The Professional Choice

A companion overview to the popular "Ask Mr. Handyman" radio program airing on Christian Talk Radio, KCRO 660AM Saturdays @ 9:30AM.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

April & Springtime Home Maintenance

April is here!! Well Almost.

Spring is here!!! Well almost. It sure doesn't feel like spring. This is Nebraska, maybe tomorrow?

Here's a good amount of work to try to tackle in April to keep your home repair cost down.

1. Clean and inspect insect and critter screens. Spring is officially here even if winter is still trying to hang on. Window screens should be inspected for cuts, rips and bent frames. The bugs will be trying to get in once you open up the windows for fresh air. An intact screen will keep them out. To clean window screens, carefully remove them, lay them flat on a picnic table or a pair of sawhorses and scrub them with a soft bristle brush and a mild detergent solution. Rinse with a garden hose and allow them to dry thoroughly before re-installing them. Eve and roof vents help to ventilate your attic and will keep critters out of the attic. Inspect and clean them as well.

2. Inspect the outside of your home and other wooden structures for deterioration -- especially signs of rot. Use a screwdriver to probe suspect areas of wood rot. If the tip exposes any soft, mushy areas it should be added to this year’s maintenance and repair list and tackled very quickly to prevent more costly repairs in the future. Areas to check include railings, window sills and trim, wood siding and corner trim and the bottoms of the trim around doors as well as the threshold. For the higher areas like the top of the chimney you may prefer to hire an insured professional like Mr. Handyman.

3. While performing the inspection for wood rot or deterioration, check the caulking around windows and doors and apply where necessary.

4. Inspect the crawl space or basement after rains for water accumulation or excessive moisture. Look for signs of water damage on the subfloor and joists beneath bathrooms, the kitchen and laundry. Find and fix leaks now or pay the price later.

5. Shut off the water to the washing machine, remove the water supply hoses and examine them thoroughly. Laundry room floods are very costly. Replace cracked or checked hoses and always install a new washer on each end of each hose. Every year at this time inspect and clean your dryer vent ducting. A plugged dryer vent is the #2 cause of home fires in the US. Keeping the dryer vent system clean will also allow your dryer to operate more efficiently and can save you up to $80 per year.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Garage Door Maintenance & Repairs

One of the most overlooked components of your home is the garage door. It usually operates flawlessly several times a day but when it gets neglected and sub sequentially fails it can interrupt your daily routine.
Because a garage door is a very large, heavy, moving part, it’s prone to fall out of adjustment with daily use. When this happens, the door becomes harder and harder to lift and lower.

A garage door looks rather simple but it has many moving parts that need yearly attention to keep it in great working order. The best way to prevent a failure and high repair costs is to inspect it every year for loose or worn hinges, springs, and other hardware and, when you notice a problem, address it immediately before it has a chance to deteriorate.

Then lubricate the moving parts. Apply penetrating oil to all rollers and hinges at least once a year. If you notice any loose screws, bolts, or nuts, tighten them so parts won’t fall out of adjustment.

The most common garage door problem is that the door becomes difficult to lift and lower. This may be something that can be resolved with a few simple adjustments and basic maintenance, or it may be more serious. If the door is connected to an opener, determine if the problem is with the door or the opener. The first step is to disconnect the opener mechanism from the door by pulling the release cord or lever. If the door works fine manually, the problem is with the electric opener.

A door that seems unusually heavy to lift may have a problem with spring tension. Garage door springs are under extreme tension because of the loads they must lift, and this makes them dangerous to adjust. If your door’s springs are out of adjustment, do not attempt to work on them yourself. Call in a professional. If the door seems to bind in the tracks an adjustment and maintenance may be all that is needed. If it sags in the middle when opening or once it is fully open it may need a few bracing members.

With proper care and maintenance a quality garage door should last 30-40 years. The key to this longevity and lowest cost benefit is to spend about an hour a year on the maintenance if you can do it yourself or $100-$130 to have a professional service it. Again, spend hundred$ now in maintenance or thou$and$ later in repairs (or replacement). An average mid-grade replacement double wide door will run around $1800-$2700 installed.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spring is ........nearly here!

The Chill of February is behind us and coming up – March Madness!

The weather in March bounces from cold and wet to semi-warm days that bring out the longing for spring. March is the perfect time to get a great jump-start on sprucing up your home…….. Almost spring cleaning, or spring cleaning-‘lite.’

If you have accumulated quite a bit of winter debris and do not know where to start….begin with the curb appeal, specifically, your front porch or entryway area. Knock down the cobwebs; hose down the dirt on the front of the house and clean the area friends and neighbors see first. Caulk and paint any exposed wood and repaint the front door if needed. It’s a great start and will invigorate you to proceed with another section when you see the results.

Another task to accomplish during these random periods of great weather is to perform a thorough evaluation of the exterior needs of your home. You may have some tax money returned to you so knowing the financial needs of your home maintenance will be key to making sure you do not ‘unwisely’ spend that windfall on something desired rather than on something very much needed. Some bubbling or spongy siding or trim should be placed first on your list of repair tasks to keep the costs to a minimum.

Remember…for every dollar you spend maintaining your home you get to keep about $10 off your repair bill.