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Rewarding House Cleaning Projects for Spring
The sun is out and the flowers are beginning to bloom, which means it’s time for some spring cleaning. Enjoy the warmer weather while spending some time improving your home. Here are a few rewarding house cleaning projects for spring.
Remove Debris from the Roof and Gutters
Depending on where you live, your roof may be put to the test during the winter months. Snow and fallen branches can damage your roofing. Springtime brings more rain and you’ll want to have clean gutters to handle the showers. Take the time to scoop leaves and debris out of your gutters. Inspect the roof and remove pine needles, twigs, and tree branches. Replace any broken or damaged shingles.
Windows Should be One of Your Cleaning Projects for Spring
Windows get dirty during the year. Clean them inside and out with spray cleaner. Cleaning the exterior is easy with a window cleaning attachment connected to your garden hose. You’ll be able to easily reach top floor windows and cleaning the lower windows will be a breeze.
Service and Clean the Air Conditioner
It’s important to prepare your air conditioner for warmer weather. Make sure it’s in good working order. Call your HVAC professional to service your system. You can change the filter, check the hose connections for any leaks, and check the drain pans. Regular maintenance will extend the lifespan of the system.
After a long winter, your lawn may have downed branches, decaying leaves, weeds beginning to grow, and fallen pine needles. Take a weekend to clean up the yard. Now is a great time to test your sprinkler system and outdoor faucets. Service the lawnmower, buy some gas for it, and make sure it is working properly.
Cleaning Projects for Spring: Get the Grill Ready
Prepare the grill for warm weather cookouts. Check your grill’s burner jets for clogs. Scrub the grates with a sturdy grill brush. Make sure the hoses and connections are working properly. If you have a propane grill, purchase propane so you’re ready for the first barbecue of the season. If you have a charcoal grill, clean out any residue and ash.
As you work to get your home in great shape, enjoy the time outdoors with your family. Spring cleaning helps you prepare your home for entertaining family and friends in the warmer months ahead.
10 Easy Ways to Be a Better Homeowner
Your house may be your biggest financial investment. Take steps to maintain and even increase its value. Let’s take a look at a few things you can do to be a better homeowner.
Be a Better Homeowner by Being Mindful of Water Use
Using too much water isn’t simply wasteful. It will also affect your bank account. Here are some ways to save water at home.
- Install a low-flow showerhead.
- Switch to soaker hoses outside and eliminate your lawn sprinkler system.
- Add a rainwater collection tank and store runoff to use in the garden.
- Simply turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth can make a big difference.
Research Which Improvements Make the Most Sense
Be a better homeowner by doing a little research before taking on any major remodeling projects. Some renovations bring a better return on investment than others. For instance, you’ll typically recover the price of a new garage door more easily than the cost of installing a new hot tub.
Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency
Save on utility costs and lower your home’s carbon footprint by improving energy efficiency around the home. Caulk drafty doors and windows and add insulation in the attic and garage.
Be a Better Homeowner by Checking the Gutters
It’s common to overlook gutter maintenance. Twice a year, remove all debris from your gutters. Fall is the most important time to clean the gutters. It can help prevent ice damage to the gutter system during cold winter months.
Start a Neighborhood Watch
Keeping an eye out for all your neighbors is a great way to make sure your home is safe too. Get the neighbors together and form a neighborhood watch group with the aid of local law enforcement.
Develop a Few DIY Skills to Be a Better Homeowner
Learn how to perform some of the smaller home maintenance tasks on your own. You’ll save money when you paint the living room, replace a leaky faucet, or refinish the staircase by yourself.
Improve Curb Appeal
Boosting your home’s curb appeal isn’t something you should only do when selling it. Make your home more attractive at any time. Here are easy some ideas to improve the exterior.
- Paint the front door a bold new color.
- Trim overgrown shrubs and trees and add mulch to the flower beds.
- Stain or paint the wooden fence.
- Pressure-wash the sidewalks and driveway to tidy them up.
Inspect for Termites
Termites are pests that can do a tremendous amount of damage to your home, especially if they eat through major supporting beams. Look for telltale signs of termites and bring in a termite professional if you have concerns.
Change to Energy Efficient Bulbs
Are you still using incandescent bulbs? Replace your bulbs with more energy-efficient options like LEDs or CFLs. The bulbs will last longer and you will save money on your utility bill.
Check Smoke Detectors for Bad Batteries
Keep your family safe. Test your smoke detectors every month and replace their batteries twice every year. This way you’re sure to be alerted in case of smoke or a house fire.
7 Signs That You Have a Plumbing Problem at Home
No one wants to discover a plumbing problem at home. However, identifying any issues as soon as possible helps you mitigate repair costs before too much water damage can occur. Here are some signs of plumbing problems to look out for.
Slow Drains May Indicate a Plumbing Problem at Home
Don’t ignore a slow drain for too long. Unclogging one drain is usually a simple fix. Make sure the problem doesn’t exist farther down the line. If you can unclog that one drain with a drain snake easily, then you probably fixed the problem. If you start experiencing slow drains throughout the home, it is a deeper issue that a plumber should look at.
Do You See Discolored Pipes?
Inspect the pipes under the kitchen sink and in the basement periodically. Do you see any discoloration? If so, you’re looking at one of the signs of a plumbing problem at home.
he discoloration indicates moisture on the outside of the pipe. It might be coming from a sink or drain line that is dripping water. It could also be a more serious issue, such as a supply line leak. Supply lines contain pressure, so a slow leak has the potential to turn into a substantial problem quickly.
A Sewer Odor is a Sign of a Plumbing Problem at Home
There is a system of traps and drains in your home that is designed to keep sewer gas out of the house. Smelling sewer gas means that there is a crack in the vent line or that the trap has run dry.
Fixing a dry trap is relatively simple. It needs to be inspected for a possible leak or it might only need to be refilled with water. A cracked sewer vent is more problematic. It’s likely that you’ll need to break through a wall, fix it, and then repair the drywall.
Multiple Areas With Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure in one area is typically an issue with the fixture or faucet. However, if you notice low water pressure in multiple areas around your home, then you have a bigger issue. It could mean you have one of these problems:
- Supply line leak
- Water heater issue
- Problem with the water main
A High Water Bill Points to a Plumbing Problem at Home
A sudden increase in the water bill is a sign of a plumbing problem at home. Call a plumber to see where the issue lies. One issue might be a toilet that is constantly running. Toilets make up a majority of a household’s water use, so if it is malfunctioning it will waste a lot of water. One running toilet can cost you hundreds of dollars on your water bill.
Bubbling Paint on the Walls
Moisture will cause paint to peel or bubble. It’s likely that you have a leak in the plumbing system if you’re noticing this problem. Look for brown spots that may accompany bubbling paint.
Green Areas in the Yard
You might be dealing with a sewer problem if you notice a patch of yard that is greener than any other area. If the patch is located between the street and your home, then this is even more likely. Sewage acts as fertilizer for your grass, so a leak may make the grass look more lush in one area.
If you see any of the above signs of a plumbing problem at home, call a plumber immediately.
Common Causes of Mold in the Home
Indoors or outside, mold and moisture go hand in hand. Outdoors, mold is an important type of fungi that helps with decomposition. In the home, mold is unsightly, destructive, and unhealthy, especially for those with mold allergies. This article explains the common causes of mold in the home.
Poor Ventilation in the Bathroom
Bathrooms often get warm and steamy after showering. This humidity creates the perfect conditions for mold to grow. Over time, you may notice discoloration on the ceiling and walls or in the grout between shower tiles. Help prevent mold in the bathroom by installing a ventilation system or simply opening the bathroom window for 10-15 minutes after bathing.
Moisture in the Crawlspace Can Cause Mold in the Home
If your home has a crawlspace, you have an environment conducive to mold growth. The reason being most crawlspaces have exposed earth that allows groundwater to seep in. The area doesn’t have to flood for moisture to accumulate.
Reduce moisture beneath your home by maintaining proper drainage away from the foundation, installing a moisture barrier, and sealing the exterior of your home’s foundation.
Unrepaired Leaks Lead to Mold in the Home
Don’t ignore leaks under sinks, behind toilets, and beneath appliances like the fridge, dishwasher, and washing machine. Small puddles of water are enough to cause mold in the home. The same is true of roof leaks. The best way to prevent roof leaks is with regular maintenance. Check frequently for cracked or missing shingles and replace them. Keep gutters clear of debris to prevent roof damage.
Homeowners often overwater houseplants. This practice is not only bad for plants, but it can also cause mold growth in and around the plants. Houseplants should only be watered when the top inch or so of soil is dry. If you notice a fuzzy white layer on the soil, you have mold growing that will release spores into the air. Scoop the moldy layer away and replace it with fresh soil.
