Care and Feeding of Your Home’s Roof

While the roof is one of the most important parts of your home, it’s also one of the most neglected. The average homeowner gives little thought to the condition or maintenance needs of their roof until it starts to leak, at which point it’s usually too late. With a little bit of care and planning, you can add years to the life of your roof. Even better, you can also improve both the look and overall condition of the rest of your home in the process.

Roof Safety First

Before you start any plans to take care of your roof, be sure that you know how to safely access the roof and work on it. Ensure that you have a ladder in good condition that you can secure in place, with a spotter there to keep an eye on you and hold the ladder stable. If possible, connect a rope or safety harness to a solid surface on the roof in case of accidental slips or falls. Wear slip-resistant shoes or work boots and walk carefully with each step to test for weak spots before putting your whole weight down. A fall from a roof can be very dangerous, so don’t skimp on the safety procedures when you’re leaving the ground.

Check It Out Annually

Don’t wait for there to be problems with your roof before you decide to do anything about it. At a bare minimum, you should inspect your roof once a year, ideally in the fall, before freezing temperatures set in. This lets you take care of any problems before ice, snow and other winter issues can make them worse. While this works as a minimum amount of attention, your roof will maintain its good condition longer if you also check it in the spring or early summer as well.

Clean the Debris

There is more on your roof than just a frisbee. The limbs, dirt and other debris can take a toll on your roof material over time. Wash the debris off your roof or climb up and remove it with a broom, being sure to follow good safety habits if you decide to go up yourself. If you’re unable to remove some of the debris safely, leave it and call a professional.

Look for Overhanging Branches

Trees near your home can provide good shade during the summer, but as winter sets in they can become a hazard. Limbs and branches that hang over your roof can not only drop seeds, leaves and pollen that can make a mess, but as temperatures drop and everything starts icing over those same limbs can gain a lot of weight. Trimming back the limbs or other hazards can go a long way toward preventing damage to your roof over the course of the winter.

Keep Your Gutters Clean

Most people clean their gutters to keep the water from falling over the side, but there are other reasons to keep them clean. If your gutters are clogged, all of that organic material holds moisture and keeps it right next to the edge of your roof. Over time, this can cause the wood in the roof edge to soften and rot. This can, in turn, lead to your gutters pulling free and possibly even part of your roof collapsing.

Look for Signs of Damage

Even quick visual inspections throughout the year can make a big difference in keeping your roof healthy. Areas that seem damp even when everything else looks dry, shingles or flashing that is visibly damaged or pulled up, mold growth on certain spots, damp spots in the attic and other signs of distress are all good ways of telling that there’s some problem with your roof that needs to be handled.

Calling in a Roofer

Even if you’re diligent when it comes to keeping your roof clean and looking for signs of damage, you may reach a point where you’ll need to bring in a roofer for repairs or a full roof replacement. If that sounds intimidating, don’t worry; HomeKeepr is here to help! Sign up for a free account today and we can help you locate the roofer that’s the best match for your home and your budget.
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Stay Safe & Warm; Prepare For Cold Temperatures & Save On Heat Cost

Stay Safe & Warm; Prepare For Cold Temperatures & Save On Heat Cost

Gas furnaces and oil burners are the largest source of energy consumption in homes. Typically utilities are the biggest monthly expense, coming in third after monthly mortgage/rent and groceries in regions with extreme temperature shifts. Last year's deep freeze created havoc across the country with families struggling to keep their homes warm. Don't let money go out the window. Minimize heat loss in your home.

Simplest & Most Cost Effective Ways To Reduce Heating Cost

When to adjust your thermostat to save you the most money?

You can easily save energy in the winter by setting the thermostat to 68°F while you're awake and setting it lower while you're asleep or away from home. By turning your thermostat back 6° to 10° for 8 hours, you can save 5% to 15% a year on your heating bill. (A savings of as much as 1%-4% for each degree for 8 hours or longer.) A typical house hold is not home during the day on week days. Lowering the temperature during the day can save you money. Night time is also the perfect time to lower your thermostat. As we sleep, our bodies naturally require less heat. Lowering the temperature in your home while you're asleep or when you are away from home can have a significant impact on your overall heating cost. Although thermostats can be adjusted manually, programmable thermostats will avoid any discomfort by returning temperatures to normal before you wake or return home.

Why is it important to do maintenance on your furnace or boiler at least once a year?

All furnaces or boilers efficiency is measured by annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). The Federal Trade Commission requires new furnaces or boilers to display their AFUE so consumers can compare heating efficiencies of various models. In simple terms, AFUE is the ratio heat output compared to energy consumed by the furnace or boiler. An AFUE of 90% means that 90% of the energy in the fuel becomes heat for the home and the other 10% escapes up the chimney and elsewhere. Over time, the efficiency and reliability can decrease if your heating system is not checked/maintained for proper operation.
  • Increases the health and safety of those living in your home; Insuring that gases are properly exhausted outside and NOT in your home. IMPORTANT NOTE: All homes should have an updated and active CO detector located on each floor.
  • Decrease the chance of a break down; The coldest months are when heating systems tend to break down. (when they are working the hardest) Most failures can be avoided with proper maintenance.
  • Increases the longevity of your system; According to Department of Energy, proper maintenance extends the life of your furnace or boiler and saves you money. The average furnace replacement can range from $3,000 – $10,000 depending on size of home, efficiency and location.

Keeps your energy cost down; According to Energy Star.gov, Keeping your heating system maintained keeps your equipment running at its optimum efficiency.

Quick Tips:

Open the curtains on your south-facing windows - Open windows during winter days to allow heat into your home. Close your window coverings when the sun goes down to keep the heat inside. Put on a winter sweater and warm socks - Keep throw blankets on your couch. Adjust the thermostat at night - Consider investing in a warm comforter for your bed and keeping your home/apartment cooler when you sleep. Keep your furnace clean and unblocked - Keeping your furnace and vents properly maintained will reduce energy consumption and help you save. Replace your furnace filter monthly, and replace it when it gets dirty. Get a humidifier to add moisture to the air - The air inside your home can become very dry. Moist air feels warmer and holds heat better, so a humidifier can help you feel comfortable when your thermostat is set at a lower temperature. Insulate all areas where heat might escape - Start with foam weather stripping for your doors and windows. Lower the thermostat - Lower the set point on your water heater. Use draft stoppers - Place a rolled up towel at the bottom of outside doorways to keep out cold air.
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18 cheap and easy D-I-Y home improvement projects

Teresa Mears
You bought a new home, and the list of projects that need to be done is larger than your bank account. Or, the home you bought years ago is looking a little dated, and you don’t have the money to hire someone to give it that much-needed face-lift. Many easy do-it-yourself projects that will greatly improve the look of your home can be completed by an amateur in only a weekend. Not sure how to do something? You can find detailed instructions online for nearly any project and probably a video showing step-by-step how it’s done.

