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

 

 

 

This is video #1 of a 3-part series. PATCH Overview: A pumpkin patch, in most opinions, is the best patch that can be used when repairing drywall.

2. Repair Drywall Holes

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.

 

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.

 

4. Open 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

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.

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.

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.

Brain Drain: 5 Low-Maintenance Features Millennial Buyers Will Love

RISMedia's Housecall

Posted on Mar 7 2016 - 4:24 pm by Suzanne De Vita

The low-maintenance movement has taken hold across generations of homeowners. For millennials—the leading segment of homebuyers—the lower, the better. So summarized by Jill Waage, editorial director of home content for Better Homes and Gardens:

“They want to use their brains for other things, not for remembering whether they adjusted the heat or closed the garage door.”

Smart home automation has answered that call (admittedly with a few questionable products), all but guaranteeing low-maintenance living. Still, there are other, lesser-known low-maintenance features millennials may want to consider when hunting for the home of their dreams.

A brick home, for instance, doesn’t demand the maintenance required for wood or vinyl siding. It won’t rot, and its color won’t fade, sparing the homeowner the expense to repaint the exterior.

“Brick itself is a relatively low-maintenance building material, thanks to its durability and color retention,” explains Jason Hargraves of Angie’s List.

Similarly low-maintenance is metal roofing, which, according to Paul Kazlov of Global Home Improvement, is “one of the most durable roofing materials available on the market.” Properly installed metal roofs don’t absorb water, reducing risk of damage from the elements and lessening the potential for costly repairs.

Inside the home, low- or no-maintenance features are practical in high-traffic areas like the kitchen. Among the “least fussy finishes,” coins Consumer Reports’ Daniel DiClerico, are black stainless steel and quartz.

“Stainless steel has dominated appliances for decades. The only knock against the material is that it can be prone to smudges and fingerprints,” DiClerico says. “That’s creating a lot of interest in black stainless steel.”

Thanks to its matte surface, black stainless steel resists smudges, significantly cutting down cleaning efforts. And quartz, which is non-porous and stain- and scratch-resistant, doesn’t require deep cleaning, either—or sealing, like other countertop materials do.

Wall paint can also be low-maintenance, given the right finish in the right room. Satin paint is a cinch to clean, and can be especially practical in the kitchen or bathrooms; semi-gloss paint is ideal for baseboards and moldings.

“No matter what paint you go with, our experts agree: steer clear of the cheapest choices,” says Stacy Giordullo, also of Angie’s List.

The common denominator among all of these features, of course, is the low-maintenance factor—but they’ll also serve millennials well come resale. Now that’s a no-brainer!

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online associate editor. She reserves her brain space
for all 151 pages of the script of "Titanic."

Read this article at blog.rismedia.com

Too Much Love Can be a Bad Thing

19 Ways You're Killing Your Home with Kindness

Kick these deceptive "home improvement" habits STAT

 

Home owners can overdo it when it comes to the upkeep of their home. This Old House recently spotlighted several ways that home owners’ enthusiasm for home ownership may actually harm the house.

1. Having light bulbs that are too bright. You want a well-lit home, but exceeding a lamp or light fixture’s recommended wattage can be dangerous, particularly with incandescents or halogen lights, says John Drengenberg, consumer safety director for Underwriters Laboratories. "Using a bulb with too-high wattage will cause the fixture and its wiring to overheat," he notes, which could then allow the heat to travel to the wall or erode the insulation on the wires and lead to a house fire. Check the fixtures label to make sure you use the correct wattage.

2. Planting trees near driveways or walkways. A line of trees to the house may up its curb appeal but adding young trees near driveways or walkways could be putting your slab at risk. As these trees grow taller, their roots will go outward, potentially pushing up the paving and causing it to buckle or crack. This Old House recommends planting small trees that will remain under 20 feet at maturity and that are at least 10 feet from paved areas. For larger trees, leave at least a 20-foot radius.