Leaving Spills on Carpets and Rugs
You may not think too much about a small amount of water or other liquids that get spilled on rugs and carpets. But even the smallest puddles can cause mold in the home. The liquid seeps into the fibers and dampens the padding, creating the perfect environment for mold. Blot up spills on carpets and rugs right away.
Wet Clothing Left on the Floor Contributes to Mold in the Home
As family members shower and rush out the door, damp items often get left in piles on the floor. Encourage family members to hang wet clothing and towels to dry before putting them in the laundry bin.
Stacking Firewood Indoors
It’s convenient to have a stack of firewood indoors, but as freshly-cut firewood ages, it releases moisture. Only bring firewood inside if it has been seasoned for six months after being cut.
5 Home Safety Essentials That Should Be in Every Home
You want to keep yourself and your family safe and protected from danger. Don’t overlook these basic home safety essentials that should be in every house. Make sure that you have these items in your home and that they are ready to use in case of an emergency.
5 Home Safety Essentials
Whether you live in a house or an apartment, these five home safety essentials should be part of your home.
1. Carbon Monoxide Detector
You probably know that you should have a smoke detector on every floor of your home and near all bedrooms. But, did you also know that a carbon monoxide detector is equally important? Since CO gas is odorless and colorless, it’s undetectable without this device. Carbon monoxide gas sickens between 20,000 and 30,000 Americans each year and kills about 500 of those people. Don’t risk your family member’s lives by failing to have CO alarms in your house.
2. Deadbolt Locks are Home Safety Essentials
If you have concerns about theft or forced entry, a deadbolt lock for your exterior doors should be high on your list of home safety essentials. These locks offer more security than a standard doorknob lock with a steel bolt that passes straight through your door frame. A reinforced door frame makes your door even more secure.
If your family members lose their keys often, it may be time to invest in a smart lock for your door. This way you can add, remove, or change codes as needed so there aren’t stray keys to your home just laying about. Some even let you unlock the door remotely through a connected app.
3. Fire Extinguisher
If a small kitchen flare-up occurs, you want to be able to put it out quickly and safely. Have a multi-use fire extinguisher available in an accessible location. Make sure that your family members know how to operate it. Learn about when you should use a fire extinguisher and when you should just get out of the house. As a rule of thumb, if it takes you longer than 5 seconds to put out a blaze, you should vacate the building.
4. Emergency Ladder
Anyone with a second story or raised level in their home should have an emergency ladder in their home safety essentials kit. They are portable, collapsible, and can help you get out safely from a high window without waiting for rescue personnel with a ladder or jumping.
5. First Aid and Disaster Kit
Although these are technically two separate items, they can easily be combined into a portable and accessible unit. You should have them in your home no matter where you live. Include bandages and basic first aid supplies, bottled water and shelf-stable food, medicines, and flashlights with batteries. Make sure you have enough supplies for every family member to last at least 2 days, including pets.
Gathering these items isn’t hard to do, and the peace of mind that comes with having home safety essentials is worth it.
4 Types of Wood-Destroying Insects
Termites are the most well-known wood-destroying insects, but there are others that can cause damage to your property. To best protect your home, familiarize yourself with common wood-destroying insects that may infest your home.
Wood-Destroying Insects Include Carpenter Bees
Carpenter bees are often confused with bumblebees. They have a round body that is similar in size to bumblebees, but their abdomen is shiny and hairless. Carpenter bees tunnel and build their nests in wood that is usually free of paints, sealants, and stains. Because they tend to use the same galleries every year, the damage to an area becomes worse over time if it isn’t repaired. Painting, sealing, and staining wood surfaces will help discourage carpenter bees.
Bark beetles prefer to attack trees that are damaged or diseased. A bark beetle will bore through the bark of the tree. Bark beetles can be a nuisance in log cabins or homes with rustic wooden furniture with bark. The bark beetle is dormant during winter months, so inspect for them during warmer weather.
Carpenter Ants are Common Wood-destroying Insects
You may confuse a termite with a carpenter ant. However, there are some distinct differences. A termite has a wider wingspan than a carpenter ant. The body of a termite is elongated while the carpenter ant looks like a typical ant. Carpenter ants tend to make their homes in the walls of a building. Once they have made their nest, they produce enough moisture rot wood. If you suspect a carpenter ant infestation, call a wood-destroying insect inspector. When an infestation is found, correct the problem by replacing the rotting wood.
