Category: Home Tips

Four Simple Winter Home Projects That Can Save You Money

Winter is the perfect time to tackle important home projects. But why stop at just improving your home? There are tons of great DIY projects out there that can improve your living situation and save you serious dough. Here are some simple winter projects to help you get started.

1. Update your insulation

Insulation helps keep the heat you generate inside your house, allowing rooms to stay warmer for longer. If you think you’re losing heat too quickly after you turn down the thermostat, you may want to inspect your insulation. Replacing old batches or adding pipe and tank insulation is a relatively easy way to help your home maintain its warmth and shorten how long you run your heater.

2. Seal pesky drafts

Another great way to keep heat inside (and energy costs down) is to eliminate any drafts you find in your home. Using a caulk gun to seal gaps in walls and windows can help minimize the amount of warm air escaping your house. You may also want to consider checking your doors’ weatherstripping for any openings. Replacing weatherstripping is a relatively simple process and shouldn’t put too much strain on your wallet.

3. Buy energy-smart lightbulbs

One of the easiest home improvement projects you can tackle this winter is to swap out your old incandescent bulbs for efficient LEDs. While the initial cost may be rather steep—LED bulbs tend to cost three times more than traditional incandescents—the lifespan of an LED is significantly longer and uses far less energy. If you’re unable to afford the initial cost of LEDs, though, you can look into compact fluorescent lights. These offer similar energy savings to LEDs, albeit without the same lifespan and high upfront cost.

4. Install a programmable thermostat

By automatically adjusting your temperature when you’re sleeping or at work, programmable thermostats can help you drastically cut down on your energy use. Models run at a variety of price points and installation should only take a couple of minutes. Some versions even allow you to adjust your thermostat from your phone, giving you extra control over when your heat or cooling kicks in.

While you might not see huge returns on your winter projects immediately, the savings you’ll make over the following years should be more than enough to make the investments worthwhile. Of course, improving your financial situation during the winter doesn’t have to stop at home improvement projects. You may also want to consider making a budget, work on creating good financial habits and improving your credit score this year. (You can see where you credit stands by viewing your free credit report card on Credit.com.) No matter what you decide, making the best of your time indoors during the winter could really pay off throughout the rest of the year and beyond.

This article was written by Scott Sheldon and originally published on Credit.com.

Seven Ways to Reduce Humidity in Your Home

The experts at Andersen Windows + Doors  stopped by the Coldwell Banker YouTube channel to provide simple, yet effective ways to reduce humidity in your home. If your windows are covered in ice, you might assume this is a window problem, but it often is a moist air management problem. This video from Andersen Windows + Doors will help you understand condensation – and what you can do to minimize condensation on your windows. By reducing humidity in your home, you can prevent condensation build-up on your windows during the colder months.

Five Fire Hazards You Should Watch Out for During the Holiday Season + Every Day

(source: Home Advisor)

As it gets colder outside, we make the inside of our homes and offices warmer, resulting in an increase chance of fires from various possible hazards. In addition to space heaters and personal warmers, which are a common fire hazard, here are other common causes of fire.

 

 Candles

 

Candles
(source: Sortra.com)

Are you a candle fanatic unable to leave a store without bringing home nice-smelling goodies? Even if your candle consumption is on the moderate end, you probably burn at least one or two candles to set the holiday mood with fir tree or peppermint scents. But even one candle can cause a fire. Follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Never leave candles unattended, especially container-less pillar candles.
  • Don’t use real candles outside where wind and wild animals can easily knock them over – opt for flameless candles for your porch and walkway.
  • Place candles where children and pets can’t reach them and make sure that any flammable objects (lamp shades, Christmas trees, décor, etc.) are at least a foot away.

 

Fireplaces

Fireplaces

(source: Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co.)

