Making Your Home “Age-in-Place” Friendly

If you love your home and plan to live it in through your retirement years, you’ll want to be sure it’s safe for you as you face some of those little challenges aging presents. Assess your home and see if there are any changes you may need to make. Doing so will not only reduce the risk of injury, but it will also give your loved one’s peace-of-mind, especially if you live alone.

Here’s what you’ll want to inspect as you consider aging in place:

  1. Bathroom handrails. Next to the toilet and tub are top choices. Not only are they there for moments of instability, but they can help you raise and lower yourself more easily. You might also consider converting to a walk-in shower with a seat.
  1. Non-slip surfacing. Showers and tubs are much safer if you reduce the chance of slippage. Having coating installed to facilitate your grip is a good idea.
  1. Stairway railings. Both inside and outside stairways should have sturdy, useful rails (i.e. not just decorative).
  1. Ample lighting. Consider adding lighting indoors and outdoors. Decreased visibility is a major contributor to falls. Lighting also adds security by deterring would-be burglars.
  1. Sharp edges. Tables, countertops, and other areas were sharp edges are likely to be found should be replaced with rounded surfaces.
  1. Flat thresholds. Transitions from room-to-room should be as bump-free as possible. You may be used to stepping over the occasional random stair or elevated threshold, but you might not be so agile as you age.
  1. Storage height. If you’ve been used to climbing up and down step ladders to access your storage spaces, look for alternative storage options.
  1. Furniture support. Is your couch too low? Do your chairs have arm rests for support? Are countertops too high? Find the sweet spot where comfort and safety meet.

Home size is often an issue as well, especially if there are upkeep and maintenance issues to consider. Of course, if you’ve decided your current home isn’t the greatest for an age-in-place approach to your golden years, I am happy to help you sell your current home or look for a new one:

Teresa Butler

Worthington Realty



Spring cleaning: 6 areas to repair, replace and refresh

(BPT) – Spring is one of the most popular times of year to clean up your home inside and out, make renovations and take steps to ensure it operates efficiently for the res21616700t of the year. But after the long winter months, the list of projects can pile up. This year, focus on six key areas to repair, replace and refresh around your house now – to avoid spending more time and money later.

1. Repair your roof and gutters. Inspect the roof to check for loose or cracked shingles. Also, be sure to look at indoor ceilings for any signs of water leakage and get started on repairs before more damage occurs. Take a look at the gutters to see if there are areas in need of repair as well, and tackle them now before there’s too much rain.

2. Repair and reseal your deck. Remove debris and sweep the deck clean. Fix broken or bent boards and pushed up nails. Choose a cleanser formulated for your deck surface – whether for wood or composite – and apply a new coat of sealer and stain. A local home improvement center can advise you on formulations for your particular needs.

3. Replace your furnace. As you make home upgrades, this is also a good time to upgrade your furnace for greater home comfort and lower energy bills. For example, American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning’s Gold S9V2 Gas Furnace is extremely efficient in heating your home and offers quiet operation. Standing at just 34 inches high by 17-1/2 inches wide, it’s compact enough to fit in tight spaces, like a closet or basement. And with a 96 percent gas efficiency (AFUE) rating, it’s one of the most efficient furnaces on the market.

4. Replace windows and doors. Older windows can let unwanted air and moisture into your home. Installing newer, more efficient models will not only save money on cooling in summer and heating in winter, but they can bring the look of your home up to date. Replacing your front door in a great color and style can also add to your home’s efficiency and instantly add curb appeal.

5. Refresh with paint. There’s nothing like a new coat of paint to transform and update the look of a home. It’s also one of the easiest and most economical home improvement projects you can undertake. Check out your local paint store for ideas and suggestions to help you visualize your home in fresh new colors.

6. Refresh your indoor air. The spring and fall months can trigger allergies, so consider adding an indoor air cleaner. An American Standard AccuClean whole-home system, for instance, can remove up to 99.98 percent of airborne particles and allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mildew, pet hair and dander and fungus and bacteria, so everyone in your home can breathe easier.

Lastly, renew your commitment to home maintenance by creating a yearly schedule of home projects. Mark your calendar with target dates to remind yourself to complete key tasks – including what to focus on for the next season, before the colder months arrive.

How to Prevent Burst Pipes in Winter


Live in an area where extreme cold is likely during the winter months? Don’t risk thousands of dollars in plumbing repairs… take the time to protect your pipes from bursting. When water freezes in your pipes, the ice expands, adding to the overall pressure in your home’s plumbing. When this force builds, it can cause pipes to split. In addition to plumbing repairs, you might find yourself on the hook for flooding damage, too.