The powderpost beetle will turn wood into powdery dust. Homeowners that use salvaged wood tend to have the most problems with this type of insect. Salvaged materials, like old barn wood, should be inspected and treated before coming into the home. Powderpost beetles will damage anything made from wood, from picture frames to musical instruments.
Uses of Thermal Imaging in Home Inspections
Thermal or infrared imaging technology is used by some home inspectors during an inspection. A thermal imaging camera produces a color image showing the amount of thermal energy an object is emitting. This provides a trained inspector with information about the condition of the property. He or she can find problems that are not visible to the naked eye. Thermal imaging in home inspections provides insights to the homebuyer by helping to find certain issues in the home.
Thermal Imaging Helps Find Moisture in a Home
Unless you find a puddle or can see water damage, leaks can easily go unnoticed. With infrared imaging, your inspector can examine a water stain to determine if it’s an active moisture problem or an old stain. A lower temperature might indicate a current moisture problem.
If your home inspector suspects mold, thermal imaging can help find the source by detecting water leaks behind walls that would be difficult to identify without this technology.
Detecting Electrical Hazards With Thermal Imaging in Home Inspections
Infrared imaging can find problems with wiring that may be a potential electrical fire hazard. Your home inspector will use a thermal camera to examine the walls or electrical panel for hot spots. During the scan, dangerous hot spots are displayed as warmer colors on the camera.
Locate Areas of Defective or Missing Insulation
An infrared camera is used to detect uneven heat distribution. It can find areas of missing, defective, or inadequate insulation in a home. Uninsulated or under-insulated spaces will show as cooler areas on an infrared image so the homeowner knows where the insulation needs to be replaced.
Energy Efficiency Issues
Leaky window or door seals can be found using thermal imaging. The camera will register a difference in temperature around doors or windows where there are air leaks. An infrared camera shows the home inspector areas where the seals around doors and windows need to be replaced.
7 Rewarding Fall Home Improvement Projects
Fall Home Improvement Projects
Despite warm temperatures, fall is right around the corner. It’s a busy time of year with children going back to school, fall planting, and getting the house ready for winter. Here is a list of 7 fall home improvement projects that will protect your home from storms, keep energy bills low, and keep you warm in cool weather.
1: Furnace Tune-Up
Get the furnace tuned-up or even replaced. Older furnaces run less efficiently than newer ones. A new furnace, when properly installed, can run at approximately 80% efficiency. A well-operating furnace reduces energy costs and increases comfort. Yearly furnace tune-ups also make your home safer.
2: Clean Windows
During the fall and winter, the sun shines for fewer hours and at a different angle. Clean your windows to increase your home’s solar gain. The sun can shine through clean windows more easily and help heat up your home. Clean windows will boost your mood and keep energy bills lower.
3: Weatherstripping and Caulking
While major insulation projects can substantially reduce energy bills, heat may be lost through tiny cracks. Check the weatherstripping around doors and windows and replace it if it’s worn or broken. Caulking along the edges of the window panes will keep out moisture and cold air. This fall home improvement project keeps out those cold winter drafts.
Debris has been filling your gutters all year. When winter arrives, any trapped water in clogged gutters may freeze which could damage the gutters and other parts of your home. Gutters direct water away from the house. If that water freezes or overflows, it could cause major damage to the exterior of your home. Clean out your gutters as one of your fall home improvement projects.
5: Fall Home Improvement Projects for the Roof
If your roof is compromised, it can leak and cause water damage. Call a professional to inspect the roof and make repairs during fall. If you need a new roof, roof replacement is a good fall home improvement project.
6: Fall Home Improvement for the Fireplace
Soot can build up in chimneys and potentially start a chimney fire. Just like the furnace, having the chimney and fireplace properly maintained prevents dangerous risks.
7: Clean Ceiling Fans
You have probably kept your ceiling fans running all summer long. This perpetual movement builds up a static charge on your fan blades, which attracts dust. Fall is an excellent time to give your fan blades a good dusting. Also, you should switch the direction the fan rotates. As the temperature cools off, the fans should run clockwise to push warm air downwards.
These fall home improvement projects can make your home safer, lower your energy bills, and increase your comfort levels all winter long.
How to Reduce Humidity at Home
Humidity in the home is uncomfortable and can cause your energy bill to increase. As the humidity levels in your home rise, your HVAC has to work harder to cool the area. Eliminating excess moisture from your home takes time and attention. Here are a few simple steps you can follow in order to reduce humidity at home.
