Summer is a great time to make both interior and exterior inspections of your home for water damage, pests, and overall home maintenance.
Our Scioto Properties Construction Manager, Lenny Jesuele, provides his "Pro Tips" for maintenance on your home.
Jason Hare 0:03
Hello, everybody, my name is Jason Hare, and welcome back to Making An Impact.
Again, thank you all for joining us on Making An Impact. These are a series of conversations hosted by Scioto Properties that center in and around the health care and disability community. And today we have an episode for the DYI in all of us. What are the home improvement projects that we should be thinking about? Now that summer has finally rolled back around. To give us an idea of what we should be looking for is Scioto Properties Construction Project Manager Lenny Jesuele, many of you might know Lenny from his Pro Tips section on our blog and in our newsletter. But what you might not know is that Lenny is responsible for all maintenance issues, either planned or unplanned, that come through Scioto's 1800+ property portfolio. Were in good hands though, Lenny's a construction specialist with over 25 years of achievement and success, managing residential projects up to an excess of a million dollars and commercial projects up to $10 million. The man is super dedicated to providing exceptional customer service and delivering quality projects, and we are very lucky to have them. Lenny, welcome to Making An Impact.
Lenny Jesuele 1:19
Morning, Jason. Glad to be here.
Jason Hare 1:22
Awesome, Lenny. All right, so summer is the perfect time to check the areas in and around our properties for repairs and maintenance. So what do you think are the top problem areas we should be looking for as we begin our summer maintenance checklist?
Lenny Jesuele 1:39
Well, Jason, there's a lot of things that we should be looking for, especially in the spring and summer months. One of the biggest problem areas we see in homes has to do with gutter and water-related issues. The very first thing that people should do, especially in this season is, make sure that their gutters are clean and properly flowing and discharging water away from the foundation. Check your downspout extensions, make sure that your water discharges a minimum of four feet from the foundation to keep water from entering the home and causing additional damage as possible to foundations or, or finished areas and basements.
Jason Hare 2:24
That's a great suggestion. And that's you know, something that we all should be paying attention to, you know, I know that you've seen a lot of damage that comes from gutters that are not properly flowing away from a home and give us a sense, in a worst-case scenario, say that you do have a finished basement and you have a gutter that's again, it's a very easy thing to do just have that downspout kind of going away from the property but give us a sense on what the financial costs could be. If you do have water intrusion that's not really noticed and then kind of leads to bigger problems with potential mold and other damages due to water intrusion.
Lenny Jesuele 3:08
Well, Jason, the cost can be exponential. We've seen in certain areas where the problem has been long for long periods of time, where the repair costs crest 30 or $40,000 to be mitigated and an entire basement being reconstructed from mold growth. So a simple fix or a simple check of your gutters and your downspouts could prevent extremely costly repairs. One thing people should keep an eye out for especially if you have a basement and often even a crawl space, it's a good idea to check your crawl space periodically. I would say quarterly would be a great idea. You don't even necessarily have to get into the crawlspace. Just remove the crawlspace cover and shine a flashlight, look for standing water or an odor of dampness. That'll be an indicator that you have an issue somewhere. And you can either investigate that issue personally or you can call out a professional to take a look and see if they can find the source. And basements especially finished basements. The odor is, or dampness issue is a strong indicator. Most people when they have a damp or an odor in the basement, we'll simply just install a dehumidifier. And think that that's curing the issue when in fact it's not. There can still be an excessive amount of condensation building up behind the walls, which can lead to mold growth, poor air quality in the home health-related issues. So it's always a good idea if you sense that there is an issue to locate the source instead of trying to remedy the issue with say like not the dehumidifiers are bad, but they're not going to cure the problem.
Jason Hare 5:07
That's such a good point is to do a little bit of a deeper dive to find the source. Because like you said, If you smell mold, you got mold it.
Lenny Jesuele 5:15
Jason Hare 5:16
Yeah, it's an unfortunate byproduct. Alright, so that's a great suggestion in terms of landscaping. So kind of moving outside of the house, staying in the yard area. Anything we should be thinking about there, you know, I kind of think to your landscaping or your grading next to your house probably has a lot to do with keeping water away. So I'd imagine that and we've when we think about our landscaping, we should be considering that but any anything else that we should be thinking about with outdoors?
