Archive for the ‘DIY’ Category

Home Improvement Apps

There are many home improvement projects that one can take on; a project to get some photographs developed and framed might be a minor project or a home extension might be a large project. Whatever size the project is doesn’t really matter as thought and research needs to go into both. If it’s a small
project you want to take on, put effort into it and you will reap the rewards. Do some research about ways to liven a small space up, make the most of existing space or just create focus somewhere in a room.

A large scale home improvement project of course will require more budget and might take a longer time to complete and will likely require the input of some professionals. It is so important to seek out reliable professionals for this work as the last thing you want is to invest money in a project
like this and then to end up with a poorly finished project. Ask friends and family for recommendations or ask the tradesperson involved for testimonials or just go to see their work at a previous client’s home, if that is possible.

Technology can assist too in the form of apps for your phone or tablet. Our friends at EZ Living have created this informative Infographic which splits the home improvement project into segments and suggests some worthwhile apps for you to download. Check out the details below.

The-Smart-Kitchen-of-the-Future-is-Here

What’s That Smell? Simple Solutions to Making Your Kitchen Sink Smell Better

Do you have a kitchen sink that has a bad smell coming out it? If so, we have a few quick fixes to help get that stink out of your sink.

For Sinks with Garbage Disposals

sinks-with-disposals

Sinks with garbage disposals built in are a lot more likely to have food and waste going through them. While this can be convenient cleaning up around the kitchen, it also leads to a smelly sink. Other common causes for undesirable scents can be rotting food in your pipes or grime that builds up. Not only does it cause your sink to stink, left untreated it can also cause clogs down the line. Many of the following tips will leave your kitchen cleaner but can also save you money down the line.

What-is-that-smell

Dish Soap & Hot Water

Start this trick by filling your sink mostly full with soapy hot water, then turn on the garbage disposal, and unplug the sink. The hot water will fill up the garbage disposal, and hopefully flush out anything that may be causing the odor.

If this doesn’t work, then you will want to go on to more astringent methods to both clean and sanitize.

Coarse Salt, Lemon Peels and Ice Cubes

Another way to get rid of bad smells and clean any persistent gunk that maybe stuck to the blades of your disposal is this trick. Drop a handful of ice cubes and a few tablespoons of coarse salt to clean the disposal out, then put a whole lemon peel in after, grinding it up, to remove and smells.

Lemon and Vinegar Ice Cubes

This last method takes a little more effort but works wonders at getting rid of gross odors that won’t go away. Slice a lemon into small 1 inch cubes. Next, place the lemon cubes into an ice trey and cover with white vinegar. Put the lemon and vinegar filled ice tray into the freezer to set over night. The next day pop a few down the drain with the faucet gently running, and turn on the disposal. With a flip of the switch, the unpleasant scents should be gone.

 

For Sinks without Garbage Disposals

Sinks without garbage disposals have no way to clear themselves of buildup, which can lead to gross odors.

Boiling Water

water-sinkDon’t underestimate the cleaning power of hot water. To do this, just boil a pot of water and directly pour it down the drain. The sudden heat can dislodge grease and other buildup that may be causing the smell.

Vinegar & Baking Soda

No, we’re not making a homemade volcano but still, this same recipe is also a quick way to kill any odor causing bacteria living in your drain.

Pour 1 cup of baking soda followed by 2 cups of vinegar into the drain. Let the concoction bubble for a bit, then pour a pot of boiling water in to flush it all down the drain. For some extra strength, try adding coarse salt to the mix to really scour the gunk out of your drain.

Keep The Stink Away All Year Round

One final trick to keep stink away is sprinkle baking soda in to your drain periodically. This kills bacteria, and helps keep grease and other food waste from building up which will result in keeping any bad smells away for longer.

 

Author Bio: Leo stays busy running his plumbing company, Rooters on Time, in sunny Los Angeles, California. He’s been around pipes his whole life and loves to share his experience with others. When he’s not working, he can be found in his garage woodworking or doing other home improvement projects around his own home.

