While your carpets don’t have an expiration date, several signs indicate it may be time to replace that floor covering. Threadbare areas, warping or stretching, and odors or stains that do not go away no matter how often you clean the carpet are all clues that it may be time to replace that old carpet.
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While a carpet may not need to be replaced just because it’s old, a typical lifespan for modern carpeting is five to 15 years, depending upon the quality of its construction and the amount of foot traffic it receives on a regular basis. A carpet in a spare, rarely used bedroom will last longer than the same carpeting in the main hallway in your home, simply because it is rarely tread upon. Even in a seldom-used room, the padding beneath the carpeting may deteriorate over time, especially if it’s not of high quality. Once the padding deteriorates, the carpeting may feel lumpy or not as comfortable underfoot, and it may wear out more quickly.
Flattened Fibers and Contorted Carpets
If your carpet’s pile once stood tall but now looks flat and matted in some areas no matter how hard you try to remedy the situation, the carpet may be past its prime. Polyester and olefin fibers are prone to matting, especially in the areas walked upon the most. Even Berber carpeting made from looped fibers may succumb to matting over time. If you’ve cleaned, combed and done all you could to fluff old carpeting back up, but nothing seems to help, it’s time to replace the carpet. A carpet that seems stretched beyond its original shape, creating ripples, warps and tripping points throughout the room, is also ready for replacement.
Even a carpet with short fibers, designed to be durable and last for years, wears out eventually. If you can see horizontal threads of the backing material through the top of the carpeting in some areas, it’s time to replace that carpet. No amount of cleaning or fluffing will remedy the situation. Fraying along edges or in thinning areas of the carpet is another sign it’s time to take out the old and bring in the new. These types of wear are likely to occur in heavily used areas such as hallways, stairs and the footpath between frequently used rooms.
If the carpet’s shade is significantly lighter in one area than another, or if the entire carpet seems to be a different hue than when you purchased it, its fibers have faded. Age and exposure to sunlight, air and cleaning materials may change the color of dye on some carpet fibers. While fading alone may not be enough to warrant replacing the carpet if it still seems in fairly good shape, you may want to replace it if the color appears uneven or if it has other issues.
Scents and Stains
If you’ve just cleaned the carpet and it still smells like a wet dog — even if you don’t have a pet — it may be time to replace that funky floor covering. Carpet traps dirt, dust, debris and allergens, and over time, it becomes more difficult to remove all of the problematic materials even with a deep cleaning, which may also be an issue for those with asthma and allergies. As for stains, you may be able to hide a stain or two under furniture, but several stains that do not disappear even after professional cleaning may mean it’s time to consider a new carpet, especially if the stains are in a highly visible area and the carpet is past its prime.
Here’s how to make that happen (along with a few other timely tips):
#1 Wash Bed Pillows
You love your trusty, old, perfectly-snugged-to-your-head pillow. But guess what’s also snug against your head? Fungus — 4 to 16 species to be precise. Gross!
With fall being the height of guest season, you’ll want your guest pillows fresh, too. Pop them in the washing machine and dryer for an all-over clean feeling. (But check manufacturer advice, too. Some pillows shouldn’t be washed, but replaced instead.)
#2 Clean the Mattress, Too
Sleeping soundly gets even better when you know you’re lying on a clean and fresh mattress. The yuck factor: Skin cells and sweat get into the mattress, then dust mites show up for a dinner party featuring those tasty skin cell morsels.
You’ll want your guest mattress to be at it’s freshest. It’s easy to do: Vacuum it and then wipe it down with a cloth dampened with an upholstery shampoo. But be sure to let it dry; otherwise, you’re inviting mold. Also, be sure to rotate it 180 degrees to help keep it lump-free.
(Another option: if you’ve got a flippable mattress, go ahead and flip it. That, too, can help kill the yucky mites.)
#3 Insulate Windows
Bone-chilling drafts seriously detract from the cozy vibe you want. Keep it cozy by hanging drapes as close to your windows as possible to help you keep the heat inside.
