Importance Of Dryer Vent & Lint Trap Maintenance

As we talk about home maintenance and improvements it is very important to point out the simple tasks that can help keep you and your family safe and in a no fire hazard home.  One of the smallest maintenance tasks but perhaps one of the most important is cleaning your dryer vent! Yes that’s right cleaning your dryer vent on a regular basis will not only protect you and your family from one of the biggest fire hazards in your home, but also help you save on your energy bill.  Dirty lint clogged dryer vents cause the motor in our dryers to work harder because of the way it blocks air circulation.  The motor is then unable to cool efficiently and thus causes the motor to run harder and longer.  It’s basically like the engine of a overheating car.  Either eventually the engine will get so hot and can burst into flames or your car just stops working.

The longer your dryer’s motor functions like this the slower it will get.  This causes it to take more time and energy to dry your clothes thoroughly.  In turn your electricity bill spikes and it’s a lose lose situation.  

Not only are these some of the consequences of a dirty lint filled dryer vent, but the fire hazard this build up produces is one of the greatest fire hazards you have in your home.  Nobody thinks that their dryer could be the cause of a house fire but more often than not it occurs.  In fact in 1996 alone there were 15,000 house fires caused by clogged dryer vents and lint traps reported.  Within these 15,000  electric dryer’s were 2.5 times more likely to be the cause of the fire over gas dryers.  With these 15,000 fires there were 20 deaths reported, 300 injuries and over $80 million in property damage.  

So what are the signs that your dryer is a fire hazard and is in some serious need of vent and lint trap cleaning?

  1. Clothes take longer than usual to dry
  2. Your clothes don’t fully dry even after 2 drying cycles
  3. Clothes come out hotter than usual
  4. The outside exterior of the dryer becomes hot
  5. Your laundry room/area become more humid than usual
  6. Biggest sign of all you smell a burning smell in your laundry room/area or even vicinity

In general it is always best to air on the side of caution especially if it means keeping your family safe.  Make it a habit to conduct monthly dryer vent and lint trap checks.  You might just save yourself from a house fire!

The Importance Of Chimney Maintenance

Having a fireplace in your home is one of the greatest luxuries especially in the cold winter months.  There is simply nothing like having a warm fire burning, the smell of wood crackling and the peaceful ambiance a burning fire provides.  I mean there is something definitely to be said about drinking hot chocolate around a fire and enjoying loved ones and friends during the holiday’s!  However, chimney’s also come with upkeep by that of a professional chimney sweep! Ok, I’ll spare you the rhymes but chimney maintenance is a necessity and should be taken very seriously.  In fact the NFPA ( National Fire Protection Association) advises that you have your chimney PROFESSIONALLY cleaned and inspected at least once a year.  

So what exactly are the top three dangers associated with unmaintained chimney’s?

First off chimney fires are a very real thing and happen more often than most of us realize.  While the flames spouting from your chimney may look beautiful they are anything but when paired with the destruction and potential fatal effects that can occur.  When burning wood, a natural substance called creosote is produced.  This natural tar like substance sticks to the inside walls and material of your chimney.  When left uncleaned it can ignite when a new fire is started.  The scary thing about this is that often times you have no idea you even have a chimney fire.  The flames can burn low with in your chimney and go unnoticed.  However the high temperatures that occur can often seep into your homes walls and ignite any flammable material that may be inside of you walls, like insulation etc.  From there the fire will spread even quicker and can completely burn your house down and create a potential fatal scenario for those inside the home.  

Next we have carbon monoxide poisoning.  We all have heard about this poisoning but never believe it could happen to us.  Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the deadliest poisonings and because it is odorless can go left undetected.  When fuel is burned carbon monoxide is produced.  Even at low levels carbon monoxide ingestion can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion and fainting.  Blocked chimneys can cause of build up of this gas and with nowhere to go will eventually seep back into your house harming those inside the home.  That is why it is so important to make sure your chimney’s flue is clear before burning any fire.

Smoke damage is also a very real thing and can often happen from having a dirty chimney.  When a chimney is not regularly cleaned soot will accumulate around the flue.  This makes it harder for smoke to go upwards and be released through the chimney vent on your roof.  Where does the smoke go then?  Back into your house ofcourse. The materials that make up this moke are sticking and permanently stain to furniture, fixtures, floors and the outside walls of your chimney.  Nobody enjoys smoke damage or breathing in the sticky black matter as well.

These are just a few of the reasons that regular chimney maintenance is suggested.  Enjoying a fire can be great but never at the cost of you or your loved ones health or lives.  Be smart when maintaining your chimney.  Remember that the cost is far worth it because if left un maintained the cost of starting over from all of your personal belongings, memories and home being burned to the ground would be 100x more expensive.  The safety of your friends and family definitely never will have a price!!

