Don’t Make These Mistakes Prepping Your Home for Winter

Homeowners tend not to appreciate that their gutters, by channeling storm water away from the home, perform a pivotal function. If you expect your gutters to do their job, you must first clear out any accumulated debris that could eventually clog and compromise the drainage system. In addition to ensuring problem-free performance at peak efficiency, regular service also helps the furnace fulfill its estimated useful life expectancy. The HVAC technician should inspect each furnace component individually, making repairs as necessary, while also cleaning or replacing the filter. As the furnace filter goes a long way toward supporting indoor air quality and protecting the internal workings of the furnace itself, the technician may suggest that you clean or replace the filter on your own, perhaps as often as every three months. Be sure to ask. As much as homeowners fear the prospect of a frozen pipe, many forget all about the fixture most at risk—the outdoor hose faucet. Nowadays, it's easy to protect it. Simply purchase a low-cost cover to block cold air from reaching the faucet. Or better yet, install a brand-new outdoor faucet that's specially designed not to freeze. Of course, in a pinch, you can also do it the old-fashioned way: Locate and close the water shutoff valve along the line that supplies water to the outdoors. Then, to complete the process, open the faucet to clear out any remaining water. if you see branches scraping against your home's roof or exterior siding, cut them back to a distance of at least three feet. KEY TAKEAWAYS:
  • Don't disregard your gutters.
  • Don't omit outdoor faucets.
  • Don't trifle with trees.

  • "If you detect air leaks around their perimeters, seal them with weatherstripping, caulk, or a combination of the two." Original Source:

    5 Ways Clogged Gutters Are Destroying Your Home

    Regularly cleaned gutters protect many key components of the home, including the foundation. Clogged gutters put the foundation at risk, storms come and go, rainwater runs amok, pooling around the base of the home and seeping into the ground, where it exerts intense pressure against the foundation. After a while, due to the pressure, the foundation begins to crack, allowing water to enter the basement resulting in extensive and expensive to repair damage. Tthe foundation may ultimately fail if the situation does not get corrected, leaving the home vulnerable to a cave-in or collapse—a catastrophe. When gutters malfunction, water gets to parts of the home that were never designed to withstand exposure to that much moisture. Windowsills and door jambs are often the first to buckle. Mold poses a legitimate health hazard, particularly if anyone in your household suffers from allergies. KEY TAKEAWAYS:
  • In theory, gutters are simple, straightforward components that perform precisely as intended.
  • Gutters offer protection by preventing overwhelming volumes of water from cascading onto foundation plantings.
  • Many types of insects thrive in stagnant water.

  • "If you allow clogs to render your gutters ineffective, it could take only one heavy storm to compromise or even erode your landscaping." Original Source:

    Soffit Vents – How to Install

    To introduce fresh and cool air to your attic, as well as let hot air escapes from the top of the attic through ridge vents you may consider adding soffit vents. The cooling costs for your house can be reduced using and the job itself is easy enough for you to handle. In order to determine how many will be needed along each section you must first measure the area where you want to install the vent. Use a template made of wood to mark the cut lines for each location that has been cut a little smaller than the size of the vent you’re installing. It should be an inch shorter and an inch narrower than the actual vent. For a nice finishing touch paint the vent to match the soffit. KEY TAKEAWAYS:
  • Center each soffit vent over the hole and parallel to the eaves with the vent louvers facing in toward the house before you screw each vent to the soffit board.
  • Cut the hole using a circular or saber saw.
  • Easy to handle yourself.

  • "No one will notice it is there except you and you utility bill." Original Source: How to Install Soffit Vents

    Understanding Solar Thermal Panels

    A large amount of solar energy reflects back into space or is absorbed by Earth's atmosphere, enough energy to power homes and businesses for years. The solar thermal panels are used to heat domestic hot water. The panels are filled with antifreeze or evacuated tubes. A typical thermal-panel system can produce around 70% of a house’s hot water demands. A photovoltaic (PV) system transforms the sun’s energy into direct current (DC) electricity. An inverter mounted inside the house converts the DC power to standard alternating current (AC), which is then used to power lights, appliances, and other electrical devices. If the PV system produces more electricity than you can use, the excess gets sent back to the power company and you receive a credit on your electric bill. Solar companies are now offering power purchase agreements to homeowners, which include a free solar system in exchange for government rebates. KEY TAKEAWAYS:
  • Unraveling the mystery of off-grid solar power and understand the basics about your system.
  • There are some nuances in solar power that you must be aware of.
  • Often the most overlooked component of any off grid system is safety.

