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St. Joseph area

Home improvement guide

Inside, find tips and information about: Chimneys and fireplaces Entry points Flooring Getting organized Kitchen trends Lawn care Outdoor maintenance Paint and winterizing

Fall 2013

Fall 2013 | Home improvement guide

Chimneys and fireplaces 4 Entry points 6 Flooring 9 Getting organized 12 Improvements to save you money 14 Kitchen trends 16 Lawn care 18 Outdoor maintenance 20 Paint 22 Winterizing 24 Fall home checklist 26 2 fall home improvement Guide | October 2013

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Fired up Keep chimneys and fireplaces safe By GREG KOZOL


St. Joseph News-Press

gathering around a fire provides a toasty respite on those cold winter nights. But before the winter weather moves in, a glimpse inside the fireplace might reveal something a little less warm and cozy. Cracked tiles. Crumbling masonry. Creosote buildup. Even birds and raccoons trapped in the flue. Brad Moore, owner of Chim-Chiminey Chimney Sweep in St. Joseph, has seen it all. “Some people just wait until they have a problem,” Moore says. “Anybody that has a wood-burning setup, they ought to have somebody come in and look at it and see if it needs cleaning. It’s not much when you’re talking about your personal safety.” Chimney sweep companies see business pick up every fall as St. Joseph-area residents prepare for the winter months. Moore says it’s particularly important to consider fall chimney maintenance for those who burn wood or live in older homes that have brick-lined chimneys, as opposed to newer chimney liners made of clay tile.

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“Those older homes, they didn’t have any kind of liner,” he says. “With an open-brick chimney, you run the risk of deterioration of the brick and mortar.” The cracked brick, along with creosote residue that builds up from the burning of wood, increases the likelihood of a fire inside the chimney. Every year, more than 20,000 house fires are attributed to faulty chimneys and fireplaces, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Another solution is a gas-fueled fireplace that burns cleaner and more efficiently, with blowers that circulate air. The units allow users to quickly turn the flame on and off as the need arises.

“You have instant fire,” says Eric Garrison, store manager of The Comfort Center in St. Joseph. “You can program a remote so that unit will kick on and off.” The gas inserts prove to be 80 percent efficient or more, though Garrison says some prefer the crackle of wood-burning units that also boast high efficiency ratings. Either way, a fireplace improvement requires a thorough inspection, with a chimney cleaning and repair of cracked mortar in older fireplaces. Gas units come with installation of vents that take exhaust up the liner and take combustion air down the other liner. Gas logs start at around $699 and are priced as high as $4,500. Garri-

son says most units cost from $2,000 to $4,500. A cleaning costs around $75 for a first chimney and a $35 for the second one in a house. On a smaller scale, Moore recommends boosting efficiency by making sure the fireplace damper is closed in the winter and a good pair of glass doors are installed in front of an open fireplace. “In the fall and winter, hot air rises,” he says. “If you don’t have your damper closed or a set of glass doors, you can lose the air in that room getting sucked up through the chimney.” Greg Kozol can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @gregkozol.

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Enhance your entry points By Shea Conner


St. Joseph News-Press

our entryway and front door don’t just make the first impression, they often leave the most lasting impression. So you should probably make it count. “People will decide in the first few minutes whether they want to buy a home, so how it looks from the outside is very

6 fall home improvement Guide | October 2013

important — especially the entry,” says Mary Masters, a real estate agent for RE/MAX of St. Joseph with more than 25 years of experience. Whether you’re trying to sell your home or captivate your guests and passers-by on the street, spring for these seven relatively easy projects to enhance your home’s entry points.

Make your door a delight

A punch of bright, bold paint that contrasts with the

siding and trim is an easy way to revamp a tired entry. Against a white facade, a spring-green or lemon yellow door cheerfully leads visitors inside. Consider the style of your home and choose colors accordingly. If you really want to make an impact, go with red. According to Lillian Too, writer of The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Feng Shui, red represents strength, energy and happiness, hence it’s a good choice for a home’s front door. In times when red pigments were scarce and therefore expensive, a red front door heralded the wealth of the family who resided within.

Light the way

Good lighting is a must for both convenience and safety. Consider motion-sensing lights near the front door. Use low-voltage lights to illuminate pathways, and put lanterns on posts for general yard lighting. Both Masters and Gale Steves, home industries consultant and author of the Please see Page 8

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books “Right-Sizing Your Home” and “Home Magazine’s Best Little Houses,” recommend solar-powered lights so you do not have to run wires in the yard. Plus, “it gives more accent to the walkways,” Masters says.

Play the match game

According to Better Homes and Gardens, you can create a polished and sophisticated entry by choosing the same color or metal finish for exterior elements such as entrance hardware, door knockers, house numbers, mailboxes and porch lights. However, make sure the color or finish contrasts with the door color itself. “If they do it in a contrasting color, it actually accents it, and in some cases, gives it a larger-than-life appearance,” says Tom Rinderknecht, operations manager for T&G Millwork in St. Joseph, a business that excels at producing historic reproduction doors and windows.

Improve the architecture

Better Homes and Gardens adds that you should research your home’s style and add appropriate architectural details such as decorative brackets, moldings, columns and trim. If you already have those elements, bolster their appeal by giving them a fresh coat of paint or stain. “Just from the curb appeal, you can easily spend $1,000 or $1,500 and

make a $5,000 improvement in the exterior appearance of the home,” Rinderknecht says.

Pump up the personality

An entryway is a prime location to splurge on gorgeous features, Rinderknecht says, such as a wooden front door handcrafted by an artisan or colorful step tiles. With these elements, you don’t need much to achieve a polished look, and they will impress potential buyers in the future.

Add an awesome awning

If the space above your front door seems flat and boring, an eye-catching awning could make a world of difference. Not only will the small roof or awning keep rain or sun off visitors while they ring the bell, it’ll also come in handy while you’re hurriedly searching your purse or pockets for your keys.

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Create comfort

Give your front porch a sense of warmth by placing a piece or two of weather-resistant furniture near the entry. Now, don’t spring for the cheap plastic furniture found at the big box stores. A rustic metal bistro set is an easy and elegant addition for any porch size — and it offers a perfect spot to relax outdoors with a warm cup of hot chocolate this fall. Shea Conner can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @stjoelivedotcom.

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Fashions in floors By KIM NORVELL


St. Joseph News-Press

ike fashion, trends in flooring change regularly. Pam Belger, store manager at Big Bob’s Outlet in Overland Park, Kan., says new styles of carpet, tile and wood are released about every six months, which can include various colors, textures and fabrics. “For as little as people buy floor covering, the products do change a lot,” Belger says. “The average person buys new flooring every seven years.” For those homeowners looking to upgrade theirs, here’s a look at this season’s most popular styles.


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is cut, it becomes cut pile carpet, which is typically described as plush. When it’s left intact, however, it’s known as loop pile carpet. Belger says when cut and loop combine, it can create a wide range of patterns. This style is best used in high-traffic areas of the home.



Mark Milbourne, owner of Milbourne Contracting and Flooring Design in St. Joseph, says he has seen an uptick in homeowners choosing bamboo for their wooden f loors. Until recently, the eco-friendly product has had one look, making the slightly higher price tag less attractive. “Before, bamboo was just bamboo,” he says. “Now you can get it in 100 different styles and colors.” Belger says she also has seen an increase in wider planks in darker walnuts. Her clients have said the clean, sleek look makes the rest of their home decor shine.


Like wood, homeowners have chosen to install larger-format tile more now than in the past. Milbourne says he mostly sees 24-by-24inch or 36-by-36-inch tiles that can be installed in a variety of patterns, making it look more unique for each individual home. Belger also has seen homeowners choose an entirely new product for their kitchens or bathrooms, which is tile that looks like wood but is less expensive and easier to maintain than its natural counterpart.

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Luxury vinyl

In addition to the three main categories, both f looring professionals have seen a dramatic upturn in homeowners choosing to lay down luxury vinyl tile in their kitchens and dining rooms. Similar in appearance to laminate flooring, luxury vinyl tile instead is pure vinyl, making it completely water-resistant, unlike sheets of laminate, which can be ruined with the drop of a pitcher of water or accident from the family pet. Milbourne says for that reason, homeowners are more attracted to the product in order to save money and keep their floors intact for a longer period of time. Kim Norvell can be reached at Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPNorvell.

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Clean and prep your home for cold weather ahead

12 fall home improvement Guide | October 2013



St. Joseph News-Press

s the heat of the summer winds down and the cold winter chill still is weeks away, mild fall weather is the perfect time to clean and organize the house in anticipation of the months ahead. Since many summer items like light clothing, lawn equipment and outdoor toys will be packed away in the fall and winter, take some time to go through what you don’t need or use anymore to clear away clutter. Amy Drost, owner of Merry Maids in St. Joseph, says something her cleaning team does before tackling any room is to pick up and straighten whatever is out of place. Likewise, homeowners should evaluate their belongings in each part of the house and decide what to keep, what to toss and what to put in storage until later on. Drost says you should consider items with the attitude, “If I haven’t looked at this in a year, how import-

ant is it?” Lisa Doyle of Angel On My Shoulder Professional Organizing Consultants says to keep in mind the quality of the items you’re going through. Get rid of clothes that are worn through and toys that are broken or that the kids don’t play with anymore. If you want to keep worn clothing as play outfits, keep them stored in an area separate from your usual clothes. School is a busy time for parents and children alike. It’s good to teach kids how to be organized at a young age so they can keep track of assignments. It also can help them maintain clean and organized spaces as they grow. “The more parents stay organized and clean, the more they’re gonna be a role model for their kids, and the kids do much better when they’re organized,” Doyle says. Before the cold months set in, it’s important to deep clean things like carpets, windows and vents for health and safety reasons. “Open up your windows and make sure the sills are nice and clean.

(Move) furniture around to clean under and behind it. Vacuum and clean out the vents because you’ll be running the furnace,” Drost says. Both Drost and Doyle also recommend shampooing the carpets to get out all the dirt and grime that’s been tracked in from the outside because it gets rid of the debris that could cause sinus problems in the winter. A great way to start an organized storage system is to utilize different-sized plastic tubs to sort and store items throughout the house. Long, flat bins can store off-season shoes under beds, which makes it less likely for kids to shove stuff underneath. Small, clear bins help kids see the different categories of things stored in their closets. Large lidded utility tubs can be hung from the garage ceiling using wood slats. “A lot of times people don’t use the vertical space in the garage. ... Instead of looking straight ahead, look up,” Doyle says. Brooke Wilson can be reached at Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPWilson.

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Tips offered for saving on home improvement projects By RAY SCHERER

drains on all sides. Extensions can be added to downspouts to keep water from foundations. ajor expense Ms. Blocker says caulking is an isn’t required inexpensive way to earn energy when striving to savings. Dry or loose caulking accomplish home around windows and doors should improvement proj- be replaced in the area where maects at this time of sonry meets siding and where pipes year, according to or wires enter the house. Silicone experts. caulk is best since it won’t shrink University of Missouri Extension and is impervious to the elements. housing specialist Rebecca Blocker Moisture problems and damage to offered a list of inexpensive projects siding can be avoided by trimming that can be done in the next few bushes to one foot away from the months. foundation and walls to allow air “Begin with a walk around your circulation. Exposed heating ducts home,” she said. “Simple, routine or water pipes must be insulated. maintenance will lower utility A professional should inspect bills,” protect a home’s value and heating systems such as fireplaces prevent small repairs from growing. or appliances, including the chimBinoculars or a step ladder can ney and vents, Blocker says. be used to spot damaged, loose or Allen Hoxworth, manager of missing shingles, Blocker says. Lowe’s in St. Joseph, said painting However, a roofing professional is another popular and low-cost should be consulted for inspections project that can be done in the fall. and repairs. “There are so many colors that Gutters and downspouts should be are so exciting,” he says. cleaned out after leaves have fallen, Parents also may want to consider she says. The slope of the ground renovating their children’s rooms should be checked to ensure water once they leave for college, Hox-

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worth says. Storage projects also can be completed, with stackable containers and industrial shelving used to stow away clothing and items such as bicycles and kayaks. Kits and portable workstations are available to assist with garage storage. “The homes around here are getting littler,” he says. Almost any homeowner can take on a decking project and build a 10-foot-by-10-foot structure. “You can do your own deck on the back of the house,” Hoxworth says. Deck furniture can be blended in as another outdoors project, he adds. “We see a lot of people doing that,” he says. “People are creating upbeat living space.” Covering materials are available to help protect chairs and tables from weather. Weatherstripping and seam sealing with expanding foam also can be finished around the house, Hoxworth says. Ray Scherer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.

