Getting your home ready for the big chill

By Zillow

While September brings the first day of fall, October can be the harbinger of the winter and all of its frigid pitfalls. It’s best to be prepared for the frost and snow with a few simple tasks that will prevent drafts, frosty windows and every homeowner’s nightmare: Busted pipes.

A good place to start prior to tackling problem areas in your home is a home energy audit. This will pinpoint specific places in your house where heat escapes. The U.S. Department of Energy has a do-it-yourself energy assessment, or you can hire someone to do the audit for you.


Cold air can seep in through those little gaps between your door and the door frame, quickly reversing any effort you take to heat your home. Weatherstripping covers the sides and top of the door and a sweep fills the space between the threshold and door bottom. Hardware stores and home centers sell numerous products in metal, foam, rubber and plastic for this purpose and many can be installed in an afternoon.

This may be another area where additional weatherstripping or caulk is needed to fill any visible gaps, though that still might not be enough remediation to prevent drafts. While windows add much needed winter light, they can let out a lot of heat — up to 12 times more than a wall if they’re single pane. Blinds can keep a little heat in, but heavier shades or curtains will minimize heat loss.

Fantasizing about a cozy evening in front of the fire? Your romantic night might be cut short if your fireplace hasn’t been serviced. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys are swept at least once a year.

It’s also recommended that furnaces be serviced once a year. A heating system can break down at the most inopportune time is it’s not serviced. Worse, it can pump carbon monoxide into a home or eventually stop working. While a furnace service can run up to $100, the cost benefits are undeniable, considering the cost of a major fix or replacement.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a home with central heating can lose between 10 and 30 percent of its heated air before that air reaches the vents if duct work is not well-connected and insulated, or if it must travel through unheated spaces.

Frozen pipes
are a royal nuisance, but with a little effort, many instances can be prevented. The best way to tackle these is to wrap pipes that run the exterior of the home with heating tape. Turn off the water and drain the remaining water at the inside valves. You can also purchase insulated covers for additional prevention.

2 big problems with venting dryer vertically

Why buyers should ask about setup before closing deal

By Barry Stone
Inman News™

DEAR BARRY: When we bought our condo, the home inspector said we might have trouble with the dryer vent, and he sure was right. The laundry is located in the middle of our home, in a hall closet; so the dryer has to vent vertically, up through the roof. This causes two problems: The vent becomes clogged with lint, and moisture in the duct causes the ceiling to become wet. Can anything be done to correct this problem? –Bob

DEAR BOB: A vertical dryer vent is typically a problem because it acts as a moisture condenser. The sheet metal duct is cooled by the outside air in the attic. This causes the steam from your dryer to become liquid on the inner surface of the duct. This wetness trickles down and may leak at duct fittings, causing wetness and possible mold on affected materials (such as your ceiling).

Moisture in the duct also tends to collect lint, which forms an increasingly thick layer on the vent surface, thereby reducing the efficiency of your dryer.

The problem begins by placing the laundry facility in an impractical location in the building. It the dryer had been located near an exterior wall, it would have been simple to vent it horizontally through the wall. When a laundry is situated near the center of a home, especially if there is a slab foundation, a vertical duct is often the only option for ventilation.

Unfortunately, a horizontal vent duct is not required by code. If it were, architects and builders would be more practical in their placement of laundry facilities.

One solution, in your case, would be to relocate the laundry to a more sensible location, depending on the layout of your floor plan. Otherwise, the duct should be modified or replaced with one that has no fittings where leakage is likely to occur. Periodic servicing of the vent duct will be needed to remove accumulated lint.

DEAR BARRY: I plan to be traveling this winter and want to winterize my home. Some friends have recommended draining my water heater and turning off the gas. Others say this is not a good idea. What is your opinion? –Randy

DEAR RANDY: It is not a good idea to turn off a water heater completely. When a water heater becomes cold, all of its constituent parts shrink. When you relight the burner at a later date, re-expansion of the fixture can cause leaking at the fittings, and replacement of the unit might then be necessary.

The recommended procedure when you leave home in winter is to turn the water heater thermostat to the “vacation” setting. The pilot light remains lit, maintaining a slightly warm water temperature within the fixture until you return home.

