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Tim White & Associates, REALTORS® are members of the National Associations of REALTORS® (NAR) and we keep up to date on marketing news and would love to pass this on you.  Follow us on our website, Facebook and Twitter.  We'll be happy to assist you anyway that we can.


Nov. 3, 2022

Help Buyers Feel at Home

Help Buyers Feel at Home (In Your Home)

Help Buyers Feel at Home (In Your Home)
November 3, 2022

Of course your house is awesome – it’s your house! But the things that you really love about your home’s décor can sometimes slow down progress when you’re trying to sell your place. Just because you’re all in on the “Halloween all year long” aesthetic doesn’t mean that potential buyers will be able to see past that when viewing your home.

What a Home Buyer Sees

Although we all like to imagine that we only look at the house itself and never, ever let ourselves be influenced by anything that’s easy to change about a home (or things that don’t even go with the home), the truth is often very different. Many homebuyers, especially those who are in the market for the first time, need to be able to picture themselves living in your house.

For some homes, that’s easy enough, but others that are owned by people who live an abundant or exuberant life can be a real challenge to homebuyers. They can forget they’re shopping for a home and get overwhelmed by the décor or intense level of personalization going on inside. Of course, you bought your house in part so you could make it your own, but now it’s time to let someone else take it for a test drive.

Obviously a lot of things can’t be turned into blank slates, especially if you have children or pets who have items that are specifically theirs and used often. Short of sending them to stay with the grandparents until you’ve got a contract secured, just keeping their areas tidy and focusing on the things you can soften will have to be enough.

Don't be present for showings!

Nothing makes a buyer MORE nervous and uncomfortable than a seller being present for the showings! Really consider your options for NOT being home during showings if possible.  If you just MUST be home during showings, then at least go to your car parked outside the house, or go to your neighbors house, because the goal is for buyer's not to feel like they are trespassing and "bothering you".  You want them to feel welcome & to take their time looking around, and to see themselves in the home.

Decluttering Is Important, but So Is Depersonalizing

There’s a difference between stripping a house of all its charm and simply depersonalizing it a bit. If you’ve got an original pink bathroom in a 1950s ranch-style home, by all means, let that brilliant bit of historical architecture shine. But, if your home is covered in photos of your family, your dog, and your intensely personal artwork, you may want to tone those selections down a notch.

When a homebuyer walks into a home that’s so deeply personalized, it can make them feel a little bit like they’re violating your privacy, even though you invited them in by listing your house. When someone feels like they’ve trespassed, they’re going to try to get out as quickly as possible, which does not help a buyer see themselves living in that house.

Consider Color Choices

Many buyers realize that they can and will almost certainly repaint your home to their liking, so for most sellers, repainting isn’t really a high priority, nor should it be. However, for some sellers, it definitely merits consideration. The homes that may need to consider a paint job are those that offer significant challenges to the potential buyer, or that have paint that works against the space. For example, if your house is full of dark colors that make the space seem a lot smaller than it is, it’s going to turn buyers away. Not only will they have trouble seeing themselves in the space that they perceive erroneously to be very dark and tight, those who realize it’s a visual trick may still be put off by the large amount of work that’s ahead of them.

As a rule of thumb, if you’ve chosen a color that will need several coats of primer before lighter paint will cover it, you’ll probably need to repaint. You can even go with a similar color that’s much, much lighter, if you really feel like the color works well for your house. Most buyers won’t care, as long as it’s something that they can easily imagine themselves repainting in a weekend to meet their own needs.

Need Help Making Your Home More Welcoming?

Look no further Tim White & Associates is here to help! Not only will you get the best recommendations for home professionals in our area who can help you repaint, reorganize, and even re-envision your home, it’s always great to hear from you! Call us at 336-861-4000!