Lenny Jesuele 5:47
Well, you want to keep an eye on obviously, the slope of your grade around your home. In spring and summer a great time to start doing landscape decoration, including myself, I love to go out and plant and decorate the exterior of my home mulch is a great add-on for color that can complement your plantings. It's important though when you put down mulch to make sure that you put it at the proper depth and the clearances from your foundation. And you also check and make sure that the slope from your home is correct. You know, industry-standard states that you should have about six inches of fall in the first 10 feet from your foundation direct water away and stop it from collecting around your foundation. And while mulch is a great accent, and adds an enhances to the beauty of the exterior of the home, if it's installed too deep. Or if you don't clear the old mulch out it has the potential to attract wood-destroying insects and also can retain an excessive amount of water and dampness which could create again, we get back into the basement issue where you could end up with poor air quality in your home or dampness and condensation collecting along your foundation walls. So it's always a good idea to measure your depth industry standards say mulch should not exceed four inches. So you want about two to four inches of depth. Putting plastic down under your mulches. A weed bear is not a good idea. Some people will tell you it's a great weed barrier, but it does not allow the ground to breed and will also trap water and create unhealthy living conditions inside your home. So you're better off to use a landscape screen that's breathable allows water to transfer freely through the products and will provide a great weed barrier, very rich, and secure.
Jason Hare 7:52
That's a great suggestion. And I'm I feel like you're speaking directly to me when it comes to the mulch aspect because I still have last year as mulch down. And I really don't feel like breaking it down. I'm glad we've had this conversation. So, looking at too, you know, and I think this is probably a little bit more poignant in certain parts of the country than others. But we should definitely, I think, be looking if we have any type of dead foliage or dead trees on our properties. I'd imagine that you know, considering again, where we live and some of the fires that we've seen that it's really important to stay on top of keeping our wooded areas or our lawns as clean as possible.
Lenny Jesuele 8:34
Yes, absolutely. I agree with you that that foliage again can. It can be a fire hazard. There's multiple hazards that that can present. Obviously, dead wood will attract wood-destroying insects, which can transfer into your home and cause structural damages and nobody wants that. In addition to that, dead branches and trees can present a serious health hazard. If you're out in the yard one day and it happens to be a breezy day and a large branch falls, it can be detrimental. So it's always a good idea to check your trees, especially trees close to the home. Make sure you have proper clearances and there are no dead branches of overhanging common areas or even uncommon areas that have the potential to fall on you. Or your home for that matter.
Jason Hare 9:28
Absolutely. And kind of go into in sticking with the potential of fire-related damage. What let's discuss I guess fire safety. So you know a lot of us are going to be using the grill or sitting by a fire pit. So what recommendations do you have to reduce our fire risk?
Lenny Jesuele 9:50
Well, when it comes to grill safety, there's a couple of key components, A. make sure that you have the proper clearance from your home with your grill. Many people will have the propensity to take their grill and put it close to the siding of the house, or under an eave where it might be protected from sunlight or, or weather elements. We've seen many, many cases where grills have either melted or burnt exterior siding, or cause damage to windows, vinyl windows in particular because they're too close. So you want to make sure that you have proper clearances there. Another key factor to the grill is, is just like anything else, you have to clean your grill on a regular basis. Grease fires and grills are very common. And pose an extreme hazard obviously, especially particularly in propane fire grills. So you want to make sure that you periodically check the bottom of your grill, pull the grease out, make sure that you don't have grease collecting in the bottom of your grill. Most grills come equipped with a grease catch barn. They're relatively inexpensive at your local hardware stores, make sure that you replace them on a regular basis. Because dripping grease that is on fire can catch on fire which could potentially be hazardous to your health and then to sensitive
Jason Hare 11:18
Oh, absolutely. And what about this probably goes back to the landscaping aspect when you would talk about keeping the debris clear. But if you have an outdoor fire pit, you know one of the things that I always stress is being mindful of putting that fire out. And living up here in Maine, we have a lot of outdoor fire pits, we have a lot of outdoor fires. And that's something that we are always conscious about, especially because here we have a lot of pine needles on the ground. pine needles are extremely flammable. So you know that I would imagine too that keeping, if you're gonna have a fire outside, keep it clean around the fire pit.
Lenny Jesuele 11:18
Yes, absolutely. Great. fire pits are a great tool for getting rid of that dead wood. So that's a that's a...
Jason Hare 12:06
Lenny Jesuele 12:07
It's a two-in-one. So I am a big advocate of firepits. I love markets, I have a firepit in my own home. And we use it on a regular basis. And it's one of the most enjoyable aspects, especially on cool summer nights to get out there and sit around the fire and have guests over or just family. A couple of things that people should keep in mind. Most people that have fire pits will stock wood, for their fire pits. You want to make sure that your wood rack has a good clearance away from your structure. Again, sometimes folks would like to take that wood rack and put it up next to the house...your cut logs or your dead trim, tree limbs that you collect from the yard, have the potential or wood-destroying insects to be present in them. So the further away you can keep them from home the better they are. Covering your woodpiles as well just on the top, not completely, to keep the rain off the top is a great idea. Wet wood does attract wood-destroying insects and does not burn as well in your firepit. So you don't want to cover the entire stack of wood. But putting the top cover on keep rain off is a great idea.