If your home is heated with gas, it is also wise to leave the gas service on when you are away. If the temperature drops below freezing, lack of heat can allow freezing water to split your pipes, and this can cause major damage to the building and its contents. Instead, you should turn the thermostat to the lowest setting, usually around 50 degrees.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at

Open Houses: Saturday and Sunday, October 29-30, 2011

There are many, many open houses this weekend!!! The following properties will be holding open houses in the Brandywine Hundred, North Wilmington, Newark, Hockessin, Pike Creek, Newark, Bear, and Middletown, Delaware areas on Saturday and Sunday, October 29-30, 2011:

Can’t make the open house? No problem! Contact Brian Doreste today at 302-753-6398 to schedule your own private showing.

The most current open house list for New Castle County, Delaware can always be found at:, and is usually published every Thursday morning.

5929651 $380,000 108 Miners Ln Newark DE Academy Hill
5947141 $289,900 1168 Elderon Dr Wilmington DE Arundel
5954672 $194,900 3628 Topaz Dr Claymont DE Ashbourne Hills
5964905 $355,000 339 Rockmeade Dr Wilmington DE Ballymeade
5952655 $219,000 2503 Kittiwake Dr Wilmington DE Brookmeade
5951549 $189,900 96 Martindale Dr Newark DE Brookside
5931458 $389,900 1204 Bruce Rd Wilmington DE Carrcroft
5957358 $825,000 110 Bancroft Mills Rd Wilmington DE CarriageHouseRowBran
5935624 $289,900 612 Dandenog Dr Wilmington DE Castleshire
5950826 $250,000 9 W Weatherly Rd New Castle DE Chaddwyck
5936600 $370,000 226 Sweetgrass Run Newark DE Cinnamon Station
5947505 $374,900 10 Old Farm Rd Newark DE Corner Ketch Farm
5961495 $157,900 3425 Cranston Ave Wilmington DE Cranston Heights
5884860 $379,000 21 Crestfield Rd Wilmington DE Crestfield
5959549 $185,000 506 Abrams Ct Bear DE Crossings At Chris
5952761 $249,900 2 Neponset Rd Wilmington DE Dartmouth Woods
5930717 $314,900 1 Falkirk Ct Newark DE Deerborne Woods
5929387 $289,900 110 Dewalt Rd Newark DE Drummond Hill
5960833 $237,900 2117 Othoson Ave Wilmington DE Eastburn Heights
5902576 $345,000 105 Edgewood Dr Wilmington DE Edgewood Hills
5948405 $194,300 107 Cypress Dr Newark DE Gender Woods
5946568 $269,000 1019 Sedwick Dr Wilmington DE Graylyn Crest
5936740 $184,500 619 5th St Newark DE Green Valley
5927477 $212,000 25 Brier Ave Wilmington DE Greenbrier Village
5953852 $295,000 1010 Wawaset St Wilmington DE Happy Valley
5895811 $284,900 509 Hemingway Dr Hockessin DE Hickory Hills
5871593 $335,000 1605 Woodlawn Ave Wilmington DE Highlands
5929584 $199,000 305 Marsh Rd Wilmington DE Hillcrest
5943776 $199,900 1309 Fairview Ave Wilmington DE Holly Oak Terr
5954363 $165,000 14 S Lunenburg Dr New Castle DE Jefferson Farms
5962664 $239,900 2002 Kershaw Ln Wilmington DE Kershaw Acres