3. Overscrubbing a sink. Don’t overdo it with abrasive cleaners; they can scratch the sink. "Cleaners with a grit or grain to them will wear away at the finish and dull it," Kohler's Mike Marbuch told This Old House. "That will make the sink more prone to gunk sticking to it—actually making it look dirtier." Try a liquid cleanser like vinegar or lemon juice on the sink and avoid scrubbing it every day.

4. Overdoing it with can lights. Excessive recessed lighting in a home can cause a lot of air leaks. Recessed lighting is known as causing heat-sucking air leaks, especially when the fixtures are unsealed in vaulted ceilings. Airtight recessed lighting fixtures are available that are rated for insulation contact (IC). Also, use as few recessed lights as you can, especially when it comes to adding them to cathedral ceilings or in rooms directly below unconditioned attics.

5. Spreading too much mulch outside. “Over-mulching will suffocate plants, confuse their root systems, and prevent water from percolating into the soil,” notes the article at This Old House. “If you’ve mulched so much that tree trunks and flowers’ and shrubs’ lower branches are covered by or dragging in it, you’ve gone overboard.” Have mulch no thicker than 3 inches.

6. Using glass cleaner on mirrors. Watch out for store-bought sprays that promise to make your glass sparkle. “A drop of liquid running around the mirror’s edge can cause the reflective backing to lift or craze,” This Old House notes. The black edge can occur from using ammonia- or vinegar-based cleaners. This Old House recommends using warm water and a soft, lint-free cloth to clean mirrors. Or if you do use the sprays, spray it onto a dry cloth first and not directly onto the glass.

7. Repainting too much. “Excessive paint is detrimental – especially on an older house, which may have layers of thicker oil-based paint, which becomes brittle with age,” notes This Old House. To avoid thick, cracked, or peeling paint, be sure to carefully power-wash prior to painting, sand areas that need it, and then use 100 percent acrylic-resin exterior paint.

8. Fertilizing too much. Fertilizing too often can spur more weeds to grow. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency warns over-fertilizing can cause “nutrient pollution,” which is when nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from lawn fertilizers and then leads to an overgrowth of algae that can even pollute local waterways. Some lawn experts recommend only fertilizing twice a year, late summer and fall only.

View all 19 tips at This Old House.

5 Holiday Hosting Disasters and How to Avoid Them

 The day of a big holiday meal is a bad time to discover your oven isn't working. One common cause is blowing a fuse while self-cleaning your oven, so wait until after entertaining to use that feature. Image: © Cara Slifka/Stocksy United

The day of a big holiday meal is a bad time to discover your oven isn't working. One common cause is blowing a fuse while self-cleaning your oven, so wait until after entertaining to use that feature. Image: © Cara Slifka/Stocksy United

Imagine you’re preparing to host your annual holiday party, and you’re past the point of no return. The veggies and meats have been bought. Guests are already braving busy airports and crowded highways to get to your home — and then your oven won’t turn on. Your home-cooked meal has quickly turned into a microwave dinner.

That’s just one of many hosting nightmares that can end your holiday party before it even begins. Thankfully, some of the most damaging mishaps easily can be avoided. We collected five of the most prevalent issues and give you preventative tips to keep your holiday party on track.

Problem: The Oven Doesn’t Heat

For any holiday occasion, the oven is the most important appliance in your house. If it fails to work, the centerpiece of your meal could go from roasted beef, ham, duck, or Tofurky to Peking Duck from the local Chinese takeout joint.

How to avoid:

  • There are any number of reasons a stove can break, but one common cause of disaster is easy to prevent. Don’t self-clean your oven until AFTER the holidays. You risk blowing a fuse or a thermostat, and tracking down an oven technician around the holidays can be tough.

Problem: The Kitchen Sink Clogs

The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest of the year for plumbers. The prime cause of this clog-a-thon is the mistreatment of drains when cooking holiday feasts. We hope your Thanksgiving went well, and that you avoid clog-a-thons for the rest of the holidays.

