Tips on Winterizing Your Home

 

Take a few minutes to read and make sure you have properly winterized your home.

The NHSCA contributed to a terrific article on SheKnows.com 
Read the entire (original and unedited) SheKnows.com by Rolla Bahsous online here.

winterizing-your-home

How to get your home ready for the cold season
If you’ve already pulled out your winter coat and put snow tires on your car, there’s still one thing you’re missing before the cold weather hits. Most people completely overlook the few simple steps needed to winterize a house. It’s important to remember that while home service contracts generally provide service, repair or replacement for the major built-in appliances and systems in your home – such as dishwashers, electrical and plumbing systems, heating ventilation and air conditioning systems  – regular maintenance is still very important.

  1. Self-check your heater and HVAC

Turn the heat on and be sure that all the rooms in your home are getting enough heat through the vents. Check and change your HVAC (furnace) air  filters.  “Many of us think of changing our furnace filters just once or twice a year, yet experts say we should replace them every month during the heating season,” says Andrea Woroch, a consumer and money-saving expert.

  1. Schedule a professional furnace maintenance visit.

A furnace tune-up not only includes cleaning that keeps your furnace running efficiently, but it also catches small problems before they turn into big problems that can not only cause inconvenience and discomfort. An annual maintenance contract from a local, trusted HVAC company is also a great idea. They will not repair or replace broken units like a home service contract, but they go a long way to keeping your home running happy and healthy.

  1. Check batteries and update your fire and CO detectors.

Check and replace all batteries as needed. Don’t forget a good quality carbon monoxide detector in your bedroom and near your gas heater and/or gas water heater.  Even a small problem can lead to gas leaking into your home or dangerous carbon monoxide levels. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, on average, about 170 people in the United States die every year from CO produced by non-automotive consumer products. Be mindful, many  detectors typically need to be replaced every five to seven years. 

  1. Get the fireplace ready

If you have a fireplace, be sure it’s ready by ensuring the chimney is clean. If you have burned a few cords of wood, having a professional chimney sweep is mandatory. If you don’t have a fireplace but wish to have the cozy ambience, check out some faux fireplace units at your local décor store. Some of these fireplaces are designed to emit heat in addition to the “fire” display.

  1. Check your gutters

Letting leaves pile up in the gutter can cause big problems any time of year, and in cold weather especially. The NHSCA says, “During winter months, leaves can potentially cause melting ice and snow to backup into your attic, and even your basement. Be sure to pay particular attention to gutters that have branches directly over them. Not all trees shed their leaves at the same time so you may need to check the gutters in both the fall and early winter.”

  1. Check your windows

To keep warmth inside your home, inspect all windows and make sure there aren’t any cracks where heat may escape. It might be wise to cover all your windows facing North with a plastic sheet. You can find these at your local hardware store and the cost far outweighs the heating saving you’ll gain by covering your windows. Pella Corporation, the leading manufacturer and designer of windows, doors, blinds and shades for homes and commercial buildings, also recommends clearing windowsills of dirt and debris since pre-winter window cleaning is one task most homeowners overlook: “Debris like sand, dirt or leaves can get caught in windowsills and moving parts of windows or doors. Clean these areas with a dry paintbrush to create a tighter seal and enhance window and door performance.”

  1. Check the outside of your house

If you haven’t eyeballed your home’s exterior in a few months or more, now’s the perfect time to reassess at the start of a new season. Before that first snowfall, Pella Corporation recommends repairing or replacing damaged exterior surfaces that could expose your home’s interior to the outside elements. Pella Corporation advises, “Cracked or deteriorated wood on the roof or near the foundation is typically associated with water penetration and may allow moisture or cold air to leak into your home. Look closely for signs of moisture leakage and replace damaged wood. Consult a professional to help correct any roof or drainage problems around your home.”

  1. Remove leaves around your outside HVAC unit.

The HVAC unit is likely your home’s largest operating system. The compressor part of your air conditioner is located on the exterior of your home and can become inefficient with debris and leaves blocking it. You can even use a wet dry vacuum or your hands to remove the debris from the bottom for manual cleaning. Wear gloves if using your hands for manual cleaning and turn off your main breaker first – just to be safe.