Fireplaces have a tendency to gather people – not only because they are warm and toasty, but because there’s something magical about having friends and family converse over the flaming logs. Whether you have an indoor fire place, an outdoor one or a fire pit that you use for bonfires – be sure to follow the safety rules to avoid fires:

  • Perform annual chimney inspection and sweep to remove creosote buildup.
  • Never use flammable liquids, such as gasoline or kerosene, to start a fire.
  • Keep firewood on a safe distance from the fire.
  • Use the spark guard for indoor fireplaces
  • Don’t leave fire unattended and always extinguish it completely before going to bed.

 

Ovens, Ranges and Small Appliances

Ovens

(source: My Domaine)

For some people, holiday season means visiting family and friends and getting a taste of every turkey and deviled eggs in the neighborhood. But someone has to cook all this food! So if you plan on spending a great deal of time rotating between the stove and the sink, keep in mind these cooking safety tips:

  • Don’t leave your stove alone for more than 5 minutes.
  • Promptly clean any spills before they get caked onto the cooktop, as food remains can catch fire.
  • Do your best to stay organized and focused: don’t leave towels, wooden utensils or recipe books next to the burners.
  • Use timers to prevent your meals from burning and phone alarms to remind you there’s something cooking.
  • Never use oven or cooktop for domestic heating purposes.
  • Be careful with turkey fryers and grills – don’t use them indoors, in a garage or around flammable surfaces.

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16 Kitchen Trends That Are Here to Stay

These gorgeous kitchen trends — including minimal upper cabinetry, sparkling quartz counters, and one-of-a-kind ceiling treatments — are guaranteed to stand the test of time.

(source)

102181882.jpg.rendition.largestQuartz Countertops
Skip the sealing and scrubbing. Quartz-surfacing countertops require less upkeep than their granite counterparts and offer timeless appeal. Plus, the shimmering surface is less dominant than other materials, so you’re unlikely to grow tired of it.

Open Layouts
Tear down those walls, and banish kitchen isolation: Open layouts are here to stay. A desire for informal dining and comfortable cooking drives this design trend, supporting a casual yet connected lifestyle. Open kitchens encourage interaction and entertainment with their breezy blend of living spaces.

Induction Cooking
Fast, safe, and aesthetically pleasing — there are many reasons to love induction cooking. Because induction burners utilize little heat, even cramped kitchens stay cool while cooking, and surfaces remain safe to touch. Plus, these cooktops eliminate the need for a large range hood, opening the door to creative design possibilities.

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Homeowner Tip of the Day: Turning Off Main Water Supply

We’ve started a blog series called “homeowner tip of the day” where we hope you can learn just a little more about home maintenance and repair.

First in this series: How to Turn Off Your Main Water Supply

Whether you are making plumbing repairs/replacements, you hear water noise or you need to prevent further leaks…you will want to know where your main water supply is located. Learn more by watching the video below…

(This is for informational purposes only and we are not liable for anything pertaining to the video or advice. These videos are shared but not created by us or our team.)

Fall Is Here – Prepare Your Home

Happy Fall! Hope you had a nice summer. As the days get shorter and the leaves change colors and fall, keep in mind the following indoor home improvement and maintenance items:

Autumn Fall photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Image via Flickr user Kasia, via ColdwellBanker.com)

Clean out the gutters

Remove debris and make sure gutters are clear so the gutters and drains can work properly

Check your furnace

Make sure your furnace is working properly sooner rather than later. You will also want to change your filter regularly and clean your furnace so it can work more efficiently and not become a fire hazard.

Clean your air ducts and vents

Make sure you do not circulate dusty air and debris caused by uncleaned ducts and vents. Additionally, removing debris, etc. eases airflow and increases the efficiency of the system.

Check for broken window and door seals

Make sure you are not losing (warm) air by checking cracks in the door frames and making sure windows are properly sealed. Also inspect garage doors to see if they close correctly. If not, install door thresholds.

Also, have exterior windows washed, have chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned if necessary and make sure to close all doors promptly, so you don’t have unexpected guests/rodents, etc. as the weather gets colder and they want to go warmer places.

