5 Simple DIY Home Maintenance Tips

Home Repair

Here are a few suggestions that even the most inexperienced DIY-ers can feel comfortable tackling around your home.

  • 1.  Sluggish/Clogged Shower heads – Hard water can be a shower head’s worst enemy, since its mineral content will build up inside and impede water flow.  You can partially fill a sturdy plastic bag with vinegar and wrap it around the bathroom shower head.  Take pains to secure it with duct tape or twine and leave it overnight.  The vinegar will significantly clean out the deposits, and you will have a much better water flow.
  • 2.  Water Stains on the Ceiling – If your ceiling has just one or two minor water stains, you may be able to avoid re-painting the entire thing by trying this simple method.  Fill a spray bottle with a solution containing 10% bleach and 90% water and spray the spots.  Within a couple of days the stain will likely disappear.  This works on both flat and textured surfaces.  Note:  Be sure to wear protective eye gear when trying this!
  • 3.  Sticking Vinyl Windows and Doors – When sliding vinyl windows and doors refuse to open and close easily, it’s likely because debris has become lodged in the channels.  A simple solution is to spray polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) spray lubricant onto the contact points and then wipe them out with a rag.  PTFE is the same substance used in coating non-stick cookware.  This Teflon spray product can be purchased in any home improvement store or even online.  Caution:  Do not use oil lubricants, since they can attract dirt, as well as damaging the vinyl surface.
  • 4.  Filling Old Nail and Screw Holes – An old tip for repairing these holes, courtesy of Popular Mechanics, is to pop a wooden golf tee into the opening.  Then saw the tee flush with the wood’s surface, sand and finish.
  • 5.  Removing Toilet Bowl Stains –Once again, vinegar comes to the rescue.  Create a paste by mixing vinegar with baking soda and apply it to the stains in the toilet.  Allow the solution to set for an hour or longer, then scrub with a brush, and the stain should lift away.  Because it’s biodegradable, the vinegar and baking soda combination is also environmentally friendly.

Not all home repair and restoration projects can be managed as easily or as quickly as these.  For the more extensive and challenging tasks that need to be addressed, remember that you can always count on Handyman Matters.  Call 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME to locate the handyman nearest you.

The Benefits (as well as Things to Consider) of a Walk-In Shower


Years ago no one would have considered the concept of a walk-in shower in their house’s bathroom.  Such things were reserved for locker rooms and health clubs.  Now they’ve become a popular trend in private homes for a number of appealing reasons.

Walk-in showers offer extra space as well as giving your bathroom an open and airy appearance.  They are easily accessible and user-friendly. The elimination of thresholds makes them safer alternatives for children, seniors and for anyone dealing with mobility-restricting challenges.

  • Benefits…

With fewer parts where grime and soap scum can accumulate, they are easier to clean.  For these same reasons, the threat of mold is greatly reduced, with fewer places in which it can gain a foothold.   Showers can be designed with or without glass partitioning, depending on personal tastes.

Walk-in showers require no special ventilation or lighting.  The placement of accessories (shower heads, wall niches, grab bars) can be tailored to suit the homeowner’s needs and aesthetic preferences.

  • Things to consider…

Because this type of shower has an opening to the rest of the bathroom, its walls should be water-proofed or tiled at least as high as the shower head, and the fixtures adjusted to confine the water’s direction to within the stall area.  Just a small degree of slope will prevent water from flowing out into the rest of the room, yet not alter the floor enough to prohibit easy access.  Your shower’s stall space should have dimensions no smaller than 36 by 36 inches, and ideally, 42 by 60 inches.

Unless you are skilled in bathroom remodeling, this isn’t a do-it-yourself job, since significant structural and plumbing issues need to be addressed.   Your local Handyman Matters office is happy to offer guidance and expertise if you are considering this type of upgrade.  Call 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME or locate us at www.handymanmatters.com where you can enter your zip code to find the phone number of the office nearest you.

