Moisture in basements: causes and solutions

Moisture in basements: causes and solutions

By John Carmody; Brent Anderson; and Richard Stone, Extension educator University of Minnesota
This page briefly describes moisture sources, moisture movement mechanisms and typical basement moisture problems. Then, a step-by-step process for addressing each problem is presented along with several detailed approaches to solving the problem.
Moisture problems in basement, rainwater, groundwater, interior moisture.

A problem that can damage your health and home

Moisture problems in existing basements are very common, but often are not understood or properly treated. In a basement that is seldom used and separate from the living spaces above, this may not present a great problem. However, most basements in Minnesota are connected to the rest of the house through ductwork or other openings. In addition, basements are increasingly used as finished living and bedroom spaces. In these cases, moisture problems are not only annoying and uncomfortable, but can lead to significant health problems. Molds and mildew can grow in damp carpets and beneath wall coverings. Finishing a basement without first dealing with the moisture problems can result in making health conditions worse and lead to significant damage as well. Basement water problems are solvable, but there is a cost to doing it right.

Understanding the problem

To correct basement moisture problems, it's necessary to understand where the water is coming from and what mechanisms permit it to enter the basement. There are just three sources of moisture:
  1. Liquid water from rain or ground-water.
  2. Interior moisture sources such as humidifiers, unvented clothes dryers, bathrooms and cooking, as well as the moisture in concrete after construction.
  3. Exterior humid air that enters the basement and condenses on cooler surfaces.
Moisture is transferred from the outside of the building to the basement interior by four mechanisms:
  1. Liquid water flow.
  2. Capillary suction.
  3. Vapor diffusion.
  4. Air movement.
Sometimes problems are traced to poor construction with cracking, settling foundations. In many cases, however, houses and basements can be structurally sound but are often not properly built to handle water drainage. Failure to slope the ground surface away from the foundation or lack of a good gutter and downspout system is common. Missing or nonfunctioning subsurface drainage systems are also found relatively frequently. These problems can all be addressed and corrected if a systematic approach is used.This page briefly describes moisture sources, moisture movement mechanisms and typical basement moisture problems. Then, a step-by-step process for addressing each problem is presented along with several detailed approaches to solving the problem.

Symptoms

  • Water trickling out of walls.
  • Standing water on floor.
  • Saturated base of concrete block walls; a ring of dampness.
  • Damp, humid air.
  • Condensation on cold walls and floor in summer.
  • Odor, mold and mildew.
  • Deterioration of carpet or wood.
  • Rot and decay of wood headers, joists, sill plates and columns.
  • Staining and blistering of wall covering.
  • Efflorescence, spalling of concrete or masonry.

Basement moisture sources

Rain and groundwater entering basement.
Rain and groundwater

Rain and groundwater

In a 1-inch rain, 1,250 gallons of water fall on the roof of a 2,000-square-foot house. Without proper grading, gutters and downspouts, some of this water flows into the basement. The below-grade water table can also rise due to flooding or seasonal site conditions. This is why drain tile systems are recommended around basement walls even in sandy or gravel soils.
   
Interior moisture sources in basement.
Interior moisture sources

Interior moisture sources

Moisture is generated inside of basements from people and their activities. Common sources are humidifiers, unvented clothes dryers, showering and cooking. When basements are finished, these activities increase.Another source that can be thought of as internal is the moisture contained in new concrete after construction. In a typical house, this can amount to 0.2 gallons per square foot of wall, and 0.1 gallons per square foot of floor. It may take many months or even years for a new house to come into equilibrium with its environment.
Ventilation with humid outside air.
Ventilation with humid outside air

Ventilation with humid outside air

In the summertime, basement windows may be opened for fresh air. If the outside air is warm and humid, it will condense on the cool basement wall and floor surfaces. Many homeowners see this moisture and believe they are experiencing basement wall leakage, when in fact the accumulated moisture is from condensation.

Moisture movement mechanisms

Moisture movement mechanisms - capillary suction.
Capillary suction

Capillary suction

Capillary suction moves moisture through porous materials. The water can be drawn upward through small pores in the concrete footing and slab and laterally through walls. This effect creates the ring of dampness seen at the base of many basement walls. This is very common at cold joints. Water can rise by capillary draw significantly as shown below:Soil type and amount of capillary rise:
  • Gravel - Less than a few inches.
  • Sand - 1 to 8 feet.
  • Silt - 12 to 16 feet.
  • Clay - 12 to 20 feet.
Moisture movement mechanisms - Air leakage through walls and floor.
Air leakage through walls and floor

Air leakage through walls and floor

In most houses, a stack effect is created because warm air rises. This induces a negative pressure on the basement and draws moist air in through any cracks or openings in the foundation including open sump pits. For this reason, sumps should have an airtight cover. With a concrete block foundation, moist air is drawn through the block cores, especially if they are left open at the top course. 
 
 
Moisture movement mechanisms - Vapor diffusion through foundation walls.
Vapor diffusion through foundation walls

Vapor diffusion through foundation walls

Vapor diffusion is the movement of moisture in the vapor state through a material. It's dependent on the permeability of the material and the driving force of vapor pressure differential. In a basement, vapor can diffuse from the wetter ground through concrete walls and floors toward the dryer basement interior. Vapor retarders such as foundation waterproofing and polyethylene slow down this process.

Typical causes of basement moisture problems

Causes of moisture problems - inadequate grading.
Inadequate grading

Inadequate grading

PROBLEM: If the ground around a foundation is level or slopes toward the house, water is directed into the basement. The soil next to the house is often backfilled without proper compaction and later settles. This is especially true under stoops where water can collect next to the basement wall.SOLUTION: Place earth around the house so that it slopes away from the foundation wall a minimum of 1 inch per foot for at least 6 feet. 
 
