How To Clean a Bathroom Exhaust Fan

The most efficient tips on how to clean a bathroom exhaust fan.

how to clean a bathroom exhaust fanTAB62/SHUTTERSTOCK

As you tackle your bathroom cleaning checklist, there’s one more chore you might want to add—the exhaust fan. In fact, it’s more important than you might think to know how to clean a bathroom exhaust fan. That little fan helps get rid of odors, reduces moisture in the air and can even remove airborne contaminates from household cleaning chemicals. A dirty fan covered in dust doesn’t work efficiently. And if your exhaust fan is on the fritz, excess moisture has no where to go—which eventually will lead to mold and mildew. So here’s the plan—don’t neglect that fan. Give it a good cleaning about every six months. Read on to find out how to thoroughly clean your bathroom exhaust fan, but first turn off the fan at the circuit breaker for safety. Then you’re ready to get started.

How Do You Remove a Bathroom Vent Cover?

To remove the cover, gently pull down on the cover to expose the fan; then squeeze the metal mounting wires on either side and slide them out of their slots. This will allow the cover to be completely removed from the fan housing. Now you can see the amount of dust and grime you are dealing with, and get to work.

Clean the Vent Cover with Soapy Water

Cleaning the cover is simple. Fill up your bathroom sink with warm water and a few drops of dish soap. Allow the cover to soak in the soapy water for a few minutes. Then scrub the fan cover with a cloth or dish brush removing all dirt, dust and grime. Place the cover on a towel and allow it to air dry while you move on to the next step—cleaning the fan.

Use a Vacuum to Get Rid of Dust on the Exhaust Fan

Before you touch the exhaust fan, unplug the standard two-prong plug that powers the fan. If you want to be extra cautious, you can turn the power off to the bathroom at the circuit breaker. Once you’re certain there is no electricity to the fan, you can safely clean it. Start by removing dust with a vacuum extension wand and attachments. For the fan motor components and fan housing, use a bristle brush dusting attachment. For the more narrow and hard to reach areas, use the crevice attachment. Maintain a light touch so you don’t damage anything.

Remove Grime with a Damp Cloth

Once the dry dust is removed, you’ll probably notice the exhaust fan is still dirty with built-up grime. Take a damp microfiber cloth and wipe down the fan components and housing to remove any remaining dirt. Looking to perform an extra deep clean? Don’t be afraid to further disassemble the fan. Depending on your model, remove any visible screws and remove the motor from the fan housing. Clean the fan blades and surrounding motor parts with the damp microfiber cloth.

Reassemble the Exhaust Fan

With a clean fan and a cover that looks like new, it’s time to put the fan back together. If you removed the motor, now is the time to put it back in place and replace the screws. Next, plug in the fan to restore power. Then put the cover back on by inserting the mounting wires back into their slots, and gently push the cover into place. Now that you know how to clean a bathroom exhaust fan,

Erica Young is a freelance writer and content creator, specializing in home and lifestyle pieces. She loves writing about home decor, organization, relationships, and pop culture. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.
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Mold & Mildew: How To Clean Black Spots In the Bathroo

how to clean black spots in bathroomBURDUN ILIYA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Have you ever been taking a relaxing bath, only to look up and notice black mold growing on the ceiling? Yuck. It’s a problem no one wants to deal with, but unfortunately is a common occurrence in bathrooms—especially if your home is located in a moist climate. The good news is, you don’t have to live with that mold and mildew forever. Find out how to clean black spots in the bathroom with a few supplies and a little elbow grease. Secret bathroom cleaning tips from the pros.

What Causes Black Mold on a Bathroom Ceiling?

Mold on the ceiling is caused by moisture that has no where to go. Mold loves moisture. Steam from hot showers and bathtubs rises to the ceiling, and without proper ventilation it can settle there. If the moisture remains too long, mold spores begin to grow. In addition to being unsightly, mold can also cause health issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mold can cause “nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation…or skin irritation.” And even more alarming, serious lung infections can occur in people with weak immune systems.
Is black mold deadly? Find out what is true versus what is myth when it comes to mold.