5935473 $149,900 2438 Hammond Pl Wilmington DE Kirkwood Gardens
5964880 $178,000 4203 Harris Pl Wilmington DE Klair Estates
5884948 $194,000 230 Schafer Blvd New Castle DE Llangollen Estates
5960414 $314,900 1418 Marsh Rd Wilmington DE Mayfield
5944912 $265,000 27 Wheatfield Dr Wilmington DE Meriden
5891184 $409,900 12 Bordeaux Blvd Newark DE Meritage
5944813 $339,900 10 Middle Rd Newark DE Middle Run Meadow
5963326 $234,900 1216 West St Wilmington DE Midtown Brandywine
5765196 $129,900 105 Wildel Ave New Castle DE Minquadale
5961399 $325,000 509 Straford Ct Middletown DE Misty Vale Farm
5875835 $124,900 224 Cobble Creek Curv Newark DE Newtown Homes
5860304 $399,993 512 Old Baltimore Pike Newark DE None Available
5883917 $549,900 210 N Cass St Middletown DE None Available
5963269 $274,000 1109 N Hilton Rd Wilmington DE Oak Lane Manor
5962123 $750,000 313 Delaware St New Castle DE Old New Castle
5964688 $149,900 32 Paladin Dr Wilmington DE Paladin Club
5961517 $599,000 1100 Lovering Ave 1806 Wilmington DE Park Plaza
5948198 $579,900 435 Spring Hollow Dr Middletown DE Parkside
5952610 $378,900 254 Wickerberry Dr Middletown DE Parkside
5949887 $379,000 220 W Pembrey Dr Wilmington DE Pembrey
5943190 $399,500 2 Perth Dr Wilmington DE Perth
5955426 $169,900 7 Stevens Ave New Castle DE Rambleton Acres
5941763 $318,500 1 Finn Ct Newark DE Reserve/ironside
5965033 $228,000 10 Riverside Dr Wilmington DE Riverside Gardens
5930007 $239,900 121 Sugarberry Dr New Castle DE Rutledge
5961470 $240,000 723 Staghorn Dr New Castle DE Rutledge
5943756 $657,700 4 Hedgerow Pl Greenville DE Sedgely Farms
5927686 $359,990 127 Shannon Blvd Middletown DE Shannon Cove
5946743 $215,900 1407 Lincoln Ave Wilmington DE Silverside Heights
5937853 $799,900 40 Oxford Way Wilmington DE Stonewold
5861638 $199,900 3209 Falcon Ln 127 Wilmington DE Stoney Batter
5887963 $234,900 3205 Falcon Ln 315 Wilmington DE Stoney Batter
5864866 $269,900 18 Marsh Woods Ln Wilmington DE The Hamptons
5935043 $209,999 225 Sioux Ct Newark DE The Woods
5963189 $245,000 1428 Stapler Pl Wilmington DE Trolley Square
5942219 $169,900 305 Delaware Ave Wilmington DE Tuxedo Park
5906864 $185,000 68 Tiverton Cir Newark DE Varlano
5961193 $399,900 500 Hambleton Ln Newark DE Village Of Fox Meado
5936498 $147,500 191 Auckland Dr Newark DE Wellington Woods
5951309 $625,000 5 Pelham Rd Wilmington DE Welshire
5938011 $314,900 119 Wembley Rd Wilmington DE Westgate Farms
5950503 $275,000 408 Northhampton Way Middletown DE Willow Grove Mill
5881238 $769,000 69 & 71 Ivy Rd Wilmington DE Wilm #13
5919978 $439,000 17 Ivy Rd Wilmington DE Wilm #13
5936836 $299,900 1600 Tudor Pl Wilmington DE Windybush
5881503 $195,000 520 Becker Ave Wilmington DE Woodcrest
5899091 $195,000 1 Woodbury Ct Wilmington DE Woodland Park
5868565 $249,900 1915 W Zabenko Dr Wilmington DE Woodmill Village
5950220 $749,900 6 Wyncliff Ln Newark DE Wyncliff

