The 7 Most-Needed Repair Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

by Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Relax. Here’s how to make short work of every common repair annoyance.

These are the 7 most-needed repair tips every homeowner should know.

1. Fix a Leaky Toilet

Is the sound of running water in your toilet driving you crazy? Chances are you need a new flapper. If that does not fix it, here is an instructional video of how to find where the leak is coming from.

Running toilets not only rob sleep, they waste water and jack up your bill. Here’s how to change a flapper — the usual suspect — and solve other likely problems.

Related: How to Fix a Sweaty Toilet

2. Repair Drywall Holes

This is video #1 of a 3-part series. The videos are: Part 1 of 3 = http://youtu.be/aiGjG4aPJiU?hd=1 Part 2 of 3 = http://youtu.be/n2dWPFzFHa4?hd=1 Part 3 of 3 = http://youtu.be/8qucabEnmng?hd=1 To Watch the World's Best Wall Patch Playlist = http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=4BC9D7DA3475B615 http://www.homeownerseries.com PUMPKIN PATCH Overview: A pumpkin patch, in most opinions, is the best patch that can be used when repairing drywall.

The hardest part of drywall repair is making the patch flush with the existing wall. A “pumpkin patch” is an easy repair that cuts down on sanding.

Related: Another Clever Way to Fix Drywall — with Makeup Sponges!

3. Adjust Cabinet Doors

Changes in humidity can make cabinet doors rub, refuse to close, or just look cockeyed. Adjusting them is easy and generally requires only a screwdriver.

4. Open a Stuck Window

http://www.howdini.com/howdini-video-6689409.html How to open a stuck window - How to fix a window jam When a window won't budge, a solution may only be as far away as the kitchen. Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas-Tenet, authors of the Dare to Repair series, show you how to free a stuck window.

Windows stick when paint, dust, or moisture builds. Use a utility knife (or a pizza cutter) to remove old paint. Be careful not to gouge the wood sash. If high humidity is making windows hard to move, run a humidifier that sucks moisture out of air.

Related: Save Money with Window Repair Tips

5. Stop a Leaking Faucet

Watch more Bathroom Repair videos: http://www.howcast.com/videos/112867-How-to-Fix-a-Leaky-Faucet There are many kinds of faucets, but chances are your leaky fixture is a compression faucet -- and it's a snap to fix. Step 1: Tighten the nut Remove the faucet handle by unscrewing the screw that attaches it, which is often covered by a decorative cap you'll need to carefully pry off.

A dripping faucet can waste 5 gallons of water per day. If you can’t replace the faulty part immediately, tie a string around the faucet and let it fall into the drain: Dripping water will silently flow down the string.

6. Silence Door Squeaks

Take the squeak out of doors by lubricating top and bottom hinges with a little WD-40 or white lithium grease. If you don’t have any on hand, olive oil is a quick but temporary fix.

7. Turn Off the Main Water Line

Turning off a main water supply requires finding the shutoff valve, which is typically in the garage area, and turning on a faucet to let any excess water come out after it's been turned off. Locate the main water shutoff valve in a home with advice from a home repair specialist and remodeling contractor in this free video on home improvement.

Don’t wait until water gushes into your house to search for the main water line. When things are calm and dry, locate and practice turning it on and off.

Topic Improve, Organize & Maintain, Home Maintenance Tips, Low Maintenance


Lisa Kaplan Gordon is an avid gardener, a member of the Fairfax County Master Gardeners Association, and a builder of luxury homes in McLean, Va. She’s been a Homes editor for Gannett News Service and has reviewed home improvement products for AOL.

The 15 best US states for first-time homebuyers

vermont.jpg

by Tanza Loudenback, Business Insider Mar. 1, 2017, 3:10 PM

Vermont comes in at #9

The narrative that millennials are eschewing all of the traditional habits of their parents is simply a myth, particularly when it comes to homebuying.

In fact, 65% of millennials still consider buying a home part of the American Dream, more than any other generation.`

But burdensome student loan debt, high rent prices, and low wages are affecting their ability to save up for a down payment, contributing to the lowest homeownership rate in the US in decades.

