Oh! Christmas Tree …

So it’s that time of year again, when you either dig your artificial tree out of storage or you take a trek to the local tree lot to pick up a fresh pine. Each tree type has it challenges, but when conquered, will give you a season of sparkly delight. Here are our tips for Christmas tree wrangling.

Getting it Home

Ok, so if you’re using the artificial one from the attic or basement, this doesn’t apply to you. (Just sit there and gloat while we help the folks trying to get a real one home.)

When you purchase a real Christmas tree, it will either be freely branching or it will have a mesh wrapping around it. The mesh wrapping is good! It will make your job much easier. If your tree is wild and free, you should use at least three bungee cords – top, middle, bottom – to bundle the branches before you try stuffing it in/on your car.

Next, decide if the tree will fit inside your vehicle, or if it needs to go on the top. If putting it into your car, be sure to insert it top first, as that part is narrower and it will make pulling it out when you get home much easier. If you have a hatchback, you may let the base of the tree stick out, but be sure to secure it inside the car, as you don’t want to lose it if you stop suddenly. Also if it sticks out, tie an orange strip to the base to alert drivers behind you. If the tree must travel on the top of your vehicle, open all four doors. Place the tree on top, with the base pointing to the front of the car. This will provide stability. Then tie the tree in place with at least three ropes which go over the tree and in through the open doors (never the windows). When you close the doors, they will hold the tree securely in place.

Setting it Up

The most stable stand for an artificial tree is one with four legs. While a three-legged stand will work, it will be more prone to tipping. For a real tree, get a plastic stand that has a wide base/water reservoir and at least four securing pins. Avoid the metal, three-legged stands which have a tiny water reservoir under the feet. While the setting up the base might seem like a ho-hum task, it is vital that this step be very solid and secure.

Once securely in the stand, add water to the reservoir and add a tree skirt before you begin to decorate. These tasks are much easier when there are no fragile, dangling lovelies in your way.

Decorate Like a Ninja

The first step in decorating is to add lights. If your tree is pre-lit, take a nap now. Many novice tree-decorators just wrap the lights around and around, but YOU are not a newbie! Instead, apply the lights in an in-and-out pattern, spiraling down the tree. In other words, start at each branch tip, then push the light string in toward the center, then out toward the next branch tip, etc. This will fill your tree with light and will avoid the pitfall of empty or dark spots.

Next up is the beads or ribbon. Again, do NOT wrap them around and around in a downward spiral, but instead, let’s add these baubles with some finesse! For beads, begin at the top, securing the end with an ornament hook. then, working gradually around and downward, let the beads drape on longer branches in a graceful swoop. Secure the end with another ornament hook.


If you choose to use ribbon rather than beads, follow a similar technique – no wrapping, like the left image, but instead, drape the ribbon as the beads on the right image. It’s best to use wired ribbon to have better control. Also, use small straight pins to secure the ribbon on several branches. This will assure that it stays put! Another technique when draping ribbon is to twist the spool as you do the drapes. This twisting creates graceful loops in the ribbon, and looks quite lovely. Secure the ribbon end with another straight pin.


If you use ribbon or beads, you can also repeat the process with a coordinating color to add interest and variety. The tree at the right uses two different ribbons – a gold lamé and a cream with gold stripe.

After the beads or ribbons are in place, it’s time to add all the other ornaments you associate with decorating the tree!

When deciding which ornaments to use, select a color theme, such as cream and gold or gold and burgundy or red and green. Try to use ornaments which fall into that color scheme, and your tree will have a polished, homogeneous feel.

Use larger balls and ornaments near the tree base. You might even wish to group three balls together in clumps, if you have no large ones to put near the bottom. As you fill in the decorations, occasionally step back and look at the big picture. This will help you notice empty areas as well as spots which have too much in one location. Adjust accordingly.

The Topper

At last, you should put on the tree topper. If you’re like us, you’ve probably struggled either getting that angel or star to:
1. Stay in place
2. Be straight!

There are secrets you can use to even conquer this! You could visit a pricey store and purchase a green-colored rod to secure to the topmost branch. But why pay that much? Just grab a wooden dowel rod at your favorite craft store, paint it green, and twistie-tie it in place. The dowel will give stability and support when you insert the topper. Another option, if your topper has a cone-shaped base, is to purchase a cone of floral arranging Styrofoam. Insert this cone onto your center branch and slip the topper over the cone. fluff the branches around the floral cone to hide it. The Styrofoam cone will give much greater stability to your topper. And you won’t have any falling stars or fallen angels randomly crashing to the floor!