Posted in Blog
Nov. 1, 2022

Tips for your Basement Remodel

Tips for Your Basement Remodel

Tips for Your Basement Remodel
November 1, 2022

Having a finished basement is a great addition for just about any house. It can give you a place to relax, a play area for your children, or even additional bedroom space if you need it. Some people even use basement areas to create fully furnished workshops, craft rooms, and other furnished DIY areas so they’ll have comfortable places for hobbies and keep DIY clutter out of the main house areas. The possibilities of a finished basement are limited only by your imagination.

With that said, finishing or remodeling a basement area can be a big undertaking. There are ways to keep it from becoming overwhelming, though, as well as things that you can do to avoid potential problems down the line. While the specifics of your basement project will depend on where you live and how you’re designing your basement, here are some tips that should help you to remodel your basement space into something closer to your liking.

Plan for the Basics First

There are a few things that you’re going to want to tackle before you get too far into planning your basement remodel. Some issues such as stuffy air, moisture problems, and poor lighting often plague basements and cause finished basement areas to be underutilized compared to the rest of the house. You’re going to want to make sure that any foundation cracks or other leaks are taken care of, that the basement has good ventilation and air purification as needed, and that there’s sufficient lighting for your needs.

Heating and cooling issues are another thing you’re going to want to plan for early on. Finished basements can become stuffy or drafty if you don’t have proper HVAC extensions or other heating and cooling options in place, and pipes running through the basement ceiling can make a huge mess if they freeze and burst during especially cold winters. Proper insulation, good seals around windows and doors, and some way to keep temperature-regulated air flowing can go a long way toward avoiding these issues.

Make the Room Your Own

Before you really dive into a major remodeling project, take the time to figure out exactly what the space is going to be used for. Once you have this in mind it will help a lot with other design decisions. Having a purpose in place can help you choose wall and ceiling colors, aid in determining storage needs, and even help you choose the sort of flooring or furniture that you want in your finished basement area.

As you plan out your basement and what you want to use it for, your needs can also make it easier to tell whether you’ll need a single large room or if you’ll want to partition the basement space into multiple smaller rooms. Having a plan in place will go a long way toward making sure that all of your needs are covered and that your new space will actually meet your needs. Also, talking to a real estate professional to help you determine if your plans will add value to your home.  As there are requirements for real estate agents to count finished square footage or adding bedrooms when selling your home!

Bring in Some Help

While there are a number of jobs that you can DIY in a basement remodel, there are still some areas that are best left to the professionals. This is especially important if your basement needs new lighting installed, new plumbing, or an extension to your HVAC system to ensure that you have adequate ventilation in your new basement area. While it may be tempting to try and do some of these things yourself, that can set you up for a lot of problems down the road.

Fortunately, Tim White & Associates is here to help. Call us at 336-861-4000 and we can connect you with plumbers, electricians, HVAC pros, and other professionals to make sure that everything is done correctly and up to code. Whether you just need some lights installed or full room partitions, we’ve got you covered. Call today and get that much closer to being done with the basement of your dreams.

Posted in Blog
Oct. 28, 2022

Smart Switches

Smart Switches 101

Smart Switches 101
October 28, 2022

As smart homes become more common, some homeowners are going beyond basics like smart bulbs and assistant hubs like Google Home and Amazon Echo. This can take a number of forms, from the addition of smart electronics and security systems to sensors throughout the house that can recognize when people walk into rooms and adjust the lighting and other resources accordingly. One increasingly popular option is the installation of smart switches in lieu of simply relying on individual smart bulbs to control lighting.

So what are smart switches, anyway? How do they work? Can you install them anywhere, or are there specific things that your home needs? If you’re curious about smart switches and whether they would be a good addition to your home, here are some of the basics that you should consider.

How Smart Switches Work

At their core, smart switches operate like most standard light switches and can turn lights or other connected devices on and off. Given that the switches are smart devices, though, they can do significantly more than that. Smart switches allow you to control the lights remotely using either an app or voice control through a digital assistant or a third-party hub. Depending on the bulbs that you use with your smart switch, you may also be able to control the brightness of the lights (similar to a dimmer switch) or function as a three-way switch. It’s worth noting that unless the bulbs are designed for it, smart switches can’t give you the ability to control the light’s color the way that standard smart bulbs can.