Eliminating Mildew in your Bathroom and How to Prevent its Return

Wall with brown mosaic pattern

Once mildew arrives in your house, it can take hold and begin to spread quickly.  Ironically, advances in better home insulation have had the side effect of allowing mildew and mold to grow more readily, particularly in poorly ventilated areas. Consequently, newer homes are often subject to the invasion of the various fungus that cause these problems.  Prime areas for a moisture/fungi breeding ground are crawlspaces, basements, attics, kitchens and, of course, your bathroom.

  • Ventilation

The first and most important step in mildew mitigation is to increase ventilation, especially in your bathroom, where water is run regularly and collects most frequently.  Leave the bathroom door (and windows, if possible) open after you shower or bathe, and always use the exhaust fan.  If you don’t have an exhaust fan, it’s important to have one installed.

Once mildew has taken hold in your bathroom, it can be nearly impossible to eliminate it or to prevent its return.  However, this can be accomplished with the following preventive measures:

  • Preventive Care

First, clean walls thoroughly with a mixture of 50% bleach and 50% water.  Allow all surfaces to dry thoroughly and then re-paint with a fast-drying primer followed by the application of a specially formulated bathroom/kitchen paint.  If this paint does not already have a mildew-cide ingredient, have the clerk add one when you purchase it.

  • Replace Caulking

Mildew will also form inside caulking, so it’s important to remove old caulk from tile and other surfaces, and replace it with a mildew-resistant form of grout.  Pay particular attention to the areas around the tub and shower enclosure where water can collect and stand for a longer period of time.

Keep in mind that, depending upon how long mildew has been present, there may be moisture damage to the wood and framing as well, and these are issues that must be addressed.

If all of this seems intimidating or too complicated for you to handle as a do-it-yourself project, your local Handyman Matters office is always willing to step in and tackle these repairs and restorations for you.  Call 1-800-FIX-MY-HOME or go to www.handymanmatters.com to find the phone number of the office nearest you.

Ideas For Your Master Bedroom Renovation Or Update

    

The master bedroom, the best room in the house, just for you, and full of amenities – or at least, it should be.  If you haven’t yet taken advantage of the term “master bedroom” now’s your chance.  Even with the simplest update, you can turn your bedroom into the cozy haven it was meant to be. Here are our tips for updating your master bedroom…

    • Ceiling Fan – White noise… A cool breeze… what’s better for sleeping than those two things?  Disguise the fans in your home by installing ceiling fans.
    • Closet Built-ins – Sometimes organizers aren’t worth the fuss.  Don’t lose crates to the back of your closet, or overfill flimsy, stackable shelves.  Whether your closet is on the smaller side or is a walk in, creating a built-in interior will help add structure and visibility to your organization plan.
  • TV Built-ins – While having a TV in the master bedroom is a wonderful amenity, it shouldn’t be the room’s focus.  Tuck your TV out of the way when it’s not in use by having a cabinet to store it in.  Built-ins can not only hide your television, but can also act as secondary storage, providing shelving and drawers for books, seasonal clothing, or your favorite tchotchkes.
  • Bathtub Upgrade – It’s the simple things – like jets in your bathtub – that can improve your mood, your bathroom, and even your day.  Relax after work in a bathtub fitting of a master bedroom.
  • Lighting Installations – Even though it may not seem like it, lighting can drastically effect how a room is perceived.  Harsh, overhead lighting, or yellow-y bulbs can strain your eyes.  In a room made for comfort, make sure your wattage and positioning reflects that.  Have multiple lights at various levels, this will help even out brightness of your room.  Each main surface in a bedroom should have a light, and provide extra watts to the places where you get ready the most or the places where you read at night.

Not feeling that DIY? Let us take care it for you!  Handyman Matters specializes in master bedroom renovations.  Give us a call today to get started on your free estimate – 866-FIX-MY-HOME.