We hope these tree-decorating tips help your Holiday Season be merry and bright! Here’s our finished version:


Fix-Ups for Fall

Fall is the time of year, at least in the Northern US, when homeowners prep their house and yard for the coming cold weather. Obviously, closing the pool and raking leaves are necessary, but what other tasks do homeowners need to do to be ready for winter? Read on to find out!

DCF 1.0


If your only lawn prep for winter is to rake your leaves, you are missing out on some important steps. After you’ve done the raking, cut your grass one last time.


Then, use an aerator over your entire yard to remove plugs of soil and allow the roots to have better access to nutrients. After that, apply a fall fertilizer to the lawn. Finally, water the lawn to distribute and dissolve the fertilizer. These steps will give your grass a head-start in the spring, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your lawn greens and revives after the cold months.


Fall is the perfect time to do any replanting or thinning of your landscape plants. At this point, the plants are beginning to go dormant, and digging them up will not harm the roots. If you have any areas which have become weed-infested, apply some Round-Up in the fall, and you will not have to deal with them in the spring. If you have any ornamental grasses, you should tie twine around them near the base and about halfway up. This will help them to not be damaged by heavy snowfall, and it will also make cutting them back in the spring a lot easier as well, as they will be pre-bundled.


Fall is also the time to prune back flowering shrubs, such as some hydrangeas and crepe myrtles. Be cautious with the hydrangeas – the Mophead variety sets its buds for the next season’s blooms in the fall, so if you cut those off, you will not get any flowers!


Exterior house prep involves several areas. First, when you take your hose in for the winter, be sure to drain the spigot line of water so you do not get frozen pipes in your basement. It’s a wise idea to install a valve on the water line inside your basement so you can turn off the water supply to the spigot outside and drain that portion of the line.


Next, fall is a great time to wash your windows. While commercial cleaners are just fine, a simple mixture of ¼ cup of white vinegar, ½ tsp. of dish soap and 2 cups of water does a fabulous job as well. Apply the cleaner to your windows, scrub gently, rinse with a spray bottle of clear water and finish with a squeegee for a streak-free, sparkling shine.

The roof is next. Visually check your roof for any signs of damage before the rigors of winter weather hit. While you’re up there, clean debris out of your gutters. If you have an aversion to the sludge in the gutters, use a plastic spatula to lift and scrape the debris into your trash bag. It will keep your hands clean, and it won’t scratch or damage your gutters. In addition, use a plumber’s auger on your downspouts to assure there are no clogs of leaves or debris.

Snow Prep

It’s a good idea to put some stakes along your driveway, sidewalks and landscaping which borders on the driveway or walks. These stakes will give you a visual cue how far you can go with your snow blower after snow has obscured the edges. Also protect landscaping plants, such as arborvitae and juniper, which snow might damage.


Pruning will help to avoid damage, but you may want to also consider using strips of cloth to wrap the shrub’s branches in a diagonal pattern (like how the grid  runs on a waffle cone) to keep snow from breaking and deforming them.

Hang it Up! (Decorating Your New Home)

You’ve purchased your new home. You’ve moved everything in, and unpacked all the boxes. You pretty much have furniture positioned where you want it, and it almost feels like home. But as you look at your walls, you realize that to get a true homey vibe, you need some wall art! You might have pieces you brought with you, but you also might want to get some new pieces which work with your new space. Whatever the case, once you’ve gotten your wall décor selected, stop and read our advice below before you begin pounding holes into your pristine, new walls!

Artwork on Wall
Hanging pictures properly takes planning!

To Nail or Not to Nail?

Most of us have grown up thinking that in order to hang wall décor, we need to pound nails into our walls. While sometimes the weight of the picture dictates that only a nail or screw will do, modern technology offers many other options for lighter items. A rule of thumb is that if your wall art weighs more than 8 pounds, you will need to go with one or more nails or screws. But if it’s lighter, you might be able to use a far less invasive hanger, which adheres securely but also pulls off with no damage or residue when you need to move it.