Still, these factors vary across cities and states, and there are some places where it's more attainable for first-time buyers to enter the market.

New data from Bankrate discovered how first-time homebuyers fare in all 50 US states considering five factors:

  • Housing affordability: percentage of median household income for 25- to 44-year-olds that goes toward mortgage payments (using the median sale price)
  • Entry-level job market: five-year average unemployment rate for 25- to 34-year-olds
  • Market tightness: growth in housing stock from 2010 to 2015 and the percentage of homes for sale
  • Credit availability: percentage of home loans rejected by credit lenders
  • Millennial homeownership rate: percentage of homeowners under 35

Bankrate weighted each category equally to determine its ranking. States in the Midwest and the non-coastal West proved to be the most accommodating to first-time homebuyers, while California, New York, and Hawaii are the toughest states.

Click here to check out the 15 states where it's easiest to become a homeowner.
Click here to jump right to Vermont.

The metrics included below were all used to calculate Bankrate's ranking, with the exception of median home value, which was sourced independently from Zillow.

Vail Resorts announced today that it will acquire Stowe Mountain Resort

VT Ski+Ride

Vail Buys Stowe!

For weeks, the signs have been there: fleet cars with Colorado plates cruising the Mountain Road, helicopters hovering over Spruce Peak, rumors of Vail Resort’s senior management locked in closed door sessions with the head honchos from Stowe Mountain Resort and AIG.

Today, at 8:00 am Vail Resorts announced it had entered an agreement to acquire Stowe Mountain Resort from Mt. Mansfield Company, Inc. (MMC), a wholly owned subsidiary of American International Group, Inc. (AIG), for a purchase price of $50 million, subject to certain adjustments. Stowe Mountain Resort will be Vail Resorts’ first mountain resort on the East Coast and complements the Company’s network of 10 world-class mountain resorts and three urban ski areas.

Over the past few weeks, stock prices for Vail continued to soar, rising to 180 as of close on Friday from 168 on January 24 when   VT Ski + Ride first broke the rumors of a potential sale (see 8 Reasons Why Vail Would Buy Stowe) Of particular interest were two SEC filings made last week, Amended Statements of Beneficial Ownership that must be made when a person or organization owns more than 5%. The first was by the Vanguard Group. The second was by Abigail Johnson, who owns a home at Stowe’s Spruce Peak development and also happens to be the CEO of Fidelity Investments.

Read the complete story at VT Ski+Ride

Burlington's Seven Days

Vail to Purchase Stowe Mountain Resort for $50 Million

The rumor mill was right.

Vail Resorts is buying Vermont's most iconic ski area, Stowe, the two sidesannounced Tuesday.

The Colorado-based company will pay $50 million for the ski area on Mt. Mansfield that began as a Depression-era trail cutting project and became known as a luxury winter resort.

“We’re thrilled to add Stowe Mountain Resort to our family of world-class mountain resorts. With the investments in both mountain infrastructure and base area facilities that AIG has made over the years, Stowe Mountain Resort has become the premier, high-end resort for East Coast skiers and snowboarders," said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. "We look forward to working with AIG to continue enhancing the guest experience and to ensure the resort’s long-term success.”

Read the complete story in the Seven Days

8 High-Tech Features to Include in Your Next Remodel

By Jonathan Deesing at RISMedia's housecall
Posted on Feb 7 2017 - 10:42am by housecall

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You’ve torn out the old carpet and replaced the kitchen cabinets, and your renovation is almost complete. Before you put everything back together, consider including some high-tech features on your list of remodeling must-haves. Adding a few new smart devices is a cinch when you’re in the process of remodeling—why not make a little room in the budget for something that can make your life easier and help cut down on expenses overall?

Here are eight of the coolest smart devices to include in your home remodel:

  1. Nest Cam
    With its wide range of consumer-friendly smart products, Nest has made a big name for itself in the smart home industry—and this powerful little camera is one of the main reasons why. The Nest Cam records in crystal-clear 1080p resolution and streams 24/7, so you’ll never miss a thing. The Nest Cam Indoor also comes equipped with a speaker and a mic and will alert you if you’re not at home and it detects motion or conspicuous noises.
     