How to avoid:

  • Fats and cooking oils can solidify in your pipes, so never dispose of them in your kitchen sink.
  • If you have a garbage disposal, make sure it’s running before anything goes in it, and never feed it any stringy, fibrous, or starchy foods like poultry skins or potato peels.
  • To fix, don’t rely on chemical drain-clearing products that can harm your pipes. Use a snake instead, available for $15 at your local hardware store. Best to keep one on hand.

Problem: The Heat Goes Out

As the party’s host, you’re supposed to hang guests’ coats — not apologize to them for having to keep them on. A lack of heat can stop a holiday party dead in its tracks.

How to avoid:

  • The key to avoiding freezing your party to a standstill is regular maintenance of your HVAC. Every 90 days, a new one-inch pleated furnace filter should be installed. If you haven’t done it in a while, now’s a good time to replace it.
  • Also inspect insulation on refrigerant lines that are leading into your house. Replace them if they’re missing or damaged.  

Problem: The Toilet Stops Up

Toilets have a way of clogging up at the worst times, such as during parties and when you have overnight guests. This is especially true if you have a low-flow toilet from the early 1990s.

How to avoid:

  • Don’t flush anything other than sewage and toilet paper down the toilet. And there’s nothing wrong with putting up a polite note to remind your guests to do the same.

Problem: The Fridge Doesn’t Cool

Without a properly functioning refrigerator, your meat could get contaminated, your dairy-based treats could go sour, and you may not be able to save your yummy leftovers. To avoid discovering a warm fridge after it’s too late, take these simple precautions.

How to avoid:

  • Get a thermometer for your refrigerator to make sure each shelf stays below 40 degrees and you can be aware of any temperature changes.
  • Also make sure the condenser coils located on the back of the unit or beneath it are free to breathe. Coils blocked from circulating air by cereal boxes atop the fridge, or dirtied by dust or pet hair can prevent a fridge from keeping cool.

December Maintenance Guide from Porch.com

Written by Anne Reagan
December 1, 2015

If the chill of December is making your home cold, you’ll want to make sure your winterizing tasks are being completed this month. This can include insulating the plumbing so that your pipes don’t freeze, sealing out drafts, and making sure your home is protected from the elements. Another great December focus is to prevent accidental fires by thoroughly cleaning out your dryer ducts, being smart about fireplace safety and keeping a fire extinguisher in your kitchen in the event of a grease fire. If you decorate your home for the holidays, remember to hang your lights safely and be cautious when climbing ladders, especially in wet or slippery conditions. Keeping your home safe and secure this month will ensure that you are able to enjoy the season!

Inside the home:

Outside the home:

Top image credit: FINNE Architects

Read this complete article by Anne Reagan, at Porch.com, and to see more maintenance tips.

Anne Reagan is the Editor-In-Chief, Porch.com With a background in furniture and antiques, Anne has spent the last several years writing about home improvement and interior design. An avid traveler, she loves to collect pieces that tell a story and in her off hours she can be found hunting for vintage furniture and textiles.

November Maintenance Guide from Porch.com

Keep preparing your home for winter with these tasks.

Written by Anne Reagan
November 1, 2015

November is full of autumnal celebrations, falling leaves and changing weather. For some regions, snow might already falling and winter wind storms threatening to knock out power. This is the right time of year to keep preparing your home for winter like purchasing snow supplies, testing your generator and keeping the gutters clear of leaves. Be sure to keep your home safe this fall by keeping up with your weekend projects and to-dos.

Inside the home

  • Call and schedule a plumber: The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day for plumbers due to garbage disposal issues, clogged drains, dishwasher problems and toilet troubles. Do yourself a favor and schedule a plumber to come in and fix issues prior to the busy holiday.
  • Clean dryer vents and duct system: Thoroughly blowing out the dryer duct system is important to help make your appliance function better as well as reduce the risk of dryer fires. The incidences of this type of fire increases in the winter months so get this task done this month.
  • Test smoke alarms: Thanksgiving turkey dinners and distraction from entertaining guests mean more accidental cooking fires. Add to this the assortment of unattended candles and fires in the fireplace and you have a recipe for danger. Stock up on fire extinguishers and check the batteries in your alarms.
  • Get winter storm ready: November wind storms can easily knock out power. Check and replace the batteries in your flashlights and place them in easy-to-find areas of the home and service your backup generator system. While you’re at it, stock up on extra water and canned goods just in case.
  • Call and schedule a heating service pro: Make sure your heating unit is in good working order and change the filters every 3 months.
  • Add appropriate leftovers to the compost bin: Big meal preparations can often lead to valuable compost material. Check our composting tips here.