If You MUST Hammer/Drill …

If your artwork is heavy, you have two options with drywall. When you are hanging it where there is a stud behind the drywall, a simple nailed-in hook should work great. But if you are hanging heavy art between studs, you will need to use some sort of securing mechanism that protects your drywall. Options include screw-in anchors, expanding plastic sleeves, tap-in expanding anchors, or toggle bolts. Each of these hangers has an area which expands after the hanger is inserted in the wall. This expansion helps to distribute the load and to secure the hanger from pulling out. However, they are very invasive and will leave a hole in your wall should you ever decide to remove them. With very heavy artwork, you may need to use several hangers to further distribute the weight.

To Avoid the Damage …

To avoid the damage that an expanding hanger can cause, opt for adhesive options if your item weighs less than 8 pounds. Adhesive options include picture hanging strips, adhesive hooks in various weights, mounting tape or reusable adhesive. All of these are designed to remove with ease, to leave no residue and to not damage painted surfaces (but check the package label to verify this).

Picture Hanging Strips

First, you can put picture hanging strips on the back of your picture and then adhere it to the wall. These function with adhesive and Velcro. Each picture strip is two parts: the part that adheres to your artwork and the part that sticks to the wall. Begin by cleaning both surfaces with Isopropyl (“Rubbing”) Alcohol and allow to dry. Next, press the two parts of each picture strip together. Remove the liner of the picture side of the strip and press it against the picture for 30 seconds. Repeat this process if you are using more than one strip on the artwork. When all strips are secured to the artwork, position and mark the location where you wish to hang it. Then, remove the liner on the wall side of the strips, position the art and press in place. Now, very carefully pull the strips apart so the picture part is on the artwork and the wall part is on the wall. Press the wall strip securely to the wall for 30 seconds. Wait an hour before actually hanging the wall art back on the strips. As a guide, one strip can support about 3 pounds, so two strips can hold around 6 pounds, and four strips can bear approximately 12 pounds.

Adhesive Hooks

As with the picture hanging strips, adhesive hooks have a liner on the backside which covers the adhesive part. Hooks work best for wreaths, scarf valances and other lightweight items which do not need to rest flush against the wall. Begin by marking the desired location of your wall décor. Next, clean the wall where the hook will stick with Isopropyl Alcohol and let dry. Remove the backing from the hook adhesive and push into place. Allow to set for an hour to be sure the adhesive has achieved full strength before hanging your artwork. The packaging will indicate the maximum weight one hook can support.

Adhesive Tape

Quite similar to picture strips, adhesive tape has two sticky sides. Be certain that the tape you choose is specifically designed to use on painted surfaces; regular double-sided tape will damage paint! Just as with the other adhesive fasteners, you will need to clean both the wall surface and the picture surface before applying adhesive tape. Begin by peeling the backing off of the side that faces the artwork and press in place. Next, remove the liner from the opposite side of the tape and adhere to the wall surface. Please note that adhesive tape has far less holding power than picture strips or adhesive hooks. It can only support up to a pound.

Reusable Adhesive

To use reusable adhesive, prepare the wall and artwork surfaces by wiping with Isopropyl Alcohol. In addition, wash your hands, as finger oils will diminish the adhesive bond. Next, pull off a piece of adhesive, which resembles putty, and soften it by rolling and kneading it. Shape the adhesive into a little ball and press onto your artwork. You might need to use several balls of adhesive to secure your pieces. Press into place on the wall. Reusable adhesive will only hold up to a pound.

A Final Note on Plaster

If you happen to have plaster walls, you must be extra careful before using any sort of fastener which gets nailed or screwed into your wall. Plaster has a tendency to crumble and chip at the point of fastening. Before you drill or nail, place a piece of tape over the spot where you intend to create the hole. then nail or drill into the tape. After your hanging fastener is attached, carefully pull away the tape.  You will see far less damage to your plaster if you do this.

Happy Decorating!

American eWarranty is a US company specializing in 10-year new home warranties and 5-year remodeling warranties. Learn more at our website, www.americanewarranty.com.


Planting Wisely: Toxic Landscaping Plants

Shared from our main American eBuilder website blog.

Many homeowners, who purchase a new home, opt to have basic landscaping done as part of their home package, but then later fill in the flower beds and garden areas with more lush plantings gradually. But before you start digging, you should know that if you have young children or pets, a number of lovely posies can be toxic landscaping plants, and even fatal if ingested. Knowing these dangerous plants and avoiding them in your landscape will keep your loved ones safe.

Plant non-toxic landscaping!

