Whether you’re planning to ultimately sell your home, upgrade a rental property, or just give yourself a nicer place to live, you may be looking for ways to increase your home’s value. You’re not alone! A surprising number of homeowners work on upgrading their houses for their own benefit and for better value when they eventually sell the house.
Boosting your home’s value rarely, if ever, consists of the same step-by-step process every time. Each home is different, and different buyers will look for different features. But there are a few particular additions that are all but guaranteed to help. As you plan your home’s upgrade project, keep these especially popular additions in mind.
Plenty of interested buyers would love a home with a brand new swimming pool! What better way to beat the Houston heat? Advertise that custom pool in your backyard to drum up interest and get a better value out of the final selling price.
Pro Tip: Pools with custom features will get particular interest from potential home buyers. Make your pool as unique as your family!
Bathroom & Kitchen Upgrades
Since families will spend a good amount of time in the kitchen or bathrooms of their new house, one especially appealing form of home renovation is to upgrade one or both areas. Few people will be excited about buying a home just to do time-consuming, expensive renovations on it in such crucial areas as the bathrooms and kitchen. Why not save them the time and earn a little extra for yourself in the meantime? Enjoy your newly renovated downstairs and make sure to advertise it when the time comes to sell!
Outdoor Living Area
For a truly unique backyard asset to advertise, add an outdoor kitchen or patio cover. Not only will this allow you and any future homeowners to enjoy the outdoors in comfort, but it will also feature as a less common addition to the backyard that buyers will be interested in. Backyard party space is always a plus.
Ready to Sell Your Home?
Increasing your home’s value may seem like a daunting task, but you don’t have to tackle all these projects at once. And remember that in the meantime, you’re still living there! Pick upgrades that will both provide a return on investment and prove useful to your family in the meantime. Take full advantage of that new pool or newly upgraded kitchen while you’re still there!
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Freshwater chlorine pools have been the gold standard of swimming pools for multiple decades. However, the trend of saltwater pools is beginning to challenge the notion that chlorine is automatically the superior choice. Is a saltwater swimming pool ever equal to or even better than a traditional chlorine pool?
In the debate of saltwater vs. freshwater pools, neither option is strictly “better” than the other. The answer depends on the price you’re willing to pay, your commitment to ongoing maintenance, and the effect both pools will have on you when you go swimming. Before you make your choice, educate yourself on both types of pools and their pros and cons.
Contrary to popular belief, saltwater pools are not chlorine-free. Instead, the drastically lower levels of chlorine are produced through electrolysis, where the water passes through mild electrical currents to produce just enough chlorine to disinfect the pool. This is in contrast to a typical pool where the chlorine must be manually added and maintained at a higher level. For the most part, the level of chlorine in a saltwater pool is low enough that swimmers won’t notice any dry skin or bleaching on their clothes.
Pro Tip: Are you considering a saltwater pool to get around a chlorine allergy? Saltwater pools still contain some chlorine! Make sure the levels are safe for yourself and your family.
It’s difficult to estimate the exact costs of both kinds of pool and contrast the two. However, there’s no question that a saltwater pool is a more expensive investment initially. The chlorine generator and its power usage can also add up quickly. Additionally, any custom features or pool additions will need to be salt-proofed in order to be used without damage. Because of the complex system, any repairs or extensive maintenance will need to be performed by an expert rather than the homeowner.
Maintenance & Damages
Speaking of maintenance, saltwater pools require slightly less ongoing work than conventional chlorine pools. Because of the electrolysis process, a saltwater pool does a pretty good job balancing its own pH and chemicals without intervention. Chlorine pools require periodic chemical checks and rebalancing.
However, if something in your pool breaks or needs extensive work, the job is far more straightforward and affordable in a chlorine pool. Saltwater pools’ specialized fixtures cost far more than their conventional counterparts and should only be handled by experts. A leaky pool or broken pipe will cost far less time and money for the owner of a chlorine pool.
A Different Swimming Experience
It’s impossible to say that a chlorine pool is better than a saltwater pool, and vice versa. However, different homeowners may have different preferences or requirements that make one the clearly superior choice. Don’t make this decision lightly. Consider the initial and ongoing commitments both types of pools will require before you decide.
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Autumn brings with it the perfect weather to go swimming in your own backyard pool. After all, when else can Houstonians expect such lovely weather in the middle of the day? You might as well take advantage of it!
Unfortunately, the nice weather attracts more than just people looking to spend time outside. Bugs will use this opportunity to move into your backyard and, in some cases, start breeding in your swimming pool. An infestation can make your pool unpleasant and unsafe to use. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to keep your pool bug-free this fall.
Even the most hardcore bug lovers will admit that wasps are difficult to admire. This is particularly true when they’re swarming in your backyard and infesting your swimming pool. Try one of these strategies to keep them away from your water:
- Hang up a chunk of cheap raw meat far away from your pool to attract the wasps to the snack. Be sure to check on the bait periodically though so it doesn’t rot and leave you with maggots.
- Hang up fake wasp nests to fool the wasps into thinking other wasps have already set up shop in your yard. The territorial insects can’t stand living near each other and will leave.
Bees, while they actually serve a positive purpose in the natural ecosystem, are still stinging insects and unpleasant to have around your pool. Here’s how to get rid of bees:
- Put drier sheets around your pool, whether weighed down with a rock or in a decorative basket. Bees hate the smell and will avoid your yard.