Perhaps the greater benefit of smart switches is that they allow you to tie your lighting into a larger smart ecosystem without having to pair each individual light bulb to the network. This gives you greater control of your home as a whole and allows you to incorporate lighting into smart home routines without having to program a bunch of individual components. You can also pair your smart switches with remote controls, giving you a portable switch that lets you control your lighting even without accessing your overall smart home controls.

Smart Switch Requirements

There are two major things that you’re going to need to use smart switches in your home. Perhaps the most important is grounded wiring, as all smart switches require grounding to operate. If you’re upgrading light switches that weren’t grounded, you’ll have to ensure that a ground wire is available, or your new switches simply won’t work.

Once you’ve got your switches grounded, you’re also going to need access to a 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi network. While this is a standard Wi-Fi frequency, 5Ghz Wi-Fi is also increasingly common, but is not compatible with most smart devices (including modern smart switches). Almost all modern routers and wireless access points are capable of broadcasting on both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands, so if you don’t have a 2.4Ghz band currently at your home then it shouldn’t be too difficult to add one.

Installing Smart Switches

There are two aspects to installing smart switches: installing the physical switch, and connecting it to your Wi-Fi network. Installing the switch is similar to any other grounded light switch installation, so it’s certainly doable as a DIY project if you feel confident in your wiring abilities, but check with your code office to make sure you’re allowed to do this kind of work. Once installed, the switch can then be connected to your Wi-Fi network using the manufacturer’s smartphone app on a phone or other mobile device that’s connected to the same network that the switch will eventually use.

Since wiring a smart switch involves dealing with electricity, if you aren’t confident in your ability to install the switch, or if your local code office requires an electrician for that kind of work, or if you need a wiring upgrade, then you should call in a professional. Fortunately, Tim White & Associates is here to help. Call us at 336-861-4000 and connect with local electricians and other pros who can get your smart home wired and connected just the way you want. 

Posted in Blog
Oct. 26, 2022

Air Compressor

How to Pick an Air Compressor

How to Pick an Air Compressor
October 26, 2022

When you own a home, it’s important to have the tools that are necessary to make little repairs, or even do major DIY if that’s your thing. One of the most useful tools you can add to your collection is an air compressor. An air compressor can do so many things around the house, from helping you keep screens and vents debris-free, to airing up car tires and other inflatables, and even powering a whole collection of useful tools. But how do you pick the perfect air compressor for your projects? Don’t worry, it’s easier than you may think.

First, Choose Your Air Tools

Before you can really select an ideal air compressor, you need to know what you’re going to do with it. Are you going to use it to power an air nailer to help you install new trim work throughout your home? Will you just use it seasonally to blow up tires and pool toys? Knowing what you plan to do with your air compressor can help you choose an air compressor that can do the work.

How quickly an air compressor can supply air is measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm) and different tools use air at different rates. Paint sprayers, for example, will use a lot more air than a pneumatic nail gun, so if you plan to do a lot of painting, you’ll need an air compressor that can really step up. If you’ll use more than one air-thirsty tool at once with the same compressor, that goes doubly.

Consider Tank Size and Shape

The size of the tank on your future air compressor does matter, but nowhere near as much as the cfm it can supply. Having a large air tank can help compensate for a lower cfm, but that won’t work if you’re using a tool that uses air most of the time, such as a sprayer. You can’t exactly stop mid-spray to wait for the tank to refill, but you certainly could take a break if you were nailing or sanding.

For household use, there’s a secondary concern with tank size. Most of the tasks many homeowners will be tackling will be small jobs, and they may happen anywhere on the property. Having a smaller tank means that your unit is more portable, generally speaking (some do come with wheels), and can get into tighter spots. This can be an advantage, depending on how you’re using the air compressor.