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But, what looks like a simple project can often escalate into a more complicated one if things go wrong – and even professionals often find unpleasant surprises when they get into a job.
Start with simple projects and know your skill level. Many projects that appear easy at first glance, such as changing the towel bars in a bathroom, get more complicated if a piece of plaster gets ripped off the wall when the old towel bar is removed. Plumbing in particular often is harder than it looks.
Before getting your hands dirty, you should have a basic set of tools: hammer, tape measure, X-ACTO knife, utility knife, adjustable crescent wrench, joint and screwdrivers, both flat-head and Phillips. An electric screwdriver, for example, makes an enormous difference if you’re assembling furniture from Ikea or elsewhere. For projects that require expensive tools you’ll only need once, consider borrowing or renting what you need. Do the math on each tool. Are you going to use it once or once a year? If so, buying secondhand could be a good idea.

A number of decorating projects don’t even require you to pick up a hammer or screwdriver. You can freshen a bedroom with new bedding and a bathroom with new towels, rug and accessories. Adding lamps, changing lamp shades and experimenting with different kinds and wattage of light bulbs will also significantly change the look of a room. Hanging artwork and adding or changing window treatments makes a big difference, although you may have to use a hammer or other tools to make this happen.

One project that doesn’t require tools but can really have a big impact is decluttering and organizing. Projects that make better use of existing space are usually a good use of your time.

Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report tells you which home improvements deliver the best payoff when it comes to resale value. But before you think about the next owner, what about enjoying life in the home you have now? The good news is there are lots of small, less expensive projects that can help you get the most enjoyment value out of your home.
Homeowners often make two major mistakes when they redecorate, and one is remodeling for resale, rather than for themselves, says Spike Carlsen, a contributing editor at The Family Handyman magazine, which has lots of do-it-yourself projects on its website. And when homeowners do remodel, Carlsen says, “they remodel for guests. It’s great when they have 10 people in the house, but it’s not great for how they live.” Ideas are easy to track down, as decorating and remodeling projects are everywhere. The Internet has become practically a catalog of DIY remodeling and decorating ideas. Some of the more popular sites are PinterestHouzz and HGTV, plus décor blogs and sites abound. If you’re looking for step-by-step instructions, you can probably find a video on YouTube or elsewhere. Just type your project into a search engine, and you have everything you need. Houzz allows you to create vision boards for each room in your home and collect photos of rooms or products you like.

You may also find some useful apps, such as one that turns an iPhone into an instant level. You can also find apps that help you design or lay out a room.

Here are 18 cheap, easy do-it-yourself projects that will boost your home’s looks and value:

Paint. You can paint your entire house or you can paint just the trim, interior or exterior. Or, paint an accent wall inside. Can’t afford new kitchen cabinets? Paint the old ones. The key to painting is in the preparation work, including taping around windows and cutting in around the ceiling. Keep that in mind when budgeting the time a project will take. It’s important to use the right paint. If you put latex paint over oil paint, for example, it won’t stay long. Good brushes also make a big difference. Do some research on the proper type of brush before buying a new one – good brushes are expensive, so you want to choose wisely.

Change your kitchen or bathroom hardware. This is one of the easiest projects you can do to freshen your kitchen or bath. Before you start, make sure the new hardware will fit the existing holes, or the project will expand to include filling old holes and drilling new ones. To ensure the new pieces will be a snug fit, measure the distance between holes for pulls and bring an old knob to the home improvement store for comparison. Before you buy hardware at a store, check online. You may find a significantly better price.
Reorganize a closet. You can buy a closet-organizing system at a home improvement store and install it, or you can create your own system with shelving you buy or already have.

Boost your curb appeal. Paint your front door or go all the way and paint all the trim and the garage door as well. Add fresh house numbers and a new mailbox. If you want still more curb appeal, plant new flowers and shrubs. A fresh new doormat can go a long way, too.

Turn a closet into a de facto mudroom. Many homes come with hall closets, where homeowners hang coats. That doesn’t take care of the backpacks, shoes, sporting equipment and other items your family brings home and dumps at the entrance. Consider removing the closet doors and adding hooks and shelves to make a space that better suits your family’s needs.

Install updated lighting fixtures. Changing one chandelier for another of the same size is surprisingly easy, though some light fixture changes are best left to professionals. An even easier project: Replace all your outlet and switch covers with clean new ones.

Build a stone or brick path outside. In many cases, all you need are the stones and some sand. Look for stones on Craigslist to cut the cost of the materials.

Replace your shower head. You can quickly give a mundane bath a spa-like look with a rain shower head. Plus, you’ll cut your water usage with a more efficient model. You’ll need plumber’s tape to wrap the threads before you install the new head.

Add pullouts, shelves and other organizing tools inside your kitchen cabinets. Adding pullout drawers requires some skill and tools, but inserting wire shelves or a lazy Susan for spices takes no skill and significantly increases your storage capacity.
Wheel out the pressure washer. Power wash the exterior of your house, your driveway and walkways to remove mud, dirt, mold and other grimy buildup. You can rent a pressure washer at a hardware store.

Do small kitchen updates. Many steps short of a full kitchen renovation can still make a big difference. Consider painting old cabinets or adding new doors. Use the right brush for a smooth, finished look. You can also change or update your countertop.

Install new plumbing fixtures. New faucets can significantly modernize a kitchen or bath.

Refresh your bathroom. A new shower curtain, towels and rugs instantly freshen a bathroom. You can also take other steps short of a gut remodel, such as changing the vanity or refacing the bathtub.

Redo your entryway. “The easiest thing you can do that immediately changes the way you see your house is the front door,” Adler says. If you can’t replace your front door, you can paint it.
Improve your outdoor space. Options include adding a patio or deck or sprucing up the one you already have. Adding low-voltage lighting is another easy project, plus you can add landscaping. Change your window coverings, throw pillows and other accent pieces. These days, less is more when it comes to window coverings. If your larger furniture pieces are neutral colors, you can add splashes of a new color with pillows and other accents. Wallpaper an accent wall or inside a bookcase. You can also paint the accent wall. Get rid of excess furniture and clutter. We often think of projects that add storage space, and there are many creative ways to do that. But first take a hard look at what you’re planning to store and see if you really need it. Removing half the furniture from a room and clearing off surfaces can give the room a new, clean look at no cost.

For more home improvement articles:

Avoid DIY disasters Why your home renovation won’t look like the TV shows Home improvements that save on your heating bill Plan for needed home repairs How to pay for your home improvements

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Top Gifts for Homeowners This Holiday Season

Figuring out what to buy for friends and loved ones during the holidays isn’t always easy. While some people are easy to shop for, there are always a few people on your list who seem to already have everything they might want. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can get for around the home that they might never buy for themselves. Here are a few suggestions for things that they’ll not only appreciate, but actually USE.