 

Recoup Your Money On the RIGHT Home Improvements

When adding value to your home there are a list of do’s and don’ts pertaining to home improvement projects that can be done.  For example replacing your front door with a new steel door is low on cost yet can add great curb appeal.  You will also on average get a 129 percent return on the cost of the door and installation when selling your home.  On the other hand adding a new bathroom can be costly and and you will only receive about 60 percent back on the total cost when selling your home.  Why is this? Because plumbing electrical work, fixtures and installation are just a few of the tasks costly tasks that come with a bathroom addition.  Although a new bathroom is always nice if you are planning on selling your home in the near future safe the money and the time it won’t do much in increasing the value of your home once all costs are said and done.

 On the other hand adding a new Kool Deck to your patio and pool area is a great way to increase your homes value as well as add great  curb appeal.. Everyone wants a nice backyard and those in the housing market that have children will agree a heat proof deck is ideal for little feet.  So what exactly is a Kool deck? Kool decks are a special concrete overlay that literally weathers all weather.  From the scorching sun to the blistering cold it is a special polymer cement overlay that protects concrete while allowing it to breathe.  It also looks natural and is great for just about any hardscape.  The guys at New Kool Deck And More LLC are awesome at installation and have great prices. Adding this type of kool deck to your hardscapes increases the value of your home and also is great when entertaining in your backyard.

Another not so cost efficient home improvement is adding a sunroom.  Although it sounds nice and they are great to relax in or maybe even add a little space it does nothing for the value of your home.. In fact you stand to lose 49 percent of the money you put into adding it when selling your home.  What people are looking for in this day and age and in addition will add value to the selling price as well as help you recoup your money spent is a universal mother in law sweet.  The name says it all! Not so keen on a mother in law sweet? Even adding a nursery as an addition will help you to recover your money over a sunroom.  As a matter of fact a sun room addition usually runs about $73,000 on average.  You could do a couple other more valuable home improvement projects for that cost and come out on top.

As with any home improvement project it’s always good to weigh out the pros and cons before hand as well as establish why you are ,making the improvement.  If it has to do with upping your homes value before placing it on the market make sure you are making cost efficient and worthy improvements or you might find yourself in the hole!

Quick DIY Home Impovements Solutions

We can all agree that their are small nuisances around our home or little jobs that we would like to conquer but don’t quite know the best or easiest way. For example one of your automobiles is leaking oil and although it may be a small amount and not worth the cost of repairs it is taking a toll on your driveway.  Are the oil stains stuck there forever or is there an easy do it yourself trick that might require a bit of elbow grease? There are actually two tricks that can help in getting rid of these stubborn stains.  If the spot is still wet you will need to sprinkle a good amount of sand, cornstarch,clay based cat litter or baking soda over the spot to help absorb the oil.  If the spot is dry you will need to wet it first and then scour the spot with a mix of baking soda and water.  This is where the elbow grease comes in.  Get a stiff wire brush and scour spot thoroughly.  Use hose to rinse off baking soda mix with water.  Let it air dry.  If dark spots still remain you may have to use a stronger household cleaner such as concentrated laundry detergent.

Another great DIY trick for those tough household small projects is how to remove hard water stains on your windows!  You probably have the cleaning ingredients in your home.  Simply take ⅓ water and ⅔ vinegar and create a mix in a spray bottle.  Spray all over window with hard water stains.  Soak for 1 minute and wipe dry with a dry cloth.  You may have to repeat the process a few times to fully remove all water stains.  If stains are stubborn and just don’t seem to clean off you may have to use oven cleaner!  Oven cleaner is known to remove virtually everything.  Because of this known fact you will want to make sure to use gloves and do not spray the oven cleaner directly on glass.  Instead spray cleaner on a clean rag and apply to window.  Rinse with warm water.  Spots will come right off!!  Also be sure to keep cleaner away from plastic and painted surfaces as to deflect any damage to surfaces.

 These are just a couple of great DIY home improvement solutions.  You would be surprised at how easy it is to do a lot of home project yourself and will materials found around your home.

