Potential Household Disasters that are Easy—and Too Expensive—to Ignore

For most of us, it seems as if there either isn’t enough time or enough money to tend to every little item that needs repairing around our home.  Moreover, it’s easy when you notice the small things—like the slow-running drain or toilet, the water trickling out around the base of faucets, cracks in stucco, chipped caulk around windows, small water stains—to say to yourself, “I’ll get around to those pretty soon.”  But it’s remarkable how quickly “pretty soon” turns into weeks or months, and suddenly you find yourself facing a much bigger problem than you’d ever anticipated.

So, painful as it may be to spend the money now, it’s likely to be a much bigger savings over what you might find yourself shelling out later when that small issue becomes a larger one.  Let’s take a look at the warning signs that precede potential disasters, focusing on those areas where problems commonly show up.

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GUTTERS – Is rain water or melting snow spilling over the sides of your gutters and pooling around the base of your home?  This is a double-edged problem.  The gutters are probably clogged with dead leaves and other debris.  Left uncleared, the material begins to mold and rot, causing damage to the gutters.  And the water pooling on the ground, can cause your home’s siding to rot, mildew, or, in a worse-case scenario, there might be extensive damage to the foundation.  Not only is a gutter-cleaning in order, you might also want to consider extending the downspout further away from your house.

LAUNDRY ROOM/FACILITIES – Are you finding it takes your dryer two cycles before heavier fabrics such as towels are thoroughly dried?  This may be the result of a clogged dryer vent.  It’s important to clean the lint tray after each use, and it’s worth considering replacing plastic or foil vents with aluminum ones.  The smaller expense now is well worth it if it cuts down on your energy bill or prevents a fire later.

BATHROOMS AND DRAINS – Some bathroom issues are easy to spot.  Water pooling around a faucet or around toilets is clearly an indication of a leak.  Some of these are easy and inexpensive to fix, if they require little more than re-caulking or tightening connections.  Others are trickier.  A slow draining sink is obviously a problem (and pouring heavy-duty drain declogger down them rarely fixes the problem; at best, it simply postpones it), but other drainage issues often come without warning and can be disastrous.  Depending on the age of your home’s pipes, it’s possible you face the challenge of tree roots growing in through them, causing clogs you don’t even know about until the day that water backs up and floods the bathroom and points beyond.  It’s well worth the expense to have a plumbing company annually snake out your drains; it’s much cheaper than replacing carpeting or wooden flooring later!

ROOF – Naturally we don’t find ourselves up on top of our houses that often.  The first indications that there may be a problem up there is when we discover ceiling stains or dripping water during rainstorms or snow melts.  If you look closely, you might detect bowing in the roof, dampness or staining on attic ceilings or cracks in the masonry around the fireplace.  Regular roof inspection is critical, paying particular attention to broken or missing shingles and checking the flashing around chimneys.  Roofs take a beating, no matter where in the country you live, and when your roof is in peril, so is everything beneath it.

FIREPLACES – Have you noticed that the glass doors on your fireplace get especially sooty after every use?  Is there a smoky odor even when you haven’t had a fire in a while?  Is the air around the hearth cooler than elsewhere in your home?  A faulty damper permits drafts and allows heat to escape.  Smoky smells indicate a build-up of creosote, which prevents proper venting.  Crumbling masonry may be a sign that moisture is permeating your chimney flashing.  Untreated, these situations can cause anything from carbon monoxide poisoning to water damage to a devastating fire in your home.

These are just a few of those things that start out as minor problems but can quickly escalate into full-blown disaster.  And while it can be painful to the bank account to spend the money, the dividends it pays off down the road are well worth the short-term costs.

Remember, too, it’s easy to schedule a visit from a qualified craftsman at your local Handyman Matters location to give your home a thorough inspection, looking for indications of small problems waiting to become big ones.  An ounce of prevention today is worth the proverbial cure somewhere down the road.

