Blog :: 2019

Brrrr! It's time to get your fireplace serviced!

With temperatures and snow falling fast, there's no better place to be than nestled in front of a cozy fireplace. Before settling in, there are a few safety measures to take to ensure you can relax and enjoy the comfort of a crackling fire all winter long. 

According to Susan McKelvey, a spokesperson for the National Fire Protection Association, half of all US home heating fires take place between December and February. Follow the tips below to put your mind at ease and start enjoying your fireplace right away!

1. Regularly clean the interior

Burning wood in fireplaces can release pollutants in the air and leave a buildup of dust, ash, and creosote, which can cause fires. Also watch for any accumulation of soot, which is softer than creosote, is flammable, and must be regularly cleaned from the chimney.

The NFPA recommends chimneys be cleaned at least once a year, at the beginning of winter, to remove soot and debris. For homes who use their fireplace regularly a more regular cleaning schedule may be better. Contact a local chimney cleaner to get a professional opinion.

2. Cap it

Use a wire mesh cap to cover the top of the chimney to keep birds, squirrels, rain, and other debris from entering. Some critters can mistake chimneys for trees and build nests inside them to escape the cold. This is not only a danger to the animals, but a potential fire hazard. Capping your chimney is an inexpensive fix, usually running around $75-$80.

3. Check the damper

The damper is a movable plate meant to seal the fireplace when not in use. Be sure your damper is working properly and free of debris that would keep it from opening and closing properly.

While you're checking the damper, also take a look at other components such as door latches, handles and grates. Over time these items can break or warp and should be repaired/replaced.

4. Monitor for smoke

Excess smoke can be caused by animal nests (see Tip 2), an unclean chimney that has creosote, soot buildup, a closed or partly open damper, or wood that is not burning completely.

Check that your chimney is properly vented to the outside to minimize the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Be sure your smoke and CO alarms are functioning properly. 

5. Choose the right wood to burn

Hardwoods such as maple, oak, ash, and birch burn longer and hotter, have less pitch and sap, and will contribute less creosote buildup.

You can burn any type of untreated wood but to make sure it is properly seasoned. You'll know your wood is well-seasoned when it fades in color, is hard, sounds hollow when you knock on it, and has loose bark.The most effective way to dry out wood is to cut it, split it, and stack it.

6. Use heat-proof glass doors

Glass doors help protect against heat loss and keep embers, cinders, or logs from rolling out of the fireplace and causing damage. You can have doors installed on the frame of your fireplace or pick up a tempered glass screen. Of course, be sure to keep anything flammable well out of the way of the doors or grate. 

 

10 Fall Home Maintenance Tasks To Tackle This Weekend

 

Grab a pumpkin spice coffee, your favorite flannel and a pair of work gloves - it's time for fall home maintenance!

Why is seasonal maintenance important?

Sure, cleaning the gutters may not be your idea of a fun fall weekend, but taking the time to tackle seasonal maintenance will save you time and money in the long run. It's easier to prevent a problem than deal with the aftermath down the road. Here are 10 essentials to take care of before the snow flies...

1. Rake 'em Up

Oh how we wish the beautiful foliage would stay on the trees and off our lawns! Make raking a family affair and bag up your leaves to prevent them from killing the grass next spring.

2. Clean the gutters

Speaking of leaves, when they clog your gutters, rainwater can’t flow through and will eventually spill over. So what, right? This overflow can damage your home’s siding, roof and foundation.

It’s better to remove the leaves from your gutters than to chance the buildup turning into a costly problem.

3. Check the roof

While we’re on the subject of the roof, fall is a great time to check that all shingles are in place and in good shape before winter snowstorms pop up on your radar.

4. Conduct a walking inspection

Take a walk around the exterior of your home, keeping an eye open for damage along the pathways leading to your doors. Cracks could mean loose cement or gravel, increasing the likelihood that someone could trip or slip and fall.

To ensure the safety of visitors, seal any cracks you see. Be sure to inspect the siding and foundation while you’re at it, and tackle any repairs as soon as possible.

5. Cracks and gaps can cause problems indoors too

When you shut doors and windows, make sure there aren’t any spaces allowing air to escape. If there are, seal them before the real cold weather hits.

You may not think much of these little gaps right now, but you will when you open your heating bill and see how much you’re paying to keep the whole neighborhood warm, or when you find out that a mouse has made your cabinet his home for the winter.

6. Store summer staples

Patio furniture is susceptible to damage from winter weather. Since you probably won’t spend as much time outside, move patio furniture etc. into storage.

7. Sweep it up

Schedule a time to have your chimney and heating system cleaned and maintained, including swapping old filters for new ones. It’s important that everything is in good working condition to decrease the likelihood of house fires.

8. Pipe down

Shut off the water supply to exterior faucets and insulate your pipes before the weather dips below 32 degrees. This will help prevent pipes from freezing, bursting and flooding your home.

9. Take time to vent

Dryers are a leading cause of fires - make sure to have your dryer vent cleaned annually. Aside from safety issues, if your vent is clogged with lint, your machine will not be as energy efficient.

10. Testing … 1, 2, 3

Test safety devices, such as smoke alarms, and check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher. In case a fire ignites, it’s important to know that you and your family will be alerted and able to get out of the house quickly and safely, or able to extinguish smaller fires before significant damage is done.

Spring 2019 Market Update

 

It's not just the weather that's warming up, our local real estate market is coming into spring hot!

The number of closed homes in Quarter 1 2019 is right on track with 2018, but set to rise. With inventory remaining relatively low, sellers are benefitting for having their home on the market for fewer days, and selling for higher prices. This is a challenge for buyers trying to break into the market. We would suggest consulting a loan officer, obtaining a pre-approval and then developing a relationship with a tenacious Realtor who is prepared to write your winning offer.

While the low inventory is a challenge for buyers, mortgage interest rates are remaining low at an average of 4.125% for a conventional 30 year fixed rate. While these rates are still low, it's a great time to buy or to re-finance your existing home! It is possible that interest rates may begin to creep up later in the year, and while only time will tell, it's still advised to act quickly.

Signature Properties of Vermont remains among the Top 10 most productive brokerages in Northwestern Vermont! Our small team is experienced, capable and ready to help you with your home sale or purchase this spring.

Call us any time: 802-872-8881