10 Times a DIYer was Smart to Hire a Pro

DIY Home Improvement

Get the most out of your DIY home improvement projects. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

We love diving into DIY projects at home. Even if you’re a total novice when it comes to DIY, anyone can tackle simple projects to enhance their home. No matter how experienced you are at working on your own home, though, there are times when it might be smart to bring on a professional to assist you. Here are the top 10 reasons you might need help:

1. Your DIY Project Uncovered Hidden Problems

Your home repair was supposed to be a quick fix. After researching the how-tos and assembling the right tools and materials, you dive into your project. Only to find it revealed another problem. Contact a professional when the situation you uncovered appears to be beyond your ability. Do the same if it’s just something you don’t want to deal with yourself. Your hired pro can advise you on the best solution to the new problem and if there are other issues lurking around the corner.

2. Your Friends and Family Have Favor Fatigue

We love our friends and families but, let’s be honest, we may have asked one too many favors this year. While you may be excited about tiling your bathroom floor, your closest friends may not be ready to spend their weekend that way. Last-minute cancellations and no-shows derail a DIY project. The day you counted on the help of friends and family can be awfully lonely. If your job cannot be accomplished by you alone, it may be wise to get an estimate from a professional, especially if your project must be done within a specific timeframe.

3. Your Home Repair Project Requires Tools That You Don’t Have

Some home projects require tools and equipment that you won’t need again. So, understandably, you’re hesitant to add that cost to your job. You may be able to rent the tools or equipment that you need, but you’ll want to do the math. See if it would be more cost-effective to hire someone to do that portion of the work (and bring their own equipment).

4. You Have a Deadline

We have the greatest intentions of completing a DIY home task quickly. But when it’s not your 9-to-5 job, life can get in the way. Your project may be set aside as other, more pressing priorities appear. If there is a deadline to complete the work, it can make sense to hire a pro to handle all or part of the job.

Living Room DIY Project

Take control of your DIY home improvement budget with professional help. Image: Hanohiki/Shutterstock

5. You’re on a Tight Budget

As a DIYer, there is pride and savings in doing the work yourself. If you have a limited budget for a home improvement, though, you may actually save money by hiring the right professional for the job. All home projects can suffer from “project creep,” which is when your budget and scope grow as the project drags on. Hiring a contractor or designer can help you keep your budget under control.

DIY Laminate Flooring

Decide which DIY projects you may want to outsource. Image: Elnur/Shutterstock

6. You’re Not Comfortable With Your Skills

Did you see a DIY project on TV that you’d love to do in your own home, but the skills required are out of your comfort zone? Home improvements are not the best way to try out new skills. Inexperience can end up costing you more than hiring a specialty contractor to complete the work. The right pro helps you figure out what aspects of the project you can handle yourself and what is best left to them.

7. You’re Stuck on Your DIY Project

Not sure what to do next? It’s totally common for a DIY project to stall because of indecision or the sudden realization this is beyond your skill set. It’s possible to hire a professional to take on part of your DIY project and hand it back to you to finish.

8. You’re Fixing Another DIYer’s Mistakes

Well, this is awkward. That gorgeous built-in media cabinet that sold you on your new home turned out to be a structural nightmare. There may be no quick-fix for some of the well-meaning DIY fails in your home. Plus, trying to DIY your way out of them may make things worse. If the problems you need to correct are electrical, plumbing or structural, a professional can help you fix them the right way.

Your DIY project can help or hurt you when you sell your home. Image: ImageFlow/Shutterstock

9. You’re Selling Your Home

If you are fixing up and repairing things at home before you sell it, you’ll want to be honest with yourself about your abilities and experience. Home buyers will be less open to decorative DIY projects that are very personalized to your taste. A buyer’s home inspector will be going over your home carefully, so every repair needs to be done perfectly.

10. You’re Procrastinating the Start of Your DIY Project

Have you been putting off a DIY project at home? It’s possible that you just don’t feel ready to tackle the job and that’s why you haven’t been able to start. Your procrastination could mean that it’s time to talk to a professional to see if this DIY project would be better for a pro to complete.

