Gas Fireplaces, Kids, Ouch!

As a parent I have long been worried about the hot fireplace gas when

Fireplace safety tips

Fireplace safety tips

the fireplace is on.  They make guards but few use these as they take away from the enjoyment of watching the rolling fire.

As a caregiver I have chosen to not use the fireplace when children are present.  This pretty much ensures the safety of everyone.  Its the law to make sure that no harm comes to children.  This being said, homeowners are sometimes very unaware of just how hot the glass becomes.

New laws are being created and will take place in January of 2015 that will put a screen, gate, or protective panel barrier in front of all new fireplaces.  This leaves the eleven million households with older fireplaces as a risk for burns.  Caution must be used to make sure that the screens or other protective devise is approved for your particular fireplace or you may still have a risk of burns or a fireplace that no longer operates as it was intended.

Will these new features still cause a burn?  They may if a hand is placed upon the barrier for any period of time.   The bottom line is that as a parent or a family with young house guests that you make sure to remind and supervise all little persons who would be curious about the fireplace.

Some extra tips to ensure safety might be to:

– read the owners manual or check with a licensed dealer to make sure your fireplace is safe

– Check the surrounding frames and such on the fireplace, these too can be burn hazards

– ALWAYS supervise children, the elderly and pets while using your fireplace and remember that it takes a good while before these are cool to the touch.

– Make sure remotes or switches are out of children’s reach

– Consider adding a lock over switches that are in children’s reach

– Remind all guests that fireplace glass and surrounds can be hot enough to burn

– Lastly – have your fireplace serviced regularly to ensure it is operating properly and to ensure that no new laws have made it a dangerous item in your home.


Should you Buy a Fixer Upper? – Making a Sound Decision

Fixer Upper or Money Pit?

When considering whether to purchase a home as a fixer upper it is important to consider several key points.  First of all is time and money.  Fixer uppers typically need lots of both.  The other thing that is important to consider is how you will live while you making improvements.

If you have a lack of funds it would probably not be in your best interest to purchase a home that needs lots of love and attention otherwise you will see it continue its downward spiral into the money pit.  If you will be living in the same home that you will be making improvements on, consider where you will store furniture and such while you are remodeling.  It can get messy, crowded, dusty, etc and often you will live without modern conveniences for periods of time as you work on projects.

Who will do the work?  If its not you, you will need a budget the cost of having a professional come in to do the work and more time in selecting the contractor to help with that task.  Oh and by the way, they will be a lot less flexible if you have items in the work area.  They prefer to have a clean slate to work in/on.

As a family who does lots of do it yourself projects and yes on a fixer upper my advice is to start small if you haven’t done much of this to see if its for you.  Fixing a small plumbing problem might lead to a total redo of the old existing plumbing.  I am speaking from experience here and the water was shut off for days as we reworked and brought the existing plumbing up to today’s codes.

Looking for that fixer upper or that move in ready place, be sure to give me a call so I can help you to find that perfect home and get you moved in!

Do you Need that Home Inspection Before Buying? - Kim Woehl Keller Williams Premier Realty 651-214-1459

Choose a trusted home inspector – one that looks at the foundation, heating system, cooling system, electrical, plumbing, roof, attic, insulation, windows, doors, basement and structural components.

I am frequently asked if buyers need to pay for a home inspection prior to purchasing a home.  As a licensed Realtor I work for my client.  My role is to provide them with as much information as I can so that they can make an informed decision.  In most cases I feel obtaining a home inspection is a good use of funds.  As a Realtor I write a sale, contingent on if the house passes the inspection.  It can save the potential home buyer tons of stress and money.  In some cases that inspection gives you your walking papers and you look for the next home that does pass inspection.

An inspection will shed light on some potential huge issues with a home such as structural damage, non working or very old heating and cooling systems, perhaps the roof will need to be replaced sooon.  You want to make sure that you ask what the home inspection includes. Does it include a look at the inside and the outside?  Will they look at the foundation, electrical work, the furnace and air conditioner?  Will they check to see that the appliances actually work? Do you feel like this inspector is someone you could trust?