GETTING YOUR YARD AND PATIO READY FOR SUMMER ENTERTAINING

With spring close at hand and summer not far behind, it will soon be time to conduct a back yard inspection to make sure that your home is ready for entertaining family and friends over the next several months.

patio-ready-summerOftentimes, just a little “sprucing-up” is required to have your backyard looking its best again, but it all begins by conducting a careful inventory, looking at everything through the eyes of a guest.  Prepare to make a few notes as you walk around the areas where you will be entertaining, and ask yourself four questions:

  1. What needs cleaning/trimming?  Is the grass overgrown?  Are the lawn cushions looking soiled or faded?  Are your windows streaked or muddied from a winter’s worth of storms?  Do you have trees and bushes that could use a good trimming?  Are the gutters clogged or overflowing?
  1. What needs repairing?   Stand in the middle of the yard and turn around slowly, taking in everything you see.  What could stand a fresh coat of paint or stain?  Are there boards dangling or missing from the fence?  Do your kids have a tree house or playground equipment that has seen better days?   Is the gate sagging or are the hinges loose?  Is it a struggle to open or close the sliding patio door?
  1. What needs replacing?  Is the bird feeder cracked or dangling by a frayed thread?  Are the vinyl straps on the patio furniture loose or broken?  Has the umbrella over the deck table seen its last season?  How old and how reliable is your grill?
  1. What presents potential hazards?  Most importantly, determine whether there’s anything around the yard or patio that could cause injury.  Are there loose flagstones in the garden, crumbling or loose bricks on the low patio wall?  Are there wobbly deck railings, or cracked boards on steps?  Are there dark corners, stumbling hazards, low-hanging beams or any other hazards where adding outdoor lighting could reduce the risk of injury?

Entertaining company on summer afternoons and evenings should be a laid-back, stress-free experience.  And, in truth, people are there to enjoy one another’s company.  Things don’t have to perfect for everyone to have a good time.  But a little clean-up and repair ahead of time will go a long way towards enhancing your time with friends and family.

For assistance in sprucing up your home and yard for the summer months, you can always rely on the friendly and capable craftsmen at Handyman Matters to help out with any project, large or small.  Call 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME or go to www.handymanmatters.com where you can enter your zip code to find the number of the location nearest you.

Transforming Your Bedroom into a Retreat

These days many people are turning their bedroom into something more than just the place they head to collapse on a pillow and close their eyes for several hours of rest before facing the world again.

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The idea is to transform a mere bedroom into a retreat, a multi-functional room that enables you to spend your downtime doing things like listening to music, exercising, watching television, conversing with your significant other, or yes, even sleeping!

So… where to begin?

Whatever changes you intend to make, your bed remains the essential piece of furniture in the room.  If it’s already providing you with a great night’s sleep, there’s no reason to make any significant change there.  But if it isn’t, consider anything from a small alteration such as rearranging its position in the room, to replacing your mattress, to getting a new bed altogether.

If you are a morning person, having a bed that faces the window is a great way to greet the day.  If you’re more of a night owl, you may find you sleep better if your bed faces a wall with muted tones.

Next, evaluate your lighting options.  If you’ve been getting by with nothing but harsh overhead fixtures, explore more subtle arrangements such as recessed lighting, which lends itself to a more restful atmosphere, side lamps for task lighting, or at least installing a dimmer for those bright overhead bulbs.

Resist the temptation to over-decorate. Too many knickknacks, too many paintings or other wall decorations–even a busy wallpaper pattern—can impede restfulness.  Interior design experts recommend soothing paint and fabric colors.  Moss greens, tans and blues, for example, lend themselves to a more relaxed atmosphere.

Maximize your comfort.  Maybe it’s time to upgrade those sheets and pillowcases to a higher threadcount.  Invest in a luxurious comforter and thick pillows to pamper yourself.

What other things would add to your happiness and your sense of having a restful oasis?  How about a cushioned window seat?  A sitting area with a recliner and a side table where you can enjoy a good book?  How about an alcove with a coffee maker, separate from the one in your kitchen, to save a few steps when you want a hot beverage?

Perhaps your budget allows you to dream big.  If that’s the case, would installing a wet bar or even a fireplace give you added satisfaction?

Experts advise you to be wary when it comes to installing electronics.  Many people like to relax by watching television, but a large screen TV can too easily become the dominate feature of the room.  If you want one, install it in a cabinet so that it can be hidden away when it’s not in use.  Be mindful of the fact that while having your phone, your tablet or your laptop nearby may be convenient, each of these also conspires to stimulate the senses rather than soothing them.  Keep your electronics on hand if you must, but out of sight in a drawer or in the same cabinet that houses the television.  It’s just too tempting to reach for them every few minutes otherwise.

One final element to take into consideration:  our sense of smell is a powerful trigger, easily impacting our moods.  Potpourri, delicate incense or oil or fresh flowers may be the crowning touch to make your bedroom retreat the ideal escape from the rest of the world.

Turning your bedroom into a retreat may be as simple as rearranging a few pieces of furniture, but if it’s a larger scale project you have in mind, your local Handyman Matters office is standing by to make the transformation as quick, easy and painless as possible.