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HVAC Basics: Choosing a Dealer

Home HVAC Dealer

Your local HVAC dealer can help you find the perfect system for your home. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

When it’s time to replace or purchase a new HVAC system, how do you choose the right dealer for you? A new HVAC unit is not an everyday or impulse purchase. It’s important to do a little homework before you shop. Doing some research and asking the right questions is crucial to choosing the best HVAC dealer for your home.

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Basics to know before choosing an HVAC dealer

Let’s start with some basic info before you start your dealer search. What we call HVAC is an acronym for “heating, ventilation, air conditioning.” If you choose a heat pump unit, all three elements are combined into one. Heat pumps are idea for homes that are limited to electrical power, but many homeowners choose them because of their convenience. However, they’re not suitable for all climates. HVAC can also represent a furnace and air conditioner in your home.

Choosing the right HVAC dealer can make the buying process easier — but how can you be sure you’re choosing the right one? Doing your research on your current HVAC, and on the dealers in your area will help you in your search.  Here’s are the first things you’ll need to do.

Having the right information about your heating and cooling needs makes shopping for a new HVAC unit easier. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

This research can make you a savvy HVAC buyer

  • Repair or replace your HVAC? Ask prospective dealers if they have the capability to inspect your HVAC unit and determine if repairs might bring it back to top condition. You may still choose to replace the entire system, but it’s good to know if it’s really time for it to go.
  • Read dealer reviews on more than one site. All review sites are not the same when it comes to getting a balanced look at potential HVAC dealers. It’s a good idea to visit at least two sites that provide ratings and reviews, to get a balanced view of the dealer. Word of mouth from friends and neighbors is also helpful. But visiting at least one review site will let you see an overall view of that dealer’s quality of service.
  • Gather your maintenance and purchase records. It will be helpful to have your current HVAC unit’s records when you shop for a new system, so that your dealer can assess the age and condition of your current system. Furnaces can typically last 12-16 years with proper maintenance, and air conditioning units can last 10 to 16 years when maintained. 
  • Get an energy audit of your home. A local HVAC dealer can provide an energy audit of your home, to ensure that the unit you choose is right for your home. Knowing and understanding your home’s heating and cooling energy needs can save you money. If you’d like to have an energy audit done before you shop for a dealer, most local utility companies offer a free energy audit. This will give you the energy calculations you’ll need when you shop for a unit.
  • Contact prospective HVAC dealers. Once you’ve done your research and are ready to choose an HVAC dealer, visiting their showroom or scheduling a home visit is your next step.

Your local HVAC dealer can help you find the perfect system for your home. Image: John Royal/Shutterstock

What questions should you ask an HVAC dealer?

Your local HVAC dealer can be a great source of information to help you choose the right system. Be ready to ask questions of the prospective dealers, so that you have all the information you’ll need to make a decision. Here are 5 questions you’ll want to ask.

1. Is it really time to replace my HVAC?

A new HVAC unit may not be necessary, when a repair can restore it to optimum condition. Once your HVAC reaches the end of its functional life, a repair may not be possible or cost-effective. A poorly maintained or outdated unit can be more expensive to run.

2. Am I looking at the right HVAC unit for my home?

It’s possible that the HVAC unit you’re replacing was not the perfect type for your home. Your climate, weatherproofing, and even your family size, can be a factor in choosing the  right unit. The right HVAC system for a home in the hot and humid South may not be the right choice for a climate zone in the frigid North.

3. What size HVAC unit do I really need?

Your HVAC dealer can use your energy audit, and other information about your home, to recommend the right size system. There are calculations that provide an accurate picture of your heating and cooling needs. Your dealer can explain the range of HVAC unit sizes, and why they can be too big or too small for efficient energy usage in your home.

