Some Hot Topics Worthy of Fall Conversations

Orange Pumpkins

Now that the kids are back in school and have hit the books again (or laptops), have you noticed the fall harvest merchandize post cards and catalogs popping up daily in your mail?  They’re full of all things pumpkin and orange from front door decor to pillows to lighting to spice lattes to costumes and more.  You’ll surely see the fall leaves in the mail before they drop off your trees.

Our favorite retailers want us to think ahead about fall, but we suggest you also take it one step further. Now is the time to consider scheduling the winter maintenance of your hardworking furnaces and fireplace chimneys before the cold of November and December. As summer ends next month, your friendly HVAC technician will likely have some extra time to stop by this fall.… Continue Reading Some Hot Topics Worthy of Fall Conversations

Are You in Hot Water . . . Or, Just All Wet and Freezing?

White bathtub in bathroom with potted tree

There’s nothing like the comfort or soothing of warm hot water.  Don’t take it for granted, however, because behind every tub, shower or heated pool there is hardworking hot water heater that needs your attention.  Hot water heaters, especially in the hard water Southwest, need an annual flush to keep them in top shape and carefree for a year.

Like clockwork, Phil faithfully calls once a year with a reminder that it is July and time to flush the hot water heater that keeps the tubs, spas and showers flowing in our homeowners association community.  Well, truthfully, it is time for Phil to come by and flush our tankless water heater. I’ve done it myself many times and it is easy to do, but life gets busy for everybody and the help is now welcome.… Continue Reading Are You in Hot Water . . . Or, Just All Wet and Freezing?

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?

Dream Outdoor Living Spaces


Spring is typically short in Southern California. The first 80-degree day has come and gone and the first 90-degree day is already predicted next week.  That means it is officially outdoor living weather–so get the grill going and check out the sales on pool toys, trunks or suits and towels.

Spring is also when the home selling and buying season starts in earnest with the end of the school year in sight.  For some buyers, the outside amenities are as important as the indoor priorities: kitchen, dining and living areas; bedrooms to bathrooms ratio; storage closets, etc.

What’s does your dream outdoor living space vision look like: view lot, pool, patio, barbecue, dining area, bar with big screen TV, lawn, flower or vegetable or herb garden, lily or fish pond, kids playhouse and swing set, dog run?  How about a changing room or a pool cabana house?… Continue Reading Dream Outdoor Living Spaces

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

Stay, Sell or Buy in 2023?

Main Bedroom with Green Shipboard Wall

For several years, many of us have turned to professional designers, decorators and real estate agents on television or the Internet to help us make big decisions about our homes.  They have years of experience to offer homeowners going through the ups and downs of decision-making about remodeling with new decor or selling and moving into larger or smaller homes. Plus, it’s fun to see what they can do with an old house.

All Hollywood television and film producers, directors and script writers know one thing:  Audiences are attracted to people who overcome tension and conflict in their daily lives.  These “reality’ TV home shows are no different: They have mastered the format. For example, will it be what she wants (glamorous master suite) versus what he wants (a man cave with TV/bar)? Usually, there’s some compromise or the fireworks begin!… Continue Reading Stay, Sell or Buy in 2023?

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