Posted on September 27, 2012 in Tips by ShannonNo Comments »

A  new client recently introduced me to the idea of filling the empty freezer space with boxes of packing peanuts.  The freezer doesn’t work as hard when it is full and thus uses  less energy.  The evidence is anecdotal but easy to try and relevant for all those empty second home freezers.  Here is an article about the idea http://www.mgservices.ca/newsletter_freezer_blocking.htm

An idea worth trying!

 

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Posted on September 24, 2012 in Fall, Published Articles, Sunriver Scene by ShannonNo Comments »

As printed in the Sunriver Scene – September 2012 Edition by Shannon Bassett

We read over and over about how important it is to do home maintenance.  What does that mean?  What will it cost and is it worth it?  The National Association of Realtors and Coldwell Banker estimate home maintenance runs 1.5-4% of the value of your home.  That might sound like a lot, but spending money on annual maintenance can increase longevity of your major appliances and systems and thus increase the value of your home in relation to one that is not maintained. The consequences of failing to maintain your home’s infrastructure negatively affect its value and typically results in increased maintenance costs.

One Central Oregonian delayed all his maintenance, never doing anything until absolutely necessary in a misguided attempt to save money.  As a result his furnace didn’t last as long as it should have, and the last minute replacement was almost a third more expensive than it would have been if he had planned ahead.  Annual professional care and filter changing could have added years to the life of his furnace.  The damage didn’t stop there. Because he didn’t take care of his sprinklers, he ended up with a flooded yard and foundation, which created not just one giant bill but two. When you add in his repair, which cost hundreds of dollars along with the sky high water bill, total cost of his negligence on this one single issue was close to a thousand dollars. Still not learning from his mistakes, he skipped annual deck maintenance and wound up having to replace a significant portion of the rotted boards, which cost him several thousand dollars.  His attempts to save money ended up costing him more than four times what a proactive owner would have paid.

With the guidance of Home Fridays, the home caretaker service I run, another owner is proactive about maintaining her home including annual maintenance on the furnace, air conditioning, regular deck maintenance, roof inspection and even replacing the water heater prior to the end of its life.  Consequently she has spent a smaller amount of money annually and escaped all the big ‘urgent disaster’ related bills. All major systems in her home work well and she is able to plan for system replacement in advance.

When looking at the dollars spent over time by the two owners, the deferred maintenance homeowner spent more than four times as much fixing and repairing problems as the diligent homeowner.  New furnaces in the dead of winter are much more expensive to replace then getting five to ten additional years out of the existing furnace and planning replacement during the off season.  The deferred home will continue to need money to repair other ignored areas including exterior damage from a neglected painting schedule.

The bad news doesn’t stop there. The overall the value of the deferred maintenance home has been negatively impacted by the large list of items in need of repair. Don’t let that happen to you.   Invest in your home’s upkeep annually to keep your total costs down and your home’s value up.

Annual Maintenance Major Systems Check List

 

  • Furnace – Fall service check by a professional and regular filter changes will keep your furnace running smoothly.  A properly maintained furnace has a lifespan of 15-20 years.  A warm house is a good thing.

 

  • Air Conditioning – Spring service check will help keep your unit going for an estimated 12-15 years.  Annual service is important to check the refrigerant levels.  If coolant levels fall low, the unit can burn out quickly and require costly replacement.

 

  • Water Heaters – Water heaters should be examined for leaks or rusting on a regular basis. Lifespan is estimated at 10-11 years and proactive replacement is recommended.  Water sloshing around the floors from a failed water heater is the last thing anyone wants to experience or pay for.

 

  • Roof Maintenance and Replacement – The lifespan of a roof varies by the style and materials averaging 15 years.  Inspect the roof annually for loose or broken shingles or tiles.  Simple repair can help reduce future problems such as leaks or tiles susceptible to wind damage.

 

  • Decks – Wooden decks suffer from the fluctuating temperatures, dry climate and snow.  Annual sanding and sealing will maintain the integrity of the deck and delay full replacement.  Skipping over this annual step will lead to rotting deck structures, buckling and cracking boards and eventually an unsafe deck.

 

  • Exterior Paint – Paint takes a beating in Central Oregon and rarely lasts the advertised 15 years. A low quality exterior paint used on southern exposure might last just a few years.  Review the paint annually for signs of fading, cracking and peeling.  When repainting do not take shortcuts on preparation, materials or temperature to achieve the longest possible life.  Putting off painting will expose the wood house structure to greater failure.