 

DIY Home Projects Even the Novice Can Do

diyIf you’re going to own property, it’s a good idea to develop your DIY-skills. Professional contractors make a lot of money for a good reason. They offer a service that enhances the value, allure, safety and functionality of your property. Actually thinking you should put a price on that contradicts the idea you want your property to last long, be beautiful and to grow in value.

What really gives us thought is how many jobs we give to painters, plumbers, electricians and other craftsmen that we can do ourselves. There are many repairs we hand over to others that do not necessarily require special skill or expensive equipment. And doing it ourselves not only encourages us to develop and improve our skills, doing it ourselves gives us greater reason to enjoy our homes as we invest our personal time and effort into its upkeep.

The following are some DIY projects you probably didn’t know you could easily do yourself, saving money, and adding value and pride to your home.

Replacing Shutoff Valves (Plumbing)

Nothing keeps plumbers busier than leaks. Unexplained running water is a mystery to many homeowners. But seals and moving parts do wear out. One thing we can tell you is if leaks continue even after the main shutoff valve is closed, it may be time to replace the valve. Remove coupling on the water meter’s downstream side and locate the oiled leather sealing washer. Get a replacement leather washer online or at a shop. If you have a gate-style valve, get a threaded ball valve replacement.

You may need to replace flanges with your pipework. If this is the case, use a flange table to gauge sizes.

Replacing an Outlet or Light Switch (Electrical)

The wise layman should be leery of working on electrical systems. But a switch or outlet can be swapped out with a little foreknowledge, a screwdriver, tester, common sense and a new switch or outlet. The first step is to turn power off at the main box, shutting power surging down and eliminating the possibility of shock. That’s the common sense part.

You can find plenty of sensible videos for replacing a light switch, but for the record, here’s the basic breakdown: Find the circuit box and shut off the switch for the section of the house you will be working in, or shut off the entire house. Make sure all occupants know what you’re doing and to not turn power back on. Remove the outlet face plate. Use the tester to ensure power is not running. Remove screws and pull out the outlet or switch. For peace of mind, take a picture of the wiring or mark wires with tape for easy identification. Loosen screws holding wires. Detach and discard damaged switch or outlet. Using the photo or wire labels, attach wires to new outlet or switch. Replace the screws and reinstall face plate. Turn power on and try the new device.

Replacing Windows (Renovation)

This is a two person operation. With a crowbar, take out the entire window casing, including sill plate and trim. You may have to adjust the frame if the new window doesn’t perfectly match. You can add new boards or remove parts of the exterior siding. Keep a one-quarter inch gap all around for insulation and other potential adjustments. Install the new window from outside, pushing the window up until it is flush with the frame. Screw the window in place, anchoring it to a solid piece of wood. Windows need to be square and plum. Once in the the correct position, use screws or nails to secure placement. Add an additional layer of window wrap around the fins, overlapping wrap and covering surfaces without letting wrap fold or crinkle. Insulate with expanding foam sealant in the gap between window and casing. Be careful to not add too much foam. Cover edges with painter’s tape to protect surfaces. After foam dries, scrape excess with a knife. You can now install the interior casing and any trim as needed.

 

Every DIY project increases the appraised value of the home. More importantly, stepping back, knowing you did the job yourself and probably saved hundreds of dollars will make you appreciate the home more.

What You Should Not Do Yourself

What You Should Not Do Yourself1When it comes to home improvement jobs, most of the people do consider that they can do it on their own.  Although it is a good decision to attempt some tasks on your own, such as the home cleaning service, always remember that you cannot do everything. There are many jobs that you do not know how to perform and this can even become a problem for you. Not every project is do it yourself kind of project. Sometimes, there are technical aspects related to the projects that you cannot even understand. In such situations, it is better to seek some professional help. People do watch different commercials about products that can make home refurbishment easier and then they try to practically make use of these products but it does not end up in the same way. There are few indicators that can help you in finding out whether it is a do it yourself job or not. You must assess each and every job in order to find out if you are able to do it or not. Assess the projects and see if you are capable enough to handle the job. Never try to bite more than you can chew. Do not jump headlong into the refurbishment jobs.