How to Clean Mold From a Bathroom Ceiling

To clean mold from the ceiling, wash the affected area with a store-bought mold cleaner, or a mixture of dish soap and water. Let the area dry. Now it’s time to get out the big guns to kill the mold—bleach. Mix one-quarter cup of bleach with one quart of water and apply the solution with a spray bottle or sponge. Remember when working with bleach to crack a window for ventilation and wear gloves and eye protection. If you prefer to not use bleach, white vinegar can also be effective. Apply straight vinegar to the area with a spray bottle and allow it to sit for an hour, then wipe the area clean and allow it to dry. Are you making these 10 bathroom cleaning mistakes?

How to Clean Mildew From a Bathroom Ceiling

Think of mildew as mold’s less threatening cousin. They’re both fungi, but mildew is not as invasive and is easier to clean because it only lives on the surface. Mildew is usually light gray or white in color and has a flat, powdery appearance. To clean it from your bathroom ceiling, simply wipe it with a damp cloth sprayed with any household cleaner. You can use a bathroom cleaner specially formulated to clean mildew, or white vinegar will also do the trick. Fill a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and water, spray the mildew, and wipe away. Here’s how to use essential oils to get rid of that mildew smell.

How to Clean Mold in the Shower or Bath

Cleaning mold from the shower or bath can be done with the same methods used on the ceiling. Clean the area with a household bathroom cleaner first, then use either a bleach solution or vinegar to kill the mold. To prevent mold from growing in the shower or bath again, keep the bathroom ventilated and control moisture as much as possible. Use a bathroom exhaust fan, crack a window when showering, and make sure to wipe away any leftover moisture with a squeegee. Take further measures by keeping a spray bottle full of vinegar in the bathroom, spray your bath and shower after use to prevent mold growth. Psst! Now that you know how to clean black spots in the bathroom—prevent mold and mildew from growing back with an exhaust fan. Here’s how to clean your bathroom exhaust fan to ensure it’s running properly.

Erica Young is a freelance writer and content creator, specializing in home and lifestyle pieces. She loves writing about home decor, organization, relationships, and pop culture. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.
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Tips for Painting Kitchen Cabinets

 

The best choices for cabinet paints

Paint options for painting kitchen cabinets

Painting kitchen cabinets brightens a shabby kitchen. Choose an oil-based paint or a water-borne acrylic enamel. Both create tough, durable surfaces.

best paint for cabinetsFAMILY HANDYMAN

Prime before painting

If you want to give new life to old wooden kitchen cabinets, painting is a great choice. You have several good paint options. Before painting, a careful sanding and good primer set the stage for a smooth, durable top coat for painting kitchen cabinets. For the best adhesion and a harder, more durable finish, an oil-based (alkyd) paint is tough to beat. But you must be willing to put up with the strong odor and solvent cleanup, along with a longer drying and curing time than you’d get if you used an ordinary water-based paint. Plus, the color may yellow over time.
The best paint for cabinets solution to avoid the hassle of oil-based paint is a new-technology waterborne acrylic enamel paint. This type of paint delivers:
  • Good flow
  • Leveling
  • Hardening characteristics of oil-based paint without the odor and long drying time.
  • These new paints dry fast and clean up with soap and water.
The main challenge with waterborne acrylic enamel paint is a smooth finish, but pros say that if the waterborne acrylic enamel is applied heavily enough and worked in small sections, it will flatten out nicely. When painting kitchen cabinets, avoid a dry brush and going over sections already starting to dry. Check out these best-kept secrets of professional painters. These great ideas will produce a perfectly smooth and even paint job everytime. Don’t forget other keys to success when painting kitchen cabinets:
  • Surface preparation (degreasing, cleaning and sanding)
  • Priming (use a top-quality primer)
  • Brushing (use the best-quality brush for the type of paint)
  • Drying (follow label directions).
 