4. Will my new HVAC system handle my home’s ventilation needs?

The “V” in HVAC is ventilation. Allergies, dampness, humidity, and more, can affect the fresh air ventilation in your home. Be sure to ask about air cleaning and ventilating features of the HVAC systems you’re considering.

5. Can I finance my purchase?

Many HVAC dealers offer financing, or partner with lenders to make this large purchase easier for you. It’s a good idea to ask about sales, promotions, and discounts you may qualify for as part of group memberships or your age group.

With your research done and your must-ask questions ready, it’s time to contact your local HVAC dealer who can help you choose the right HVAC system for your home.

Why Isn’t My Air Conditioner Working?
Keeping Cool: How to Choose the Right A/C Unit
HVAC Basics: What’s a Good SEER Rating? 
Building Your Energy-Efficient Dream Home
Clever Ways to Hide an Ugly HVAC Unit

The post HVAC Basics: Choosing a Dealer appeared first on Freshome.com.

3 Early Signs That You Need to Replace Your Roof

Replacing a roof is a project we’d all like to put off. It can be a major investment to replace your roof. A new roof could easily run around $5,000 to $10,000 — or more. This varies based on how much contractors charge by area and what types of materials you use. Contractors can take one to several days to install a new roof. Or, if you plan to replace the roof yourself, it’s a large home remodel that could run you around a few days to weeks to complete, depending on how much time and help you have.

All that said, if you don’t replace your roof when you first see signs of wear, it can mean more costly repairs down the road. The most common problem is that water will seep in under worn shingles and cause damage to the structures below. That’s when leaks into the home and mold start to happen. On the more mild side, an old roof can look just plain ugly. So below we’ll look at some of the early signs that your roof might need to be replaced.

Replace Your Roof Cracked Shingles

Shingles will start to crack and warp with damage. Image: Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock

Replace your roof if the shingles are in bad shape

The easiest way to tell that you need to replace your roof is that the shingles themselves are starting to look worn. There are a few ways to tell that you will need a new roof based on how your shingles look:

  • The edges of the shingles may be curled or have a cup-like appearance
  • The shingles are cracking
  • There may be bald patches

In short, if your roof is starting to look old and worn out, it’s time for a new one.

Replace Your Roof Moss on Roof

Moss can signal deeper damage under the shingles. Image: MagicBones/Shutterstock

Moss is appearing

Another key sign that you may need to replace your roof is that you’re seeing moss on or between the shingles. While it might seem like moss on the roof is a quaint quality that will make your home look like a fairy tale cabin in the woods, it’s a sign of a potential problem.

Moss itself is not an automatic sign that you need a new roof immediately. Moss does naturally grow on or between shingles, especially on roofs that are in shaded or moist climates. But moss could hint at hidden damage.

The problem with moss is that when it rains, the moss absorbs the water like a sponge and holds onto it. The whole point of shingles is to allow water to roll off the roof and into the gutters. When moss is present, it keeps that moisture from going where it’s meant to go. That can lead to the shingles themselves breaking down. Since moss impedes the water from reaching the gutters, it can also lead to that water seeping into the layers under the shingles, causing water damage and mold growth.

So if you see moss, you’ll need to call a roofing contractor to clean up the moss and look for signs of permanent damage.

Replace Your Roof Old Roof

If your roof is just old, it might be time to replace it. Image: Dynamoland/Shutterstock

Consider the age of the roof

Another key factor in determining if you need to replace your roof is the age of that roof. This isn’t a warning sign you can see at times, but it’s worth keeping in mind. Roofs that are at least 20 years old may benefit from replacement with higher quality materials. Typical asphalt shingles last about that long, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Other materials may last longer, however. Slate, copper and clay/concrete roofs can last over 50 years and wood shake roofs can last around 30, for instance. So, depending on what material you have on your roof and the last time it was replaced, it could just be time so that you avoid leaks down the road.

And, remember, for an investment this large, you might want to consider getting materials that will last longer and be more durable, like metal roofing. This is one of those home purchases where a higher up-front cost could mean fewer repairs down the road. It could be a good investment, especially for a home you plan to stay in as long as possible. If you plan correctly, you might not have to replace your roof ever again.