 

  • Caulk – Filling the cracks around your siding and windows with caulk creates a barrier between the environment and your home.  Caulking material tends to dry out, shrink and crack, however, compromising the protection barrier. Inspect the caulk around your home and replace any areas of shrinking or pulling away on the windows or exterior siding.  This will protect the wood from exposure and rot.

 

  • Driveway – Blacktop driveways crack over time with the changing temperatures.  Repairing the cracks every few years and skim coating by a professional can prevent or postpone a full replacement.

 

As Home Friday’s Caretaking Commander, I take care of many homes and preventative upkeep is a priority for all.   I have seen over and over the benefits of staying current on maintenance.  Deck maintenance is cheap in comparison to total deck replacement.  The lower overall cost as well as the reduction in ‘emergencies’ far outweighs the potential headaches, cold nights and concern.  Put a plan in place to review your home and keep the maintenance current. Sustaining the investment in your home through proactive maintenance will mean fewer expensive surprises in the repairs department down the line.

To get help with your home call me, the Caretaking Commander, at Home Fridays. I have been buying, renovating and managing residential and commercial properties for over 20 years. My locally-based company, Home Fridays (homefridays.  com), offers professional home management and concierge services to vacation home owners. You can reach me at 541/317-3088 or shannon@homefridays.com.  

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Posted on March 8, 2012 in Disasters, Published Articles, Sunriver Scene, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

As published in the Sunriver Scene By Shannon Bassett – Caretaking Commander, Home Fridays

No one wants to think about water emergencies. Imagine a call from a neighbor alerting you to water running down your driveway and icicles on the inside of the window. One faulty furnace caused an interior drop in temperature to a vacant home. Several months passed before the problem was discovered. Water saturated the upstairs, dripped downstairs and flowed under the front door. The house was in ‘repair’ status and unusable for over a year.
If your furnace fails you might face a similar experience. A cold house leads to broken pipes when the weather gets cold. Broken pipes thaw out and the water runs freely through the house.
While more common in the winter, water emergencies also happen in the summer. Washing machines and toilet supply lines are common sites for breaks and leaks. The most common cause of interior water damage, according to many plumbers, is the ice maker. A broken ice maker will pump hundreds of gallons of water into your kitchen, causing thousands of dollars of damage. A plastic supply line is an easy target for mice looking for a water source—just a couple nibbles and you have water running everywhere. Water heaters have a predetermined life expectancy which they rarely exceed. The bottoms rust out or the fixtures start leaking. Cracked hose bibs are another common winter water issue. The pipe breaks inside the wall due to a garden hose left attached to the bib or due to a lack of insulation. The water saturates the wall and runs inside the house continuously.
With all this doom and gloom, is there a silver lining? Prevention is the key to limiting your damage. Proactive maintenance and vigilant attention to the house will help catch the water before it becomes a big problem. Most leaks start out small, so if someone is watching your house you can prevent the big price tag that comes with a major water problem.
Regular annual maintenance to your furnace is also highly recommended. Not only will your furnace last longer and run more efficiently, you may avoid a winter breakdown. Three days without heat when the temperatures are below freezing and you will have frozen pipes, guaranteed. Every winter I have a few owners who don’t want to pay for annual furnace maintenance. Without fail at least two of three who decline the service have major furnace failures during the winter and wind up spending significantly more money than a maintenance visit would have cost.
Clearing the ice dams and making sure the snow is running off the house (instead of inside) is critical during the difficult weather. You also want to regularly check toilets, washers and ice makers to make sure the supply lines are dry and there is no water leaking in or around the area. A damp line is an indication that the part is starting to fail. Changing out supply lines to a braided type will minimize chances of toilet and washing machine leaks. Scrutinize areas that have had problems in the past such as leaky skylights and ill-fitting doors. A quick fix now will protect your home from extensive water damage in the future.
Alarm systems now exist to alert you when water is detected in the home. ‘Water Bugs’ are placed around the sensitive areas such as the water heater, and under the refrigerator or sink. When moisture is detected the alarm calls to let you know. Another type of alarm monitors water usage in the house and shuts off the water valve when too much water is flowing through the house. Easy-to-reach water controls installed by a licensed plumber make it easy to turn off all the water when you leave the house for an extended period of time.
Taking care of the small things can add up. But when compared to the significant cost and inconvenience of a major water restoration job, these prevention-related costs are minimal. Remember if damage occurs over time and the house has been vacant, it might not even be covered by insurance. Insurance companies often classify a house as vacant if no one has been there for 30 days. So be vigilant, proactive and get a second set of eyes on the place if you can’t be there yourself.
To get help with your home call me, the Caretaking Commander, at Home Fridays. I have been buying, renovating and managing residential and commercial properties for over 20 years. My locally-based company, Home Fridays (homefridays.com), offers professional home management and concierge services to vacation home owners. You can reach me at 541/317-3088 or shannon@homefridays.com.