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7 Things to Do Before Listing Your Home This Spring

As the snow starts to melt, revealing the brightly colored flowers of crocus, and robins bop merrily around the yard, another cycle of the real estate market begins. If you’re considering listing your home this year, it’s definitely not too late to get started. March and April can be great months for putting your house in front of prospective buyers, but the summer months are also great times to sell.Regardless of your timing, there are a few things you need to do right now to start getting ready to list. It’s not as simple as sticking a sign in the yard and waiting for the calls to roll in.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

You never know who will feel that special feeling people get when they find the house that is just right for them. But you can turn the odds in your favor if you and your home are both show ready long before you open up to potential buyers. Before you sell your house, you’re going to want to run through this checklist. Hire a Realtor. There’s a reason that 91 percent of home sellers used a real estate agent to sell their home in 2017: selling a home is a complicated process that really demands an expert. Just like you’d not try to DIY surgery, there are serious financial risks involved with selling your home without an education in real estate law. In addition to being your safety net, a Realtor can point out items that you might not realize are big turn-offs to buyers, like dated lighting, so you can get started on the cosmetic stuff to make your home show at its best. Have a home inspection. Wait. Isn’t a home inspection just for buying a house? No! You can have a home inspector out any time you want. Having a full blown home inspection before you put your house on the market gives you a chance to correct items that will likely come up for your future buyer when they have their home inspector out. Get ahead of issues and you’ll sell that house faster. Get to decluttering. If you have to sell your home in order to buy the next, you’re going to be living in a showroom for the next few months. Take anything you don’t really need immediately and put it in a storage unit. Get it away from your house because pushing clutter around doesn’t really help anything. Declutter as much as you can bear to — it’ll make your house look bigger and more appealing to prospective buyers Paint the front door. Your Realtor will probably drive home the importance of curb appeal, or how enticing your house is from the street (the curb). The better the curb appeal, the more likely potential buyers will come inside and look around. The interesting thing about curb appeal is how certain elements of your house affect the whole picture. Case in point, Zillow’s 2018 Paint Color Analysis found that a black or charcoal colored front door can bring in as much as $6,271 extra! Spruce up the landscaping. Along with dressing the front of your house up a bit, make sure that your landscaping is up to par. Prune any unruly plants, replace perennials that may have patchy growth, refresh your mulch, give the lawn a mow. Now that your landscape is radiating amazing curb appeal, keep it that way until your home closes. If you need to hire a landscaper, consider it an investment. Get copies of your utility bills. People will ask what kind of utility costs are associated with your home. Does it just burn through the natural gas? Does the electricity use seem excessive? This is another place where you can get ahead of potential buyers by putting this information together and giving it to your Realtor on the day you sign your listing agreement. Deep clean like you’ve never cleaned before. And hey, maybe you haven’t, we’re not here to judge. Even though painting is a quick fix to renewing your home’s interior, deep cleaning is less expensive and can result in a better overall effect. For example, if you clean your windows, inside and out until they’re super clean, you’ll immediately notice how much more natural light penetrates the room.

Is There Time For All of That?

If you find yourself crunched for time, don’t make up for it by skipping important things before listing. Instead, call on your HomeKeepr community to help you find the people who can move your home sale along. Whether you need a cleaner, a landscaper, an organization expert or even a home inspector, we’ve got you covered. Your agent already has a list of recommended service providers who can help, let these experts free up some of your time as you get ready to sell.
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Improving Attic Ventilation Installing soffit vents By Merle Henkenius of Today’s Homeowner

STEP TWO // Improving Attic Ventilation

Cut parallel lines

cutting the two parallel lines with a portable circular saw
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
Next, bore a 3⁄4- or 1-in.-dia. hole through the soffit right between the lines and measure the thickness of the soffit panel (probably 1⁄4 or 3⁄8 in.). Then set your circular saw to that depth and cut along the chalk lines. Cut the two parallel lines with a portable circular saw. Set the blade depth to barely cut through the thin soffit material.