The Most Toxic Landscaping Plants:

Whether it’s the foliage, the flowers or the berries, all of the following toxic landscaping plants should be avoided if you have children or pets: English Yew, Rhododendron, Lily of the Valley, Hydrangea, Narcissus, Daffodils, Foxglove, Larkspur, Oleander, Poinsettia, Purple Nightshade, Mountain Laurel, Mistletoe, Water Hemlock, Ficus, Wisteria, Sago Palm, Azalea, Bleeding Heart and Castor Bean. While this is not a complete list, these plants are some of the most commonly used in landscapes.

What They Do:

English Yew:
A very deadly evergreen tree. While majestic and lush in appearance, any part of this tree will cause rapid heart failure. There is no antidote to the poison.

Rhodedendron is Toxic

Produces drooling, tears, violent vomiting, slow pulse, low blood pressure, coma, seizure and finally death. Any part of the plant will do this when eaten.

Lillies are Poisonous

The entire lily family, including Lily of the Valley, Daylilies, and Easter Lilies, are toxic to both humans and pets. In humans, any part of the plant, when eaten, causes headache, hallucination, red blotchy skin, possibly coma and sometimes death. In pets, even pollen or water from a vase, will cause acute kidney failure and heart rhythm issues. If you see your pet eat a lily, rush them to the vet for detox immediately.

Hydrangeas are Toxic

While this gloriously colorful shrub was a staple in most Victorian gardens, you might want to avoid planting it, at least while your children are young. The hydrangea contains a form of cyanide and will cause shortness of breath, fainting, dizziness, rapid pulse, low blood pressure, convulsions and death. The flower buds are the most poisonous part.

Narcissus, Daffodil and Foxglove:
Narcissus is Toxic

These plants are related, and cause varying degrees of both skin sensitivity when touched and toxicity when eaten. Narcissus is entirely poisonous. If you have a cut on your finger when you touch the bulb, you can experience staggering, numbness and heart paralysis. Eating it will make you vomit, convulse, faint, become paralyzed and die. Daffodils may also cause skin irritation. If eaten, a daffodil will give you stomachache, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea and pain. Eating Foxglove causes blurred vision, hallucinations, irregular or slow heartbeat, low blood pressure, vomiting and fainting. If a child even sucks on part of the plant, they may die. Seek medical help immediately if any of these are ingested.

New growth and seeds are the most poisonous part of this plant. Eating it will cause weakness, staggering, drooling, muscle twitches, nausea, vomiting, irregular and rapid pulse and death. You have about a six-hour window to seek help before death will occur. This plant is a great danger to both pets and humans.

Oleander is toxic

This decorative shrub contains multiple toxins. A single leaf may kill an adult. All parts – wood, flowers, berries, roots – are dangerous. It will attack the heart, the digestive tract and the nervous system simultaneously. Death may result.

Toxic Poinsettia

This Christmastime lovely has poisonous sap. While death in humans is rare, it is more dangerous to pets, causing vomiting and diarrhea.

Purple Nightshade:
While the berries on this plant look lovely, when eaten, they paralyze your vocal chords and breathing and then cause severe intestinal contractions, full-body convulsions and finally death. The most dangerous parts of the purple nightshade are the berries, roots and leaves.

Mountain Laurel:
The state flower of PA and CT, mountain laurel shrubs are akin to rhododendrons and azaleas. Parts of the plant which are toxic include the plant itself, flowers, pollen and twigs. In fact, honey derived from mountain laurel is also poisonous. Symptoms manifest as drooling, rough breathing, eyes and nose watering, heart complications, convulsions, paralysis and finally death.

Mistletoe is poisonous

Although at Christmastime, people display the mistletoe plant inside their homes, all parts of it are poisonous if you eat them. Different varieties of mistletoe have varying degrees of toxicity. Symptoms include vision blurring, stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, low blood pressure and sometimes death.

Water Hemlock:
This plant is the most toxic in North America. When eaten, it causes violent convulsions which turn into grand mal seizures. Death follows. All parts of the water hemlock, including the roots and seeds, are poisonous. By the way, water hemlock flowers closely resemble Queen Anne’s Lace flowers. Both are related to the carrot family of plants, but Queen Anne’s Lace is not toxic. The way to tell the difference is to look for a purple-red dot in the center of the flower cluster – that is Queen Anne’s Lace. Water Hemlock does not have the reddish dot in the center.