  2. Philips Hue
    Philips Hue LED lightbulbs are smart and energy-efficient, allowing you to control the lighting in your home while cutting energy costs. There are 16 million colors and a variety of smart controls to choose from, making your lighting system as subtle or dramatic as you’d like. Sync your lights with movies or music, set the ambience for concentration, or create a gentle morning lighting routine. With the Philips Hue Bridge, you can link up to 50 lights and other accessories, making a completely customizable lighting experience.
     
  3. Vivint Doorbell Camera
    Vivint’s sleek Doorbell Camera lets you see who’s at your door no matter where you are. With a 180-degree look at your porch and night-vision capabilities, you always have a clear view. The Vivint Sky app will send you a notification whenever someone rings the bell and allows you to turn the camera on and off and adjust your doorbell chime. You can also lock and unlock the door remotely, and speak to friends and strangers through the doorbell.
     
  4. Chamberlain MyQ Garage Door Opener
    The Chamberlain garage door opener connects to your home’s Wi-Fi network and allows you to open and close your garage door from anywhere. Chamberlain says it’s compatible with any garage door opener made after 1993: the only requirement is that it must include safety sensors at the bottom of the track. And prepare yourself—CNET called it a “smart-home gateway drug.”
     
  5. August Smart Lock
    August’s Smart Lock replaces the interior side of your deadbolt (so it doesn’t throw off the look from the outside), granting you the ability to lock and unlock your door with your smartphone. The Smart Lock doesn’t stop there, though. You can create virtual keys for your family and friends, granting them access as well. The August Home app will even auto-lock the door behind you and unlock the door for you as you approach—you don’t have to do a thing.
     
  6. Nest Learning Thermostat
    Nest’s Learning Thermostat learns your patterns as you use it—within a week it will adapt to your preferred temperatures and set itself to match your preferences. If you like your home cooler at night and warmer in the morning, for example, the Learning Thermostat will automatically adjust the temperature for you. It will also adjust to an energy-saving mode when you're not home. The company says it can pay for itself in energy savings after just two years.
     
  7. Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator
    This Energy Star-rated refrigerator does things you never knew you wanted your fridge to do. For starters, every time you close the door, three cameras take pictures of the contents inside. You can then check what’s in your fridge from your phone, so you never have to wonder what you need from the store. If you’d rather not go to the store yourself, you can place an online order using Groceries by Mastercard, one of many included apps accessible right from the touchscreen on the door. You can also sync and display calendars and photos on the screen, leave notes, stream music—even watch TV.
     
  8. Amazon Echo

    The Amazon Echo is a 360-degree Bluetooth speaker featuring Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated assistant. Alexa can stream music, tell you the weather, answer your questions, get traffic updates and sports scores—all the stuff you expect a voice assistant to do. The main reason it’s on this list, though, is that it can connect to a number of smart devices from other manufacturers, allowing you to control your lights, locks and thermostat with your voice.

    These eight gadgets can add some serious value to your life and home. If you’re already remodeling, now’s the perfect time to try a few out and get a little taste of the future.

It's All About Texture: These 10 Materials Will Set Your Kitchen Apart

by Nancy Mitchell , Jan 26, 2017
Apartment Therapy

What direction will the design of the kitchen take in 2017? That's a question we've been asking ourselves for the past few weeks, and today we're taking a look specifically at materials — all the separate parts, from cabinets to countertops to floors, that come together to make up your space.

A general trend we've been seeing in kitchen design is a movement away from pure, stark modernism and towards a more layered look that mixes traditional and modern elements. Included on this list are lots of materials with a textured, variegated appearance — lovely, tactile elements that will give any kitchen a bit of warmth and history.

Cabinets

Wood

Not those heavily varnished dark cherry cabinets you remember from the early 2000s, but cabinets that celebrate the grain and texture of wood. If you're not sure about doing your whole kitchen in this style, mix it with white uppers, or use wood cabinets only for an island.