Connect the two cuts

connecting the two cuts with a sharp chisel
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
When you near the end of the soffit, stop short and connect the two cuts with a sharp chisel or sabre saw. Once all cuts are made, use a thin pry bar to remove the 2-in. plywood strip. Pull any nails that remain in the soffit framing with a cat's paw. Then inspect the length of the vent cutout. If there's any insulation clogging the slot, pull it out or shove it back up.

Raise the vent up to the soffit

raising the vent up to the soffit and center it over the cutout slot
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
Next, lay the strip vent down on a flat wood surface, such as a plywood sheet or long 2 x 4, and drill 1⁄8-in.-dia. screw holes through both flanges. Space the holes 12 to 14 in. apart. With the help of an assistant, raise the vent up to the soffit and center it over the cutout slot.

Attach the vent to the soffit

using a cordless drill/driver to secure the vent to the soffit
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
Use a cordless drill/driver to secure the vent to the soffit with ½-in.-long No. 4 sheet-metal screws. Continue installing additional strip vents until you reach the far end. Trim the last vent to length using aviation snips.

Remove any insulation from the new vent

raking back blown-in insulation from the new soffit vent
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
The soffit vents are now installed, but you still need to make sure there's no insulation blocking the new vents. If the attic is insulated with fiberglass batts, just pull back any that are blocking the flow of air. If there's blown-in insulation, like ours, rake back the fluffy stuff with a 3- or 4-ft.-long 1 x 6, or use a garden rake or hoe.

Install the ventilation baffle

stapling a ventilation baffle to the plywood sheathing
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS

Finally, to ensure that the airway to the vent remains open, staple a ventilation baffle to the plywood sheathing in each rafter bay. The molded polystyrene baffles, available at home centers and lumberyards for about $1 each, form channels that hold insulation at bay and direct incoming air upward.

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How to Build a Rustic Headboard By Thomas Baker of This Old House magazine

SKILL: MODERATE
While the mattress is the key to a bed’s comfort, the headboard is what defines its style. Case in point: this handsome planked headboard, which evokes the warmth and historical character of a stable in an old barn. This is an easy, straightforward project to build. Working together, TOH general contractor Tom Silva and TOH host Kevin O’Connor managed to complete it in just a few hours, using materials readily available at many home centers. The base is a sheet of ½-inch birch plywood backed by 2x4s, and the rough-sawn boards covering the plywood are stained, kiln-dried poplar from Weaber Lumber. Conveniently packed in boxes, these weathered wallboards are free of the bugs, fungi, and peeling paint that you might find in boards actually salvaged from abandoned barns. Because the poplar pieces don’t line up perfectly edge to edge, Tom painted the plywood black to make any gaps look like shadows.
STEP ONE // How to Build a Rustic Headboard

Overview

rough sawn headboard overview illustration
ILLUSTRATION BY DOUG ADAMS
Tom and Kevin take you step-by-step through the entire building process. If you like what you see, consider giving it a shot. You may soon find yourself dozing off beneath your own handmade headboard.
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5 Home Projects You Should Tackle Before You List Your House By Ashley Carter

increase your resale value
Image via iStock
Your home is a major investment, and it’s something that you want to get the most from when you move on. Don’t let minor flaws get in the way of your profits. Something as simple as picking up toys in the yard or clearing away your collection of soda bottles can make a major difference in how potential buyers feel about your home. Add these projects to your checklist if you want to make a good first impression and sell your home for top dollar.

Paint for Neutral Ambiance

Neutral colors are the most appealing choice for home buyers. Painting is a big job, and something that many buyers don’t want to tackle right away. Bold colors are entirely a matter of personal preference. You may love that deep teal on the walls, but it will be more difficult to connect with prospective buyers when you’ve chosen such a distinctive hue. Instead, paint your home in shades that are easy to match, such as eggshell, tan, white or pewter.

