I am a single mom in West Des Moines, IA. I needed new gutters and gutter toppings as I live in a neighborhood which has lots of trees. I spoke to three gutter companies and had narrowed it down to one.
Because of a bad experience a few years back when having a cedar fence installed, I knew that I was going to be more careful this time around while dealing with a contractor. I read about SafePact and decided that this would offer me protection in knowing that the work was done to my satisfaction before the contractor was paid in full. When I spoke to the contractor that I had chosen about using Read more →
So a month ago today I did a post that was a nifty little link to ways to winterize your home. I enjoyed that so much, and I like that idea enough that I want to show you all another link that has some additional winterizing tips.
I love being warm (probably why I love Safepact’s sunny Gulf Shores location), but while I’m home in Indiana for the winter I have to deal with the dreaded winter. The good thing about that though is that I can do one of my favorite things in the world, and that’s standing in front of the warm fireplace.
I highly doubt I’m alone in loving the warmth, sound, and feeling of being in front of the fire, but after sitting there all spring and summer and most of fall there are some precautions that you need to take to make sure that your fireplace is safe to use for the up and coming winter months. Here are a couple of tips and tricks and things to look for when preparing your fireplace for winter (and Santa too of course).
Once you get it planned to have your fireplace checked you have to decide which level of inspection you need. There are multiple levels of inspection that you can choose from when getting your job done, but to save you the time of looking at the link I’ll go ahead and tell you that a level one inspection is all you really need to start.
Something that you’ll find is pretty common amongst some of these advice articles is to have your chimney inspected by a professional, and it’s one that I agree with. The thing about chimneys is that they are very easy to see that some work needs to be done with them, but very hard to actually DO the work unless you have the right equipment.
I’ve got a couple articles that explains just how to clean the entire thing yourself (watch out on that link…large paragraphs…hard to read), but it’s a complicated and dirty job that can easily and affordably be done by a professional, so I say just do that. Here is a link to an article that has a bit of a checklist in things to look for when you are selecting your sweep.
Once you actually have your fireplace cleaned and prepared and ready for the winter, there are some things that you can do during the winter to keep your fireplace healthy and happy.
One of things you can do is burn a synthetic log vs. burning real ones. Synthetic logs like your Duraflames and such are actually specially engineered to prevent the creosote from building up in your chimney and starting a fire. They also emit less carbon monoxide than your typical from-a-tree logs, which makes Mother Earth happy.
Make sure that you know what you can and cannot burn in your fireplace. Knowing these will help keep you and your family safe when using your fireplace in the winter.
Last but not least I want to talk about chimney caps. Chimney caps are the decorative little pieces that you see on top of chimneys that give them a “finished look”. Aside from being aesthetically pleasing chimney caps do a lot of help for your home and neighborhood. Caps prevent sparks and embers from escaping your chimney, which can potentially cause a fire by igniting surrounding bushes or trees.
The best part about chimney caps however are what they do for you in the months you aren’t using your fireplace. Chimney caps will prevent leaves, birds, raccoons, and other airborne maladies from entering your chimney and damaging the inside of it. Birds make nests, raccoons scratch, and leaves can just sit there, all causing the inside of the chimney to either get scratched up or, at the very least, greatly increase the chance of something catching on fire. I would highly doubt that a bird or a raccoon is going to be sitting in your chimney when you are lighting the fire, but their nests are usually made of leaves, newspaper, and paper products….which are big fire hazards. Having a chimney cap will prevent these potential fire hazards from entering your chimney and increasing your chances of a fire.
For the lazy people among us to don’t want to read my entire article (too late! It’s already the end muahaha) Here is a youtube video about all this.
For as much work as you can do when finding a general contractor for your home improvementjob it’s the subcontractors that he brings in that you have little control over. A majority of your contractors are going to have a choice select group of subs that they use, but sometimes the subcontractors are going to be found by your general contractor the same way you found him…research and advertising. This means that it’s very possible for your subs to go missing and/or bankrupt while they are working with you. You are probably going to have your contract signed and ready with your general contractor, so what can you do about these subs?
This article from the DJC in Oregon gives great information about what to do when your subs don’t work out. The article can get a wee bit technical for the average house builder, but overall he does a really good job of breaking down the steps that you need to take in order to ensure that your subs don’t hurt you as much as a general contractor would.
Now you may ask yourself “Self…would using Safepact.com protect me against subs if they don’t work out?” The answer to that would be a resounding yes. Regardless of who your contract is with, and who is a part of your home remodelingproject, Safepact will still never release your funds to anyone without your express permission. So you can be calm and cool knowing that no matter who is doing the work, you’re still in control.
You know, for as much as I talk about what makes a good contractor, and for the amount of information I give about how to make sure you contractor is a good one and won’t steal your money, I haven’t ever really mentioned how to find that contractor. I figure there are a couple ways of going about it…
As a friend: This could kill two birds with one stone actually. If you ask a friend or someone that you know about their contractor then you are getting the recommendation part along with finding a contractor for your specific project. This can be a really good way of finding a contractor too because it saves a lot of the time and energy it takes to actually research and try and find the businesses. A downside to finding a contractor this way is that you run the risk of having your friend pull the classic “I know a guy” kind of deal, which can backfire pretty easily. There isn’t anything wrong with the “I know a guy” approach, but sometimes the guy isn’t the right kind of contractor your looking for, or maybe he just isn’t as good/experienced/specialized as someone else in the field.
Find one online: You can find plenty of websites online that have online databases of contractors and handymen that are trusted by that website. The obvious advantage of finding your contractor through this means is that you will have a good deal of automatic trust in that contractor since they come recommended by a website that has standards of who they let in to their database, however that can also be a downside as well. You would greatly assume that the contractor would have to get through a series of tests to make sure that they are allowed on the website, but that’s not always the case. The contractors that you find on these kinds of sites probably aren’t the ones who are going to steal from you mid project, but there is a higher risk of the quality of work being down. The contractors might see these sites as another form of advertising vs. using it as a way of showing off the quality of work. Final downside is that these sites tend to be set up for bigger cities, so if you are living in a smaller town you might not be in that particular websites “network”
Go to the BBB: Our good friends a the Better Business Bureau come to the rescue again. This is the best way for you to find a contractor because you will be able to easily see where the contractor is (since you start the whole process by putting in your zipcode), how you can contact them, and if they are BBB certified. Choosing a BBB certified contractor is the absolute best way to make sure that the contractor you chose is a trustworthy one and one that will do their job. Going through the BBB also ensures that you can find more information on the contractor such as ratings and comments, and that the contractor that you are dealing with is one who will complete your ask, complete it on time, and complete it well.
If anyone has any suggestions for blog posts I would love to hear it! Talk to me here or on facebook and let me know your ideas!