Shaker style

Shaker-style cabinets (especially painted in greys or dark colors, like navy or hunter green) add instant sophistication to a kitchen. They're a great fit for more traditional or country-style kitchens, but also a nice way to add detail to a modern space as well.


Naked Kitchens ☆ (Image credit: Naked Kitchens)

Naked Kitchens ☆ (Image credit: Naked Kitchens)

  • Countertops
    • Soapstone
    • Butcherblock
    • Marble
  • Floors
    • Terracotta
    • Cement Tile
    • Worn Wood
  • Backsplashes
    • Zellige Tiles
    • Cement Tile
    • Brass

 

5 Home Design Needs for Boomers

Daily Real Estate News | Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The number of home buyers ages 55 and older is expected to grow over the next decade, and builders across the country are ramping up to serve them. At the International Builders' Show in Orlando, Fla., this week, the National Association of Home Builders is educating attendees about how to support the industry's efforts to cater to this segment of the market.

In one session, Deryl Patterson, president of Housing Design Matters in Jacksonville, Fla., offered ideas of how to design, remodel, and market spaces so that they'll be more appealing to older home buyers. She says one important element is to avoid treating baby boomer clients as if they've suddenly developed a whole new set of living preferences. Patterson told attendees it makes more sense to think of boomers as "mature" in the sense that they are experienced buyers who know what they want. She described their mindset about their home purchase as: "I'm going to do it right this time, finally."

Here are some home features you can be on the lookout for:

  1. Rethink the laundry room. After the kids move out, many home owners spend less time in the laundry room, but that doesn’t mean they want to ditch it entirely. As the house becomes less chore-centric, Patterson says, home owners are more prone to focus on fun. Try carving out a space for crafts or pet care if a huge laundry room feels like a waste of space to buyers.
  2. Boost the light. Patterson noted that as people age, the lens of the eye thickens and lets in less light. This means a 60-year-old needs six times as much light as a 20-year-old. Look for inexpensive ways to add light in unexpected places, such as inside drawers and cabinets.
  3. Be subtle about accessible features. Everyone wants to be able to age in place, but few want to think of a time when they’ll be physically limited. Thankfully, many features that make a home more navigable and safer for those with mobility issues aren't very obvious, such as even, level surfaces that make it easier for those using wheelchairs, canes, or walkers. Patterson also noted that many bathroom product manufacturers are now making grab bars that look more like shelves and towel racks than institutional-style safety features.
  4. Point out low-maintenance features. Patterson said one of the first things that comes to mind when people are looking for a low-maintenance home is the size of the lawn, but she noted that there's much more to taking care of a home than that. "I want you to think beyond yard maintenance," she told attendees. She noted that stain-resistant quartz countertops and roofs that don't have nooks where leaves can collect can be important qualities of a listing.
  5. Examine where the stairs lead. Steps can be problematic for those with mobility issues, but they aren't an automatic no-no for communities targeted at older buyers. It just depends on what's at the top of the staircase. A bunk room for the grandkids or an exercise room is a much better use for second- and third-floor space than a master bedroom or another place the primary resident might have to visit frequently. Also, landings and railings are both safety musts, Patterson says. "Stairs are the number one reason people go to the emergency room, and not just those over 55."

—Meg White, REALTOR® Magazine

3 Brilliant Hacks to Make Snow Shoveling Less Miserable

Don’t break your back shoveling snow. Try these tips to make winter less of a burden.

Image: Kellie Hatcher/Offset

Image: Kellie Hatcher/Offset

If you’re a homeowner in a snowy climate, chances are good you rue the winter: All that snow has to go somewhere, and it’s not getting there itself. 

Cue the snow shovel.

Barring a move to a snow-free state or barricading your family inside all winter, there’s no way to avoid the endless task of shoveling snow. There are, however, ways to make the process much easier. Here are three simple hacks to make the morning after a snowfall much less stressful.

1. Spray Your Shovel with Cooking Oil

Snow sticking to your shovel makes an already arduous task even more obnoxious. Avoid it with this hack: Lightly coat your shovel with non-stick cooking oil to make snow slide right off. No more time wasted removing snow from your snow remover. (You can substitute a spray lubricant like WD-40, but the downside is it’s toxic.)