Ideas For Your Summer Bathroom Remodel

The most telling room in any home is the bathroom.  Whether it be a master, a full, a ¾ bathroom, or a powder room… the state of the water closet is like peering through a keyhole to the condition of the rest of the home.  Is it outdated, dirty, or broken?  Bathrooms should inspire a feeling of cleanliness and hospitality, not of unease.  Take care of your home and its inhabitants by having a relaxing lavatory.  Handyman Matters has identified a few bathroom ideas, to improve each powder room in your home.

  • The Master Bathroom – Vanity

     
The biggest challenge for the master bathroom is organization.  For a room designed for the daily routines of (typically) two people, storage can be hard to come by.  For those of us with more beauty products than we know what to do with, there’s the bathroom vanity.  In modern bathroom designs, the vanity can be tucked away, between sinks, in extra counter space, or it can stand out as a small table.

  • The Full Bathroom – Free Standing Tub

     
A full bathroom is designated as having a shower, a tub, and a toilet.  When you have a full bathroom you typically have a spacious room.  What’s better in a large space than a statement piece?  The latest design trend for the modern bathroom is the free standing tub.  Whether it be Victorian inspired, contemporary, or more of the Jacuzzi vein – there’s a variety of kinds to help you bathe in style.

  • The Powder Room – Wallpaper

     
The smallest bathroom is the powder room.  When it comes to the ½ bath, the powder room has just a toilet and a sink. It may be small, but it is one of the most functional bathrooms in the home, most commonly serving the needs of your house guests.  Although this room is compact it doesn’t have to be bland.  The best way to add interest to a small bathroom is by installing printed wallpaper.

  • The ¾ Bathroom – Tile

     
Just the essentials in this room: a shower and toilet.  Smaller rooms with showers often fight the effects of humidity.  For this room think water resistant, think tile.  Unlike wood flooring and wallpaper, tile rarely warps or peels due to water damage.  A bonus feature is that there are many graphic options for tile to add a little intrigue as well as functionality.

Add a little luxury to your life and the lives of your house guests with a bathroom remodel.  The summer is a great time to revamp different areas of your home.  Whether you need repairs, extra cabinets, new appliances, or an accessible install – Handyman Matters is here to make that a reality.  Call us today to schedule your free estimate, 866-FIX-MY-HOME, or head to handymanmatters.com.

7 Ways to Improve your Home for the New Year

Looking for a few ways to improve your home for the New Year?

Check out these 7 tips to quickly and easily give your home that refresh it needs:

  1. Update your Coffee Machineautomatic coffee makerWaking up to the smell of coffee is a great and affordable luxury.  Installing a timer-based coffee machine can help scoop your tired body out of bed during those early mornings.
  2. Install a Heater in the Bathroomwall-mounted bathroom heaterTaking a hot shower when it’s cold out can be as big of a treat as it is a nightmare.  Stepping out of the bath into a cold bathroom when you’re at your most exposed can sometimes be like jumping into cold water.  Smooth your transition, and allow yourself a warm space to get dressed before you face the chill of winter.
  3. Install a Smart Thermostatnest smart thermostatNot to continue to harp on heat, but warmth is a big deal during the colder, trying months of the year.  Smart thermostats like Nest will help to regulate your home’s temperature.  It can be controlled from an app and will automatically adjust to your home’s needs.  If you leave for a trip, it will even sense the inactivity and lower temperatures to save on energy.
  4. Switch to an Overhead Light Dimmerlight dimmerHarsh overhead lighting can be a real mood killer.  Especially in the evenings, when your eyes are most sensitive, you should be able to adjust and soften the lighting.
  5. Expand Your Closetwhite closetPretending that you don’t need the space may short term feel frugal and right, but long-term it leads to crazy mountains of button ups and pants on the floor.  Overestimating your closets needs is always the way to go.  Give yourself an extra rack for room to grow, or perhaps a rack just for highlighting your most prized party dresses.
  6. Entertain More!party food spreadThe holidays are always a great reminder of how fun it is to have your favorite people under one roof.  Why not foster that kind of space?  Creating a sort of parlor in your home for company can be a great excuse to have more parties.  It can consist of a special billiards accessory – poker nights are fun – or perhaps it’s more of a casual table setting for dinner and game nights.  Think larger, circle tables for optimum conversation abilities, and a comfy cross between dining chairs and armchairs.
  7. A Room Of One’s Ownwhite sunlit roomVirginia Woolf had it right when she wrote about the importance of having your own space to think and be creative.  Whether it be an art studio, workroom, office, library, or music room – think about what activity de-stresses you, and make sure you have a place to do that!

