Thanksgiving Weekend – Prep the Garage Door, Clean the Firebox

It’s been warmer than usual, but a look at the weather map tells us that the cold north wind is already picking up even as we sit down to turkey and stuffing. Here at the store, when we’re not doing last-minute window installations of made-for-Michigan windows, we’re doing what everyone else in Southeast Michigan is doing: winterizing! You know your home best, but I thought I’d make a short list of some places to check if you find yourself with some get-up-and-go and some free time this weekend:

• Exterior doors – How’s the weather-stripping? Air leaks can cost plenty this time of year.

• Windows – Last chance to clean the windows (including the tracks and screens) before Old Man Winter takes over the neighborhood.

• Sliding glass doors – Give some attention to the tracks and adjust any parts that are getting contentious.

• Automatic garage door – Clean and lubricate moving parts; avoid applying anything to the tracks. Detroit winters are much nicer without the moan and groan of a cranky garage door.

• Gutters – Repair or replace damaged guttering and remove all debris, making sure that downspout extensions will direct the Spring Thaw away from the house.

• Furnace – Change the filter and examine the belts for wear. Call for annual servicing if needed. We love to go on about saving energy, and this simple task can yield a nice payoff in energy savings.

• Fireplace – If you have a fireplace and you haven’t done so yet this year, you may want to have the chimney swept by a professional (that way, you can keep your football-watching clothes clean). Also, tend to the firebox and make sure you have some dry wood ready for those long winter nights.

• Patio – Santa may appreciate “settin’ a spell” on your snow-covered patio furniture while the reindeer have a snack, but your patio furniture prefers to be out of the weather. Santa will have to catnap in the sleigh this year.

• Light timers – Check your light timer to make sure the exterior lighting pops on when darkness has begun to settle in (earlier as we near the winter solstice). It’s easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, but a little illumination goes a long way when the sidewalks are icy.

Well, there you go. Just a few ideas. If you have any others to add to the list, we’d sure like to hear about it. Post your comments or stop in and see us. Meanwhile, the best of Thanksgiving to you and yours from the folks at Kearns Brothers.

Can you believe it’s already the middle of November?

It’s been warm for November in Southeast Michigan, but you never know what’s around the corner. November is notorious for sudden weather changes. Seems like days of remembrance and celebration in November fit right in with the weather too, at least here in the Detroit area where it’s sweater weather one day and the next you’re looking for your winter gloves and noticing the whistle of the cold north wind through the gaps in the windows.

“Lest we forget…”
One especially important November day around here is Veteran’s Day, since we have a number of United States Veterans at Kearns Brothers. Owner Mike Kearns and manager Gary Kearns served in the United States Navy, and coincidentally served on the same ship Rich Rice (sales consultant) served on ten years later. Rod Collect in customer service served in the United States Army and sales rep Brendan Brownfield was a Marine in the Iraq War.

Kearns Brothers staff would like to thank all of the men and women who have sacrificed part of their lives to keep us safe and secure.

“When the Gales of November Come Early”
Did you know that November 10 is the anniversary of the sinking of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald? 34 years ago, the ore carrier sank in a storm on Lake Superior on its way to Detroit, Michigan. Until 1971, this was the largest freighter on the Great Lakes, but Mother Nature overtook her. Gordon Lightfoot’s song conveys powerful folk wisdom about respecting the great power of natural forces.

Speaking of which, here at Kearns Brothers, we’ve had a very good year selling Restorations Windows (made in Michigan for Michigan homes). Are you one of the many homeowners who are replacing windows this year? We sure are heartened to see customers taking advantage of about the safest investment they can make on their homes while they prepare for what those November (or maybe this year, December) gales might bring:

Your best two-pronged defense when the winter wind begins to blow:

  • Federal energy tax rebate: savings of  30% up to $1500 (it’s still good, at least through 2010)
  • The Kearns Brothers guaranteed 40% energy savings (visit our website or showroom for details)

It’s definitely November. Thanksgiving will soon be upon us and then we’re into the full holiday swing. Here’s to remembering the past and doing what can be done to prepare for a better (more secure) future.

Winter is Coming – Ask Dr. Holm

Dr Holm,

Winter is coming, I haven’t made my decision on a roofing company yet. I have gotten eight estimates and they all vary greatly. I have done loads of research and all the companies appear to be the same. I don’t want to pay too much, but I don’t want to get burned either. How can I choose?

O. Nough, Canton, MI

Dear O,

Your letter is a recurring theme from this past summer. My suggestion; visit each company’s showroom, meet the people who answer the phones, who work there. Go to a job site that is in progress. See the network that supports the sales person’s claims. Your contract should detail specifically the manufacture of products, where and how it is installed. Get a waiver of lein, ask where they get their products from & gather info from their suppliers on their credibility. Big money, big decision, take due time to make the right choice. Ask yourself, is this the right choice in the long run? I also think eight estimates are way too many. What are you looking for? Really be honest with what you are looking for. Can you afford to throw away money on a poor what-if only decision? You will know the right company by the company they keep!

The good doc is out for now!

Early Fall – Check Around the Home

  • Any Interior Painting should be strongly considered… low humidity, windows can be opened, fresh air, faster drying time
  • Time to recaulk the bathtub… at the floor and tub/tile junction… use a tool to remove the caulk, not a screwdriver or razor blade
  • Are you doing the gradual change out of incandescent light bulbs to the clf bulbs? In Europe they are phasing out incandescent light bulbs
  • Look around the interior for slip, trip, or fall hazards; loose carpeting, loose handrails, step stool (is it wobbly?), is it time for a night light?
  • Once again, replace the batteries in your smoke alarms
  • Clean out the dryer duct that goes from the dryer to the outside (a really BIG fire hazard)
  • Fertilizer, overseed, grub control can and should be applied now
  • Might as well run the furnace now before there is an onslaught of service call to your HVAC company
  • Did you ever peek to see how much insulation is in your attic? Money (heating and cooling dollars) go through the ceilings and into your attic, not a good place for money to go.
  • Are you prepared for the inevitable ice dams this winter… do you need more insulation or additional ventilation? What about de-icers and roof rakes, got ’em?
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