Whether you put in a new roof or want to protect your existing one, head here to learn how to make it last for decades.

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Should You Repair or Replace Your Home’s HVAC Unit?

Your HVAC system is one of those unsung heroes in your home. When it’s working well, you hardly notice. When it starts to falter, it becomes a big problem. Your HVAC system is responsible for keeping your home comfortable, no matter the temperature. If you find that your home is too cold in the winter and too warm in the summer, it’s probably time for some HVAC maintenance. Knowing whether to repair or replace your HVAC when it’s malfunctioning is important. This can involve a professional evaluation and some checks you can do, too. Always check with a trusted pro before you decide to repair or replace your HVAC unit to save time and money. But here are some general tips for how to know whether you can give your HVAC unit a tune-up, or it’s time to get a new unit altogether.

Row of HVAC units outside of homes

Well-maintained A/C units will work better, longer. Image: Shutterstock/Christian Delbert

Repair your HVAC if:

  • It’s less than 10 years old. Consider the age of your HVAC when deciding to repair or replace. The National Association of Home Builders estimates that the average lifespan of an HVAC system should be between 10-15 years. Of course, that’s not to say that an HVAC system can’t fail before then, but if yours is less than 10 years old, it’s probably cheaper to have it repaired than to buy a new one. Whatever’s wrong with your HVAC should be a minor fix unless it’s over 10 years old.
  • You’ve checked the ductwork. A lot of HVAC issues don’t have to do with the unit, but the duct work. In fact, 10 to 30 percent of the air leaks out before it even gets to your home, so a check of the ductwork can save you big bucks. Having a professional check your ducts and seal any gaps for around $50 can make your HVAC will run more efficiently with a relatively cheap fix.
  • You’ve performed regular maintenance. If you’ve had your HVAC system checked and maintained over the years, you shouldn’t have any major problems. Simply clearing your unit of debris, dust, and dirt, and having regular tune-ups should save you from major problems like failure or inefficiency. Make HVAC maintenance part of your spring and fall checklists and you’ll save time and money.

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Large master bedroom with ceiling fan

Can’t keep cool? It might be time to replace. Image: Shutterstock/JR-Stock

Replace your HVAC if:

  • It’s more than 15 years old. Once your HVAC system is nearing its 15th birthday, it’s also nearing the end of its lifespan. Sure, you could fix whatever’s causing it to malfunction, but chances are that you’ll just have another issue crop up next season. The components in your HVAC start to age and malfunction, which means it might be cheaper to just replace the unit than to pay for repairs year after year. A new unit usually costs anywhere from $5,ooo to $7,00o. It’s a big investment, sure, but it also means a new, more efficient unit.
  • You notice higher energy bills. Feel like you’re suddenly paying more for heating and air? If you get sticker shock every time you open your heating and cooling bills, it might be your HVAC’s fault. As systems age, they simply become less efficient. That means your HVAC is working overtime to heat and cool your home, which means it costs more to run. Calculate out how much extra you’re paying in energy bills and you’ll probably find it’s less expensive to get a new unit.
  • Your unit isn’t doing its job. If you notice that some of the rooms in your house are never as comfortable as they should be, it could be an inefficient HVAC unit. If it’s malfunctioning or aging, it means it can’t keep up with the demands of your home. In the summer, some rooms feel hot or you notice that the unit is running day and night to keep you cool. In the winter, you might notice that you’re always cold or constantly cranking up your thermostat. Keep comfortable by installing a newer, more efficient unit and your home will be more comfortable.


Financial tip: when to repair or replace

Still undecided? Knowing whether to repair or replace your HVAC unit comes down to cost. An easy calculation to make if you’re not sure is to get an estimate for HVAC repair. Then, multiply that number by the age of your system in years. If you get an estimate for $385 and your unit is 12 years old, you get a number of $4,680. Check that against the price of a completely new unit. If it’s more than the cost of a new unit, replace it. If it’s less, you can probably get by with just repairing the system.