Outside the home

  • Purchase snow removal equipment: This is a great month to stock up on de-icers, shovels and other snow and ice equipment. If you regularly use a snow blower, be sure you have it serviced before the snow falls.
  • Call and schedule a gutter cleaner: November brings downed leaves, needles and branches which can quickly clog your gutters and downspouts. Protect your roof and foundation by having clear gutter drains. And make sure you use common sense when climbing your ladder – hire a pro if you can’t do this yourself.
  • Stock up on firewood: If your home has a wood-burning fireplace, make sure you have plenty of seasoned wood. Seasoned wood is wood that has been dry for at least a year. Unseasoned wood can produce more smoke or creosote buildup within the chimney. See our video about how to build the best fire in just 60 seconds.
  • Keep lawn clear of leaves: Continue to rake leaves and remove heavy, fallen branches off of the lawn this month as wet leaves can suffocate the grass blades. Rake leaves and compost them or use them as mulch around shrubs and bushes in the yard.

Read this complete article by Anne Reagan, at Porch.com, and to see more maintenance tips.

Anne Reagan is the Editor-In-Chief, Porch.com With a background in furniture and antiques, Anne has spent the last several years writing about home improvement and interior design. An avid traveler, she loves to collect pieces that tell a story and in her off hours she can be found hunting for vintage furniture and textiles.

October Maintenance Guide from Porch.com

Take a look at some ideal projects to complete this month.

Written by Anne Reagan
October 1, 2015

October is a great month to check off your fall home maintenance tasks. As our regions transition into fall, you may have a lot of weekend projects you’re trying to get done before peak holiday season begins. In many regions, this is a great month to finish up outdoor projects before snow or inclement weather begins. Below are some other important tasks to consider this month. If you can’t get to them all, or are unable to do them yourself, be sure to look for a qualified professional on Porch!

Inside the home

  • Insulate exposed pipes that may freeze in the winter. Pay special attention to plumbing and pipes in the garage, crawlspace and basement.
  • Clean range hood filters, wash fan blades and housing. It’s a good habit to clean these several times a year and remove flammable grease.
  • Deep clean the oven. Start with a clean oven before the heavy baking season begins. Here are some great non-toxic cleaning recipes to clean your kitchen.
  • Deep clean the refrigerator and vacuum the condenser coils. It’s a healthy habit to regularly remove old food and clean the fridge, inside and out. Vacuum the condenser coils if you can reach them as this will make your appliance operate more efficiently. Read our cleaning tips here.
  • Test the sump pump. If your basement relies upon a sump pump during the wet seasons, be sure to test it on a regular basis.
  • Replace weatherstripping and caulking on doors and windows. A home can quickly lose heat in the winter through air leaks, resulting in a higher energy bill. Check exterior doors and windows to ensure they are properly sealed.
  • Clean air conditioning filters. Cleaning the filters can help extend the life of this machine. While you’re at it, be sure to cover up your air conditioning unit prior to the winter season.
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. This monthly task is very important for the safety of your family. Before the season of candles, decorations, fireplace usage and cooking, be sure your alarms are working and that you have the right type of fire extinguishers for your home.
  • Clean out the fireplace. If you have a wood burning fireplace, you should have a professional chimney sweep annually inspect and remove creosote inside the chimney. A professional can also inspect the outside of the chimney to make sure everything is in good working order.