Come out and see these houses this weekend!

3 key benefits to gutting a house

Customize your remodel while saving money

By Paul Bianchina
Inman News™

Q: I have a home at the beach that was built in 1960, so it has no insulation and the frame is not attached to the foundation. Plus it has lath and plaster walls that have either had water problems or something else on the walls that cause it not to look nice. I plan to remodel before moving in.

Should I consider stripping all the walls and ceiling of the lath and plaster to see the condition of the stucco paper, attach the house frame to the foundation and insulate it? The expense in the winter here for heat is not much, but then again the house is not that big either, maybe 1,100 square feet. This might afford me to update electrical, inspect framing for any damage, and add gas lines, etc., where needed. What do you think? –Bob D.

A: In my experience, whenever you have the opportunity to completely or substantially “gut” the interior of a home during a remodel, it’s always greatly to your advantage. You can spot and repair water and insect damage, correct any structural deficiencies, and update areas that may have been built to code at the time of the original construction, but that don’t meet today’s codes.

Relocating walls, doors, windows and other structural components of the home is much easier. Getting the exact layout of electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems is greatly simplified, as is the layout of things many people don’t think about, such as sound systems and computer cabling.

You also have the opportunity not only to insulate effectively, but also to completely seal tiny air leaks around plumbing and electrical penetrations in the walls for the greatest possible energy efficiency.

After all the rough work is done, your finish work will be better as well. You don’t have all that patching to worry about, as well as plaster cracking to deal with. Instead, you can start with fresh drywall throughout, with a uniform texture.

The third big advantage is that it’s simply easier. The demolition mess is over and done with quickly at the start of the job, rather than repeating itself in smaller dust-making chunks over and over again. And if you’re hiring contractors to do the remodeling work, it should be less expensive all the way around because they’re working with wide open framing.

Q: I am planning to add on to my existing deck, but a couple of the boards were warped from neglect. Can I replace the boards and continue the deck further out? I recently had to remove three trees that were damaged, and I decided to use them as a border and want to add them to the deck as plant holders. What do I need to treat the trees with to keep the natural beauty and prevent termites? I have woods as part of my property and want to incorporate the look with my deck. –Jacqueline P.

A: You should be able to add onto the existing deck, depending on its current construction and the condition of the structural framing. I would suggest that you have a contractor come out to remove the warped deck boards; examine the underlying deck framing for damage, dry rot and other structural issues; and then come up with a design for extending it.

As far as adding the old trees to the existing deck as planters, a lot of that depends on why they were damaged and why you decided to take them out. There are a number of things that can happen to trees that can be passed along to the wood on your deck if the two are allowed to be in contact with one another for any length of time.

For that decision, you really need to consult with a certified arborist or other expert who can tell you what damaged the trees, and specifically what chemicals — if any — can be used for treating the wood to preserve it.

Q: I have a single-level, 1,700-square-foot house on a level lot. It was last painted around 1995 before we purchased the home in October 1995. My husband and I plan to paint the exterior soon and I was wondering if you have ballpark estimates for exterior paint jobs.

Also, the rain gutters need to be replaced. Is it better to replace before painting or after painting? –Jane D.

A: I can’t really help you out much with painting prices, because so much depends on how much prep work needs to be done, how much trim there is to paint, how much moving and masking is involved, and other issues that will affect the price.

Your best bet is to have at least two reputable, licensed painting contractors inspect the house and give you an estimate. The estimates need to be in writing, and need to include all the details of the work being proposed, including any preparation and repair work that they’ll be doing. Ask for and verify their contractor’s license number, bond and insurance, and ask for some local references of people they’ve done work for.

As far as the gutters are concerned, it depends on whether you plan to paint them. Many gutters are available in a wide variety of factory-applied colors, and if you like one of those colors then the gutters should be applied after the painting is complete.

If you want the gutters painted to match the house, then opt for a white gutter and have it installed prior to the painting, then the contractor can paint them along with the house. In either case, let the contractors know what your intentions are with the gutters so they can estimate the work accordingly.

On the subject of gutters, I’m a big fan of seamless gutters. Each piece is custom-fabricated right on site, and you end up with a cleaner, finished look and a lot less joints to worry about. As with the painters, get estimates and references from two licensed gutter contractors.

Remodeling and repair questions? Email Paul at All product reviews are based on the author’s actual testing of free review samples provided by the manufacturers.

Open Houses: Saturday and Sunday, October 15-16, 2011

There are many, many open houses this weekend, especially since Coldwell Banker is hosting extra open houses in conjunction with the Fall in Love with the American Dream event. The following properties will be holding open houses in the Brandywine Hundred, North Wilmington, Newark, Hockessin, Pike Creek, Newark, Bear, and Middletown, Delaware areas on Saturday and Sunday, October 15-16, 2011:

Can’t make the open house? No problem! Contact Brian Doreste today at 302-753-6398 to schedule your own private showing.

The most current open house list for New Castle County, Delaware can always be found at:, and is usually published every Thursday morning.