Still have questions? Talk to an expert

Your best option is to consult a local HVAC professional for their opinion. Your HVAC system might not be the most exciting part of your home, but it might be what makes the biggest difference in your comfort levels. Take good care of your HVAC with regular maintenance and it’ll be easier to tell when to repair or replace the workhorse of your home.

Why Isn’t My Air Conditioner Working?
Keeping Cool: How to Choose the Right A/C Unit
HVAC Basics: What’s a Good SEER Rating? 
Building Your Energy-Efficient Dream Home
Clever Ways to Hide an Ugly HVAC Unit

The post Should You Repair or Replace Your Home’s HVAC Unit? appeared first on Freshome.com.

Ceiling Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

ceiling tips kitchen

Your ceiling is more than just a wall. Use these ceiling tips to make the most of it. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

Our ceilings are the unsung heroes of the home, but they’re so much more than that. We don’t give them much thought unless there is a problem, but your ceiling can do much more than act as a fifth wall. 

5 superpowers of a great ceiling

  • Helps to control odor
  • Can lighten up a dark room
  • Adds an unexpected accent color
  • May reveal hidden problems in your home
  • Can make a small room look larger

Did you know your humble ceiling can do all that? This area of your home doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, but there are things you can do with your ceiling that will benefit your entire home. Here are the ceiling tips you may not know:

Your ceilings should be cleaned (really)

Washing your walls isn’t a typical to-do list item, even for spring cleaning. Most walls get washed before painting or when we move out. Ceilings are definitely not on a regular cleaning rotation in most homes, but there are situations where it makes sense to add them to the list.

Our ceilings can trap odor, grease and dust as they rise around us every day. Homes with wood-burning fireplaces, smokers or pets can benefit from ceiling cleaning once or twice a year. Cleaning your ceiling can be done with an all-purpose cleaner, water, a ladder or step stool and lots of towels. DIYing your ceiling cleaning is not an easy process, so many homeowners call in a professional to do the work.

Dining room ceiling color

Even a soft, neutral ceiling color can enhance your rooms. Image: cr8tivguy/Getty Images

Ceiling paint color can make a big impact

Ceiling paint color may be the last thing on your mind when you move into a new home. Ceilings have been traditionally painted bright white, which is a simple look that can lighten any room. Today’s builders often prefer to use one neutral color throughout their homes, including the ceiling. A completely neutral paint color on walls and ceilings creates a relaxing and effortless look in every room — but it can also look a little generic.

Ceiling color trends are moving away from the all-over neutral look and into using your ceiling as an accent wall. Choosing an accent color for your ceiling is a great way to incorporate a rich color that you may not want on your walls. Foyers and dining rooms are excellent locations for a ceiling accent color.

Reclaimed wood is a hot trend for ceilings

Painting an accent color is just one way to personalize your ceiling’s look. With the popularity of modern farmhouse decorating, reclaimed wood is showing up on ceilings everywhere. If you love the look of reclaimed wood for a ceiling or wall, there are wood paneling products available that can give you that rustic vibe without the hassle of heavy boards. Redesigning your ceiling with light-weight wood paneling is a fun weekend DIY project that can totally change your home’s style.

Living Room Ceiling Tips

Bright white ceilings are more effective for lightening up a room than a reflective paint sheen. Image: Jodie Johnson/Shutterstock

Ceiling paint sheen: you have options

Choosing the right paint sheen for your ceiling doesn’t have to be a challenge. Most builders and designers choose matte or flat paint for ceilings. Paint with less reflection hides imperfections and gives ceilings a smooth and soft look. If you’d like a little more brightness or light reflection, eggshell finish is more lustrous without being too shiny.

If you’re hoping to bring more light into a room by using a high- or semi-gloss ceiling paint, it can backfire by creating glare, taking away from your wall color. A ceiling paint color that is one to two shades lighter than your wall color can lighten your room more comfortably.