Convenience IS an Option

Sometimes, you know you need tools, and you know you need an air compressor, and you find a delightful bundle of both. If you’re just doing occasional work around the house, and the bundled tools are ones you’ll actually use, it can be a great way to get into an air compressor and tool kit at a significant discount.

You’ll still want to consider all the other things you may do with that air compressor in the future, to ensure it’ll be useful to you as time goes by. So you’ll need to keep in mind how much air it can hold and how much it can produce, but choosing a bundle can make the decision easier. No matter which you choose, though, always make sure to get things like an air chuck for tire inflation, because you’ll use them over and over again.

Not Sure You Want the Baggage of an Air Compressor?

For some homeowners, extra tools just mean extra clutter and valuable space being taken up by things you might not use all that often. It’s ok to not buy an air compressor if it doesn’t make sense with what you hope to do with your home. If you’d rather hire someone to come around and hang your trim or winterize your pool house, that’s perfectly fine.

But, in that case, you’ll need a hook-up for a great air compressor owner who can get the job done right the first time. That’s where Tim White & Associates comes in! Whether you need a carpenter, a general contractor, a handyman, or a pool expert, there are lots of professionals  to choose between.  Call us and we can help! 336-861-4000

Posted in Blog
Oct. 24, 2022

Good Scents

Good Scents: Using Smell to Entice Homebuyers

Good Scents: Using Smell to Entice Homebuyers
October 24, 2022

There are a number of unpleasant smells that can occur in your home. Sometimes they’re temporary bouts of unpleasantness, and other times they stick around. A lot of smells and odors can seem manageable, since even lingering mustiness or other odors can kind of fade over time as you get used to them. Unfortunately, just because you’ve gone somewhat “nose blind” to those smells doesn’t mean that other people have, and that can be a major problem if you’re listing your home for sale.

If you’re trying to entice people to be interested in your home, you need to make sure that the first thing they smell when walking in the door isn’t some awful smell that you’ve just gotten used to. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to bringing the smell of your home around to work to your advantage. With that said, here are a few things that might help.

Eliminate Smell Sources

If there are unpleasant smells in your home, the first thing that you should do is work on getting rid of the source of those smells. Enzyme sprays and other specialty cleaners can reduce or eliminate the cause of many pet odors, even if your pets have had accidents on the carpet. Likewise, a mix of ice, rock salt, and white vinegar can help clean and neutralize odors from the garbage disposal. A dehumidifier can go a long way toward getting rid of musty smells by reducing the humidity to a level where mildew and mold can’t grow. A thorough cleaning can also help, especially if it involves both vacuuming and shampooing the carpets and plush furniture surfaces.

If specific items such as a rug under the litter box or an old and musty pair of work boots are the source of the smell, get them out of the house or get rid of them entirely. Tossing things out may seem like a drastic step, but unless you eliminate the source of an odor, it isn’t really ever going to fully go away. Plus, if something is stinking up your home that bad then you probably don’t really need it around anyhow.

Improve Your Home’s Scent

As you work on removing unpleasant scents from your home, you can also work on adding pleasant ones. Provided that the weather allows for it, spend a few days with as many doors and windows open as possible (shutting off the HVAC first, of course) to air out the house and get fresh air everywhere. You might also want to set up fans to help circulate the air so that it reaches as many points in the house as possible. This will serve the dual purpose of getting out lingering odors and bringing in fresh scents from outdoors.

Air fresheners and air sanitizers are also useful in this regard. Opt for something with a light scent that’s either fruity or natural (like cinnamon, mint), but not overbearingly so. After all, your goal is to leave the air smelling fresh but not smelling like perfume. Before people come to look at the house, put out fresh flowers in key rooms to help improve the scent of the room without having to rely overly on sprays or other artificial air fresheners.

