Our office will be closed Thursday, November 28th & Friday, November 29th to spend time with our families and friends celebrating all we have to be thankful for! We hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and we look forward to serving you Saturday!
Outdoor kitchens have exploded in popularity in recent years and it’s easy to see why. Adding an outdoor kitchen is a super practical and luxurious feature that your entire family can enjoy together for many years to come. Not only are you creating a great space to entertain family and friends, you are also increasing the value of your home.
One of the perks of living in a warm climate is that you can practically use your outdoor kitchen year round. That being said, there are some important things to consider when designing your outdoor kitchen and dining area. Spend some time thinking about what you really want and need in an outdoor kitchen and how you will actually use the space.
Consider how often you will use your outdoor kitchen and how many people you will be preparing food for. Will you be feeding large groups often? If so, you may want to consider a grill with a larger cooking surface so that you are not stuck at the grill preparing in small batches to feed large numbers of people rather than being able to sit with and enjoy your guests.
What types of appliances will you want to include in your outdoor kitchen? Will you be exclusively grilling or would you like to prepare other dishes outside as well? If so, a side burner would be a convenient accessory. Would you prepare breakfast in your outdoor kitchen if you could? Well you can if you have a griddle installed. Everything from pancakes to eggs and bacon! Do you want to keep hot foods warm? Including a warming drawer in your outdoor kitchen will allow you to keep already prepared food warm while other foods are still cooking.
You may also want to add a sink for the convenience of preparing food and washing your hands and not running back and forth between your indoor and outdoor kitchen.
You’ll enjoy your outdoor kitchen for many years to come so investing in quality appliances is worth it. Stainless steel and ceramic appliances work great for all weather conditions, are durable, and low maintenance. It’s always best to buy outdoor products that are designed to withstand the weather and outdoor elements. You will replace appliances intended for indoor use sooner and more frequently. Do not install cooking and cooling appliances right next to each other. Plan your zones accordingly for proper ventilation and cooling.
What types of things would you like to be able to store in your outdoor kitchen? Most outdoor kitchen designs include a refrigerator to keep drinks cool and cabinets for dry storage. A built in trash can and built in paper towel holder make prep work and clean up easy and convenient. If you enjoy hosting with cocktails, a built in icemaker might suit you just right! You can even add a drawer to store tools and utensils so you don’t have to run back and forth between your indoor and outdoor kitchen.
Do you plan to eat outside? Pay attention to how the wind typically blows and position seating and dining areas to compliment the prevailing winds. Nothing is more annoying than trying to enjoy a nice evening outside and constantly having smoke from the grill blown in your face.
Do you want your outdoor kitchen to be close to your home or distinctly separate? It’s a good idea to consider the views both from inside your home looking out, as well as from your outdoor kitchen. You likely wouldn’t want to position your outdoor kitchen in a way that it would block a good view from your back porch or the inside of your home. And just the same, you probably don’t want to be enjoying your outdoor kitchen while staring at your neighbor’s jacuzzi. So consider the view when positioning your outdoor kitchen. If you plan to use your indoor kitchen for any food preparation or storage you will want easy access to the inside of your home from the grilling area. Where are your gas lines? If you plan to install a gas grill, and you do not want to have to run new lines, it’s best to build your outdoor kitchen close enough to access your existing gas or water lines. Building close to your home allows for easy extending of the roof overhang to provide shade and shelter. Just make sure the grill is positioned near the end of the overhang and away from doors that lead to the inside of your home so that there is plenty of ventilation and smoke isn’t being pulled into your home every time the door opens.
If you choose to position your outdoor kitchen further away from your home keep in mind you may have to run gas, water, or electric, which will add to the overall cost of your project. And remember to plan for shelter from the elements. Pergolas, umbrellas, and patio covers are all great options.
Choose easy to clean and waterproof counters and cabinets. When choosing flooring for your outdoor kitchen choose floors that are grease, fire, and stain resistant. This will reduce accidents and keep clean up easy.
Will you be wanting to use your outdoor kitchen after the sun goes down? Outdoor lighting extends the length of time you can enjoy your outdoor kitchen and offers safety for walkways, staircases, and grilling areas. And aside from the practical purposes of having lighting during the evening and nighttime, outdoor lighting will create a relaxing ambiance for your family and guests.