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Custom-designed kitchens becoming more popular By Erin Wisdom


St. Joseph News-Press

t’s one of the most-used rooms in many homes, so it’s no surprise people want their kitchens to be at their best. And now, a trend in the housing industry has led to an increase in the number of homeowners who are having their kitchens designed to their specifications, according to Bill Falkner, the owner of Bath and Kitchen Encounters in St. Joseph. “A lot of your houses going up now are being built for people custom,” he says. “So that’s what we really like.” 16 fall home improvement Guide | October 2013

Among the options Falkner says many people are choosing for their kitchens are special lighting (such as under or on top of cabinets, or ribbon lighting), granite countertops, undermount sinks, stainless steel or brushed-nickel finishes and faucets with various pullout options. Some also are installing hot water dispensers, which now are available in more finishes than in the past. And people are gravitating more toward custom cabinets, as well, which can include any number of options: A cabinet designed specifically for a pizza pan, for example, or cabinets that contain self-closing drawers. Speaking of cabinets: Michael Bowen, the owner of Artisan Cabinetry in Atchison, Kan., has seen an increase

the home. to contemporary. ■ Products made from sustainable mate■ Specialty workstations are cropping rials are increasingly popular. Counterup in kitchens across the country and tops can be made from recycled glass, range from elaborate to utilitarian. Popas well as other countertop materials. ular examples include baking centers, Eco-friendly cabinetry, made from coffee bars, wine-tasting nooks and bamboo or wheatboard, is often manupizza-making stations. factured with low- or no-formaldehyde ■ A walk-in pantry is the perfect solution glues, which protect the home’s indoor for families who require must-have air quality. kitchen items in quantity. All necessi■ More and more, kitchens are incorpoties — snacks, canned goods, baking ■ Refrigerators have become larger, but rating dining rooms and sitting rooms supplies and even surplus goods such new technology and techniques make as paper towels and aluminum foil — into a unified space. Consequently, them virtually invisible. The same is are hidden behind closed doors. kitchen cabinets are looking more like true for dishwashers. Cabinetry panels fine furniture, and counters and islands ■ As people become increasingly discreetly hide these appliances, are becoming dining tables. tech-savvy, kitchens and bathrooms allowing the room’s style to take center are being accessorized with electronics ■ Beautiful and timeless, white cabinets stage. rather than traditional decor. Popular are a versatile choice for any kitchen. electronic items, such as wall-mount One attraction of white cabinetry is Erin Wisdom can be reached televisions, sound systems and comthat it works with multiple architectural at Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPWisdom. puters, are showing up in all rooms of styles — from traditional to country chic in the popularity of cabinets that harken to Shaker or Mission style. “This is the old-type look, and people like them because they’re easier to clean,” he says, adding that these cabinets have a flat-paneled door that is centered on the door frame. Following are some other kitchen trends that have been identified by Better Homes and Gardens:



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Laying down the lawn By ALONZO WESTON

W St. Joseph News-Press

hen the temperatures drop and the leaves begin to turn, it doesn’t mean your lawn care chores are over. It’s quite the opposite according to some lawn care officials. Fall is the time to weed and seed and prepare your yard for winter and next summer. The condition of your lawn determines your priorities, says Craig Hayes, manager at Earl May Nursery and Garden Center. “Probably the big determiner is to decide how much damage you have in the yard or how many weeds you have, whether you need to seed or if you don’t need to seed, maybe you need to still attack and kill weeds,” he says. But for the most part, people usually seed in the fall and kill weeds in the spring, Hayes adds. Fall also is a good time to aerate your lawn. The act of punching holes and extracting plugs of dirt in your yard allows oxygen and water to better reach the roots. You also need to decide whether to use a warm weather grass seed like fescue or cool weather grass seed like blue or rye grass, Mr. Hayes says. “A fescue is a more heat-tolerant grass. It takes heavier traffic, it’s going to root deeper, it’s going to hold up