 

7 Home Inspection Items That Aren’t Included on an Inspection Report

Via HomeAdvisor

Hiring a home inspector is a crucial part of buying or selling a home. An inspector will assess the home for potential problems and identify any issues that may affect the continuation or negotiation of a sale in progress. But it’s also important to understand that inspectors don’t cover all of the bases in a home. In fact, it’s possible that an inspector may miss a significant issue. In many cases, you’ll need to hire a specialist to inspect certain areas, and you should always look closely at everything yourself. Here’s the skinny on the “home inspection checklist” and what is and isn’t covered:

#1 Inspectors don’t check for pests.

Home inspectors are not exterminators — their job is to find potential problems with the structural integrity of the house. So if you think you see a cockroach or another pest during a walkthrough, you’ll need to hire an exterminator to take a closer look. Don’t rely on the checklist or final report to yield that information.

#2 Inspectors don’t cover plumbing.

via Flickr MoToMo

Most home inspectors don’t have the qualifications to look at plumbing and can only call out visible issues like a leak or outdated plumbing. This means they probably won’t look at your:

  • Wall or undersink plumbing pipes
  • Swimming pools
  • Septic tanks

There are exceptions in which an inspector will have the qualifications to look at pools and septic systems, but this varies depending on the inspector and where you live. You shouldn’t rely on your inspector for this in any case. If you see serious cracks or dents in the swimming pool, you should probably hire a swimming pool pro to do an inspection. If you think the septic tank is making weird noises, have someone take a closer look.

#3 Inspectors won’t look at landscaping conditions.

While issues with landscaping should be obvious during a walkthrough — dead spots, potential pests, sprinkler issues, etc. — note that they aren’t on home inspector’s radar. If there’s a dead tree in the yard, you’ll be responsible for taking care of it. It probably won’t affect the final price of the house or your ability to negotiate with the seller.

#4 Appliances aren’t part of the inspection.

via pixabay

Home inspectors check only that the following appliances are working properly:

  • Washers
  • Dryers
  • Dishwashers
  • Refrigerators
  • Stoves

Most inspectors will run these appliances through just a cycle or two to make sure they work. So, the built-in microwave could have major problems and you wouldn’t know it. Plus, unless a major leak or smoke appears, the appliance is considered to be correctly functioning. If you think there’s a major problem, you should have an appliance technician perform diagnostics and necessary repairs.

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Real Estate Superstitions

Real Estate Superstitions…do you think there are such things?

Tomorrow is another Friday the 13th, so while we are all hoping a black cat doesn’t cross our path or we don’t open an umbrella indoors, let’s take a look at what some consider superstitions when it comes to real estate.

– Having an eight (8) in the listing or rental price is a sign of good luck and prosperity (pronounced similarly to the Chinese word for wealth and prosperity).

– The number 13 is considered unlucky by many…especially if it is on the 13th floor. Many high-rise building (especially residential buildings) skip the 13th floor.

– Properties that sit on curved roads or facing a ‘T’ intersection, some say, can invite bad fortune.

– Removing a for sale sign, or scheduling movers, etc. before it is a solid deal, some say, can jinx a transaction

– Hide knives when showing your home/in home home photos and don’t give a knife as a housewarming present, which some say leads to having enemies.

– Placing a statue of an elephant, or a pair of elephants, at the front door, some say, brings good luck, protection and strength to the household

Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter

Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter

Winter is here, and with freezing temperatures could come frozen pipes. Plumbing breaks and flood damage can be incredibly costly, so preparation is key to keep your pipes from freezing. Follow these easy steps to prevent expensive plumbing repairs.

Prevent frozen pipes big Photo by: Shutterstock

Water Main: Locate your house’s water main shut-off valve. In case of a water emergency, you will need to shut off all water flow to the home, and this time-saving knowledge could save you thousands in case of a burst pipe.

Exterior Pipes: Locate all outdoor spigots and unhook, drain and store all your hoses, covering your spigots with insulated spigot sleeves. Locate all other exterior pipes like swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines and any other exposed pipes running along exterior walls of your home. On these, install insulated pipe sleeves that slip right over the pipes. You can find these at any home supply store, but you can also use bubble wrap, a towel or a blanket to help protect these pipes.

