All posts by Doug Thompson

Energy Efficiency (Not for Dummies!)

12 Dec 2015

In the days of our pioneer forefathers and mothers, energy efficiency meant stuffing mud, twigs & roots, and maybe animal hair into the chinks of their log cabins. Over the years, our efforts to keep warm or cool and save energy have become more sophisticated. But that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated. Following are a few tips on saving heat and money.

Our ancestors were on the right track: When you’re making the first steps to conserve heat and energy, plug the holes first! You can have the best insulated house in the world, but what good is it if the storm is blowing right through that 3/4 inch gap under your front door?

Take a look around your home. Making sure your doors and windows fit properly and are weatherstripped is a great start. If you feel a draft or cool air anywhere, look more closely for the source. Have any holes been cut through the ceiling for pipes, vents, or wiring? Make sure they’re well sealed to prevent heat loss. Does your attic access cover fit tightly, and is there an adequate amount of insulation (if in a room or hallway, expect at least R-30 insulation) over the cover?

Your home’s HVAC system (Heating, venting, and air conditioning) is typically the worst offender in losing heated (or cooled) air in your home. Why waste heated air you’ve already paid for? A few years ago when I was inspecting the heat ducting in my attic, one of the flexible air ducts had fallen right off it’s connection, leaving warm air to stream into the attic! If this isn’t something you can do yourself, have a heating professional check out all the connections. And don’t forget the return air ducts and the furnace unit itself. Air will leak anywhere where the connections are not well sealed. A thorough check is well worth the time and/or money spent.

Painting 101

12 Dec 2015

Paint it up. Paint, when applied properly, is the cheapest way to positively affect a door,
a room, or your whole house. Do it right, and your home will thank you. Do it wrong, and…….

Clean the Surface. On the exterior, for starters hose down the surface. Pressure washing may be necessary if there is flaking paint or other loose material. Scraping, sanding, and wire brushing are tedious but often necessary tasks. For doors, cabinets, and bathroom and kitchen walls, cleaning with ammonia or TSP will cut grease and help give a good bond. If you do nothing else, wipe the surface with a wet rag!

Priming. Primers are commonly needed to seal stains, to protect and give a good bond to bare wood, to protect metal surfaces from corrosion, and provide a solid base for the top coat to adhere to.

Sheen. Paint comes in varying shininess, or sheen. Flat paint has little or no sheen. A minimal sheen is referred to as eggshell, followed by satin, semi-gloss, and gloss.

Paint type. Interior, exterior, rust inhibitive, latex, acrylic, oil; the list goes on and on. Make sure the product you choose will perform as intended.

How Much do I Need? Some semi-gloss and gloss paints can cover 600 square feet or more per gallon over existing painted surfaces. Primer over bare stucco might cover 80 square feet. The type of paint and surface covered are key.

Rollers and Brushes. Buy a good quality brush, roller, and roller cover (Purdy and Wooster are good brands). Angle cut brushes are best for corners and edges.

Caulking. Caulking prevents moisture entry into joints and cracks, and helps create a neat appearance in corners and at molding edges. For exterior use, I prefer Big Stretch brand paintable caulking, and for interior, acrylic caulk with silicone added. 100% silicone caulk is not paintable and is best left for caulking around shower doors, tubs, windows, doors, rain gutters, etc.

Great Advice. Read the directions on the can, and then follow them!

The Economics of Good Maintenance

09 Dec 2015

As a society we take much time and trouble to research and shop for the best deal, but our record of maintaining the products we buy isn’t all that good. Time and again I see it when I visit a home. Had proper maintenance occurred, the costs or repairs involved would be nonexistent or much lower.

When such cost involves a section of wood trim or a deck board, the replacement price doesn’t bite too hard. But when your home needs a $10,000 repair because your siding wasn’t sealed and painted correctly, that hurts. The key thing to remember about exterior home maintenance is that there are two elements
that cause 90% of deterioration: The sun and water.

The sun beats down in our mile high atmosphere, and roofing, paint, synthetic material, etc. break down. Some items are damaged slowly, like composition roof shingles, some much more quickly, such as exterior wood finishes. Water can be much more complicated. Commonly expensive water damage is caused by a slow seepage leak that isn’t obvious until major staining or wood rot is noted. When flooding from heavy rains, snows, or plumbing leaks happens, usually you’ll get obvious signs. Inside, the sun may not be a big factor, but watch for water damage and normal wear and tear.

Maintenance should be ongoing. Expect to have at least some work done on your home every year. Some will be minor, like caulking a shower or touching up exterior trim paint. Other tasks such as painting your wholehouseorreplacingyourroofwillbemoreexpensive. Woodtrimpaintonthesouthsideofyourhome may need painting 3 or 4 times for each time the north side needs paint. Regular attention and good judgment on what to do and when is key. When in doubt, give Thompson’s a call!