Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Fall Maintenance Checklist!

When the last of summer’s heat is a faint memory, and you’re pulling out your hoodies more than your shorts, it’s time to tackle a few simple chores that’ll make winter more pleasant and prevent some nasty surprises next spring.

#1 Stow Your Mower

If you’re not familiar with fuel stabilizer, get to know it. If your mower sits for months with gas in its tank, the gas will slowly deteriorate, which can damage internal engine parts. Fuel stabilizer ($10 for a 10-ounce bottle) prevents gas from degrading.Add stabilizer to your gasoline can to keep spare gas in good condition over the winter, and top off your mower tank with stabilized gas before you put it away for the winter. Run the mower for five minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the carburetor.
Another lawn mower care method is to run your mower dry before stowing it. 

1. When the mower is cool, remove the spark plug and pour a capful of engine oil into the spark plug hole. 

2. Pull the starter cord a couple of times to distribute the oil, which keeps pistons lubricated and ensures an easy start come spring.

3. Turn the mower on its side and clean out accumulated grass and gunk from the mower deck.

#2 Don't Be a Drip

Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause damage.
Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you’ll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet. 

While you’re at it, drain garden hoses and store them in a shed or garage.

#3 Put Your Sprinklers to Sleep

Time to drain your irrigation system. Even buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to busted pipes and broken sprinkler heads.
  1. Turn off the water to the system at the main valve. 
  2. Shut off the automatic controller.
  3. Open drain valves to remove water from the system.
  4. Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads and shake the water out of them, then replace.
If you don’t have drain valves, then hire an irrigation pro to blow out the systems pipes with compressed air. A pro is worth the $75 to $150 charge to make sure the job is done right, and to ensure you don’t have busted pipes and sprinkler head repairs to make in the spring.

#4 Seal the Deal

Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk ($5 for a 12-ounce tube) and make a journey around  your home’s exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive — and most important — of your fall maintenance jobs. You’ll also seal air leaks that waste energy.

Pick a nice day when temps are above 50 degrees so caulk flows easily.

#5 De-Gunk Your Gutters

Clogged rain gutters can cause ice dams, which can lead to expensive repairs. After the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and gunk. Make sure gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water; tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets. Replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts.

If you find colored grit from asphalt roof shingles in your gutters, beware. That sand-like grit helps protect shingles from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. Look closely for other signs of roof damage (#5, below); it may be time for a roofing replacement. 

Your downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your house to prevent foundation problems. If they don’t, add downspout extensions; $10 to $20 each.

#6 Eyeball Your Roof

If you have a steep roof or a multistory house, stay safe and use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground.

Look for warning signs: Shingles that are buckled, cracked, or missing; rust spots on flashing. Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately. 

Black algae stains are just cosmetic, but masses of moss and lichen could signal roofing that’s decayed underneath. Call in a pro roofer for a $50 to $100 eval.

A plumbing vent stack usually is flashed with a rubber collar — called a boot — that may crack or loosen over time. They’ll wear out before your roof does, so make sure they’re in good shape. A pro roofer will charge $75 to $150 to replace a boot, depending on how steep your roof is.

#7 Direct Your Drainage

Take a close look at the soil around your foundation and make sure it slopes away from your house at least 6 vertical inches over 10 feet. That way, you’ll keep water from soaking the soils around your foundation, which could lead to cracks and leaks.

Be sure soil doesn’t touch your siding.

#8 Check Your Furnace

Schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling pro to get your heating system checked and tuned up for the coming heating season. You’ll pay $50 to $100 for a checkup.

An annual maintenance contract ensures you’re at the top of the list for checks and shaves 20% off the cost of a single visit.

Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven’t, now’s the time. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter.

#9 Prune Plants

Late fall is the best time to prune plants and trees — when the summer growth cycle is over. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your house so moisture won’t drip onto roofing and siding, and to prevent damage to your house exterior during high winds.

For advice on pruning specific plants in your region, check with your state extension service.

#10 Give Your Fireplace a Once-Over

To make sure your fireplace is safe, grab a flashlight and look up inside your fireplace flue to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Open the damper and look up into the flue to make sure it’s free of birds’ nests, branches and leaves, or other obstructions. You should see daylight at the top of the chimney.
Check the firebox for cracked or missing bricks and mortar. If you spot any damage, order a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection costs $79 to $500.
You fireplace flue should be cleaned of creosote buildup every other year. A professional chimney sweep will charge $150 to $250 for the service.

