Six Simple Steps For A Clean And Organized Garage

organized garage
Image Courtesy: Rubbermaid

Your garage’s main function is usually to safeguard and store your car, truck or motorcycles. That can’t take place if your garage has turned into a glorified storage unit, stuffed to the rafters with boxes, toys, tools, bikes, strollers and everything else you either don’t have room for or just don’t want in the house.

Here are six easy to follow steps that will help you clean and organize your garage and seize control once again:

Step 1 – Categorize

Get everything out of the garage and sort it all into groups. Categorize it all and put everything into groups with like items.

For example: toys with toys, carpentry tools with carpentry tools, yard tools with yard tools, etc.

Make a pile for trash: anything you don’t want that you can sell in a garage sale and items to give away.

Step 2 – Get Supplies

Get the appropriate organizational tools and supplies.

After you’ve grouped everything, decide on exactly what tools and resources will help you organize these items better.

For example:

Do you need shelves? If so, what kind? A free standing shelving system or shelves mounted to the wall?

Do you need:

Get what you need now so it’s ready to go for step 5.

Step 3 – Clean

Clean the garage. As soon as you empty your garage, it’s important to take time to sweep out all the loose debris and remove cobwebs.

You’ll appreciate your garage much more if it’s clean, so make sure to sweep and dust routinely.

Step 4 – Freshen Up

Décor. This does not mean you need to remodel your garage into pseudo-living room; however you could think about a fresh coat of paint on the walls.

Lots of people prefer to paint and seal the floor of their garage to protect it from stains and also makes cleaning easy.

Transforming your wall and floor surfaces will have an enormous effect on the appearance of your garage.

Step 5 – Arrange

steps for a clean, organized garageArrange Items For Storage. As soon as you’ve cleaned the garage (floor and walls) it’s time to put everything back. Place those items that you use on regularly within easy reach.

Put items less frequently used further back in the garage or higher up on shelves or in cabinets.

Putting labels on shelves, bins and boxes will make it a lot easier for you to find what you’re looking for.

Step 6 – Rules

Lastly, make some rules for yourself and family members and implement them. Rules along the lines of, “Always return the items you used back to where you got them,” need to be enforced at all times; it’s simply too easy to slip back into previous sloppy, relaxed habits.

If you follow these six simple steps, you will have a clean and well organized garage. Not only will you be able to park your car in it, but you’ll also be able to find anything want without a lot of time wasted in the search.

And one more thing:  Don’t forget to have a garage sale to help get rid of all those unwanted items and put some cash in your pockets!

De-Clutter Your Home With These Organizing Tricks!

De-Clutter your Home

When clutter gains a foothold, it turns into an unstoppable force that resists all challenges to tame it.  It’s an energy-drain and if left unchecked, becomes a self-sustaining monster.  But all is not lost!  Here are a few tips for tackling the beast and beginning to de-clutter (or tame) it a little at a time.

First off, don’t think big.  That’s the stumbling block that has felled any number of people in their well-meaning efforts to de-clutter.  The accumulation didn’t happen in a day, and it isn’t going to go away that quickly, either.

If you attempt to tackle the entire project as a whole, frustration will quickly cripple your efforts.  Instead, allow yourself a specific amount of time to tackle a single cleaning task.

Focus on one area of one room—a desk, a cupboard, a bookcase.  There’s great satisfaction in taking back control of even just a small space.  Break all of the tasks into small, manageable chunks you can finish in an hour or two:

  • Organize first, buy second.  There’s little point in buying storage containers or any supplies intended to assist with the cleaning-out process before you know what will remain after the purging.  Purchasing containers is just giving yourself the temptation to store even more things you don’t need.  For the same reason, this is certainly not the time to contemplate building new shelving or adding more storage space—it only enables you to hold on to items that should be departing now.
  • Complete cleaning tasks entirely.  Experts advise approaching cleaning with three goals in mind.  As you begin to de-clutter your home, everything should be designated for one of three destinations:  Trash, donate, or keep.  Once everything has been classified, act on it immediately.  Trash goes directly to the curb.  Keepsakes go back onto the shelves or into the drawers.  Donated items must leave your house ASAP.  The longer you allow the boxes or bags of things destined for a charity or thrift shop to sit around, the less likely they are going to leave at all.  Make a firm agreement with yourself that once separated, no items remain in limbo for more than a day.  Haul those things to be donated out to your car right away, and don’t leave them in the trunk!  Place them in the back seat where they are a constant reminder—and an inconvenience—until you’ve dropped them off at your local thrift store.
  • Leave sentimentality out of it.  Don’t de-clutter your home when you’re feeling nostalgic.  The “if you haven’t used it—or even seen it—in eighteen months, then out it goes” rule is harder to enforce when emotions are ruling your decision-making process.  If something is merely going to go back into a box or a drawer or cupboard and not be seen again for another five years, then ask yourself how much you really need it.  You probably don’t.
  • Keep an eye on the new clutter.  Once you’ve winnowed down your stuff to a manageable level, you need to stay disciplined so that it doesn’t begin to take over your life once more.  One tip for keeping “the paper monster” in check is to place all mail and assorted paperwork in a tray or shelf in plain view—neatly stacked, of course—on a desk or an entryway table.  Never allow the stack to grow higher than half an inch.  When it approaches that mark, promptly set aside the time to tackle what’s there and then send it on to its permanent destination.

Only after you’ve made a good, solid sweep of organizing and eliminating clutter, will you realistically understand your present and future storage needs.  This is the time to determine whether additional closet space or extra shelving is appropriate.  Consult with your local Handyman Matters office to see what tips and assistance they can provide to expand your home’s storage capabilities.  But above all, stay on your guard!  Clutter has a way of creeping back in when you least expect it.

Locate your local Handyman Matters by calling 1(866)FIX-MY-HOME.

Fool-Proof Tips for Cleaning Wood Surfaces

To keep the wood surfaces in your home clean and beautiful without damage, you need to consider the kind of wood and the treatment it receives.

General Cleaning for Wood Furniture and Paneling

One of the first rules of cleaning wood is this: never soak it with water.

Wood is porous, and applying water will swell the pores. Water can also damage many types of finishes – the proof is that most of us have a table or desk with tell-tale rings on them left by wet cups.

While dusting with a barely-damp cloth shouldn’t harm painted wood surfaces, any application of water to oiled, lacquered, or unfinished wood is likely to leave permanent, disfiguring marks.

Opt instead for a dry dusting cloth, or use the dusting attachment on your vacuum cleaner to keep wood furniture and paneling clean.

Dry or Damp Wood Dusting Cloth
Use A Dusting Cloth Like This

Can You Clean Wood With Vinegar?

It isn’t a good idea to clean wood with pure, undiluted vinegar. In addition to leaving water marks, the acid in the vinegar could “eat” certain kinds of finishes.

However, for polishing wood, a homemade treatment of half olive oil and half white vinegar can buff up stained and oiled wood finishes nicely. Simply apply with a soft clean cloth and rub in well. Blot off any excess with a second cloth.

How To Clean Wood Floors With Vinegar

  • Add a cup of white vinegar to your mop bucket for extra grease-cutting power. Don’t let pools of water stand on the wood afterwards, or you may wind up with water marks, especially on darker woods.
  • Stand on a towel and “walk” it around the room to wipe up any excess water.

While vinegar can be safe, DON’T use other solvents like alcohol, ammonia, or acetone-these will damage your furniture or even strip off the paint.

How To Clean Wood Floors (without vinegar)

Don’t want to use vinegar? Follow these steps to clean your hardwood floors like a pro:

  1. Clear The Space. First, clear the room of any furniture that is easily moveable. Chairs get in the way and are easy to move.
  2. Dust The Floor. Begin by sweeping or dusting your floor with a microfiber mop. Use a microfiber mop instead of a broom. This will trap dust and allergens instead of pushing it around the room. Be sure to keep the mop on the floor so you don’t release any dirt. You won’t use water in this first step.wet and dry microfiber mop
  3. Apply Hardwood Cleaner. Next, you’ll lightly spray the floor with hardwood floor cleaner.hardwood floor cleaner
  4. Mop The Floor. Use a dampened wet microfiber mop pad (included in this kit) and walk it back and forth in direction of the grain. Be sure the mop isn’t dripping wet and clean up any standing water right away. It only needs to be slightly damp.

How To Polish Your Wood Floors

Want your floor to really shine? You’ll need to polish it. This doesn’t have to be done every time you clean the floor. Once every 3 months is the recommended schedule. It will really make your floor look great and protects it at the same time!

  1. Follow the steps above for cleaning your floors.
  2. Shake the hardwood polish well and spray on the floor in an “S” pattern.hardwood floor polish
  3. Use a clean microfiber pad to massage the polish into the wood against the grain.
  4. Smooth the surface with the grain.

It helps to polish your floors in small sections and be sure to start in one corner and end in a spot where you won’t have to walk over the floor for an hour. Avoid heavy traffic for 24 hours if possible. If your hardwood is heavily worn or old, you may need to think about refinishing it. Enjoy your great looking floor!

Types Of Waxes For Wood Surfaces

Adding a shine to wood furniture, especially antiques or exotic woods, is as easy as applying some wax. Waxes made specifically for wood furniture are designed to provide extra protection from moisture, dust, and stains as well as a pleasing soft sheen. Even better, if you want to refinish your furniture at any point, wax will not cause problems.

Liquid waxes are the easiest to apply, and often dry quickly, but you may need to apply more than one coat to really see results in terms of both looks and protection. The results from liquid wax usually last up to four months, depending on how much wear your furniture gets.

Paste waxes offer superior, long-lasting protection to fine wood furniture. It isn’t necessary to apply more than one coat to most woods, but the extra effort can take your wood from looking good to looking great. The hard, shiny finish given by paste wax is well worth your time for treating lacquered and oiled woods.

How To Remove Water Stains On Wood

As with stains on carpet, it’s best to treat water stains on wood as soon as possible after they happen. Blot up any excess moisture and try one of the following home remedies, depending on what you have lying around the house:

  • Apply shaving cream. Leave for 5 minutes and wipe up.
  • Apply real mayonnaise on a cloth. Let rest on the stain for up to 10 minutes and wipe off.
  • Gently apply metal cleaner. Leave for 5 minutes and wipe away excess.

All-In-One Wood Cleaners

Finally, many products are available that treat wood while cleaning it. These products, while effective for painted, sealed, and laminated wood surfaces, should be tested in an inconspicuous place on unsealed or oiled woods before trying. These cleaners can be a convenient and effective solution for wood surfaces in areas that are frequently soiled, such as kitchens or bathrooms. Try products from Bona, specially designed to clean sealed woods. Check out our recommended wood cleaning kit below.

Bona-Kemi-4-Piece-Hardwood-Floor-Care-System-WM710013358
This Kit Has Everything You Need!

How To Clean Your Gutters Before Winter (6 Easy Steps)

Gutters

Having a lawn with a lot of trees is like having a dog with long hair: your house and lawn is destined to be covered with leaves.  Now that it’s mid-October, it is time to think about winterization and cleaning out your gutters before any heavy snowfall – my least favorite task.  It is best sometimes to just pull the band aid off quickly.  Don’t think, find something old and long sleeved, grab gloves, and let’s power through this.

What you will need

  • Long sleeved, work clothes
  • Plastic scoop
  • Heavy duty gloves
  • An extendable ladder
  • Trash backs
  • A hose

6 Simple Steps To Clean Gutters

  1.  Extend ladder and place it near the top of the downspout. If possible, buy a standoff stabilizer to attach to the top of your ladder.  This will make it so that you are balanced against the roof instead of on the gutter. Check out our recommended ladders and stabilizers for gutter cleaning.
  2. Fasten a trash bag to the ladder near the top, and begin scooping out leaves near the downspout and work backwards.
  3. After cleaning out the whole of the gutter, we will test for leaks and blockages using the host. Run the hose from the furthest point, towards the downspout. The stream of water will be a good indicator of what to do next.
  4. If the stream flows steadily towards the downspout but doesn’t drain, that means more attention is needed to clean out this funnel. Luckily, there is a hose attachment that can do this. Take the attachment and instead of running it top down, feed it in from the bottom and run water through it to try and clear the clog.  After a minute or so of this, try running the water from the top of the spout.  If it still doesn’t drain, repeat this step.
  5. If step three led to stagnant water in parts of your gutter, they may not be hung correctly. In order to drain, gutters need to decline at the rate of ¼’ per ever 10 ft towards the downspout.
  6. Finally, while preforming step three, keep an eye on leakage. Note the spots where you find a heavy drip.  If the leak is occurring at the seam of 2 gutter lengths, this is fairly easy to repair with gutter sealant along the crack.  Same goes for end cap leaks.  However, if the leak comes from a full on hole and not a crack the repair process will be more extensive.

Clean gutters are the first step to preparing your home for inclement weather.  Need help with the weatherization process? Give Handyman Matters a call at 866-FIX-MY-HOME.

5 Best Gutter Cleaning Tools You Need For 2017

gutter cleaning tools
Try this gutter cleaning robot

The remnants of summer are packed into your gutter.  Probably leaves, shingle particles, and some runaway baseballs or tree branches.

The rainy season is here, and if your gutters are already occupied, you’re likely beginning to experience water damage to your home’s caulk, windows, and wood.

If you’re not one for using your hands to clean out the gutters, check out this top 5 list of the best gutter cleaning tools you need to get the job done in 2017…

  1. Pressure Washer Attachment Turn your pressure washer into a gutter cleaning pro.  Need a pressure washer too? The AR Blue Clean AR390SS is a great choice that won’t break the bank.
  2. Gutter Cleaning Robot – The Roomba is not the only one of its kind.  While it may not quite be AI, these inventions are a fun, hands-free way to clean out your gutter.  Loosen your gutters and drain them into a sack with this helpful bot.
  3. Gutter Cleaning Water Wand Do you have a multiple story home?  Scaling the side of your home on extension ladders can be a terrifying feat.  Gaining altitude while wielding a hose can be even scarier.  Clean your gutters from the safety of the ground with this wand hose extension.
  4. Gutter Guards When there are trees all around your home, there is also likely leaves and debris all around your gutters. If you live in a lush area, there are extra steps you can take to avoid clogged gutters.  Gutter guards are like drain catchers, filtering out larger chunks of debris while letting water flow through.
  5. Extension Ladder Are you trying to save money by cleaning gutters the old fashioned way – with your hands and a hose? It is possible, but only if you have the assistance of a sturdy, reliable extension ladder.  These ladders are the bare minimum for your gutter cleaning.

One of the best parts of fall is getting rid of the dust and grime accumulated during summer. Equip your home to have a successful, worry-free winter!

Flooding, water build up, wood rot, and other expensive repairs will be a thing of the past when you have clean gutters.

If all this sounds like a lot of work, or you just want someone to take care of your gutter cleaning so you can stay on solid ground, check out our new Clean & Cover Package.

Shampooing Upholstered Furniture

how to shampoo upholstered furnitureIn order to keep it bright and fresh, Upholstery should be vacuumed at least once a week and shampooed at least once a year.

Items You’ll Need

The basic tool for shampooing is a supply of clean white terrycloth toweling. This is absorbent enough to retain cleaning solutions and abrasive enough to remove dirt without damaging delicate fabrics.

Identify The Fabric Type

Do not attempt to shampoo furniture without first identifying what the fabric content is and whether or not it is washable and color fast.

The manufacturer often attaches a label, usually sewn to the underside of the cushions or stapled to the frame of the couch or chair, that will say what the fabric is made of and how it should be cleaned.

If there is no label, or if the label does not say how it is to be cleaned, then consult a fabric cleaning chart for help in making an educated guess for selecting a suitable cleaning method.

How To Make Upholstery Shampoo (Cleaning Solution)

Most washable fabrics can be cleaned with a weak solution of warm water and a mild non-alkaline detergent.

You can make the cleaning solution by mixing:

  • 1 tablespoon of white powdered laundry detergent
  • 1 teaspoon of household ammonia or white vinegar into 1 gallon of lukewarm water.

The addition of ammonia or white vinegar can enhance the detergent’s brightening effect.

The detergent based cleaning solutions should be whipped into dry foam and applied with toweling or brushes that are moistened, but not wet.

Create the upholstery cleaning foam by:

  • Pouring a small amount of your liquid detergent mixture into a bucket.
  • Using an ordinary kitchen hand-held egg beater or an electric hand mixer, whip the ingredients into stiff foam.
  • Alternately, you can use an electric blender to create the foam.