Digital Assistants

Both Google Home and Amazon’s Echo smart speaker with Alexa are pretty common these days, and both platforms are adding new features frequently. Not only can you use one of these digital assistants to play music or find out the weather forecast, but you can also have them tell you jokes, cast video to smart TVs, look up recipes and even set timers or access your calendar. Companion apps for smartphones will even let your recipient take their assistant with them when they’re away from the house as well.

Smart Thermostats

Heating and cooling costs are a major expense. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of options out there for smart thermostats that adjust temperatures automatically to help keep costs low. These thermostats can not only make changes based on their programming, but some can even make adjustments on their own when they sense that no one is in the house. Connecting them to smartphone apps would even allow your recipient to control the temperature while away from home so that everything’s just perfect when they get back.

Home Automation Accessories

Digital assistants and smart thermostats aren’t the only home automation options out there. Smart lighting, smart locks, window sensors, leak sensors and even smart smoke detectors are all available to give your friends or loved-ones new ways to interact with their home. Best of all, most of these devices can be configured to work together to achieve effects like automatically turning on lights when the door is unlocked.

Alternative Appliances

The modern homeowner deserves so much more than an oven and a microwave can give them. Fortunately, there are a number of options out there that offer up new culinary options while also being extremely giftable. Instant Pot cookers, sous vide cookers and even air fryers offer new options for fixing meals that your gift recipient might never have considered. Many of them are programmable as well and can even be monitored or controlled remotely via dedicated apps.

High-Quality Streaming

More people are “cutting the cord” and moving away from traditional cable television than ever before. In addition to Netflix, consumers looking for quality digital content have options with Amazon, Hulu, Disney+, CBS All Access and more, and the forthcoming HBO Max streaming service will be here next year. This could be a great time to get your recipient ready for all of this content with a Roku or other streaming device capable of handling HD or 4K streams without buffering or losing picture quality in the process. Pair it with a sound bar or other sound solution to really take their entertainment experience up a notch.

Clearing the Air

There are a number of common pollutants that can foul the air we breathe. Help your recipient to breathe a sigh of relief by giving them an ionizing air filter or other air purifier to cut out a lot of these unwanted smells and irritants. This will help to keep the air breathable and odor free, and the units themselves are easy to clean so it won’t add a significant new chore to their routine.

Take It to the Next Level

If you really want to blow somebody away, don’t just get them a smart device or pieces for home automation… get a professional installer to come and set things up and walk them through how everything works. HomeKeepr can help you find a pro in your area who’ll be more than happy to help with the surprise. Sign up for your free account today to find your pro and plan the perfect holiday gift.
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49 Life Hacks You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

These life hacks will make your daily to-dos (plus a few random projects) so much easier!

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HH handy hints spaghetti noodle lighter candleFAMILY HANDYMAN

Pasta Lighter

We’re sure you’re stocking up on sweet smelling candles to make your home extra cozy for the colder months. But, if your candles are burning too low to reach the wick, there’s no reason to go without your favorite scent. Instead of burning your fingers, light a piece of uncooked spaghetti. It’ll reach into those deep candles and burn long enough to light the candles on grandpa’s birthday cake!  
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HH lemon juice remove highlighterFAMILY HANDYMAN

Remove Highlighter Stains

Ever wish you could remove highlighter marks from a book? Lemon juice fades highlighter enough to make it virtually undetectable. Cut a lemon in half and get some juice on a cotton swab. Run the swab over the highlighted text and watch the color fade. Lemon juice from a container also seems to do the trick. Though not quite as well on the pieces we tested, and the older the mark, the more stubborn it is to remove.
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HH Puppy PVC slow feeder dogFAMILY HANDYMAN

Puppy Slow Feeder

My puppy was eating his food too fast, resulting in him vomiting it back up. Instead of buying a slow-feed bowl, I drilled holes into a 12 in. length of 2 in. PVC pipe and capped the ends. I fill the tube with puppy food, and he has to roll it around to get the food to fall out of the holes. My puppy gets all the food he needs without the mess that comes from eating too fast. Be sure the holes are large enough for the food to come out! – Charlie May 4 / 49

HH Handy Hint color coded key nail polishFAMILY HANDYMAN

Identify Your Keys at a Glance

“It seems the older I get, the more keys I carry around. Between the car, house, shed and garage, I have a whole pocket full of keys. To make it easier to quickly find my most used keys, I paint both sides of the key head with brightly colored nail polish. I use a different color for each key. The nail polish is extremely durable and you’ll be surprised how much longer it lasts than spray paint.” —Joseph Grayson Check out these other.
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HH Pool noodle hose extenderFAMILY HANDYMAN

Pool Noodle Water Hose

If you need to fill up a bucket that won’t fit under your sink’s faucet, bust out a pool noodle. Set the bucket on the floor, slip the pool noodle over the faucet and run it down to the bucket.
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HH silica packets gardening seeds freshFAMILY HANDYMAN

Keep Seeds Fresh

If you don’t use up all of your seed packets, store them in an airtight container with silica packets to keep them fresh for next year. The silica packets prevent the seeds from germinating or getting moldy. Plus, check out these 10 seriously useful gardening tips every beginner needs to know. 7 / 49

HH Handy Hint fog free mirror car waxFAMILY HANDYMAN

Fog-Free Mirrors

Prevent your bathroom mirror from fogging up after a hot shower with car wax. Apply a small amount of car wax to the mirror, let it dry, then buff with a soft, dry cloth.
 
8 / 49

HH disinfect legos in dishwasherFAMILY HANDYMAN

Easy Way to Disinfect Legos

Children’s toys are a breeding ground for germs. A dishwasher makes quick work of disinfecting toys that are washable, like Legos. To quickly clean Legos:
  1. Drop the Legos in a laundry bag to keep them contained.
  2. Run your dishwasher as usual.
  3. But, remove the Legos before the drying cycle, letting them air dry completely on a towel.
This method also works well for other treasures like seashells, dish brushes, rags and sponges.  
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easy sticker removal HHFAMILY HANDYMAN

Renew Your Furniture in Minutes

My son plastered all of the furniture in his room with stickers from skate shops, arenas and gumball machines. Once he moved out, I wanted to use his furniture in the new guest room, without the stickers. I peeled off all the stickers using a putty knife in combination with hair dryer, to soften the adhesive. Some are harder to remove than others, but I had them all off in a couple hours. – Steve Winter  
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HH painters tape shelf hanging templateFAMILY HANDYMAN

Tape Template

Take the guesswork out of hanging picture frames, shelves and other items with “keyhole” hangers. To begin:
  1. Stick a piece of masking tape over the keyholes, and then trace over the keyholes with a pencil, making a template.
  2. Making sure it’s level, stick the template on the wall where you want the shelf.
  3. Drill your anchor holes or screws into the template and remove it.
 