2. Lay Out a Tarp Before the Snow

If you like short cuts, this technique, billed as “the laziest way imaginable” to clear snow, according to a tutorial from “Instructables,” has got your name on it. The day before an expected snowfall, lay a tarp on your walkway. When the snow finishes falling, just pull out the tarp, and voilà: an instantly cleared walkway. (Word to the wise: Make sure pedestrians won’t trip on your tarp; include a sign or use this technique in your backyard walkway if you’re concerned.)

The technique requires a tarp, firewood, and twine as well as some prep work. Pre-storm, use firewood to weigh down your tarp — you don’t want it flying away in the wind! — and tie the twine to both the tarp and to a shovel standing upright in your yard. You’ll use the shovel to pull out the snow-laden tarp.

Although this method might be faster than shoveling, it does require manpower. After all, a cubic foot of snow can weigh between 7 and 20 pounds. So don’t get too ambitious with the size of your tarp or you might not be able to pull it once it’s full of snow.

3. Make a Homemade De-icing Cocktail

De-icers make snow removal easier by cutting through the tough, icy layers that are a pain to remove with a shovel. But an easy solution should be easy on your property as well. Many commercial de-icers are pretty harsh.

Commercial ice-melting substances — magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium chloride, and sodium chloride (salt) — all cause damage to the environment, according to the University of Maryland’s Home and Garden Information Center. They can also damage concrete sidewalks and driveways, which mean hefty repair costs later.

A better solution: Make your own de-icer using rubbing alcohol or vinegar. You’ll save money, too. Commercial melters typically cost $8 or more. Plus, you’ll avoid the hassle of trekking to the hardware store to stock up.

Use vinegar before a storm to make ice and snow removal easier:

  • Combine 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water.
  • Spray or pour gently (you still want to avoid runoff into your landscape) before a storm.

To keep the sidewalks and steps from icing after a storm:

  • Combine 2 parts rubbing alcohol with 1 part water.
  • Apply to minimize runoff.

Jamie Wiebe
is a writer and editor with a focus on home improvement and design. Previously, she worked as a web editor for “House Beautiful,” “ELLE Decor,” and “Veranda.”

Read this article at houselogic

For Sale: A Very Private and Convenient Stowe Location

December 10, 2016: This home is now under contract after only 13 days on the market! ☆ Can I help you find yours?

My newest listing went live yesterday. See the photos here:

See the details here.

Can I help you find yours? Call (802-730-4343) or write.

Havana 802 Brings Cuban Food to Hardwick

When Monica and John Montero moved from Miami to Vermont last year, they brought Cuban home cooking with them. Earlier this month, they began sharing it with their adopted community when they opened Havana 802 at 41 South Main Street in Hardwick.

The opening menu offers about 70 dishes, ranging from tamales and empanadas ($4-6) to sandwiches, soups and entrées ($11-15). The last category includes ropa vieja (a tomato-beef stew) and churrasco (grilled skirt steak) with chimichurri. Once a liquor license goes through, Havana 802 will serve wine and beer, too.

Monica, born to a Cuban American family in Little Havana, does most of the cooking. Her saucy grilled and stewed meats, beans and rice, and plantains (crispy or ripe) are grounded in traditional Cuban cookery, which has a mild spice-ometer compared with other Latin American and island cuisines. John, who moved from Cuba to Florida at age 4, handles business and front-of-house operations.

In recent years, Havana 802's storefront has housed three relatively short-lived restaurants: Vermont Supper Club, Claire's Restaurant and Bar, and A Vermont Place. The Monteros hope to halt the revolving door by offering unique and approachable food at an affordable price point. "Cuban food is not an expensive food," John told Seven Days just after opening in early October. "Why should we charge more than we need to?"

Havana 802
41 S. Main St.
Hardwick
802-472-6000
www.facebook.com…

The Monteros say they hope to add live Latin music on weekend nights and perhaps brunch later this fall or winter. For now, the restaurant is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday.

