A Timely Tale: Painting Your House This Fall

Wet house (2)

In Ohio, we joke a lot about weather changing every five minutes.

Thankfully, it’s easier now than ever to check the weather. It started out a crystal clear day when my landlord planned for us to paint the house in which I lived. I’d spent considerable time on a hot Indian Summer day closing and carefully covering all the first and second-floor windows with newspaper and sturdy tape. Unexpectedly, he was called away on some “emergency”.  Three days passed in the little country house, which I should mention, had no a/c and the newspapers didn’t let in much light. I called the landlord questioning when we might get the job finished. Within the hour he arrived with industrial buckets of paint, extension rollers, and a power sprayer.

He sprayed, and I rolled, starting on the front then east side of the house. Progress seemed slow but we finished the back and started painting the west side of the house in the afternoon. The wind picked up and I worried the paint—exterior latex— would dry before I had a chance to roll it. At the time, I didn’t have a TV and hadn’t paid attention to the weather forecast. I figured he’d checked it or we wouldn’t be painting.

We were within twenty minutes of finishing the job, when, even over the buzz of the power sprayer, we heard a distinctive rumble. That’s right, a storm on the western horizon. I hoped by some miracle the paint would dry before the first drop of rain fell.

Norberg Paints in their article It’s Raining: When to Paint and When to Wait seemed to think that, despite stating that it takes about 4 hours for paint to cure, that rain would do little harm to the paint itself. It should be pointed out that Norberg Paints does business in Sioux Falls, ND with an average rainfall of 27 inches a year as compared to Ohio with an annual of 37.57.

What happened instead is that the wind blew dirt and grit into the paint. When it started raining, it wasn’t a soft rain that you might imagine barely touching the paint. It became a persistent downpour. When the storm ended over an hour later, the ruined paint on three sides was with scarring rivulets etched into it.

Thankfully, it’s easier now than ever to check the weather, even in the Midwest where we joke a lot about it changing every five minutes. And my advice to would be DIY home painters would be, paint on a clear day or after the threat of rain has passed.

If you have a story you’d like to share,  we’d love to hear it. Comment below, or visit us at OhioCapitalMortgage.com, Facebook or Twitter.

What’s Going on With My Gutters?

pexels-photo (2)Whether you just bought your home or had it for years, it pays to take a good look at your gutters about twice a year. You might be surprised what gets trapped and causes clogs. From natural debris, and disease bearing insects, to the completely unexpected, most of which can’t be seen until you look into them. Small critters like mice, rats, squirrels and nesting birds all love gutters which provide a measure of safety and shelter. Industrious birds can also create rather sturdy nests in downspouts, so it does pay to keep your gutters clean.

Don’t Turn a Blind Eye

Letting gutters take care of themselves can also lead to unexpected and detrimental growth. Twigs, branches, and leaves break down over time. Allowing debris to accumulate can provide the right  kind of medium for seedpods and moss to take root.  Anything in your gutters can stop or slow the drainage from your roof and cause a myriad of problems for your home.

Ideally, water and snow melt run off your roof into the gutters, traveling through the down spout and away from the foundation of your home via splash blocks or rain tiles. If any part of the system fails at any point along the way, it’s only a matter of time before other problems arise.

Avoiding Potential Problems

Clogged, bent, bowed, and incorrectly inclined gutters can cause water to collect, over exposing the wood of your home to excess water. The longer the condition goes uncorrected, the more damage it can do to your roof. It can cause gutters to rust through, wood rot, and weakening of the roof structure. Additionally, over full gutters can bow accumulating more water than they were intended to handle. A gallon of water equals 8 lbs. That weight can cause them to bend and pull away leaving wood fascia exposed or gutters may collapse.

If gutters get clogged, they’re not likely to clear on their own. The risks of overfull gutters could mean ceiling and wall leaks. If this happens, water can  damage the interior of your home, including ceilings and walls as well as whatever is beneath the leak, including furniture, electronics, and flooring. If wires exist in the wall, contact with water can cause sparking which can lead to fire.

On the exterior, water spilling over can damage fascia boards or architectural elements below (doors, door frames, windows and window frames, or patio) which aren’t designed to endure that sort of exposure. Worst of all, water causes erosion and foundations can be seriously compromised.

