Entries in house (21)

Thursday
Jun042015

6 Things to Do When Moving Into a New House

 Great Advice from House Logic!

Courtney's new lock on the front door of her house

Change the locks when you move into a new house — that way, you control who has access to your home. 

When I bought my first house, my timing couldn’t have been better: The house closing was two weeks before the lease was up on my apartment. That meant I could take my time packing and moving, and I could get to know the new place before moving in.

I recruited family and friends to help me move (in exchange for a beer-and-pizza picnic on the floor) and, as a bonus, I got to pick their brains about what first-time homeowners should know

Their help was one of the best housewarming presents I could have gotten. And thanks to their expertise and a little Googling, here’s what I learned about what to do before moving in.

1. Change the locks. You really don’t know who else has keys to your home, so change the locks. That ensures you’re the only person who has access. Install new deadbolts yourself for as little as $10 per lock, or call a locksmith — if you supply the new locks, they typically charge about $20-$30 per lock for labor.

2. Check for plumbing leaks. Your home inspector should do this for you before closing, but it never hurts to double-check. I didn’t have any leaks to fix, but when checking my kitchen sink, I did discover the sink sprayer was broken. I replaced it for under $20.

Keep an eye out for dripping faucets and running toilets, and check your water heater for signs of a leak

Here’s a neat trick: Check your water meter at the beginning and end of a two-hour window in which no water is being used in your house. If the reading is different, you have a leak.

3. Steam clean carpets. Do this before you move your furniture in, and your new home life will be off to a fresh start. You can pay a professional carpet cleaning service — you’ll pay about $50 per room; most services require a minimum of about $100 before they’ll come out — or you can rent a steam cleaner for about $30 per day and do the work yourself. I was able to save some money by borrowing a steam cleaner from a friend.  

4. Wipe out your cabinets. Another no-brainer before you move in your dishes and bathroom supplies. Make sure to wipe inside and out, preferably with a non-toxic cleaner, and replace contact paper if necessary. 

When I cleaned my kitchen cabinets, I found an unpleasant surprise: Mouse poop. Which leads me to my next tip … 

5. Give critters the heave-ho. That includes mice, ratsbatstermitesroaches, and any other uninvited guests. There are any number of DIY ways to get rid of pests, but if you need to bring out the big guns, an initial visit from a pest removal service will run you $100-$300, followed by monthly or quarterly visits at about $50 each time.

For my mousy enemies, I strategically placed poison packets around the kitchen, and I haven’t found any carcasses or any more poop, so the droppings I found must have been old. I might owe a debt of gratitude to the snake that lives under my back deck, but I prefer not to think about him.

6. Introduce yourself to your circuit breaker box and main water valve. My first experience with electrical wiring was replacing a broken light fixture in a bathroom. After locating the breaker box, which is in my garage, I turned off the power to that bathroom so I wouldn’t electrocute myself. 

It’s a good idea to figure out which fuses control what parts of your house and label them accordingly. This will take two people: One to stand in the room where the power is supposed to go off, the other to trip the fuses and yell, “Did that work? How about now?”

You’ll want to know how to turn off your main water valve if you have a plumbing emergency, if a hurricane or tornado is headed your way, or if you’re going out of town. Just locate the valve — it could be inside or outside your house — and turn the knob until it’s off. Test it by turning on any faucet in the house; no water should come out.

courtneycraig Courtney Craig

is an Atlanta-based writer and editor. She believes no effort is too small when it comes to green living, which she tries to keep in mind while renovating her recently purchased first home. 



Read more:  http://www.houselogic.com/blog/maintenance-repair/things-to-do-when-moving-into-a-new-house/#ixzz3c7t2XugE 
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Thursday
Nov062014

Tips on How To Prepare Your Home for Holiday Guests

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Published: November 14, 2011

Is your home ready for holiday visits from friends and family? Here’s how to prepare for the invasion.

 

I'm lucky and have a guest suite always ready for holiday guests. But even with a dedicated space, preparing my home for the annual onslaught of friends and family takes time and forethought.

Some preparations for holiday guests take only a few minutes; some take a lot longer. My advice: Start preparing your home for the holidays now.

Prioritize

The day before guests arrive is no time to pull apart junk drawers and clean out linen closets. Declutter guest rooms and public areas — foyer, kitchen, living room, den, and dining room. Remove anything unnecessary from countertops, coffee tables, and ottomans; if it’s out of sight, keep it out of mind, for now.

If you run short of time, bag up the clutter and store it in car trunks, basements, and out-of-the-way closets. Sort and arrange after your guests depart.

Safety

Light the way: Even though you can navigate your home blindfolded, your guests can’t. Make sure outside lights are working so they don’t trip on the way to your door. Put motion-activated night lights in hallways, bathrooms, and bedrooms to ensure safe passage after the sun sets.

Child proofing: Ask parents to bring hardware that keeps their small ones safe, such as baby gates and cabinet locks. Transfer toxic cleaners and medicines from base to wall cabinets. Hide matches and lighters.