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HH Handy hint ice cubes wrinkle remover dryerFAMILY HANDYMAN

Get Wrinkles Out of Your Laundry with Zero Effort

Ditch the time-consuming iron or handheld steamer to get wrinkles out of a shirt or slacks. Throw a few ice cubes or a wet washcloth in the dryer with your wrinkled clothes. As the ice melts and the water turns to steam, it will remove the wrinkles. This trick isn’t as effective with heavier clothing but is a miracle for lighter fabrics. The best part is that you don’t have to set the dryer for longer than 10 minutes for it to work.
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plant in a pot landscaping design seasonal mums HH Handy HintFAMILY HANDYMAN

Plant-in-a-Pot Landscaping Design

Ever wish you could reorganize your garden after seeing how the mature plants look? Here’s a clever way to do it. You’ll need a bunch of pots of the same size, so they’ll nest in each other. Put your plants in doubled pots, and then bury them at ground level. Whenever you want a change, lift out the top pot and put in a different one. This method is also really slick for bringing plants indoors over the winter. This method is great for quickly changing out seasonal plants, and allows for easy experimentation with color and placement of plants and flowers.  
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HH lint log fire starter

Dryer Lint Fire Starter

To properly build a fire, you need to have tinder (easy-lighting material), kindling (finger-size sticks) and fuel (logs). We all have a readily available supply of tinder: dryer lint! To make fire starters, I stuff empty toilet paper tubes with dryer lint. My dryer lint “logs” light quickly and easily burn long enough to light up the kindling. And I don’t have to resort to lighter fluid!
 
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HH zip-tie phone stand propped up

Zip-Tie Phone Stand

When referencing projects plans or a photo for inspiration while working on a DIY project, most of us use our phones to display images or instructional videos. The only problem with this method is that our phones don’t prop themselves up, making it difficult to see at the images while working. You can make a smartphone stand out of just about anything these days, but it doesn’t get much simpler than looping zip ties around your phone (1 on each side). All you have to do is tighten the zip ties until they are snug to the phone with the zip-tie heads facing down and near the edge of your phone. Now you can watch video instructions or look at project drawings without having to hold it in your hands the whole time.  

lip balm cash stash

Secret Cash Stash

“Sometimes I don’t want to carry my wallet around. At the beach, for example, when I have to leave my belongings unattended while I go for a swim. But I still need cash on hand for food, drinks, etc. So I turned an empty tube of lip balm into a secret cash stash. You could do the same with an empty stick of sunscreen, too. A long nail works great for digging out any remaining bits of lip balm, and a cotton swab wipes away any waxy residue. Not only is the tube small enough to fit in my pocket, but it’ll also fool any potential thieves. I mean, who would steal someone’s used lip balm?” — Jenny Stanley
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HH DIY hose drip watererFAMILY HANDYMAN

DIY Drip Waterer

Here’s an easy way to turn any hose into a drip-watering hose. Drill 1/8 in. holes every 2 in. and screw a cap the end. Weave the hose around your plants and turn on the spigot. You’ll have to do some testing to figure out the right setting. To make watering even easier, I added a programmable faucet timer to the hose. — Matt Boley  
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FH19MAY_594_08_030-1200 plywood sheet carrier HHFAMILY HANDYMAN

The Ultimate Extra Hand

Carrying a sheet of plywood by yourself is awkward and hard on your back. The best method I’ve found is to make a loop from an 18-ft. length of rope and wrap it around two corners. Now I can use the rope as a handle. – Ken Porter Now that you can carry plywood across your shop,
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double your resealable bags HHFAMILY HANDYMAN

How to Double Your Resealable Bags

This might be the coolest way to turn sandwich-size bags into snack-size bags! Here’s how to do it: Heat up an old butter knife with a lighter and slice the bag in half. The hot knife cauterizes the edges of the two new bags. The cauterized edges are as strong as the factory sealed edges! – Julia Trenton  
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Handy Hint HH flamingo blow up pool toy shop vac nozzleFAMILY HANDYMAN

No Air Pump? No Problem! Use a Shop Vacuum

If you don’t have an air compressor to inflate your air mattresses or pool toys, you can use your shop vacuum instead. Just pop the top off of a plastic squeeze bottle and fit the top to your vacuum’s hose. You may have to use duct tape. Once the top is secured to the hose, attach the hose to your vacuum’s exhaust port. It’ll blow up your inflatables in no time. To deflate, attach the hose to the vacuum port and suck the air out.  
 
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Picture Frame Bumpers 2 HH

Instant Picture Frame Bumpers

Stop wall frames from slipping out of place and scratching the wall paint by putting small dots of hot glue on the back corners of the frame. The hot glue not only prevents movement, but it also holds the picture away from the wall to prevent scratches and nicks.
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Painted Carpet HHFAMILY HANDYMAN

Clean Up Paint in Carpet

I used to think dropping a loaded paintbrush on the carpet meant replacing the carpet, until a former foreman told me this little tip. Pour some denatured alcohol onto a rag and scrub away the paint. Use a rag that is as close in color to the carpet, as the alcohol can transfer some of the rag’s color to the carpet. – Tom Gerdowsky  
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HH message board picture frameFAMILY HANDYMAN

Picture Frame Message Board

I’m all for dry-erase message boards, but they’re usually pretty unattractive. So I make message boards using nice picture frames. To make these message boards, grab a picture frame and some paper. Cut the paper to fit the frame and set it in behind the glass. The glass makes an excellent dry erase surface! — Jessie Dawson  
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HH easy mulch spreading handy hint bucketsFAMILY HANDYMAN

Easy Mulch Spreading

Getting mulch up close to flowers and bushes is easier if the mulch is in a small container. So I place buckets and pails in my wheelbarrow and fill them up with mulch. It doesn’t matter much if the mulch misses the bucket and lands in the wheelbarrow. Once you’re done dumping the buckets, dump what’s left in the wheelbarrow in an open area and spread it out. — Eric Swartz
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HH carpet padding to make plush rugFAMILY HANDYMAN

Make Any Rug Extra Comfortable

Want to make any rug feel extra plush and luxurious? Add a layer of carpet padding underneath your rug—it’s thicker and cheaper than a typical rug pad. The next time you wash that pile of dishes in the sink, your feet will thank you.  
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Lampshade Lint RollerFAMILY HANDYMAN

Lampshade Lint Roller

Fabric lampshades are magnets for dust and pet hair. You can’t just throw them in the washing machine, so what do you do? I’ve found that a lint roller works really well. Be careful though, as lampshades are fragile and can even become brittle. A torn lampshade is worse than a dirty one.
   