What if your that handy guy/gal and you plan to be doing a bunch of upgrades to the home yourself?  A quality home inspection can still share details about what project you might wish to start first.

Work with a reputable home inspector and they can save you much worry and lots of expense.  This is just one of the many reasons that it is good to select your Realtor as you would your personal Doctor.  Your Realtor will look out for you and will help you to make informed decisions that will allow you to find that perfect home.

If you want a Realtor that will look out for you and make sure that your next home is the right one for you, give me a call.  I make it my job to inform the buyer so that they can make an informed decision.  Will you get a home inspection when you find that next home?  If you need a recommendation in the North metro, give me a call.  I would love to be your Realtor!

I am a licensed Realtor with Keller Williams Premier Realty.  You can reach me by calling 651-214-1459 or by visiting my website.  You can search for homes for free at  Look me up!  I am waiting to work with you!

Common Home Defects – Ask the Realtor – Roofing

So you notice that rusty looking ring on your ceiling.  The first tell tail sign that there is  a problem with your roof, or is it?  Roof issues don’t wait, at least not for very long.  Its better to keep up on basic maintenance than to notice an issue from the inside of your home.

So what to do!

Homeowners can do a quick inspection annually.  Is the flashing in place?  Wind can sometimes loosen the flashing (the aluminum pieces around chimney’s, air vents, and valleys).  Make sure that it is still affixed so that water cannot run behind or underneath.

Regular fiberglass shingles will lose the granules over time and some of this is normal as the roof ages.  When you begin to see more of the asphalt it may be time to have a roofer inspect your roof and see if its time to be replaced.

Look for storm damage.  Shingles that are missing, curled or pulled up can let water in underneath.  Are there spots of missing granules in spotty patterns (possible hail damage).

If in doubt, have it checked out.  It is cheaper to replace a roof than it is to fix and correct water damage.  It is also important to keep a good roof on a house as once you have water damage this is something you must disclose when you wish to sell and a home with no prior concerns is going to be selected over one that has been damaged by water creating a possible mold issue as well as insulating, and rot.

Severe shrinkage and weathering of asphalt shi...

Severe shrinkage and weathering of asphalt shingles due to age and gradual washing away of the thick petroleum coating. Eventually the paper shrinks so much that entire flaps begin to tear away, exposing the roofing nails under the flaps. Once the nail heads are exposed, water running down the roof can seep around the nail into the interior space, leading to roof rot and ceiling damage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kim Woehl is a real estate agent with Keller Williams Premier Realty.  If you are ready to buy or sell please give her a call.  651-214-1459 or check out her website for a free search of area homes for sale at:

Common Home Defects – Ask the Realtor

Kim Woehl - Realtor - Keller Williams Premier Realty 651-214-1459 or

With Spring nearly here this is a great time to discuss water penetration concerns in a home.  Water moving through your pipes, down a drain and out of the house is the only water you really want to see in your home.  This said, this is a prime time of year to find water in your basement.

There are 5 main areas that you should consider when looking for the source of a wet basement.

  • Grade of Yard
  • Grade at Foundation
  • Landscaping
  • Gutters, downspouts and extensions
  • Hard Surfaces

Take a look at your yard – does it appear the home is higher than the surrounding land?  If not you may need to create a swale so that water is drawn into a channel and moved away from your home instead of being allowed to sit and soak into the soil near the home.

Look at the grade near the foundation.  Soil needs to be higher than surrounding yard so that water immediately moves away from the home.  A good guide is a 1 inch slope per 5-6 feet away from the house.

Landscaping is a common culprit.  Lawn edging sometimes pushes up with frost creating a pocket where when water comes it is actually trapped and cannot move out and away from the home.  It can create a moat of sorts around the home actually holding and allowing water to seep into the blockwork.  Get out there and make sure all edging is mounted low enough so that it will not retain water near the home.

Gutters can be a good thing when working and complete.  They push water down a channel and away from the home.  The problem comes when the gutters get filled with debris and no longer work or when the extensions have been removed for winter or perhaps to mow around and then we forget to get these back on.  What happens next is that water might flow into those landscape areas mentioned above and now you have effectively created that moat again.