Defective or missing gutters and downspouts contribute to basement moisture.
Defective or missing gutters and downspouts

Defective or missing gutters and downspouts

PROBLEM: Missing gutters and downspouts cause rainwater to be directed toward the foundation perimeter. A downspout without an extender or splashblock is worse than no downspout at all. It is depositing the huge volume of rainwater from the roof in a single concentrated location near the basement.SOLUTION: Place a minimum of one downspout per 50 linear feet of roof eave. Extensions should discharge water at least 4 feet beyond the wall. Sloped concrete sidewalks around basements are very effective in directing rain runoff. 
Improperly designed window wells cause water to flow toward basement.
Improperly designed window wells

Improperly designed window wells

PROBLEM: Window wells are like a drain right next to the basement wall. Often they are improperly built so that any water is directed toward, rather than away from the foundation.SOLUTION: Window wells should be filled from the footing to the window sill with 3/8- to 3/4-inch coarse aggregate. A supplemental drain tile extension should extend from the footing to the base of the window well. 
  
Ineffective drain tile and sump pit
Ineffective drain tile and sump pit

Ineffective drain tile and sump pit

PROBLEM: Many existing houses simply have no subsurface drainage system. This comes from a time when basements were not used as habitable space. In other cases, the systems don't work for a variety of reasons, such as collapse of the pipe, clogging of the pipe with silt and/or tree roots or a broken connection to the sump. The sump pit usually contains a pump designed to lift the water to the ground surface outside the foundation wall. This pump can fail. 
 
SOLUTION: See approaches 2 through 5 that follow.
Improper drainage with underslab ducts
Improper drainage with underslab ducts

Improper drainage with underslab ducts

PROBLEM: If heating ducts are installed beneath a basement floor slab, the drainage system may be inappropriately left at a level higher than the duct. In effect, the duct becomes the drainage system. With standing water within the heating duct, there are potentially serious health consequences from mold contamination.SOLUTION: Heating ducts placed beneath the basement floor must be insulated, watertight and sloped to collection points for drainage and cleaning. A drain tile and coarse aggregate can be placed under the ductwork.
Structural cracks let water in basement.
Structural cracks

Structural cracks

PROBLEM: Concrete and concrete block foundations usually develop some cracks. They can be severe if floor joists are not properly connected to the foundation wall, thus permitting the wall to move. Also, soil settling causes cracking. Places where walls meet rigid structures like the fireplace often crack as well. Usually, drainage removes the water from cracks, but repair may be necessary.SOLUTION: Proper footing design and proper connection between the foundation wall and the structure above are required (e.g. anchor bolts or straps at the sill plate and floor joists nailed to the sill plate).

An overview of solutions to basement moisture problems

The best way to approach any building problem is to first do the things that are easy and low cost. Then proceed in a logical order doing the next least costly technique with the most positive likely result. With moisture problems, the best approach is almost always to remove or control the source of the moisture, not to try to stop it at the last line of defense.
  1. First, the simplest and least costly techniques are to remove excessive internal moisture sources in the basement (humidifiers, cooking) and ventilate other sources (clothes dryer, bathroom).
  2. Second, if condensation in the summer is the problem, do not ventilate the basement directly with warm, humid air. Ventilation through an air conditioning system or with a dessicant-type heat exchanger is recommended.

Dehumidification is not a permanent solution

Dehumidification can be used as a means of reducing the symptoms of humidity and odor in a basement, but it is not a permanent or complete solution. In fact, if a dehumidifier is used in a basement with moisture problems, it may cause greater damage. By drying out the basement air, moisture is drawn into the basement more rapidly causing efflorescence and spalling of concrete and further damage to interior finishes.

Interior membrane or coating is a temporary solution

It is appealing to solve a basement moisture problem with a membrane or coating on the inside. It's less expensive than a drainage system and seems to work for a time in some cases. The water is still there, however, and eventually these systems deteriorate or simply move the water to another pathway into the basement.

Recommended approach

Evaluate gutters, downspouts and surface grading: The recommended approach after removing interior moisture sources is to evaluate the gutters, downspouts and surface grading around the house. These should be corrected first and may solve the problem.Interior or exterior drainage system: Then, if a moisture problem persists, proceed with an interior or exterior drainage system. All of these techniques are described below. If your goal is to finish a basement that has water problems, it is recommended to first deal with the water problem.Sub-slab depressurization system: An active sub-slab depressurization system including a washed-rock layer below the slab is recommended. This draws moist air from beneath the slab and may help to reduce the amount of moisture vapor that enters the home through openings in the slab. It also assists in controlling radon and other soil gases. Sumps and other open connections to the soil outside the foundation and below the slab should be blocked and sealed.More information on soil gas management can be found in "Building Radon Out," a booklet available in electronic format (PDF) from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Step by step process

  1. Control interior moisture sources.
  2. If summertime, don't ventilate with outside air.
  3. Correct grading, gutter and downspout system.
  4. Provide an interior or exterior drainage system.

Notes

  • A dehumidifier can help reduce the symptoms of humidity and odor, but doesn't solve the problem.
  • A membrane or coating on the interior without providing drainage generally won't solve the problem in the long term.
  • Walls must be dry before insulating. Slabs must be warm and dry before carpeting.
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THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AIR BARRIERS AND VAPOUR BARRIERS

The difference between air barriers and vapour barriersThe difference between air barriers and vapour barriers © Ecohome

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AIR BARRIERS AND VAPOUR BARRIERS

Can a house be too airtight? No it cannot. The difference between air barriers and vapour barriers is often confused. Also confused, is which one is more important.