Read the complete article at SevenDays

The original print version of this article was headlined "Cuban in the Kingdom"

Here’s How to Keep Your Heating Bill From Being a Million Dollars This Winter

More insulation, more savings

PureWow — October 25, 2016

When the cold-weather chill hits, there’s nothing quite like coming home to a toasty house. But, ugh, your heating bills last winter were too damn high. Here, seven precautions to take now to help offset the cost of keeping your thermostat up.

  1. Open the Curtains

    • On a sunny day, pulling back the blinds on any south-facing windows is the most natural (and cheap) way to heat your home. Just be sure to close them again at night to limit the cold-window chill.

  2. Invest in Energy Efficient Window Treatments

    • For example, roman shades versus venetian blinds. It’s all about curtain density so interior heat—that you’re shelling out big bucks for—doesn’t escape.

  3. Add Weather Stripping Around Drafty Doors

    • For a grand total of $4, you can tape up any spots where you detect an air leak. (In most cases, you’ll be able to feel a cool breeze coming in with your hand. Or you can jiggle the doorframe—if it’s loose, you’re at risk of drafts.)

  4. ...And Seal Off Cold-Weather Leaks With Plastic

    • Another cheap repair—it’s just $5 for a window insulation kit. All you have to hang the sheets over the frame indoors.

  5. Lower Your Thermostat—Especially While You Sleep

    • Dropping it as little as five to 10 degrees (say from 73 to 63 at night) can lower your annual energy bill by as much as 10 percent. To make up the difference, just throw on an extra blanket or invest in sheets with a higher thread count for winter snoozing. (The higher the thread count, the greater the warmth.)

  6. Check Your Chimney

    • When you’re not using your fireplace, an open damper can make the difference between a living room that’s warm and one that’s frigid. (We repeat: When your fireplace is in use, the damper should always be open to let smoke escape.)

  7. Schedule a Check-Up for Your Heating System

    • The cost of an HVAC technician making a house call can run you anywhere from $40 to $250. But depending on the age of your furnace, a check-up to make sure everything is tip-top condition could be worth it if it shaves dollars off your monthly bill. Just be sure you get an estimate before any repair work begins.

Read the complete PureWow article with photos and links here.

Now Open: Inside the von Trapp Bierhall

This post is more than a tad after-the-fact, but if you didn't know, and haven't yet been to the Bierhall, read on:

Seven Days Bite Club

Posted By Hannah Palmer Egan on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 5:42 PM

Ten years ago, the Trapp Family Lodge was a stodgy resort for tourists seeking an Alpine escape. In 2010, the family started brewing lager on the premises; by 2014, that operation had expanded its capacity from 2,000 to 50,000 barrels per year. And two years ago, executive vice president Sam von Trapp told Seven Days that workers had broken ground on a new Austrian-style bierhall, which would welcome mountain revelers for steins and sausages, hopefully by summer, 2015.

As with most construction projects, things didn't go according to plan. But after nearly two years of building and preparation, the bierhall opens tomorrow with an all-star team.

Jack Pickett — whose Phoenix Table and Bar, Frida’s Taqueria and Blue Moon Café fed locals for years — is leading the kitchen. Former Gracie’s Restaurant owner Paul “Archie” Archdeacon will run the front of the house. “It’s been really neat bringing two really popular Stowe restaurateurs together,” Sam von Trapp said,  speaking by phone on Tuesday. 

The menu offers exactly the kind of food one might expect from an Austrian beer hall in central Vermont. Snacks such as pretzels, cheddar-beer soup and savory dips whet a palate for sausages including bratwurst, knockwurst and bockwurst. These can be paired with potato salad, sauerkraut and an array of mustards. “We’re calling it a ‘relatively authentic Austrian bierhall menu,’” Pickett said, adding that he’s firing meats and fish on an Argentine wood grill. The menu also includes seasonal salads and fried vegetables along with burgers and sliders, which are pressed with grassfed or von Trapp farm-raised beef.

Read the rest of the story at SevenDaysVT.com

7 Mistakes That Cost Homeowners BIG Money During Cold Weather

Avoid winter’s nastiest tricks.