Always check if your home improvement project is tricky or simple. Make sure if these projects need to have some technical proficiency or can be done without it. There are some tasks that do need some technical support like electrician and plumbers. You obviously know how to provide effective domestic cleaning, but likely do not know enough to tackle such installations and repairs. These projects also do need to be done safely otherwise some accident might take place. It is wise enough to call some professional help so that things can not only be done perfectly but also safely.

Sometimes you can do the job but not in an expert way. If you are performing some home improvement chores in a way that few flaws are left behind then it is better to call some professional help. Such is the also the case for any cleaning service required around your home. You know your expertise and your limits so better not to expect more from yourself. It might cost you much as you might end up the job in a nonprofessional way and you might need to re do everything sooner. In such situations, the go and get the professional help attitude will be appreciated. Always remember that you must not waste your effort, time and money in doing something that you cannot do.

What You Should Not Do Yourself2Obviously, you do need some tools and equipment for conducting your home repairs, and even your house cleaning chores. It is not necessary that you must always have all the tools at home. Also, it is not possible to purchase everything that you need as it will cost you much. However, if you have all the tools available at your home or you can easily rent them then it is a good idea to perform the job by yourself. But in other case, you must drop the idea of self-servicing and must call some professional help.

If you do find any of these indicators in your property refurbishment then you must think and understand that it is not your cup of tea and must go for some expert help. Never get into something that you are unable to complete.

Quick Cleanup Tips after Building Work

Quick Cleanup Tips after Building Work2After your builders have left the building, the actual work on your home will need to begin. Whether you plan on renovating your home or simply making small changes, it’s the end result that matters since you will need to solve the problem. Dust from construction or renovation seems to be out there no matter how small the task may be. It will be a bit of a hard task for most, but you can make it happen.

The following guidelines will help you get rid of dust and do some serious post-renovation cleaning:

  • Preparations

Before the construction job begins you should keep all electrical items wrapped with plastic bags or saran wrap to ensure they are safe. Although you will want you to wait until the builders are out and done with the job and the mess, you should do a quick cleanup at the end of each day. Doing so will ensure cleaning is easier and you won’t have to deal with a really colossal mess at the end of each day. It is up to your own preference, but at the end of the road the daily choice may be better.

One big problem with cleaning dust is that you often tend to brush it around the air and it just lifts and lands somewhere else. If you don’t try to vacuum up the dust you will only be wasting countless hours moving it from place to place while barely doing a thorough cleaning job.  When there are bigger pieces to clean, such as plaster or other similar materials can often be cleaned with sweeping, but the finer work will require you to use a vacuum cleaner no matter what. If you do have to sweep, you should open all the windows of your rooms to ensure you will have nothing to worry about and for free airflow.

  • Sweeping the rooms
  • Cleaning the walls and ceiling

Builders dust can also stick to your walls, so you would need to get rid of it with a damp cloth. You should be careful though, as if your walls were painted this means the damp cloth may simply ruin the paint if you’re not careful.

  • Vacuuming the rooms

For carpet cleaning and upholstery cleaning you will need to work on vacuum cleaning. If your vacuum has a HEPA filter, then you will have a chance to make serious cleaning a reality. Run the vacuum around your room and make sure you are satisfied with the cleaning job once you’re done.

  • Mopping the rooms

Before you even try to mop your floors, you should vacuum first, it may take a few times before you are satisfied. When you do this, you should make sure you also repeat the mopping as many times as you feel you need to. When the job is done you will have cleaning done well and easy without having to waste any time to get to a nice and clean home.

Things To Consider Before You Decide To Renovate Your Home

HouseOnce you finally decide to renovate your home and change all the things that were not functioning well, you should not rush into the project immediately, but be thorough and careful. If you have prepared well, read dozens of articles, and talked to plenty of people who have shared their experiences and offered advice, you still have a few things you need to settle before you take the tools and call the contractors. By being meticulous and careful, you will be able to save money and time, thus ensuring your family and you get ‘new and improved’ home sooner.