You will consume less energy cooking in your outdoor kitchen since you’re not heating up the inside of your home to cook and then cranking down your A/C to cool it off. An outdoor kitchen is the perfect space to entertain friends and family. Taking the cooking outside usually means more space to work, which means more room to include family and friends in cooking. Hosting around your outdoor kitchen keeps everyone outside during events resulting in less traffic throughout your home and easier clean up.
Routine cleaning of the gutters on your home can prevent complex and costly problems by preventing damage to your roof, exterior, and foundation. Gutters need to be kept clean and free of debris so that water can drain properly, off of your roof, and away from your home. Consistent and proper maintenance of your gutters will help protect your home from a multitude of possible problems that can occur as a result of not maintaining your gutters regularly.
Failure to properly maintain your gutters can result in a variety of costly repairs that could have easily been prevented:
Roof Damage – Leaves and debris can build up and clog gutters which can result in rot on your roof. Water that isn’t able to drain to the ground can pool on the roof, soaking through shingles, and causing significant damage.
Infestation of pests – Clogged gutters are attractive to critters for nesting.
Damage to fascia (the board that runs directly behind your gutter) – Overflowing waters from clogged gutters can cause damage to your fascia.
Damage to brackets – Increased weight due to clogged gutters can lead to damaged and completely broken brackets, resulting in sagging and falling gutters.
Mold – Leaky gutters and decomposing leaves sitting in a warm, muggy climate can create mold. In our wet climate mold is common and can cause a plethora of health problems if it gets inside your home.
Overflowing gutters that aren’t draining properly can damage healthy plants – Overwatering can be just as bad as not watering for delicate plants.
So what should you look for? It’s important to note that if you are not sure what to look for or are uncomfortable climbing up a ladder to take a look around you should consider hiring a professional to do a gutter inspection and any cleaning or repairs necessary. If you feel comfortable climbing a ladder, great! A visual inspection of the gutters is the best way to check for damage and potential problems. Some things to check for that could signify it’s time to clean and maybe even repair or replace some of your gutters are:
Dripping, overflowing, or clogged gutters – Water running over the sides of the gutters or not flowing through downspouts likely means a clog somewhere.
Sagging gutters from the weight of debris.
A “gutter garden” – If you are seeing plant growth in or on your gutters, rest assured the weight of the dirt, plants, and other debris is compromising the integrity of your gutters and they are not working properly to protect your home from water damage.
Staining on the siding of your home – This could signify a spot where water flows over the side of the gutter due to a clog.
Signs of animal life such as bugs in the house or mice in the attic – These critters could be nesting in clogged gutters. If you discover bird’s nests or other wildlife, call your local animal control center for advice.
Pools of water on your driveway or lawn – This could mean that the water isn’t draining properly or far enough away from your home.
Water where it shouldn’t be – Drips inside your home or pools of water inside lower levels of your home could mean a major problem and your roof or foundation could be at risk. Consult a professional immediately.
You should expect to inspect and clean your gutters at least two times a year depending on your tree coverage. If you have Pine Trees that shed needles year round its best to inspect and clean your gutters every three months. If you can’t remember the last time you inspected and cleaned your gutters – it’s been too long and it’s time!
Some things to remember while inspecting and cleaning your gutters that will help ease the process and also help you identify any potential problems:
Cleaning gutters by hand is the most effective. Wear gloves. A high pressure hose can help clear out clogs in the downspouts.
You can use a wet/dry vacuum to suck up all the leaves and debris if you have one with a long enough reach.
Start closest to the downspout and remove debris as you work your way away from the downspout.
Put gunk from the gutters into a trash can or compost. Tossing it down to the ground will attract unwanted bugs and critters.
Clean any mold you find with a diluted solution of water and bleach in a spray bottle.
Seal any leaks you find.
Do not lean on the gutters. This could cause them to potentially come loose and could result in you falling.
Clean out the trouble spots where debris tend to gather more quickly on a more regular basis.
Pay attention to areas that often have standing water. These areas could be prone to additional damage caused by the water. Look for rust, holes, or cracks to indicate these sections may need to be replaced.
Lastly, be safe. Do not do anything you are not comfortable doing. If you need to hire a professional, then do.
Follow these tips to keep your gutters in tip-top shape! With proper and consistent maintenance, the average gutter system should last about twenty years.