Outside the home

  • Shut off and blow out your sprinkler system, drain garden hoses and winterize outdoor faucets. Before your nighttime temperatures dip into the below freezing levels, you’ll want to winterize your exterior irrigation systems. Have the sprinkler system blown out by a professional who know how to do this safely. Drain the water from garden hoses and install inexpensive bibs or covers to your exterior faucets.
  • Aerate the lawn and remove leaves. Lawns can absorb water, air and nutrients with the help of an aerating machine. These can be rented or you can have a landscaping company do this for you. Remember to rake leaves when they are dry and easy to pick up. Wet, soggy leaves can stifle your lawn and prohibit growth. Here are some ideas about what to do with all of your leaves.
  • Clean and store BBQ and outdoor furniture for the winter. Your summer equipment and furniture will look much nicer next spring if you take the time to clean them and store them properly over the winter. Clean the grill, consider placing wood furniture legs up on bricks, clean off outdoor fabrics, and store things out of direct rain.
  • Clean roof and remove moss, leaves and branches. At least once a year you’ll want to remove debris from the roof. Organic materials like leaves and branches can encourage mold and moss growth. This moss can eventually push up shingles and lead to damage to the roof system. Apply moss treatment if necessary. Never climb a wet or steep roof; consider hiring a pro to avoid a dangerous fall.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts, clear blockages. Check the exterior ground to ensure downspouts are draining properly and that ground isn’t flooding.
  • Install or check heat tapes if your roofing and gutter system requires it. Heat tapes can prevent dangerous icicles from forming in the winter and can even help prevent ice dams. Check with a professional about the right system for your roof and to ensure correct electrical connections.
  • Replace outdoor light bulbs if necessary. Nights are getting darker earlier, and if your walkway or stairs aren’t properly lit you could be in for a fall. Use the right type of bulb for outdoor use.
  • Cut back tree limbs and branches that contact your house or power lines. If you live in a region of fall or winter wind storms, or even ice storms, you’ll want to make sure that nearby branches or trees are safe from falling on your home. It’s always a good idea to consult an arborist to make sure the tree is healthy.

Read this complete article by Anne Reagan, at Porch.com, and to see more tips for October.

Anne Reagan is the Editor-In-Chief, Porch.com With a background in furniture and antiques, Anne has spent the last several years writing about home improvement and interior design. An avid traveler, she loves to collect pieces that tell a story and in her off hours she can be found hunting for vintage furniture and textiles.

August Maintenance Guide

The dog days of summer are perfect for enjoying the garden and getting organized for fall.

Written by Anne Reagan
July 31, 2015

August is a great month to enjoy the last part of summer. Days are hot, flowers are in bloom, and many people choose August as the perfect month to leave on one last summer holiday before the busy fall begins. If you enjoy working in the garden, you'll find that August is a great time of year to harvest fruits and vegetables, trim back foliage and tend the soil. Watering may be occupying much of your time. You'll want to read our tips about water conservation and ways to save water in the yard. If you have a swimming pool in your yard, or live near a body of water, be sure all of your guests know swimming safety basics. Sadly, children have a high rate of drowning or injuries related to swimming, and many of these incidents can be preventable.

Inside the home you might find it to be a good time to get organized before the fall. Cleaning out closets, donating unused items, and really cleaning under the bed can be a great way to get a handle on clutter. You might also want to make a "honey do" list of all the things around the home you haven't had time to do. Hanging pictures, fixing a dripping faucet, purchasing new water filters for the refrigerator...the list can sometime feel long. Take the time to find professionals in your area who can help you get these tasks done before the weather turns and days feel shorter. This is also a great time of year to book your winter-related professionals like chimney sweeps, attic insulation specialists, and tree trimmers. Put them on the calendar now, and you'll start the fall season feeling organized.

Read this complete article by Anne Reagan, at Porch.com, with all the links, and other exterior, interior,  and landscaping tasks you can do this month.

Anne Reagan is the Editor-In-Chief, Porch.com With a background in furniture and antiques, Anne has spent the last several years writing about home improvement and interior design. An avid traveler, she loves to collect pieces that tell a story and in her off hours she can be found hunting for vintage furniture and textiles.