Ecohome Published: Aug. 27, 2012, 8:34 p.m.Last updated: July 20, 2019, 1:44 p.m.
Mike Reynolds

The difference between air barriers and vapour barriers

The job of a vapor barrier is to prevent vapor diffusion, and the job of an air barrier is to stop air leakage through differences in air pressure. A wall system should have one vapor barrier, but can have many air barriers. A vapor barrier can act as a very effective air barrier, but an air barrier does not (and should not) always stop vapor from difusing.A wool sweater for example, is a good choice of insulation and will keep you warm when there is no air movement, but will allow the wind to howl right through it. A wool sweater with a raincoat will keep you warm but hold moisture inside and soak your insulation. A wool sweater with a windbreaker will keep you warm, stop the wind from stealing your heat, yet allow moisture to difuse through it.So think of a windbreaker as an air barrier, and a raincoat as a vapor barrier. That is about as far as I can stretch the human to house analogy, hope it helps.
Since warm air expands, there is more space between its molecules compared to cold air. Water vapour is found in that space. When warm air cools as it passes through your walls, it contracts and squeezes out the moisture, leaving you with condensation.In order to prevent condensation from forming, a vapour barrier should be placed on the warm side of your insulation to stop warm, moist air from condensing on a cold surface inside your wall.In cold climates like Canada, for most of the year the vapour barrier should be on the inside of the insulation. In hot climates like the southern U.S. for example, vapor barrier should be installed on the outside of the insulation, especially where there's air-conditioning involved to prevent condensation and mold.In both cases, the vapour barrier is tasked with preventing warm, humid air from shedding its moisture as it meets a cool surface, no matter which direction it is travelling.The most important thing to realize is that there is no fixed rule regarding vapour barriers. Building practices should always be determined by the climate in which you are building.

How water vapour travels:

There are two main ways moisture will pass through your walls that you should be concerned about — air leakage and vapour diffusion. These are two completely different things, with two completely separate solutions.Vapour diffusion is the process of moisture passing through breathable building materials, like drywall and insulation. Vapour barriers are there to prevent that from happening.Air leakage is due to air pressure differences between indoors and out, which forces air through any holes in your air barrier.

Where the problem arises:

The dewpoint in a wall is the point where the drop in temperature causes air to contract, and water vapour turns to liquid. Since the warmer the air is the more moisture it can hold, where the dewpoint will be in your wall is determined by the difference in temperature from indoor to out, and the amount of moisture in the air (RH - Relative Humidity).The job of both air barriers and vapour barriers is to prevent moisture from forming at that critical point, they just do it in completely different ways.

Vapour barriers

The rule for vapour barrier installation in cold climates is to have it on the interior with at least 2/3rds of your insulation on the outside of the vapour barrier. Air barriers on the other hand can come in the form of house wrap (WRBs), tightly sealed sheathing, insulation that slows airflow, and well-sealed gypsum board (drywall).To explain this further, Gypsum board (drywall) is vapour permeable, but stops air flow. This means water vapour can diffuse through it, but air cannot pass through it. So if you were to have a home with no windows and no vapour barrier but simply a sealed gypsum board box all around, you would have an airtight seal with no moisture carried through by air transport.The key factor here, is that the amount of vapour molecules that will pass through that gypsum board box is insignificant compared to the moisture that will pass through if you cut just one small hole in it and had an air pressure difference.
The difference between air barriers and vapor barriers
The need for a proper air seals in homes is grossly underestimated, and too much faith and focus is put on the vapour barrier. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, "air movement accounts for more than 98% of all water vapor movement in building cavities.”If you think of how a polyethylene vapour barrier is installed, it will be cut, stapled and taped, then have nails and screws put through it to install strapping and drywall, along with breaches due to electrical wires and boxes. In most cases, the vapour barrier will be perforated thousands of times during the building process.But a perforated vapour barrier would actually not be a problem if you have a tight air seal. Like that gypsum board box, the amount of water vapour that can pass through a ripped and torn vapour barrier is insignificant as long as the air seal is intact.

Can a house be too airtight? No it cannot.

Unfortunately, air barriers are really not given the attention they should be in regards to the building envelope. In large residential developments, air barriers are often not even on the radar. Crews come and go, and in the interest of mass production, some standard practices can be detrimental to the performance of the final wall system.A proper air barrier is one of the most important elements of a successful building enclosure, and one of the most overlooked. Given the amount of heat loss due to air transmission and the potential moisture damage from air leaks, air barriers should be getting a lot more attention than they are.

Additional reading:

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Carbon Monoxide Safety: How to Protect Your Home, Identify Issues, and Respond to Emergencies

 

Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless, invisible gas that occurs naturally through combustion, or, the process of burning. Low exposure to carbon monoxide can cause symptoms similar to the flu. In high doses, exposure to carbon monoxide can be lethal.

Many people who are exposed to carbon monoxide are exposed indoors in their own home. Any appliance that burns fuel indoors could be a potential source for carbon monoxide including gas stoves, clothes dryers, water heaters, furnaces, grills, generators, car engines and fireplaces.Anyone can be affected by carbon monoxide poisoning, but some people are more likely to get sick than others. The elderly, infants, people with heart problems, people with breathing problems and people with anemia are all more likely to experience ill effects from exposure to carbon monoxide.Carbon monoxide has been called the silent killer, because it is completely undetectable by human senses. People who experience carbon monoxide poisoning often have no idea what is happening to them. There are many ways that you can protect yourself and other people in your home from carbon monoxide exposure.

Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is invisible and difficult to detect. Awareness about carbon monoxide poisoning can save lives. Carbon monoxide often enters the home via an appliance that is malfunctioning or an engine that has been left running. People who are exposed to carbon monoxide will experience varying symptoms. Knowing what to look for can help you avoid exposure, and take action when a problem occurs.

Warning Signs in the Home

Carbon Monoxide Building up in HomeAlthough carbon monoxide is itself impossible to smell, hear or see, some warning signs can still be detected. Condensation on the windows, for example, could be an indication of a problem. This occurs because carbon monoxide and water vapor are both byproducts of inefficient combustion. When water vapor appears suddenly and inexplicably in the home, carbon monoxide may be present as well.In some cases, the appliance that is burning fuel inefficiently may produce a hot or stuffy smell. Appliances that leak carbon monoxide may also develop a sooty stain. A pilot light that goes out frequently could be an indication of a problem, as is slow burning fuel.In the case of a fireplace, soot may fall down from the chimney into the firebox. You might also notice lack of an upward draft.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

In mild cases, symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can seem very flu-like. The severity of the symptoms will depend on the person and also on the level of exposure. Symptoms of mild exposure include:
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach pain
  • Disorientation
  • Exhaustion
  • Burning eyes
  • Difficulty breathing
Carbon monoxide poisoning is different from flu because of the lack of fever. People start feeling better soon after leaving the area of exposure.Severe cases of poisoning can cause more serious problems. Memory loss, loss of vision and even loss of consciousness are all symptoms of exposure. A feeling of vertigo, chest pains, seizures and a total loss of coordination can all happen. Some victims may even think they're having a heart attack. In the most serious cases, the result may be brain damage, coma or even death.

What to Do When You Suspect Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

What is Carbon Monoxide PoisoningVictims often cannot think clearly once poisoning has set in, which makes self-diagnosis challenging. One of the tell-tale signs is that pets and other people in the house will experience symptoms of poisoning at the same time.In the event of exposure, getting fresh air should be the first priority. Once outside, contact emergency services. Tell the authorities your assumed diagnosis so they can test you for exposure. Do not go back into your house until the air inside has cleared and the environment is safe. If you believe that your exposure is due to a problem with a gas-powered appliance, have your gas company inspect your house and gas line.If someone you love is exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning, call 9-1-1. Be aware that a rescue attempt in a carbon-monoxide rich environment could lead to a dangerous or even fatal level of exposure. Ask emergency responders for next steps before attempting to rescue a loved one yourself.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Because symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can look like so many other ailments, and because carbon monoxide is basically impossible to detect, carbon monoxide detectors are an essential part of protecting yourself and those in your home from poisoning. Many people have at least one carbon monoxide detector in their home. Here's what you need to know to stay safe.

How Does a Carbon Monoxide Detector Work?

Carbon Monoxide Detector ExampleA simple reaction causes the alarm to sound. Carbon monoxide detectors come with sensors that measure the parts per million (PPM) of the carbon monoxide (CO) in the atmosphere. If the machine detects high amounts of carbon monoxide in the air, the alarm sounds. The higher the concentration, the faster the alarm will sound. 9 PPM is common in homes, but levels of 10 PPM and over can cause health stress for some higher-risk individuals. A normal healthy adult may be at risk at around 36 PPM and up.Carbon monoxide detectors also come with an LED light that indicates the unit is functioning. You'll be able to tell your carbon monoxide detector is functioning by watching the alarm for the light to flash, or by pushing the test button. If pushing the test button does not cause the alarm to sound, then the batteries may be dead or the unit may need to be replaced.Most detectors need to be replaced every 5 to 7 years. Check your specific unit for an expiration date or a date of manufacture, then replace the unit when the time comes.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Alarms Should I Have? In What Location?

You almost can't have too many carbon monoxide detectors. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends putting carbon monoxide detectors in a number of places in your home. Put them outside your bedrooms, in your hallway, in your kitchen, near your furnace and on every floor of your house.If you have an enclosed attached garage, put a detector just inside or near the door to your garage. If you're hard of hearing, make sure carbon monoxide detectors are dispersed so you will hear them from where ever they go off. Here is another resource of general DO's and DONT'S when it comes to carbon monoxide detector placement.

What Type of Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should You Install?

Carbon Monoxide Detector on CeilingThere are multiple types of carbon monoxide detectors. You can choose the type that's right for you, your budget and your household.
  • Battery operated. These are basic carbon monoxide detectors that can be installed easily with a simple screw.
  • Hardwired. Hardwired carbon monoxide detectors are connected to a home's electrical grid; they rely on battery backup when the power goes out.
  • Digital. Digital carbon monoxide detectors show the level of carbon monoxide in the home so homeowners can monitor the level of CO in the air.
  • Smart. Smart carbon monoxide detectors can be connected to a home's wireless network, so levels of CO can be monitored even from a distance.
Many modern homes come with carbon monoxide detectors hard wired into the walls. If your home does not have hardwired detectors, battery operated carbon monoxide detectors will work just as well.

Maintenance

Once the carbon monoxide detectors have been put up, test them monthly and replace their batteries annually. Be sure to check the expiration dates or dates of manufacture when you replace the batteries, to ensure that the detectors are replaced when the time is right.Like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors will chirp when their batteries start to go dead. When the unit detects carbon monoxide, the alarm will sound. No amount of replacing the battery will stop the unit from beeping if there is carbon monoxide in the air. Don't assume that there's a false alarm if the unit goes off.

