10 Ways To Improve The Safety Of Your Home

Everyone has a checklist of things that need to be done around the home for routine maintenance. There is a seemingly unending list of things to clean or replace in order to keep things safe and running smoothly. It can be hard to remember every detail, even though forgetting can be a hazard. In order to keep the home safe, it is important to not overlook or put off these ten hidden dangers found in the Home Safety Checklist at RealSimple.com.

10 Ways To Improve The Safety Of Your Home

1.  Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

While the most obvious, it is also easily forgotten, partly because it is ignored unless it is beeping.  Install plenty, and don’t wait for the low battery beep. Check the batteries and clean the vents monthly.

2.  Outlets and Wires

Be careful to not overload outlets, and check all cords for frays or if they have been compromised. Feel outlets and plugs.  Warmth can be a sign of a problem and an electrician should be notified. Use extension cords only when necessary and within the proper wattage.

3.  GFCI’s

What is that? The technical term is ground fault circuit interrupters, but most people probably know them as the outlets with little buttons in the middle that always have to be reset. They are meant to shut off when the current moves through an unintentional path. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) these outlets have reduced electrocutions by 83%. They are required in certain areas of the home and should be checked frequently to insure they function properly.

4.  Heating

Whether it’s the water heater, or an electric or gas heater, proper maintenance is vital.  Keep flammable materials away from water heaters. Make sure all outside vents for the heater are unobstructed to avoid carbon monoxide buildup.

5.  Chimneys and Wood Stoves

A chimney should be inspected by a professional each year to insure proper functioning. Inspect wood-burning stoves twice a month. Make sure the door latches.  Only use seasoned wood to avoid a buildup of soot.

6.  Fire Extinguishers

Keep one in the kitchen and garage and one on each floor of the house. Replace if damaged or expired.

7.  Vents and Filters

Dryer vents going to the outside become a fire hazard when filled with lint. Check often to make sure they are clear. Heater and air conditioner vents need to be cleaned or changed monthly.

8.  Breaker Box

This is often overlooked, but checking for damage and making sure it is up to code is one way to prevent fires in the home.

9.  Attic

Loose wires, water or structural damage, and pests can hide in places like the attic and basement. Look in hidden areas often for signs of problems before they become costly and dangerous.

10.  Pipes

It’s easy to dismiss plumbing problems as something that comes with an older house (or any house), but there are signs of bigger issues that need to be checked out. Poor water pressure, discolored water, water spots on ceilings, and gurgling are just a few hints of a bigger problem.

Safety is important, and sometimes it takes a professional to make sure things are fixed properly and up to code. Please contact us with any questions about how we can help make your home safe!

The Spring Cleaning Spots We Don’t Think to Check

Spring is already right around the corner on the calendar and many of us are starting to get the itch to begin cleaning and making repairs around our homes. We all know the typical spring cleaning “to-do’s” – wipe down baseboards, wash the walls, clean up and maintain our garden beds. The list can seem endless.The Spring Cleaning Spots We Don't Think to Check

But what about the things around your home that you don’t think to clean or repair? If left untouched for too long, the resulting damage can cause major problems.

Today we want to focus on an area of your home that may not get the attention it needs: your fixtures. For those of you wondering, fixtures are any items in your home that are in a “fixed” location, such as lighting fixtures, toilets, sinks, etc.

When is the last time you walked around your house and took a good look at the condition of each fixture you have? With spring cleaning in mind, now is a great time to assess if you have any fixtures that are in need of repair or replacement. Jot down any problem areas you notice on a notepad in order to help prioritize which items need fixed or replaced quickly and which can wait.

It is important to look for rust spots, worn materials, leaks, loose nuts/bolts, frayed wires or any chips or cracks. A small crack or leak can cause significant damage if it remains unnoticed for too long. As you are wiping baseboards, dusting, cleaning floors and removing excess clutter, take a few moments to make note of any fixtures that may need attention.

Most importantly, don’t try to tackle all of your chores in one day – either take your time or call in a team of professionals (like us!) to help you get the job done right!

4 Ways to Renovate Your Kitchen Without Remodeling (Part 2)

Welcome back to the second half of our two-part article on interesting and creative ways to renovate your kitchen without actually going through the full remodeling process. Last time we talked about how many houses are fantastic except for the previous owner’s taste in kitchen decor and the hassle of actually ripping out everything to replace it. We then discussed the marvels of contact paper in re-inventing the surface appearance of a room along with your ability to simply re-stain, paint, and finish anything you want. After all, it’s your house. Today we’ll start up by taking a look at your cabinet doors.

4 Ways to Renovate Your Kitchen Without Remodeling (Part 2)

3) Replace the Cabinet Doors

Of course, you’re not stuck with simply repainting or staining the cabinets, you can change the look completely simply by changing the style of the doors themselves. Remove the cabinet doors and think about what your kitchen would look like with something different. In some cases, you can install sliding doors instead, perhaps of clear or frosted plastic giving your home a more ephemeral and modern look. You can even install mirror cabinet doors to truly blow the minds of family and guests who will literally see themselves in your kitchen transformation.

