Tips For Small Repair Jobs Around the House

Here are a handful of tips for simple, easy-to-do maintenance on the exterior of your home:

During the winter months, moisture may seep into outdoor garage or tool shed locks and cause them to freeze, making it difficult to insert a key.  If this happens, heat your key gently a few times by holding it in the flame of a lighter or match.  Then work the key gently back and forth inside the lock, repeating until the lock warms sufficiently to melt the ice inside.

When padlocks are used around the outside of your home, dirt, rust or other corrosion can sometimes form in the mechanism.  To prevent this, place a strip of waterproof tape over the keyhole.  The tape can easily be stripped off and replaced each time a key is inserted.

Following heavy windstorms, you may discover that some of your roof shingles have been lifted or curled back and no longer lie flat.  This leaves the exposed roof susceptible to leaks.  To correct the situation, you can apply a dab of roof cement under each of the curled shingles.  During the next warm spell, shingles will uncurl and will continue to lie flat, even if the cement has dried.

To remove rust or other metallic stains from light colored exterior siding, try washing these with a water solution of oxalic acid.  This is sold in crystalline form at paint and hardware stores.  Dissolve three-quarters of a pound in one gallon of water and sponge over the stain.  Allow to dry for several minutes, and then rub off with a clean cloth.

For rust stains caused by exposed nail heads corroding beneath the surface of the paint, sand off the nail head and spot-prime with a little shellac or a metal primer.  Then countersink the nail head and fill the hole with putty before repainting.


A Home Improvement & Maintenance Checklist for Your Home

The health of a home is a lot like your own personal health. If regularly checked and maintained, the chances of problems arising are less. Here are some of the things in your domicile that should be checked periodically.



Leaks are seriously trouble and should be remedied as soon as they are detected and before they have the chance to become bigger issues. They can damage walls and sub flooring and can create mold issues. Make regular checks in those areas that are most prone to leaks from heavy use, such as the caulking and grout in bathrooms and under sinks in kitchens. If you see corrosion, there is a leak at work.

Check around your water heater for accumulating pools of water on the floor. Water heaters ideally should be drained periodically to remove sediment and reduce the risk of problems. If you notice problems, hire a licensed plumber for further inspection, repairs and general maintenance.

Vent exhaust ducts for the clothes dryer and cooktop to the outside and keep the drip pans from your air conditioner clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly. In the kitchen you should clean the dust from refrigerator condenser located at the rear of unit.

Inspect your roof and flashing periodically for missing, worn or broken shingles and any flashing that has separate from adjacent surfaces, allowing water leakage. A licensed roofer can inspect these areas and make repairs. Also, inspect your gutter and drainspouts and remove any debris to assure unobstructed water flow away from foundations.


Exterior items that should be on your maintenance list include inspecting veneer and siding. Watch for deteriorating bricks and masonry. For siding, look for warping or rot. Check caulking around doors and windows, and glazing around window panes. Make sure your cooling and heating units are free from obstructing debris. Change filters and check coils for build-up.

You should also have periodic termite and pest inspections conducted. Remove accumulation of tree limbs, branches and other debris that might attract wood eating insects. If you have a wood burning stove or fireplace, don’t store your firewood too near your house, in case it contains termites.

Courtesy of

Get a Multi Fuel Stove for Flexible, Economical & Eco-Friendly Home Heating

 multi-fuel-stoveWhen it comes to heating your home, it may be time to look into getting a multi fuel stove. It can provide all the energy you need to heat your home in an economical and eco friendly way.

Multi fuel stoves are extremely versatile, being able to handle a variety of eco friendly fuels. They are also cheaper to run than those using gas, oil or electricity. In many cases, using wood as a fuel can be up to three times cheaper than using fossil fuels.

Remember that installing a multi fuel stove will add to the value of your home. Consider your purchase to be an investment that will pay dividends both in terms of heating your home as well as adding to its desirability.

Wood is carbon neutral, so it’s an eco friendly fuel. Carbon neutrality means it only gives off as much carbon as it took in while growing as a tree. Fossil fuels, in contrast, only emit CO2 into the eco system and are neither renewable nor sustainable. Another factor to bear in mind is continual new legislation restricting the types of heating that people can install. By installing a multi fuel stove, you stay within compliancy regulations.

Your multi fuel stove can heat your whole home by linking up to your central heating system. You can also install it in your living room as a focus point or in kitchen in the form of a wood burning stove with a back boiler for hot water.

When it comes to choosing wood for your stove, you have a variety of options.
Seasoned hardwood is the best choice, as it has a long burn time and low ash residue. It should have a moisture content of below 20% as the higher the moisture, the less heat and the more smoke it gives off. Seasoning wood can take several years depending on the type of wood. Hardwoods take the longest while trees such as ash can be used immediately.

