Spruce Up Your House for Holiday Hosting

The holiday season is one of the most-traveled periods of the entire year. People drive and fly across the country or around the world to visit friends and loved ones. It’s wonderful to have those you care about coming to visit, but it can also be very stressful if your home is in disarray. Even though you tell yourselves that people won’t really care about what your home looks like, there’s always that fear that they’ll judge you if your house isn’t ready for guests.You don’t have to worry, though. There are a number of ways that you can make your home more festive in preparation for holiday visitors. Here are just a few suggestions to help get you started.

Rearrange the Furniture

Even something as simple as rearranging some of the furniture can have a big impact on the look of your home when company arrives. Changing the positioning of couches, chairs and other large pieces can open rooms up and make them seem more inviting to your visitors. Best of all, you can easily focus the changes around a Christmas tree or other holiday centerpieces to really tie things together and create a unified holiday look. Once your guests leave, you can either move the furniture back to its usual spots or leave it where it is to keep the new look going throughout the year.

Clean Up the Outdoors

Another place that you can make a big impact is cleaning up around the outdoors. Rake and mulch leaves, clean up flower beds, trim back trees and bushes… do whatever needs to be done to get everything looking great before the temperatures drop too low. If possible, you may even want to clean the bricks or siding and clean out your gutters. While you’re up there, you may as well install some hangers for holiday light strings, too!

Update Your Accents

One seemingly small change that can make a big impression is to change the accent colors on your home by painting the doors and shutters. This option isn’t right for everyone since it’s a permanent change, but for those wanting to update the look of their home it can make a big difference. While the color you choose is dependent on the color of your home and your personal preference, going with red or green can add a splash of holiday flair that will still look great the rest of the year through.

Spruce Up the Floors

If your carpets are stained, worn or otherwise need a refresh, don’t just install a similar carpet in their place: Consider going for woodgrain vinyl slats or laminate wood flooring instead. These flooring options add the beauty of a natural wood floor without the frustration, standing up to stains and other issues while requiring significantly less work to maintain. Best of all, a change to a wood look near the holidays can enhance the charm of your home when your visitors finally arrive.

Change Your Decorating Style

Consider ditching the tired old holiday decorations that you put up every year and go with a bit of a different look this time around. If you usually go cartoony, consider something classier like white lights and pine accents. If your decorations are usually sparse, do something a bit more over the top this year. It doesn’t matter how you refresh your decorations, just give your visitors something to see that they haven’t seen before. While this is especially effective if combined with other updates to your home, you can still wow your guests just by subverting their expectations of your holiday décor.

Bring in the Pros

If you can’t come up with a solution you like, consider bringing in a decorator to help you find the holiday updates that work best for your house. HomeKeepr can help you find the perfect decorator to wow your guests when they arrive. Sign up for your free account today!
Read more...

Heating Sources Explained

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

Gas Heat

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

Forced Air

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

Baseboard Radiators

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

Radiant Heat

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

Solid Fuel Heaters

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

CHP Systems

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

Turn Up the Heat

If you aren’t sure what type of heating system is best for your needs, HomeKeepr is here to help. Sign up for free and we can help you find a professional that will match you with the heating solution that best fits your home and budget.
Read more...

The Post-Inspection Negotiation Two-Step: What You Can Expect

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

Gauging Severity

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

Loan Program Requirements

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

Negotiating Repairs

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

Market Strength

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

Need Some Help?