Let Handyman Matters help usher your home into a new, improved year!

Call 866-FIX-MY-HOME

Handling Clogged Shower Drain Problems

Because the shower is one of the most commonly used areas in your house, the drain in that area is more prone than others to become clogged.  Hair and soap scum are the usual culprits, and can cause your shower to take up to half an hour to fully drain.

It is not especially difficult to fix a clogged shower drain if you are having a problem. Just follow these simple dos and don’ts.

Do:

• Check your stopper or trip lever

Your shower and tub area may have either a stopper or a trip lever to open and close the drain.  You should check to see if either of these are partially closed before you do anything else.

• Use a plunger

If your drain stopper is open and functioning properly, try using a plunger.  Most people only associate plungers with unclogging toilets, but they are also very effective on shower drains.

To proceed, make sure there is enough water over the drain to cover the bottom of the plunger’s head.  Use an old towel or rag to block the opening of the overflow outlet.  With the plunger covering the drain, use a pumping motion down and up at least five times. The pressure created should dislodge the clog.  Repeat the attempt several times before moving onto the next method.

• Try a plumber’s snake

If you have tried plunging, but the water still will not go down the drain, you can use a simple tool called a plumber’s snake.  This is a long and flexible cable made of steel that is wound around on a handle.

To use the snake, remove the overflow or trip lever plate using a screwdriver.  Push a three-foot length of the snake down the opening.  As you push, twist the handle. This helps move the head of the snake along.  Continue to push and twist as you push and pull the snake back and forth.  This will break up the clog.  Before you remove the snake, run a bit of water to see if the clog is gone.  You may need to work at the clog for a while until it is fully dislodged.

Don’t:

• Use a liquid clog remover

Do not try to remove a clog using a caustic drain opener.  It may actually eat through the clog, but it can be dangerous to use and can damage your pipes.  It is especially harmful if the chemical does not immediately dissolve the clog and sits there for hours.

• Never use boiling water

Do not pour boiling water down the drain to melt the clog.  It can damage sealants or rubber gaskets before it clears out the drain.

For help removing shower clogs, contact Handyman Matters at 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find a location in your area.

 

How to Increase Bathroom Safety

Bathroom safety is an often underestimated aspect of owning a home. Although most people would assume their bathroom is a safe place, the mortality rate says otherwise. Falls, being the primary cause of bathroom related fatalities, claim over 6,000 lives in the United States per year and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. Fortunately, for homeowners new and old, subtle renovations can greatly reduce the dangers associated with bathroom usage and potentially save the lives of themselves and their loved ones.

Toilets

Toilets may seem harmless, but they are the cause for over 40,000 injuries in the United States alone. Not all of these injuries prove fatal, but statistically, there’s a 1 in 10,000 chance that they will, an alarming statistic given the average person’s amount of visits to the bathroom. If you’re one of the unlucky few that has sustained an injury while using the toilet, there are many ways to prevent it from happening again.

  • Taller Toilets: Installing a taller toilet makes sitting down and standing up easier for those using it, lessening the risk of injury.
  • Conscious Seating: If you share a bathroom, ensure that the seat is down after usage. This is not only polite, but a great way to avoid a broken hip from falling in.
  • Keep it Clean: Always keep personal bathrooms clean and routinely maintained.