Fire prevention: If you didn’t freshen smoke detector batteries when you switched the clocks to Daylight Savings Time, change them now. After your guests arrive, run a quick fire drill: Make sure they can locate exits and fire extinguishers, and that they know how to open windows and doors.

Entryway upgrades

Your home’s foyer is the first place guests see, so make a good first impression.

  • Upgrade exterior entry doors or give old doors a new coat of paint. Polish and tighten door hardware, and oil hinges to prevent squeaks.
  • Remove scratches from hardwood floors, stairs, and wood railings. Place a small rug or welcome mat at the entrance to protect floors from mud and snow. 
  • Clear out shoes, umbrellas, and other clutter.
  • Add extra hooks to walls so guests can hang coats and hats.
  • Add a storage bench where guests can remove boots and shoes.

Kitchen prep

Your kitchen is command central during the holidays, so make sure it’s ready for guests and extra helpers.

  • To increase storage, install a pot rack to clear cooking items off countertops and ranges.
  • Move your coffee station into a family room so guests don’t crowd the kitchen when you’re trying to fix meals.
  • If you like to visit while you’re cooking, place extra stools and chairs around the perimeter of your kitchen so guests can set a spell.

Sleeping arrangements

If you’ve got a guest room, replace the ceiling fixture with a ceiling fan and light combo, which helps guests customize their room temperature without fiddling with the thermostat for the entire house. 

To carve sleeping space out of public areas, buy a folding screen or rolling bookcase, which will provide privacy for sleepers. Fold or roll it away in the morning.

Bathroom storage

Bring toilet paper, towels, and toiletries out of hiding, and place them on open shelves so guests can find them easily.

If you don’t have enough wall space for shelves, place these items in open baskets around the bathroom.

Also, outfit each tub with a bath mat (to avoid falls) and each toilet with a plunger (to avoid embarrassment).

What tips do you have for getting ready for guests this holiday season?



Read more:  http://members.houselogic.com/articles/tips-how-prepare-your-home-holiday-guests/preview/#ixzz3IKoQz07T 
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Thursday
Oct022014

HOME SECURITY TIPS & FACTS: PROTECTING YOUR HOME FROM BREAK-INS

Protect Home From Break-ins

Did you know that every 15 seconds a home in the United States is burglarized? That's why it's essential to secure your home and protect your family against break-ins. For a more secure home read these common myths about burglaries and get the facts to protect your home:

Myth: Burglars break in through discreet areas, like the back of the house.

Fact: Securing the back of your house is important, as first floor windows and the back door are among the top targets for burglars. But shockingly, the most common point of entry for home burglaries happens to be through the front door. Install deadbolts on the front door and any exterior doors, as they are harder to pick. Put strong locks on glass doors and lock-up whenever you leave the house. The garage is another common area for burglar access – don't share your garage door code with others, and don't leave the garage door opener in your car – it's a quick way for thieves to gain access to your home.

Myth: Most burglaries happen at night.

Fact: Most burglaries actually occur during the day while homeowners are away from home and at work. Locking doors before you go to bed may be a common practice, but ensure your home is also secure during daylight hours too. 

Myth: If you're running out for a few minutes, it's okay to leave your door unlocked -- no burglar could get in and out that fast.

Fact: Burglars are faster than you think. The average burglar spends only a few minutes in your home. So, lock the door no matter how soon you're planning to be back. Burglars can also make fast work because they know common hiding places – the key under the doormat, the jewelry in the master bedroom. Leave your spare key with a neighbor and consider putting valuables in a safe.

Myth: You don't need a home alarm system if you live in a safe area with a low crime rate.

Fact: Even if you live in a relatively safe neighborhood, homes without security systems are 2 to 3 times more likely to be broken into, says the Better Business Bureau, yet few U.S. homes are armed with one. According to the Alarm Industry Research & Educational Foundation, 74% of burglaries are prevented by having an alarm in place, and can go a long way in protecting your home and giving you added peace of mind.

Author: Sharon Hurley Hall, Liberty Mutual 

Thursday
Sep042014

How to Make Sure Your Fireplace is Safe

Here’s what to look for to ensure your fireplace is safe and up-to-snuff.

How do you keep your fireplace safe? The best tools you have are your eyes.

With regular visual inspections both inside your home and out, you’ll make sure your fireplace is in good shape for the burning season.

Checking From the Outside

Examine the chimney to make sure a chimney cap is present and in good repair. The metal cap keeps animals, rain, and snow out of the chimney, while acting as a spark arrester that prevents hot embers from landing on your roofing.
 
If you have a multi-story home or a steep roof, play it safe and use a pair of binoculars to check the chimney cap from the ground.

While you’re at it, make sure:

  • There’s no bird nest or debris buildup on the cap.
  • There are no tree limbs above or near the chimney.
  • The mortar and bricks on the chimney aren’t crumbling or missing.
  • The chimney rises at least 2 feet above where it exits the roof.
  • The chimney crown — the sloping cement shoulders at the top of the chimney — is beveled, which helps air flow.
  • The flue liner is visible above the chimney crown.
  • The chimney is plumb and not leaning to one side or the other.
  • The roof flashing is tight against the chimney.