You should remember that though wood burns fine in a multi fuel stove, it will burn better in a dedicated wood burning stove. Wood burning stoves operate with 75% efficiency – only 25% of the heat is lost up the chimney. A multi-fuel stove is considerably more efficient than an open fire when it comes to burning wood, however.

A multi fuel stove is not restricted to wood. You can also burn peat, coke, coal along with biomass fuels such as shelled corn and wheat hulls. It’s a truly flexible appliance that you can adjust to fit your lifestyle or changing circumstances as needed.

Ease of installation depends on whether or not your home has a chimney. If you have one, fitting your stove is straightforward. If not, you can install a prefabricated chimney quickly and with minimal expense.

Courtesy of

What Is Thermal Bridging And Why Do I Want To Stop It?

Thermal bridging is the name given to the flow of heat through your home from one object to another. Wood and other traditional construction materials can conduct heat easily, and this means that despite having insulation in place, heat can still escape via objects or materials in the home.

There are some measures that can be taken. Having effective cavity walls with a layer of insulation will reduce this problem, as will fitting good quality, well-insulated windows. By using cavity closures around the window frames and door frames in particular, you can prevent significant heat loss and temperature shifts.

Though it can be difficult and sometimes costly to fit insulation into the walls of older homes, there are still ways to prevent thermal bridging. For example, when laying insulation in an attic, it’s important to cover the ceiling joists with a thick layer of insulation, as these are a particular thermal bridging spot.

Every cavity should also be covered well. A common mistake with attic insulation is to only go as far as the framing of the ceilings, leaving the frames themselves exposed. This enables heat to transfer to the frames and ultimately escape. Although the frames of the roof cannot be covered, the joists certainly can.

There are some other tricks that people with older homes can employ to help keep in the heat. Thermal, heat-reflecting is a recent product introduced on the market that helps reduce thermal bridging and provides added insulation to your home.

Exterior outlets are big offenders when it comes to letting heat escape. Reduce the problem with some insulating placed between them and the walls of the house.

Of course, windows and doors are the number one hot spot for thermal bridging. Aluminum frames in particular will let heat through easily as will single panes of glass. Replacing any windows and doors in your home with uPVC windows that are thermally insulated will effectively help heat stay in your house. As well as keeping your fuel bills down, uPVC is an environmentally friendly material because it is 100% recyclable and extremely long lasting. You won’t need to replace your uPVC windows for decades.

Addressing these few thermal bridging offenders will help reduce your heating bills and create a warmer environment in which to spend those cooler months of the year.

(article includes information provided by Chris Coxon, a British thermal bridging expert)

Cold Cathode Lighting: Innovative and Affordable

cathode-lightingOne tends to think of cathode lighting as something primarily used in businesses and commercial buildings, but there are many advantages to consider for installing it in your home, as well.

It’s a great energy saver; unlike regular lights, cathodes don’t use extra power from being switched on and off. Once the tube begins to heat up, the resistance to current flow begins to drop, resulting in it steadily requiring lower voltage to continue working. This can save as much as ninety percent energy, compared to standard light bulbs.

Cold cathode lights don’t get hot. They can be as much as five times brighter than neon lighting, and they have one of the longest lives of any type of lighting available, up to 50,000 hours.

Available in a wide range of colors and sizes, cathode lighting is ideal for many locations, and are increasingly seen in stores, hospitals, galleries and libraries. They are used to best effect in alcoves where indirect lighting is preferable. Their increasing fluid and flexible designs help draw attention to the special features and furnishings in a room.

The improvements in the design of cathode lighting fixtures make them available in smaller and sleeker shapes than traditional fluorescents. With a long life expectation, no flickering to distract or annoy, high brightness and a flexible nature, cold cathodes are innovative and creative.

Moreover, they are totally recyclable once they have come to the end of their lighting life.

All good reasons to consider making a shift to utilizing cathode lighting in your home!

Courtesy of

Backyard Decorating Tips

Your backyard can be an important extension of your home, so it’s worth spending time, and perhaps a little money, to make it functional and attractive.

The first step in creating a comfortable and appealing outdoor living space is to clear and tidy the area you have to work with. Stand in your backyard and assess what maintenance needs to be done or what eyesores need to be removed.  It’s time to think of all those gardening verbs:  Trim, mow, edge, fertilize, rake, weed, cut down, haul away, put away, paint and repair.

Make a list of the jobs, and get started – today!  Here are some problem areas for many homeowners, with ideas for ways to make improvements.

Tackle backyard eyesores

Store garbage cans and recycling bins in the side yard or garage.  If the hose must be handy, install a hose reel or a pottery hose house to keep it tidy.  Remove tired or scraggly potted plants, especially ones still in their plastic pots.

Establish a kiddie play area and train your children to keep their outdoor toys there.

Barbecues and their attending equipment aren’t always beautiful to look at.  Why not store them out of sight until they’re needed?

Organize your tools and create a storage system that works.  Up-end them in an old metal garbage can.  Hammer in a row of nails along a fence or the back of the hose, drill holes in your tool handles, loop through a section of rawhide and hang your tools from the nails.