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

Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) & Air Exchange Systems

Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) & Air Exchange Systems There are some commonly asked questions about the installation, maintenance and operation of home ventilation systems. If you have others, please contact us and we'll be happy to answer them. Why is proper ventilation in my home so important? Controlling Moisture Levels in your home – Moisture comes from cooking, bathing and breathing. Too much moisture may not only cause condensation which can damage the structure of your home but also provides a breeding ground for mould, mildew & bacteria. Ridding your home of pollutants and Contaminants –construction materials used in new homes and furniture as well as regular household products may release toxic fumes and gases that contribute to poor indoor air quality and possible health issues.​ How is a Heat Recovery Ventilation System different from a regular air exchanger? Both Air Exchangers and HVR systems move old, stale air out of your home and draw fresh air in. The difference is that an air exchanger expels heat – as well as your money! A HRV system transfers (recovers) as much as 80% of the heat energy from the out-going air to the clean fresh air coming in. Good for the environment and for your wallet. Can a HRV system be installed in an older home? Yes. Clean Air Solutions will install a ventilation system that is custom fit for your home. How do I maintain my ventilation system once it’s installed? Regular Maintenance of your HRV system is required to keep it working properly. In fact an improperly serviced HRV may not only contaminate the incoming air​ but also reduce the transfer of heat energy from 80% to as low as 20%. How do I adjust the HRV settings? Clean Air Solutions recommends these settings for your HRV system: Spring | Mid-June Turn your wall control to a high setting (above 70) Fall | Mid-October Turn your wall control back to its regular setting (usually 45) Every 3 Months Remove & Clean Filters Clean Exterior Vents Annually Book a 10 Point Service Plan appointment with Clean Air Solutions Will a HRV work with all heating systems? Yes. It is independent of the heating system in the house. Are there health benefits to installing a HRV? According to Health Canada, 1 in 4 Canadians have reported health problems linked to poor indoor air quality. Indoor pollutants can contribute to health issues such as allergies, headaches, fatigue, asthma and other respiratory conditions. Removing contaminated air from your home and bringing in fresh air can alleviate these symptoms. Does the same air get recycled? No. There are two vents: one draws the warm stale and polluted air from the living areas of your home through the HRV system to be released outside. The second draws a continuous stream of cool fresh air in through the system to be distributed throughout your home. The ducts run side by side and only the heat energy is transferred from one to the other. How much does it cost to install a HRV system? The cost to install a HRV will vary depending on the size of the home, whether it’s newly constructed or requires retrofitting, the complexity of the installation, etc.
Read more...

SMART HOMEOWNER 13 Etiquette Rules All Good Neighbors Need to Follow!

Because civilization is built on neighbors being civilized to each other.

1 / 13

The tourist rings the doorbell to check in to the room he has booked or the student with the backpack returns home after classes at the institute or on vacation.

If you have a problem, talk to your neighbors first

Does your neighbor’s music keep you up at night? Are their kids bothering your dog? Talk to them. Having an in-person confrontation can feel scary, particularly if you need to say something you’re worried your neighbor won’t like, but talking things through face-to-face should be the first thing you try, says Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert, author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life, and founder of The Protocol School of Texas. “Go with a polite, non-confrontational attitude and you might be surprised how well most people respond,” she says. “Also, a plate of cookies never hurts.” If talking face-to-face doesn’t work try these 12 steps for dealing with bad neighbors. As a last resort, escalate issues to your HOA or local authorities.
2 / 13

Neighborhood watch sign in a sunny Midwest suburb.

Have a neighborhood safety plan

“Wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes—you never know what will happen these days and if you ever get stuck in an emergency situation your neighbors are going to be the people you turn to first,” says Julie Bowman, MPH, emergency preparedness and public health expert. This is why it’s so important to set up a safety plan with your neighbors, she says. It can be as simple as printing out a map and marking where people are who will need help―like the elderly—to as complex as a neighborhood watch program or more. What you need will vary by community but start with these tips for making your own neighborhood plan from the National Crime Prevention Council. This is what to do if your neighbor’s tree has grown into your yard.
3 / 13

Family Outside House On Moving Day. cardboard boxes foreground near steps

Look for ways to help neighbors instead of seeing them as problems

Does your elderly neighbor have an unkempt yard? Does the single mom next door always leave her garbage cans out? Are the kids unruly at the bus stop? Instead of gossiping or complaining, reach out and see if you can find a way to help—for instance, mowing your neighbor’s lawn, bringing her trash cans in when you bring in yours, or offering to stand outside with the kids until the bus comes. “Often there are very simple things you can do to solve the problem and not only will you brighten someone’s day but there may come a time when you need help and you’ll want your neighbors to be there for you,” Gottsman says.
4 / 13

Happy boy and dad with a ball on the basketball court

Smile and wave

Thanks to the Internet we’re interacting with people around the world more than ever but that may mean we’re also interacting much less with the people right next door to us. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to change that, says Bonnie Tsai, founder and director of Beyond Etiquette. “A smile, a wave, a brief exchange of pleasantries, can inspire a lot of goodwill with your neighbors,” she says. It doesn’t take much and makes the neighborhood a much happier place overall.
5 / 13

Group of smiling mature women drinking tea at balcony

Learn your neighbors’ names

This is Good Neighboring 101 but you’d be surprised how many people have lived next to someone for years and don’t know the first thing about them. Good neighbors will make the little extra effort to learn their neighbors’ names and a few things about their lives, like how long they’ve lived in the area, where they work, or if they have kids or pets, Tsai says. The payoff can be great. It will make you feel more connected to those around you but it can also help make your neighborhood safer—neighbors who know each other are more likely to watch out for each other. One of the best defenses against a home break-in is a neighbor who knows your schedule and notices something out of the ordinary. Check out 15 more ways you can be a good neighbor.
6 / 13

Woman gathering dog poo in park

Pick up your dog’s poop

“It’s just plain rude to leave dog excrement in public neighborhood areas or in other people’s yards,” says Erin Askeland, certified pet behavior expert at Camp Bow Wow. “Not only is it rude, but it’s also gross; dog excrement can transmit diseases, damage plants and grass, and, let’s be honest, doesn’t have the most pleasant smell.” Good neighbors understand that it is their responsibility as pet owners to clean up after their animals, she says.
7 / 13

People fist bump hands sign power supportRAWPIXEL.COM/SHUTTERSTOCK

Give your neighbors the benefit of the doubt

Do the teens next door have crazy hair and tattoos? Does the neighbor across the way practice a “weird” religion? Does the guy next door drive a big white van? Instead of assuming your neighbors are hoodlums, terrorists, or serial killers, give them the benefit of the doubt, Gottsman says. This doesn’t mean ignoring when people do bad things or putting yourself in unsafe situations, it simply means seeing people as people first and looking for other possible explanations for their behavior besides negative ones. You don’t have to be their best friend but you should treat them with respect and kindness, no matter what, Tsai says.
8 / 13

County style wooden fence.

Maintain your fences

“Good fences make good neighbors” isn’t just a cute Instagram quote, it’s really good advice as having appropriate boundaries—both physical and personal—can head off many of the typical neighbor fights, Tsai says. “It’s totally fine to say no sometimes. In fact, saying yes to everything your neighbors ask of will likely end up negatively impacting your relationship due to resentment and exhaustion,” she explains. Start with these 10 ways to build trust with your neighbors.
9 / 13

Attractive young woman using a laptop while relaxing on a sofa at home

Don’t fight with your neighbors on social media

Keyboard warriors are everywhere these days, using neighborhood apps and social media groups to share their indignation over everything from politics to teenagers trick-or-treating to dog poop. While this might garner you a lot of support, it doesn’t do much, if anything, to solve the problem and just marks you as a complainer, Gottsman says. “Hiding behind a keyboard is a very passive-aggressive way to deal with problems you may have with your neighbors,” she says. If you have a problem with a particular neighbor, talk to them offline and certainly don’t call people out by name on social media, she says. If your issue is more widespread—say a dangerous intersection by a bus stop—you’ll get better results calling the school, the bus company, the HOA, or the police directly. Besides, engaging on social media in a negative way could make you one of these real-life nightmare neighbors.
10 / 13

Excited Children Arriving Home With Parents

RSVP promptly to invitations

If your neighbor is kind enough to invite you to their picnic, birthday party, game night, graduation party, or another event then you should be kind enough to give them a prompt answer, says Emilie Dulles, a protocol expert and founder of Dulles Designs. Unfortunately, it’s become very common today for people to either not RSVP at all or to hold back on responding, waiting to see who else is coming first, but this makes it very hard on hosts, she says.
11 / 13

Male Multi Generation Family Sitting On Steps in Front Of House

Mind your manners

We often reserve our best manners for people we’re trying to impress, like a boss or potential partner, and let them slide when we’re at home. While it’s fine to be more casual with your neighbors than your coworkers, you should always be polite, Tsai says. This means saying “please” and “thank you” or “excuse me” and other niceties. Even if you find them annoying or rude, set a good example. Civilization is built on people being civilized to each other! Do you know these 10 things your neighbors won’t tell you?
12 / 13

man and woman working on their computers. the view from the top. two laptops, two persons.

Stay positive about your community online

Neighborhood apps, Facebook groups, and community message boards have replaced the backyard fence of older days, becoming the main way neighbors share information. These can be a great tool, as long as you remember your manners online as well. “The whole point of these groups is to build community and camaraderie so keep your posts and comments positive and productive,” Gottsman says. “Before posting something, ask yourself, ‘What is the benefit of this?’ and ‘How would I feel reading this?’” And if someone is mean to you online? “Take the high road and simply reply, ‘Let’s discuss this in person,’” she says. Can you guess the things your neighbor wants you to STOP doing?

13 / 13

Street of residential houses

Do your best to follow community rules

Many fights between neighbors start over a disagreement about the rules and how someone is or isn’t following them. Most of these can be avoided by simply doing your best to abide by the standards set by your neighborhood, Gottsman says. Whether that’s taking down holiday decorations by the end of January or not playing music outdoors after 10 or keeping your garbage cans out of sight, these were things your neighbors have decided are important so you should make a good faith effort to follow them, even if they seem silly to you. If you live in an area with an HOA, these rules were likely spelled out in your signed contract. Otherwise, you might have to dig a little deeper to figure out what the expected norms are in your neighborhood.
Read more...