The Benefits of Paint Color

In one of my last posts we talked about how windows can add value and class to your home both inside and out.  However what about paint color?  Did you know the color you decide to paint both the exterior and interior of your home can either gain you more profit in resale value or lessen the value you of your home as well?  After a study was conducted to see which colors brought a higher selling value as well as deprecated the value the verdict is in.  Fresh natural colors and shades of blue and pale gray tend to make homes feel and appear larger when painting your interior walls these colors.  These neutral colors also tend to make it easier for potential home buyers to envision themselves living in the home!  Light blue in both kitchens and bathrooms help offset white cabinets and countertops and therefore increase your homes value as well. What about yellow? Think Marigold or light sunflower yellow.  These colors will actually depreciate your homes value by $890 below the average selling price!  Same goes for brown wether it be taupe, light brown or medium brown painting your house this color will lower your home by an average of $1970 below market price.  

The good new is painting your house colors of light blue to soft gray will increase your homes value by an average of $1,809 above market price.  While a gray brown color will increase it by $1526 above average selling price.

 Who knew the color of our homes were such a powerful tool to attract homebuyers?  In general it is always good to research upgrades that may be done to your home to increase it’s value before putting it on the market.  Simple little touches of color choices can go along way when selling your home.

Purchasing New Windows

You have decided to make some upgrades to your home and are installing new windows.  What are a couple of things you may consider when shopping around for these windows?  For one the government has now created an energy saving program that enables you to a federal tax credit  for newly purchased windows.  The Energy Star Program has been launched to help promote the purchase of energy efficient windows for your home. In fact after conducting a nationwide study, it has been found that when installing certified energy saving windows you can lower your energy bill by 12 percent. This in turn aids in helping reduce the emission of greenhouse gases from homes and power plants. The guidelines when purchasing these windows  state that the windows have to have a U factor and solar heat gain coefficient less than or equal to .30. What exactly is a U factor? The U factor gauges the window’s insulation value while solar heat gain coefficient  measures how well heat transfer is blocked. If these guidelines are met you are eligible for the federal tax credit equal to 30 percent of the windows cost up to a maximum of $1,500.  Installation is not included in the tax credit however.

Another thing to consider when purchasing new windows is what type of material you would like. The guys at Metroplex Windows & Glass were incredible about explaining the increasing trend of installing fiberglass windows.  As of a few years ago only 3 percent of the window market was made up of fiberglass material.  However, with people realizing the durability and virtually maintenance free characteristics fiberglass windows have to offer, many are installing these instead of traditional vinyl.  Not only are they middle of the road when it comes to price point, they are also stronger than vinyl and will not warp, rot, or crack. The only down fall is that as of now colors are a bit limited.  With more focus and demand for these types of windows I believe we will see a big growth in color and style options in the near future.

It is always good to explore all options when adding to or renovating your home.  With new materials and techniques frequently emerging the home improvement industry and its supplies are forever changing.  It is always beneficial for both your pocketbook and the environment to purchase energy efficient products.

How To Assemble Your Own Toolbox….

You have made the leap from renting a home to owning your own.  It’s a great feeling to know that you are paying your own mortgage and not renting therefore paying someone else’s.  However with owning a home comes responsibility.  When something broke or needed repair before you simply called your landlord or property management company and requested a repair service come out.  Now however, you are responsible for any and all repairs needed around your home.  To fix things you need the right tools. That is why it is essential for every homeowner to create a toolbox filled with all of the necessary tools!  I have compiled a list of the 10 basic tools that will save you in time of repair and make life a whole lot easier.  

 

  • Clawhammer- Most versatile hammer with it’s ability to extract bent or mis placed nails from walls.  A 16 inch handle with a weight of 1 pound is the best size claw hammer to  buy.
  • Screwdriver- Not only does it do the obvious but it can also help to pry lids of paint cans and open child proof battery compartments. A flat head and a phillips in various sizes is most recommended.
  • Adjustable Wrench- An adjustable crescent wrench is the wrench of all wrenches because it basically acts as multiple wrenches in 1!
  • Tape Measure- It goes without saying a tape measure may be one of the handiest things to have around the house!
  • Level- Hanging pictures and making them level is a tough job to accomplish just by eye sight.  Not to mention nobody wants extra nail holes in their walls from making mistakes.  A level with help you to hang your pictures and other wall hangings perfectly on the first try.
  • Utility Knife- Basically the tool box workhorse.  It can even sharpen a pencil!
  • Flashlight- Can be used in case of a power outage or other emergencies.  Also great for when it’s dark and something needs to be fixed outside.
  • Electric Drill- Many of us get buy with borrowing or renting one in time of need.  However a cordless drill is definitely a necessity in the household toolbox. Trust me it makes things soo  much easier.
  • Hacksaw- This thing can cut through wood or even plastic or metal piping!
  • Pliers- locking adjustable pliers with a size of 5-10W is the best route to go when purchasing these.

