How to Improve Curb Appeal Before Selling Your Home

How to Improve Curb Appeal Before Selling Your Home

You’re likely to sell your home more quickly and for a higher price when the exterior impresses potential buyers. Here are 8 tips that will help you improve curb appeal.

Wash the House

It’s possible to add profit by simply cleaning the exterior of your home. Get rid of the dust, dirt, and grime on a vinyl, wood, stucco, metal, or brick exterior with a pressure washer. It’s best to hire a pressure washing company if you are inexperienced with using this machine so that you don’t damage your property.

Improve Curb Appeal by Fixing Your Roof

The rest of the home’s exterior may look great, but if the roof is failing, it will bring down the curb appeal of the house. This is especially true if all of your neighbors have newer roofs that are in good condition. Repair the roof, if needed. If your roof is technically sound but dirty, then get it professionally cleaned. Removing moss, algae, lichens, and dirt will make any roof look better.

Get Rid Of All Clutter

Move garbage and recycling bins to the backyard or the garage. Get rid of old, dirty, or broken lawn decor and furniture that is bringing down the curb appeal of the yard. Tidy up toys and bikes that may be laying around the yard, and stash them in a shed or garage.

Paint Your Home to Improve Curb Appeal

Sometimes washing your home isn’t enough to improve curb appeal. Painting your home with a fresh coat of paint makes the home look much newer. It’s best to use a neutral color that will appeal to most people when selling your home.

Spruce Up The Yard

Add fresh mulch to garden areas. Prune the shrubs and cut the grass to improve curb appeal. Take out old, overgrown bushes and replace them with newer, easy to care for plants. Edge along the driveway and garden beds. Get rid of all the weeds. Add solar garden lights to boost the curb appeal at night.

Fix the Mailbox

A new mailbox can be expensive. Save money by adding a fresh coat of paint to your existing mailbox. Add decorative house numbers to your house while you’re sprucing up the mailbox.

Install a New Fence

Add a decorative or picket fence around the front yard. Buyers will love the look and the extra security a fence provides. Repair any existing fencing issues like broken latches so the fence doesn’t detract from curb appeal.

Make All Needed Repairs

Take a good look at your property after repairing the roof, fixing up the lawn, and replacing the mailbox. Look for anything else that’s taking away from the overall presentation. Do you still see any peeling paint, loose front step bricks, or sagging gutters? Fix all of these problems. Here are other items to pay attention to:

  • Cracked driveway or walkway cement
  • Crooked shutters
  • Cracked windows

Follow these tips to improve curb appeal and sell your home more easily.

American Home Inspection Services provides pre-listing home inspection services to Southeast Michigan. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

10 Ways to Make a Home Safe for Seniors

10 Ways to Make a Home Safe for Seniors

Our elderly family members are more prone to falls and accidents in the home, which pose serious threats to their health and mobility. Problems with muscle strength, balance, and even side-effects of the medications they take can make them more vulnerable to injury from accidents. Here are 10 ways to make a home safe for seniors.

1. Remove or Secure Throw Rugs to Make a Home Safe for Seniors

Unsecured throw rugs are among the top causes of falls in older people. In most areas, it’s best to eliminate these rugs altogether. But if their use is necessary, such as in the bathroom, secure the rugs with double-sided tape to help reduce the risk of falls.

2. Add Bathroom Safety Features

Grab bars in the bathtub and shower provide stability and help prevent falls. Bath mats with rubber backing also help reduce the chance of slipping. A raised toilet seat is useful for seniors who have difficulty getting to their feet. Install a grab bar beside the toilet to offer extra assistance.

3. Install Extra Lighting in Stairways and Hallways

Impaired vision is a common problem as we age. Illuminate stairs, hallways, and other frequently traveled areas with additional fixtures or lighting that turns on when it senses movement.

4. Place Electrical Cords Out of the Way

Cords from lamps, TVs, and electronic equipment should be carefully tucked away to remove them as a tripping hazard. Don’t run cords under rugs, as this can cause overheating and lead to a fire.

5. Use Orange Tape for Floor Hazards to Make Your Home Safe for Seniors

Changes in flooring in the home, such as from hardwood to carpeting, can cause a fall. Steps from one room to another are also hazardous for elderly family members. Install bright orange tape in these transition areas to make them more visible and to help keep the home safe for seniors.

6. Keep Pets and Toys Out of Pathways

If older family members have significant mobility problems, keep pets confined to areas where they will not be underfoot. Similarly, children’s toys can be a hazard for seniors. Encourage children to keep toys in designated play areas in the home.

7. Prevent Medication Mix-ups

Keep medications in their original containers with attached labels detailing dosage and frequency. If needed, ask your pharmacist to provide large-print labels to make reading them easier. Medication alarm apps are helpful reminders for seniors to take their prescribed meds on time.

8. Cooking Hazards

Seniors should use care when cooking. Don’t allow them to wear loose-fitting clothing that could catch fire. Store food prep items in easy-to-reach areas so older family members don’t have to struggle to reach higher cabinets.

For some elderly people, cooking should be confined to the microwave. Make sure to test your fire alarms monthly and replace the batteries twice every year.

