6 Ways to Improve the Deck or Patio this Summer

6 Ways to Improve the Deck or Patio this Summer

When the weather warms up, there is no better place to be than relaxing on your deck or patio. It’s a perfect place to enjoy the summer weather. Here are a few tips to improve the deck and prepare your outdoor living spaces for the summer.

Install a Classic Pergola

Building a vine-covered pergola in your yard is an attractive way to add shade to a patio or deck. Use wood beams to build the frame and lattice for walls. The filtered sunlight created by the latticework overhead provides a calm, relaxing environment that is perfect for backyard entertaining.

Add Lighting to Improve the Deck

An easy way to transform your deck or patio is by adding lights. Install string lights overhead to add a festive look to your outdoor getaway. Add solar-powered deck post lights or an outdoor fireplace to brighten the space.

Rustic Deck and Patio Improvements

Rustic furniture and accent pieces give the deck, porch, or patio an authentic feel. Weathered wooden and cast-iron furniture go together perfectly. If you’re into DIY projects, there are various options for upcycled pallet furniture to build for your deck.

Island Deck

A deck in the middle of the backyard offers an escape a short distance from the house. Enjoy relaxing outdoors and entertaining friends and neighbors while being surrounded by the beauty of your backyard. Purchase lounge furniture and a patio umbrella to provide shade from the sun.

Build a Gazebo for the Grill

Build a gazebo to house your grill and provide space to show off your grilling skills in comfort. The shade from the gazebo protects you from the sun and keeps you cool while cooking on a hot grill. Add comfortable furniture to make it an ideal place to hang out with friends for your backyard cookout.

Improve Your Deck With a Living Wall

Create a living wall to give yourself more privacy from the neighbors. Add hanging flower baskets or install herb plants with a dripping irrigation system to a privacy fence or wooden wall. A garden wall adds color and fragrance to the area around the deck, courtyard, or patio.

Summer is a great time to get outdoors and into nature with friends and family. With these deck and patio ideas, you’ll make time outside more enjoyable. Simple touches will transform the backyard into a fun and attractive place your neighbors will envy.

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

6 Tips for Safety During the Holidays

6 Tips for Safety During the Holidays

The holidays involve decorating, entertaining guests, and cooking delicious meals. While these activities help set a festive mood, they also pose hidden risks. Here are a few tips for safety during the holidays.

Lighting Safety During the Holidays

Conduct a thorough inspection of your lights before hanging them and replace any light strands with damaged cords or bulbs. When changing bulbs, use bulbs with the correct wattage to avoid an electrical problem.

Once you have confirmed the lighting is in good condition, be careful to not overload outlets or extension cords when plugging in lights. Keep children and pets away from light strands to avoid accidents. Finally, when you leave home or go to bed, switch off the holiday lights to help prevent an electrical fire.

Holiday Tree Safety Tips

A freshly cut tree is less susceptible to catching fire. Be sure to water the holiday tree and keep it away from open flames. Place the tree on a stable surface to prevent it from tipping over and causing injury. If you opt to purchase an artificial tree rather than a freshly cut one, make sure it’s labeled as “fire-resistant.”

Cooking Safety During the Holidays

Unattended cooking is a common cause of fires in the United States, and the winter holidays are the peak season for house fires. Prevent a fire by closely monitoring your oven and stove and never leaving the area when food is cooking. Clean spills right away to avoid slips and falls in the kitchen.

Fireplace Safety Tips

Gathering around a fireplace is an excellent way to keep warm and cozy. Make sure the flue is open before starting the fire. Use seasoned wood as fuel. Don’t burn wrapping paper or cardboard boxes in the fireplace. These materials can burn out of control and emit toxic fumes that are harmful to your health. Keep flammable objects like curtains, furniture, and rugs several feet from the fireplace.

Outdoor Safety Tips

Safety during the holidays isn’t limited to inside the house. Take safety measures outdoors, too. Keep the walkways and front porch safe and easy to navigate by shoveling snow and using ice-melt. Doing so will reduce the risk of injuries from falls.

Tips for Home Security

While you’re busy enjoying the holiday, burglars may be watching your home. Deter burglars by keeping curtains closed and bringing packages inside promptly. Use motion-sensing lighting to illuminate the yard after dark.

When you’re away for the holidays, ask a trusted neighbor to monitor your house for suspicious activity. Put the indoor lights on a timer to create the appearance that someone is home. Don’t post announcements online that you’ll be out-of-town. You compromise your home’s safety when you broadcast that it’s unoccupied.

The holidays are a time to relax and enjoy yourself, but it’s important to stay safe and well. Follow these tips for safety during the holidays.

American Home Inspection Services offers home inspections in southeast Michigan. Contact us to schedule our services.