Attic, Basement and Crawl Space Pipes: Install pipe sleeves on both cold and hot water pipes in attics, basements and crawl spaces. You can also put in regular fiberglass insulation, or you can install a heat lamp in crawl spaces and cold basements. However, never leave heat lamps or heaters unattended for too long, and don’t allow them to get too hot or near combustible materials that could catch fire.

Cold Air Entry Points: Walk around the perimeter of your home and locate all the foundation and attic vents. Then simply cut foam board insulation to fit in these vents and pop them in. This will help keep cold air out and keep the warm air in. For larger areas such as attic peaks, install larger foam board insulation from the interior side. With caulk, seal all air leaks around the foundation or other places in your home that could be allowing in cold air, such as electrical wiring, dryer vents or pipe entry points.

Prevention Tips:

  • When you know temperatures will be dipping below freezing, simply allow water to run in all the sinks at a slow, constant drip. It only needs to trickle, and that tiny amount of water will keep the water moving through the pipes and prevent them from freezing.
  • Open up the cabinet doors in the bathrooms and kitchen. This will allow the heat from the home to circulate and warm up the pipes.
  • Keep the garage door closed to keep garage pipes from freezing.
  • Keep your house at a warm, consistent temperature both day and night.
  • If you leave your home for extended periods of time, do not set your thermostat lower than 55 decrees.
  • If you do end up with frozen pipes, a hand-held hair dryer or heat lamp can thaw them.

Long-term solution: Install R-21 insulation to your attics, basements and crawl spaces to maintain warmth in those areas.

Damage: If your home is damaged as a result of burst pipes or winter weather ServiceMaster Restore® can help get your home back to normal as quickly as possible with the following services*:

  • Water damage restoration
  • Drying, dehumidification and water extraction
  • Document drying and recovery
  • Mold remediation
  • Carpet, rug and upholstery cleaning

*Services vary by local provider.

Photo by: ServiceMaster Restore®

The technicians know the effects of water damage on a wide variety of structural surfaces and are experts at both damage mitigation and reducing overall severity. Even though burst pipes aren’t covered in the AHS coverage, SMR can help. If you need to reach a technician, call 800-Restore.

Should you find yourself with other plumbing-related problems, a Home Warranty Plan from American Home Shield can help protect your budget against expensive repairs. Learn about the different coverage options.

This post is by American Home Shield and was originally posted here.

 

12 New Year’s Resolutions to Maintain Your Home in 2015

12 New Year’s Resolutions to Maintain Your Home in 2015

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just about self-improvement. You can use them to get your house in shape, too. Here’s a 12-month program to tackle house projects in 2015.

home-resolutions_main_600x400

January: First things first. Consider starting off the New Year by getting your valued systems and appliances covered by a home warranty. There are 365 days for something unexpected to go wrong or breakdown in your house – why not have a plan?

February: Change all incandescent light bulbs to ones that are energy-efficient and inspect bathtubs and showers for mildewed or cracked caulk. Re-caulk as necessary.

March: Check smoke detectors and replace batteries if needed. (If you can’t remember the last time you replaced the battery then it’s probably neccessary). An extra precautionary would be to install carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of the house.

April: If you have central air conditioning, have a professional inspect your unit so it’s ready for summer use.

May: Gather unused appliances, clothes, furniture and other items and hold a yard sale.

June: Inspect your roof and replace any damaged or missing shingles.

July: Create a first-aid disaster kit and keep it in a central location.

August: Inspect your gutters for holes, cracks or sags. Repair as necessary.

September: Have a professional inspect your heating system so it’s ready for winter use.

October: Use a pressure washer to clean your house, deck, and driveway.

November: Clean your carpets thoroughly by hiring a professional or renting a cleaning machine from your local hardware or grocery store.

December: Take stock of all your valuables and update your records. If needed, adjust your homeowners insurance.

This post is via American Home Shield. The originally post is here.