1. Cover Your Crawlspace to Reduce Humidity
The crawlspace is an entry point for moisture in the home. Reduce humidity by covering the dirt floor with a plastic vapor barrier. Make sure there is no standing water or damp soil in your crawl space. Use fans to increase airflow and help keep the area dry.
2. Use Exhaust Fans Throughout the House
Another easy way to reduce humidity at home is to use ventilation fans. Rooms like bathrooms and the kitchen tend to have higher humidity and benefit from the use of exhaust fans. Run the fan when cooking or showering to remove moisture and discourage bacteria and mold growth.
3. Use a Dehumidifier
Dehumidifiers are an effective option for excessively humid homes. If humidity levels in your house are 60% or higher, a dehumidifier is a good investment. A portable dehumidifier in a damp living space pulls moisture from the air. Keep the unit clean and empty the reservoir when it is full. Another option is to install a whole-house unit to reduce moisture throughout the home.
4. Grow Plants to Absorb Humidity
Certain plants are natural dehumidifiers. Plants like the Boston fern reduce moisture in the air. You’ll be adding more oxygen as you dehumidify your home. With the plants in the home, you will enjoy a more comfortable environment with cleaner air.
5. Dry Your Clothes Outside or in the Dryer
If humidity is an issue, don’t leave wet clothes to air-dry inside the home. While this may be an inexpensive and effective way to dry your clothes, it also adds moisture to the indoor environment. Reduce humidity at home by drying your clothes in the dryer or on a clothesline outdoors.
6. Take Colder Showers
Hot showers increase the amount of humidity in your home. Cooler showers are more appealing during the summer months and help to limit the amount of moisture that lingers in the air. If you’re showering with humidity levels in mind, take shorter, cooler showers.
Uncomfortable levels of humidity can be resolved with the right tools and techniques. Use the above tips to reduce humidity at home.
9 Grilling Safety Tips to Follow This Summer
The summer months are the perfect time to host a cookout, but July is also the biggest month for accidental grill fires. Both gas and charcoal grills have risks associated with their use. The next time you use your grill, practice these grilling safety tips to keep your family and home safe.
Grilling Away From the House is an Important Grilling Safety Tip
Many homeowners don’t realize that their home is at risk since flames from the grill can reach nearby structures. Use your grill away from walls, patios, and balconies. Stay away from patio umbrellas and overhanging tree branches as well.
Make Sure That Your Grill is on a Flat Surface
Unstable grills can tip over and cause injury or fire. Make sure your grill is on a flat surface and doesn’t tip over easily. A grill pad will contain any food scraps, protect your deck or patio, and create an even surface that stabilizes the grill.
Clean Your Grill After You Use It
Always clean your grill after use. Use a brush to scrub the grates. Empty accumulated grease from the tray below. If you use a grill that requires charcoal, dispose of the coals in a metal container after they have cooled off.
Check Your Grill For Propane Leaks
If you are using a gas grill, check it for propane leaks. You can easily do so with a soap and water solution. Apply the solution to the fuel line hose, then turn the gas on. If you see any bubbles forming, there is a leak. Another sure sign of a leak is if you smell gas.
Don’t Re-Light the Flame Right Away
Sometimes your flame will go out on a propane grill. When this happens, wait about five minutes before igniting again. Be sure to turn the propane off while you are waiting.
Never Leave Your Grill Unattended
Accidents often happen because of an unattended grill, especially with children or pets present. Always stay close to your grill when you are using it. The grill can stay hot for quite some time after you are finished cooking, so it’s important to keep your kids and pets away from it both during and after grilling.
Starter Fluid Grilling Safety Tips
Only use starter fluid when you are starting a charcoal grill. If the flame goes out, don’t add more fuel. Use a safer alternative like newspaper to re-light.
Grilling Safety Tips for Clothing
When you are using your grill, pay attention to your clothing. Don’t wear flammable items or accessories. Stay away from shirts that have long sleeves or strings hanging from them. Tie back your apron strings. Make sure that nothing hangs over the top of your grill that could catch fire.
Be Prepared In Case Of An Emergency
Emergencies happen, so always keep a fire extinguisher close by. Don’t use water when trying to put out a fire caused by your grill. That can just make it worse. This is one of the most important grilling safety tips to remember.
The summer is a great time to barbecue. However, take proper precautions to keep your family safe when you are grilling out.