- Set up a small fountain away from your pool to give the bees a chance to get a drink somewhere other than your swimming pool. Put a rock in the water so the bees can climb out safely if they fall in.
It’s no secret to Houston homeowners that mosquitos love water. Wherever they can find it, even in a tiny bucket with rainwater, they’ll breed and cause havoc when the eggs hatch. Here’s how you can curb the tide of mosquitos in your own yard:
- Cover your pool when it’s not in use. Aside from a safety measure, this also discourages mosquitos from exploring your pool.
- Balance your pool’s pH regularly. Clean water full of cleansing chemicals repels mosquitos.
- Install a mosquito mister or bug-repellent candles or lamps to keep the bugs from coming into your backyard in the first place. Just check your local regulations first to make sure the misting chemicals are allowed.
Pro Tip: If all else fails, call an exterminator to get rid of your bug problem. The professionals can handle this.
Keep Bugs Out of Your Swimming Pool
Don’t let bugs take over your swimming pool and ruin your autumn! Stay on top of pest control and pool maintenance to keep infestations at bay. Not only will this ensure you have a clean pool, but you’ll also prevent your family from getting sick from mosquito bites or insect stings. Keep bugs out of your swimming pool and enjoy the fall!
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Any homeowner with a swimming pool can attest to the endless hours of fun and socialization the pool can provide. However, the same homeowner can also tell you about the maintenance and periodic repairs the pool requires. If you’re considering having a pool installed, maintenance should be a serious consideration before you get started. What can you do yourself and what will you need to hire someone to do for you?
There’s no easy answer to the question of when to perform DIY maintenance and when to hire a pro. While some tasks are easily handled by the homeowner, others may require a more expert touch. Let’s take a look at the different types of pool maintenance and which you can easily handle yourself.
When DIY Pool Maintenance is Fine
A lot of standard pool maintenance is easy enough to do and doesn’t require a lot of time or expertise. If you’re willing and able to do a little of the work yourself, you can probably take care of your pool with these simple methods:
- Weekly testing your pool water’s pH levels and adding chemicals as needed
- Scooping out small, floating debris with a pool net
- Inspecting the pool filters and pumps
Hiring a Pool Maintenance Specialist
Some homeowners simply don’t have the time or knowledge required to maintain their pool by themselves. Maybe you don’t know how to use a water testing kit or you’re just away from home so much you can’t afford the time. In that case, it may be time to hire someone to perform these basic maintenance tasks for you. The small monetary investment is more than worth the saved money in expensive restoration if you neglect basic work.
Hiring a Professional Pool Contractor
Finally, there will be times when you simply can’t do the repairs or required maintenance yourself. Even a hired maintenance specialist might not be able to help you. If you notice a leak in your pool, chips or cracks in the pool shell, or a severe malfunction in the pump mechanism, it’s time to call an expert. Don’t make the damage worse or hurt yourself trying to fix something you don’t fully understand.
Pro Tip: Trying to fix a broken pool pump could lead to pretty severe consequences if done incorrectly. It’s best to leave this job to a professional.
Maintaining Your Pool for the Long Term
Swimming pool maintenance is a rather unpleasant but necessary part of owning your own private pool. However, don’t feel like you need to carry the entire burden of maintenance yourself. With a sufficient blend of DIY work and professional help, you can keep your pool clean and pleasant to use.
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Does your pool have a leak? If you’ve noticed your water level is lowering and you know you’re not losing water to evaporation, it’s quite possible there’s a leak somewhere in your pool. For rather obvious reasons, this is not a good arrangement for your pool or your backyard. You’ll want to find and fix the leak as quickly as possible.
There are three primary methods of pool leak detection: the ink test, the bucket test, and checking the piping. These tests are designed to help you determine if a leak is present and to give you an idea of where it might be located. Try performing all three of these tests before calling an expert to fix the leak.
The Bucket Test
This should be your first step in leak testing. Set a bucket in the pool on the first stair and fill it with water until it matches your pool water level. Leave it there for a few hours to a day and watch the water levels change. If both go down at about the same speed, don’t worry about a leak–you most likely just have a lot of evaporation happening. However, if the pool water is lower than the bucket when you check, there’s a leak somewhere and it’s time to move on to the next method to find it.
Check the Pipes
The most likely place for a leak to occur is in your pool’s pipe system. Check your pipes for leaks or weak points, and inspect the ground near your pool for any signs of excessive moisture. If you find the leak in your pipes, patch it up temporarily and call a professional to fix the leak. However, if your pipes are just fine, the leak is somewhere in your pool shell and it’s time to employ the final leak detection test.
Pro Tip: Don’t try to repair your pool pumps on your own. Without a good knowledge of the machinery, you may just make a leak worse or create a new one.
The Ink Test
Use the ink test if you know your pool shell is leaking but you aren’t sure where. Find the wettest point in the ground outside your pool–this is where the water is escaping. Once you’ve found it, get into the pool with a little bottle of dye or dark food coloring. Moving slowly to avoid stirring up the water, squirt a few drops of dye into the water near where you suspect the leak might be. Watch where the dye drains and make a note of it. You’ve found the leak! Now it’s time to get a professional patch job done.
Keep Your Houston Pool Usable
A swimming pool leak can cost you a surprising amount of money in wasted water, not to mention the damage the excess water can do to your backyard. Detecting and patching pool leaks quickly is essential to maintaining an enjoyable backyard for the foreseeable future. With these pool leak detection techniques, you’ll never have to go long without a properly maintained swimming pool!
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