16 Charlotte area fall festivals to put on your calendar

September marks the start of one of the best times in Charlotte: festival season. As the weather cools, you’ve got outdoor options just about every weekend. Load up on fried food, carnival rides and local art.

Matthews Alive

Dates: September 2-5
Location: Stumptown Park, 120 S. Trade St.
Details: Admission is free. Festival offers family games, rides and activities as well as food and entertainment. All proceeds support Matthews-based schools and nonprofits.
Photo via Facebook

Yiasou Greek Festival

Dates: September 8-11
Location: Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 600 East Blvd.
Details: Tickets are $3, but kids 12 and under are free. One of Charlotte’s premier festivals for good reason. Step inside for choral performances, lectures and cathedral tours or stay outdoors for food, entertainment, rides and games.
Photo via Facebook

Cabarrus County Fair

Dates: September 9-17
Location: Cabarrus Arena & Events Center, 4751 N.C. Highway 49 North
Details: Tickets range from $3.25 to $7.50, and children 5 years old and younger are free. Rides, fair food, petting zoo, a youth horse show and chainsaw art are among the attractions.
Photo via Facebook

Eat From a Truck Festival

Dates: September 10
Location: AvidXchange Music Factory, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd.
Details: Billing itself as the largest food truck festival in the Carolinas, more than 100 local and regional food trucks will converge. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $25 for VIP. Trucks will be offering a $4 food option.
Photo via Facebook

Downtown Davidson Arts Festival

Dates: September 17
Location: Downtown Davidson
Details: Free. Browse work by local artists, sample beer/wine, enjoy live music. Kids art area included.
Photo via Facebook

Festival of India

Dates: September 17-18
Location: Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St.
Details: Children younger than 10 are free. Tickets are $6 in advance or $7 at the door. Sponsored by the India Association of Charlotte, it features performances, art and a “Charlotte Idol” contest.
Photo via Facebook

Festival in the Park

Dates: September 23-25
Location: Freedom Park
Details: Admission is free. A can’t-miss festival that includes work from local artists, performances, children’s rides and festival food.
Photo via Facebook

Denver Days

Dates: September 23-24
Location: Rescue Squad Park, Denver
Details: Free. Rides, entertainment, food, local craft and artisan vendors and a corn hole tournament.
Photo via Facebook

UNC Charlotte International Festival

Dates: September 24
Location: Free. UNC Charlotte Student Activity Center, 9201 University City Blvd.
Details: Browse booths that represent cultures from more than 50 nations. Arts, crafts and costumes are featured.
Photo via Facebook

Indian Trail Cultural Arts Festival

Dates: September 24
Location: Chestnut Square Park, 320 Chestnut Parkway
Details: Free. Artists, food and family activities.
Photo via Facebook

Hola Charlotte Festival

Dates: October 1
Location: North Tryon Street and West 6th Street
Details: Free. Charlotte’s official Hispanic Heritage Festival. Cultural exhibits, food and other displays.
Photo via Facebook

Pineville Fall Fest

Dates: October 14-15
Location: Downtown Pineville
Details: Music, craft vendors, rides, food, games and a pie eating contest are all featured.
Photo via Facebook

Apple Harvest Festival

Date: October 15
Location: Windy Hill Orchard, 1860 Black Highway, York, S.C.
Details: Check back for ticket information. This 23rd annual festival includes hard and regular cider, hayrides and apple doughnuts.

Enjoy Lake Wylie Living with This Featured LiveWell Home!!

Come check out LiveWell Homes' Featured Home! 

Enjoy one of a kind Lake Wylie living with this gorgeous home featuring a huge unfinished basement! Good news! The price has been reduced to $489,690 on our favorite Providence II plan! 

Call 803-336-5454 to schedule a showing! 
Move-In Ready Sepember '16!

