sealing your home and suggesting other ways to save energy costs. Give us a call at (205) 202-8797 today.

A Checklist for Winterizing Your Home

Before you know it winter will arrive with freezing temperatures and blustery winds. Get a head start preparing your home for winter now before cold weather arrives using the following checklist:

1.  Have a HVAC professional inspect your homes ducts and heating system. The technician will inspect and tune up your furnace providing energy saving peak performance. In addition, regular maintenance cuts down on the number of repairs needed while extending your systems useful life. If your ducts haven’t been cleaned in 10 years or more they need cleaning. People who suffer from asthma, allergies and other respiratory illnesses will especially benefit from clean ducts. It will cut down on the frequency that you must dust your home as well. Increased dust is a good hint that your ducts need a professional cleaning. Call now to avoid the rush that typically occurs due to those who wait until the last minute.

2.  Clean or replace filters every month. The type of filter you use will affect how often you must change your filters. Cheap fiberglass filters must be changed every month for example whereas some HEPA filters are cleaned monthly but changed once per year. Regardless of your filter type, all filters should be checked once per month to maintain peak performance.

3. Clean your chimney and check to ensure your fireplace is in working order. Wood burning fireplaces tend to develop a creosote buildup within the chimney which can result in dangerous chimney fires. Have a professional check and if needed clean your fireplace and chimney once per year. In addition, you should replace cracked or broken grates as they can break further spilling burning logs into your home. Prefab fireplaces generally use triple wall pipe. Eventually this must be replaced to prevent a fire in our attic or the wall behind your fireplace. How often varies with frequency of fireplace usage. Ask if your chimney inspection includes checking your pipe for wear.

4.  Check for and seal air leaks in basement, attic, crawlspace, windows, doors and any place that pipes or ducts intrude through walls. Use expanding foam or caulk to seal most air leaks. Be aware furnace flues are hot and require metal collars and fireproof caulk to seal.

5.  Check your attic for adequate insulation for your region. R-30 to R-49 is usually adequate depending upon your zone. The attic is usually the easiest place to upgrade insulation.

6.  Repair leaky faucets then wrap and insulate water lines and exterior faucets.  Use a heat tape on your homes main water line supply where exposed to prevent its freezing, or insulate adequately. Don’t forget to drain your hose pipes and put them up for the winter.

7.  Install rubber or foam insulating gaskets behind outlets and switch plates on exterior walls to seal air leaks.

8.  Change the batteries in smoke alarms, radon and carbon monoxide detectors.

9.  Check gutters spring and fall to ensure leaf and debris will not stop them up, backing water up and under your roof causing leaks to enter your homes structure. Remember, water rots wood and repairs are costly.

With your home properly maintained you and your family can remain warm and safe assured that your home has been properly prepared for the cold days and long nights of winter.

Bathroom Remodel Tips

Tips For a Luxurious Master Bathroom Remodel

Master bathroom remodels,  are reflecting a trend towards customized luxury and personal indulgence. Previously the area of spas only, homeowners are buying into their own personal retreat. After all, what is more relaxing after a hard days work than a hot relaxing bath in a soothing atmosphere?

As you plan your luxurious bathroom remodel consider your desired style. If your unsure of it visit bathroom and plumbing showrooms, designer show houses, annual bath expos for great examples to go towards a bathroom remodel. Look through magazines and brand name websites. Check out designer books from your library.

Next, decide upon the materials. Do you want to save money by using fiberglass sinks, tubs or showers? Or do want to splurge for the best with granite or marble countertops, automated toilets and marble tubs? Genuine stone like quartz or glass tiles. The choices of materials are so many that you are limited only by budget and your imagination.

People looking  for a bathroom remodel often have a lot of great ideas. Consider though, hiring a designer for the ideas and knowledge they can bring to the table.  For example, they can make suggestions to maximize space and resale value. The trend today is more towards luxurious showers  than huge tubs.  Wider doorways and wider shower doors with no lip at the bottom. Grab bars blend seamlessly now and hand held shower heads are all the rage. A designer can introduce you to whats available, what’s hot and what brings the best resale value.

With the trend towards luxury consider a pass through fireplace for warmth and beauty. Warming drawers for towels and luxurious lighting over a hot tub. Heat strips under tile or stone floors are a wonderful plus.

Televisions and sound systems in your bathroom remodel are taking the go, with the in mirror flat screens televisions being a very much desired item. With the television only visible when it is on, it is high on most desired lists.

If your bath shares space with your washer and dryer, consider moving them. Who can relax with an eyesore like a noisy washer going? Having a separate location for them is a must if you ever plan to sell your home.

If you have a television or sound system in your bath be aware you will need some sound softening materials such as rugs, fabric curtains or plush towels on open shelving.

After all, you want your new bath to be a calm, relaxing retreat that soothes weary muscles and minds. As hard as we work, we deserve every bit of it. Consider these tips if your in the market for a bathroom remodel.