Upgrade Your Outdoor Living Spaces

Upgrade Your Outdoor Living Spaces

With the weather warming up, you and your family will be spending more time outside. Make your patio a comfortable place to hang out and relax. Here are some tips to help you upgrade your outdoor living spaces.

Upgrade Outdoor Living Spaces with Furniture

If the backyard deck is bare, adding furniture is an easy improvement. You’ll find a wide range of seating options in a variety of materials for your outdoor spaces. Wrought-iron tables and chairs are attractive and sturdy. Because they are heavy, strong winds won’t affect them. Wrought iron has the downside of being vulnerable to rust if not well-maintained. When shopping for patio furniture, there are also synthetic wicker, wooden, plastic, and aluminum options. Choose a style that is comfortable and complements your outdoor decor.

Incorporate the Elements into Your Outdoor Spaces

A water fountain, fire pit, or outdoor fireplace are all great features for your patio. The sound of falling water is calming and fires are relaxing and inviting. The addition of a fire pit adds warmth to your outdoor space and makes the area feel welcoming any time of year.

Create Shade for Your Backyard Deck

If your deck, porch, or patio gets several hours of sunlight, the area can become uncomfortably warm. Provide shady areas for your guests to relax. Options for shade include structures like a gazebo, large trellis, or pergola. You might also install a retractable awning, shade sail, or a patio umbrella. Planting fast-growing trees on one side of the deck is another way to block some of the sunlight from the area.

Upgrade a Deck With a Privacy Fence

Create an element of privacy for your outdoor living space. Your patio can feel like a private oasis when you add walls, shrubs, or curtains. You can install a rock wall around the patio to create a hidden courtyard. Other options include lattice with vining plants, up-cycling old shutters to create a barrier, and hanging canvas curtains to provide privacy and shade.

Add Color to Upgrade Your Outdoor Living Spaces

Personalize your porch or patio with texture and color. Use an outdoor rug to designate a sitting area. Install planter boxes to grow brightly colored flowers or herbs for the kitchen. Grow ivy on the pergola. Add throw pillows to your patio furniture for color and comfort.

Install Outdoor Lighting

Enjoy your patio even after sunset when you add lighting. The types of lights you choose will depend on your aesthetic. String lights are popular to make an area more festive. If you enjoy dining outdoors, candles set a relaxing mood. You can install recessed lighting into the deck stairs and deck-post lighting to illuminate the perimeter of the backyard deck. Solar-powered stake lights are ideal for lighting the walkway to the front porch or pool. Citronella-burning torches provide light for the backyard and help to keep mosquitoes away.

With our busy lives, it’s helpful to have a place to relax and unwind. These simple upgrades to your patio will allow you to create a warm and inviting outdoor space.

American Home Inspection Services provides home inspections and other services to Southeast Michigan. Contact us to request an appointment.

5 Ways to Heat the Home Efficiently

5 Ways to Heat the Home Efficiently

Winter is the season that comes with the highest utility bills for many households. Many homeowners don’t know about the small adjustments they can make to help heat the home efficiently. Here are 5 easy tricks that can save you some money.

Heat the Home Efficiently by Programming the Thermostat

You may be surprised how much money you can save by simply setting a schedule on your programmable thermostat. If the members of your household have a routine day-to-day schedule, it is best to set up the thermostat in advance.

If everyone leaves the house by 9 in the morning, program the thermostat to lower a few degrees at that time. There is no reason to keep the house at a warm and toasty temperature when no one is home. Program the thermostat to raise the temperature back up to its normal level about 30 minutes before people start arriving at home.

Fully Seal the Home

When a house is not well-sealed, the heating system has to work much harder to keep the home warm. Doors and windows are the most common areas for cold drafts to come in, so focus on sealing these areas first. Old windows become loose over time and may crack around the panes. Use caulk to seal up any openings. Exterior doors may have gaps around the edges. Apply weatherstripping around the door and a door sweep at the bottom to help reduce drafts.

Make Sure the House is Well-Insulated

A poorly insulated house cannot be heated efficiently. Since most of the insulation in a home isn’t accessible, hire a professional to inspect the insulation if you are having trouble lowering your heating bills and keeping your home warm. Damaged insulation may need to be removed and replaced or you may just need to add more insulation.

Heating System Maintenance

A poorly maintained heating system expends more energy to heat the home than one that is annually serviced. Problems like dirty components, malfunctioning parts, and a clogged filter put a strain on the system. Hire an HVAC professional to service your heater once per year, and then keep up with replacing your filters monthly or as directed by the manufacturer.

Use the Sun to Heat the Home Efficiently

The warmth from the sun is a free resource you can use on sunny days in the winter. Open the drapes on south-facing windows to heat up the room. Then, at night, close the drapes to keep the heat in and the cold air out. Outfit all the windows in the home with heavy drapes to help insulate them.

American Home Inspection Services provides home inspections and related services to Southeast Michigan. 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.

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.