  • Original Source: "Understanding Solar Power"

    How To – Maintain Stucco

    Stucco is used both outdoors siding and indoors wall finish, to ensure stucco looks and performs its best patching may be necessary and cleaning and with the right combination of products and tools, any homeowner can get the job done. Indoor stucco may need some paint sporadically, however as outdoor stucco are exposed to the elements, the sidings will most probably need cleaning and repair. To clean indoor stucco it often requires water and some elbow grease. Simply scrub the dingy stucco with a dampened nylon brush to saturate the surface, then rub away the buildup with a moistened microfiber cloth (or clean cotton rag). A chemical solution known as trisodium phosphate, or TSP maybe needed for deeply set stains. Homeowners must take the precautions when applying the solution, such as ventilate the area by opening windows and running a fan, wear rubber gloves, protective eye-wear, and long-sleeve clothing. Home centers and hardware stores usually have available the solution and they can advised how to use TSP safely. Combine the TSP with water in a bucket, diluting to water-to-TSP ratio of 15 to 1. Finally, apply the TSP to the affected area by means of a nylon brush and allow the stucco an hour or two to dry. KEY TAKEAWAYS:
    • The good news is that cleaning indoor stucco usually takes nothing more than water and a bit of elbow grease
    • Don’t give a minor crack the chance to become a major headache. Take swift action.
    • In fact, due to its unique formulation, you get the job done in remarkably little time.
    "if the existing surface features a smooth finish, then no problem—you can smooth the patch to an equally smooth finish with a traditional plastering tool. If, however, you need to match a decorative effect like stippling, then you may wish to take a cue from the pros who often employ ad hoc tools like sponges and kitchen whisks to create the desired effect. Once you have finished the patch to your satisfaction, you can more or less call it a day." Original Source:

    How to Weather Wood – Easy DIY Methods

    Making furniture look old can be done using simple tricks, people passionate about decorating or who wants to give a rustic, antique or vintage can use simple DIY tricks. There are techniques that involve sanding the surface of the furniture, or simply using the elements to give a total new look to any wood surface. Different ways to weather the wood can so that it appears to have lived through years for sunshine, spills, wear and tear despite being a new piece. Some of the techniques will age your furnishings quickly. Some of the looks you can give the wood are fake wear and tear, go grey, rich wood stain, weather with paint or bleach with a sun bath. KEY TAKEAWAYS:
    • Different wood gets different results, despite using the same process. And whatever that process, it’s never an exact science.
    • Nothing is permanent. If you’re not crazy about your end results, rest assured that they’re only surface deep!
    • You can always paint it, or strip it and try again, thanks to the forgiving nature of this beloved building material.
    "Naturally, wet wood looks very different when dry, so let your treatments dry completely before deciding to add another layer." "Use the elements to weather your wood. One sunny afternoon could add years to your furniture’s appearance. This method only works with tannic woods, like redwood, cedar, pine, mahogany, and red oak, so check what type of wood your piece is made of before you begin." Original Source:

    How To: Find Property Lines

    For certain construction projects it is essential that the precise bonds between your property and your neighbors are determined. Unintentionally building an extension or fence in your neighbors yard may be very costly and damage good relationship with the folks next door. As the proverb says, "Good fences make good neighbors" and there are methods to figure out where the boundaries are. Some of those methods are low-cost, simple, and adequate to satisfy your concern. Others methods demand skills and will cost a fee and are most likely necessary for certain construction projects. Checking sidewalks and streetlights may provide you with visual clues of where the limits are. Visiting the municipal office that records plats, Local Zoning Department, will provide information on maps that show land division. For houses built more than 100 years ago it might be slightly different, but you can probably obtain a copy of your block and lot plat for a minimal fee. If you can retrace the original surveyor’s steps by locating the starting point, which will be labeled on the plat as either the “common point” or the “point of beginning”. With a long measuring tape, follow the plat, measuring your physical property for the exact dimensions of your lot. Your measurements should correspond with the ones on the plat. KEY TAKEAWAYS:
    • Visual clues are good indications of property lines, but if you intend to build or install something on your land, you’ll need additional verification.
    • Before you drive yourself too crazy with the metes and bounds survey, know that the only legally binding method to determine exact property lines is to have a professional survey.
    • If you don’t have a copy of your deed filed with your homeowner records, get one at the register of deeds office, often located within your county courthouse.
    "The metes and bounds survey cites a starting point, located at one of corners of your property. From there, the survey will give you detailed directions and distances to help you locate the rest of the corners and boundary lines of your property. It’s similar to a connect-the-dots game, except you do it on foot, not on paper. You’ll need a long measuring tape, as well as a good quality directional compass, moving systematically from point to point." Original Source:

    Pliers and Wrenches – How to Choose and Use

    Whether you are a professional plumber or one of those people who venture to do some repairs in your home, surely you need some tools for your work to be perfect. Start by purchasing a wrench, also known as adjustable wrench. Available in different sizes, this tool is suitable for regular bolts and nuts. A pipe wrench is used for hydraulic systems, specifically when you dock and turn the threads of pipes. As a result of being adjustable, the tool fits different sizes of parts. The best known type of Allen key has the body profile in shape of an L, which enables leverage during tightening or loosening screws. It is used in screws with hexagon socket fitting. The fit should be perfect without clearance. Thoroughly clean the screw of the internal fitting, removing any kind of dirt. A poorly fitted key can escape and cause an accident. KEY TAKEAWAYS:
    • Grooved-joint pliers quickly adjust to grip several different sizes of hexagonal and square nuts and fasteners.
    • To prevent grooved-joint pliers from slipping, always grip the nut so that you're pulling the handle toward the pliers' smaller, adjustable jaw.
    • Combination wrenches come in a wide variety of sizes. Each has an open-end wrench on one end and a box wrench on the other.
    "Tools List for How to Choose and Use Pliers and Wrenches: - Grooved-joint pliers - Combination wrench - Adjustable wrench - Pipe wrench" Original Source:

    How To Keep Mold and Mildew Away After Flooding

    To clean the mold and mildew in your home you need to take some precautions, if you have a serious problem of fungus on the walls, it may be better to seek the help of an expert. Make sure you wear eye protection, gloves and a mask for the face to avoid contact with the spores released by the fungus. Open windows or use a fan. Mold and mildew are the terror of most homes. Not least because they can be bad for your health. But luckily, you can use everyday cleaning products to end the fungi and prevent them to re-appear. In this case, it is important to go straight to the root of the problem. The mold usually grow in warm and humid environments without much air circulation. Since the mold is another type of fungus that can grow on the walls. It is characterized by patches that can spread quickly if not treated. In general, these fungi grow only by the ambient conditions. Other times, they may be the result of a storm or plumbing leaks inside or outside the home. The air conditioning piping, for example, can generate excessive moisture inside walls if it is not properly isolated. To find out if the dark area on your wall is actually mold or mildew, apply a little bleach in spots using a piece of cloth. If the stain clear after a few minutes, you found fungi. If not, probably its walls are just dirty.   KEY TAKEAWAYS:
    • There is something that people forget. All it needs is a little moist and a little dark space and it can grow so quickly.
    • It can be there and you won't know at all.
    • Your ceiling fan, very very good make sure you use in an counter clockwise position so it is creating the breeze throughout the house.
    "You think everything is clean and all of a sudden a month or so later you see just a kind of white specks and you wonder, it looks like dust on it and it is actually those mold spores that are growing, and sometimes it will be just as white as can be and other times is dark black mold." Original Source:

    Faster Is Better – Use Nail Guns Over Hand Nailing

    The result of hand nailing versus using a nail gun shows that the downside to hand nailing a roof is the extra labor costs involved. The roofing job will take more time. The roofing material manufacturers say both methods are good however when you ask the roofers their opinions usually fall distinctly into one camp or the other. Some refuse to use nail guns while others swear by them. The first nail gun came into use around 1950 and its use was adopted by roofers all over the country. With nail gun installation, the potential for problems might be higher as holding a nail gun at the wrong angle could drive the nails in at odd angles. Roofers need to change adjustments due to changes in wood type, roofing material and the weather. Different contractor's may have different preferred installation methods.   KEYTAKEAWAYS:
    • The introduction of the Milwaukee cordless nailer lineup offers a variety of high-quality nailers, in the most commonly-used gauges.
    • There are gas-powered nailers available, and some do a pretty good job.
    • When the nailer is turned on, it defaults to sequential mode, which is indicated by steady green lights near the power switch.
    "Doing punch list work like that would be an excellent way to use the Milwaukee cordless nailer. It’s very fast and easy to just grab it, power it on, and bang away; not having to mess with a compressor and air hose saves a fair amount of time and aggravation." Original Sorce: