A Seasonal Checklist is the Best Way to Start Winter on the Right Foot

Winter Maintenance

Want to have a happy, healthy winter season while protecting your home and family at the same time? Put some time aside now before the cooler temperatures arrive to tend to a winter preparation checklist.

We’ve compiled a list of tasks that will keep your home safe, warm and energy efficient this season in Berkeley, CA.

Check Insulation

Insulated HomeThere are a number of things that you can do to make sure that your home is energy efficient this winter, like getting your furnace tuned-up.

However, one of the best ideas is to ensure that your home is well insulated. Start with your windows.

Are any panes cracked? If so replace them. Replace any loose seals around the frames. Look for open spaces around your doorways. You can level the door with weather stripping to prevent air from escaping.

Heat rises, so make sure that your attic is airtight. Place insulation tightly against the walls and roof. It’s common for it to move out of place during the summer and fall in the wind. Inspect for rips and water damage as well. Also, make sure that the entry to your attic is well sealed.

De-Icing is a Must

Frozen PipeDanger lurks in your driveway and walkways when covered with even a thin sheet of ice.

Stock up on de-icing salt to use when you need it most to stay safe.

Sand, although messy, works well too. Whatever you choose, keep it handy for when the temperature falls.

Especially because your plumbing system can be involved as well, creating even bigger issues inside your home.

Pay Attention to Ventilation

Although some moisture is good in your home (to keep the floors in good shape and keep your hair and skin in good shape) too much moisture can present challenges with heating.

Avoid having furniture too tight against the wall in damp rooms. You don’t want to restrict air flow. Damp spaces are harder to heat. It’s worth considering a ventilation system.

As a more low-tech solution, crack a selection of windows every day for a few minutes to keep air flowing.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Smoke Detector CheckProtect your family from the dangers of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning by attending to your detectors.

Clean them out of dust and debris. Test the buttons to make sure that they are operating properly and install new batteries.

And remember to never paint over the detectors. They simply won’t work as well, making it harder to detect if there is an accidental fire occurring inside your house ... threatening the safety of your loved ones.

Take the guesswork out of buying a new home by doing your house hunting with your eyes wide open. Your home is probably the biggest purchase that you’ll ever make, which means that due diligence is the name of the game.

There is a lot that can go wrong with housing components, many of which can be pricey to repair. You are well advised to know what you are getting into so that you can budget accordingly to make your home a wise investment. Here is a guide to help you assess your home-to-be.

Check All the Switches

Can you imagine that you moved into your new home in Berkeley, CA on a hot summer’s day, only to realize that the Air Conditioner doesn’t work when you turn it on?

Not only is that going to make you uncomfortable, but it could also add a substantial cost that you weren’t expecting.

That’s why you turn everything on and off when you are looking for a home to make sure that everything works. This includes all lights, A/C, furnace, fans, and appliances (if they are included with the sale).

Insulation is Important

It’s not as exciting as a thoughtful floor plan or nice finishes, but having a well-insulated home should be on your housing wish list.

That’s because a well-insulated home is going to be the difference between paying a lot or a little on your heating and cooling bills.

Insulation essentially acts as a barrier against the heat or the cold outside (depending on the season). The most important places in the home to be insulated are exterior walls, the attic, the basement, garage walls and around the foundation.

The Importance of a Property Inspection

If you are anxious to get the ball rolling to own your prospective home, it can be tempting to skip the property inspection.

Even if you deem it a nuisance or an expense that you don’t need, rest assured: this is one of the best investments that you can make in your potential home.

Having a licensed professional do a property inspection lets you get a full snapshot of what you are getting into.

Most of the problems that are more expensive to fix and threaten a home’s structure or basic comfort are not readily obvious to the untrained eye.

Discovering problems in advance of a purchase can let you make a well-informed decision before you purchase. It can also help you amend your offer if necessary and budget for repairs in the future.

A Guide to the History of Indoor Plumbing

In our modern-day Berkeley, CA community, we pretty much take our indoor plumbing for granted. But have you stopped to wonder about how your plumbing came about?

Like many of our home’s components, indoor plumbing began as a solution to a problem and evolved over the years, becoming better.

Here is a guide to the history of indoor plumbing.

The Early History of Plumbing

In about 3000 B.C. the first network of pipes was built in the Indus Valley Civilization (today known as India). This network of pipes was built of copper. The buildings that these pipes serviced had drains and wells.

They even had septic tanks for their bathrooms, which is similar to what we’ve still got today. In Crete in ancient Greece, the first flush toilet was invented under King Minos. Also built under King Minos’ reign was a complex rain-harvesting system that also had underground drainage.

The Next Stages

In ancient Egypt, they built bathrooms right into the pyramids. They believed that the dead still needed many of life’s essentials, which is why they supplied food and fairly elaborate bathrooms in the tombs.