Ficus trees are only mildly poisonous. The main part which causes issues is the sap. If a child touches the sap, they may experience a skin rash which itches. In pets, the ficus tree sap produces both tummy troubles and skin irritation.

Wisteria is Poisonous

These cascading lovelies can be quite attractive to children and pets. The toxin is in the seeds, seed pods and bark, and it causes stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath and even death, if the child or pet eats a large quantity.

Sago Palm:
Toxic Sago Palm

The sago palm attracts both cats and dogs to chew on the leaves. If this happens, seek help immediately. The toxin begins by causing stomach upset and progresses to nervous system problems, liver failure and death, if untreated. The palm is also very poisonous to people.

Azalea is toxic

A close relative of the rhododendron, eating the azalea produces slow heart rate, very low blood pressure, coma, seizure and finally death. Even honey which bees make from Azalea pollen is toxic. In the springtime, children may mistake the azalea flower for honeysuckle and suck on the flower. Usually, this only creates an irritated mouth, nausea and vomiting. However, if a child or pet actually eats the flower, it can be fatal.

Bleeding Heart:
Bleeding Heart is toxic

All parts of the bleeding heart plant are toxic, both when eaten and when touched. A touch causes skin irritation. Eating the plant induces vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions and breathing difficulty.

Castor Bean:
toxic castor bean plant

The castor bean plant contains ricin, an extremely toxic substance. The ricin creates extreme gastroenteritis and eye damage. If the amount eaten is small, recovery is possible. While the seeds contain ricin, when they are processed commercially into castor oil, the ricin is removed. If a person or animal ingests castor beans or the foliage, seek treatment immediately.

If you are careful in your landscaping, your yard will be a safe haven for your children and pets. It’s far easier to avoid planting toxic landscaping plants than to try to get medical help when a poisonous calamity happens.  Here’s to happy (and healthy) gardening this summer!

If you’re currently building a new home, be sure to ask your builder to provide an American eWarranty new home, 10-year warranty. We’re HUD-approved!

Yuck! Mold in the AC

If your home is equipped with central air, you probably don’t need to read this post. But if you have mini-splits or window AC units, there are necessary steps you must take to ensure your AC doesn’t make you sick! Did you know that the environment inside mini-splits and window units are a haven for black mold? Ew! From allergies to just plain gross, we do NOT want mold growing there!

Moldy AC

Why Mold Grows:

As an air conditioner unit works, both moisture and dust are pulled into it. Couple those ingredients with a dark interior, and you have a perfect environment to spawn mold spores. Individual spores are too small to see, but as mold aggregates, it becomes visible as black spots on the louvers. You also may sense a foul odor as the unit runs.

How to Clean the Mold:

There are parts which a homeowner can easily clean. Before you begin, consider wearing a dust mask to protect your respiratory system from airborne spores. Start by removing the vent cover. It may be attached with screws, or it may attach with a simple pressure clip. Put the vent cover in a tub or basin, add laundry detergent and water sufficient to submerge the vent cover. Let it soak for 15 minutes, and then rinse and allow it to completely air dry.

Behind the vent cover, you will see some sort of air-directing louvers. Some are flat and straight, while others are curved and corkscrew-shaped. These are much easier to clean and disinfect if removed. Gently try to pop them out, but do not force them. Some cannot be removed. As you did with the cover, begin by soaking the louvers with detergent, rinse and air dry. If you cannot remove the louvers, wipe them as well as you are able with hot, soapy water and air dry. Next, for both removed and in-place louvers, wipe every surface with a solution of 1 C. bleach to 1 gallon of water. Once more, allow to dry completely.

If you removed the louvers, you should also wipe the inside area behind the louvers with soapy water and treat with the bleach solution.

The final area which a homeowner can access is the filter. Some units have a disposable filter. Simply remove it, clean that area with soapy water and then bleach solution and let dry, and then insert a clean, new filter. If your unit has a reusable filter, first vacuum it and then wash it in the soapy water solution, rinse and hang up to dry thoroughly.

After all parts have been cleaned and dried, you may reassemble the unit.

How to Prevent Mold in the First Place:

Remember that the black mold grows because it has moisture, dust and darkness? The darkness is not something you can change, but the other two factors can be modified. Frequently cleaning/replacing the air filter helps to minimize the dust which your AC unit draws in. In addition, regular vacuuming will also reduce dust. Second, understand that moisture inside the unit will collect as the unit runs, but doesn’t really cause a problem as long as the unit is running. When you plan to turn off your AC unit, letting it run for about 30 minutes on just fan (no condenser running) will help to evaporate any remaining moisture inside the unit. This simple step can help to prevent a breeding ground for mold spores.