Freezing Weather Reveals Problems

In winter, even more severe problems can occur: Ice dams. When your roof gets warm from the heat in your attic, it melts the underside of any  snow. That meltwater trickles down your shingles until it reaches the eaves. Since the eaves extend beyond the warmth of the house, the water freezes again. Eventually, the water can build up to form an ice dam. The flatter the pitch of your roof, the more likely this is to occur. If the water does make it to the gutter, it can also refreeze there. A frozen backed up gutter can also put a lot of weight on your gutters and allow snow melt to run over the gutter, result in those pretty icicles that sparkle in the winter sun. Beautiful as they might be, they’re dangerous to your home and anyone standing below them. They signify that your gutters fail to drain correctly. According to Todd Miller, there preventative steps to avoid this.

If you don’t feel like checking your gutters is something you want to deal with in the spring and fall, professional services may be your best alternative. It might become your favorite check to write.

Comments and suggestions? Found something unique in your gutters? Please share your comments with us on Facebook. We invite you to stop by our website OhioCapitalMortgage.com.

Stay Ahead of the Heat with These 7 Tips

Power cord into A/C unit

Here in Central Ohio, air conditioners have been buzzing for a couple of months. Although the sweltering days of summer loom near, many have already lowered the thermostat and shut the windows just to remove stickiness from the air. If you haven’t already done so, familiarize yourself with your air conditioning system with an eye toward maintenance. Keeping your unit working at top efficiency is easy with these 7 simple tips. You’ll keep cool all summer, avoid costly emergency breakdowns, and help your unit run at peak efficiency which saves money on your on utility bills.

All of these tasks can be done by a homeowner. If at any time you feel unsafe, it is best to err on the side of caution. Your local heating and a/c co will be more than happy to help. A trained pro will also come out and check your refrigerant levels and do some internal cleaning to ensure it’s working efficiently and lasts as long as it should.

1. Be sure to replace the air filter with one of good quality. The condition of your air filters significantly affects indoor air quality. Keeping them clean helps your system work at its peak. Filters that are choked with dust have a harder time drawing air which also makes your air conditioning unit work harder and longer to cool the air.

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2. Examine the thermostat. Turning the temperature down and sliding the tab to cool should cause the air to kick on. Also, you might consider getting a programmable unit that can save you even more money.

3. Outside, the condenser unit fan should blow warm air when it runs. Nothing should touch the cabinet, allowing air to circulate freely and unobstructed. If you notice significant debris inside, it is advisable to clean it out. First, shut off the power, then remove the fan grill to get inside. Clear out with a wet/dry vac or hose.

4. Take a look at the fins. Air must flow through them for peak efficiency. If they are bent, using a butter knife, gently straighten them so as not to damage the embedded tubing. Return the fan cage and screw back together.

5. Additionally, notice the two pipes at the back. The top one should be insulated, and the insulation should be in good repair. The lower pipe, a Freon liquid line, should be warm.

6. Keep plants shrubs and trees away from the cabinet of the condenser coil unit. Giving it room to breathe helps the unit maintain peak effectiveness and prevents organic matter from interfering with the fan. Check to make sure the fan isn’t loose, rattling or bent. There should be no smells, hard starting or oil on the ground.

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A unit with crumpled fins.

7. An evaporator drain line is usually routed into a basement floor drain, utility sink, or outdoors. Mold and mildew form inside the pipe and in some cases forms a clog which prevents waters drainage. Water can back up in the house causing stains and floor damage. Prevent clogs in the drain line by developing a yearly routine of pouring a cup of bleach mix (half water and half bleach) into the access hole each spring. This kills off mold and mildew which prevents buildup. If you’re not familiar, have your AC tech show you where it is. Remember to turn your power back on to have a cool summer!

Is the Air in Your Home Making You Sick?

flower vase

Spring and Summer are excellent time to get outdoors and breathe fresh air. Many of us in Ohio can hardly wait to open our windows. But soon, when it gets too hot, the windows will close and we’ll switch from fresh to conditioned air.

Unfortunately, the air we breathe inside can be worse than outside. Bacteria, pet dander, house dust, mites, cockroaches, and even pollen might be affecting the air quality of your home. Some contaminants trigger allergic reactions while others can cause infectious illnesses like the flu, measles and chicken pox.

Even humidity can be problematic. Standing water, water damaged or chronically wet surfaces are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, insects, mildew and mold.  Molds and mildews release disease-causing mycotoxins into the air. Due to their small size, many biological contaminants can be inhaled.

Some diseases have been traced back to dust and mold in home cooling and heating systems and humidifiers, which then disperses it throughout the entire home.
Symptoms include:

  • coughing
  • digestive problems
  • dizziness
  • fever
  • lethargy
  • shortness of breath
  • sneezing
  • watery eyes

If you suspect your home may be at the root of your health concerns, start with simple and affordable solutions.