July Maintenance Guide

Keep your weekend chores organized with this handy list.

The month of July can be a busy one for homeowners. Summer vacation, celebrations, a change in the family schedule and increased heat can create fun but active weekends. If you live in an area with increased summer storms or floods, you’ll want to make sure your home and family are prepped for emergencies. For example, you can dedicate one weekend to creating a whole-home inventory. To keep your summer home costs down, maintain your air conditioning units and practice smart water conservation in the yard. July can be a great month to tackle larger home improvement projects, especially on the exterior. Projects like roofing, siding, painting, patio, deck, and landscaping might require hiring a professional. Be sure to read our articles about how to make smart hiring decisions and how to budget for your project.

Best July weekend projects

  • practice water conservation by watering by hand and adding mulch.
  • service your air conditioning unit before technicians get too busy
  • check your exterior siding and repair, replace or repaint as necessary.
  • keep mosquitoes away by emptying stagnant pools of water
  • set up or build a compost area in your yard so you can use this “black gold” for fall planting
  • make organic fertilizer, plant fall annuals and sow fall vegetable seeds
  • organize your closets and donate winter clothes
  • pack a summer emergency car kit

Read this complete article by Anne Reagan, at Porch.com, which includes Grilling and BBQ safety tips and the Tip of the month: Sort and organize school work. And, what I think is a new feature, you can download Porch.com's July Maintenance Calendar, too


Anne Reagan is the Editor-In-Chief, Porch.com With a background in furniture and antiques, Anne has spent the last several years writing about home improvement and interior design. An avid traveler, she loves to collect pieces that tell a story and in her off hours she can be found hunting for vintage furniture and textiles.

June Maintenance Guide

Sorry, I'm late with this — now you've got half the time your thought you would!

Use these tips to get the most out of your home maintenance this month.

June is the month with the longest daylight hours in the Northern Hemisphere, so it’s the time of year when we feel we have more time to be outside and enjoy the weather. In some states, June brings summer storms and flooding, so it’s a good idea to invest time in preparing your home for this potential danger. June can be a great month to start entertaining outdoors and spending time in the yard. Below we’ve gathered some great projects to complete this month.

Read this complete article by Anne Reagan, at Porch.com


Anne Reagan is the Editor-In-Chief, Porch.com With a background in furniture and antiques, Anne has spent the last several years writing about home improvement and interior design. An avid traveler, she loves to collect pieces that tell a story and in her off hours she can be found hunting for vintage furniture and textiles.

The 7 Dirtiest Places in Your House

May 18, 2015 | This just in (yesterday) from PureWow

"Oh silverware drawer, we never saw it coming"

On a scale of one to tidy, PureWow gave themselves about a seven. They put used socks in the hamper. When they spill coffee grounds all over the floor, they generally sweep them up. But is there more they could be doing? Yes. Always.

PUreWow checked in with Donna Smallin Kuper--certified house cleaning technician (yes, that’s a job), author and all-around organizing super-person--for some tips on the places we’re probably missing.

Read on (at PureWow.com)… disinfectant in hand, to see the 7 dirtiest and grossest places in your house

May Maintenance Guide

Make the most of your free time by taking care of these home and landscaping tasks.

May is the perfect time of year to get your home ready for the summer months ahead. There are plenty of maintenance tasks outside the home to keep you busy over the weekends. Below we’ve organized your landscaping tasks by plant zone, which will better help you get your plant and garden tasks done this month. Inside the home this is a great month to do your regular monthly maintenance tasks that help make your appliances and fixtures work better. If summer storms are a regular occurrence in your region, take some time to get your home organized and prepared for sudden wind or rain storms.

Read this complete article by Anne Reagan, at Porch.com


Anne Reagan is the Editor-In-Chief, Porch.com With a background in furniture and antiques, Anne has spent the last several years writing about home improvement and interior design. An avid traveler, she loves to collect pieces that tell a story and in her off hours she can be found hunting for vintage furniture and textiles.