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The Not-So-Hard Truth on Repairing Concrete Driveway Cracks

shutterstock_163788452by Jacklyn Renz

One of the most seemingly invincible pieces of your property is your concrete driveway. After all, concrete is hard, durable, and can stand all types of weather, right? Almost right. Like all other things in your home, your concrete driveway needs a little TLC every once in a while, too. One of your first areas of defense to keep your driveway beautiful amidst your curb appeal is repairing any cracks as they happen.

According to the Concrete Network, concrete is a mixture of water, aggregate (rock, sand, or gravel) and cement. Even the most well-poured concrete driveway is subject to cracking from soil settling, tree roots, or overweight loads. As the concrete continues to expand and contract throughout the hot and cold seasons, these cracks have potential to grow and splinter off. Repairing the cracks right away will save you more work in the long run.

Begin by identifying all cracks that need to be repaired. Sidewalk chalk is a great option for marking the places that will be filled. Next comes the cleaning of the offending fissure. You may use a hard tool to scrape out larger pieces of debris. Brush out any old concrete crumbles and remove any plants that may have taken up residence. A pressure washer or hose may be used to spray out any leftovers. Be sure to clean the crack well to ensure that the new material used to fill the crack will properly bond with the existing driveway.

Next, prepare your filling. The options for what to fill it with vary, and many of the options depend on the size of the crack and the local area’s weather. Tougher weather conditions call for a sealant, caulking, or concretes that can stand the harshness. For smaller cracks, there are sealants and caulking that are easy-to-use, don’t require mixing, and boast quick curing times. Other options include the tried and true remedy of dry concrete mix. If the crack is large enough, it is recommended to obtain a concrete mix that contains gravel.

Finally, fill the crack. If using a sealant in a bottle resembling a caulking tube, then load your caulk gun and fill away. For the traditional concrete mix, pour the concrete evenly into the space using a tool such as a trowel, and make sure its compressed firmly. Then, use the trowel to scrape away any excess filling and smooth down the area. Now the wait begins. The concrete must be given ample time to cure, overnight at the very least, before anything is driven over the repair. To help maintain the repair and the rest of your concrete driveway, go ahead and apply a high quality water sealer to protect your hard work.

What may seem like a difficult project is rather simple when broken down. Simply use the above steps as a guideline, follow your chosen concrete filler’s instructions to a tee, and in less than 48 hours your once cracked driveway will be restored to its solid former self.

sources: doityourself.com, bhg.com, concretenetwork.com

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Kitchen Counsel: Tips to Keep That Stainless Steel Shining

By Nick Caruso

If you have ever owned any stainless steel products, you know how beautiful and appealing the look can be. Stainless steel appliances give a renovated kitchen that POP! it needs, while steel also makes for a very durable cookware product that never disturbs flavors, yet guarantees a balanced heating of foods. It also resists corrosion and rust – a bonus for the steel fans!

While some may disagree, I find stainless to be a pain to clean. Not so much of a pain to eschew using our stainless set all together, but enough of a pain that we had to learn the dos and don’ts of dealing with it.  (Yes, we’ve scratched some of our appliances before and it is not a good feeling!)

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Here are some quick and easy tips for cleaning steel and maintaining that fresh metallic look:

Clean with water and a cloth. 

Microfiber cloths are the best option to use when cleaning stainless steel because they absorb all of the water. It’s also a safe product to use to avoid scratching steel surfaces. You’ll want to avoid paper towels or any cloth or towel with a rough surface intended for non-stick cookware. This especially includes steel wool! When drying, dry along the grain to avoid water spots. If you clean or dry aggressively against the grain with regular scouring pads, you will leave marks on your appliance or pan, so be sure to take it easy.

Only use a drop of dish soap. 

For most cases, a drop of mild dish soap and warm water is all you’ll need to clean a pan or pot, so don’t over-think it! Just be gentle. Alternatively, using white vinegar as a cleaner has also been proven to work. Try it out – that stuff is like magic!

Glass cleaner is your friend. 

Fingerprints on stainless steel is one of the biggest complaints and it’s a valid concern! No matter how careful you try to be, fingerprints will always end up on your fridge. Use spray glass cleaner on a microfiber cloth to get the job done. Wipe away the fingerprint using soft circular wipes. There are newer finishes of stainless steel that are fingerprint resistant, so if you are buying new products be sure to do your research and seek those out.

Keep a stainless steel cleaner on hand. 

If you need to remove stains or scratches from your stainless steel, using a steel cleaner is a great option. Read the directions on the cleaner and be sure to test the product on an unnoticeable location, just in case. Even if you aren’t trying to remove a stain or hide a scratch, stainless steel cleaner or glass cleaner will help your appliance shine. As always, rinse the area thoroughly afterwards and towel dry.

Stainless steel can be finicky, but with a little TLC, stainless steel will keep your kitchen looking sleek and stylish for years to come.

This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for top real estate tips and trends.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

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Home Inspections Pave the Way to Smoother Real Estate Transactions

By Keith Loria

When it comes to selling your home, the last thing you want to do is hold up a sale because of a simple problem that could have been identified by investing in a home inspection. While it may not be the No. 1 item on your to-do list as you prepare to list your home, a home inspection is an integral piece of the puzzle. Bringing to light any problems or issues that need to be addressed, a home inspection can save you a lot of time, money and headaches.

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Here are some of the most common problems a home inspector can unearth.

Bedroom Windows.

All rooms listed as bedrooms must have an operating window with 5 square feet of clearance for fire escape. Bedrooms must also have heat. If a home is listed with three bedrooms, and one does not meet both these requirements, it cannot legally be called a bedroom.

Furnaces and Compressors.

Rust in the heat exchange is a common problem that shows up during home inspections. Another common problem involves missing insulation where required by code at the time the house was built, or an improvement or replacement was installed.

Electrical Issues.

Common electrical code violations include electrical junctions not enclosed in a junction box, a lack of GFCI outlets in bathrooms and kitchens, or reverse-polarity on outlets. These are inexpensive things to repair, but by not doing so, it can hold up a sale.

Lifesaving Equipment.

Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are required by law in most states, and not having them will be considered a code violation.

Plumbing.

A number of plumbing issues are very common, with violations ranging from dripping faucets to loose toilets and improper drainage.

Structural Problems.

While these can be more expensive to fix, if they aren’t taken care of properly, they can prolong a sale. Violations in this area include rotten wood trim around windows and doors, rotten or delaminating siding and missing flashing on roofs or above windows and doors.

Extra Rooms.

If you had your basement fixed up at some point while living in the home, or even added a sunroom, be sure you have the proper permits in place. This will need to be taken care of before any sale can go through.

Don’t put your home sale in jeopardy because of code violations that can be easily fixed. Hire an inspector, make the necessary changes and enjoy the comfort it brings when the closing comes to fruition.

For more information about home inspections and code violations, contact our office today.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

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