5933455 $199,900 10 E Galloway Ct Newark DE Abbotsford
5941892 $599,900 208 Alapocas Dr Wilmington DE Alapocas
5887848 $229,900 47 E Avon Dr Claymont DE Ashbourne Hills
5934604 $430,000 1204 Glossy Ibis Ct Middletown DE Augustine Creek
5959167 $549,000 29 Stone Tower Ln Wilmington DE Augustine Ridge
5928987 $207,500 212 East Ct Wilmington DE Beacon Hill
5956534 $199,900 508 Essex Ave Wilmington DE Bellemoor
5960090 $229,990 1112 Braken Ave Wilmington DE Berkshire
5893625 $259,900 114 Prospect Dr Wilmington DE Blue Rock Manor
5908820 $214,500 13 Wicklow Rd Bear DE Brennan Estates
5926177 $184,000 178 Brookside Blvd Newark DE Brookside Park
5925592 $299,000 36 Cannon Run Newark DE Cannonshire
5875988 $659,000 11 Trimble Turn Hockessin DE Centerville Mdws
5946281 $124,990 1005 Chelmsford Cir Newark DE Chelmsford
5946744 $149,900 2503 Lincoln Ave Claymont DE Claymont Hgts
5942860 $420,000 3702 Capitol Ave Wilmington DE Concord Manor
5936613 $284,900 1001 Linda Rd Wilmington DE Darley Woods
5940553 $299,900 23 Glencoe Dr Newark DE Deerborne Woods
5943682 $485,000 736 Hertford Rd Wilmington DE Edenridge
5941067 $269,900 43 Scotch Pine Rd Newark DE Evergreen
5879426 $269,500 401 Bluebird Hvn Middletown DE Fairways @ Vndrgrf
5920191 $429,000 33 Berkley Dr Newark DE Farmington
5959808 $249,990 06 Elmer Ct Townsend DE Goldsborough Farm
5959916 $229,990 120 Abbigail Crossing Townsend DE Goldsborough Farm
5954021 $349,900 2025 Longcome Dr Wilmington DE Graylyn Crest-nort
5936740 $189,900 619 5th St Newark DE Green Valley
5932102 $219,900 822 Bess Ln Wilmington DE Greenmeadow
5928172 $339,000 912 Lovering Ave Wilmington DE Happy Valley
5950375 $160,700 121 Fantasia Dr Newark DE Harmony Woods
5947887 $339,000 1912 Dorcas Ln Wilmington DE Henry Clay Village
5955955 $180,000 11 Kensington Ct Newport DE Hershey Run
5906226 $265,000 15 Whitekirk Dr Wilmington DE Highland West
5870514 $799,000 9 Brandywine Falls Rd Wilmington DE Highlands
5894561 $168,000 9 E Keystone Ave Wilmington DE Keystone
5935473 $154,900 2438 Hammond Pl Wilmington DE Kirkwood Gardens
5944730 $399,900 110 Bunting Dr Wilmington DE Limestone Hills
5953750 $329,900 4 Longspur Dr Wilmington DE Limestone Hills
5957581 $249,000 968 Glackens Ln Wilmington DE Limestone Hills We
5957583 $249,900 124 Attic Ct Wilmington DE Limestone Hills We
5884948 $194,000 230 Schafer Blvd New Castle DE Llangollen Estates
5931128 $197,000 36 Hodgkins Pl New Castle DE Llangollen Estates
5952522 $189,000 3823 Old Capitol Trl Marshallton DE Marshallton Hgts
5950857 $269,900 233 Duncan Ave Wilmington DE McDaniel Crest
5775960 $193,500 108 Meadowood Dr Newark DE Meadowood
5956970 $639,900 5 Reese Dr Newark DE Merestone
5944410 $399,900 356 Sun Blvd Bear DE Meridian Crossing
5942825 $499,900 2 Hummingbird Ln Newark DE Middle Run Crossin
5896555 $499,000 654 Salem Church Rd Newark DE Millers Reserve
5899237 $454,000 662 Salem Church Rd Newark DE Millers Reserve
5899240 $559,000 676 Salem Church Rd Newark DE Millers Reserve
5899241 $429,000 650 Salem Church Rd Newark DE Millers Reserve
5928627 $549,000 303 Valleywood Rd Hockessin DE None Available
5957213 $249,900 124 Tyre Ave Newark DE None Available
5957370 $245,000 3 E Berkman St Middletown DE None Available