How long will you stay in your home?

Another thing to think about before you start renovating is the time you are planning to spend in your hole? Will you stay here for as long as you love, or will you move after five, ten or twenty years? If you are planning to move rather soon, you don’t need to make big changes, but if your home is something you will leave to your family, a ‘legacy’, then you need to have a lot more on your mind: growing teens, future grandchildren, and your own old age. Metal roofs, stone surfaces, durable floors, and excellent plumbing are all things which will ensure that your home stays in good condition for decades.

Windows

floorWooden windows are so 12 hours ago, not only does the wood age pretty well, especially when exposed to rain, frost, and sun, but layer upon layer of paint is going to affect them. If replacing each window seems like a too big of an investment, you might try calculating how many new windows you can afford and replace the ones that are in worst condition. Kitchen and living room windows that cannot close properly lose way too much energy and warmth, so try replacing them first. Perhaps there will come the time to change the rest of the windows as well, but if they are not a priority, don’t invest in them at the moment.

Ceiling

Besides painting your ceilings, what else have you been doing to them recently? Ceilings are usually plain white and only used for chandeliers and lights, but what if you can add dark wood or wallpapers to add depth and more texture to the room? Change ceilings in the living room, master bedroom, or children’s room; it does not take too much money and can drastically change the way a room looks. For doing the work on the ceilings, you might want to avoid ladders and opt for a scissor lift instead, because these are much more reliable and safer.

Water

Good water management can save you a lot of time in the long run, and it is not too expensive. Go green with your water usage for a change, think about insulating your hot water tank and pipes to save energy, and install low-flush toilets which are going to save you plenty of energy. If you can, try reshaping your landscaping in such way, that water is drawn away from your foundation instead towards it. In addition, you can also plant a grass parking spot which can act as a grassed swale and help control storm runoff.

Remember two things: no matter how well prepared you think you are, it is going to cost more than you thought and last longer than you expected. Nothing to worry about, it happens to everyone, and if you are looking for ways to overcome these ‘minor obstacles’, keep in mind that proper planning is going to save your nerves and your money.

Keeping Warm for the Holidays

keeping warmThroughout the winter, you and your family will experience your fair share of visits from friends, family, and loved ones. You will want your home to be warm and inviting for your guests, but you also want to avoid climbing energy costs.  Keep your home warm this winter and use your home energy more efficiently with these tips!

Keep your door shut tight. Take a look at your entry way and ensure that your front door is doing its job. An entry door that isn’t properly sealing shut is allowing energy to escape. During the winter, families pay a lot of money to pump warm air into their homes to stay comfortable. If your entryway door is not sealed properly on all sides, it is allowing warm air to escape. Ultimately, you are throwing money and energy right out your front door!  To eliminate this problem, ensure that your doors are equipped with the proper weather stripping on all sides.

Let the sunlight in! We all know the hours of natural light are limited during the winter, so leave your blinds open during the day to soak up as much sun as possible. Doing so can help eliminate the need for use of electricity to see during the day, and can even boost the temperature of your home slightly so you can lower the temperature of your thermostat. When the sun goes down, be sure to close your curtains and blinds to help trap the heat created throughout the day.

Be mindful of your fireplace use. Fireplaces create a warming, festive environment throughout the winter, but they can be detrimental to your home’s heating system. Cold air can easily enter through your chimney flue, so make sure it is closed when your fireplace is not in use. To make the most of the heat your fireplace generates, utilize glass panels or doors to keep the cold from coming in through your fireplace. Heat rises, and a fire can take the warm air you are pumping into your home through your thermostat system if you aren’t careful!

Utilize your ceiling fans. You might be thinking “That will only make my home colder!” Take a look at the fans in your home – many are equipped to run clockwise and counter-clockwise. By flipping the switch and running your fan counter-clockwise, you’re able to push heat back down into your home that would otherwise remain trapped near your ceiling.

Keep interior doors shut. If you only occupy certain rooms in your home, keep the doors to the less frequented spaces shut. This will keep the main rooms in your home warmer and use less energy to do so. When you’re going to utilize a shut-off room, simply open the door and let the warm air in!