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better in the summer. Cool-weather grass is going to come out earlier in the spring and hold on later in the fall when it’s cooler,” he says. Hayes says fescue and the other warm-weather grass seeds can be more costly than the cooler-weather types. Cooler-weather grasses don’t require the amount of seeding as warm-weather ones. Fall also is the time to treat your lawn for grub and other pests, according to the Lawn Doctor website. Lawn Doctor experts also suggest fall as the time to winterize your lawnmower. Make sure it’s cleaned and stored properly. Hayes says fall also is the time to add lime and gypsum to your yard. It should be done every three to five years. “The lime helps keep a normal pH balance in the yard, and the gypsum actually helps loosen the clay soil that’s usually in our area,” he says. Finally, you should water the new grass seed to get it started. When the new grass gets high enough, Hayes advises mowing it at least twice. The grass actually becomes stronger by being mowed. “You don’t want to start doing any type of weed control on young grass until it’s been mowed twice,” he says. Alonzo Weston can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWeston.

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Maintaining your outdoor furniture, grills and pools By Jennifer Hall


St. Joseph News-Press

verything in your home requires care, but fall is a perfect time for providing maintenance to those outdoor items like patio furniture, barbecue grills and swimming pools. Unless you have room in the garage to store these items, you need to look at how to ready them for the winter months ahead. Trash bags are an easy and inexpensive way to collect those patio cushions, pillows and extras. While they are protected this way, it is best to find space to store them in a closet, garage or shed. In order to protect your investment, clean all your items before putting them away for the season. Patio tables and chairs, ottomans, swings and coffee tables are made in a variety of materials, from wicker and wood to fabric and wrought iron. While there are specific methods for some materials, most of your standard outdoor furniture can be cleaned using soap, water and some elbow grease. It is best to do this after you remove the cushions. Besides a good monthly cleaning and regular maintenance, barbecue grills and smokers demand a more thorough approach before winter hits, according to Dave Corinth, who refinishes a lot of outdoor metal furniture and grills. “Grills can look pretty bad after just one year of sitting outside,” he

says. “And it doesn’t take much to keep them looking fairly new if you know what to do.” Corinth recommends applying a small amount of vegetable oil with a small cloth to the exterior of a grill or smoker, especially the black ones. This will keep the material from oxidizing and creating those unsightly white spots. If your grill is too far gone as far as appearances, there is another option: high-heat paint. This newage spray paint is designed to cover grills and fireplace inserts so they can withstand extreme heat conditions. So, grill owners can either stick with the standard black or create a unique piece and paint the grill a bold and vibrant color. Corinth has restored quite a few grills using this application. “The wives tend to like the bright oranges or reds,” he says. “Men typically stick with the black.” As far as the function of the grill or smoker, it is important to remove the grates and knobs and empty the bottom of all residue, including charcoal. Use soap and water to clean the grates and knobs, and once everything is dry, put it all back together. “It’s important that everything is dry,” Corinth says. “This is key. Grills can get wet, but sometimes the parts that are hidden on the grates can create rust if they aren’t dried all the way.” If you have a gas grill, it’s also a good idea to disconnect the tank from the grill and store it somewhere that won’t be impacted by freezing winter conditions.

20 fall home improvement Guide | October 2013

And last, but not least, invest in a good grill cover. And while you’re looking at covers, look at one for your aboveground or in-ground swimming pool. A mesh or hard cover over your pool will not only provide safety for people and animals during the winter but also make it easier to get it up and going in the spring. But before you completely seal off your pool, there are a few things you should do. First, give your pool a good cleaning. This includes chemical treatments and a good vacuuming. Fall can be the perfect opportunity for an abundance of leaves to take refuge in the water. Experts recommend pointing your wall jets in the same direction. This guides those pesky signs of autumn toward the skimmer for easier removal. Remember to empty the skimmer and pump baskets during this peak time and check filters to ensure they are free of clogs. Clogging can decrease back washing and lower sanitizing. If you notice some leaves settling at the bottom of your pool, remove them immediately. If you have a concrete bottom, the leaves may cause stains. Not all experts recommend completely closing down a pool, and owners should consult with an expert. The decision to close a pool may depend on the severity of the winter months, what kind of pool you have and other factors. Jennifer Hall can be reached at Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPHall.

