While the December holidays evoke a spirit of peace on Earth and goodwill toward all, not everyone embraces that philosophy, so just to be sure, it makes sense to take a few extra steps to keep your home and your loved ones safe this upcoming season.

We’ve become pretty well-schooled in the idea of having packages delivered to our offices if no one is going to be home, or having a neighbor bring in any parcels that are left unattended on our porches or by our front doors.  You don’t want items stolen any time of the year, but particularly when these are intended to be gifts.  However, your precaution shouldn’t stop there.

Most folks like to display their Christmas tree in front of a living room window where they can be enjoyed not just by family members, but by neighbors and folks passing in front of your home.  But if you’ve also placed gifts under the tree, this inadvertently creates an invitation to burglars.  Better to either keep the gifts hidden elsewhere or move your tree to a spot away from windows or other places with a view.

If you will be traveling during the holidays, it’s best to notify a trusted neighbor or engage a reputable housesitter to keep an eye on your property while you are away.  Arrange to have someone shovel your walks if it snows in your absence, and rather than discontinuing your mail or newspaper delivery, which can be a signal that no one will be at home, have someone collect these and keep them safe for you until your return.  Put a few lights on a timer, or better yet, have a friend or neighbor come over to leave on different lights on different nights so that a “pattern” isn’t readily obvious to anyone who might be checking out your place.

In this age of oversharing of information on social media, keep your travel plans offline.  Don’t post that you’ll be out of town, or where you are going, or for how long.

One of the best deterrents, of course, is to install a home security system that triggers alarms and that can alert you to any suspicious activity taking place, no matter where you may be when it occurs.  Some of these systems are easily installed with a minimum of fuss; others—hardwired security, for instance—can present more of a challenge, and may require the assistance of a professional service such as Handyman Matters who have Craftsmen well-versed in such installations.

There’s a lot of things going on this time of year that require our attention; worrying about the security of our home shouldn’t have to be one of them.

Book Online Button


Adding a backsplash to your kitchen is both an economical and functional way to upgrade your kitchen.  It’s a remodel that can be done with a minimum of fuss, time and expenditure of money.  Not only will it give the room an attractive facelift, it makes one of the more challenging areas of your kitchen easier to clean.

Wallpaper and paint tend to absorb odors from cooking and can easily stain from both grease spatters and other liquids hitting them.  A tile backsplash removes all of these challenges.  Additionally, tile can cover small gaps when countertops don’t sit flush against walls.

Kitchen Backsplash - Handyman Matters Collection
Kitchen Backsplash – Handyman Matters Collection

Installing a backsplash is a simple task that’s relatively easy for even a “beginner handyman” to undertake.  The first step is to select the tile material you want to use.  For the budget-minded, your best choices are ceramic or porcelain.  Somewhat pricier options are glass, marble or granite.

You’ll want to begin by deciding the height you’d like to incorporate into your design, and the total area you want to cover.  Make certain the surface is thoroughly cleaned before applying mortar or mastic adhesive.  Most tiles will come with a set of manufacturer’s instructions, enabling you to follow a simple and direct series of guidelines that will result in a professional-looking finished job.

However, if you are considering a more complicated installation, something that involves tiles with more intricate designs and patterns or ones that will require the use of a tile saw, or if perhaps it’s just simply a job you don’t have the time or the inclination to undertake yourself, it’s far better to spend the additional money to ensure that the backsplash installation done efficiently, precisely, and correct the first time.

Book Online Button


Fire can happen anywhere, anytime.

That is the 2018 slogan—and the warning—of The National Fire Prevention Association.  And while October 7-13 is officially National Fire Prevention Week, we should be vigilant all fifty-two weeks of the year.  Fire is a devastating and quick-moving danger, and mere seconds can mean all the difference between safety or tragedy.  How ready are you—and your family—to handle this kind of a crisis?

Every home should be equipped with at least one smoke detector on every floor and one near every bedroom.  If battery-operated, the batteries should be changed every six months and the detectors themselves tested monthly.