Get cooking! Using kitchen appliances such as your oven can exponentially warm your home. The holidays are a time of cooking delicious meals and baking scrumptious treats, so don’t be afraid to pop a roast in the oven for a few hours or bake up large batches of chocolate chip cookies. You’ll be doing your family and your home a favor!

Incorporate throw rugs into your décor. Hardwood flooring can be a factor contributing to the cold temperatures throughout your home in the winter. Find a way to use area rugs or runners on your hardwood floors to help trap in some heat.

It comes down to keeping you and your family comfortable this winter season. You can only do so much to winterize your home, so be sure to keep plenty of throw blankets and spare sweatshirts around for the cold months!

 

Russ loves working with All County Exteriors to provide homeowners with the most energy efficient home exteriors. When he’s not customizing siding or designing entryways, Russ enjoys spending time with his family and travelling.

 

Remodeling: 5 Things That Bring Up Your Home Value

Remodeling 5 Things That Bring Up Your Home ValueWhile property value isn’t exactly like car depreciation (drive it off the lot and lose half its worth), remodeling a home can help increase the home’s value. While all improvements are not equal and making changes in the home is not a guaranteed way to increase a home’s value, putting some thoughtful sweat equity into a home’s interior (and exterior) is a good way to make the home more comfortable and attractive. By thoughtfully selecting and carefully completing a few small home upgrades, you can make a little go a long way in terms of increasing your home’s value.

Invest in the kitchen

Whether amateur foodies or professional chefs, very few people don’t want a great kitchen. Food just has a way of bringing people together, and your kitchen should too. While an overall kitchen remodel can be quite costly, doing a few custom tweaks can offer a bigger bang for a smaller buck.

Key kitchen features include appliances, countertops, and cabinets. Redoing these elements is a great way to change the look of your home as well as bring up the value of the home.

Consider the curb appeal

Little does more for bringing up the value of the home than adding a warm, inviting appearance. The way that the home looks from the outside is just as important in terms of value as how it looks on the inside. Making a few upgrades to the outer curb appeal will really make your home stand out. Consider adding landscaping such as custom plants and shrubs. Paired with a new brick lined, some greenery really amps up the value of the home. Even a fairly minimal investment of just $400-500 often brings a valuable return of 3-4 times the initial payout.

Expand the entertainment

While few people are necessarily looking for it, a great home theater is an absolute wow factor. Even if your home does not have an additional room or secluded space for an in-home theater, consider wiring the living room for surround sound and prime viewing. One place to look for home sound system and other audio equipment is Home Audio Los Angeles. Using high quality sound equipment and effective staging in a room will add a unique entertainment space and instantly increase the value of your home.

Let in the light

Adding a new light fixture is an easy way to instantly update the look and feel of the home. Selecting a fixture that is in line with the period construction of your home is a great way to add cohesion to a home as well as additional value.

Sneak in some storage

Whether your home has it or not, extra storage space is a huge value enhancer. This project can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. Adding a closet is a bit more timely of a project but can be accomplished by building into a wall. Likewise, just staging a freestanding armoire in a room without a closet is a great way to sneak in some organization, change the look of the space, and boost up the value of your home.

 

Whether you are looking to sell or just wanting to maintain the value of your home, taking the time to make a few small improvements can go a long way in increasing the property’s value.

Essential Powertools To Have In Your Home

electric grinderHome improvements are inevitable. More often than not, something will break down or malfunction in your home. It may be a broken chair, a jammed window, a leaking roof, rusting panels or even chipped paint. You will therefore be required to do repairs once in a while. How you choose to do repairs or DIY home improvement projects is entirely up to you. You have the option of hiring someone or doing things yourself.

It is better to do repairs and home improvement projects yourself because of obvious reasons such as being cheaper. You however need the right tools to be able to do a good job. In this article, we will focus on essential powertools you must have at home to enable you to do basic DIY home improvement projects. Below are some of the most essential powertools every household should have.