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22 fall home improvement Guide | October 2013

Brushing up a new look By JESSICA SHUMAKER


St. Joseph News-Press

eeking a new look for your home? A change may just be a can away. Peter Kamstra, owner of Store of Colors, 2327 N. Belt Highway, says painting is a cost-effective option for those wanting to update their home. “For a cheap renovation, repainting is about the easiest thing you can do — you can make something look completely different for very little money,� he says. “If you use a good-quality paint, you can do it yourself and do a great job.� When it comes to color trends, Kamstra says one of his store’s most popular colors is Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter, a light gray tone. At another local paint retailer, Sherwin-Williams, located at 2101 N. Belt Highway, store manager M.D. Jones says the store’s big color of the year, selected by company color experts, has been Aloe, a light green hue. Jones says that demographics tend to play into color preferences. “We’ve got a lot of the middle generation, almost baby boomers, they have a particular style ... and it seems like the younger generation, which is pretty far spread from them, is more risky in color choice,� Jones says. He says for more conservative shoppers, shades like “taupes, beige, tan and gray, those will never go away,� but what they can do to liven up their look is to pair those neutral colors with accent pieces that are rich in color. Kamstra says that bolder colors are becoming more popular, with younger and middle-aged consumers look-

ing for something beyond neutrals. After selecting a color, Kamstra says customers next must choose what type of sheen they want for their paint — flat or glossy. Next, customers should consider their surface and make sure they have primer, even for drywall. He also says selecting a high-quality paint is key. “You can buy paint anywhere, and a lot of people think it’s a matter of changing the color on your wall ... but how many times do you want to do it? (Do you want to) Put four coats on it or put a tinted primer and a coat of paint?� he says. Another area to consider when purchasing paint and other products, according to Jones, is environmentally friendly options. He noted his company’s line of VOC, or volatile organic compounds, free paints. “Rather than cutting products down so they don’t work as well because we’re taking VOCs out, we’re actually improving products and taking VOCs out,� he says. He says oil-based paints can contribute to air pollution. “It’s the same reason why we pump gas at night in the heat of summer, because VOCs are released and it creates surface level ozone,� Jones says. He says the company makes a variety of environmentally friendly products, from roller covers to trays, and metal and plastic cans are recyclable. “We basically deal with liquids, so when we sell liquids to the general public, we need to make sure that we’re doing our part to protect the environment and to protect our users,� he says. Jessica Shumaker can be reached at Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPShumaker.

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Home cozy home Winterize before the really cold weather hits By Andrew Gaug


St. Joseph News-Press

s winter approaches, some homeowners may find that they don’t have to be outside to be caught in the cold or face disaster. And yet, almost all of it is easily avoidable. Winterizing your home is a must for anyone not wanting to have to go out when it’s too cold to deal with problems from the winter elements. That’s why fall is the perfect time to do it. First, check your roof, siding and shutters to see if any repairs need to be made. The heavy winds and rain of summer can do a number on all three, so it’s important that they are inspected once a year. Don’t miss one easily fixable, yet largely ignored place — the gutters. “That is a big problem, because people don’t ever clean their gutters out like they should, and it’s kind of one of the things — it’s a maintenance thing. You need to do it in the fall,” says Francis Schneider, an American Society of Home Inspectors-certified home inspector for Schneider Home Inspection. He adds: “People don’t keep their gutters cleaned out, and if the gutters aren’t clean, the water runs over the gutter and on that foundation.” This leads to extremely wet and sometimes flooded basements in the early fall and winter and ice dams in the winter that potentially could do a lot of damage to gutters and downspouts. “You can drive by people’s houses and see where water’s running over and stuff, and it just lets that water sit on the foundation, which gets into the basement,” Schneider says. It’s a problem State Farm agent Nick Koeteman says he sees claims for on an annual basis. “We get quite a few ice dam claims. We’ll get a few every winter. Depending on the severity of the winter,