Crawl Space Care: Insulation, Ventilation, Encapsulation, Oh My!

Updated on July 31st, 2019
Crawl spaces are often out of sight and, consequently, out of mind, making them easy to neglect. But don’t “space out” on your crawl space! Without proper care, your crawl space is susceptible to moisture, heat loss, pests, and a host of other complications. These common problems can damage your home’s foundation, cause sky-high energy bills, and introduce toxins to the air you breathe. With as much as 40 percent of the air in your home originating from your crawl space, learning to care for this area plays a big role in your health and the long-term health of your home.
crawl space

What is a Crawl Space?

A crawl space is a small space, ranging from one to three feet in height, that resides between the bottom floor of your home and the ground. A crawl space provides extra room for electrical wiring, plumbing components, and HVAC equipment. As the height of the crawl space is limited, getting into the area must be done by crawling, either on the stomach or the hands and knees (hence the name). For those searching for homes, or who own homes in close proximity to water or swampy areas, like Florida, exploring crawl spaces can be a necessary part of a home inspection.

What’s the Difference Between Crawl Space vs. Basement?

Crawl spaces are typically used in damp climates, where the ground is regularly too wet for basement construction. Supporting the home off of the ground keeps it away from moisture that could cause damage. In coastal areas where the soil is sandy, a crawl space can alleviate potential basement problems, like excessive water buildup that could put pressure on basement walls. Crawl spaces are also sometimes preferred in construction when a basement is too costly. Installing a crawl space is cheaper than installing a basement. crawl space A basement is a popular type of foundation that can add space and functionality to a home. Basements are often used as storage space, living areas, or both. A basement combines elements of a slab and crawl space. The floor in a basement is very similar to a slab, and the support system used under the basement floor is the same as what is used in a crawl space. Although basements can be a great addition to a home, they cannot be built in areas with high moisture levels or unsettled soil. They also happen to be the most expensive type of foundation to build.

Crawl Space Solutions for Common Problems

Problem: Moisture

Homes with poor ventilation are more susceptible to crawl space issues than others. Without regular evaluation, you may not know there is a problem until it’s too late. Signs of excessive moisture throughout the home are often readily noticeable, but signs of moisture in your crawl space may be harder to detect. Unfortunately, moisture in a crawl space can be just as problematic, causing complications such as mildew, dust mites, mold, and wood rot. When there is nowhere left for moisture to go within a crawl space, it can then travel into your insulation, flooring, and walls to create even larger problems. Crawl spaces with exposed dirt most commonly have trouble with an excess of moisture.

Solution: Vapor Barrier

A vapor barrier is one of the best ways to protect your home against the encroachment of moisture. Essentially a large plastic sheet placed over the base of a crawl space, vapor barriers are intended to fully cover any exposed dirt. While this doesn’t completely eliminate moisture, it does slow the process significantly. At 50 to 70 cents per square foot, sheet plastic is a cost-effective barrier for moisture in your crawl space. A vapor barrier can be a DIY project if you’re willing to get down and dirty, but the labor that goes into covering the entire ground area can be challenging to accomplish on your own. You’ll need a friend to help you pass the rolls of sheet plastic back and forth through the crawl space, or if this sounds too labor-intensive, a professional contractor may be the way to go. man in crawl space

Solution: Encapsulation

If a vapor barrier alone isn’t enough to tame moisture and ventilation problems, encapsulation can be a great alternative. The first step in this process involves a vapor barrier coupled with sealing tape and coverage of walls and ceiling areas. A complete encapsulation includes drain tile, a sump pit and pump, concrete, insulation, and a dehumidifier to properly condition the air. While placing a vapor barrier can be done independently, encapsulation is best handled by a professional. The installation process takes expertise, and installing a dehumidifier is best left to a trained technician. Hiring a contractor for this work costs about $5,500 on average.

Problem: Energy Loss

A crawl space isn’t a livable part of the home, but insulation is still important to keep the heat in. Crawl spaces can be a major source of energy loss. If you find yourself running your furnace all winter long, driving up high energy bills, yet still feel cold on the ground floor of your home, your crawl space could be the issue. If your crawl space isn’t properly insulated from the cold, you could be wasting energy and driving up your utility bills. Cracked Foundation

Solution: Insulation

Insulating your crawl space depends on the general climate in the area. In warm or dry areas, insulation can be limited to just the area between the floor joists. However, in subfreezing temperatures, insulating the walls and sealing off the crawl space is most effective. A professional can evaluate the state of your crawl space, make a recommendation, and handle the insulation process.