Upgrade for Energy Efficiency

Smart homebuyers look at more than the up-front cost of the home. They’ll also consider ongoing expenses such as utilities and upkeep. That’s why Energy Star appliances and newer HVAC systems are so appealing. If you don’t have the funds for these major investments, you can improve your home’s energy efficiency on a budget by sealing and insulating. Address cracks or gaps around windows and doors. Replace the seals around doors and windows, repair any damage to the siding, and check your insulation.

“Sealing your home everywhere you can makes a big difference, not only in your energy bills, but in the comfort of the home,” said Julie Jacobson, a Redfin real estate agent in California. “Inexpensive weatherstripping available at your local hardware store will do the trick. Your local utility company or county may even offer rebates and incentives for making these upgrades.”

Clean Up for Spacious Impressions

Cluttered homes look smaller and hectic. Clear the odds and ends, and make your home look as much like a showroom as possible. If the idea of organizing all these items is too overwhelming, simply box them up and stash them in unseen areas, such as under the bed. You may even want to rent a small storage space while you’re staging your home so that you can clear out your closets and show off their spacious nature or empty the garage and make it look more appealing.

Landscape Carefully for Curb Appeal

First impressions are critical when you’re selling your home. Many prospective buyers will do a drive-by before scheduling a viewing. If they don’t like what they see from the street, they’ll never step inside the home. Keep your yard well maintained with manicured bushes, carefully tended flower beds, and a clutter-free lawn. Small improvements such as painting the front door, straightening the mailbox, and replacing that missing stone in the walkway will go a long way toward enticing a buyer.

Polish Up the Bathroom for a Like-New Look

You don’t have to remodel your whole bathroom for the same level of appeal. At a minimum, you should recaulk the tub for a fresh, clean look. If you can’t eliminate stains and discoloration completely, reglaze the tub to make it look like new. Keep this room meticulously clean, regularly sweeping up stray hairs, dusting light fixtures, and cleaning the mirror so that it looks pristine.

A well-staged home will draw more buyers and entice the type of bidding war every seller wants. Make the effort to present your home well, and you’ll reap major rewards for your efforts.

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How to Build a DIY Fire Pit in One Day By Angie Bersin April 4, 2019

Adding a DIY fire pit to your backyard is an excellent way to keep the fun going long after dark.

Instead of an unsightly dirt fire pit, spend a day making a new statement piece for your yard. If you’re wondering how to build a fire pit — we’ll show you how!

When selecting and building your DIY fire pit, make sure you avoid using wet stones. If you are using river rocks, be sure to give them several days of direct sunlight to properly dry.

1. In-Ground DIY Fire Pit

In-ground diy fire pit with stones
Photo by Tom Hodgkinson
The in-ground fire pit is becoming increasingly popular among DIY fire pit builders. Before digging into the ground, make sure you call 811, the federally mandated “Call Before You Dig Number.” Someone will come to mark the approximate location of any underground lines, pipes, and cables so you can dig safely. Once you dig your fire pit to the desired size, line the dirt walls with stones or brick. Follow these additional steps to get started:
  1. First, want to create a bottom layer of gravel, then cover it with the “bottom” of your fire pit — larger stones or bricks or an even covering such as quick drying cement.
  2. Be sure to have drainage or it will turn into a mosquito pond.
  3. Create your top rim by making small cutouts in the dirt for your bricks or stones.
  4. Finally, dry stack your desired additional layers, or create a small wall using fire resistant adhesives or quick drying cement.

2. Overlaid Stone DIY Fire Pit

overlaid stone fire pit
Photo by Our Fairfield Home
For an artistic-looking fire pit, instead of evenly shaped bricks, grab several unique rough rocks, and construct an overlaid stone fire pit. If your pieces are hearty enough (pictured is Pennsylvania Blue Stone) you won’t need any cement for this pit either — but use common sense when building up your walls. Here are some additional tips to secure your structure:
  • If the stones do not feel secure, add in some non-flammable masonry adhesive, landscape adhesive or Liquid Nails.
  • For the center, line the bottom of your fire pit with one or two inches of sand.
  • The outside of your fire pit should be lined as well, and no grass or other yard matter should be within two feet of your pit.