24 fall home improvement Guide | October 2013

sometimes more than that,” he says. The important thing to remember is to be safe cleaning gutters and checking out the roof. “You’ve got to use good safety and caution when you’re climbing on ladders,” Koeteman says. If you feel like you can’t do it, find someone you trust that can get the job done. “It’s usually whoever you can find that can clean them out. It’s not a big deal. They’re usually pretty simple,” Schneider adds. While you’re up there, inspect the chimney if you make a lot of fires in your fireplace during the winter to be sure it’s ready for more. If you can’t do it, find a local chimney inspector to get the job done. Inside, be sure to replace furnace filters and make sure your heating system is functional and ready for colder temperatures. To go along with that, check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they also are in working order. Koeteman suggests that people also should make sure to either insulate their pipes to make sure they don’t freeze or take precautions if they’re going to be away from home for the holidays. “Make sure to open up the water valves a little bit. Just let them barely drip. But if there’s water flowing through, that prevents it from freezing,” he says. If you have an outside garden hose, be sure to disconnect it before winter, as both Koeteman and Schneider say it runs on a short pipe, which can freeze if the hose is still holding water in it. When the water melts, it can cause big leak problems in the basement. Finally, if you’re dealing with drafts, use a stick of incense to help find where the cold air is seeping in and use caulk or removable tack to cover up those spaces. Andrew Gaug can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPGaug.


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Home checklist for fall


❯ Paint interior rooms while it’s still warm enough to leave windows open.

❯ Change air filter in the furnace.

❯ Have a professional clean and inspect the fireplace and chimney.

❯ Test to see that the furnace is working. ❯ Stock up on air filters for winter months. ❯ Have furnace serviced. ❯ Inspect and dust off heating ducts and vents. Have them professionally cleaned if needed. ❯ Reverse ceiling fans to create an upward draft that redistributes warm air. ❯ Test and change batteries in smoke and carbon dioxide detectors, and stock up on batteries for the future. ❯ Test flashlights and stock up on batteries. 26 FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE | October 2013

❯ Insulate pipes to prevent freezing and bursting. ❯ Clean and store summer clothing, and pull out cool-weather items. Be sure to inspect jackets and coats for any needed cleaning and repairs, and see whether hats, gloves, boots and scarves need to be replaced. ❯ Purge any summer clothing not worn this year. ❯ Donate or toss any items kids have outgrown to make room for new holiday gifts.


❯ Rake leaves.

❯ Check windows and doors for any leaks and fix weather-stripping if needed.

❯ Pack up and store any patio furniture.

❯ Change summer screens to cool-weather storm windows and doors.

❯ Disconnect garden hoses.

❯ Inspect and repair any loose or damaged window frames. ❯ Check foundation and make repairs.

❯ Clean and store grill for winter. ❯ Use indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets.

❯ Make sure roof is in good shape.

❯ Empty unused fuel from gas-powered equipment stored in the garage.

❯ Clean and inspect gutters.

❯ Prepare lawnmower for winter and store.

❯ Clean downspouts and make sure they are properly secured to the building and not pointed at sidewalks where they could cause ice slicks.

❯ Check to make sure all snow equipment is working.

❯ Clean siding and look for any damage.

❯ Take care of caulking repairs.

❯ Repair cracks in driveway and sidewalks.

❯ Fertilize and seed lawn.

❯ Make sure firewood is piled at least 30 feet from the house and covered.

❯ Prune trees and shrubs after the leaves turn.

❯ Make sure home and garage are secure from animals.

❯ Clean and store gardening tools and pots.

❯ Clean and organize the garage.

❯ Clean pool and prepare for winter.

❯ Test generator.

❯ Trim any tree limbs that are close to power lines.



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Home Improvement Guide Fall  

The bi-annual home improvement guide published by the St Joseph News-Press. Inside, find tips and information about: Chimneys and firepla...