There should be little or no liquid at the bottom of the bucket when you are finished whipping.

Test the cleaning solution on an inconspicuous part of the upholstery to make sure that it is compatible with the fabric or with the dyes.

If you don’t want to create your own, we recommend Franklin Upholstery Shampoo or Resolve Multi-fabric.

How To Clean Upholstery (Furniture Like Couches, Chairs & Love Seats)

Begin by removing and vacuuming the loose cushions and pillows, then the chair or couch itself.

DO NOT remove zippered cushion or slip covers for washing separately in the washing machine. Though they are designed for easy removal, these covers should be cleaned in place. If they are washed in the washing machine, they may shrink or stretch out of alignment.

  • Fold a clean white terrycloth towel into a convenient working size and dip it lightly into the foam.
  • Wring out the towel thoroughly until no more moisture can be squeezed out.
  • Wipe one complete panel of the upholstery with firm, parallel strokes – either horizontally or vertically overlapping the strokes slightly.
  • Occasionally dip the towel into the foam to replenish it, each time wringing out the towel.
  • As soon as the working surface of the towel appears dirty, re-fold it to expose a clean section to work with. If the foam begins to dissolve in the bucket, whip it again.
  • Repeat the entire process going over the panel in the opposite direction.
  • Remove the foam by wiping the entire panel with a clean terry towel moistened in fresh water and wrung dry until no more moisture can be squeezed out. Work in parallel strokes to the original direction.
  • Rinse the towel clean and wring it dry every time.

Some napped fabrics such as plush, can also be restored with light vacuuming. Run the upholstery attachment over the fabric in overlapping strokes, working in one direction only.

How To Brush Heavy Soil Out Of Upholstery

Heavily soiled areas such as armrests and the headrest may require the heavier abrasion of a nylon or natural bristle scrub brush to remove gummy deposits of body oils and dust. Whichever tool is used, avoid over-wetting.

  • Immerse a soft bristled nylon scrub brush in boiling water for few seconds to soften the bristles. Blot the brush dry with a clean terrycloth towel.
  • Dip the brush into the foam and shake most of the foam back into the bucket.
  • Using light pressure, scrub the upholstery in a circular pattern working on only one square foot at a time.
  • Repeat the scrubbing on adjacent areas and as you work, overlap the areas slightly.
  • Replenish the brush with foam as necessary and when the bristles begin to stiffen, submerge them in boiling water again.
  • Remove the foam with a clean terrycloth towel moistened in fresh water.

When the fabric has dried completely, run your hand back and forth on the fabric to determine the direction of the nap.

Using a clean dry terrycloth towel, raise the nap by wiping the fabric in the opposite direction that the nap wants to lay.

For best results, you can flatten your hand with your fingers extended and stretch the towel across your palm, holding the ends tight with your free hand. Work in smooth, overlapping strokes until the original appearance of the nap is restored.

Ready for a Change? It can be as Easy as Switching up your Floor Plan.

Are you a recent empty-nester?  Have you just finished decluttering the house?  Or maybe you’ve simply been contemplating the current floor plan of your living space and you wonder if there could be a more efficient—or a more attractive—way of arranging your belongings.

You could, of course, put your home on the market and find an entirely new place to live, but if you’re looking for something a little less disruptive and involved, here are a handful of smaller suggestions to consider.

Open Living Room Layout

    • Expand an existing room – Is there a room in your home that’s rarely used these days?  Consider the idea of knocking down the wall between it and an adjoining room to make a more open and welcoming space between the two. Think about creating an open living room connected to your kitchen.  Interestingly, a larger expanse can give a stronger sense of intimacy!

 

 

 

 

 

Walk-In Closet

 

    • Add a closet or increase the size of your current one – Maybe it’s time to consider turning that small, cramped space into a walk-in closet where your clothes, shoes and other paraphernalia aren’t competing for visibility.  Walk in closets are one of the best ways to treat your room to a little luxury. Examine your options:  is there some adjoining space that could be better served by making it part of a larger closet?