Bring in the Pros

With some odors, you may not be able to fully get rid of them on your own. In these cases, it’s a good idea to call in professional cleaners and explain what the problem is. These pros use specially-formulated cleaners and other solutions that help them break down the causes of even some of the nastiest smells to get your home smelling fresh and clean before you list it.

If you’re not sure who to call, Tim White & Associates can help. Call us at 336-861-4000 and we can connect you with cleaners and other pros in our area to help with anything that you need before putting your home on the market. 

Posted in Blog
Oct. 20, 2022

Banks & Mortgages

What Kinds of Banks Issue Mortgages?
October 20, 2022

When you’re shopping for a mortgage, it can be tempting to just talk to the first person you meet, sign the loan documents, and be on your way. But before you do that, it’s actually pretty important that you ask what type of financial institution you’re dealing with, because they’re not all the same. Here’s a quick rundown of the main differences.

Traditional Banks

Traditional banks are exactly what you imagine when you think of banks. They’re big institutions that collect deposits, notarize things, and sell bonds to the public. With the funds from these activities, they also may lend their own money for the long term, or they may sell their loans to a secondary loan buyer like Fannie Mae to free up more cash.

With a traditional bank, you’ll often get a pretty good deal when it comes to fees, since there are no middlemen to pay, and a competitive lending rate. However, if you’re looking for special homebuyer programs, you’ll find that banks can’t always offer the same ones, and you may have to go to the specific bank offering the program you’re after. They can also be pretty picky when it comes to borrowers, and may not be willing to overlook blips on your credit report.

Mortgage Brokers

Mortgage brokers can be very useful if you’re looking for different kinds of programs to help with things like down payment assistance or loans that are far more forgiving of credit issues or high debt-to-income ratios.

You might pay a higher fee for using a mortgage broker, but sometimes that fee is worth the value they bring. Unlike with a traditional bank, mortgage brokers can match you with loans from a portfolio of banks, making it easier for borrowers to secure the mortgage loans they’re after. They can also often close very quickly, since they should know which lenders move quickly and which are slower to respond.

Credit Unions

Credit unions generally require borrowers to be members, but they can be valuable assets when it comes to securing a loan. Like a traditional bank, they typically loan their own money, or the money of credit unions in their network, but unlike a traditional bank, can often make unusual types of loans for specific circumstances. What each credit union will or can do will vary wildly between credit unions.

The fees with a credit union will typically be on the low side, but you may find that the lending is a bit slower and more tedious, since they may not make very many loans per year. This isn’t a bad thing, but it is a thing to be aware of if you need a quick closing because a previous loan or contract fell through and you’re scrambling.

Community Development Financial Institutions

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) are specially certified organizations that have a primary aim to increase access to financial services like mortgages for low-income communities and other people who simply lack access to financing. These organizations can be banks, credit unions, or even venture capital funds.

If you qualify for a loan through a CDFI, you’ll find that you’ll receive favorable terms, as well as low fees, but may also be limited in your options when it comes to lending programs. However, the loans you can get through these organizations are generally very flexible, making it significantly easier for less than perfect borrowers to qualify.

Looking for a Lender?

Look no further call Tim White & Associates 336-861-4000 and we can give you a recommendation.  There are many who are mortgage professionals in our area who can help with a range of banking needs, from first time homebuyer mortgages to HELOCs to remodel your home for aging in place. All you have to do is ask for a recommendation, and you’ll be on your way to meeting some of the best and brightest your loan community has to offer. 

Posted in Blog
Oct. 18, 2022

Lightning Proofing

Lightning Proofing Your Home
October 18, 2022

Big storms can be scary. With the wind, heavy rain, and the threat of even more extreme weather, they can also bring with them a lot of damage. While a lot of people make plans on how to react to some of the big dangers associated with storms, there’s one more common threat that often goes overlooked: lightning strikes.