The pipes most at risk? Those exposed to the lowest temperatures, of course. This includes plumbing on the exterior of the home, in exterior walls, and exposed pipes in those unheated zones of your home. Did you know that even a frozen garden hose can cause enough pressure to split an interior pipe? Be sure to disconnect and drain them. Faucets outside are vulnerable as well, so you’ll want to locate the shutoff valves for those spigots and make sure they’re drained before a freeze.

Naturally, if you’re not going to be around for the winter months, you’ll want to prepare your home before you head to a warmer climate. Don’t let the house drop below the mid-50s, and shut off the water main and be sure to drain the home’s plumbing by letting the faucets run to empty and flushing the toilets.

But what do you do if the freeze takes you by surprise? Here are some quick tips to try and save yourself from a plumbing nightmare:

  1. Get the taps running. You don’t need a rushing stream of water, just make sure indoor and outdoor faucets are letting a steady drip out to keep the water moving.
  1. Open up closed spaces. Have an unheated garage? Pipes in cabinets? Get warm air circulating in there by opening them up to climate-controlled areas of your home. The added heating expense is nothing compared to costly repairs.
  1. Insulate pipes. If you suspect the pipes are starting to accumulate some ice, you can try hot towels (soaked in hot water) to loosen the frosty slush in the pipes.
  1. Hair dryer to the rescue. When hot towels won’t help, don’t hesitate to get out your trusty hairdryer or heat gun to thaw things out. No open flames, though!

Finally, if you fear the worst is already upon you, turn off your water main. At least this way you won’t face a flood when things get moving again. Protect your home this winter! Enjoy helpful home tips? Let me know and I’ll include you on my free, periodic mailings:


Fall has arrived! In many areas around the country, that means that the heating season is right around the corner! It’s important to be sure that our heating systems and our homes are properly prepped for the heating season, and here’s how:

  1. ​​Inspect windows and doors. Window should have properly fitted storm windows. Windows should open and closely easily. Weep holes should be functional and not blocked with debris. (Clean with pipe cleaners). Is the weatherstripping around your window perimeters in working condition? Exterior doors?

  2. Seal leaks around windows, doors, pipes, recessed lighting, and electrical outlets. Seal door leaks with weather-stripping or a door sweep; seal window leaks with caulking. You can add gaskets to outlets on outside walls. We had one of our inspectors try it and here were his results.
  3. Consider sealing more “hidden” air leaks like at your duct work. Seal ductwork joints with high-quality foil tape or mastic paste (despite the name, avoid duct tape). But don’t go overboard sealing the home in general. Your home still needs to “breathe.” Make sure your home retains heat but also provides enough fresh air to maintain good indoor air quality.
  4. Consider purchasing a properly sized cover for your air conditioning condensing unit. If not already, very soon you’ll be turning off that cool air device and you’ll want it covered to keep out winter’s ice and migrating debris.
  5. Inspect your fireplace. Working doors and screen? How about the damper? If you have a gas log, make sure the damper is restricted from closing completely. You must not allow this damper to close entirely as Carbon Monoxide (CO) gas from your pilot light must be able to escape up the chimney at all times. How long has it been since you had the fireplace chimney cleaned? Consider every 3 years.
  6. Change filters. Change the filter in a forced hot-air system monthly during the heating season to help keep the system at peak efficiency. Most homeowners can change the filters themselves.
  7. Have your heating system professionally serviced. Getting your system professionally serviced now reduces the likelihood of needing emergency service come January. As a general rule, oil systems should be cleaned and serviced annually, while gas systems should be serviced every other year.
  8. Make sure your home is adequately insulated. Read more about proper insulation and ventilation here.
  9. If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, now is a great time to get one installed. Be all set (pun intended!) and ready to go when winter comes.
  10. ​Upgrade where necessary. Lastly, if your home and systems are older, it may be time to consider new windows or a new heating system in order to really be prepared for the heating system this year.

Housing Components Don’t Last Forever

Many aspects of a home last little more than a decade. Home buyers should be especially vigilant about inspecting these household components because they have a relatively short lifespan, says the National Association of Home Builders.
Aluminum roof coating: 3-7 years
Enameled steel sinks: 5-7 years
Security systems: 5-10 years
Carpet: 8-10 years
Smoke detectors: fewer than 10 years
Faucets: 10-15 years
Garage door openers:10-15 years
Air conditioners: 10-15 years
Asphalt: 12-15 years
Termite-proofing during construction: 12 years
Source:, Marcie Geffner (01/22/2010) Photo ©Teresa Butler 2010. All rights reserved.