What to Do When the Carbon Monoxide Detector Goes Off

When a carbon monoxide detector goes off in your home, leave the house calmly. Take everyone in your house outside with you, and if possible, bring your cell phone as well. Once outside, check everyone for signs of possible carbon monoxide poisoning. Contact the authorities to alert them to the problem, and if people from your household are showing signs of a health problem, tell the authorities while you're on the phone.Hopefully emergency personnel will come evaluate your home for possible carbon monoxide leaks. If the authorities are not coming, contact an appliance repair person, plumber, HVAC contractor or someone from the gas company to check on the problem for you.If the carbon monoxide detector goes off and the proper help is unable to find sources of carbon monoxide in your home, the problem may have dissipated or you may have had a false alarm. The following tips will help you avoid false alarms in the future:
  • Relocate your carbon monoxide detectors to an area 10 feet away from sources of humidity and 20 feet away from fossil fuel burning appliances.
  • Replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are functioning properly.
  • Replace the units altogether if you have reason to believe that they're no longer working.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning at Home

Sometimes it is not a fuel-burning appliance that causes the problem, but the person operating the appliance. It's very important to use best practices when operating your home's appliances, fixtures and heat sources. Be aware of the things you could do that would potentially put you at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. The more you know about carbon monoxide and how it is produced, the better.

Things That Cause Carbon Monoxide Buildup

Sources of Carbon Monoxide in HomeAn array of things can cause carbon monoxide to buildup inside the house. Appliances must burn fuel efficiently or they could produce excessive amounts of carbon monoxide. You can protect yourself by inspecting your home's appliances for indications of a problem and by keeping your appliances in good condition.Gas-Burning FurnaceGas-burning furnaces use combustion to produce heat that keeps your home warm. Inspect your furnace on an annual basis and watch for signs of inefficiency. Take note of the following problems:
  • Yellow flames
  • Soot around the combustion chamber
  • Blocked vents
If your furnace displays any of these symptoms, contact an HVAC professional immediately for a check up and tune up.Gas-Burning StoveLike the furnace, a gas-burning stove should produce blue flames and little or no soot. Using the vent in your kitchen can help keep carbon monoxide levels low when cooking. If there is no vent, or if the vent is not functioning, have that fixed. Avoid setting oversized pots on the flame, and avoid placing foil on the bottom of the oven.Fireplace or Wood-Burning StoveAn upward draft in your chimney is required to keep a fire burning efficiently in your home. Pay attention to poor upward draft (your home will become smokey). And only burn seasoned firewood.Have your gas and wood burning appliances inspected on a regular basis, and have your chimney inspected and cleaned yearly. Get a tune up for any fuel-burning appliances that start to behave strangely, produce odd odors, make strange sounds or function less efficiently.Water HeatersGas burning water heaters are a source of carbon monoxide just like any furnace or stove. Gas burning water heaters rely on a pilot light to produce combustion that heats water in the tank. Gas burning water heaters that are burning inefficiently may produce soot or a yellow-brown byproduct that indicates poor combustion. If you can see the pilot light, look for yellow flames instead of blue. Have your water heater inspected if you notice signs of a problem.EnginesEngines of all types produce carbon monoxide. Car engines, generators, power tools and lawn mowers are all common sources of carbon monoxide in the home. Poisoning by carbon monoxide sometimes happens when car owners accidentally leave their cars running.This is becoming more common as a greater number of car owners now use keyless fobs to operate their vehicle. This is an easy mistake to make because modern cars tend to be very quiet, and no key is required to shut off the car. If you're buying a modern car, you can protect yourself from this problem by purchasing a vehicle that has an alarm that will alert you if you leave the car running. Other ways to protect yourself from engine-related carbon monoxide include:
  • Avoid turning on lawn mowers and power tools indoors.
  • Never run a generator indoors; place generators outside at least 20 feet from windows and entryways.

Best Practices and What Not to Do

A lot of homeowners and renters make mistakes that lead to carbon monoxide poisoning because they simply don't know any better. If you own a home or rent an apartment with appliances that burn fuel, or if you keep gasoline on hand in your home, familiarize yourself with these best practices.GasolineAs gasoline evaporates, it produces a number of vapors, including carbon monoxide. You can protect yourself and members of your household by keeping gasoline in an air-tight container away from sources of combustion.
  • Use a gasoline container with a child-proof lid to store gasoline.
  • Keep gasoline away from heat sources and sources of combustion.
  • Never use gasoline to light a fire.
  • Never store gasoline without a lid.
  • If possible, keep gasoline in a detached structure like a shed.
Other Sources of Carbon Monoxide PoisoningIn addition to the common sources mentioned above, there are other ways that can cause the build up of carbon monoxide in the home. Fumes from certain paint thinners and other harsh chemicals may contain carbon monoxide. If you're taking on any home improvement projects that involve harsh chemicals, follow all manufacturer instructions that require use in a well-ventilated space.Grills can be a source of carbon monoxide poisoning. Never operate a charcoal or gas grill indoors, even in a garage with the door open. Operate grills outdoors, away from windows in areas where ventilation is good.Even a blocked chimney or a partially closed flue could cause your home to fill with carbon monoxide quickly. Check the flue before lighting a fire in your chimney or wood-burning stove, especially when lighting for the first time at the start of winter or after a long period of time. Never use your fireplace if your chimney is partially blocked by an obstruction.Finally, camping stoves can also be a source of carbon monoxide. Never use a camping stove indoors in a space that is not well ventilated.