You can even add clear Velcro strips or dots to the back of the drape and attach to fasteners on the wall to help insulate. Be sure to cross one drape over the other when you close up for the night. Insulating shades can do the trick, too.
#4 Stock Up on Snow Supplies
If snow is a given where you live and you’re lacking supplies, take advantage of seasonal sales now to make sure you’re not the one rushing to the hardware store at the last minute — only to find out they just sold out of ice melt.
If you have a snow blower, be sure to have it serviced and fueled up before the first winter storm arrives — and with it, price hikes on all the snow stuff.
#5 Trim Tree Branches
The last thing you need is a winter storm loosing the wrath of that mighty tree whose branches are angling over your roof. Long limbs invite pests to explore your roof for excess water to seep into cracks in the roof or siding.
Keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from the house. Plus it’s easier to trim branches after leaves have fallen. (If it’s an evergreen, well, sorry about that. It’ll be a prickly job, but the bonus is you’ll have greenery for the holidays!)
#6 Get a Chimney Sweep to Inspect the Fireplace
It’s time to dust off and sweep the chimney! Best to hire someone who knows wood-burning fireplaces. A professional chimney sweep will ensure your wood-burning fireplace burns more efficiently and will help prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter. So yeah, it’s pretty important.
Tip: If you don’t already have a chimney cap, this is also the time to add one to stop wild outdoor critters from crawling down it — and (yikes!) into your house.
Some owners hesitate to market their homes between Halloween and New Year’s Day, believing the holiday season to be an off-peak time to sell. But the idea that houses don’t sell in November and December comes from outdated historical trends.
In fact, several studies show that, on average, homes listed during this time are more likely to sell, sell more quickly, and sell closer to the asking price. November, in particular, has some unique advantages that make it an ideal time to sell. Here are three reasons why Thanksgiving month might be the best time to sell your home.
The idea that homes sell best in spring and summer stems from the fact that parents want to wait until summer to move school-aged children. But today, more than half of buyers aren’t married, so their decisions aren’t necessarily based on kids’ schedules.
If buyers are looking for a home in November, they’ve either waited through the busy season in hopes of a better deal, or they’re facing their own time constraints due to work changes or other reasons. For these highly motivated buyers, the traditional barriers to winter house-hunting — bad weather, short days, holiday preparations — don’t apply. If your house is available for them to view in November, these buyers are more likely to make an offer close to listing price.
Because of the misconceptions about selling during winter, it’s true that many sellers don’t think it’s worth their time to try and sell their homes toward the end of the year, so they take their homes off the market. Their loss of a potential buyer is your gain!
Serious buyers have fewer homes to choose from over the holidays. That means less competition for you — and more buyers checking out your even more desirable home, either online or in person.
A house marketed in November may lure buyers looking for year-end tax breaks. Buyers looking to lower their taxes may snatch up a home late in the year so they can deduct home purchase costs. That includes points, interest and property taxes.
And if someone sold a house during the traditional summer selling season and faces capital gains tax on the deal (because he’s an investor or lived in the house for fewer than two years), he may be highly motivated to buy in November since closing on the purchase of another house within 180 days lets him avoid paying capital gains tax.
We’ll be honest: We hate the phrase “transitional month.” Instead we like to think of November as a large-scale dress rehearsal for winter—the month that’s cold but not yet bone-chilling, frosty but not yet snowy. Before it gets too nasty to work outdoors, take the month to button up your home for the rough weather to come.
We know you’re busy. So your pals at realtor.com® have created a handy checklist of home maintenance tasks that need to be completed this month, plus tips for how to do them faster and easier, or with the help of a pro.