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Posted on October 25, 2011 in Disasters, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

We have had beautiful fall and weather this past 2 weeks was temperatures in the mid to high 60’s and warmer!

Tonight our temperatures will begin to drop into the low 20’s and the daily highs in low 40’s & 50’s.

At Home Fridays we are ready for it!! 

The vent covers, hose bibs are on the exterior of our homes. Our annual furnace checks are in progress and pilot’s lit in fireplaces. All exposed pipes are checked on each home inspection and we have moved patio furniture under cover or in the garage.

Sprinkler systems have been turned off and gutters cleaned.  Come on Mr. Winter – we are ready for you.

Once the snow begins to fall this is just a short list of extra inspection items:

  • If snow – inspect all around house to see if we have any areas of concentration for icecycles, ice damns (typically in roof valleys or above skylights). 

 

  • Snow should not be up against wood or glass doors.  If we find this, we make sure it gets removed.  

 

  • Heat should be set to at least 55 on all homes.  

 

  • Open cupboards under each sink and leave open – helps keep the ambient temperature consistent throughout the house.

 

  • All bedroom doors should be open – helps keep the ambient temperature consistent throughout the house.   We want to avoid cold spots in the house.

 

  • Keep a close eye on the ceiling and the skylights – winter weather will bring more leaks!

 

  • Check windows for weeping or leaking.   We like to keep the blinds up about 1” so we can quickly look at the window sills for any potential problems.

 

At Home Fridays we care for your 2nd home inside and out!  If you are having concerns about your home, give us a call at (541)317-3088 and we can get you ready for winter.

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Posted on September 27, 2011 in A La Carte Services, Disasters, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

With our extreme winters here in Central Oregon it is particularly critical that each house is “winterized”.  Home Fridays offers this service to all of our clients.  Winterizing is much more than just putting on foundation vent and faucet covers.

Winterizing Prep includes

  • Install foundation vent and faucet covers.  You want to keep the crawl space warm.  It protects the pipes and helps to keep the heating bills down. 
  • Bring in the hoses and anything else outside that will do better in the house!
  • Paint kept in the garage should be moved into a warm area if you want to maintain it.  We usually put the paint around the water heater or in a laundry room. 
  • Annual furnace maintenance is critical to keeping the house warm. 
  • Check that heat tape on eaves and gutters is in working order.
  • Close the blinds – just another way to keep in warmer inside.

 

Ongoing Winter Tasks:

Regular snow plowing as the weather dictates.  Home Fridays also schedules snow plowing and shoveling.   A safe and clear path to the house is essential for keeping an eye on things. 

Tree and branch removal as necessary.  When severe winds hit we usually have broken limbs in trees or trees down.  Home Fridays partners with one of the most experienced Arborists in Central Oregon to take care of these issues.

Power outages are also a part of winter’s wrath!  When we are doing house checks we reset the clocks and check all appliances including hot tubs that might be affected by the power outage.

Monitoring ice dams; as the snow melts and starts to run off the house it then gets cold again – either dropping temperatures inside or the cooler eaves of the home.  Then it freezes.  The next time the snow starts melting it doesn’t run all the way off the house – it runs into the frozen ice dam and pools. Heat tape is one way to prevent these ice damns.  Another is to work with a local roofer to get the ice damn broken up and begin the melting process (if Mother Nature cooperates).  Left ignored they can do a great deal of damage.       

Roof/ Ceiling Inspection on a weekly basis allow Home Fridays to keep on top of things.  The weather here can push up tiles as the result of an ice damn or even tear off parts of a roof in heavy wind storms. 

Fireplace lighting and maintenance.  When Mr. Winter hits us with our first big snowfall it is the time to turn on your inviting and cozy fireplace.  Regular maintenance with cleaning, servicing can prevent potential fire hazards.   

Home Fridays will be reminding you regarding all of these tips as winter approaches. We recommend winterization of your home to keep your investment here in Central Oregon safe and worry free!

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