How to Get Motivated

Your list may seem overwhelming, so here are a few ideas for making the work lighter:

Set up a social gathering a month or two away to work towards.  If you’re like me, you’ll want a tidy and attractive yard for your guests.

Commit time to the project. Break your list down into manageable chunks.  Schedule 15-minute to 2-hour blocks of time on your calendar over two months.  Use the odd few moments of free time to complete one small task.

Team up with a friend or neighbor. Spend an hour at his/her house on Saturday and work at your home on Sunday.  Reward yourselves with a picnic in your outdoor dining room.

Design a few outdoor rooms

After taking care of the grunt work, you’ll need to clearly define how you use the space.  Think of your yard as a series of areas or “rooms” with specific functions – areas for conversation, food preparation, eating, potting, storage, playing or sunning – surrounded by or intermingled with foliage or flowerbeds.

Create conversation areas in configurations similar to those in your home.  For example, place a small table in between a pair of chairs.  Position a “coffee table” in front of a bench with two chairs on either end.  Cluster pots to either side of the bench.  Add accessories such as shells, sculpture pieces, tiles or driftwood.

Make sure your outdoor “dining room” is easily accessible to the door closest to your kitchen.  Clean or replace the chair cushions.   Place an improvised centerpiece on the table and leave it there even when the table’s not in use.  Try a blooming potted plant, a cluster of pottery vases, a mound of river rocks, a bird house or birdbath or a bowl filled with croquet balls, beach glass or fish net floats.

Buy or recycle furnishings

Finally, think of items you might add to your outdoor living space to enhance your enjoyment.  Be creative!

Could you purchase sections of reassembled picket fencing and cordon off a small play area on the patio or the lawn for the kids to play in?

How about hanging a bamboo roll-up screen in front of your potting shed to conceal it from view?

Do you have trees that could hold a hammock or hanging chair?

Check any old wood furniture in your garage or attic.  An old dresser works well as a barbecue center or as a potting station.

An old kitchen table and chairs with a fresh coat of paint looks charming.  An old trunk, a few tree stumps covered with a slate slab or a wooden box can serve as a “coffee table.”

For creative finishing touches, rummage through your kitchen cabinets and check for anything waterproof to use as an accessory.

by Kit Davey

Home Maintenance Tips

We all know the things we probably “should” be doing in our home to keep things running efficiently and helping to prevent potential large, costly problems. However… we all know that actually getting those little things done around the house is an entirely different story! Having been in the home repair industry for over 12 years now, I can attest to how incredibly valuable keeping up with regular home maintenance can be. We have experienced countless situations where a very expensive problem could have been fixed by something as small as checking for leaks. Do yourself, and your home, a favor this year and give your house the TLC it deserves.

We’ve put together a list of maintenance tips broken out by month to help keep that to-do list manageable. Check them out and stay tuned for February’s maintenance tips next month!

Home Maintenance Tips
By following these steps you’ll avoid expensive repairs later and keep your home safe & efficient.  See the “Home Maintenance” page for more details.

• Clear Out Your Dryer Vent Hose – U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission studies show 15,600 home fires are caused each year by lint blocking dryer vent hoses, killing or injuring 390 people and causing over $75 Million in damage.  Of 26 home equipment based causes of home fires, this is # 3 out of 26.  (# 1 and # 2 are gas & electric stoves).  It’s easy to protect your family, just use a flexible brush long enough to go the entire length of the hose to clean it out.

• Check All Faucets and sinks for Leaks & Drainage – Leaks can damage the insides of walls, cause dangerous mold to build up and cost you.  Visually check for leaks and check drain speed by filling up sinks and watching how fast they drain.  If you’ve noticed water build up in the sink while using it, it’s at least partially clogged.  Use a natural product like Bio-Clean to unclog drainpipes.

• Inspect Tile, Grout and Caulking for Cracks – Grout is the material between tiles and caulk is between tiles and glass or in the corners.  Cracks can let water through causing unseen damage and providing a breeding ground for dangerous molds.  Remove existing caulk or grout and thoroughly clean before replacing.  An individual cracked tile can be removed by carefully using a ceramic drill to start a hole and then break it out.

• Change Furnace Air Filters – Filter out allergens and keep your furnace running efficiently by changing your air filters.  We recommend microbial type filters. Change monthly or as recommended by manufacturer.

• Test All Smoke or Carbon Monoxide Detectors – Push the button on the unit to check it – a few minutes doing this each month could save your family’s life in a fire. Plan on changing the batteries twice a year.

• Check Doors for Squeaks, Bumpers, and Proper Closing – A door knob going through drywall can cost up to $200 to repair, so check and replace door bumpers as needed.  For squeaks, use WD-40 and for uneven closing, get longer hinge screws.  As you tighten the longer screws you can adjust the door up or down to make it close properly.