1. Weatherproof the house
Task: Locate and seal cracks and spaces that let heat out and cold air in—along baseboards, wall/ceiling junctures, windows and doors, lighting fixtures, switches, and electrical outlets. Your wallet will thank you, because energy savings from reducing drafts range from 5% to 30% per year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Shortcut: Try these tricks to spot energy leaks. At night, ask a partner to walk outside while you turn off all lights and shine a flashlight along doors and windows (tell the neighbors not to call the police). The light will illuminate large cracks. Small ones won’t likely show up, however. For those, light a candle or incense stick and pass it along potential leak areas. If the flame or smoke wavers, you’ve got a leak.
Call in the pros: A home audit that finds all the nooks and crannies where energy escapes costs $375 on average. Painters ($25 to $100 an hour) will seal gaps with caulk. Handymen ($30 to $50 an hour) can install weatherstripping.
2. Check fire alarms
Task: Dead batteries cause 24% of smoke alarm failures, putting your family at greater risk of a fire. You should replace batteries or test hard-wired fire alarms twice a year. You knew this, right? Fine, we don’t mind reminding you.
Shortcut: Don’t remember when you tested your detector last? Get into the habit of testing the alarm and changing batteries when you change the clocks for daylight saving and standard times. (Reminder: The latter is right around the corner, on Nov. 6!) If you live in parts of Arizona and Indiana, where they don’t spring forward or fall back an hour, put reminders to change the batteries on your calendar.
Call in the pros: If you’re not 7 feet tall or you have a ladder phobia, you can call an electrician ($50 to $100 an hour) or handyman to check your detector. Or, ask the high school basketball player down the street to push the test button for you.
3. Service the HVAC system
Task: Make sure your heating system is running safely and efficiently so you’ll stay toasty during cold weather and save money on energy bills.
Shortcut: You can unclog and clean HVAC grilles by popping them in the dishwasher. (Leave out the dishes, preferably.) Also make sure you dust heating returns and change filters every one to three months.
Call in the pros: An HVAC expert ($60 to $85 an hour) is the best person to inspect and tune up your system, which will include checking controls, lubricating moving parts, and making sure no carbon monoxide is leaking.
4. Clear dead leaves
Task: Dead leaves aren’t just unsightly—they’ll also kill your lawn. Rake and bag ’em for removal.
Shortcut: Mulch leaves in place by running your mower over them and letting the pieces decompose and nourish your lawn all winter.
Call in the pros: Lawn maintenance services charge on average $50 to rake leaves. While they’re raking, have them aerate and reseed your lawn so it will green up faster in spring.
5. Clean patio furniture
Task: Before storing your outdoor furniture for the winter, take this opportunity to give them a good cleaning so you don’t have to do it in the spring, at which point the dirt and grime will be way harder to remove.
Shortcut: Brillo is a great scrubber to remove crud from plastic patio furniture. Just scrub and rinse. Or, train a power washer onto the furniture for a quick clean.
Call in the pros: A professional pressure washing costs about 8 cents to 35 cents per square foot. You probably won’t persuade one to clean only your patio furniture, but you can always add this task to a bigger job—such as pressure washing a fence or driveway—for extra productivity points.
6. Secure the home from pests
Task: Critters are just like you: When it’s cold outside, they want to go where it’s warm. “An attic offers a fantastic retreat for rodents like rats and mice to spend the winter,” says Nancy Troyano, director of technical education and training for Rentokil Steritech, a pest control company. But unlike you, mice and snakes can get through a hole the size of a quarter. Don’t let them! Replace all damaged roof tiles and attic vents before it snows, and seal up holes around plumbing pipes and cables that enter your house.
Shortcuts: OK, there really aren’t any shortcuts to patching holes, which you’ll have to cover or fill with something such as wood putty, flexible brick, or concrete caulking. Just make sure you don’t wait too long to make the repairs, because the colder the temperature, the longer the filler will take to cure.
Call in the pros: Painters ($25 to $100 an hour) and handymen ($30 to $50 an hour) will patch holes in your home’s exterior.
So, are you prepared for winter after checking off this list? Did we miss something? Chime in on the discussion on House Talk.