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adding pvc to table legs to make a taller table HH

Taller Table Hack

I have a typical 6-ft. folding table that I use to layout certain projects. But the height of the table is meant for someone sitting in a chair. Constantly bending over when using the table was starting to hurt my back, so I came up with a solution. I used a couple of 2-ft. lengths of 1-1/4-in. PVC pipe found at my local home center, and cut four 11-in. stilts for my table. I slipped the pipes onto the legs and it raised the table about 6 in., bringing my work surface to a more comfortable height! The bend in the table legs at about 5 in. from the ground holds the pipes securely in place, so my table is still as sturdy as ever. The stilts can be removed if I ever need to lower the height of the table to use it while sitting in a chair. — Gary Inlow
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HH ice remove gum stuck in carpetFAMILY HANDYMAN

Remove Gum from Carpet

When gum freezes, it gets brittle and easily breaks apart. So, if you have gum stuck in your carpet, freeze it to remove it quickly and neatly.
  1. Place a sandwich bag filled with ice cubes on top of the gum and wait about a half hour.
  2. When the gum is frozen, break it apart and pull it out of the carpet. No trace left behind.
 
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Wood plank HH Handy Hint Lawn edgingFAMILY HANDYMAN

Simple Lawn Edging

To edge your lawn, garden, or flowerbed, lay down a 2×6. While holding the board with your foot, drive a flat spade along the board’s edge. Move the board as needed to create a clean, straight line.  
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HH DIY wood filler sawdustFAMILY HANDYMAN

DIY Wood Filler

“To make a versatile wood filler for free, just grab a paper plate and combine Elmer’s or any other wood glue with sawdust. Like other wood fillers, you can stain or finish it, but the color will likely be a bit different than the surrounding wood. But, it’s sandable, paintable and long-lasting. I haven’t bought any wood filler in over 50 years.”  — Dan Gola  
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Quick Cold Drinks 2 HH

Quick Cold Drinks

Does wrapping a wet paper towel around a warm canned or bottled beverage and putting it in the freezer cool it faster than if there were no paper towel around it? Some folks theorize that the can is analogous to your body, and the wet paper towel is analogous to sweat. Since it’s well known that evaporation of sweat pulls heat away from your body, causing a cooling effect, the same should happen with a canned beverage in the freezer, right? There are lots of “expert” opinions about this online supporting both sides of the argument. I’ve had many opportunities to experiment, and to me, it seems to make a difference. Try it out for yourself! — Edward Kral.
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HH Handy Hint Sponges stay plants stay hydratedFAMILY HANDYMAN

Healthy Plant Hydration

Water settling at the bottom of pots can lead to root rot. To combat this problem, cut up old sponges and put them in the bottom of the pot. The sponges retain moisture and create necessary air space. They also help prevent water from flushing out the bottom. The sponge acts as a water reserve and keeps soil moist longer.  
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HH clean sneakers with a toothbrush and toothpaste whiteFAMILY HANDYMAN

Your Shoes Will Look New

All you need is an old toothbrush and a little toothpaste to get your old sneakers looking like new! Non-gel white toothpaste works great for cleaning white-soled sneakers (colored toothpaste may stain rather than clean sneakers). Apply toothpaste to an old toothbrush and then work the paste into the dirty spots. Leave the toothpaste on the shoes for about ten minutes, and then wipe it off with a damp towel. Repeat the process if necessary. Important: The ingredients in toothpaste may vary from brand to brand, so make sure to try this method on a small unnoticeable spot on your sneakers before applying it to the rest of the shoe.
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tractor rope HH

Lawn Mower Grass Chute Saver

To avoid a lot of string trimmer work, I like to mow as close as possible to trees and buildings. But the grass chute on my riding mower prevents it. So I drilled a hole in the chute and tied a rope from the chute to a handle on the side of the tractor. Now I can lift up the chute without missing a beat, and cut way down on string trimmer work. — Travis Larson
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HH durable sandpaper duct tape

How to Make Durable Sandpaper

“I do a lot of finish-sanding freehand, without a sandpaper block, so I can smooth edges and get into nooks and crannies. But the finer grits are usually bonded to thinner paper and, at least for me, the paper is too thin and ends up tearing long before the grit wears out. So I apply duct tape to the back of the sandpaper. The sandpaper is still flexible enough to sand a tight radius and it’s far more durable. You can use this super-strong sandpaper like a shoeshine rag.” — Chuck Merchant
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HH phone charger heat shrink tubing pen spring hack

Use This Simple Hack to Save Your Phone Charger

To make your otherwise fragile phone charger last for more than a couple of weeks, try out this simple hack! Start by removing the spring from a pen. Next, stretch one end of the spring out a bit so it can fit around the charger cable. You might need to use pliers for this. Now, wind the spring around the cable until it is completely on the charger cable. Next, take appropriately sized heat shrink tubing and slip it over the phone charger and spring. Use a lighter to warm the heat shrink tubing until it conforms around the charger and spring. This simple hack will keep the cord from breaking any further or from even breaking in the first place!
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HH blue painters tape dustpan broken glass

Effectively and Safely Sweep Up Glass

Everyone who has ever swept the floor with a standard broom and dustpan knows about that annoying line of dust. It’s the line that just won’t disappear no matter how many times you try and sweep it up. To get rid of this annoying line, simply tape the front of the dustpan to the floor with blue painters tape, so no residue will be left on the floor. It will seal and cover the gap between the floor and your pan. This handy hint also works great for sweeping up more menacing items like glass. The dustpan and tape combo will ensure that all of those little glass shards will be in the pan and not on the floor.  
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HH Ice Pack Frozen Sponge

Make Your Own Ice Pack

Ice packs are a great way to keep your lunch cool, but they’re a bit expensive if you’re in the habit of losing them. This DIY ice pack hack is reusable, so it is good for the environment as well. First, purchase an inexpensive pack of sponges or just find some old ones around the house. Grab a big bowl of water and let the sponges completely soak up as much water as they possibly can. After soaking the sponges, put each sponge in a small sandwich bag with a zip close. These bags serve two purposes. First, as the ice melts, the bag contains the water so it doesn’t make a mess in your lunch bag. Second, keeping the water contained allows the melted sponge to reabsorb the water so it is ready to refreeze for the next day. Now, freeze the wet and bagged sponges overnight. In the morning, all you need to do is toss the ice pack into your lunch container.  
 
