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

Spooky Critter Trouble in Paradise

Three pumpkin jack-o-lanterns outside on groundSummer is now officially over, fall is eerily here, the kids should be back in school and it’s time to send everyone packing before you go batty!  Homeowners in Southern California are often good-natured summertime vacation or party hosts for our beach loving brother’s family, theme park bound cousins and rock concert nephews or nieces. All of us who are hosts, however, have to draw the line when uninvited wildlife moves into the attic or garage or the yard with plans to stay for the fall and winter, and with no reservations or departure date.

Spooky Black BearWe’re talking here about nuisance bears paddling in our foothill home pools or snacking on trash can left-overs, as well as scary coyotes or cougars eyeing our beloved dogs and cats.  Let’s also not forget those grub-loving badgers, who tear up the green on Hole 7 and then hop the fence to munch on our ornamental grasses. If that’s not enough, there are raccoons or skunks that chew up miles of newly installed drought-required drip irrigation lines as the water seeps out before dawn.… Continue Reading Spooky Critter Trouble in Paradise

Say Goodbye To Summer and Prepare Now for Winter

Pool toys and one looks like a pink flamingoYes, it is August and it is too hot to go outside or do much of anything else except visit your pool, or your neighbor’s pool or the HOA pool or the lake or the beach.  While you’re chilling out, even if it’s only inside the house with the HVAC cranked down, spend some quality time thinking about getting ready for the winter ahead by scheduling a maintenance appointment for your furnace.

In Southern California with our mild winters, many of us barely give our natural gas furnaces or heaters a thought. We typically only run them from late October until mid-February There’s only one problem, your poor neglected heater is sitting all alone in the attic, utility closet or garage while the air conditioner unit is having all the fun as  temperatures hit the mid to high 90s or even the low 100s in Southern California.

We can assure you the temperature is going to fall:  So please don’t take your natural gas furnace or heating system for granted by failing to give it some love. The temperatures start to drop by late October to mid-November in Southern California.  A 30-minute visit to inspect your heater by a qualified HVAC  technician in late September or early October will make sure you’re cozy in late fall through winter.… Continue Reading Say Goodbye To Summer and Prepare Now for Winter

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  

Emergency Roof Repair: From “Oh No” . . . To “Ho, Ho, Ho!” 

If there’s any good news when you’re facing an unexpected roof repair, we’re coming into the best time of year to make roof repairs.  A beautiful new roof or a well-maintained or repaired roof not only keeps you warm and dry, it adds value to any home. There are several reasons why late spring to early summer is the best time of year to complete a roofing project

First, the likelihood of rain starts to diminish in May and June in Southern California and the rest of the West as we head into June and July.  So, now is the time to get started whether you need minor patching or when bigger areas need replacement or if you need a whole new roof for that vacation, fixer or rental property.… Continue Reading Emergency Roof Repair: From “Oh No” . . . To “Ho, Ho, Ho!” 

Spring Is Sprung:  Will Your HVAC Survive Summer? 

Who doesn’t love Spring in Southern California? Early March cool turns warmer and brings colorful bulbs to bloom, tea in a rose garden, a winery tasting before lunch, family get-togethers, and so on. The beauty of nature at this time of year is enough to distract anyone, but don’t forget about your Spring Cleaning.  Be sure your list includes looking at your Helfrich Associates annual home maintenance calendar.… Continue Reading Spring Is Sprung:  Will Your HVAC Survive Summer? 

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

Five Tips For A Better Home Office

 If you work at home and don’t have a comfortable home office or have one that’s not ideal, now is the time to convert a rarely used space (formal living and dining rooms), remodel a bedroom, or add a new addition. Costs are rising: labor, materials, equipment, furnishings, etc. Materials delivery is lagging too, but the sooner you start the sooner you’ll finish and possibly with a lower price tag. Financing is still at a relatively low rate, but interest rates are expected to rise by mid-year or sooner.

After a year-plus of being asked to work at home temporarily, you’re probably like many of us beginning to wonder if this might be the new normal.  Some companies are also beginning to reconsider how much physical office space “togetherness” is really necessary to meet their business objectives.  Those sprawling corporate campuses and skyscrapers are expensive. Many office employees also prefer some mix of home and company office time.… Continue Reading Five Tips For A Better Home Office