First of all, keep your home clean. While it may be impossible to keep a housecompletely dust free, you can dust and vacuum regularly. Be aware that vacuuming can actually cause an increase in airborne contaminants.  Using highly-efficiency HEPA filters in your vacuum cleaners helps contain impurities.  If you or a lovedbottleflyjpg one suffers with allergies, pay special attention while vacuuming.

Secondly, keeping kitchen counters clean, dishes washed and food put away  helps prevent unwanted pests like flies and cockroaches which carry germs and disease. Properly storing food helps prevent it from molding.

In addition, keeping bathrooms dry, clean and floors picked up will help to counter mold. Taking hot steamy showers increases the humidy in the air, giving mildew a perfect playground in which to thrive. Using a ceiling fan vented to the outdoors reduces the humidity as does leaving the door open after you towel off (remember to hang your towel!)

If you have a basement, inspect it thoroughly for cracks, signs of leaking or mold on the walls, floor or joists. Basements are notoriously musty because aren’t waterproof. Others will remain dry until a rain storm comes along and then you might see water on the floor or springing through the walls. It’s a good practice to check your basement periodically.

Remove standing water and run a dehumidifier to decrease high levels of humidity to the acceptable 30-50 percent. Remove any porous wet and/or moldy building materials because once these are affected it is difficult if not impossible to restore to an uncontaminated state. It may also be necessary to hire professionals to clean duct work as they often harbor dust and mold spores.

For even more helpful tips on air quality in your home, check out this article by Denise Mann on Web MD.

When termites come a-calling

Edited blue house

One lazy, warm spring day, my eye happened upon a strange sight while sitting by a window. Out of the ground streamed flying insects, one after another. They looked harmless, their wings quiet and invisible unless the sun hit them just so. This went on for nearly twenty minutes and because of that I mentioned it to someone. They were swarming termites, dispersing from their underground nest. Later, they drop to the ground where they lose their wings. They pair up with a mate and begin a new colony.

In the US, termite damage costs hundreds of millions of dollars each year. While they’re a known problem from coast to coast, species vary. Ohio is home to subterranean termites. I you don’t live in Ohio, click the map link at the end of this article to determine your termite risk.

In Ohio, subterranean termites create mud tubes ranging over foundation walls, support piers, sill plates and floor joists. These tubes are about the size of a pen, but can be thicker. They travel unnoticed into your home from the ground in these tubes. If you discover any of these tubes on your home, break them open. They’re active if creamy white worker termites emerge. If so, you’ll want to be on the lookout inside for evidence of activity.black-and-white-2179251_1920

Outside, you may find mud tubes on fences, wood piles or wood stumps on your property. While less concerning than if you see them leaving from the base of your home, porch, window sills or doors, it is advisable to remove these threats. Termites search for and find vulnerabilities in your home, cracks in the foundations or other weak points around wiring and plumbing. Once inside, they can and often do go undetected for years in a home, even in exposed wood. In slab homes, they often begin at the baseboards and then move up into the walls. In homes with basements, they can begin at sillplates, or come through cracks and gaps.

Although drywood termites are not established in Ohio, they can travel in wooden objects such as furniture and crates and be inadvertently introduced to a home where they’ll establish a colony. To run your own termite inspection, check out this informative step by step article by Mike Dukes or hire a reputable professional to inspect your home.

If you’re among the lucky ones who have no termite damage, consider preventive measures by creating a termite barrier. Additionally, you don’t want anything sitting up against your home that might allow termites easy entry. Remove woodpiles and organic matter like leaves and mulch made of wood chips. Termite control can be obtained in better garden stores and hardware centers for considerably less money than hiring a pest control company, but you must weigh the pros and cons of such an action. A simple oversight could cost considerably more than professional services.

If you do find evidence of termites you now must consider your options. Will you treat yourself or hire a professional? The general consensus regarding the most important investment of your life seems to be that if little invaders are making your home their lunch, it’s time to call in heavy hitters. A quick Google search can help you make an informed decision. You can get the name of reputable companies in your area by doing a little homework. References from friends, Angie’s List, or listings like this that review exterminator companies can be an enormous help.

One truth holds true, however, if you find evidence, do somethingsooner rather than later. The longer you let it go the worse it will be. Termites only die out when the wood runs out. In the meantime, they’re procreating and likely becoming a larger colony, which means more of them doing more damage. By acting now, and remaining vigilant, you can save costly repairs and maintain the integrity of your home.

Termite Zone Map

Questions about financing a new home? Visit our website at OhioCapitalMortgage.com.