The Essential Powertools

1. Table saw: The first and most important powertool in this list is the table saw. Table saws are simply electric saws mounted on a table. A table saw is a essential powertool at home because of its usefulness. Furniture repairs are the most common types of repairs in our homes. A table saw can handle just about any kind of furniture repair. Table saws are also easier and safer to use as compared to traditional electric saws. A table saw is therefore a must have in your home if you want to save costs as well as be able to handle most DIY home improvement projects effectively.

2. Power hand plane: Power hand planes are also essential powertools for DIY home improvement projects. It is important to note that table saws are only effective for cutting wood. To be able to smooth-en and shape furniture effectively, you must consider using a power hand plane alongside a table saw. A power hand plane will help you remove very thin unwanted layers of wood on furniture to improve the furniture’s appearance and feel.

3. Angle grinder: This powertool is important for many reasons with the most important being the removing of rust and paint on metal objects such as window panes, metal stools and chairs. You can’t handle DIY home improvement projects involving metals/hard objects effectively without using an angle grinder. For instance, you won’t be able to cut roofing tiles and sharpen blades effectively without an angle grinder. This simply shows how important this powertool is.

4. Orbital palm sander: This powertool is also a must have. An orbital palm sander will help you finish small DIY projects perfectly. For instance, you can smooth-en walls, floors, ceilings and furniture before you paint to ensure you get a perfect finishing. Without this tool, your projects won’t look professional. You are better off hiring a home improvement expert if you want perfectly done projects and if you don’t have an orbital palm sander.

5. Nail gun: You also need a nail gun to do most DIY home projects effectively. As mentioned above, wooden repairs account for the majority of DIY projects at home. You therefore need a nail gun especially if you want to increase accuracy. A nail gun will also reduce wooden waste common when traditional nail hammers are used. You will also get better looking projects when you use a nail gun instead of a nail hammer.

Conclusion

In summary, the above powertools from tools and parts direct are the most essential ones to have in our home. You can handle most DIY home improvement projects and repairs effectively with the above powertools. Forget about hiring professionals to do basic home repairs and improvements. You will save a lot of money and get professional results if you consider buying these tools and doing the projects yourself.

Five Things You Should Fix While Remodeling

Five Things You Should Fix While RemodelingOwning a home is one of the best ways to build long-term wealth. However, in order to ensure that you are able to maximize its value, you will have to be able to complete various repairs and improvements from time to time. One of the easiest ways to do this is to go through a remodel project every so often. During a remodel project, there are several home improvements and repairs that you should make while you are going through the remodeling process.

Plumbing

One item that should definitely be fixed while you are remodeling your home is your plumbing system. Your home’s plumbing system is very important, but needs to be maintained and repaired on a regular basis. When hiring a professional company, such as Bedell Plumbing Service, you will be able to have a variety of plumbing issues fixed. They can help to fix leaking pipes, improve water pressure, and even improve the quality of the water that you get.

Electronics

Most homes today come with dozens of outlets and light switches throughout the home. While they may all work initially, some do end up breaking down due to either a short or general wear and tear. While you are going through the remodeling process, it would be a good idea to bring in an electrician to repair all of the outlets and switches that aren’t working. This could make your home more functional and convenient to live in.

HVAC

When you are going through the home repair process, you should also fix your HVAC. Your home’s HVAC, which controls your heating and air conditioning, could last for a few decades, but will require upkeep on a fairly regular basis. Having a technician come in to repair the system could help your HVAC work more efficiently, which will lead to a more comfortable environment and lower utility bills.

Wall Patches and Paint

One of the easiest repairs that you can make during the remodeling process is to fix your drywall. Over time, most homeowners will see that their drywall gets dinged and the paint gets damaged. Spending a little bit of time filling in holes with patches and repainting the walls will lead to a quick improvement to any room’s appearance.

Appliances

While remodeling your kitchen, it would also be a good idea to repair your kitchen or laundry room appliances. Appliances can last for a very long time, but work less efficiently with age. Having a technician repair inefficient appliances will increase their useful life and reduce your utility bills, each of which will save you money.

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