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HH DIY car mat from carpet scrapsFAMILY HANDYMAN

DIY Car Mats

One simple way to keep your car clean is to cut scraps of old carpet to fit on the floor as mats.  We found our carpet scraps for less than $2 at Home Depot. And when the DIY carpet scraps inevitably get all dirty with mushy winter snow or summer sand, you could either give them a wash or toss them out and make more. A word of caution, do not put these DIY car mats on the driver’s side of the car unless grippers are attached on the bottom side to ensure that the mat does not slip forward while driving.
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ROUND_8 HH Wood dent iron steam wet cloth

Get Dents Out of Wood

Dents in wood surfaces can be annoying. But fret not, they can be fixed! Simply soak a washcloth in water and ring it out a bit so it’s not sopping wet. Put the damp washcloth on the affected area. The water will wick through the wood, and that’s fine. Now, with your iron on its highest setting, place it on the damp washcloth over the affected area, and make small movements back and forth and in circles. Press down firmly and continue until your washcloth is dry. It won’t take long to evaporate. At this point, the wood fibers are absorbing the water and should expand back to where they were originally. Continue this process and repeat by adding more water until the dents rise up to be flush with the rest of the material.  
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HH Staple Remover key ring

Staple Remover Hack

A staple remover has perfectly sized thin teeth that make them perfect to easily slide between the rings of a key ring. When you clamp them down, it spreads the key rings apart and makes it easy to slide a new key on. This saves you the hassle of trying to pry open the key ring with your nails.
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water bottle cap to support tension rod HH

Support a Tension Rod with Water Bottle Caps

“My wife sews kids clothes and uses a curtain tension rod to hang them in a closet. She explained to me one day that the pole was frequently slipping and falling down. So, I searched and found an object that could be screwed into the wall and would fit around the ends of the tension rod: water bottle caps. I used drywall screws to secure two water bottle caps into studs in the closet walls, and then I mounted the tension rod inside the bottle caps. The lip on each cap provides just enough support for the tension rod, so it doesn’t fall down anymore.” — Rodney Sheets
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coating snow shovel with car wax HHFAMILY HANDYMAN

Coat Your Snow Shovel with Car Wax

Shoveling snow can be frustrating enough, but when heavy snow sticks or freezes in clumps on the shovel, it can make the job even more difficult! You can avoid this issue by first coating your shovel with car wax before heading out to clear your driveway and walking paths. This tip works best with metal shovels: Follow the application instructions on the car wax package. Generally, car wax is applied in a thin layer using a damp cloth, allowed to dry, and then buffed off with a dry cloth. This leaves the shovel clean and lubricated, so the snow and ice won’t stick!
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HH Handy Hint Vacuum cleaner nylons find lost itemsFAMILY HANDYMAN

Find Your Lost Items

Everyone knows how annoying it is when you can’t seem to find a dropped pill or the back of an earring. So how do you find these items quickly and easily? Use your vacuum. Here’s the trick; before you turn the vacuum on, cut off the end of a nylon and secure it on the end of your vacuum hose with a rubber band.
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dry erase board permanent marker handy hint

Erase Permanent Marker on a Dry Erase Board

Who hasn’t accidentally written on a white board with a permanent marker? Luckily, it’s easier to remove than you think. Simply draw over your permanent marker artwork with a dry erase marker, and then wipe the marks away with an eraser or dry cloth. Your dry erase board will be good as new!
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penny to fix wobbly furniture HH

Fix Wobbly Furniture with a Penny

Need to shim a wobbly bench or table, but don’t have time to run to the home center for furniture feet? No worries, just reach for your pocket change! You can use a coin to shim wobbly furniture in a pinch. Use hot glue to attach the coin to the problem area, adding additional coins as needed. Coins work well as a temporary fix because they come in a variety of thicknesses and cost less than a dollar!
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writing notes on washing machine HH

Write Notes on the Washer

When you put a load of clothes into your washing machine, use a dry-erase marker to note on the lid which items should not go into the dryer. That way, whoever switches the load from the washing machine to the dryer will know which items to leave out for line drying. The enamel finish on most washing machine lids is similar to a whiteboard, and dry-erase markers can be removed easily with a dry paper towel.
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magnetized drill HH

Magnetized Drill Hack

I like to keep screws very close at hand when I’m working on a project. How close? I stick them right to my drill. Some drills are equipped with a magnetized portion for this purpose, but if yours isn’t, here’s an easy fix. Hot glue a rare earth magnet to the back of your drill and slap a few screws on it. For small tasks, I don’t even need a tool belt. – Lucas Kuck
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HH sharpie sharpies rubbing alcohol

Bring Dead Sharpies Back to Life

When it comes to workshop problems, dried-out Sharpies aren’t major. But they are annoying when you can’t find another one to mark your measurements or project notes. To bring your permanent marker back to life, simply remove the back from the maker. This will be different for each brand of permanent marker, for Sharpies simply remove the back nib. Next, deposit a few drops of isopropyl “rubbing” alcohol onto the felt material inside. Shake the marker a bit to ensure the rubbing alcohol is absorbed. It’s the solvent that the ink is mixed with that dries out first, making the pigment unable to flow. Once the felt absorbs the rubbing alcohol for a couple of minutes the marker will be practically good as new!
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HH sharpening scissor blades on coffee mug

Use a Ceramic Mug as a Sharpening Stone

The bottom of most ceramic coffee mugs have a flat, unglazed ring that is the perfect surface for giving that dull knife or blade a quick sharpening. And if you find yourself in need of sharpening a utility knife, pocket blade or scissors and don’t have access to a sharpening stone, you can simply flip over a ceramic coffee mug and use the outer edge of the bottom, the non-glazed part, as an emergency sharpening stone. Just run the blade across the bottom of the mug at a 45-degree angle, working from the one end of the blade to the tip. Next, slide the blade downward in one direction, keeping your fingers out of the way as you work. This isn’t a perfect solution for continually sharpening your blades, but if you need to quickly sharpen and clean up the edge of a blade this method will do in a pinch. We do recommend eventually investing in a blade sharpening kit.
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Deliveries, Security and You

In our modern always-connected world, it seems like we’re always having packages dropped off from one re-tailer or another. If you receive packages regularly while you’re not home, though, you may be setting yourself up for problems. Packages left alone on your porch invite thieves to come up and take them, and if there are regularly people coming to your property to drop deliveries off then your neighbors might not think that it’s strange when one more person walks up with a box… even if it turns out to be a burglar with the foresight to throw on a brown shirt and carry a package.So how can you make sure that your package deliveries aren’t creating a big risk for you? There are a few ways.