To be fair, there’s a lot of folk wisdom about how unlikely it is to be struck by lightning (less than a 1 in 15,000 chance) and about how lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice (though it does). What this leaves out is that there’s a 1 in 200 chance that your home will be struck be lightning, or the amount of damage that one of these strikes can do. If you really want to protect your home and your belongings from the dangers of lightning, there are a few things you’ll need to do.

Protecting Your Home

The most well-known way to protect your home from a lightning strike is the installation of a lightning rod. These devices provide a simple but effective means of attracting lightning strikes and then diverting it to the ground instead of allowing it to strike and damage other parts of your home. They are an effective solution when it comes to direct lightning strikes, but you may be surprised to learn that even with a lightning rod in place your home can still suffer significant damage from lightning.

The problem is that lightning from nearby strikes can also damage your home as they gets conducted through wires, pipes, and other materials in your house. Unfortunately, a lightning rod isn’t going to help with this. Instead, it’s recommended that you have a whole-home lightning protection system that includes lightning rods as well as protection on main conductors, grounds, and other elements that can divert and redirect lightning electricity even if it isn’t coming from a direct strike.

Protecting Your Belongings

Another big issue with lightning strikes is that they can cause damage to a wide range of electronic devices in your home. Computers, televisions, and any other electronic device that’s plugged in can be irreparably damaged by a lightning strike and will have to be replaced. This is one reason that surge protectors and similar devices are so highly recommended, as they can help protect the devices that are plugged into them.

Whole-home surge protection systems are also recommended, as they can prevent a lightning surge from even reaching your outlets, preventing possible damage to your home’s wiring, and greatly reducing the likelihood that your devices will be damaged by a power surge before a power strip surge protector can trip its breaker. You should also take the time to unplug unnecessary devices during storms just in case, and to make sure that the surge protectors you connect your electronics up to feature transient voltage surge protection that place a hard limit of 1.5 times the normal voltage range, so that your belongings are protected against even non-lightning spikes and surges.

Overcoming the Threat of Lightning

One big thing that you should do to help protect your home and your belongings is to check your homeowner’s policy to make sure that it features protection from lightning-related damage both to the structure of your home and to the items within. While this is common in a lot of policies, this sort of protection isn’t always there, and it’s better to know what coverage you have before you need it. If you don’t have sufficient coverage, you should talk to your insurance agent to see what’s needed to increase the coverage your policy provides.

It’s also a good idea to talk to an electrician or other pro to get a lightning protection system professionally installed to make sure that it’s set up correctly. They can ensure that your system has everything you need to keep you safe in the event of lightning strikes on or near your home. 

Posted in Blog
Oct. 14, 2022

Home with a Rental Unit

Buying a Home With a Rental Unit
October 14, 2022

Buying a home can be full of difficult decisions, and as housing prices climb, maybe even more difficult financial planning. For people looking for a different way to help pay for their mortgage every month, choosing a home with an attached rental unit might just provide the monthly bump that makes that payment a little easier to accomplish.

What Is an Attached Rental Unit?

An attached rental unit, formally called an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), is typically a smaller living space adjacent to a main home. It might be a tiny house in the backyard, or something more like self-contained mother-in-law quarters attached to the house. It can even be a small apartment over the garage. There aren’t a lot of rules about what an ADU has to be, except that it should be fully autonomous.

The reason for autonomy is that this is what it takes to really have solid rental income potential from a secondary dwelling on a regular lot. Imagine if you were renting an apartment somewhere, you’d certainly want to have your own kitchen and bathroom, wouldn’t you? It’s difficult to rent units without these features, so typically, they’re part of any successful ADU.

Benefits to Having an ADU

Having a rental can be a lot of work, but there are also a lot of benefits to having an ADU on your lot. Not only does the rent from an ADU help pay the mortgage every month, it can also act as flexible space for whatever life might throw at you down the way.

For example, when you first buy your home, maybe you really need help with the mortgage payment, so you use the ADU as a long-term rental unit with a tenant who has signed a year-long lease. This tenant not only pays the utilities for that unit, but they also help out with the mortgage by paying rent. It’s a great situation while you’re trying to pay down your mortgage and ramp up your income.