 

Many of these tools can be slowly acquired  as needed when first starting out as a homeowner. You will find though that at one time or another each of these tools listed will be needed and having a set of your own tools will be one of the best purchases you have ever made!

Baking Soda & Vinegar

When you hear baking soda and vinegar most of us automatically think of our 3rd grade science projects.  The oozing erupting volcanoes, which if you were cool enough you added red food coloring to, to make it look like “real” lava!  But low and behold all of these years later baking soda and vinegar come in for the win in DIY home repair hacks!  Who knew these two ingredients could be so magical!

So your garbage disposal smells like something may have crawled in and died.  Or perhaps it’s just last week’s meatloaf that still seems to be lingering in the depths of your kitchen disposal. A quick and easy fix is to first dump 1-2 cups of ice into the disposal and turn it on. It’s a horrible racket but the ice will help to dislodge any gunk or leftover food in the small hard to reach crevices.  Next dump in ½ cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar.  This is the grown up version of that 3rd grade volcano!  Once it’s done doing it’s lava thing run hot water to flush it out.  Next cut up a citrus fruit or simply use the rinds and dump into the disposal.  Turn it on let it chop up the fruit/rind and you will have one amazing smelling kitchen!

Ok so what about those musty smelling front loading washer’s!  Nobody likes the smell of musty anything let alone coming from where they wash their clothes.  First things first leave the door a open to help air out the enclosed space in between loads. Next take a equal parts solution of vinegar and water and clean the rubber seal around your washer’s door.  Turn on the hottest washing cycle available and dump a cup of baking soda into the drum.  Next pour 1 cup of distilled white vinegar into the detergent dispenser and let the cycle run through.  You will have one fresh smelling extra clean washer with no chemicals used!

Do you have hard water?  The kind that leaves lime stains in your sinks and tub basins?  There is a quick fix to those,  you guessed it, vinegar!  Soak paper towels in white vinegar and place paper towel over the lime stained area’s.  Let soak.  When you remove towels the lime stains will have disintegrated!  Vinegar can discolor brass and colored fixtures so be careful!

Stainless steel sinks and those unsightly rust spots!  Mix vinegar and baking soda into a paste like mixture.  Rub the mixture into the rust stained spots in your sink.  Let sit for about 5-10 minutes.  Next use a little elbow grease and a scrub pad and scrub those rust spots away.  If they are stubborn apply another round of the baking soda mixture leaving it on a bit longer.  Scrub and rinse with hot water and you are rust free!!!

These are just a few of house repairs that can be fixed with baking soda and vinegar.  Another nice thing about these ingredients is that they are natural cleaning products and thus do not have toxic chemicals that can be dangerous to children! Most of us have them in our kitchen anyway! And we thought their only use was to make cool volcanos!!

Things to consider before starting a home improvement project

Home improvement projects have become obligatory for today’s homeowners. As enticing as a home improvement project may be, no project can succeed without proper planning. Whether you choose to do it yourself or hire professionals, there are many things you need to consider before starting a home improvement project. As much it may sound crazy, knowing what you and your home may go through can reduce stress during the project. Before breaking out the tools, here is what you need to consider first.

Budgeting

When it comes to home renovations, budgeting is an essential aspect that should not be ignored. Those who have a small budget are likely to choose the DIY of home improvement. If you hire a professional, ensure you clearly communicate the tasks to be completed within the budget and time agreed upon. Nevertheless, if the homeowner decides to Make changes during the remodeling process, they should prepare for potential changes in the final budget and completion date.

Timeline for the remodeling project

You should give thought to the time the project will take when planning for the remodel. There are many aspects of a remodel that take different times and yet need to be merged for the project to be complete. Since there’s no certainty of the duration the project may take, you should consider starting it as early as possible. Consider being flexible with deadlines as you plan to work with the contractors since it may compromise the quality of work done.

Staging area

Plan early enough on where the materials for remodeling will be stored before they get into place. If you choose to store them in the garage, have a place where you’ll park your car. The reason for safe keeping of the materials is for protection from rains and robbery.

Curb appeal

During an extensive remodel in your home, your front yard may not be as it usually looks. There might be trucks in your driveway, debris and pallets of materials. You should, therefore, be keen with the materials that are outside your home during the remodel. Moreover, you need to inform your neighbors of the activity in your home prior to time.

Construction zone

Home renovations mean that your dwelling will turn into a construction zone. The people who will be working may be making loud noises as they come in and go. You should, therefore, consider how this may affect you. If you go to work during the day, it may not be an issue, but if you stay at home with kids, you may need some rest some time during the day. This will not be convenient for you due to the noise at home. You can plan early enough to go to a friend’s house and spend there the day.