Establish a Delivery Area

When placing orders online, you often have the option to provide instructions to delivery drivers to make sure that your packages are delivered correctly. If you’re concerned about how frequent deliveries affect your home security, you can use these instructions as a powerful tool to thwart would-be thieves. Set up a delivery area around your home that’s covered or otherwise protected but not directly adjacent to your home and leave instructions for drivers to place any packages there. If possible, place the delivery space in an area that is clearly visible from neighboring houses as well. Because this designated area stands on its own, anyone entering it to try and steal packages will be very visible. It also foils would-be burglars because they now have no convenient excuse to approach your house.

Set Up Security Cameras

One thing that you can do to keep both your home and your packages safe is to install security cameras around your front door. This will allow you to see who’s coming to your house and will also provide evidence in case a burglar or thief approaches. If someone comes on your porch and steals your packages, you’ll have video of the thief and you’ll have proof that a theft took place so you can file a claim with the shipping company or retailer. You can even put cameras in an external delivery area if you’ve set one up! Make sure that you purchase a high-quality camera, though; cheap security cameras provide grainy and washed out footage that makes it very difficult to identify a perpetrator.

Invest in Smart Monitors

If you’re worried that a burglar might dress as a delivery person to gain access to your property, consider installing smart monitors on your windows and doors. These monitors may or may not be part of an alarm system – but setting off an alarm isn’t all that they can do. When triggered, the devices can notify you not only that a window or door was opened but also which one was triggered. This allows you to call a neighbor or notify the police and provide very specific details as to where a potential burglar entered. In some cases, the monitors may even be integrated into locks so that you can lock windows or doors remotely if you realize that you left them unlocked, taking care of a mistake that might have given a burglar easy access to your home.

Install a Security System

If these solutions don’t do enough to keep your packages and your home safe, consider getting a full home security system installed. These systems are more than just alarms; they contain several components that work together, along with active monitoring to contact the authorities or take other action if something suspicious occurs. Best of all, they can protect your home from other problems such as fires and even water leaks.

Keep Your Home Secure

Regardless of how you choose to close security holes related to package deliveries, you can find a security expert on HomeKeepr who can help you get the job done right. Sign up for free today so you can have a safer and more secure tomorrow!
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Best Smart Home Thermostats for 2019

On the fence? Here are 10 reasons to install a smart home thermostat.

Learns from You: The Nest, $249

NestVIA AMAZON.COM

The Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation)‘s biggest draw is its ability to learn your schedule. It will adjust over time so your house is at your preferred temperature throughout the day. You can buy optional Nest sensors to place in different rooms so you can target the temperature to the sensor you prioritize at different times, although they lack motion sensors to automatically tell where you are. The Nest is consistently one of the top picks on review sites and gets higher than four stars in customer reviews across multiple retailers. Check out these other smart home devices you’ll love. Check out these 10 gateway smart home products. Buy it now on Amazon.

Built-in Smart Speaker: ecobee, $249

ecobeeVIA ECOBEE.COM

The ecobee 4 Smart Thermostat includes a built-in, fully-functioning Alexa. The thermostat comes with a temperature sensor with motion detector so the thermostat can target occupied rooms; additional sensors cost $79 per two-pack. A combination of geofencing (in other words, where your phone is) and the motion sensors let the thermostat know whether you’re home. It won’t learn your schedule like the Nest, but you can program home, away and sleep events. This thermostat is consistently a top pick among professional reviewers. Learn more about the history of smart home technology. Here are 10 ways to make sure your smart home devices are secure.

Budget Pick: Honeywell, $199

HoneywellVIA LOWES.COM

The Honeywell Home T9 Smart Thermostat with Sensor comes with one motion-sensing temperature sensor so you can target the temperature to occupied rooms; you can buy additional sensors for $40, or $75 for a two-pack. It uses geofencing, but only to tell when you’re not home, and you can set a schedule, but this thermostat won’t learn your schedule like the Nest. This model, and the older Honeywell Lyric T5, are frequent budget picks on review sites. Correct these 10 air conditioning mistakes you can’t afford to make.

Keep in Mind

Before you pick a smart thermostat, evaluate your home’s setup to make sure a specific thermostat will work for you. It may be helpful to know top problems with smart home technology. Mind the C-wire: Most smart thermostats require a C-wire, or common wire, connected to the HVAC system to provide a return path for power to the thermostat. An existing C-wire isn’t always in the wall, especially in older homes. You can install a C-wire or adapt your setup if you want to install a thermostat that requires a C-wire. Will it work with your HVAC?: Check the types of heating and cooling systems a thermostat is compatible with before you buy. If you have dual zones in your home, or separate heating and cooling systems, see whether you’ll need multiple thermostats. Other integrations: If you already use smart home devices, see whether your chosen thermostat integrates with your ecosystem, or if it will require additional setup. Learn how to install a programmable thermostat.
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Mike Holmes: Assess your windows now, before we get deep into the winter season

Here are some of the signs you’re ready for some new windows

But one other important function is their ability to keep your home from leaking its treated, comfortable air into the outdoors. Some windows will be much better at this than others. Whenever you’re planning upgrades for your home, I always say to focus on your building envelope first. By working on the outside FIRST, you’re taking steps to protect what’s inside your home – and make it more energy efficient, too. This is good time of year to assess your windows, before we get deep into the winter season, and your HVAC has to kick in to overdrive. Here are some of the signs you’re ready for some new windows. They’re difficult to operate It shouldn’t take all your strength just to open and close your windows to let some air in. If they don’t work like they used to, such as not opening smoothly, or getting stuck in the track, you’re likely ready for new windows. For true accessibility, windows should only require one hand to operate. Casement and awning windows that open and close with a crank are easiest to use for any homeowner, and you don’t risk accidentally slamming the windows shut. All windows should also come with good locks for added security.
They start to ‘cry’ When the temperature outdoors stats to dip and your heat kicks in, do your windows develop condensation? Don’t whip out the tissues just yet – but if this is a recurring problem, it could be indicative of bad windows. Don’t rip out the windows just yet because there are a few potential causes of weeping windows. Condensation on windows can be caused by a lack of ventilation in the house. If a house is very well sealed, and lacks mechanical ventilation such as an HRV or ERV, or even a bathroom ceiling fan, humidity levels can get too high. Cooking, showering and doing laundry all add humidity to the home. Ideally, relative humidity in the home should be kept between 35% and 45%. First, turn down your humidifier by about 10 percent and see if you still get that buildup. Take a look at the seal around your windows, and replace old, worn, or missing caulking as necessary. It could solve the issue completely. If the condensation appears between panes of the window, odds are the airtight seal meant to stop heat transfer is broken, and it’s time to replace them with new windows. If you’re totally stumped over the cause – a home inspector can help you find the source of your moisture issues. They have visible damage Your windows are constantly exposed to whatever Mother Nature can throw at it. Freezing rain, ice, sleet, high winds, and even UV rays can start to affect the health of your windows. Look out for things like cracks in the window glass, or visible signs of water damage. Even the best windows and frames can eventually submit to the elements. Check your frames for instances of warping, mould and rot. If they’re starting to show major signs of damage, it’s time for new windows. Don’t underestimate the importance of curb appeal when it comes to selling your home in the future. Not only does adding new windows add monetary value to your home by making it more energy efficient (not to mention cheaper to heat) – good looking windows can also wow potential buyers, making your home sell that much more quickly. They’re just plain old Finally, old windows just don’t do the job the newer, more energy efficient models do. If your windows are seriously old, you might be looking at single pane units instead of double or triple paned glass. These single paned windows don’t offer any insulation or soundproofing, and are totally energy inefficient. That means your HVAC system is going to have to work that much harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. And you’ll be seeing that effort on your monthly energy bills. Think of all that extra money and energy you’re throwing down the drain with inefficient units. Investing in new windows will offer serious long-term savings on your energy bills.
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Heating Sources Explained