  1. Turn off exterior faucets

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s also one of the easiest home winterizing tips to overlook — because it’s so simple. According to the NHSCA, “Un-drained water in pipes can freeze, which will cause pipes to burst as the ice expands.” The NHSCA recommends, “Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining the water that remains in faucets. If you don’t have frost-proof faucets (homes more than 10 to 15 years old typically do not), turn off the shut-off valve inside your home.

  1. Install a programmable thermostat

To keep home temperatures regulated and energy costs to a minimum, we recommend installing a programmable thermostat to lower temperatures when the house is empty and warm it up again in the morning. We have used and love the internet controlled NEST brand which retails for about $199.00. However cheaper models are available that work fine. Woroch says, “You can pick one up for as little as $20 and save an average of 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bill. Since some of these are expensive, look for deals to save money on programmable thermostats and other home energy products.”

The National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA) is a non-profit 501(c) (6) industry trade organization of member companies serving home service contract providers and consumer interests throughout the United States. For more great industry and consumer information, visit  http://www.homeservicecontract.org or call 913871-5600.

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Even in a Seller’s Market, the Value of a Home Service Contract Remains Strong

 

Lenexa, KS – When sales in the residential real estate market grow, often resulting in a shift towards a sellers’ market in many areas, no one should forget the basic economics of selling or owning a home. The National Home Service Contract Association reminds home buyers that the true cost of home ownership extends well beyond the sale price.

A home service contract provides needed peace of mind and budget protection at a time when they need it most, during the first year of home ownership. They also protect the seller and the seller’s agent from an unhappy and frustrated buyer who encounters a significant repair right after closing.

Home service contracts generally provide service, repair or replacement for items such as dishwashers, ovens, disposers, electrical and plumbing systems and most importantly, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC), which may become inoperable due to normal wear and use. Coverage does not include preexisting conditions. At an average cost of $400 – $550 a year and service calls ranging from $50-$100, a home service contract can easily pay for itself with just one use, and is one reason they are highly recommended by real estate brokers for both the seller and buyer of a home.

There are many ‘unexpected’ expenses that add to the cost of home ownership – especially during the first year according to national data and the NHSCA.  Jeff Powell, President of First American Home Protections says “We all love those ‘do it yourself’ television shows but the reality is that there are many home repair or replacement projects that occur in that first year which can, and should, only be done by a skilled professional. The true cost of owning a home includes items such as maintenance and repair. The average cost for those items in the first year of home ownership is roughly 1% to 2% of the purchase price. That can really cause a burden to homeowners who have just made what is likely the biggest purchase of their life. That is where a home service contract can really protect a homeowner’s bank account and provide peace of mind.”

The national median existing single-family home price for the first quarter of 2016 was $234,000. That translates to potential maintenance and repair bills ranging from $2340 to $4680 and higher. That figure is for maintenance and repair alone, and doesn’t even include items such as a major system replacement, insurance, property taxes, utilities, lawn care, pest control, or the purchase of new items such as furniture. 

“Even in a sellers’ market, home sellers still can set their home apart from the rest by providing such coverage,” Powell said. “And home buyers still need and want to safeguard their budget. Why leave anything to chance when it’s a win-win for all parties involved?”

The National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA) is a non-profit 501(c) (6) industry trade organization of member companies serving home service contract providers and consumer interests throughout the United States. For more great industry, media and consumer information, visit  http://www.homeservicecontract.org or call 913-871-5600.

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Popular Mechanics – How to Get the Most From Your Home Warranty

While written in April 2013, this advice from PM is pretty much timeless.

Suppose someone is considering buying a home…READ MORE

The National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA) is a non-profit 501(c) (6) industry trade organization of member companies serving home service contract providers and consumer interests throughout the United States. For more great industry, media  and consumer information, visit  http://www.homeservicecontract.org or call 913-871-5600.

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COLD TEMPS NOT OPTIMAL FOR HVAC TESTING

 

National Home Service Contract Association cautions home buyers about limitations on HVAC testing in colder temperatures

Lenexa, KS – The National Home Service Contract Association is cautions consumers purchasing an existing home in the winter that colder temps make it difficult to determine the proper function of residential air conditioning units.