The last thing that must be considered is the hard surfaces you have outdoors, patios, stoops, and driveways.  These all need to direct and pull water away from the home.  Often times these settle causing water to actually move toward the home instead of away.  Mud or sand jacking can be a reasonable fix for this problem versus replacement and the results are effective.

When you do have water coming in, don’t assume since it is coming in the east side of the house that the water problem is coming from that area.  Block work is hollow and therefore can allow water to move along the full structure, so instead look for potential concerns and address each one until water is no longer coming in.  Block work can and does absorb lots of water so it is important to find the source and correct it.  Water in a basement can create mold issues and can cause block damage.  Both of these will make your home a risk for any potential buyer.

Kim Woehl is a Realtor with Keller Williams Premier Realty and wants to be your real estate expert.  If you know anyone looking to buy or sell, please send me their contact information or give them mine.  I can be reached at 651-214-1459 or  I will work to listen and find the home that meets your needs.  I am knowledgeable on common home defects and will help guide you to the best choice when looking for a home.  Call me!

Click here to see what’s available in Forest Lake or Wyoming.,16623/  It’s free!

Heating System Maintenance – Tips – Ask this MN Realtor

So this morning I happened to be sitting in a classroom learning about some of the most common home defects.  The highlight for me was on the heating system.  Why was this the most beneficial?  I learned two things that can keep the repair-person away and reduce those high service costs.

First off he shared a tip that was really super simple and yet he said that most persons don’t do a very good job of this one.  His tip…  Change the filter every 30 days year round if you are running a central air system along with heating.  He also recommended buying the most reasonable filter.  Unless you have an added need for allergy reducing its better to have a bit more dust.  These more expensive filters can actually be costing you more in more ways than initial cost.  He said that the furnace must work harder to suck in that fresh air and that some furnaces will actually shut down if they are not getting an adequate supply.  He also shared that this lack of air can actually cause the system to overheat and shut down, or to overwork, overheat, and maybe cause a fire.  Yikes!  Needless to say, I was listening!  I will be buying a box of low cost filters and will be marking my calendar to make sure I get a new one in place every 30 days.

The second tip that I found really good was one I had heard before from an inspection company.  That tip is to leave the fan on the system running always.  He said that the mix of heat or cooling is more even in the home because of this constant movement and that the running of the system will actually reduce wear and tear on the system making it likely last longer.  He promised that this will only add a tiny bit to your monthly energy bill.

Two tips is good, but how about a bonus tip?  This inspector shared a story about a visit he had been on a few years ago.  He had stopped at the address, noticed that the homeowner had plastic on the outside of the windows.  Later when inside he seen all of the children wrapped in blankets and watching tv.  Since he had been outdoors it took him awhile to notice that the house was really cold, about 62 degrees.

He took the homeowner downstairs to the heating system and found it interesting that the homeowner commented on a smell of plastic burning coming from his furnace.  The duct work was very hot to the touch.  The homeowner thought something was wrong, but did not know what and since it was working (matter of opinion).  The inspector asked when he had last changed the filter and the homeowner said “filter?”

Apparently the homeowner did not know that you needed to replace filters in the furnace and so in three years the home never had a filter change.  The two of them spent over an hour cutting and pulling out the bits of filter, dust, etc from the filter slot.  The inspector sent him to the store for a cheap filter, he replaced it and the homeowner spoke with him about a month later saying that the home was now heating so well that he was able to remove the plastic from the outside of the windows.  He was lucky not to have burned down his home or break his heating system.  He likely reduced the life of his furnace however.

A great story and great reason to change out those filters.  It does make a difference.  Did you know that filters have an arrow for air flow?  Do you know which way to install the filter so that it is working its best?

Ready for that last tip?  Always, that is ALWAYS, put the arrows toward the furnace!

What home maintenance tips can you share with me?  Do you have a good story of a house maintenance disaster or near disaster?

Kim Woehl is a licensed real estate expert with Keller Williams Premier Realty and can be reached at 651-214-1459.  Please give her a call if you are considering buying, selling, relocating or just would like to see what is available in the current market.