Stay Educated, Stay Aware

Changing Battery in Carbon Monoxide DetectorUnder the right conditions, carbon monoxide poisoning can happen anywhere, in any home. Being aware of the potential danger can help you protect yourself, your loved ones and the people & pets in your household.If you and others in your household become mysteriously ill all at the same time, stop to ask yourself why. Keep carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your house and in strategic locations. Replace batteries annually, check the expiration dates and replace as needed.If your carbon monoxide detector does go off, don't assume that it's a mistake. Get your family out of the house and work with the authorities to ensure that your house is safe.Many government agencies provide information about carbon monoxide poisoning. When the time comes to buy new carbon monoxide detectors, consider replacing old standard detectors with smart or digital devices, which provide more information about the conditions inside your house. If you have questions about the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, talk to your doctor. If you're worried about the condition of your appliances, talk to your appliance repair person or contractor. Following these tips could save your life and the life of the people you love.
 
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What Do I Need to Know About Mold?

There are few things that homeowners dread more than mold in the house. You’ve likely heard horror stories about people living with mold infestations that made them seriously ill. Is this just hype, or is there a real danger to having mold in your home? More importantly, what can you do if you find mold growing somewhere in the house?

What Is Mold?

Mold is a broad group of fungi, with thousands of species and subspecies around the world that typically prefer dark and damp habitats. Often fuzzy in appearance (though occasionally slimy or cottony), molds spread across materials and break them down to get the nutrients the mold needs to survive and thrive. Instead of seeds, molds release single-celled spores that in many cases are too small to see with the naked eye; these spores float through the air to land on a variety of surfaces, beginning growth once they find themselves in a suitable habitat. Though molds are made up of a number of individual stalks fibers, a connected clump of mold is considered to be a single living entity.

Types of Mold

There are several common types of mold that you might see around the house. While some of these may not be inherently dangerous, any mold can trigger reactions in anyone with an allergy or sensitivity. The five most common of these molds are:
  • Aspergillus: One of the most common indoor molds, it often appears green, blue-green or gray but can also appear white or even yellow.
  • Cladosporium: A black or green mold that has an appearance like ground pepper, it commonly grows on smooth surfaces like toilets and painted walls but can also grow in fabrics and rugs.
  • Ulocladium: A black mold that grows in wet areas, especially in cracks and corners; it is most common in homes with water damage and active leaks.
  • Aureobasidium: Varying in color from pink to brown or black, this mold most commonly grows behind wallpaper, on painted surfaces and on wood.
  • Stachybortrys: The infamous “black mold”, it features a slimy dark green or black color and thrives in areas that are damp and maintain high humidity for weeks.

Is Mold Actually Dangerous?

While many molds are allergens, most will not cause severe reactions unless you have a mold sensitivity or have other health problems that make you more prone to infection. However, some molds (such as black mold) actually are toxic and can make you very sick if you’re around them for too long. Symptoms of a mold allergy or toxic mold exposure can include a chronic cough, skin rashes, fatigue, difficulty focusing and even pain or infection in your sinuses, eyes and ears.

Mold Testing and Removal

If you suspect that you have mold problems, there are home tests available to help you identify the type of mold in your home. These should only be a first step, however, as they often aren’t enough to definitively show you the scope of your mold problem. Call in an expert to confirm the results of your test or take a scraping of the mold and have it analyzed. Be sure to wear a dust mask or other breathing protection if you aren’t sure what type of mold you’re dealing with until the problem is taken care of.For many mold infestations, getting rid of leaks or other sources of humidity is a great way to slow or even stop mold growth. Mold can cause serious damage over time, however, so you may need professional mold removal and repair services if you can’t get the problem under control early.Is your home in need of some serious mold removal? HomeKeepr can help you find a mold remediator to get the mold out quickly and at a price you can afford. Because we utilize references instead of reviews, you’ll be able to rest assured that the expert you choose can really get the job done.
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Decluttering Your Home Checklist

by  | Jun 15, 2019 | 0 comments

So, the time has come for you to rise and shine, leaving the past behind and getting ready to embrace a new beginning. Ahh, isn’t that the beauty of moving?Okay, before we get too dreamy in here, let’s swallow the bitter part of relocating. 1, 2, 3 … Go! If only decluttering your home checklist was such a short run, huh?Well, while it might not be the fastest task to accomplish, taking the time to pack up your belongings is, in fact, a fantastic opportunity. There is no better way to get rid of everything which has been left behind in the dusty corners of your wardrobe, the basement, or you name it.Instead of thinking of decluttering your home as a tedious obligation, why don’t you enjoy the ride? Below, we are sharing some contaminating cute ideas to help you on your quest. (Of course, don’t be shy to thank us later for the gulp of inspiration! Xo-xo).For starters, let’s discuss the different methods of decluttering.

Where to Start?

The biggest challenge is where to start when a large amount of stuff in your house overwhelms you. Ask yourself this:
  • Which rooms in your home tend to collect clutter frequently?
  • Which is the most stressful room or area in your home?
  • Which space would have the biggest impact if you could declutter it quickly?
Your answers will help you create a strategy for your decluttering process. It's best to start with a space you can declutter quickly, and have a big impact. The ideal choice is the kitchen counters. This will give you a quick win for motivation.Don't overwhelm yourself by picking the most difficult or challenging space at the beginning. The idea is to work for the bottom up. Starting a project and completing it has a feel good vibe that will propel you forward to the next task.There're several ways to approach the decluttering process. The top four best methods include:
  • 20-minute method
  • Weekend plan
  • Kondo style
  • One room at a time

20-minute Method

This method makes use of a timer with a 20-minute countdown to tackle tasks in smaller time doses. The upside of this method is you will not burn out in 20 minutes. The downside is you won't be able to declutter a big space in those few minutes.This method is ideal for smaller more defined spaces such as the kitchen. Here is where you tackle one cabinet or drawer at a time. The 20-minute method may not be perfect for a closet unless you divide it into specific segments - say skirts, trousers, boots and the like.This option is great if you want to make tangible progress but you're short on time. If you’re planning to move houses in a couple of weeks, this process could come in handy.

