April 2018: Spring Tips for the Home

Ask The Inspector

Understanding Your Home’s Phantom Load

What if we told you your home is full of phantoms? Your home’s phantom load, or the amount of energy that appliances consume when they’re turned off, can be scary for your electric bill. Luckily, you can cut back phantom usage with this quick guide. Learn More

3 Tips for Child Safety at Home

While home is often the safest place to be, your house could pose unseen threats to your family. Here are some ways you can prevent accidents around your home and have a healthier, happier household. Learn More

Expert Advice

Flipping Houses 101

If you’ve already mastered homeownership, you may be looking for your next investment. Here’s how to know if flipping houses is right for you, as well as the best types of fixer-upper homes to look out for. Learn More

Why Does My House Smell?

Sometimes previous owners can leave things behind. And sometimes, those things aren’t tangible items, like plates and furniture – they’re smells. Before you walk away from your dream home, use these tips to pinpoint the source of odors and be on your way to breathing easy. Learn More

Snapshots From The Field

Every day on the job, our inspectors come across safety hazards that you and your family should know about. Here’s one that’s far more common that you might think, and fortunately there’s an easy fix.

A clogged dryer vent is one of your home’s most dangerous fire hazards. Each year, more than 2,900 house fires originate in clogged dryer vents. While we cover the topic a lot, this photo from just a few weeks ago proves that it never hurts to keep spreading the word!

Remember, when it comes to your dryer vent, it doesn’t end with cleaning the lint trap (though that’s definitely part of it). You’ll also need to periodically clean the vent itself. Here’s how to go about cleaning if your vent is less than three feet long and leads outside:

  1. Empty the lint screen like you normally would after a load of laundry.
  2. Unplug the dryer, then move it away from the wall to access the vent.
  3. You’ll notice a tube leading from the back of your dryer to a hole in the wall—this is the vent, and the tubing will have to be detached from the back of the dryer in order to clean it. It’s generally attached to your dryer with a set of four screws, which can be removed with a normal flat or Philips head screwdriver.
  4. Using the nozzle attachment on your vacuum cleaner, vacuum as much lint as you can, as far as you can down the tube and into the vent.
  5. Hook everything back up.
  6. Going outside, locate the escape vent and make sure it’s also clear of visible debris. Once the vent is clear, run the dryer and make sure hot air is flowing freely to the outside.
  7. You’re done!

If your vent is long and doesn’t vent directly outside, just give a call your nearest professional.

Maintenance Matters

How to Remove Scratches from Wood Floors

We all know that replacing hardwood floors can be time-consuming and expensive. Before you start looking for a contractor, try this simple technique for fixing scratches, pet damage and more. Learn More

Your 7-Item Checklist for an Efficient Air Conditioner

Whether you run your A/C year-round or you’re gearing up for warmer temperatures, you can perform this easy checkup on your system to make sure that it’s running as smoothly as possible. Learn More

How to Clean a Clogged Showerhead in 6 Easy Steps

There’s nothing more annoying than a clogged showerhead. If your water pressure has been feeling weak lately, try this simple, chemical-free trick for unclogging a blocked showerhead. Learn More

Dos and Don’ts for Pet Stains in Carpet

If you’ve ever been frustrated that a pet stain hasn’t fully disappeared no matter how hard you scrub, this article is for you. We’ll tell you everything you need to know to get your carpets looking fresh and new again. Learn More

Monthly Trivia Question

How much electricity (in U.S. dollars) do modern appliances on low power mode waste each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency?

A. $1Million
B. $5 Million
C. $4 Billion
D. Over a Trillion

Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbucks’s gift card. Submit your answer to find out if you’ve won.

How to Remove Scratches from Wood Floors

Replacing hardwood floors can be time-consuming and expensive. Luckily, you can fix a scratched wood floor with a few simple items and a little patience.

How you’ll plan for your DIY project depends largely on the type of scratches on your hardwood floor. If your home has an older floor, you may even have several different types of scratches to contend with. Here, we’ve broken down the most common hardwood floor anomalies and how to go about fixing them.

Dog Damage

Loving our pets usually means accepting a scratch here or a smudge there. But you shouldn’t have to sacrifice having beautiful hardwood floors. We’ll get into how to repair gouges and scratches in a minute, but for now, we’re talking accidents.

It’s important to know that having a sealed floor won’t necessarily prevent long-term damage to hardwood floors. Urine can still penetrate the wood through to the subfloor, causing discoloration and a lingering odor. If you notice any deep staining or an unpleasant smell emanating from certain areas, you’ll likely need to cut your losses and replace those boards. But for light staining, you can achieve great results yourself. First, use sandpaper to gently remove the finish, then use wood bleach to scrub the board. Finally, refinish the area and let it dry thoroughly before allowing your furry friend back in the room.

Surface Scratches

If the scratches on your hardwood floor are mainly surface-level and not too deep, you may be able to get away with applying a hardwood floor refresher. Be sure to thoroughly clean the floor and then follow the directions on the container to get the best results.

For scratches that are deep enough to expose bare wood, there are a couple of different options. You can either choose a traditional wood stain in a matching color or you can grab a stain marker or blending pencil. For traditional stains, use a small brush or cotton swab to apply it to just the scratch, taking care to wipe up any excess before it dries. Markers or pens can be applied directly to scratches. You’ll still likely need to wipe up any excess.

Deep Gouges

Deep gouges in your hardwood floors aren’t the end of the world. Fixing them is actually one of the easiest DIY projects you’ll do around the house. All you need is some latex wood filler, a plastic putty knife and some sandpaper.

First, clean the area thoroughly—you definitely don’t want to seal grime into your floor! Next, apply a small amount of latex wood filler to the gouge using the plastic putty knife. On a side note, be sure that your putty knife is indeed plastic—no metal or steel substitutions here, as those materials could cause further damage to your floor. Smooth over the area as best you can and allow plenty of time for the latex to dry. Finally, use fine-grit sandpaper to gently level the surface so that you don’t leave behind a raised area. Voila!

Tips for Keeping Hardwood Floors in Great Shape

Place doormats near all entrances. No matter how many measures you take, your hardwood floors will inevitably be subjected to the occasional scratch. The last thing you want is to introduce dirt and grime to the equation. You can either place fibrous mats near all entrances of your home to encourage foot-wiping, or. . .

Instate a no-shoes policy.
No-shoes policies aren’t just for carpet. You may think you’re in the clear when it comes to wearing shoes on hardwood flooring, but the truth is that various types of footwear can cause damage to wood floors, particularly high heels and cleats.

Use carpet squares to move furniture.
Before doing any rearranging, be sure to place felt pads or carpet squares underneath the legs of furniture. You may be tempted to skip this extra step since furniture tends to slide easily across hardwood floors, but trust us, it’s worth it.

Keep your pets’ nails trimmed. It’s never easy to restrict a pet’s access to entire rooms of your home, so we recommend keeping your dog’s nails neatly trimmed. If you have a medium- or large-sized breed whose nails can do significant damage, this becomes especially important. Most dogs need their nails trimmed every one to two months.

Sweep often. We mentioned avoiding dirt and grime earlier, but for the stuff that manages to sneak past the front door, you’ll want to make a habit of sweeping weekly. Once dust and dirt get ground into the space between slats, it’ll be much harder to get rid of.

Call Your NPI Inspector Today

For help diagnosing the scope of just about any home maintenance issue, call us today. From hardwood floors to attic insulation, our inspectors are trained to spot repairs and answer your most important questions.