Useful Information

Basic Home Maintenance


  • Check the filters on your heating/cooling unit. If you have humidifiers and electronic air cleaners, their filters should also be checked. Change or clean on the recommended schedule.
  • Check faucets for drips and the rest of the plumbing for leaks. Repairing minor drips and leaks can prevent major water damage in the future. It also will help with conservation and keep down your water bill.

Semi-Annually or Seasonal

  • Change the batteries in your smoke detector twice a year. Fire experts suggest changing the batteries when you change your clocks at the beginning and end of Daylight Savings Time. Or choose two family birthdays that are about 6 months apart.
  • Draining a gallon or two of water from your hot water heater at least twice a year can extend its life expectancy.
  • Clean out your roof gutters. Particularly don't let the gutters get clogged with leaves. General recommendation is twice a year in the spring and fall.
  • Trim shrubs and trees so that they clear the foundation, exterior walls, and roof of the house. Shrubbery that's too close to the house can promote the growth of mildew, mold, and algae, particularly during warmer weather. Root growth can damage foundations. Limbs can scrape paint on siding and trim.
  • Clean leaves and trash out from under decks and porches. Pull mulch away from foundation walls.
  • Check and service lawn care equipment in spring before you need it.


  • Have your heating and cooling system(s) serviced.
  • If you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, check the chimney and have it cleaned if there is any creosote or soot build-up. Check the soundness of the mortar at the same time.
  • Inspect, repair and reseal tile grout in bathrooms, kitchens, and any other areas.
  • Make a quick inspection of the exterior of the house. Check the foundation for cracking, blocked vents, and leaks. Check caulking around doors and windows. Check paint for peeling, cracking, fading or blistering.
  • Check the roof for leaks. You do not necessarily have to get on the roof, but can inspect the underside of the roof in the attic for any signs of leaking. If you spot any, it's probably time to call a professional.


  • If you don't currently have a termite service, have a thorough termite inspection. Follow up on any treatment and repair recommendations. Keep your termite protection current, it will save you money in the long run.
  • Make sure that you know where the main cut-off valves or switches are for the home's plumbing system, electrical service, and gas service.

Mold Information


  • Mold plays an important role in our ecosystem. Mold breaks down dead organic matter such as fallen trees and leaves.
  • Mold produces tiny spores to reproduce. Spores travel through the air and outdoors continually. When these spores land on a damp surface they begin growing and eating the surface on which they lie.
  • Mold growth on a surface can often be seen as a colored spot, commonly green, brown, black or white. It often is fuzzy, powdery or hairy in appearance.
  • Actively growing mold produces an odor often described as earthy, or musty.
  • It is impossible to get rid of all mold indoors. You can prevent damage to your health and your home by controlling moisture and eliminating mold growth.
  • Musty odors are an indication of hidden mold. Possible locations of hidden mold include the backside of wallpaper, the topside of ceiling tiles, the backside of drywall and inside ductwork.
  • There are products available which can kill mold organisms. However, since mold can cause allergic reactions in some individuals, it is not enough to just kill the mold, it must also be removed and the water source that is causing it eliminated.

Health Effects

  • Mold can trigger an allergy, asthma or sinus problem.
  • Other symptoms specific to molds include: respiratory problems, nasal and sinus congestion, burning or watery eyes, dry cough, blurry vision, headaches, shortness of breath, memory problems, mood changes and fever.
  • Contact with certain types of mold can produce infections including jock itch, athlete’s foot, ringworm and other forms of infection of the nails, hair, skin and mucous membranes.
  • Who is at greatest risk?
  • Young children and infants are particularly susceptible to the effects of mold.
  • Individuals with a weakened immune system such as individuals with HIV/AIDS, cancer chemotherapy patients, post-surgery patients, individuals using steroids and persons with an existing respiratory condition are also susceptible.


  • Test the area of concern.
  • The best solution to control mold growth is to control the moisture source.
  • If you have health concerns, consult your physician.
  • Reduce indoor humidity to less than 60%.
  • Make sure the bathroom, dryer, and other moisture-generating sources are vented to the outside.
  • Dry any water intrusion within 24-48 hours to help prevent any mold growth.
  • Visible mold less than 10 square feet that occurs on a hard surface can be removed with a 10-1 water and bleach solution.
  • Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners in hot humid conditions.
  • Promote air circulation in your home. Open doors, and do not cover vents.
  • Raise the temperature of cold surfaces. Have your home properly insulated to prevent condensation.
  • Pay close attention to carpets on concrete floors. Carpets can collect moisture and promote mold growth.

EIFS (Synthetic Stucco)

What is EIFS?

EIFS stands for Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems. The product is also called synthetic stucco, and refers to a multi-layered exterior finish that has the look of traditional stucco. EIFS consists of an inner layer, a middle layer, and an exterior. The inner layer is an insulation board secured to the exterior wall surface with a specially formulated adhesive and/or mechanical attachment. The middle layer is a durable, water-resistant base coat, which is applied on top of the insulation and reinforced with fiber glass mesh for added strength. The exterior layer is an attractive and durable finish coat, typically using acrylic co-polymer technology.

EIFS layers bond to form a covering that doesn't breathe. That's fine when no moisture is present behind the covering, but if moisture seeps in it can become trapped behind the layers. With no place to go, constant exposure to moisture can lead to rot in wood and other vulnerable materials within the home. Newer EIFS systems include a drainage arrangement to help keep moisture from being trapped behind the covering.

Synthetic Stucco vs. Traditional Stucco

  • Synthetic stucco is soft and sounds hollow when tapped.
  • Traditional stucco is hard and brittle, and sounds solid when tapped.

Maintaining EIFS

  • Any opening, such as door and window frames and the areas around flashings, must be sealed to prevent water from seeping behind the EIFS.
  • Gutters should be kept clean and positioned to drain away from the house.
  • Foam should not extend below grade.
  • Items that penetrate the stucco must be sealed.
  • In other words, no moisture should be able to seep behind the EIFS.

Signs of EIFS Problems

  • Mold or mildew on the interior or exterior of the home.
  • Swollen wood around door and window frames.
  • Blistered or peeling paint.
  • Cracked EIFS or cracked sealant