4) Area Rugs

Finally, replacing floors is a lot of hard work, especially when dealing with kitchen counters, islands, and appliances. If you don’t like the look of your kitchen floor, or simply find it to be too cold in the winter, throw down a sturdy area rug. These can be plain black and utilitarian or lively and decorative. The important part is simply that it be easy to vacuum and was and that it has a rubber back for both traction and moisture control.

There are a lot of different ways to renovate your kitchen but the vast majority of them require a real budget and some skills with tools. If you don’t have a huge budget or don’t actually want to rip out big chunks of your kitchen just to change the appearance, simply changing the surface is much easier than replacing anything. With a few quick tricks and the help of professionals where your DIY confidence flags, you can enjoy your kitchen without any of the hassle or mess of true remodeling. For more great home repair and remodeling ideas or to work with someone who’s incredibly comfortable around paints, stains, and cabinet doors, contact us today!

4 Ways to Renovate Your Kitchen Without Remodeling (Part 1)

Have you ever loved everything about a home except the kitchen decor? The way people decorate kitchen has changed a lot in the past 80 years in which your home may have been built. Older homes tend to have bold designs that seem overdone and tacky these days and even with a perfectly modern kitchen, there’s a good chance that you and the previous owner simply don’t agree on which colors are attractive. Kitchens of the past tend to be brown, yellow, or white while modern kitchens tend toward blue-gray, white, black, and stainless steel. Renovating your kitchen without remodeling can be done.

4 Ways to Renovate Your Kitchen Without Remodeling (Part 1)

Whether you want a cozy cottage design or something sleek and minimal, you don’t actually have to rip anything out or spend a fortune to completely remake the appearance of your kitchen. No doubt you’ve heard about changing the cabinet handles or the faucet and light fixtures, but to completely transform even the big sections of your kitchen, all you need is a little creativity, perspective, and contact paper.

1) Contact Paper

Contact paper is one of the best things that has ever happened to kitchen remodeling. Contact paper is a sturdy plastic sheet printed with attractive patterns on one side and coated in sticky glue on the other. All you have to do is press the contact paper flat and smooth onto a surface and it magically takes on the appearance of the paper (which is really plastic). The best part about contact paper is that it can be made to look like other things.

Most people use contact paper on the surface of kitchen cabinet shelves because it’s easier to keep clean and can be replaced if it gets too grimy from spilled spices or a leaky jar of molasses, unlike the wood shelf itself. However, if you want to completely redo the appearance of your kitchen, consider new contact paper textures on everything from the cabinets to the dishwasher. Marble contact paper can class up an old chipped countertop without shelling out for real marble (just be careful about hot pots) and ‘stainless steel’ contact paper can be put on plastic appliances to make them appear more modern as well.

2) Stain, Paint, and Finish

Of course, if you’d rather change the color and texture of things the old-fashioned way, there’s nothing stopping you from simply re-staining, painting, or finishing any surface in your kitchen. Cabinets are the easiest to adjust the colors of, especially if you don’t need to change the color inside. Simply strip off the old finish, re-stain, and seal with a new finish so you can scrub your cabinets safely later on. Hate your kitchen backsplash? You don’t have to tear that out either, simply slap on a coat of complementary paint.

If you paint, use a sturdy glossy paint that will withstand the scrubby side of a sponge. Remember that everything has to be cleaned in a kitchen so any paint, stain, or finish you use that still gives off color when scrubbed isn’t sealed enough yet.

Join us next time for the second half of this two-part article where we’ll talk about cabinet doors, area rugs, and how to find a handy person to help you if you’re not exactly a DIY Diva. For more interesting tips and tricks on home improvement, to talk to a handy-man, or to read the end of this article, contact us today!

4 Signs It’s Time to Repair Your Garbage Disposal

Your garbage disposal is one of the handiest tools in your home, that is, until it stops working. Don’t wait until it needs to be replaced, look (and listen) for these 4 signs that your garbage disposal needs repair.

4 Signs It's Time to Repair Your Garbage Disposal

The garbage disposal smells bad, really bad. If you have tried to clean your garbage disposal with vinegar, citrus, or harsh chemical agents, and it still smells horrible, chances are it’s time for a professional to take it apart and clean it thoroughly. Depending on how old the device is, though, you may just want to replace it completely and instantly have cleaner air!

Something doesn’t sound right. While a garbage disposal is noisy, it should never sound like metal is grinding on metal. This could signal that parts have begun to move incorrectly. Call in a professional right away for a tune-up. If you let the problem go on for too long, you might have to replace the whole unit.

Water is leaking from the disposal. If the water is leaking from a seal on the unit, chances are a professional can nip the problem in the bud. Unfortunately, a leak coming from a crack in the device itself, is a sign that you should just replace the whole disposal.

The garbage disposal jams, constantly. We love garbage disposals because of their ability to break down various sizes of food items. If your disposal jams at even the smallest particle of food, it is definitely time for a professional inspection.

If one of your kitchen chores for this year is repairing your garbage disposal, contact us today for more information!