Weekend Plan

If you're the jump all in at once kind of person, this method is for you. Furthermore, with enough motivation, and someone to watch over the kids for the weekend, the more tasks you’ll complete. This method doesn't work for everyone as it’s akin to sprinting the marathon.If you do choose this method, create a concrete plan for the order in which you will declutter the rooms. It's foolhardy to start every room in your house only to run out of time to put everything back in order. This method is ideal if you’re planning to move on short notice, say at the end of the month.

Kondo Style

In Marie Kondo's popular book "The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up", she discusses her approach to decluttering. Her forte is to take out every similar item when you declutter.For example, if you're cleaning the pantry, you must take out all the items and foodstuffs inside. In other categories, this method can be tiresome as you might not know where every office supply in the house is stored. The main reason why we have so much clutter is that we accumulate so much stuff without realizing it. Blame it on impulse buying.You’ll most likely end up with forgotten items and duplicates whenever you store your stuff in different places. Consolidating everything in one place to assess what stays and what goes is enlightening and reveals a lot. This part of the process is important as it allows you to select what to keep and what to dispose of.The Kondo style method lets you know all you own and enables you to be more mindful to avoid accumulating clutter in your home. This is also a clever way to audit your belongings.

One Room at a Time

This method is self-explanatory. You choose a room to start with and go through every room one after the other. If you choose this method, it’s recommended to begin with your bedroom. The idea is that the room where you sleep should be the most relaxing and calming. You'll probably have orderly dreams if you fall asleep in a room where books, clothes or random items are in their rightful place. Such is a serene resting area.Bathrooms are great to do next. This is because most people don't have much sentimental attachment to bathroom products making it less overwhelming to tackle. In regards to the rest of the house, the size of some rooms and amount of clutter will determine how you will tackle the remaining rooms. Approach such rooms’ one section at a time.Assuming you have one or two months before moving house, the one room at a time method is perfect as it will give you plenty of time to declutter.In this article, we’ll discuss in depth how to go about the One Room at a Time Method.

Supplies to Gather for One Room at a Time Method

Before you get started, here are the items you need at a minimum:
  • Rolls of large heavy-duty garbage bags for household trash.
  • Two large boxes or bins marked "Keep" and "Donate", for sorting the likely donations. Also, add a “Put Away” box.
  • A dust mask will come in handy for closets and dealing with many clothes.
  • Masking tape and sharpie for labeling items.
You can use baskets, bins and cardboard boxes for this task. If you have a family, assign each a bag or box with a specific label.

1. Declutter the Outside of Your House

Before you begin decluttering the interior of your house, first declutter the outside of your home. This will help set the mood for what awaits you inside. Anytime you go home after a hard day's work to find a neatly trimmed hedge, and well-maintained yard, it won't matter how rough your day was.Lookout for any blooming flowers and discard spent blossoms. Illuminate your home at night by changing any burnt out lightbulbs and install enough security lights. As you enter the house, ensure door knobs, door handles and locks are in tip-top shape. Don't forget to lubricate squeaky hinges.

2. Declutter the Foyer

Once you have decluttered the outside, start at the entrance and work your way through the house room by room. Maybe you don't have a traditional mudroom or foyer, but you definitely have an entryway. No matter its size, the best way to make an entryway more functional is to declutter it regularly. Since this is the welcoming area for your guests, ensure the foyer is spotless.Start with any console, side table or desk in your entry. Scrutinize each drawer by removing the contents and decide which items to dispose or keep. Go over the top of each desk and make sure you have space for your keys and other important items. When everything is accessible and not overcrowded, it will be easier to leave the house with what you need each morning.Declutter the hall closet the same way as any other closet. Start with shoes and boots, jackets and finally accessories. The entry also picks up lots of clutter from other rooms. Put items from other rooms in the put away box and back to their rightful space.

3. Declutter Your Bathrooms

Of all the rooms in the house, you should first start by decluttering the bathroom. This is because it's the smallest room in the house and the easiest to clean.Start with the medicine cabinet. Empty it of every item and discard outdated medication, skincare products, and makeup. Return everything you're keeping back into the cabinet and store the items you use most often at eye level.Next move to the cabinet drawers. Remove everything and do a quick evaluation of what to keep and what to discard. Return the items you're going to keep back into the drawers, with the items you frequently use in the top drawers.Move to the shower or tub and clean it out. Spray the shower with a cleaning product to get rid of any stains and molds. If you’re planning on selling the house, you definitely don’t want a potential buyer to see such stains.Clean the mirror, clean the floor, clean vanity, and most importantly clean the toilet. Remove everything from underneath your bathroom sink and declutter the items therein. Finally, sort every item that doesn’t have a home into the four bags or boxes you have staged for the purpose.