Showers

It should come as no surprise that showers have the potential to cause bodily harm. Surfaces are wet and slippery, visibility is compromised and those showering are often groggy and inattentive. Whether rushing to make it to work on time, or enjoying a luxurious rinse, shower users welcome risk into their daily routine upon turning on the faucet, but steps can be taken to lessen these dangers.

  • Shower Chairs: Shower chairs come in all different shapes and sizes. Installing one is relatively easy and can offer a relaxing place to sit while showering.
  • Grab Bars: Grab bars can either be installed permanently, or suction-cupped to the wall. They may not be the most decorative, but they increase shower safety tenfold.
  • No More Tub: If you’re not much of a bather, consider putting in a walk-in shower. This eases entry and prevents tripping over the tub.

Floors

Wet floors are responsible for 15% of the accidental deaths in the US, making them one of the most dangerous surfaces people set foot on daily. In bathrooms, locker rooms and kitchens around the country, wet floors have taken thousands of lives. A wet floor sign may seem adequate when it comes to prevention, but as the death toll continues to rise, it’s apparent that other solutions are needed.

  • Bathroom Mats: Bathroom mats and rugs need to be replaced frequently but can greatly reduce falling on the way in and out of the bathtub and shower.
  • Upkeep: Keep floors properly mopped and clean, and when possible, put up a wet floor sign so that people are aware that the surface is compromised.
  • Awareness: At the end of the day, awareness in the bathroom can be your saving grace. Although it’s easy to zone out on those drowsy mornings, don’t ever let your tired eyes result in your demise. And if you’re someone who shares a bathroom, ensure that it’s safe prior to people using it.

 

“Fortunately, for homeowners new and old, proper bathroom safety products can greatly reduce the dangers associated with bathroom usage and potentially save the lives of themselves and their loved ones.”

Author Bio: Jared Pennington suffered a bruised tailbone in high school after taking a spill in the locker room. He was fortunate enough to laugh it off, but he knows that other people aren’t so lucky. After he was defeated by a wet floor, he swore to never let anyone suffer the same fate in his bathroom at home.

Steps to Reduce Bathroom Injuries

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that about 235,000 people go to emergency rooms each year with injuries sustained in bathrooms. Such mishaps increase with age, and accidents related to falls getting in and out of the bathtub are particularly hazardous and frequently fatal for seniors. Most of these catastrophes are easily avoidable.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that about 235,000 people go to emergency rooms each year with injuries sustained in bathrooms.  Such mishaps increase with age, and accidents related to falls getting in and out of the bathtub are particularly hazardous and frequently fatal for seniors.  Most of these catastrophes are easily avoidable.

Advances in design and technology have brought all kinds of new products to the market, including curbless showers (removing the “stumble” factor), taller toilets and lighting that is layered in such a way as to prevent glare.

Tubs with water-sealant doors are readily available.  Grab bars no longer have to look institutional, but are more easily incorporated into a bathroom’s design and serve additional functions such as soap and shampoo holders.  Flip-up shower seats and hand-held shower heads have been around for decades, and are more functional and user-friendly now than ever.

Motion sensors on lighting and dimmer switches allow for handier access.  Adequate lighting becomes increasingly important as we age:  By 40, the average person begins to notice diminution in vision, and by age 60, we need three times as much light to see as effectively as we did when we were in our 20s.

Other new design features that increase safety and decrease the opportunity for mishaps include no-touch faucets, lever handles to replace doorknobs, drawers that can be opened with a nudge, and counters with knee space beneath, allowing for sitting and wheelchair access.

Lowering storage space to the point of use (shelves at waist-level, for example) is another improvement in bathroom safety design.  Features like these reduce hazards substantially and can allow people to remain living independently in their homes for a considerably longer period of time than they might be able to do otherwise.