Five Maintenance Issues Owners Shouldn’t Ignore

Consumer Reports magazine advises home owners not to put off important maintenance projects, noting that waiting until the economy rebounds could end up making the repairs more costly while putting a family’s health at risk. The magazine identifies five crucial maintenance issues:
Check the gutters: Clogged gutters, broken fasteners and separations where the gutters meet the fascia board will lead to roof leaks if they haven’t already.
Inspect the roof: Cracked, curled and mussing shingles mean a roof is nearing the end of its useful life. Cracks around chimneys, skylights, and roof valleys can also suggest the roof might be leaking.
Look for bugs: Termites and carpenter ants can bore through a home in a few short years. Probe the sill plate on top of the foundation with a screwdriver to check for rotten wood. Also look for carpenter ants and termites along windowsills and walls.
Avoid mold: Mold and mildew can cause musty odors, dank air, and make residents sick. Check under carpets and around windows for visible mold or mildew.
Don’t ignore cracks: Foundation cracks wider than 3/16 of an inch can be a problem. These require examination by a structural engineer.
Source: Consumer Reports (05/04/2009)

Protecting Your Home from Winter Windstorms

A Few Modifications Will Protect Your Most Valuable Asset from the Elements

(ARA) – Like a scene from a Hollywood movie, winter winds rage through town, whipping up leaves, smacking shutters against siding and sending shingles flying. Huge trees snap like feeble twigs. It’s no mystery why scary movies often portray ominous scenes against a backdrop of a dark and stormy night. It’s even more frightening in real life.

The roof over your head is your home’s critical shield of protection from high winds and rain, and it’s often the first to be damaged during a windy storm. But with a few simple modifications and defensive strategies, homeowners can prepare their most valuable asset to stand up against even the harshest elements.

Start with the roof, a home’s first line of defense in protection from wind.

During a storm, wind hits the top of the roof and then travels down the exterior walls to the foundation. If the roof components can’t withstand the wind’s force, damage can occur all the way to the foundation. Quality roofing products can help prevent the heartache of thousands of dollars worth of damage.

According to Bert Elliott of Owens Corning, “Investing in a premium, wind-resistant shingle can help minimize the damage you could face in a high-wind event — so that during the next windy day you can relax and know that your roof is ready for the challenge.”

Owens Corning Duration Series Shingles feature a patented sealant called Tru-Bond that creates a tight grip between the nailing strip and the shingle to insure a powerful bond that can help withstand winds from 110 mph up to 130 mph.

With solid shingles in place, now look to the rest of the house to make sure it’s secure. For example, anchoring bolts with heavy-gauge square bolt washers to connect the floor construction to the foundation is a small task that helps ensure added coverage. It is also important to ensure that metal connectors on roof trusses or rafters and walls are connected properly.

And don’t overlook the garage. Securing garage doors with the correct bracing –single-wide garage doors with a horizontal brace and for garage door panels, either vertical or horizontal bracing — provides much needed protection for your garage.

Outside your home, survey the landscaping. The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes recommends examining trees within close proximity to the house. If trees are diseased or damaged they may have a weak root system and may not be able to withstand a windstorm. Some warning signs include mushrooms growing at the base of the tree, indicating decay, insect infestation, large cracks in the trunk or branches and dead limbs.

Consider the distance from the tree to the house, even with healthy trees. A tree’s proximity to the home should be greater than the height of the full-grown tree.

Wind speeds fluctuate and often change directions during a storm, so make sure you are not enabling more damage to occur during the next high wind event. Loose items near the home such as lawn furniture, trash cans and other outdoor objects can wreak havoc, and pose a huge risk of injury, so put them away before a windstorm hits.

There’s another bonus to preparing your home for high winter winds. While some wind-retrofit projects are not visible, cleaning up landscaping and installing quality roofing products can help provide protection for your home while adding to its curb appeal.

“Protecting your home doesn’t mean you will have to sacrifice appearance,” says Elliott. “Updating the roof can have a tremendous impact on the overall look of your home, while providing superior protection against wind.”

A little forethought and a few modifications can help you keep those raging, wind-whipped scenes where they belong: in the movies. Visit for more information.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

December Home Maintenance

Happy holidays! While enjoying this festive season with family and friends, double-check December’s tips for a warm and cozy home environment:
-Monitor ice build-up in gutters and drain spouts.
-Inspect all interior plugs and switches for safety.
-Check and maintain fire extinguisher.
-Examine wood burning flues for blockage and clean if necessary.
-Grind ice cubes in garbage disposal to sharpen blades.
-Check attic for leaks and condensation.
-Store firewood at least 30 feet away from the house.
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