9. Rearrange Furniture to Provide Clear Walking Paths

Move items that block walking paths in each room. Replace glass coffee tables or shelves with other furniture that is less dangerous. Glass is more difficult to see and may shatter if a fall occurs. Remove items that may not be clearly visible and present a tripping hazard.

10. Use a Medical Alert System to Make Your Home Safe for Seniors

Medical alert systems have technology that allows the senior to call for help with the touch of a button, should they find themselves alone and in need of help.

Small changes make a big difference in your senior family member’s safety. Carefully inspect each part of your home, looking for potential hazards for someone who has impaired sight or mobility. Correcting these issues will keep the home safe and help prevent accidents.

American Home Inspection Services offers home inspection services to Southeast Michigan. If you’re buying or selling a home, contact us to request an appointment.

5 Tips for Moving in the Winter

5 Tips for Moving in the Winter

Moving is hard work any time of year but if you’re moving in the winter, you may also have to deal with snow and ice. Here are some helpful tips when you have to relocate in cold weather. While you have a lot of planning and organizing to do, you’ll also need to prepare for cold weather.

When Moving in the Winter, Plan for Snow Removal

  • Shovel: Unless snow is still in the forecast, shovel and remove any snow the day before your planned move, preferably early in the day. Doing it early will give the sun a chance to melt away any residual snow on the walkway, giving you a clean surface.
  • Remove ice: After you shovel the snow, spend a few minutes chipping away any ice on the walkway and driveways of the new house and the old one. Removing ice will help prevent falls while you’re loading and unloading the truck.
  • Spread sand: Once you have the walkway and driveway cleared of ice and snow, liberally sprinkle a mixture of sand or ice-melt on the pathways. This will create a non-slip surface and the ice-melt will take care of any snow or ice you missed.

Protecting Flooring

  • Drop cloths: Another tip for moving in winter is to cover your floors. Invest in as many fabric drop cloths as necessary to cover all of the hardwood and tiled floors in both houses. The sheer number of trips you and your helpers will make in and out can ruin the surface of hardwood and possibly scratch tile.
  • Plastic tarps: While you’re getting the drop cloths, get plastic tarps to cover the carpeted rooms. Tracked-in snow and mud can ruin carpeting. Purchase enough extra tarps to cover the areas of carpet you will be walking on. For extra protection, put fabric drop cloths on top of the plastic ones. The cloth will keep you from slipping on the wet plastic.
  • Entryway: Use a non-slip, rubber-backed rug in front of all entryways. These are available at restaurant supply stores and home improvement stores.

Adjust the Thermostat

When you’re moving, the doors of the home are open just as often as they are closed. Don’t stress the heating system. Turn your thermostat down to the lowest setting without turning your furnace off completely. Otherwise you will be wasting a lot of energy.

Designate a Doorman

An often overlooked tip is to have a designated helper who holds the door for the movers and makes sure it gets closed when no one is entering. This is a perfect job for an attentive child who wants to help out. This job provides movers with hands-free entry into the house and will keep your home warmer.

Dress for the Weather if You’re Moving in the Winter

  • Wear gloves: The best gloves for moving in the winter are thinly lined leather, suede, or work gloves with palm and finger-tip grips. These will keep your hands warm and give you extra gripping power. Don’t wear thick gloves. They will prevent you from firmly gripping the items you are moving.
  • Dress in layers: Don’t wear a heavy, bulky winter coat; it can impede your movement. Wear a long-sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, and a light jacket. Put on a hat if it is very cold and windy. By dressing in layers, you can remove them if you get overheated.
  • Footwear: Wear non-slip shoes or lightweight snow boots. Even though you shoveled the sidewalk, winter weather poses a risk for slipping or falling on ice or snow. Waterproof, non-slip boots will keep you safer during the process.

American Home Inspection Services provides home inspection services to customers in southeast Michigan. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

5 Warning Signs of Electrical Problems in Your Home

5 Warning Signs of Electrical Problems in Your Home

Address electrical problems in the home at the first indication of trouble. Ignoring these signs puts your family and home at risk for a house fire. The longer you delay the repair, the more damage can be done. Pay attention to signs of electrical problems and make a call for repairs as soon as you notice any of the below signs.

Flickering Lights are Signs of Electrical Problems in Your Home

Flickering lights are often caused by loose electrical connections. This can occur in a single light fixture or throughout the home. Both concerns need immediate professional attention, although the latter is a more serious sign of an electrical problem.

Hot Outlets

Electrical appliances generate heat when in use, but the outlet itself shouldn’t become hot. If you notice the outlet is warm to the touch, disconnect any cords and call a professional to troubleshoot the problem. Light switch covers follow the same rule, except in the case of dimmer switches which commonly generate some heat.

Aluminum Wiring

Aluminum wiring may comprise part or all of your electrical system. It was commonly used in the 1960s and 1970s when high copper prices caused builders to use aluminum instead. The aluminum oxidizes rapidly, which creates a fire risk in the home. Aluminum is no longer used in residential electrical applications. If you have aluminum wiring in your home, replace the wiring to improve fire safety.