For more tips on safety-proofing your bathroom or for assistance in remodeling, contact Handyman Matters at 1-800-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find a location near you.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Remodeling Your Bathroom

When experts express caution about the kinds of mistakes you can make when remodeling your bathroom, you get a lot of warnings that could apply to any renovation project: don’t do it yourself if you don’t have the expertise; hire a reputable contractor or a bathroom specialist; avoid under-budgeting. However, there are some mistakes you can make that are specific to remodeling a bathroom. Below are some of the big ones you should avoid.

Leaving Everyone in the Dark: Lots of older bathrooms were built with inadequate lighting. They might have a single overhead fixture or a couple of bulbs over the mirror, but regardless the lighting is barely adequate to apply make-up or shave. When you’re showering it’s so dim you can’t find the soap. If you want to avoid these frustrations, it’s important that you plan your renovation with lighting in mind. Think of ambient light – from recessed lights or an overhead fixture – as well as task lighting provided by pendant lights or a fixture over the sink (and maybe the shower or toilet if they’re in separate rooms). Remember that proper lighting is also a safety precaution. Your bathroom should be well illuminated so that a guest can maneuver around safely.

Photo courtesy of Case Design Birmingham

Forgetting the Little Things: It’s important to think about the little details, like outlets. A lot of older bathrooms don’t have enough outlets for the volume of hair dryers, straightening irons, electric razors, and other gadgets we use today. When renovating, be sure to include conveniently located outlets. How about storage? If you have a pedestal sink, where will you put all the toiletries people usually store under the sink? Think about towels as well. You need a convenient place in or near the bathroom to store towels and other toiletries. Another little thing to consider is the placement of the toilet paper holder. You want it where it’s a convenient reach from the toilet, but not so close to the shower or sink that it will get wet. And there is nothing worse than using damp toilet paper!

Keeping Up with the Joneses: Yes, your friends may have neon lights or waterfall faucets in their bathrooms, but think about how dated some of these trends will be in 10-20 years – around the time you might be trying to sell the house. Think of all the bathroom trends that seemed to be a good idea at the time, but now make most homeowners cringe: bathrooms tiled all in pink, avocado green or bright yellow fixtures, and Jacuzzi tubs that no one wants. Instead of choosing the latest thing in triangular sinks or red toilets, consider making your bathroom “neutral” in terms of décor. Choose neutral colors that aren’t likely to go out of fashion and classic fixtures in white or off-white. If you want a trendy look, see if you can get it with extras such as towel bars, drawer pulls, or even lighting fixtures. These things are easier for your home’s next owner to replace and aren’t likely to make them cringe.

Photo courtesy of Case Design Birmingham

Bad Space Planning: We’ve all had experience with knocking our knees on the bathtub while using the toilet. Or showering in a stall that even a supermodel would feel was too narrow. Or how about the tubs that look great in the room, but are too short for you to stretch out your legs. The clearance around certain fixtures is in the code, and it’s important to conform to these requirements. However – if you can – you should consider giving yourself more space than the bare minimum. You never know when you might have an extra large guest or someone who has trouble walking or standing. Besides, a feeling of extra space creates a sense of luxury in the room. It’s actually relaxing to have extra space and not feel cramped. When you’re planning out your bathroom remodel, think through where you need the space and where you don’t – and plan accordingly.

Choosing the Wrong Products: The bathroom isn’t like other rooms in your home. The fact that parts of it get wet every day means that you need products that are specifically designed for a damp environment. Bathrooms need a different kind of paint. They require tiles that are properly sealed to keep moisture out. Even some contractors use the wrong kind of underlayment or backer board so that over time moisture will get inside the wall, causing a whole host of problems. Similarly, you might not be particularly interested in exhaust fans, but it’s important to have one that is the right size for your bathroom (or two in a big bathroom). That could be all that’s standing between you and a major mold problem. So make sure you have the right materials before you start your renovation; it can save you plenty of headaches later on.

About the Author: Brianna Perkle is a freelance writer and guest contributor to Handyman Matters. She enjoys home decorating and remodeling.