The Essential Guide to Summer Home Improvement
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Summertime is here! Yet while school is out for the kids, for their home-owning parents, the seasonal job of maintaining and beautifying the home has only begun. Now is the time for warm-weather tasks, such as inspecting and cleaning the siding, assessing the efficiency of HVAC units, and refreshing or replacing windows. To make lighter work of these summer rituals, use this guide as your starting point. Armed with home care and maintenance insights from experts at Sears Home Services, you'll soon have your home operating at peak performance and still have plenty of time to enjoy those lazy summer days.
Are you (and your neighbors) fed up with your siding? Does it suffer from grime, peeling paint, or simply a lack of aesthetic appeal? Cleaning, accessorizing, and refinishing your siding can not only boost your home's ability to withstand extreme weather, but also increase its curb appeal and resale value-good news whether you plan to sell or stay put for the rest of your life.
- Inspect and clean: To prolong the life and visual appeal of your siding, give it a semi-annual inspection for structural deformities like chips and cracks, then wash it clean of discoloration, rot, and pests. Before you raid your cleaning supply closet, though, remember that “different siding materials carry different-often very different-care requirements,” says Jim Eldredge, a product manager at Sears Home Services. Bleach and water, for example, may be necessary to tackle coarse brick siding, while a gentler soap-and-water solution is sufficient for wood. Perhaps the simplest type of siding to clean is vinyl. “There's a reason vinyl has become the most popular type of siding in America,” says Eldredge. It is “virtually maintenance-free” and may require little more than a quick hose-down with water to get it spotless.
- Accessorize: When it comes to beautifying your exterior, small details can make a house shine. Installing exterior accent trim, shingles, or shutters can protect a house from the elements while also giving it a polished appearance. If you're considering minor upgrades and improvements to your siding, you may wish to request a free in-home consultation with Sears Home Services. Their experts can help you navigate the wealth of options in siding accessories.
- Paint: One of the fastest ways to revive your home's appearance is to give it a fresh coat of paint. In Eldredge's view, painting the exterior is of particular value for potential sellers, because it “helps your home stand out from all the others on the block.” Before you begin a paint job, prepare the surface-sand away chipping paint, patch holes, and clean it thoroughly to ensure that the new paint will adhere to the surface and last longer. While exterior painting is a job that a homeowner can certainly tackle, consider how much easier it would be to simply hire the pros at Sears Home Services. Their 10-step process for surface preparation and paint application is designed to produce a paint job that lasts for years and saves you the hassle of doing it yourself.
Those shiny new HVAC units may be blasting cool air now, but whether they continue that tip-top performance will depend on how diligently you maintain them. As the cooling season starts, take time to measure the efficiency of your air-conditioning system and consider installing high-performance auxiliary units that can improve comfort without dramatically increasing the energy bill.
- Measure air conditioner efficiency: Before your air conditioner breaks down in the face of triple-digit temperatures, examine the unit for signs of overworking or underperformance. “Standing next to the appliance can tell you a lot about its condition,” says David Kenyon, a product manager at Sears Home Services. If “things don't sound right,” or if you experience poor air quality or excessive humidity, call a professional to repair or replace the unit.
- Consider a mini-split air conditioner: Do you notice a difference in temperature when you walk from room to room? Uneven cooling is often a by-product of “old, single-blower setups,” says Kenyon. Today, you can achieve more uniform cooling in individual rooms by installing one or more ductless mini-split air conditioners in your home. Unlike central-cooling units, these compact machines can be installed in locations throughout the house to evenly and efficiently cycle cool air into every room, “top to bottom and wall to wall.”
- Install a programmable thermostat: If your thermostat is malfunctioning, don't delay in fixing it. “Your best bet is to work with a pro,” says Kenyon, “not simply to solve problems, but to prevent problems from occurring.” If you do need to replace an old thermostat, now is the ideal time to upgrade to a programmable model. These customizable thermostats can be programmed to automatically raise the temperature when you're sleeping or away from the house, and lower the temperature when you're home and awake, contributing to a more comfortable living environment as well as lower energy bills.
The same windows that give you a view of the outdoors also offer a view into your home's structural integrity and security. Your windows serve as a barrier to air, moisture, and intruders. It's vital to ensure that they're performing all these functions as efficiently and dependably as possible so you and your family can spend the summer in comfort and safety.
- Evaluate window efficiency: To a longtime homeowner, a persistent draft or a patch of mold or mildew on the windows may seem more like a minor irritant than an urgent problem. But if ignored, escaping air and invading moisture can spike energy costs and wreak havoc on the structural integrity of your home. Issues like these can arise from improper installation, or they could merely be the sign of outdated, inefficient windows. Either way, poor window performance means it may be time to invest in new casings or windows. If replacement is in your future, go for efficient, long-lasting options like Sears Weatherbeater windows, which, by reducing the risk of drafts, moisture damage, and UV glare, can help lower your energy bill. Even better, because they are made of vinyl, they are virtually maintenance-free.
- Ensure security: You no doubt lock the doors before you hit the road for summer vacation, but like many homeowners, you may completely ignore another important entry point: the windows. Even if you don't think that your home is at risk of a break-in, “security glass is a must,” says Eldredge. When you install Weatherbeater windows from Sears Home Services, you gain the benefits of impact-resistant glass as well as a host of add-ons like dual-cam locks and steel reinforcement, all of which help make your windows a less desirable target for would-be intruders.
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