3. Tin DIY Fire Pit

Tin DIY fire pit with burning coals and wood
Using whatever barrel-shaped scraps you can find, you can create this all-in-one tin fire pit. Tin fire pits are extra safe as they ensure your fire is adequately contained, and are much preferred in areas with wide open plains and active winds such as El Paso. You can spruce up your repurposed tin barrel nicely with some high-heat paint (like Rust-Oleum) and stencils.

4. Gravel DIY Fire Pit

gravel fire pit
Photo by Homeroad
There is no digging required for this DIY fire pit design! Select some handsome gravel for your foundation, spread it out to create your overall fire pit space, then stack your fire pit stones. The fire pit pictured was built with crushed concrete rock with some additional aesthetic details. The pit’s stones ought to be more than heavy enough to be dry stacked — no need for adhesive or cement. Hang some outdoor lights above your fire pit to finish off your welcoming ambiance for backyard guests.

5. Raised DIY Fire Pit with Fire Bowl

raised fire pit with fire bowl
Photo by http://www.hometalk.com/elloradrinnen
If you want an elevated fire, this is an ideal design for you. You can build up your fire pit walls to the desired height (only use even bricks for this design, not the rough stones mentioned above) and then top off with a fire bowl. Ensure that your fire pit is the proper size for the bowl by building the first layer of the wall around the screen top of your fire bowl. When purchasing a fire bowl, make sure it has holes for drainage in the center (dumping out fire bowls filled with water is a hassle).

6. Grate Drum DIY Fire Pit

grate drum fire pit
Photo by Charles Peace

For a less formal, down-home fire pit look, simply add a smoker fire basket (sometimes also called a vertical drum) to the mix. You can either buy one pre-made, or you can craft one yourself using flexible metal grating from the hardware store and a few bolts to fasten it into a circle. Quite a few Hometalk DIYers like to use old washing machine drums, which cost about $10 from used appliance stores. Then insert your drum into the center of your fire pit. If you choose to build a solid wall design like the fire pit pictures, make sure you leave a drainage route for rainwater.

Whichever style you choose, just make sure you enjoy responsibly. Hometalk breaks down all the necessary safety precautions before, during, and after building your fire pit in “Stop! Your Must Have Handbook for Building DIY Fire Pits.”

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How to Change a Furnace Filter

furnace filterFamily Handyman

When to change a furnace filter

If you’re thinking that you only have to change your filter once a year, you may well be shortening the life of your furnace. Actually, you should check your filter monthly and often change it monthly, depending on the type of filter you use. To determine if it’s too dirty, remove the filter and hold it up to the light. If you can no longer clearly see light, change the filter (see photo). Many costly repairs can be avoided with regular filter changing. If you don’t change the filter, lack of airflow through the furnace will cause it to overheat and shut down. Similarly, a dirty filter can cause an air conditioner to shut down because the coils freeze up when airflow is inadequate. Both events stress the system. Filters are designed to protect the blower motor from dirt. When buying filters for this task, an inexpensive glass fiber filter will do the job. But if you want to reduce airborne dust in your home, you could start with the best of the inexpensive 1-in. disposable filters—the standard pleated filter—which costs a bit more. Better yet, to remove even more small particles, install an inexpensive, electrostatically charged fiber filter. 3M Filtrete is one common brand.. Just make sure to check the filter monthly and change it when it’s dirty (not just every three months as recommended). All other options, from a 4-in. thick mechanical air filter to an electronic filter plate system, involve electrical or ductwork changes by heating/cooling contractors. They remove more particles, last longer and cost more. Finally, whatever filter you use, make sure you reinstall it correctly, with the arrow on the filter edge pointing toward the blower motor. Putting it in backward decreases the filter’s efficiency.
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