Wintry weather is great at turning up problems you didn’t even know you had. Like that first snowy night in front of your fireplace that you thought was pure bliss — until you noticed a leak in the ceiling corner, which apparently was caused by a lack of insulation. How were you supposed to know that?

Many homeowners don’t realize they’re making critical missteps that can cost a ton when winter sets in. Here are seven wintertime mistakes homeowners often make (and what they could cost you!):

1. Not Buying a $2 Protector for Your Outdoor Faucet

What It’ll Cost You: Up to $15,000 and a whole lot of grief

It’s amazing what a little frozen water can do damage-wise. An inch of water in your basement can cost up to $15,000 to pump out and dry out. And, yet, it’s so easy to prevent, especially with outdoor faucets, which are the most susceptible to freezing temps.

The simplest thing to do is to remove your garden hose from your outdoor faucet and drain it. Then add a faucet protector to keep cold air from getting into your pipes. They’re really cheap (some are under $2; the more expensive ones are still less than $10). “Get these now,” says Danny Lipford, home improvement expert and host of the “Today’s Homeowner” television and radio shows. “When the weatherman says we’ve got cold coming, they’ll sell out in minutes.”

While you’re at it, make sure any exposed pipes in an unheated basement or garage are insulated, too, or you’ll face the same pricey problem.

Wrap pipes with foam plumbing insulation — before the weather drops. It’s cheap, too, just like the faucet cover (only $1 for six feet of polyethylene insulation). And it’s an easy DIY project, as long as you can reach the pipes.


2. Instagramming Your Icicles Instead of Preventing Them

What It’ll Cost You: $500 — if you’re lucky; a lot more if you’re not

Those icicles make your home look so picturesque, you just gotta take a few pics. But you better make them quick. Those icicles can literally be a dam problem. (Yes, dam — not the curse word that sounds the same. )

Icicles are a clear sign that you’ve got an ice dam, which is exactly what it sounds like: a buildup of ice on your gutter or roof that prevents melting snow and ice from flowing through your gutters. That’s really bad news because these icy blocks can lead to expensive roofing repairs.

Depending on where you live, expect to pay at least $500 for each ice dam to be steamed off. Leave the ice and you risk long-term damage, which could ultimately cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to your roof, depending on what type of shingles you have and the size of the damaged area.

How to prevent them? Insulation. “Ice dams, icicles, and ice buildup on the gutters is a symptom of not enough insulation in the attic,” says Chris Johnson, owner of Navarre True Value and several other stores in the Twin Cities area.

And “you need to have at least 14 inches of insulation in your attic, no matter where you live,” says Lipford. If you live in a colder climate, you’ll need more.

If you don’t have the cash to insulate, heated gutter cables, which run between $50 and $150 each, can be a less expensive alternative when temporarily affixed to areas prone to ice damming, Johnson suggests.

3. Going Lazy on Your Gutters
What It’ll Cost You: You really don’t want to be in a position to find out

It can be so tempting to skip gutter cleanups as winter nears. It seems like as soon as you clear your gutters, they clog right back up again. So what’s the point?

Well, if it looks like you’re living inside a waterfall when it rains, water is missing your gutter system completely. It’s being directed to your foundation instead. And a water-damaged foundation is never, ever cheap to fix.

A contractor can plug foundation cracks for $1,500 to $3,000, says David Verbofsky, director of training for exterior home products manufacturer Ply Gem. But a worse problem, one that requires a foundation excavation or rebuild, can set you back (gulp) $30,000 or more.

Suddenly, cleaning your gutters a few times each fall doesn’t seem so bad. A pro can do the work for anywhere between $70 and $250, depending on the size of your gutter system.

4. Giving Cold Air a Chance to Sneak In

What It’ll Cost You: Nights where you never feel warm, despite sky-high heating bills

“If it were possible to take every crack on the outside of a typical home and drag them together, you’d have the equivalent of a three-by-three window open all the time,” says Lipford. Yikes.