Your ceiling can reveal clues about your home’s condition

We rarely notice our ceilings until we spot a problem. Check your ceiling regularly for cracks, discoloration and surface changes. A regular look at your ceilings can help you identify changes in small cracks that may be getting larger and require professional evaluation for structural issues.

Water spots can appear when your roof or plumbing is leaking, so they should be investigated right away. Once a repair has been made and the ceiling has dried out completely, it’s okay to repaint. Repainting the ceiling after the damage has been corrected will help you recognize future problems.

Ceilings can bubble or swell when water damage is accumulating from above. This is an urgent issue for your ceiling and may indicate an active leak that is more extensive than just that one area. The fix for an active leak can include plumbing or roofing, removal of wet materials and replacing drywall in your ceiling. If you’re a seasoned DIYer, you can handle some or all of that work depending on the source, but don’t hesitate to hire a contractor if it’s out of your comfort zone.

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HVAC Basics: Annual HVAC Maintenance Schedule

When properly taken care of, an HVAC system can last nearly fifteen years. While much of that work should be done by a qualified professional, there are things that you, as the homeowner, can do to make sure that your system stays in good shape. We’ve laid them out for you below. Keep this annual HVAC maintenance schedule close at hand so that you can refer to it throughout the year. With a little TLC, you’ll be able to keep your system running smoothly for years to come.

Clean off your HVAC system every time you see that it’s collected dirt and debris. Image: Shutterstock/ Christian Delbert

As often as possible

  • Visually inspect your HVAC system: The best thing you can do to keep your HVAC healthy is to pay close attention to it. Any time you are in your yard, just take a quick glance over at your system and make sure that nothing is amiss. If you see any dirt or debris on the system, clean it off. Additionally, pay attention to how your system sounds. If you notice any changes in the way the system sounds, you’ll want to call a professional.
  • Keep your landscaping in shape: You should also make an effort to keep any landscaping that surrounds the HVAC unit in good shape. The last thing that you want is to have roots or vines grow too close to the unit and have it cause problems with your system’s functionality. Ideally, you should aim to keep a clear 2-foot barrier around the unit at all times.

Remember to change the air filter every few months. Image: Shutterstock/ Steve Heap

Every three months

  • Change the air filter: Believe it or not, using a clean air filter is one of the keys to keeping a healthy HVAC system. It keeps dust and debris from building up in your ducts or being blown into the other rooms of your home. You should replace the air filter at least once every three months. Though, you may even want to check it monthly to make sure that it’s not full of dirt.
  • Adjust the thermostat: Constantly lowering and turning up your thermostat can have a big impact on your bills and not in a good way. Instead, if you can, consider setting your thermostat once a season and then letting it go.

Have a professional come evaluate the functionality of your system twice per year. Image: Shutterstock/ I AM NIKOM

In the fall

  • Professional seasonal maintenance: The reality is that the vast majority of your HVAC maintenance should be done by a professional. They will check the electrical connections and voltage, condensate drain, exhaust outlets, fuel lines, burners, heat exchangers and other components. Additionally, this is the time when they can address any problems other problems you’ve noticed.
  • Clean ice and snow off the unit: Depending on where you live, ice and snow may be inevitable. However, letting too much of it accumulate on the outdoor components of your HVAC system can do serious damage. Do your best to clean off any ice and snow.
  • Replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector: Though this is not truly a component of your HVAC system, it’s just as important. If they’re not working properly, heating systems can give off dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Make sure you stay prepared by testing the detector at least once a year and putting in fresh batteries.

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In the spring

  • Professional seasonal maintenance: Bring your local HVAC professional back out for spring maintenance on your AC unit. They will inspect the connections, voltage, lines, fins, pans, coils, refrigerant levels and blower system components. This is also the time to bring up any problems or damaged areas that you’ve noticed over the winter as you get ready for warmer temperatures.

Are you getting ready for the upcoming season? Get in touch with a local HVAC professional today to make sure that your HVAC maintenance is taken care of.

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