There are a lot of different options available when it comes to heating your home. Some of them, you’re likely really familiar with, while others are newer options that you may not have heard of. Regardless, understanding how different heating options work is an important part of deciding how to best heat your home. Whether you’re building the home of your dreams or just remodeling your existing home, here’s some info on some of the heating options you might encounter.

Gas Heat

As the name implies, gas heat means that your system produces heat by burning a flammable gas (typically propane or natural gas). Depending on where you live, the gas either comes from a city-supplied utility line or a standalone tank that sits on your property. The heater functions by adjusting the gas passing through the heating chamber to make flames larger or smaller, controlling the amount of heat the flames release into the air that passes through the chamber. Propane heat may also come in other forms, such as gas fireplaces that serve a decorative purpose, as well as providing localized heat.

Forced Air

A forced air system is one that uses fans or other blowers to move air over a heating element and throughout the heating system’s ductwork. These are some of the more common heaters that you will encounter, as variations of forced air heating is used in most central heat and air systems and in many portable heaters.

Baseboard Radiators

There are a few different types of baseboard radiators that you might encounter. These heaters sit at or around floor level around the edges of a room, generating heat and allowing it to rise naturally throughout the room or house. Different materials are used in these heaters, with more modern varieties using pipes filled with heated oil to hold and radiate heat at a lower power cost than similar heating options like older, electric floor radiators.

Radiant Heat

An increasingly popular option for heating the home comes in the form of radiant heat flooring. A closed liquid heating system is embedded in concrete or other flooring material, heating the floor itself and allowing that heat to radiate upward naturally to provide gentle heat over a larger area without the need for high energy costs. There are a wide range of radiant heat options available, including everything from electric heating to systems that are heated from a wood stove outside of the home.

Solid Fuel Heaters

Also referred to as “pellet stoves” or “biomass heaters”, solid fuel heaters are stoves or other heating units that burn solid materials such as wood pellets or shavings instead of liquid or gas fuels. This is seen as something of a green option for homeowners who want to use wood and other materials that would otherwise be considered waste by the forestry industry. The fuel pellets or shavings are loaded into the heater and released into the burning chamber gradually, providing more control over the temperature and heat intensity than you would have with traditional wood-burning stoves.

CHP Systems

An emerging technology, “combined heat and power” or CHP heating systems are designed to be another environmentally-friendly heating option. These systems use a generator that produces power for the home or other buildings on the property, then reclaims heat energy released by the generator to heat the home. These systems are not yet available in all areas and may not be for everyone since they do provide more than just heat. For those planning for the future, however, keeping an eye on CHP systems may be a way to heat the home while simultaneously reducing dependence on external power.

Turn Up the Heat

If you aren’t sure what type of heating system is best for your needs, HomeKeepr is here to help. Sign up for free and we can help you find a professional that will match you with the heating solution that best fits your home and budget.
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The Post-Inspection Negotiation Two-Step: What You Can Expect

As with a lot of problems, the answer is a resounding “It depends.”

Gauging Severity

One big determining factor in how problems found in a home inspection are dealt with is how severe the issues are. A major problem with a property can be a deal breaker for many buyers. Depending on where you live, such a problem may even have to be addressed before the property can be sold. State-level restrictions vary, but most are rooted in making sure that sellers can’t avoid fixing potentially dangerous problems or leave them for the buyer to discover on their own. Even if a problem isn’t critical, most states require that any problems found by a home inspection be disclosed to potential buyers. This disclosure is a big deal, as it can significantly affect how much the buyers are willing to pay.

Loan Program Requirements

Beyond repair and disclosure requirements that vary from state to state, different loan programs (such as those offered by the Federal Housing Authority or Department of Housing and Urban Development) may have additional requirements when it comes to problems discovered during a home inspection. Many programs have very specific guidelines regarding the condition of the property that a buyer can purchase using those loans. If a loan program won’t allow a purchase while unsatisfactory conditions exist, the issues must either be repaired or have satisfactory arrangements made to facilitate the repair before the purchase can continue. Keep in mind that not all loan programs will make allowances for future repairs, either; in those cases, the repairs will either have to be made in full or the buyer will have to find a different lender that does not follow the same strict requirements.

Negotiating Repairs

In the event that there aren’t specific regulations at the state level or restrictions in the buyer’s loan program concerning problems with the property, it falls to the buyer and the seller to determine what repairs will be made. This is typically part of the price negotiation, as buyers are willing to pay more for a property that they don’t have to make extensive repairs to. In many cases, sellers may offer to cover the most pressing repairs and address any serious issues while the buyer assumes responsibility for any other issues found in the buyer’s home inspection disclosure. In many cases this will be agreed to in writing, either at the request of one of the parties or as a condition of the mortgage loan that the buyer is using for the purchase. By formalizing the agreement in writing, it ensures that both parties understand their responsibility and protects the seller from potential legal action regarding issues that weren’t addressed (provided that the seller completed all of the repairs that they agreed to.)

Market Strength

The strength of the housing market can have a big effect on who does the bulk of repairs on a property. If similar properties are plentiful and interest rates are low, it creates what’s referred to as a “buyer’s market”; buyers have a lot of options and can easily walk away from the purchase if they don’t get what they want. In this situation, the buyer has a lot of leverage and can usually get the seller to agree to either a lower price or a higher percentage of the repairs. When the opposite occurs and there are few choices and higher interest rates, a “seller’s market” is created. Buyers can’t walk away as easily and be guaranteed a good deal elsewhere, so sellers can often hold their ground more and get buyers to agree to higher prices or a greater percentage of repairs.

Need Some Help?

Regardless of whether you’re buying or selling, having a seasoned pro on your side can make navigating repair negotiations a lot easier. Sign up for HomeKeepr for free to find the help you need to ensure the deal you deserve.
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