4. Declutter Your Bedrooms

Start by spreading your bed. It makes no sense to start decluttering the bedroom while an unmade bed stares at you. Same as the bathroom, it's not surprising to find the easy stuff are cluttering the bedroom. Clear the space next to the bed, clear off the nightstand, then go underneath the bed and clear whatever items that seem out of place. Most of these items are the easy stuff.Don't waste time on clothes. Though the closet is in the bedroom, that's a separate zone to deal with next. Fold and put the clothes back in the bureau and round up all the clothes that are on the floor and toss them into laundry baskets.Sort through photos and décor. Many photos, souvenirs, and frames end up in the bedroom, covering bureaus and nightstands. This makes the room appear more cluttered than decorated. Sort out the items you don't have a strong attachment to and donate them.Clean the bedroom from top to bottom. Clean the windows and finish by vacuuming and dusting surfaces and blinds.

5. Declutter Your Closet

You probably have more clothes than you can manage, especially if you're a clothes shopaholic. This makes clothes the main source of your closet clutter. The best way to declutter a closet is to first declutter your clothing by type. This means you start with shoes, boots, shirts or blouses, denim, trousers and the like.The main challenge here is discarding old and outdated stuff. Donate all the clothes that don’t fit and freebies you never wear. Again, start with the easy decisions such as the promotional tees from events and jeans that you outgrew way back in college.Once you've sorted each type of clothing, you will have four piles to deal with:
  • Put away any item that was in the wrong place. For example, if you had boxers in the closet, put them in the dresser.
  • Toss any dirty laundry into the hamper or take it to the laundry room.
  • Any clothing that needs repair should go to the tailor or the cleaners.
  • Donations and consignments should go to the donations bag or box.

6. Declutter Your Laundry Room

Having sorted out clothes for laundry, head to the laundry room as it also has a big impact on your family's wealth. The same way the bathroom is filled with ominous water so is the laundry room.
  • Provide good task lighting
  • Clean the storage cabinets
  • Empty the trash can
  • Clean around the washer and dryer

7. Declutter Your Kitchen

The kitchen is a daily disaster zone. One minute it's spotless, the next counters are choking from all kind of foodstuff and utensils. Because of all the cooking, eating and socializing that takes place here, it can be a challenge to keep it clutter-free. Since it's a daily struggle, it's best to leave this room towards the end.The kitchen is the storage for all kind of items. You should, therefore, declutter your kitchen by focusing on one category of an item at a time. This includes glassware, cutting boards, utensils, or cutlery. You can also do zonal decluttering of each part of the kitchen.Empty each space, analyze each item, and return everything back to its rightful space. First identify powerhouse storage areas, upper cabinets, and the pantry. Move onto the drawers, lower cabinets, and the space under the kitchen sink.For the most part, expired food needs to be thrown away. The exceptions are where there's a difference between "Use By" and "Best By" dates. Other foodstuffs to dispose of include freezer-burned food, expired or unused spices, old oils, stale crackers and snacks, and food you're never going to eat. Such food is better off with someone who will actually use it.While decluttering the countertops, move as many items as possible off of the countertops and into storage spaces. Keep only what you use on a daily basis on the countertops.Excess plastic grocery bags can easily build up and when you have more than you will use, they take up unnecessary space. Recycle them at your local grocery store or see if a neighbor can use them.Finally, take your put away box and return any item that doesn't belong to the kitchen to its rightful storage space in the house.

8. Declutter Your Living Room

The den is the ideal downtime area and gathering place for your family. This room should have a relaxed ambiance. Because of the many activities it hosts, it's one of the hardest rooms to keep neat every day. Living rooms also don’t offer enough storage spaces. You may have a TV console and several bookcases, but they don't hide much.The key to decluttering the living room is to decide on permanent storage spaces for items you frequently use such as magazines, books, and remote controls.Start with side tables, consoles, and bookcases. Then move to the coffee table and entertainment unit. Empty them, evaluate the items they store, then return them to the proper storage area. Keep books out of sight, action your mail, fold blankets, prop pillows and the like.Next move to the electronics. Are you using every electronic item and do they work? Remove any gadget that is not connected to the television or home theater system. Store items such as gaming equipment and chargers where you use them.Finally, if you have kids, tackle the toys. Do all the toys work? Do your kids still play with them? Assess every toy for wear and tear. Donate the toys you don’t need or grab the put away box and return everything that belongs in another room to its rightful space.

9. Declutter Your Home Office

Any attempt to work in a disorganized office will always meet resistance and obstacles. The moment you declutter your office, a new wave of energy will flow into your workspace. In general, office spaces have one thing in common - paper clutter. Avoid having piles of unsorted papers lying around. Greeting cards that have served their purpose are worthless, ditch them.Vacuum and dust the room, close bookcase doors and categorize desk drawers with similar items. Resist tossing loose items in a drawer by using small cardboard boxes as drawer organizers. Sorting through the mess can take a considerable amount of time. If you're stuck here, place the cards or paperwork in a folder or attractive storage boxes and hide them for another day.

What to Do with All the Items after Decluttering

A crucial part of prior planning is knowing where to take donations of the many things you'll discover you don't need.The Thrift Shopper search engine lists all the thrift stores by zip code in your area. Look up salvationarmy or goodwill to identify a thrift shop nearby that can accept your donations. Other disposal options include:
  • Recycling
  • Trash
  • Animal shelters
  • A garage sale
  • For electronics, you can transfer old CDs and DVDs onto a cloud-based service
And there you have it - not the shortcut to decluttering your home checklist but the fun, witty, and wise cut, instead! Decluttering doesn't have to be an overwhelming task. Start with the easy stuff first to get your juices flowing. As your motivation and momentum increase, keep going and give yourself targets of a few weeks or a month before relocating. Hope you enjoy every bit of your decluttering journey.
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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 buyersPaint 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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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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