If you spot anything amiss, call a licensed chimney professional or mason to remedy the problem. For pricey jobs, make sure to get a second estimate.

Looking Inside Your Home

With a flashlight, inspect the flue damper to make sure it opens, closes, and seals properly. 

“If the damper doesn’t seal well, you’ll lose a tremendous amount of heat from the home when the fireplace isn’t in use,” explains Gary Spolar, a licensed sweep and owner of Century Chimney in northeast Ohio.

With the damper open, check the flue for combustible material such as animal nests or other foreign objects. You should be able to see daylight at the top.

Inspect the fireplace surround, hearth, and firebox to make sure there are no cracked bricks or missing mortar. Damage inside the firebox is serious — have a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection costs $79-$500.

Also, check for obvious signs of moisture inside the firebox, which could mean a faulty cap.

Inspecting a Gas-Burning Fireplace

We enjoy gas fireplaces because they’re low-maintenance — but that doesn’t mean they’re no-maintenance. You should:

  • Inspect the glass doors for cracks or latch issues.
  • Check that gas logs are in the proper position.
  • Turn gas off at the shut-off valve and test the igniter.
  • Ignite the fire and look for clogged burner holes. If present, turn off gas and clear obstructions with a pin or needle.

 

Friday
May302014

All About French Drains

If you have a soggy yard or a wet basement, then a French drain is your cure. Here’s how they work, when to use them, the different types and cost.

Why Are French Drains Needed How Do French Drains Work

Water always flows downhill, and by the easiest route possible. That’s the basic concept behind a French drain, a slightly sloped trench filled with round gravel and a pipe that diverts water away from your house. 

By the way, the name doesn’t come from the country. It’s from Henry French, a judge and farmer in Concord, Massachusetts, who promoted the idea in an 1859 book about farm drainage.

How a French Drain Works

French drains provide an easy channel for water to flow through. Water runs into a gravel-filled trench, then into perforated pipe at the bottom of the trench. 

Water travels freely through the pipe, which empties a safe distance from the house. 

The trench bottom should be sloped about 1 inch for every 8 feet in the direction you want water to flow. Depending on your situation, the water can be diverted to:

  • A low-lying area of your property.
  • A drainage ditch.
  • A dry well.
  • The street.

When You Need a French Drain

  • When you have a problem with surface water, such as a soggy lawn or a driveway that washes out.
  • If you’re building a retaining wall on a hillside.

If Your Problem is Surface Water

Install a shallow French drain. Also called a curtain drain, it extends horizontally across your property, directly uphill of the area you want to dry out. It intercepts water and channels it around the soggy spot.

This type of drain doesn’t have to be very deep — a common size is 2 feet deep and 1.5 feet across. Where the drain passes through areas with trees or shrubs, switch to solid pipe (not perforated) to reduce the risk of roots growing into the piping and clogging it.

Cost: $10 to $16 per linear foot.

If Water is Getting Into Your Basement

Install a deep French drain. Also called a footing drain, it runs around the perimeter of the house at the footing level and intercepts water before it can enter your basement.

It’s easy to install during house construction, but much more difficult and expensive to add later. If you have tall basement walls, you may have to dig down quite a ways to access your foundation footing. Also,  there are probably landscaping, decks, and walkways that will have to be ripped out in order to install the drain, adding to the cost.

If there’s not enough slope for your drain system to work, you may need to pipe the collected water to a basin in the basement, where a sump pump can lift it and send it to the storm drain system.

Cost: $12,000 for a 1,500-sq.-ft. basement 6 feet deep.

Install an interior French drain. An interior French drain intercepts water as it enters your basement — it’s the surest method of keeping your basement dry and a better option than a footing drain.

However, if you have a finished basement, you’ll have to remove interior walls in order to install the system. That shouldn’t be a problem if water is ruining your basement anyway.

Crews cut a channel around the perimeter of your basement floor, chip out the concrete, and install perforated pipe all the way around. The water flows to a collection tank sunk into the floor, and a sump pump sends it out to the yard or a storm drain.
 
The channel is patched with a thin layer of concrete, except for a small gap at the edge to catch any water that dribbles down the wall.

Cost: About $3,000.

If You’re Building a Retaining Wall on a Hillside

If you’re building a retaining wall, add a French drain behind the first course of stones or blocks. 

Otherwise, water moving down the hill will build up behind the wall and undermine it. The pipe should rest on the same compacted gravel base or concrete footing that supports the wall. 

To protect the drain from clogging with silt, drape landscape cloth across the base or footing and up the slope before adding the pipe and drain gravel. Near the top of the wall, fold the cloth over the top of the gravel, and top with several inches of soil.

Cost: The added cost to do this while building is very little — just the price of drain gravel ($25 per cubic yard) and pipe (50 cents to $1 per lineal foot).



Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/drainage/french-drains-when-you-need-them/#ixzz33DHpBhgS 
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