Problem: Pests

Rodents and insects can be a problem anywhere in your home, and a crawl space is no exception. Crawl spaces can easily become a dwelling for pests if they are not properly maintained. Since most homeowners do not spend much time in their crawl space, it may be harder to determine if there is a pest problem. Pests such as mice, rats, termites, carpenter ants, spiders and more have the ability to damage insulation, crawl through vapor barriers, dig into wood, and even tunnel into your main living spaces.

Solution: Pest Control

Proper crawl space maintenance, including encapsulation, can keep your property safe from pests. When all entrances and exits are sealed, the possibility of rodents and insects gaining entry to your home is almost impossible. If you do see signs of pests, partnering with an exterminator can treat problems at the source.

Crawl Space Inspection Checklist

A crawl space inspection is typically included in a standard home inspection when buying or selling a house. This is an area where issues tend to arise and can throw a wrench in the home sale. Both home sellers and buyers should be aware of the state of the crawl space in order to mitigate any potential problems prior to the sale. Here are the red flags that professionals look for during a crawl space inspection:
  • Electrical wiring issues
  • Plumbing issues
  • Moisture (standing water, damp insulation or warped building materials)
  • Pests (bugs, termites, rats, mice)
  • Mold and mildew
  • Ventilation issues
  • Cracks in the foundation
As a seller, you may want to have your crawl space inspected prior to listing it on the market. That way you are aware of any issues and can have them fixed before the sale, or adjust the sale price accordingly. As a homeowner, maintaining your crawl space is critical to the health and longevity of your home. That means doing an annual inspection and attending to problems as they arise, as well as taking preventative measures to keep your house healthy. If crawling under your home doesn’t seem like fun, you can always partner with the pros and hire someone to ensure your crawl space is in good hands. With these tips and fixes, you can be sure this “foundational” part of your home is properly maintained for years to come.
Read more...

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.
Read more...

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).
 
Read more...

SIDING How to Replace Vinyl Siding

vinyl siding repair
Cracked or broken vinyl siding is no reason for despair. A simple $5 tool gets the job done in 15-minutes. This article also includes some useful tips on how to get the best match possible for your original siding.

15-minute vinyl siding repair with a zip tool

siding removal tool

Photo 1: A zip tool is the key

Slide the zip tool along the bottom edge to release the vinyl siding from the piece below it. This vinyl siding repair tip will save you loads of time.

How Do You Replace Vinyl Siding?

Vinyl siding repair is tough, but not indestructible. If a falling branch or a well-hit baseball has cracked a piece of your siding, you can make it as good as new in about 15 minutes with a zip tool and a replacement piece. It’s as simple as unzipping the damaged piece and snapping in a new one. Get this vinyl siding repair kit zip tool on Amazon. Starting at one end of the damaged piece, push the end of the zip siding removal tool up under the siding until you feel it hook the bottom lip (Photo 1). Pull the zip tool downward and out to unhook the bottom lip, then slide it along the edge, pulling the siding out as you go. Then unzip any pieces above the damaged piece. Hold them out of the way with your elbow while you pry out the nails that hold the damaged piece in place (Photo 2). Slide the replacement piece up into place, pushing up until the lower lip locks into the piece below it. Drive 1-1/4-in. roofing nails through the nailing flange. Space them about every 16 in. (near the old nail holes). Nail in the center of the nailing slot and leave about 1/32 in. of space between the nail head and the siding so the vinyl can move freely. Don’t nail the heads tightly or the siding will buckle when it warms up. With the new piece nailed, use the zip tool to lock the upper piece down over it. Start at one end and pull the lip down, twisting the siding removal tool slightly to force the leading edge down (Photo 3). Slide the zip tool along, pushing in on the vinyl just behind the siding removal tool with your other hand so it snaps into place. It’s best to repair vinyl in warm weather. In temperatures below freezing, it becomes less flexible and may crack. The downside of replacing older vinyl siding is that it can be hard to match the style and color, and siding rarely has any identifying marks. The best way to get a replacement piece is to take the broken piece to vinyl siding distributors in your area and find the closest match. If the old vinyl has faded or you can’t find the right color, take the broken piece to a paint store and have the color matched. Paint the replacement piece with one coat of top-quality acrylic primer followed by acrylic house paint—acrylic paint will flex with the movement of the vinyl.

Required Tools for this How to Remove Vinyl Siding Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY how to remove vinyl siding project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
  • Pry bar

Required Materials for this How to Remove Vinyl Siding Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.
  • Zip tool
Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Read more...

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.
Read more...