Have a healthy and happy summer, staying cold with no mold!

American eWarranty provides structural warranties for new homes and remodeling. Please visit our site to learn more!

What Does the Warranty Cover?

We have put together an infographic which will give you a comprehensive overview of exactly what the American eBuilder warranty will cover, when you get one with your new home. Coverage is subject to terms and conditions specified in your written warranty, so please refer to that for details.



For more comprehensive information, please visit our warranty coverage page on our main American eBuilder website.

Keeping Your Cool in the Hottest Weather

We all know that in the summer, when the sun pours on the heat, that the most comfortable remedy is to turn the AC on high. But running the AC at full blast can give us a major headache when the electric bill arrives. How can you keep your cool without breaking the bank? Here are some low energy ideas to mitigate the toastiest of days!

icy hot


When possible, avoid synthetic fabrics. Whether it’s your clothing or your bedding, natural materials not only allow for better air circulation, but also wick moisture away from your body. Both of these elements will help you to stay cooler without lowering the temperature. Choose cotton, silk or linen fabric which has a looser weave (think lower thread count in bedding). Anything which contains polyester, acrylic, acetate, nylon or spandex is a fabric you will want to avoid, if you desire coolness.


Having a ceiling fan in every room gets air circulating, and moving air naturally feels cooler than stagnant air. If you keep the ceiling fans running, you’ll find that you can keep your AC set at a higher temperature and use less energy, while still feeling comfortable. One caveat – most ceiling fans have a switch on them to reverse the direction. This isn’t just for the personal preference of whether you like it to spin to the right or to the left! It actually moves the air in a different direction. Heat is up, cool is down. So set the fan to spin clockwise in the winter and counter-clockwise in the summer. This is true for most ceiling fans.


Another way to increase the efficiency of your cooling system, if you have central air, is to adjust your air return vents. In the summer, be sure to open the upper vents and close the lower vents. Hot air will rise naturally, and the open upper vents will remove it. Cool air will sink and stay in the room. With the vents properly positioned, your system will have to work less hard to cool more efficiently.


Did you know that while water in the air, as humidity, makes heat worse, water in your body or on your body, lessens heat’s effect? Drink water frequently – up to 8 ounces every hour. If you add lemon slices, cucumber slices or mint leaves to your water, it will have an additional cooling effect. In addition, keep a spray bottle filled with water handy. A fine mist on your exposed skin will feel cool as the water evaporates. Finally, running cold water on your wrists for 10 seconds will help you to feel cool for nearly an hour.


Did you know that your diet can also affect how hot or cool you feel? Foods which have a high water content, such as watermelon or cucumber will both hydrate you and cool you. In addition, many fruits are a good choice for a cool diet. Finally, spicy food, if you can tolerate it, is a great way to beat the heat. As you eat spicy food, your blood circulation increases, your body temperature actually rises and you begin to sweat. While sweating doesn’t sound pleasant, it is your body’s natural way to cool you as the moisture evaporates.


It might sound obvious, but one reason your home becomes hot in summer is via radiant heat through your windows. Even if you have triple paned, insulated windows, you still will benefit from having some sort of window covering which blocks sunlight. Window blinds and insulated draperies both can be closed to shut out the heat and light during the hottest part of the day. At night, they may be opened.


Avoid cooking in the house. Any appliance which produces heat will residually increase your home’s temperature. Instead, invest in a grill and take your cooking outdoors. Or even better, eat cold foods such as salads or chilled soups.

Switch your light bulbs to LED or CFL. These bulbs give off far less residual heat than a traditional incandescent bulb. In addition, keep your computer in sleep mode unless you’re using it, and avoid leaving media devices such as sound equipment or the television on when they’re not in use.


Try to think proactively in keeping cool. While they will take some time to be effective, your planting trees around your home will eventually provide cooling shade over your house. Do keep in mind that you must plant trees at least 10 feet from your foundation, as tree root systems can become very invasive as the tree grows. If the tree is closer to your house, you risk that branching root system cracking and damaging your foundation. You may also need a root guard between your home and the tree. When in doubt, consult a tree expert on the distance a tree should be planted from your home.

Awnings over your windows or porches with overhangs will help to shade your property as well.