5959022 $739,000 104 Brook Valley Rd Greenville DE None Available
5955383 $324,900 1203 Norbee Dr Wilmington DE Normandy Manor
5817670 $399,990 315 Friedman Dr BRANDY New Castle DE Northern View
5874845 $349,990 304 Friedman Dr DYNAST New Castle DE Northern View
5895554 $228,900 810 Parkside Blvd Claymont DE Northridge
5818074 $270,000 425 South St New Castle DE Old New Castle
5957089 $249,900 510 W Holly Oak Rd Wilmington DE Pennrock
5948527 $170,100 5 Vinca Dr Newark DE Perch Creek
5871826 $127,000 124 Kentucky Ave Wilmington DE Pleasant Hills
5937135 $215,000 313 Derose Ct Bear DE Porter Square
5949723 $429,900 7 Lynam Lookout Dr Newark DE Preserve At Lafaye
5955426 $169,900 7 Stevens Ave New Castle DE Rambleton Acres
5899371 $314,900 4 Capa Ct Wilmington DE Ridgewood
5959257 $229,500 4545 Roslyn Dr Wilmington DE Rolling Hills
5889299 $449,900 402 Topsfield Rd Hockessin DE Rolling Ridge
5930007 $239,900 121 Sugarberry Dr New Castle DE Rutledge
5908237 $229,900 42 Stature Dr Newark DE Sherwood Forest
5942939 $275,000 405 Morning Glory Ln Middletown DE Springmill
5935255 $314,900 610 Giffin Ct Hockessin DE Stenning Woods
5955611 $374,500 101 Gormley Ct Hockessin DE Stenning Woods
5816432 $180,000 7 S Sherman Dr Bear DE Stone Mill
5830942 $279,900 7 Currant Ct Newark DE Summer Hill
5952429 $479,900 3313 Coachman Rd Wilmington DE Surrey Park
5901998 $169,900 3 S Glen Ave New Castle DE Swanwyck
5923917 $219,900 414 Darwin Dr Newark DE Sycamore Gardens
5864866 $269,900 18 Marsh Woods Ln Wilmington DE The Hamptons
5935043 $219,999 225 Sioux Ct Newark DE The Woods
5928670 $259,900 345 Wallace Dr Newark DE Top Of The Wedge
5872498 $274,000 2013 Baynard Blvd Wilmington DE Triangle
5957584 $289,900 1321 Dupont St Wilmington DE Trolley Square
5788474 $266,900 Lot#780 South Pollock Way MODEL Middletown DE Village of Bayberry
5788572 $244,900 Lot#779 South Pollock Way MODEL Middletown DE Village of Bayberry
5788598 $219,900 Lot#817 East Matisse Dr MODEL Middletown DE Village of Bayberry
5947109 $385,000 95 Lynthwaite Farm Ln Wilmington DE Village Of Rocky R
5955159 $259,000 2205 W 11th St Wilmington DE Wawaset Park
5949730 $370,000 1300 Grayson Rd Wilmington DE Welshire
5950225 $495,000 18 Pelham Rd Wilmington DE Welshire
5882215 $349,900 608 Hyde Run Dr Wilmington DE Westminster
5956763 $215,000 2727 W 6th St Wilmington DE Westmoreland
5733362 $119,900 48 Gilbert Ct Newark DE Whispering Pines
5936349 $995,000 20 Brendle Ln Wilmington DE Williamhurst
5950503 $299,000 408 N Hampton Way Middletown DE Willow Grove Mill
5949634 $139,999 225 W 34th St Wilmington DE Wilm #02
5912278 $345,000 1621 N Franklin St Wilmington DE Wilm #11
5896646 $159,900 2510 W 7th St Wilmington DE Wilm #13
5890095 $134,900 1313 Cedar St Wilmington DE Wilm #26
5932409 $98,000 1010 Linden St Wilmington DE Wilm #26
5936836 $300,000 1600 Tudor Pl Wilmington DE Windybush
5934149 $155,000 205 Victoria Ave Wilmington DE Woodcrest
5899091 $195,000 1 Woodbury Ct Wilmington DE Woodland Park
5950397 $320,000 22 S Perch Creek Dr Newark DE Woodlands At Perch C
5868565 $249,900 1915 W Zabenko Dr Wilmington DE Woodmill Village
5947931 $499,900 6 Wyndom Ct Hockessin DE Wyndom
5879746 $295,000 2214 Patwynn Rd Wilmington DE Wynnwood

Come out and see these houses this weekend!