While you were on summer vacation, your home was hard at work battling the elements. After enduring intense heat or seasonal thunderstorms, your home deserves a little TLC to get it ready for the colder months ahead. With fall on the way, now is the time to inspect windows and HVAC systems for signs of distress, and repair or replace them for improved operation and aesthetic appeal. While you're at it, perhaps it's a good idea to freshen up the bathroom as well, in preparation for the hordes of overnight guests the holidays bring. With expert recommendations from Sears Home Services, you can make short work of these traditionally time-consuming tasks and add an extra dose of comfort to your home.
Don't wait for frost to set in before you winterize your windows. Structurally compromised windows invite cold air in and let warm air escape, forcing your HVAC system to work extra hard to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Put a stop to winter drafts by inspecting and replacing inefficient or outdated windows to ensure comfortable indoor temperatures and lower energy bills all winter long.
- Cold resistance and energy efficiency: If your living room feels like a freezer, your windows may be to blame. Drafts can enter your home through cracks in window casings, jambs, or windowsills, so it's important to check these areas, and seal cracks and any rotted spots. Yet, as important as it is to winterize your existing windows, sometimes the best course is to replace them. Inefficient, outmoded single-pane windows let in more cold air than their modern counterparts. “Put your hand to an old window, and it's cold to the touch,” says Dave Lincoln of Sears Home Services. If your single-pane windows are keeping your house cold and your energy bills high, it may be time to make the switch to new double-paned windows. One option is the Sears Weatherbeater window, a double-paned model with a layer of argon gas in between the plates of glass. That important feature gives you an extra buffer against the cold, and can help produce warmer indoor temperatures, better energy efficiency, and lower energy bills. “New windows keep the cold out and warm in-the way it should be,” says Lincoln.
- Sound reduction: Do you wish you could live in a quieter neighborhood free from the sounds of traffic or noisy neighbors? You may be able to get your wish without having to change your address if you're willing to change your windows. “Time and time again I work with clients who report that after replacing old windows, their living spaces seem quieter and more peaceful-like it's the same house, but in a new location,” says Lincoln. Double-paned windows, such as Sears Weatherbeater windows, put another layer between you and the sounds on the street while they insulate your home from the cold, meaning you'll reap double the benefits from a single installation.
As you brace yourself for freezing temperatures, take some time to inspect your HVAC system. It's better to discover any weak spots in your cold-weather defense now than have to deal with a broken furnace, heat pump, or boiler in the middle of winter.
- Furnaces: If your home is heated by a furnace, the most effective winter prep task involves replacing your furnace filters with high-efficiency versions to keep dust, germs, and other particulate matter out of your indoor air. Know that “high-efficiency filters must be cleaned or replaced more often, about every three months,” according to David Kenyon, an HVAC specialist with Sears Home Services. After swapping the filters, continue your preseason furnace checkup by inspecting the internal components to ensure proper functioning. If you don't have much experience working with HVAC systems, you'll benefit from making a quick call to a pro, who can do the inspection for a small fee. On the other hand, if you suspect that your old or underperforming furnace won't last the season, consider replacing it now rather than later. The experts at Sears Home Services can provide you with a free consultation to review your home heating options.
- Heat pumps: When it's doing its job right, a heat pump is the unsung hero of ductless heating and cooling systems, drawing thermal energy from the cold outdoors and turning it into warm, comfortable indoor heat. But when the heat pump experiences problems, such as cycling on and off, making loud noises, or failing to heat or cool, it certainly makes its presence felt. Take precautions by having your heat pump inspected and, if necessary, repaired or replaced by trained HVAC experts like those at Sears Home Services.
- Boilers: Many homeowners rely on a boiler for heat, sometimes using the appliance to both heat water and warm the house. Although boilers are highly energy efficient and have relatively few mechanical components, they are still prone to the occasional failure. When your boiler doesn't fire up, doesn't heat water effectively, or begins to leak, your heat could cut out just when you need it most. For that reason, it's a good idea to get your boiler inspected early in the season. Trained technicians, like those from Sears Home Services, can diagnose problems, repair boilers made by any of the major brands, or, if necessary, install a brand-new boiler.
According to the old real estate adage, kitchens sell houses, but surely the bathroom is almost as important to a home's value. When done well, a bathroom renovation can increase your home's resale price while adding a touch of modern convenience to your everyday life. Renovations come in all sizes, both large-scale and small. Even if you can't commit to a full bathroom remodel today, keep in mind that you can start by replacing just one outdated fixture at a time.
-Toilets: Most often, toilet trouble can be resolved with a simple fix, swapping out the handle, for instance, or replacing the flapper. In other cases, your time and money may be better spent replacing the fixture. You may want to opt for replacing rather than repairing a toilet if it has a crack in the porcelain, clogs frequently, has poor water efficiency, or suffers from some other costly problem. These functional faults, however, aren't the only reasons to invest in a new toilet. Even if you're simply tired of looking at cosmetic imperfections like chips, scratches, or stains, it may be time to replace a decades-old toilet. To help you navigate your bathroom remodel, consider calling on the experts at Sears Home Services, who can advise you on selecting a new, efficient, ergonomically friendly toilet that fits your style and budget.
- Showers: Nothing ages your bathroom like a stained bathtub or discolored grout and tile in the shower. Putting in a new tub and tile gives you a fresh look and a new chance to banish mold and mildew from the bath. To take your project one step further, consider replacing the existing flooring in your bathroom. New tile floors can “boost home resale value,” according to Joe Maykut of Sears Home Services. Even if you're not planning on selling your home anytime soon, you can still benefit from a modest makeover. Tiny changes like swapping a lime-covered shower head for an easy-clean model can make a big difference to your daily quality of life. Whatever the scope of your bathroom renovation, you can look to Sears Home Services for a range of showers, tubs, and accessories as well as the trained professionals who can install them.
- Cabinets: Whether your bathroom cabinets are part of the sink vanity, installed over the toilet, or mounted on another wall, they may benefit from a quick spruce-up. Particularly if the cabinets are intact but in need of a new finish, you'll get a “tremendous bang for the buck” by refacing them, says Maykut. On the other hand, if the cabinets are structurally deficient, “refacing them would be beside the point,” Maykut advises. In that situation, cabinet replacement may be a worthier investment. If you're not sure which approach is best for your bath, call the experts at Sears Home Services to schedule a free in-home consultation.
This post has been brought to you by Sears Home Services. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.