Jason Hare 13:52
So that's a great suggestion, Lenny. You know a couple of other things that I would quickly point out is dryer vents. That's another thing that I think people sort of overlooked that I would highly recommend cleaning yourself or if if it's too long, or if you don't know how to clean a dryer vent to hire a company. And also, this is a, I cannot stress this enough. Know where your fire extinguishers are. And if you don't have a fire extinguisher in your house, get a fire extinguisher at your house. And so, you know in terms of fire safety, a lot to think about but just make sure you're prepared and kind of go into the counter side of the fire. Let's talk let's go back to water. Water can cause a substantial amount of damage through leaks, which could eventually lead to mold which you're talking about earlier Lenny in terms of other ways that we can keep water out of our house. Any other recommendations in terms of what we should be looking for for our windows and doors.
Lenny Jesuele 14:47
Absolutely. So there's a couple additional things that you can do. You want to at least yearly, if not bi-annually, you want to take a walk around your home and just look at your windows and doors and the trim connections where your siding will join to tear trim. There's a sealant that goes around that keeps not only water out, but also insects. You want to make sure that that caulking or sealant that's in place, is intact. You want to, you want to check and make sure that there's no gaps. look for staining and the bottom corners of your windows that will be an indicator that water is getting back behind your window somewhere or somehow if you are unable to locate the source, you can call a window professional or siding professional and they can come out and find the source and get that corrected. The potential there is that if water continues to get behind, it could damage the sheeting on the house, which could potentially cause siding failure and resulting in a very costly repair. So again, the simple maintenance of you know, walking around your home with a good color match, caulking and making sure that all those penetrations are sealed, including your mechanical penetrations, most electrical entrances, and HVAC entrances have to penetrate the outside, exterior the house, you want to make sure that they're all sealed as well.
Jason Hare 16:18
And I want to point out to a lot of the stuff that you're talking about Lenny is really easy, simple things to do. But we're talking like Lenny said earlier, massive amounts of capital outlay if you have to repair some of this stuff. And that kind of goes into our last question, what types of services would you recommend scheduling on a yearly or a biannual basis that again, can really stave off some much more costly repairs down the road?
Lenny Jesuele 16:48
Well, I think that the big thing that is commonly overlooked is HVAC system service and maintenance. Just like anything else, and it has lots of moving parts, it does require regular maintenance and cleaning. Just because your HVAC is working doesn't mean that it's working to its optimum potential. Changing your filter. In my home, I change my filter every 30 days, which is a little more than, than what's required. But it works for us we have pets, so we actually generate a little bit of debris. The more activity your home has, the more frequently you should probably change your furnace filter because you're going to pick up more debris obviously that will be collected by that filter. I do recommend that at minimum every bi-yearly or yearly, that you should have your furnace and AC system service, which would include a clean and inspection. And once a... once a furnace reaches an age of about eight years or more, that inspection should include the technician examining your heat exchanger. The older a unit gets the potential is there for the heat exchanger to crack which could potentially emit CO2 gases into the internal air of your home, which is a health hazard. Now, if your file following fire safety, you will have CO2 detectors in your house and you'll have one located close to or near any gas-fired appliance. So if that leak does happen, your CO2 detector should pick that up. And give you an indicator that there was an issue.
Jason Hare 18:41
Perfect. Well, I appreciate it. Lenny, these are great suggestions. And I would even, you know, you had mentioned pests, wood-destroying insects a couple of times. I don't even think that that's something that we might want to consider, even if you're not seeing it. Or, if you haven't seen any carpenter ants or termites in your house, it's probably not a bad idea to schedule a yearly spray, just in case.
Pest control is one of those ounce of prevention items. Just because you don't have pets don't doesn't mean that you shouldn't treat for pests. If you're in an area that is especially for you Jason, in the heavily wooded area, annual pest control is a fantastic idea. The cost is minimal in comparison to the potential outlay if you do get an infestation...But yes, I do recommend that every person, have a routine past inspection and treatment. You can do those annually or bi-annually depending on the type of treatment that you select. And that should control any issues or potential issues that you may have.
I love it. Well again, I feel like you said a lot of this, was speaking to me and I think I've got my weekend plans now that I need to go and make sure that my house is all up to speed and Lenny, you're the man I thank you so much for coming on and chatting with us about ways to keep our properties in tip-top shape. Really appreciate it.
Lenny Jesuele 20:03
Absolutely. My pleasure.
Jason Hare 20:05
And thanks to everybody who's tuned in to listen, we're gonna share this conversation and Lenny's tips on our blog at scioto.com. Also, make sure you follow Lenny on LinkedIn to learn more about the construction projects he's working on, as well as to gain additional insight on ways to keep your property up to date. And finally, if you're not signed up for our email list, make sure you go to Scioto's website and enter that in or enter your info. That way you'll never miss Lenny's Pro Tips and you'll stay up to date on all of our new podcasts. Until next time, remember to do your best to make an impact with all that you do. Again, I'm Jason Hare, have a great week. So long, everybody!