Is your house well-insulated? Sufficient insulation will help to keep the hot air out in the summer as well as keep the hot air in during the winter. If your home is lacking in this area, an investment to improve it will save you money in the long term.

Finally, be sure your attic is vented. A tightly-closed attic, with no airflow, will make a house feel even hotter. Vents will allow the heat to escape as it rises. In addition, why not install a whole house fan in your attic? This will draw the hot air from the lower levels and move it out through the attic vents.

If you liked these tips, please check out our other maintenance tips at our American eWarranty site!

Weather Stripping

As you might know, weather stripping seals your windows and doors against air leakage. This keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. But no matter what material it’s made of, weather stripping does deteriorate with age. It will no longer provide that secure, airtight seal. Check it regularly and replace it when it is ineffective!

Weather stripping

The following are the major types of weather stripping and how they age:

FOAM TAPE: The tape is self-adhesive. Not only can the adhesive break down, but the foam also will lose springiness and will not seal well.

RUBBER: Sunlight and weather will cause rubber to dry, become brittle and crack. If it was the self-adhesive variety, it may start to peel off.

VINYL: Sunlight and inclement weather also cause vinyl weather stripping to harden, splinter and fail.

METAL: Springy metal weather stripping that’s V-shaped will bend, crack and work lose. With time and use, the spring will compress and not have a good seal.

Here is how to replace your worn-out weather stripping:

REMOVE: Foam, rubber and vinyl self-adhesive weather stripping should pull off. You might need to scrape any residue left behind. Lightly sand, if necessary. If the weather stripping is nailed, screwed or stapled in place, you will need to remove those fasteners. Fill old nail or screw holes with wood filler, unless you intend to reuse them. Be sure to wash the surface with a mild soap and water solution before continuing. Finally, check for any gaps or spaces which need to be re-caulked.

CHOOSE YOUR NEW PRODUCT: Anything that is peel-and-stick will only stay in place for 3 to 5 years. This is best to use at the bottom of a window or around a doorframe. V-shaped metal weather stripping works on a doorframe. It will spring to fill the gap between the frame and the door. Rubber or vinyl weather stripping which is a tube will work for older doors and windows. If you are looking at rubber, be sure to look for the EPDM closed cell variety. This rubber is much more resistant to moisture, UV and ozone damage and aging than others. Nail-in-place applications will last longer than peel and stick.

APPLICATION: Always measure twice before you cut. Begin with a small area and check that the window or door still is able to open and close after the weather stripping is in place before doing the entire frame. If the replacement weather stripping is peel and stick, remove the backing as you go around the frame and lightly press in place. When you are certain it is positioned as you like, press more firmly to secure it. If the new weather stripping is secured with nails, nail through the pre-cut holes in the weather stripping into your frame. When you are using the V-shaped type, be careful to turn the opening outward toward the exterior when applying.

Remodeling Too!

While you may know that American eBuilder offers new home warranties, you may not know that we have warranties for older homes too, in the form of Remodeler’s Warranties. Read on to learn more!

Landscaping RGB
5 Year Remodeler’s Warranty

If you’re having remodeling work done on your not-quite-new home, bringing it up to date, adding on to it, or having it spruced up, why not ask your Remodeling Contractor to offer you a 5-year American eBuilder warranty on his work? That way, you get the same stellar coverage and peace of mind if anything goes wrong as someone with a new home would receive.

The Remodeler’s Warranty is an express limited warranty. It contains details about exactly what is covered in writing. Your Remodeler can customize it for you by specifying the exact work he is doing on your home. This warranty includes coverage of 1 year against faulty workmanship and 5 years of protection for warranted structural components.

If a problem does arise, we attempt to resolve the issue with our dispute settlement service. Having terms and conditions written out before something happens can protect your remodeled home and will give you wonderful peace of mind. If this sounds like a good idea, please refer your Remodeling Contractor to our American eBuilder website for more information. Protect your investment today!

Did You Know?

If you like our blog posts on home maintenance, but get weary scrolling back through old posts to find them all, there is a much easier way to access them! All you need to do is go to our American eWarranty website and click on the Maintenance Tips menu item, or follow this link: Maintenance Tips.


There, you will see a handy, alphabetized list of all of our maintenance tips, right at your fingertips. It’s great for referencing these; exactly what you need to know, right at your fingertips. And you can easily view it on a smartphone or table as well. Happy home-owning!