A few centuries later in ancient Rome, some of the biggest accomplishments in plumbing history were achieved, when they built their extensive network of aqueducts, which supplied fresh water on a large scale throughout the city.

Also notable from the Roman era, was the use of heated water for Roman private and public baths, which served both a sanitary function and a function of status in their society. They also used lead pipes, which did a great deal to improve sanitation in the city.

The first indoor toilet is credited to Queen Elizabeth’s godson, Sir John Harington in 1596. In 1664 King Louis XIV ordered the construction of a lead pipe main sewer system, but it was many years before Versailles actually had indoor plumbing. Marie Antoinette, during her days of opulence didn’t even have toilets.

This lack of toilets goes to show exactly how essential indoor plumbing is not just for convenience, but for sanitary reasons. There were hundreds of guests and servants on hand on any given day in Versailles, with no “facilities” to use. The end result was a high concentration of people using hallways, the outdoors or personal commodes that were dumped collectively, creating a notoriously awful odor around the palace.

Eco-Friendly Plumbing Today

The next stage of evolution in plumbing has to do with water conservation. In the last few years there have been advances in eco-friendly plumbing.

Some of these include dual flush toilets, low-flow showerheads and motion activated faucets. Choosing these fixtures can help you save money on your water bills.

Tips for Having Summertime Fun and Conserving Water at the Same Time

With the hot days of summer here, you and your family are probably taking every opportunity you can to cool down.

In many cases, cooling down involves using water. It’s important to conserve water, no matter the season because of the global water crisis.

In addition to wet leisure activities, your lawn and garden need extra water this time of year too. It is possible to have fun, maintain your garden and be mindful of water conservation at the same time.

Fun Outdoor Water Activities

Looking to keep cool at home? Set up a water zone in your backyard and get ready to cool down.

Even if you don’t have a backyard pool, you can still have hours of enjoyment with a kiddy pool.

Get one big enough for mom and dad too. In addition to lounging in the water, make a fun game with your pool by putting ice cubes in and seeing how long you can keep your feet in.

Empty the pool after on grass that needs watering so you can conserve water. Another “water park” idea is to build your own water slide with a tarp, a small amount of dish soap and a tarp. Slip and slide away.

Conserve Your Water so you can Have Fun

It’s all about balance. If you are using more water at home for your fun activities, you need to find other areas in which you can cut back on your use.

Become vigilant about plumbing leaks, which can cause you to waste a significant amount of water.

Watch for pooling water, an unexplained increase in your water bills, a musty odor or mold growth. Also, inspect your washing machine and refrigerator ice machine hoses for damage. Check out your plumbing fixtures for leaks and fix them quickly.

Sprinkler and Hose Tips

To reduce the total amount of water you need to tend to your lawn and garden, here are some tips.

Use an adjustable sprinkler, so that you can control flow and placement of water more accurately.

If you have an irrigation system, inspect it often to make sure that it isn’t leaking. Common signs are sunken patches and pooling water.

Inspect hoses for leaks and replace as needed. Make sure that hoses are fastening well to hose bibs and no leaks are occurring there.

Timely Info About Water Leak Detection

If you suspect that you’ve got a water leak in your home, then time is of the essence.

Even if you feel like it’s only a little water, you’d be surprised and how much damage can be created by that small amount. It happens fast.

Save yourself the headache and the expense. If you think that you’ve got a water leak, spring into action before real damage happens.

Here is some timely info about water leaks and how to detect them.

Preventative Maintenance

If saving money is your main objective, protect your pipes on an ongoing basis. Most water leaks come from damaged pipes.

Over time, pipes tend to corrode, which make them fragile. One other major cause of leaky pipes is tree root intrusion.

Consider getting your pipes cleaned and inspected on a regular basis.

You’ll be able to identify these problems if they exist before they have a chance to wreak havoc on your home.

How do I Know Where the Leak is Coming From?

There are some common signs that you’ve got a leak.


You’ll see water pooling on the floor, damp spots on the wall or ceiling.

You might feel a cold spot to the touch on your walls, or you might discover mold growth.

Another red flag is musty, moldy odor, which signals the fact that water is making it possible for mold to grow.

Leaks can come from your pipes, plumbing fixtures, washing machine, and ice maker hoses or even within your home’s foundation.

To be very sure where the leak is coming from and to develop a sensible, cost-effective solution, you should get professional help.

Don’t Underestimate the Damage of Water Leaks

A small pool of water may seem innocent enough, but don’t be fooled. That water is a major threat both to your home and to your belongings.

If drywall gets wet, for instance, it will warp and bend, causing your home’s walls to move all kilter.


The whole structure can be damaged if beams or joists get too wet and rot. That can be expensive to repair.

Don’t forget about the health hazards that come about from water damage too.

Imagine discovering that a small leak

spawned a whole bunch of mold growth that your family has been breathing in.

That’s not a risk worth taking.

That’s why when you see signs of water leaks, you need to act.


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