As time goes by, you might get tired of dealing with a long-term tenant, but you can still use that unit for short-term tenancy, if allowed by your neighborhood and city. Airbnb, for example, gives you the option to rent by the day or week, so you never have to stick with a tenant for too long. You can turn off being a landlord for a few weeks and go on vacation yourself without having to worry.

If AirBnB isn’t your thing, your ADU can still be used by your college-aged child or aging family member. Remember, these are essentially self-contained apartments, so they should provide a great deal of privacy and autonomy to anyone living inside. ADUs have long been favored by people with aging parents, hence the former popular nickname “mother-in-law quarters.”

Financing a Home With a Rental Unit

If you’re looking for a house with a rental unit, you may also wonder how you’re going to finance it. Do you need a special kind of loan or is this edging into the realm of commercial financing? Not at all. Most mortgages will allow you to purchase a property that has up to four units on it. That’s a lot to handle if you’ve never had a rental, but a single ADU is pretty easy upkeep.

All you need to do is choose a property that you like and ensure that it will pass any requirements from your lender (your Realtor can help with this). Certain programs may have specific inspections, such as FHA, VA, or USDA, so you definitely want to let your lender know that you’re looking for a property with an ADU before you commit to your loan.

Ready to Finance Your Home and ADU?

Well, you’re going to need a good lender who isn’t shy about writing loans on properties that might be a little less than typical. Just ask for a recommendation for lenders in your area and before you know it, you’ll have a home of your own, and a small rental unit to help pay the extra bills.

Posted in Blog
Oct. 12, 2022

Radiant Barriers

Radiant Barriers Help Insulation Do More
October 12, 2022

We all know the old song and dance: insulate and weatherproof your home to maximize your utility dollars. Filling all the gaps and keeping all the climate-controlled air where it should be is a huge part of creating a home that’s not only comfortable, but efficient. Or so we’ve been told. The truth is that there’s another step in the process that many homeowners are overlooking, and it’s both easy to install and inexpensive: a special kind of foil called a radiant barrier.

What are Radiant Barriers?

Radiant barriers aren’t much to look at. In fact, they pretty much just look like really heavy foil like you’d use on your grill or on top of a casserole dish. But they make up for looks in performance. According to, a website produced by the US Department of Energy, radiant barriers can reduce cooling costs by up to 10% in sunny climates, and may even allow a homeowner to install a smaller air conditioning system, saving additional money over the longer term.

They work by reducing the radiant heat that comes into an attic or other space. When roofing materials get hot from sun exposure, that heat eventually transfers into the attic via radiation. So, to slow or even stop this process, a barrier that’s designed to reflect that radiant heat back out of the attic is necessary.

Many houses lack radiant barriers, either because it wasn’t invented when they were built and no one thought to add it later, or because the climate where they were built was once considerably cooler than it is now. That doesn’t mean you can’t add one, though.

Installing Radiant Barriers

Installing a radiant barrier is not a difficult process, but it can be a time-consuming and messy one. After all, you’ll need to be in your attic for prolonged periods, working with a sort of heavy foil material that can be cumbersome for a single person to manage. But it’s definitely possible as an advanced DIY project.

When you install a radiant barrier, it’s really important to not only pay attention to which side is up on the barrier material, so the proper side faces the roof, but that you install it in such a way that it won’t be contaminated with things like dust and other debris. The more dust and material that collects on a radiant barrier, the less effective it will be.

In the past, some people have installed radiant barriers on top of their insulation, but this has proven to be a poor way of installing the material. Instead of the wanted effect of cooling the attic, in these homes, the radiant barrier instead interferes with the insulation’s ability to work properly. Since they also tend to act as a moisture barrier, radiant barriers can also trap moisture inside attic insulation, causing all kinds of other problems.

When installing a radiant barrier, hanging it along the contours of the attic roof or rafters is your best bet, but you’ll need to let the material droop slightly between attachment points to create a 1-inch air gap between the material and the bottom of the roof. You can also choose insulation with a radiant barrier built-in, called reflective insulation, where the barrier acts as the facing material.

Safety With Radiant Barrier Materials

Because radiant barriers are made of metal foil, they will conduct electricity. Many homeowners don’t consider this when installing them and may overlook serious hazards like contact with bare wire or old wire with failing insulation. Electricity can cause serious injuries or damage to homes, especially if the contact is prolonged and widespread, like it would be when accidentally electrifying an entire attic’s worth of foil.

When to Call a Pro…

If you’re not sure you’re ready to install a radiant barrier yourself, or you’re concerned about getting it just right, it might be better to hire a professional to get the job done. 

Posted in Blog
Oct. 10, 2022

HVAC Troubleshooting for Homeowners

HVAC Troubleshooting for Homeowners

HVAC Troubleshooting for Homeowners
October 10, 2022

Climate control is one of the greatest inventions of humankind since leavened bread, but when it’s suddenly not working properly, or it stops working all together, your HVAC system can become a massive source of stress and worry. Before you decide to panic, though, consider doing a little troubleshooting of your system. There are several very easy things you can check before you even have to call a repairman.

Is Your HVAC Powered and Set Properly?

Often, when HVAC systems go awry, it’s because your system is simply not powered. That might seem like an obvious problem, but since your HVAC system likely has at least two different breakers in your breaker box, it can be easy to miss that a switch has been flipped. Reset both your air conditioner and your furnace or air handler’s breakers, then try to kick the system on again.

Another major source of headaches for homeowners is the thermostat itself. Not only do thermostats actually go bad from time to time (even smart thermostats), they can also throw curveballs. Check that your thermostat is set to a temperature that will turn your system on, and that the right mode is enabled, if your system doesn’t automatically change between heat and air. Learning thermostats can sometimes randomly change your programmed settings, if they think you’re regularly making a specific adjustment, and may have simply changed the program in an attempt to help.

Are Your Filters Clean?

It might sound like a small thing, but your filters determine how much air makes it from the interior of your home into your air handler and back out the vents at some temperature that is meant to help you achieve your desired comfort level. If your filters are dirty, they can drastically cut down on how much air is moving through your home.

Change your filters monthly, even if they only look slightly dirty, since today’s high filtration filters can get clogged quickly. You can also swap those paper filters for custom built electrostatic filters, so you only need to vacuum and hose your filters down once a month, rather than go to the additional expense of buying new ones constantly.

Are Your Ducts Leaky?

If your HVAC is blowing air, hot or cold, but it just doesn’t seem like it’s as hot or as cold as it normally is, your problem might be in your ducts. Ductwork can work loose over time, or be pulled down by animals who might have snuck into your crawlspace or attic. When there’s an opening in that ductwork, you can lose both air pressure and some of the temperature treated air that you’re trying to keep inside your house.

To check your ductwork, you’ll just need to go to where it’s hanging, and start at one end. Make sure the HVAC system is blowing so you can feel for leaks with your bare hands. When you find one, reconnect the ductwork. Some systems fit together with screws, while others use clamps. Once reconnected, you can double-secure your handiwork by winding aluminum tape around the seam where you made the repair. You may also need to add additional support to help hold the ductwork in place if there isn’t adequate strapping.

If your ductwork is in good shape, but it still feels like you’re not getting enough treated air, check your windows and doors for leaks and seal them tight. You can do this by feeling around them for drafts, or waiting until after dark and going outside to look for light peeking through cracks in doors and around trim. Doing both will catch more leaks than either one alone.

Do You Need an Expert?

If you’ve done all you can on your own to figure out what’s keeping your heating or air conditioning from being its best, it might be time to call in an HVAC expert. Not only will they have all the right tools to properly diagnose your problem, their experience can also help them find the issue right away. 

Posted in Blog