Is anyone in your home hearing-impaired or are they heavy sleepers?  There are smoke detectors designed to awaken people in other ways besides sound.  Investigate these types if there’s a risk that anybody in your house might not be alerted to the alarm a standard smoke detector produces.

ThinkstockPhotos-177031254_smallKeep a fully-charged fire extinguisher on every level of your home and inspect it regularly to make sure it remains in good working condition.

It’s important to plan not one, but multiple escape routes from your home.  Every single member of the household should have a clear plan in mind for getting out of the house as quickly as possible, and to practice the route several times.  It’s a good idea to keep your phone by your bed in the event that you aren’t able to escape.  By the same token, when staying with friends or in a hotel, take a few minutes to spot fire exits, fire extinguishers and the best route for getting out of unfamiliar surroundings as quickly as possible.

Everyone should conduct a thorough safety inspection of their house and to do so often.  Chimneys and furnaces should be inspected and cleaned regularly.  Make certain that all objects—flammable or not—are never closer than three feet to any heat source.  There should be a clear and unobstructed path leading out of every single room.  Never leave portable heaters running when you are asleep or out of the house.

These are just a few of the fundamental things to keep in mind to ensure that your home is as “fire-proofed” as possible.  Take the time to visit The National Fire Prevention Association’s website at   where you can click on “Safety Tip Sheets” for much more valuable information on the steps to keeping yourself, your family and your pets safe.

Remember, too, that you can rely on the professional and friendly Craftsmen at your local Handyman Matters office to assist you with the installation of smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and any other tasks—large or small—that will make your home a safer and happier place to live.



The longer you live in a home, the more possessions you acquire, say nothing of how your family itself may have grown through the years.  Whether you live in a small place, to begin with, or a larger one that somehow seems “more full” than it did once upon a time, there are ways to open up those cramped rooms. These options do not require actually having to expand the walls, and many can be accomplished without spending a fortune in the process.

Dark flooring, walls, and paneling can give a room a cozy appearance that feels great on a chilly winter’s evening but creates a claustrophobic atmosphere the rest of the time.  Consider taking advantage of our Accent Wall package by adding a decorative accent wall using reclaimed wood, similar to the one shown in the image below, or painting one wall in a cooling shade of blue or green, or simply changing out curtains, fabrics, and a piece or two of furnishing for ones with lighter tones.

Reclaimed Wood Accent Wall
Reclaimed Wood Accent Wall

Mirrors are an excellent way to create a comfortable illusion of added space, particularly if your room’s configuration allows for mirrors that can face each other from opposite walls.  In tiny kitchens, reflective surfaces such as stainless steel appliances serve the same purpose.

Too many decorative elements “shrink” a room, as well.  As an experiment, remove a third of the knick-knacks that occupy shelf and table space to see how much of a difference their absence makes, and whether you can—or you want to—live with the difference.  Inspect your furnishings, as well.  Is there a chair that remains unoccupied most of the time, or an end table or lamp that don’t really need to be there?  Or you can always trade these out for taller, narrowing furnishings which tend to give the illusion of added volume.

If the budget allows, there are other options.  Could small paneled windows be traded out for a larger single pane which will bring more light into the space?  How about installing a bay window to add square footage to a room?  Could shelving be narrowed or recessed without taking space away from adjoining areas?  Can you “go more vertical,” installing double-height cabinetry, which allows for more display areas without sacrificing already-limited space?

These are some of the more straightforward options for “expanding” a room.  Your local Handyman Matters office can assist you with any of these types of alterations. Or, if you have bigger ideas in mind for enlarging your living space (like, combining two smaller rooms into a larger one) they are happy—and qualified—to help you with those options, as well.

Book Online Today!

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.

Clogged Gutter_small

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.

Booking Your Next Home Improvement Project Is Now Even Easier with HandymanMatters!

