Santa’s List of Decorating Safety Tips

Sant Claus in Front of Christmas TreeNo matter which holiday you’re celebrating this fall or winter season, Helfrich Associates reminds you to make it a safe celebration. As you bring out the lights, the yard decorations, the ladders, the extension cords, the controllers, the timers, the batteries, the real candles, fresh greenery and wood logs for that roaring fireplace, be sure to think “safety” first.

This year the Winter Solstice is Thursday, December 21, the shortest day of the year.  That leaves little more than four weeks between Thanksgiving, the solstice and Christmas followed by New Year’s Day 2024.  If these dates aren’t already keeping you awake at night or even on your calendar, then you might be tempted to overcompensate once holiday decorating hits full tilt hysteria on November 24 (the day after Thanksgiving 2023), but please go slow and be safe.… Continue Reading Santa’s List of Decorating Safety Tips

Are You Worried About Having a Roof Over Your Head?

Suburban Home With Green Grass

Year after year the roofs on our homes keep us dry and warm in the winter and cooler in the summer.  Most of the time our home roofs perform so well and are designed to last so long these days that we often take them for granted until inevitably the day comes when there is a problem.

Typically, the first signs of roof trouble are visible inside the home, such as a dark spot on the ceiling indicating a small leak.  That’s an early warning sign, which we are often tempted to ignore.  The rainy season is over or I should get up to the attic next weekend or I’m okay now.… Continue Reading Are You Worried About Having a Roof Over Your Head?

Spring Bouquet: A Variety of Annual Must-Dos


While the calendar tells us that Spring officially arrived on March 21, a quick look outside last week tells us that the season will be late this year.  If you live in California or most of the Southwest, the gloomy weather brought us another rainy atmospheric river and snow in the mountains without a hint of the sunny Spring days to come that we’re all anxiously anticipating.… Continue Reading Spring Bouquet: A Variety of Annual Must-Dos

Homeowner’s Insurance Check-Up Time

Fancy Home on Hill

As homeowners, one of our most important maintenance tasks is taking an annual look at our homeowner’s insurance policy.   Many times they are bundled into a homeowner’s monthly mortgage impound account along with property taxes and other fees; then paid automatically and are barely noticed.

Your monthly mortgage company takes care of it all, which is easy and painless. As a result, however, policies can be overlooked or misunderstood because they are set up during the very busy time surrounding a new home’s purchase escrow process and then overlooked as time goes by . . .  literally forgotten.… Continue Reading Homeowner’s Insurance Check-Up Time

Lighting Safety Countdown To The Holidays!

Christmas Decorations outside of windows

No matter whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas or something else in the month of December, we are approaching the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere.  Wednesday, December 21, is officially the shortest day of the year in 2022 when the North Pole reaches its maximum tilt away from the sun putting us all into the darkness earlier and longer than any other day of the year.

That means it is also time to think about upping your holiday home lighting game. At Helfrich Associates, we recommend before you start that you first watch the film, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” with Chevy Chase for a lesson about what not to do (and lots of laughs too). Chevy’s character Clark Griswold is a huge Christmas fan and nearly kills himself and other family members with a shocking display of 25,000 outdoor lights that puts a smile on the face of every electric utility executive in America. … Continue Reading Lighting Safety Countdown To The Holidays!

Tree Maintenance: A SoCal Thanksgiving Tradition

Basket of vegetables with radishes, tomatoes, and carrots.At this time of year, many of us are anticipating the celebration of Thanksgiving.  It’s a rich American holiday where family and friends gather in gratitude for the harvest at a bountiful feast honoring all that is good in life.  It’s a time when many are grateful for simple things, such as our homes and gardens with trees, flowers and even a few late season vegetables and herbs such as parley or sage that always contribute to this savory holiday meal.

It’s also the time of year when our beautiful gardens are now ready for a well-deserved rest in Southern California, including those stately sycamore trees with their falling gold and orange leaves that provided us with welcome shady green relief during our hot summer days.  As you’re raking up those leafy old friends and trimming back your perennial shrubs, it’s also time to look up at the tree branches and consider pruning trees that might have grown a little too large or are too close to our homes for comfort.… Continue Reading Tree Maintenance: A SoCal Thanksgiving Tradition

Smoke Alarm ITM: Why You Need One

It’s mid-October and it’s time to think about Smoke Alarm ITM.  “What’s that,” you ask?

The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) reminds us every year that smoke alarm inspection, testing and maintenance (ITM) are the responsibility of every homeowner, as well as those owning or managing rental units and commercial properties.  Fire fighters will tell you nothing is more tragic than the loss of life in the fall or winter due to a candle lit fire and nonworking smoke alarms.… Continue Reading Smoke Alarm ITM: Why You Need One

Take Care of Your Ceiling Sprinklers and Water Heater, And They’ll Take Care of You When You Need It Most

Empty Living Room with No Furniture and Wooden Floors and FireplaceDepending on the design of your home and how clever your decorator has been, you might be surprised to know that your home has an automatic ceiling fire sprinkler system.  The newest systems are flush mount and can be difficult to spot if your decorator has placed other eye catching decor nearby such as ceiling fan lights, can lighting, painted murals or track lighting.

Automatic ceiling fire sprinkler systems also can be industrial looking in loft apartments or condominiums where the grid layout of pipes and heads are fully exposed on purpose and easy to see.  Sometimes, decorators will try to soften the look by painting the pipes to match the ceiling color.  No matter what type of home, these safety systems have one thing in common:  They need to be flushed about once year to keep them in working order.… Continue Reading Take Care of Your Ceiling Sprinklers and Water Heater, And They’ll Take Care of You When You Need It Most

Fires, Floods and Slides: What You Can Do  

Treehouse and TentThe good news is that your treasured Southern California family mountain get-away cabin or beautiful second home in the forest survived a wild fire last year.  The question is what will happen this summer when thunderstorms strike or when normal rainfall resumes after our La Nina drought cycle ends?  Is your home also safe from potential mud slides and flooding?  What can you do about it?

The fire cycle in our mountains changes everything, especially for home owners.  While your home itself didn’t burn, did your property’s slopes burn?  What about nearby hillsides and the canyons higher up? Did they burn or are the trees, shrubs and other plants still in place and growing green in the drought?  How did the neighboring properties surrounding your home do?  Did they burn or are they all intact?… Continue Reading Fires, Floods and Slides: What You Can Do  

A Drainage Dilemma In Lemon Grove: It All Flows Downhill

As we’re entering the month of March in Southern California, the heavy rainy season of winter is typically coming to an end. That doesn’t mean there won’t be any more rain, but the possibility of rain is tapering off. Spring will be here before you know it on March 22 with its longer days. It will soon be time to inspect our home drainage systems and make any needed repairs so we can check off this task as done on our maintenance calendars. Water generally flows downhill eventually and it’s best to make sure your drainage system is in good working order to protect your home.… Continue Reading A Drainage Dilemma In Lemon Grove: It All Flows Downhill