Burning Smell

A burning smell is always a sign of trouble. The smell indicates that plastic sheeting around the wiring is melting. This problem poses a fire risk.

Loose Outlets Can Indicate Electrical Problems in Your Home

Many people notice loose outlets but fail to realize their potential danger. If you plug in an appliance and the outlet moves or the plug falls out, it’s time to make a quick fix. Left in this condition, the outlet will eventually loosen wiring within the walls which requires a more involved repair and increases the risk of fire.

American Home Inspection Services offers home inspection services to Southeast Michigan. If you’re buying or selling a home, contact us to request an appointment.

4 Ways to Reduce Humidity in the Home

4 Ways to Reduce Humidity in the Home

Did you know that the highest levels of humidity in Michigan occur during winter? While you don’t feel the humidity when it is cold, it can still cause mold and mildew in your home. It is important to reduce humidity in the home to prevent these problems. Here are a few ways to lower indoor humidity levels.

Use Ventilation Fans to Reduce Humidity in the Home

Certain activities in the home cause humidity levels to rise. Cooking, bathing, and using some appliances adds moisture to the air. Turn on ventilation fans in the bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry room if you have one there. It is best for these fans to vent to the outdoors. Otherwise, the moisture will just circulate around inside. If the fan is venting into the attic, this is a serious flaw and mold and mildew may become a problem. Have a contractor remedy this by adding a vent pipe out the roof.

Set Up Dehumidifiers

Dehumidifiers are inexpensive and portable devices that bring down the humidity levels in a room. Set dehumidifiers up in rooms that have a water source, especially if there is no ventilation fan. It’s a good rule of thumb to run a dehumidifier in the basement because mold often grows there.

Fix Leaky Plumbing

Unchecked plumbing leaks cause indoor humidity levels to rise. Look around for signs of leaky pipes and have them fixed as soon as possible. Completing these repairs quickly will reduce humidity in the home and prevent water damage and mold.

Reduce Humidity in the Home by Taking Shorter and Cooler Showers

A long, hot shower can make the whole house more humid. If you are committed to keeping humidity levels low, encourage family members to take shorter, cooler showers and practice what you preach. By changing your habits and using a ventilation fan or dehumidifier, you can reduce humidity in the home.

American Home Inspection Services provides home inspections and mold inspections to Southeast Michigan. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

6 Ways to Maintain Your Septic Tank

6 Ways to Maintain Your Septic Tank

Your septic tank is an important component of your home. Taking proper care of it will save you thousands of dollars in repairs or replacement and promote a safe and healthy living environment. Use these 6 tips to maintain your septic tank.

1. Have Your Septic Tank Serviced

Professionals recommend having your septic system inspected yearly. Use a qualified technician to maintain your septic tank and save all service records and inspection reports. The number of people living in your home, the amount of wastewater generated, and the size of the tank determines how often your septic tank should be pumped.

Experts say the average tank should be pumped every three years or more often if yours uses an electrical float switch, pump, or other mechanical pumps. If your septic system is newer, it may have a filter to prevent solids from entering the drain field. If so, the filter should be cleaned or replaced upon servicing.

2. Protect Your Drain Field

The drain field is the part of your septic system that removes contaminants from the liquids that exit the septic tank. Sometimes called the leach field, it is a shallow, covered excavation in the ground. The drain field will flood if it becomes deluged with wastewater or outside liquid, causing a sewage back-up. Maintain your septic tank with regular pumping to protect the drain field. Don’t park vehicles over your drain field and don’t plant trees nearby. The roots can grow into the septic system and cause damage.

3. Watch What Goes Into Your Septic Tank

Most toilet tissue is designed to break down and dissolve inside the septic tank. Don’t flush items like feminine hygiene products, diapers, paper towels, cigarette butts, cat litter, or dental floss down the toilet. In the kitchen, don’t put coffee grounds or grease into the garbage disposal. In fact, if you have a standalone septic system, it’s best not to have a garbage disposal. Drain openers and other chemicals can damage the septic tank, so choose safer, non-toxic solutions instead.

4. Use Water Wisely

Conserving water helps maintain your septic tank. Avoid excessive washing machine and dishwasher use, running toilets, and leaky faucets. When it’s time to replace appliances, toilets, and showerheads, replace them with energy-efficient models if you don’t already have them. Conserving water will help keep your drain field from flooding and you’ll also save money on your utility bills.

5. Use High-Water Pressure Jetting

Regardless of regular pumping, all septic systems will accumulate solids in the drainpipe that can clog connecting pipes to the drain field. Maintain your septic tank by high-pressure water jetting the drain lines about every five years. This will clear away solids and other debris that could affect efficient operation.

6. Use a Bacteria Additive

Another way to maintain your septic tank is by using a bacteria additive. Organic bacteria will break down unnatural substances such as soaps and detergents that enter your tank. These common household products kill the naturally occurring bacteria that keep your system functioning properly. Bacteria additives are inexpensive and can help keep pipes clean and odor-free.

American Home Inspection Services provides septic inspections and other inspection services to Southeast Michigan. Contact us to schedule your yearly septic inspection.