Installing Cabinets

 

 

 

 

    • Adding or moving cabinets – Every home seems to have that catch-all cabinet and/or that junk drawer, the place where everything that has nowhere else to be winds up.  Even those storage spots that have an assigned purpose tend to accumulate items that don’t belong there, because they don’t quite seem to fit anyplace else.  Conduct a walk-through of your home for the specific purpose of inventorying cabinet/cupboard locations and their contents.  It’s probably been awhile since you actively considered whether things are stored in their most convenient spot.  You’ve simply become accustomed to retrieving them as needed without much thought about how far you have to walk, or how deeply you have to dig.  Consider these areas of interest when considering moving or installing cabinets: laundry room, garage, mudroom, kitchen, or billiards area.

Storage Platforms

 

    • Floor storage platforms – In homes with higher ceilings, a recent and popular option is to install platform floors which allows for additional storage space.   These can be stylish, as well as unobtrusive, adding to a room’s appeal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    • Baseboard drawers – A particularly innovative recent practice has been the installation of drawers along baseboards.  This might be a good option for storing things you don’t need on a regular basis, or that you don’t mind bending all the way down to the floor to retrieve.  Otherwise, this may not be the most convenient choice for you!

 

 

 

 

 

Built-in Shelving

 

 

  • Wall storage – Rather than adding shelving that extends out from a room’s wall (thereby robbing the room itself of space), built-in shelving creates additional storage capacity that allows you to display knickknacks or to keep items like books, games and DVDs at the ready. Built-in shelving can also add more architectural character to your home’s layout.  Think offices, libraries, bathrooms, and living rooms.

 

 

 

 

 

These are just a few of the options worth considering if you are looking to upgrade your home with an eye towards space reconfiguration.  Our many Handyman Matters offices have qualified craftsmen who can help you decide what the best option for your home may be, and to help you complete the job to your satisfaction.  Call 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME or go to www.handymanmatters.com where you can enter your zip code to find the phone number of the Handyman Matters location nearest you.

 

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.

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.

DIY Tricks for Cleaning Out your A/C or Swamp Cooler

Home

It’s that time of year when you reactivate your cooling systems.  Having a well ventilated, cool home in the summer is a necessity.  It has probably been awhile since you have seen your A/C or swamp cooler, let alone operated them.

Air conditioners are like anything else – they need to be properly maintained and kept clean if they’re going to run at their maximum potential.

The problem is many people forget to do this with their A/C units.

After a couple seasons of storage, the dust build up inside these appliances can be massive.  You wouldn’t light an old, dust-filled fireplace before cleaning it, so why turn on a dirty air system?

The biggest problem that arises from improper upkeep of your air conditioner is that a dirty A/C won’t run as well, which will use extra energy trying to cool your home and cost you more money in electricity over the long haul. To help keep your /AC unit in top shape, here’s a quick how-to guide to make your cooling system work to the best of its ability:

How To Clean Your Air Conditioner

Depending on the type and style of your air conditioning, the steps will vary slightly. We have listed 3 different types of air conditioning and the steps to clean them…

Central air, indoor unit

  1. Turn the power off, open up the front and swap out the old filter for a new one.
  2. Vacuum out dust from the blower compartment.
  3. Check for algae in the condensation tube. If there is build up, run 1 part bleach, 16 parts water through it.
  4. Clean the drain tube with a bristled brush.

Outdoor a/c unit

  1. Power down.
  2. Vacuum the condenser fins on the top.
  3. Remove the fan if possible and wipe it down.
  4. Hose down the inside of the unit, let dry, reassemble, and power on.

Individual room air conditioner

  1. Turn off.
  2. Remove exhaust panel and vacuum it out.
  3. Check and clean draining areas with brush.
  4. Vacuum the filter and the outside grille.

How To Clean Your Swamp Cooler

  1. Power down, turn off water.
  2. Take off back panel and old fiber pads.
  3. Open the drain plug and drain the water.
  4. Scrub the inside of the swamp cooler.
  5. Soak white vinegar in the water reservoir for an hour, then scrub and rinse.
  6. Cut new fiber padding using the old ones as a size pattern.
  7. Turn on water, fill the reservoir, adjusting the float if necessary.
  8. Reattach the back and power cooler on.

Read more about swamp cooler maintenance here.

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