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 5.19.50 PMCalling a home repair company can be an intimidating experience.  You don’t know who is going to answer the phone (if anyone answers at all), or how friendly or knowledgeable the person you speak with is going to be.

Handyman Matters has always been dedicated to making the process as simple and painless as possible, and now with of our newly updated website, it’s even easier to contact us and to schedule the solution that works best for you.

When you go to, you have the option of entering your zip code, which will immediately take you to a page listing the location and phone number of the Handyman Matters office that services your neighborhood.

Once there, you can describe the details of the job you need completed in as much—or as little—detail as you like.  You can even schedule the specific appointment time that works best with your own timetable.  You’ll receive confirmation that your request was successfully submitted, and shortly thereafter you will be contacted by your local Handyman Matters office to finalize the appointment.  It’s like having someone holding your hand throughout the process, eliminating the uncertainty customer often experience when requesting assistance.

That’s just the surface of what the new website has to offer.  Check out our Services Page to see the size, scope and details of the jobs we can handle.  It’s conveniently divided by Room, by Area, or by Service, which itemizes the hundreds of different tasks our skilled Craftsmen perform every day.  You’re likely to discover things there that you didn’t even realize you’ve wanted to have repaired, upgraded or remodeled!

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 5.22.39 PM

Is Your Home Colder than it Should Be?

Do you sometimes leave your coat on after you get home?  When you enter the living room, is there more than one blanket piled on your couch?  As you go to bed, do you find yourself piling on layers?


If you have answered yes to one or more of these questions – your home is probably leaking heat.  Handyman Matters has created a list of heating problems and their solutions to help make your winter more comfortable.

  • Windows – Single pane window can be the biggest loss of heat in the winter. Here are four options for dealing with the problem:
    1. Replace the window, an expensive but permanent solution.
    2. Install storm windows.  This addition is inexpensive and will snap onto the original window.
    3. Buy insulation tape to stick on like a film over the inside of your window to help seal small leaks.
    4. Install heavy curtains.  They act as insulation and if kept closed can keep out most of the cold air.
  • Furnace – Regularly check to make sure the filters in your furnace aren’t clogged with dust and debris. Replace the filters regularly.  Furnaces also benefit from seasonal check-ups to ensure they are functioning correctly.
  • Exterior Doors – Look at the main entrances and exits to your home. Are there gaps where the door should meet the floor, frame, or ceiling?  Can you feel air flowing from around the door? This is a common problem – and it’s one of the easiest to fix.  Door sweeps are an effective solution for exterior doors.  These rubber additions fill the gap, and work like a flexible barrier around your doors.
  • Insulation – If after inspecting your home for the above issues, it still feels drafty, it’s probably due to inadequate insulation. For more info on how to check your home’s insulation level – check out this post on the 3 most common energy leaks.

Handyman Matters want’s you to have a worry-free winter! If your home seems colder than it should be – give us a call and we will find your solution. 866-FIX-MY-HOME.

Tips for Cooling the Air in Your Home

Air conditioning is the first and most popular method for cooling your home on a warm day, but there are additional ways, and most of these do not require any extra purchases or outside assistance. Let’s take a look at some of the best tips for cooling down your home.

Keep the Sun Out of the House

One of the best ways to cool your home without cranking up the AC is by keeping the sun’s warming rays outside. Shield your windows with shades, draperies, or other heat-filtering materials can reduce the temperature by a considerable number of degrees. Just make sure to block east-facing windows in the mornings and western-facing ones in the afternoons!

Change the Filter on Your AC Unit

When a filter is dirty, it is hard for that cool air to get into your home. Cleaning the filter in your AC unit is not difficult, and can be accomplished by looking through the manual that goes with your particular system.

Ceiling Fans

While fans don’t provide quite the immediate or intense cooling that air conditioning provides, they do go a long way towards reducing a room’s temperature and stirring up the stagnant, warm air. And they are much more energy efficient, besides.

Sealing Those Poorly-Insulated Areas

A poorly-insulated home allows both warm air to escape in winter and cooler air to exit in summer. A quick check of your home will determine if there are doors that aren’t closing tightly or windows allowing air to escape around the casings. Plugging these holes makes a remarkable difference in cool air retention. You can also put in weather stripping to keep cold air inside the house in the summer and warm air inside your home in winter.

If you feel like there is a problem with your air conditioning system or you want to be more effective with cooling the air in your home, contact Handyman Matters. We can help you save money and keep your home cool during the summer. Enter your zip code above or call 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME today to contact a Handyman Matters near you.

Senior Safety Fixes for the Home

Are your elderly parents still safe living at home? Even though they may be mentally sharp, their reaction times and physical abilities are most likely deteriorating over time.  If you are concerned about the safety of your parents in their current home, rest assured that there are relatively inexpensive measures you can take to keep them safe and independent for years to come.

As might be expected, elderly people want to stay independent for as long as they can. The last thing they want to feel like is a burden on their families. But according to the National Safety Council, falls are the leading cause of injury death among people 65 and older. Removing potential hazards in your parent’s home will not only give you and them peace of mind, but it will also save money if the alternative is placing them in assisted living.

The bathroom

The bathroom is one of the more hazardous places in the house. More accidents occur there for people of all ages than in the rest of the house. It is especially important to keep the bathroom safe for our elderly parents. Thankfully this can be done without a large expense.

Grab bars should be installed where ever support is needed. When proper support is not available, the elderly will use towel bars or the toilet paper holder, appliances not suitable for such use. Instead, grab bars should be securely placed both inside and outside the bathtub and within reach of the toilet.

As parents age they will find it increasingly difficult to stand up from a low toilet. If replacing the toilet with a higher model is not an option, then replacing the current seat with an elevated one complete with armrests will help them considerably.  Another solution is to attach stand-alone armrests that attach to the floor and wall. These are very stable and won’t wobble as some toilet seat models tend to do. Bath and shower safety devices can be purchased at most home improvement stores or online.

If the bathtub has shower doors, removing these and replacing them with a shower curtain will allow more space to enter and exit the tub. It is also helpful to use non-slip mats or tape in the tub along with non-slip rugs. Additionally, replace the faucet handles with knobs for those with levers. Also place a nightlight in the bathroom.  For added safety, make sure the bathroom doors open out. If your loved one were to collapse against the closed door inside the bathroom, then you or rescue personnel would have a hard time getting to them.

The rest of the house

Make sure the water heater temperature is adjusted to prevent accidental scalding. Replace the home thermostat with a backlit model with a large display. Remove raised thresholds in doorways. Put extra lighting switches in areas where they would be beneficial. The addition of extra outlets may be necessary if power cords on the floor are a tripping hazard.  Replace doorknobs with levers.

In the kitchen, replace cabinet hardware if your parent has trouble grabbing them. The same should be done for kitchen faucets. Make sure the kitchen and rest of the house are free of plumbing leaks. Not only can these pose a serious slip hazard, but they may breed mold in the crawlspace or basement.

If you’re looking to add some additional senior safety to your home, enter your zip code above to find your local Handyman Matters location or call 866-FIX-MY-HOME.  

Frank Nielson is a retired medical researcher who now spends his days writing and attempting to tie the perfect fly. Through this writing, he is keen on helping consumers find the best medical supplies at an affordable price.


When Should I Clean My Air Ducts?

Ducts can be one of the filthier aspects to our home, and the thought of breathing in dirty air can give someone nightmares about respiratory problems and disease. I’ve been called on dozens of occasions by friends and acquaintances who seek advice on whether their air ducts should be cleaned – either by their own inclination, or because a duct cleaning contractor offered them an apparently sweet deal on their services.

Ducts can be one of the filthier aspects to our home, and the thought of breathing in dirty air can give someone nightmares about respiratory problems and disease. I’ve been called on dozens of occasions by friends and acquaintances who seek advice on whether their air ducts should be cleaned – either by their own inclination, or because a duct cleaning contractor offered them an apparently sweet deal on their services.

It seems that every facet of a house needs to be cleaned every once in a while, so it is natural for both residents and contractors to assume that air duct cleaning is a necessary routine maintenance procedure. After all, ducts constantly wheeze particulates of dust which cling to its surface and collect in supply registers. But despite how necessary it may seem, the benefits of regularly cleaning your ducts are debatable at best. The real question should not be how often a duct should be cleaned; it should be, “Is duct cleaning worth it?

In fact, there are very few circumstances besides visibly witnessing large clumps of dust being blown through your system that merit a good cleaning. As long as you keep your filter replaced or cleaned every so often, there’s not much to worry about from your air ducts. There are, however, two circumstances that absolutely require a thorough duct cleaning.


Mold can be particularly insidious in a duct system, where spores might become dispersed throughout your home. Not all molds are necessarily toxic, and some might not cause any kind of noticeable harm. But no matter the strain, allowing mold to spread freely throughout your system is always a terrible idea, especially if anyone in your family is experiencing symptoms related to mold exposure. The easiest way to check for mold is to smell it; since air ducts transport air throughout the house, you should check your ducts if you smell mold anywhere in your house and can’t locate where it’s growing.

Visual confirmation can be difficult with a duct system unless you have specialized equipment, and attempting to disturb a mold colony to get a sample can cause a world of trouble since you’ll be scattering mold spores everywhere. The coloration of mold isn’t usually relevant, but black mold might mean you’re dealing with a particularly dreadful toxic strain that has received a lot of press: Stachbotrys chartarum.

Regardless of the strain, a confirmation of mold in your system unquestionably merits a professional cleaning. It’s also necessary to address the source of moisture, since mold can only prosper in a moist environment. You’ll need to have the house inspected for water leakages that might be reaching your ductwork. Alternatively, excess moisture might be a product of excessive condensation, which is a red flag that your system is pushing too hard and needs inspection. Sealing air duct leaks will help keep moisture out and greatly increase your energy efficiency.

Refrain from using harsh chemical biocides in your ductwork. Sheet metal found in ducts is an ideal nonporous material for a mild 1/10th water bleach solution. After the mold is dead, vacuum dead mold material out of your system − dead mold can still be harmful mold. And if any trace of mold exists throughout your HVAC system, it is only a matter of time before it spreads again, so thoroughness can’t be stressed enough.

Pest Infestation

Any critters or bugs that make their way into your air duct (such as mice, roaches, fleas, etc.) are not only difficult to reach in an air vent, but they’re also prone to kicking up allergens, leaving droppings, and spreading disease.  Like mold, pests in your system can stir up a variety of symptoms, like allergy/sinus/asthma issues.

And as with mold, pest infestations in air ducts are problematic because it is a difficult to access space where harsh chemicals are unwise. Aerosol poisons are completely out, since it will linger in your system for days and inevitably lead to heavy intake on your family’s part. Any poison is a terrible idea, since you’ll leave a dead mouse to dry up in your system. In any case, pesticides are only a temporary solution. Bait like peanut butter traps are hit and miss, and can be messy. One viable trick is to use glue traps, but their application is limited.

The best method for purging your ductwork of pests is to remove the reason why they’re there. To be precise, use the Integrated Pest Management approach, which is more effective, cost efficient, and environmentally safe than any alternative. The gist of this approach is that inspection, identification, and treatment are necessary to eradicate pests. Proper sealing and maintenance are essential to deprive pests transportation, water, and food in your home.

While there is no definite word on whether regular duct cleaning is necessary, you should be mentally equipped to recognize when a problem exists and your air ducts require more drastic cleaning measures.

For more information you can call 866-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to get in touch with your local Handyman Matters location.

Jason Wall is an HVAC technician of more than 23 years who occasionally writes for Griffith Energy Services. He spends his time enjoying life with his family and keeping up with professional baseball.