Homes Sales Grow At Fastest Pace in 9 Years

New single-family homes in the U.S. are selling at the fastest pace in almost 9 years, according to the Department of Commerce.
New home sales rose 12.4%, reaching a seasonally adjusted rate of 654,000 units. That beats a revised June figure of 582,000 and is 31.3% higher than the July 2015 rate of 498,000 units.
The latest homes sales total is the highest since October 2007, when it reached 727,000, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
RATE SEARCH: Do you need a 30-year mortgage? Compare mortgage rates today.
Median home price drops
Sales in Northeast, South improve

The median sales price of new houses sold in July 2016 was $294,600, down from June ($310,500) and from July 2015 ($296,000).
"The growing number of lower-price level sales may reflect the growing importance of new-entry millennials as well as builders recognizing the need to downsize homes to actually sell them," says Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors.
Supply of news homes fell during the period as well. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of July was 233,000. This amounts to a home supply of 4.3 months at the current sales rate, the Commerce Department says. That's down from June, when the supply would last for 4.9 months, and July 2015, at 5.2 months.
RATE SEARCH: Check out for your best refinance options.
"That is the tightest that new home supplies have been since 2013," says economist Diane Swonk. "Housing starts, in particular, will need to pick up to meet demand in the market."
Sales in the Northeast made the biggest jump – by 40% -- to 35,000 from 25,000 in the previous month, followed by the South, where they rose by 18.1% to 398,000 from 337,000 in June. Sales in the Midwest and West were roughly flat, month over month.
"The persistence of sales in the South is particularly important in assessing the outlook for the overall construction market," Swonk says. "The South accounts for more than half of all single-family housing starts and is critical for the volume of starts and construction jobs as well as the supply of first-time buyer homes."
Read the Full article Here
Check Out LiveWell Homes!

9 Fall Decorating Ideas We Double-Tapped on Instagram!

There’s no shortage of daily eye candy on Instagram, and that’s especially true for fall decor and design inspiration.

I dove deep into the #falldecor and #falldecorating hashtags and uncovered some fresh, new ideas to try out while awaiting the season's much anticipated arrival. Whether you’re looking for DIY projects or simple decor ideas, there’s definitely something for you.

1: Beautiful Bouquets of Dried Flowers

Dried flowers often get a bad rap, but the truth is, they can look just as pretty as a fresh bouquet. Fall is a great time to experiment with dried flower arrangements around the house. Choose flowers with deeper color tones to stay within a more traditional fall color palette. A warm yellow, in particular, works really well if you’re looking for a bright pop of color.

2: Or Try Branches Instead


Gorgeous flowering branches, readily available during the fall, look absolutely beautiful in place of a traditional flower arrangement. Branches typically last several weeks and don’t require much more than water. Choose larger branches and put them in a tall vase to create a more dramatic centerpiece.

3: A Welcome Sack for Your Door

If you’ve had your fill of wreaths, you might want to try a flower-filled welcome sack on your front door. An arrangement like this likely won’t last quite as long as a wreath, but if you’re looking to make a statement, this could be a real showstopper.

4: Painted Wood Signs

Get creative with simple pieces of wood painted with fall messages like "thankful" or "grateful." Or add some “pumpkin patch” signs to your front lawn or garden for a bit of cheeky fall fun.

5: Gilded Pumpkins

While you could always paint, carve or glitter your pumpkins, we're fans of these little, gilded pumpkins. These would look lovely in a glass bowl in an entryway or as a centerpiece on a bountiful fall dinner table.

6: Fall Letter Decals

If you want to skip painting signs, you can try letter decals to create some fall messages around your home. These would look great on an outdoor window or on a living room mirror. They’re also a fun way to get the kids involved by having them help you spell out different fall-themed messages.

7: Pinecone Lights

This is a fun idea for a very simple seasonal display. Put some pinecones in a big glass jar or a large glass bowl, add some fairy lights and you have a lovely piece of fall decor. You can leave this out on your front porch, kitchen counter or even on a buffet or sideboard in your dining room.

8: Cotton Wreaths

This is a pretty alternative to a traditional branch, leaf or flower wreath. The puffy cotton calls to mind snowmen and snowflakes for the winter to come.

Make It: DIY Fall Wreath

9: Painted Jar Vases

Painting simple Mason jars white is a great way to create some easy, functional vases for all of your fall arrangements. Group them together and paint letters (or use stickers or decals) on the jars to write out an autumnal message.