seattle wa home inspector

Get Rid Of Household Drafts

With the onset of cooler weather, now is the ideal time for homeowners to consider the efficiency of their heating systems. Drafts, gaps and poor insulation throughout the building envelope can significantly contribute to the efficiency of a home’s heating system, the comfort of occupants and the household budget.
The United States Department of Energy says that household heating and cooling accounts for around 54 percent of the average American’s utility bill. Although some savings can be achieved through proper equipment maintenance and upgrades, the United States Department of Energy explains that an energy efficient furnace alone will not have as great an impact on energy bills as using a whole-house approach.
With heating and cooling taking up a large chunk of the household budget, understanding where your home is hemorrhaging money and how to effectively stop it can make a considerable difference to your comfort and your wallet. Building specialists say that any cold or drafty areas within a home are typically caused by air leaks within the building envelope. Air leaks can make rooms uncomfortable and allow the air to escape, forcing heating equipment to work continually to compensate. According to InsulationSmart.com, floors, walls and ceilings alone can account for up to 31 percent of air leakage in a home.
Consulting a home inspector or home energy rater, who can assess your home from roof to basement; will give you a better sense of where your home is leaking money and what cost-effective measures are available. While stop-gap solutions such as caulking and sealing visible cracks can help alleviate some of the air leakage, a home inspector will make recommendations that consider the whole wall infrastructure. For instance, a home with traditional batt or blown-in insulation is typically less energy efficient than a home with modern insulation material such as spray foam, because of the gaps these traditional insulation types leave behind.
Unlike the traditional insulation materials, spray foam insulation such as Icynene both insulates and air seals the home’s envelope in one step to provide a cost-saving option that not only stops drafts from occurring but reduces energy waste and cuts the monthly heating and cooling bill. Over the long-term, the savings quickly add up.
Spray foam insulation performs for the life of the property, ensuring that homeowners can enjoy comfortable indoor temperatures all year round without overrunning their heating and cooling equipment. Spray foam insulation can noticeably reduce heating and cooling costs, in some cases by up to 50 percent, easing the strain on the household budget.
Additionally, spray foam insulation helps minimize random airborne moisture and pollutants from entering the home, ideal for allergy sufferers particularly once the cold weather passes and spring arrives. Homeowners can learn the five easy steps of selecting the right insulation for their home on www.icynene.com.

Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

The Best-Kept Secret

For Your Home’s Exterior
Unique versatility, unrivaled durability, breathtaking beauty – all are qualities that have made cypress a longtime favorite building material in the coastal regions of the South. But the secret about cypress is out, and homeowners across the country are acknowledging its virtues for upgrading their homes’ curb appeal and outdoor living spaces.
“We are seeing more cypress being used in a wide range of exterior applications, from siding and decking to ceilings and even built-in furniture,” says Shepard Haggerty, president of the Southern Cypress Manufacturers Association, www.CypressInfo.org. “Clearly, homeowners continue to favor the look and feel of wood, and not only does cypress provide long-lasting performance, it has the versatility to be stained or painted to match the style of any home.”
Architects side with cypress.
As part of the renovation of his own home architect Kevin Owen Winston-Salem, N.C., chose to replace the existing siding that was in need of repair and a fresh coat of paint.
“My wife and I spent years updating our home’s interior, but we saw this as an opportunity to give the outside a different look,” he says. “We knew we wanted to use wood siding and ultimately chose cypress. It’s locally available, competitively priced, and we especially liked its durability and resistance to insects and decay, which are serious concerns for homes in our area.”
As Owen learned, cypress comes by its durability naturally, thanks to a preservative oil produced in cypress heartwood. “It doesn’t require pressure treating like some other species,” he says. “The cypress gave a warm and organic look to our home. We are very happy with the result.”
Architect Ann McKenzie Aiken used cypress siding for a custom home in Chattanooga, Tenn. that she designed several years ago. “This was my first experience working with cypress,” she says, “and the homeowners and I were thrilled with the finished project. I have to admit, I’ve been recommending cypress ever since because other materials just don’t seem like they are of the same quality.”
Cypress decking floors homeowners and builders.
Compared to alternatives, wood decking is cooler underfoot, can be sanded if scratched, and refinished if dulled by the sun. Those qualities are what attracted homeowners, Dan and Rose Jaeger to cypress when they added two decks to their house near Akron, Ohio, 12 years ago.
“We like the feel of wood and loved the look of cypress,” Dan says. “It also was competitive in price to treated woods, but without the concern over chemicals. We’ve refinished our decks every three years, and today, through weather, parties, and family fun, they’re still performing and looking great.”
Custom deck builder John Paulin, owner of Tailor Decks in Statham, Ga., agrees. “That’s why I like cypress decking,” he says. “It offers magazine-quality looks, provides durability that lasts, and is affordable.”
Cypress has outdoor living covered, too.
Paulin says he also recommends cypress for often-overlooked exterior ceilings. “A lot of people with porches put up some plywood, paint it, and forget about it,” he explains. “But ceilings add a visual impact to an open-air space. We build a lot of covered porches here in the Atlanta area and I’ve produced some of my best-looking work, thanks to cypress.”
What sets cypress apart, according to Paulin, is the versatility it brings to selecting a finish. “Because cypress is a naturally light-colored wood, it offers a range of options. It’ll take a light or dark stain better than most woods, it can be painted or whitewashed, or it can be left in its natural state.”
Yes, the secret about cypress is out. Add its versatility, durability and beauty to your next home improvement project. It’s what the experts choose.

Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

Garage Space

Isn’t Just For Cars Anymore
The word garage, when looked up in the dictionary, has a simple meaning: a building or indoor area for parking or storing motor vehicles. By and large, this definition sums up exactly what comes to mind for most folks when they hear the word. But for some folks, garages are so much more than a space to park the family minivan and store the cumbersome and unattractive trash and recycling bins. Instead, they are functioning spaces of the home that, in the eye of the homeowner, serve just as much purpose as a kitchen or a bathroom and deserve just as much attention to detail.
More and more, people are using garages as space to actually live in. It isn’t just extra room anymore. Since the 1950s, most garages in North America are of the “attached” variety, meaning that they are part of the actual main home and not a separate building on the property. From music studios to man caves, art spaces to playrooms, garages are quickly becoming more integral parts of the family home. They are heated and cooled. They are equipped with cable and Internet capabilities. They are accessorized with attractive lighting and flooring choices.
While wall cabinetry units may still house things like a yard rake and a collection of tennis racquets and lacrosse sticks, they are also being chosen to integrate in such a fashion that the garage is truly seen as another room in the home, no matter what the intended end use of the square footage.
The gateway to the garage, of course, is the garage door. Garage doors, even though they impact the exterior look of the home, have not always been given as much careful consideration, as a design element, as the rest of the house. But now, more than ever, garage doors are getting special treatment in the design arena – both from the exterior and interior perspectives. A consumer using garage space as an art studio may choose a door with more window panels, as to increase and enhance the natural light that comes into the space. The parents of a budding rock band musician who uses the space as a performing and recording area might need to take into account the ability of the door to reduce the noise carrying to other parts of the house. Garage spaces can even be beautifully appointed to serve as living rooms, sunrooms, and a variety of other entertaining spaces that integrate seamlessly with the design and decor of the rest of the home.
A ground-breaking addition to the garage world is the new Trento Collection, distributed by Amarr, a company that has been a leader in the garage door industry with decades of innovation and design. Available in an almost unlimited number of looks, doors in the Trento Collection can be customized to fit the architecture of any home. Unlike traditional garage doors that operate via a series of springs, rails and tracks along the ceiling, Trento Collection garage doors showcase revolutionary technology and Italian design, featuring a patented overlap design that allows the door to open by folding neatly in half without any ceiling hardware to clutter the overhead space in the garage. This allows for a Trento door to take up far less space and appear significantly sleeker on the inside and outside than the traditional garage door.
So give your garage another look. It is a fine space for doing the things that traditionally make us think of garages, of course, but take a look at your garage space with a fresh eye. The space can be so much more. Entertaining space, work space, a space for a personal hobby that you’ve always wanted in your home but could never figure out how to have. The possibilities are endless.

Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

Three Astoundingly Simple Solutions

For Big Renovation Challenges
Americans are renovating again.
In fact, the remodeling market hasn’t been this robust since 2004, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ Remodeling Market Index. Yet even the most enthusiastic homeowners-turned-renovators may hesitate when faced with certain common challenges – be it adding a bathroom in a problematic location or figuring out how to bring natural light into an interior room.
But virtually every renovation challenge is solvable, and sometimes the answers are surprisingly simple and cost-effective. Here are three common issues you may encounter while renovating, and the astoundingly simple ways to overcome the obstacles:
The challenge: Adding a bathroom over concrete flooring or in a tight spot where traditional plumbing doesn’t work well.
The simple solution: Up-flush plumbing. Bathroom renovations or additions offer a high return on investment – as much as 56 percent of the initial investment when you resell, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report. But conventional plumbing can be costly and time-consuming, even in the best circumstances. If you want to add a bathroom in a basement where the floor is concrete or in a smaller space with no room for traditional piping, an up-flush, or macerating, toilet is a simple, cost-effective solution.
Systems like Saniflo’s macerating toilet and plumbing technology eliminate the need to cut through a floor to install new drainage. And the systems fit easily into areas as small as a closet or dead space beneath a stairway. A macerating pump reduces waste and paper from the toilet and sends it under high pressure through piping directly into the septic or sewer system. No waste is stored, and the systems are comparatively low-cost compared to traditional plumbing. Visit www.saniflo.com to learn more.
The challenge: Introducing natural light in a room with no space for windows.
The simple solution: Skylights. The benefits of natural light are well-documented, from improving mood to reducing dependence on artificial lights. Yet some spaces, such as interior powder rooms or walk-in closets, don’t lend themselves to windows. When you want natural light in a room where a lack of wall space precludes a window, or in which privacy is an issue, a skylight can be a great solution. Tubular skylights even allow you to bring natural light into ground floor rooms.
The cost of installing a skylight is comparable to adding quality windows in a room. Choose energy-efficient skylights and you may also reduce home cooling costs in spring and summer, and lighting costs in winter, too.
The challenge: Privacy in a doorway where a swinging door doesn’t make sense.
The simple solution: Pocket doors. A swinging door may not be right for a space for many reasons. Perhaps you need to close a door in a spot so infrequently that a swinging door isn’t needed. Or, maybe the space around the doorway is too tight to accommodate a swinging door, such as in a laundry space tucked into a hallway. Or, perhaps a traditional door will ruin the aesthetic of a space. In all those situations, a pocket door is a great way to achieve privacy without compromise. Because pocket doors tuck away inside the wall, you don’t need to worry about having enough space to open or close a traditional door. Plus, when left open, pocket doors are hidden inside the wall so their visual impact on decor is minimal.
While these solutions may be beyond the abilities of most do-it-yourselfers, reputable contractors can accomplish them easily – and help you decide if one of these options is right for your renovation project.

Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

Choose Quality Over Quantity

To Create The Bathroom Of Your Dreams
While your dream bath may be a sprawling space, the reality is that the typical bathroom is 100 square feet or less. According to recent home builder statistics, the average home size has seen a 6 percent decline in recent years. That doesn’t mean you need to give up on your dream bath. A large bathroom footprint isn’t always the answer to a better bath. Focusing on quality products can create a luxurious look, even in a small space.
Free up floor and counter space
You may not be able to create more space but there are many ways to create the illusion of more space. Adding a pedestal sink or a furniture-style vanity with legs gives an increased line of sight, making the space appear larger. Similarly, clutter takes up valuable space. One way to free up extra room on the countertop is with a single-handle or wall-mount faucet. Doors can also make a room feel constrained. Rather than a traditional swing or hinged door, opt for pocket doors; which frees up approximately 10 square feet of floor space.
Focus on fabulous fixtures
We all need storage in the bath, but don’t limit yourself to the horizontal surfaces. Make the most of your vertical space by adding bath accessories, as well.
“When updating the bathroom, many homeowners take inspiration from upscale hotels,” says Tim Bitterman, director of marketing and new product development, Moen Accessories. “Moen offers a variety of unique ‘hotel-style’ accessories to add functionality and enhance the style of your bath.”
Adding a hotel shelf, which combines a towel bar with a shelf, offers an excellent storage spot for towels. A wall-mount hair dryer holder, a pivoting wall-mount makeup mirror, a curved shower rod and robe hooks are all excellent hotel-inspired accessory options.
Dominate with dual-function
Dual-function products are perfect for smaller baths because they offer added benefits without taking up more space. Update your toilet paper holder, towel bar and in-shower shelves with newer versions that integrate a grab bar. Moen Home Care offers stylish grab bar designs featuring a paper holder, a towel bar and two shelf designs; all in a variety of finishes to help you update these bathroom basics while adding storage, safety and style.
Swap soaking for a sensational shower
Sixty-three percent of Americans shower at least once a day. Since we tend to shower more than soak, creating one sensational showering space and possibly eliminating the tub, is a wise use of surface area. For an easy upgrade, swap your showerhead with a new, high-quality model. Or, for a more luxurious remodel, install a vertical spa complete with components like body sprays and a hand shower on a single wall.
And, no matter how large or small your shower, there’s always room to add seating, which increases safety and ease while shaving and washing. The fold-down teak seat from Moen Home Care is a great option since it features a unique wall-mount design that folds down for a comfortable and secure shower seat to avoid slips and falls. When not in use, it folds up to a thin, compact profile.
It’s all smoke (and light) and mirrors
There are more benefits to mirrors in a bathroom other than a place to check your hair and make-up. They can actually make a room appear twice as large as the actual size. In addition to your vanity mirror, consider hanging a full-length mirror on a door. Similarly, bringing in more light will open up the space and make your bathroom come to life. A skylight is a unique addition, since it utilizes the often unused ceiling space. Lighting fixtures are also an ideal way to brighten the space, but don’t settle for boring basics. Try more stylish options, like sconces, which can add a more designer, upscale feel.
Remember to shop for quality over quantity when updating your bath and soon you’ll enjoy the serenity of a stylish and organized space. For more information, visit moen.com or call 800-BUY-MOEN (800-289-6636).

Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

Easy-To-Update Items To Make Your New Home Yours

This year more than 5.4 million homes were sold by the end of August, according to the National Association of Realtors. Are you one of these millions of new homeowners? If so, you’ve most likely felt the urge to settle in immediately. However, before making any major renovations, it’s a good idea to live in a new home a while to see how the space is meeting your needs. Here are a few swift swaps that will have a big impact in making that new house feel like home sweet home.
Personalize with paint
It may be the most obvious update but painting is an easy solution to change the look of a room in an instant. Whether you paint an entire room,-create a bold accent wall or incorporate glossy white trim, paint is an affordable fix for any home.
You can easily and quickly bring your design ideas to life with Shape Tape from FrogTape. Available in three on-trend patterns: Wave, Chevron and Scallop, Shape Tape makes it simple to achieve unique, repetitive decorative painting styles. Each roll of tape features a pre-cut repeating pattern, so all you need to do is simply unroll, apply and get painting to create your desired look. From delicate, narrow waves throughout a bathroom or nursery, to bold, wide chevron patterns in the living area or bedroom, this tape can be used in any room of the house.
Fabulous frames
When moving into a new space, the things you love should take center stage. Once your home reflects who you are, the rest will slowly fall into place. Photo frames are the ideal choice to add a decorative and personalized touch to any room. Bring this common decor pick into the modern age by creating a personal gallery and displaying frames of varying shapes and sizes. To do this, plan the layout of the frames before hanging, either with paper on the wall or by arranging them on the floor. Or, you can simply purchase pre-arranged frame galleries at home decor retailers.
Faucet focus
Kitchen and bath makeovers tend to have the biggest impact on a home and its resale value. However, new homeowners who are strapped for cash may not have a large budget for a full-scale bathroom remodel. Fortunately, there are several basic swaps that can quickly change the look and feel of a bath.
The easiest way to remodel your bathroom is to replace its hardest-working fixture – the faucet. This is a project new homeowners can tackle themselves at a reasonable price. Moen offers a wide variety of faucet options like the new single-handle Boardwalk bathroom faucet, to add a fresh, elegant look to the sink. Available at Lowe’s, Boardwalk fits almost any decor and comes in Moen’s Spot Resist Brushed Nickel finish, which resists fingerprints and water spots, so the faucet will stay looking clean as you show it off to family and friends. For a polished look, swap out old hardware with affordable, coordinated accessories including robe hooks, towel rings and towel bars.
Energy-saving essentials
Wasting energy means wasting money. When you go from a renter to a home owner, it’s important to recognize and fix energy-draining areas before bills pile up. Caulking around windows and spaces between the floor and baseboards in attics and sun rooms will help prevent drafts. Consider purchasing a draft stopper for the bottoms of doors so wind or heat doesn’t slip through. Additionally, service your furnace annually, so it produces more heat while using less energy.
Let there be light
Lighting is a great way to add warmth to a sparse space. If you’re looking to create an intimate atmosphere, place several table lamps throughout the room. -You can also amp up energy savings by switching to LED bulbs – these bulbs don’t cause heat buildup and last up to 10 times as long as compact fluorescents and 20 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
It’s very easy for decorating to become overwhelming for new homeowners. By starting with these few swift home decor swaps, your new home will be a comfortable and welcoming environment in no time.

Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

Buying A Garage Door? Think Insulation

There are seemingly endless options through which homeowners must navigate when buying a new garage door: the style, materials and accessories, just to name a few. But perhaps the most important feature that should top the garage door consumer’s list is energy efficiency.
Why? Because the garage door is generally the largest moving object in your home and offers the greatest exposure to the elements. An insulated garage door will maintain the temperature in your garage in the winter and in the summer and likely decrease your heating and cooling costs. Insulated garage doors not only make the garage itself more comfortable to be in, but also the rooms adjacent to or above the garage. A well-insulated garage also helps keep moisture out, and its sturdy construction offers a greater noise-reducing sound barrier.
What should consumers look for in an energy efficient garage door? For starters, check out the R-value. R-value is a measure of thermal resistance to heat flow and is how most manufacturers show the energy efficiency of their product. The higher the R-value of a door, the more insulation you’ll get. Second, look at the door’s construction. Well-insulated doors will have a “triple-layer” construction, consisting of environmentally safe polystyrene or polyurethane thermal insulation between two layers of heavy-duty steel. Some insulated garage doors also include a thermal break which is a nonconductive material within the door that keeps thermal energy from passing through, resulting in improved energy efficiency for the home.
Well-insulated garage doors should be able to stand up to the most extreme of conditions while simultaneously protecting your garage and the rest of your home. For example, the Heritage 3000 door by Amarr was installed at Mawson Station, a science facility in Antarctica, in 2007. The garage door continues to withstand years of exposure to 100 mph blasts of wind and snow. With protection like that, imagine what an energy efficient door like the Amarr Heritage 3000 can do for your home.
Whether your garage door withstands heat, wind, snow, rain, or all of the above, it’s the largest line of defense for your home. Make sure that it’s working hard for you by reducing your home’s energy consumption and providing strong, durable protection from the outside. Your utility bills – and the rest of your (climate-controlled) house will thank you.

Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

Tips To Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

You pride yourself on keeping a clean home. The laundry is washed, the dishes are dry and the den where the children built their pillow fort has been restored to sanity. You’ve been vigilant about cleaning up the messes you can see, but what about the messes you can’t? What are you doing to improve the air quality in your home?
You may not think about the air quality in your home because the problem isn’t visible, but that doesn’t stop dust, dander or chemicals from polluting your air. Everyday living generates up to 40 pounds of dust in a six-room house every year, according to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), the HVAC Inspection, Maintenance and Restoration Association.
Taking steps to clean the air in your home will do more than just improve air quality; it will also save you money. Twenty-five to 40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling a home is wasted because contaminants in the heating and cooling system cause it to work inefficiently, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
If you’re interested in improving the air quality in your home and saving money while you do it, here are some tips to get you headed in the right direction.
Hire a professional to clean your most important asset
Your heating and cooling system is the lungs of your home. The system literally takes air in and breathes air out. Because of this, keeping your HVAC system and your ducts clean is the most important thing you can do to improve your home’s air quality. “If your ducts look dirty, they probably are,” is NADCA’s advice to consumers.
Have your system serviced by a certified technician. This will not only improve the quality of the air in your home, it will allow your heating and cooling system to run more efficiently, saving you money on energy bills.
Make sure to hire a NADCA-certified technician. All members have certified Air Systems Cleaning Specialists (ASCS) on staff and they are required to further their education by attending seminars and to adhere to the NADCA code of ethics.
Encourage ventilation
Today’s newer homes are built air tight, making ventilation difficult. The simplest way to encourage ventilation is to simply open windows. In the bathroom, turn on the exhaust fan to stop steam from collecting dirt and keeping it in the bathroom. In the kitchen, place any appliance that creates steam or oily vapor under the stove hood. Finally, make sure vents on the outside of your home are not blocked by leaves or snow as season dictates.
Prevent mold
Mold can be one of the most harmful contaminators of air quality. You’ll find mold in areas where moisture and poor ventilation come together. Vacuum rear grills on appliances like your fridge and freezer to improve ventilation and empty and clean any drip trays to eliminate mold. If you have a leaky pipe in your home make sure it is addressed. Take a tour outside and trim any bushes or shrubs that have grown too close as that proximity can lead to mold and algae.
Replace filters and screens
In the warmer months, clean the area around your air conditioner and repair any vermin screens on your chimney flues that may be damaged. During the cooler months, remove screens from any window that may trap condensation and make sure to change your furnace filter monthly.
Keeping the air in your home clean is just as important as washing the dishes or cleaning the clothes. The first step is to have your heating and cooling systems serviced by a NADCA technician. Once that is complete, follow these tips to maintain your air quality. To learn more about NADCA and how you can benefit from an HVAC cleaning, visit nadca.com/en/faq.

Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

A Homeowner’s Guide To A Year-Round Deck

During the warm summer months, having an outdoor deck for barbecues and gatherings with family and friends is a great addition to any backyard. The approach of cool weather may signal the end of barbecue season, but homeowners can still use their deck after the warm temperatures have passed.
“Although decks are generally a summer attraction, there are ways to make them accessible during the winter as well,” says Stephen McNally, TAMKO Building Products Inc.’s vice president of sales and marketing.-
There are many ways to make your deck functional and enjoyable during the winter, no matter where your home is located. –
Step 1 – Warm up your deck
The addition of a fireplace can transform your deck into an outdoor gathering spot and a scene-stealing area for those cool nights. The type of fireplace you decide on for your deck can add beauty and charm as well as complement your existing color scheme and deck furniture and decorations. Outdoor fireplaces can be made from stone, brick, tile or even granite, so the color options are endless.
“Outdoor fireplaces can be big, beautiful and elaborate, but there are other options for homeowners who prefer to keep their outdoor living space simple,” McNally says.
If a large outdoor fireplace is not for you, but you want to enjoy your deck on cool winter nights, consider the addition of a fire pit, fire bowl or even a chiminea.
Structural safety and potential fire hazards are serious considerations when deciding on a fireplace, so having your deck inspected before you begin installing an outdoor fireplace is suggested. If you install an outdoor fireplace of any kind, make sure that it is done to the manufacturer’s standards.
For more information on TAMKO EverGrain products and ideas for year round deck aesthetic appeal and maintenance, visit www.tamko.com.
Step 2 – Reducing summer dirt and grime
As the summer months come to an end, your deck is due for a well-deserved, thorough cleaning. Fall is a great time for this necessary chore because other outdoor tasks, like gardening and mowing, usually begin to decrease.
“Semi-annual cleaning of your deck is part of the required maintenance that reduces dirt, dust, grime and other residue build-up that the summer months have left behind,” McNally says.-
Use a garden house to rinse your deck. A fan-tip nozzle works best, but make sure the pressure from the hose does not exceed the manufacturers regulations. Ensure that you have removed all food and trash particles from the summer so that they do not contribute to build-up over the winter. For TAMKO’s EverGrain decking products, use a nozzle with pressure that does not exceed 1,000 psi.
While rinsing your deck can reduce dirt and grime buildup, water alone will not remove the stains that have appeared on your deck. Cooking oil, suntan oil and other greasy substances can stain your deck over the course summer use. But before applying cleaner to your deck, make sure to test it in an inconspicuous spot to ensure that it will not change the coloring of your deck boards.
Step 3 – Spice up plant life
When it comes to enjoying outdoor living, beauty is everything. A well-installed deck can offer a certain aesthetic appeal by itself, but plant life can make a big difference, even in the winter time.
When the cool temperatures of late fall start to move in, you can help your plants extend their life. Move them closer to your house, ideally under a roof, to delay when they are hit by frost. If you have time before a frost sets in, help protect your plants by covering them with lightweight blankets or plastic sheets overnight and uncover them in the morning.
If you want to decorate with plants during the cool months, there are a variety of colorful, cool vegetables that make handsome pot-fillers. Consider plants with purple and dark-green leaves like beets, Chinese cabbage, kale, mustard, spinach or even herbs. Mixing several types of plants together in the same pot can have a nice effect and the addition of garden art statues can add a pop of color.

Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

Three Home Improvement Tips To Help You Breathe Easier

One in five Americans suffer from allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). As the 2013 allergy season begins, experts warn that it may be one of the worst in recent years, with people experiencing an unusually strong reaction due to increased tree pollen.
But little attention is paid to the impact of indoor air on allergies, asthma and general health. We spend an average of approximately 90 percent or more of our time indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA reports that “indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five times higher, and occasionally more than 100 times higher, than outdoor levels.”
How does this impact your next home improvement project? A survey by Angie’s List revealed Americans spend more than $300 billion annually on remodeling projects. Yet these endeavors typically focus solely on a home’s aesthetics while ignoring one important consideration: Is your home healthy?
Start at the bottom
We all want beautiful floors in our homes. Many people, however, don’t realize that some new flooring can threaten your indoor air quality. When flooring is installed, you may notice an odor for a few days or even weeks. The odor might mean noxious gases are emitting from the materials used during installation. And these emissions, particularly those resulting from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), could potentially have serious, long-term effects on your health – as well as an immediate impact on the health of family members with asthma or allergies.
The good news is gorgeous flooring options are now available that are certified “asthma and allergy friendly” by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. In 2010, Tarkett Flooring committed resources toward developing flooring solutions which help people breathe easier. The company’s FiberFloor is the industry’s only residential flooring currently certified by the AAFA. To earn this certification, the flooring underwent rigorous testing by the AAFA and successfully met the following criteria:
* Installation of the flooring does not result in elevated levels of chemicals.
* The flooring has a low capacity for retaining allergens.
* The recommended cleaning of the flooring will not result in exposure to airborne allergens.
Additionally, other flooring options offered by Tarkett, such as its luxury vinyl tiles and planks and laminates, are FloorScore-certified by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) together with Scientific Certification Systems for better indoor air quality.
Tarkett’s “iSelect” program simplifies flooring options and introduces customers to an interactive, multi-faceted shopping experience.- The system begins with six inspirational color families: Champagne Celebrations, Hushed Conversations, Earthy Connections, Evening Receptions, Fireside Chats, and Warm Gatherings – each offering its own feel and color space to help you find the perfect floor to meet your design, durability and health needs while also coordinating with your existing furnishings and adjoining floors.
Spring for PVC-free accessories
Did you know that your shower curtain can be one of the greatest sources of noxious gas in your home? Many homeowners purchase PVC shower curtains and liners because of their functionality and ease of cleaning. However, according to “Practically Green,” a website for people interested in green living, a recent study “found that 108 different volatile organic compounds, including those known to cause developmental, liver, nervous system, respiratory and reproductive damage, were released into indoor air by PVC shower curtains.” Replacing current shower curtains and liners with PVC-free products are quick and inexpensive fixes that will make your bathrooms healthier for the whole family.
Manage mold and mildew
If you’re noticing moisture or mold building up on your windows, have your home checked by an energy rater or a building analyst. To prevent moisture from getting in your windows, select windows made with double pane, insulated glass to create an insulating barrier and keep moisture, mildew or mold from developing. For added energy savings, you can opt for a Low Emissivity or “Lo-E” coating to keep heat from radiating beyond the side of the window where it originated. You’ll save on your heating and air conditioning bills while also minding your health.
Home improvements should be a proud reminder that your home is your castle and you treat it well. This year, consider investing in simple projects that can also improve the health of the castle’s residents.

Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!