Yet cracks can be easily and inexpensively sealed with a simple tube of caulk, and it’s available in hundreds of colors to match your window panes, outside siding, and even brick. Not sure where to caulk? Look for visible cracks around:


5. Not Getting Personal with Your Thermostat

What It’ll Cost You: Money you could spend on something else besides heating

We all know we should, but we seem to have some mental block when it comes to programming our thermostats to align with our schedules. It’s not that hard, and sometimes all it takes is buying a new one that suits you. (Like maybe a Wi-Fi one that’ll give you a little money-saving thrill each time you swipe your app.)

“From a cost-savings perspective, a programmable thermostat is a great investment,” Lipford says — as much as 10% off your energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Related: Get tips on choosing and programming a thermostat

6. Skipping Furnace Tune-Ups

What It’ll Cost You: A furnace that’ll die years before it should — and higher energy bills

“Forget to service your furnace and you could easily cut five years off the life of your system,” says Lipford, who added that five years is a full third of the typical unit’s life span. New units can cost around $4,000 installed, making the $125 annual maintenance charge a no-brainer.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to replace the furnace filter, which cleans the air in your home, and also keeps your furnace coils cleaner, which can shave up to 15% off your energy bill. Johnson suggests at least every three months, but possibly as often as monthly if you have allergies, pets, or smoke cigarettes at home.

7. Foregoing a Fireplace Inspection

What It’ll Cost You: Possibly your life — and your home

“A cozy fire is great, but if you don’t maintain your chimney, a fire can cost you thousands of dollars,” says Johnson, not to mention the risk to you and your family.

Schedule your maintenance appointment as early as you can. ”If you wait until the busy season, you’ll have a hard time getting them out there, you’ll pay more, and you’ll get a lower quality job,” says Lipford.


You can also read this article at Houselogic, by ALAINA TWEDDALE, a freelance writer who writes about money, home, and investing. Her work has appeared on Forbes.com, the Huffington Post, and Time.com. When she’s not writing, she’s working with her husband to slowly renovate what seems like every square inch of their home.

I'm a Mountain Biker

I've been mountain biking since shortly after moving to Vermont almost 14 years ago. I'd been biking almost my whole life -- as a very young paperboy, on a 3-speed bike, in a Pennsylvania borough many, many years ago. Then, in Los Angeles, as a Hollywood Citizen News paperboy in both Junior and Senior High School, on my first 10-speed 'road bike.' I didn't realize until years later that I was then the in the best shape I've ever been!

While I'd always had a bike, I started riding less and less as I transitioned from my bike to my first car at seventeen. It was a1966 VW Bug 1600 -- thanks to my paperboy earnings I'd saved all those years. Fast forward to our move to Vermont in 2003 that presented a number of opportunities to get out and about. Of course, there was the skiing -- practically in my back yard, and mountain biking, to which I was introduced by one of my new friends in Hyde Park.

I've been trying to ride at least 3 to 4 days each week, starting each year as soon as the Spring snows melt, and riding through Autumn, right up until the first serious snow of the season. I have a "riding buddy", a fellow Realtor -- we both live in Hyde Park, and often ride many of the trails that are within 5-minutes from my home. We also ride in Stowe, in a huge network of trails, where we're members of both the Stowe Mountain Bike Club, with its extensive network of trails, as well as those those belonging to and managed by Trapp Family Lodge. I also enjoy riding at Kingdom Trails in Burke, VT -- a phenomenal world-renowned mountain-biking destination! This summer It's been challenging to get out and on my bike as much as I'd like to -- apparently lacking the discipline to hit the trails no matter what!. 

For several years, I've been tracking my rides on my iPhone, on an app 'for that.' It's Strava, and it tracks my rides and those of many other local riders, providing all kinds of stats that help us compete against ourselves and each other. I recently discovered a series of videos on Strava's website, and found the first to be an inspiration. Here it is -- be inspired. Strive. Then watch the rest of Strava's videos here.

Being an athlete is simple. It doesn't matter how fast you are, how many races you win, or if you even race at all. All that really matters, all you have to do, is just be... be on the road be on the trail be relentless be daring be a teammate be happy be proud be yourself.