HVAC professionals generally caution that anytime the mercury falls below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, a home inspection report can only verify that a unit will turn on, but cannot verify it actually cools without high risk of severely damaging the compressor.  In winter, the coldest spot in a refrigeration circuit is in the compressor crankcase, located outside the home. Because refrigerant naturally migrates to the coldest spot in the unit, if the system is tested, the refrigerant may travel into the compressor, causing damage.

The NHSCA urges buyers purchasing an existing home to hire a qualified and experienced home inspector, pay special attention to the testing of their HVAC unit and request the seller provide a home service contract as part of the real estate transaction to help insulate them from costly repair or replacement costs of for undetected problems in future months.

To offer reassurance that the system is operating properly, real estate agents representing the buyer will generally ask the seller to sign a form stating the date of the last time the air conditioning system was fully functioning. However, if a home has been on the market for an extended period of time, this statement may not provide accurate information on the current condition of the unit.

“If a house has been sitting empty and an undetected leak has slowly depleted the refrigerant, the new owner will have no idea until they turn the air conditioning on in the summer,” says Art Chartrand Executive Director of the NHSCA. “At that point, a service call to get the refrigerant level back up and the unit running will likely cost in excess of the cost of an annual home service contract on the entire home. “  One also need to understand that low levels freon would indicate a leak in the line that will continue to deplete refrigerant until it is located and fixed. That translates into more repair dollars for the homeowner.

The NHSCA also notes that in the past some homeowners have opted for a temporary fix by simply having refrigerant added to their systems to keep them operational. However, the dramatic increase in the cost of refrigerant in recent years can make this approach as costly as a repair. Freon is currently scheduled by the EPA to be unavailable after 2020 due to its adverse environmental concerns.

Home service contracts generally provide service, repair or replacement for items such as dishwashers, ovens, disposers, electrical and plumbing systems – and most importantly, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC), but do not cover pre-existing conditions. Paying particular attention to the contract’s terms and conditions can help avoid confusion when a service call is needed.

The National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA) is a non-profit 501(c) (6) industry trade organization of member companies serving home service contract providers and consumer interests throughout the United States. For more great industry, media and consumer information, visit  http://www.homeservicecontract.org or call 913-871-5600.

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HOMEOWNERS ENCOURAGED TO OPTIMIZE BENEFITS OF HOME SERVICE CONTRACTS

Seller-Purchased Contracts Offer Convenience and Benefit for New Homeowners

(Lenexa, KS)  Home sales  can get hot and can slow down in quickly changing markets these days, but a home service contract always makes sense for sellers and buyers. Homeowners should get the most of them.

Home sellers very often  purchase home service contracts on behalf of the buyer as an added incentive.  They also may receive protection during the listing period and fewer issues after the sale.  To receive the maximum benefit and convenience of these contracts, the National Association Home Service Contract Association offers the following guidance.

Review the home service contract to be sure that you understand all terms and conditions.Home service contracts generally provide service, repair or replacement for items such as dishwashers, ovens, disposers, electrical and plumbing systems – and most importantly, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC).

Maintain all appliances and household systems to keep them in good, efficient operating order. You will benefit from uninterrupted service and as well as potential energy savings.

Request optional coverage be included if you feel you may need coverage on items not typically specified under the standard coverage. If the home you are purchasing includes features such as a swimming pool, septic tank or spa, advise your agent to request this optional coverage.

Keep a copy of your contract easily accessible and post the providers toll-free service number in a visible location like the refrigerator door.

Call your contract provider at the first sign of trouble. Do not call a repair contractor directly.One of the benefits of your home service contract is that your provider works with a network of prequalified and licensed contractors in your area. If a breakdown poses an actual risk to your health or safety (such as lack of water or heat in freezing temperatures) most providers will work to expedite emergency repairs.

Follow up with your provider if for some reason you are not satisfied with the service provided. They will work with you to resolve your concern.

Be aware of when your contract expires. For your convenience, many companies will provide automatic renewal of your contract. If you did not wish to renew, contact your provider right away to exercise your cancellation rights.

 

The National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA) is a non-profit 501(c) (6) industry trade organization of member companies serving home service contract providers and consumer interests throughout the United States. For more great industry, media and consumer information, visit  http://www.homeservicecontract.org or call 913-871-5600.

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