Fall is Coming – Is your Home Ready? (Your Essential Checklist)

 

It’s a matter of a couple of weeks before we’re in the throes of it: Fall.  And if your home operates under a school calendar, day-to-day activities are about to take off.  Forethought is what will help you limit stress and make it through this seasonal ramp up – especially when it comes to your home.  While you’re out running errands, we can be checking off repairs and seasonal maintenance for your home.  Here’s Handyman Matters’s shortlist of preventative home maintenance and repairs for the fall…

  • Inspect your Roof

Keep an eye out for summertime debris (Frisbees, footballs, kites) because these are the number one enemy of gutters, and believe you me, they will get stuck.  Also, doing a sweep for missing shingles and small leaks on your roof is one of the best preventative measures you can take to avoid costly, wintertime roof damage.

  • Repair Exterior Walkways

As leaves and snow begin to cover your walkways, it will be hard for guests to not step on the broken stair, or on the tile that habitually comes loose and falls out.  They won’t be able to see the ground, so make sure it’s stable and keep your guests safe.

  • Clean Out Vents and Filters

Filters, vents, and air ducts need to be cleaned regularly.  First-off because are a fire hazard when they aren’t maintained.  Dust heats up and catches fire.  Think: heaters, dryers, fans, etc.. Additionally, dust build-up doesn’t just stay put, it will circulate debris throughout your house.  Cleaning your home will be all that more difficult if your vents and filters are dispersing dust.

  • Clean and Repair Gutters

Effective draining systems protect your home from water damage.  Filter upcoming snow, rain, sleet, etc. out and away from your home by having clean, crack-less gutters.  You will be able to maintain your home’s paint while simultaneously avoiding wood rot.

  • Seal Doorways and Windows

Don’t spend more money than you need to heat your home.  Sealing the cracks in your doorways and windows will keep your house cozy and help you go green by being more energy efficient.  This may mean swapping out windows, doors, or adding some new sealant and caulk.

  • Trim Back Tree Branches

There’s nothing quite like an unexpected snow that causing unruly tree branches to snap.  In many scenarios this will mean damage to surrounding property.  Trim back branches hanging over walkways, parking spaces, driveways, roofs, or fences – you’ll be glad you did.

 

Lay the foundation for a productive fall by know your home is repaired, safe, and up to date.  Once you have your seasonal home maintenance list together, let us do the rest.  For a free estimate on your fall preparations call 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.

Affordable Window Repairs and Maintenance Tips that can Keep your Home Cool this Summer

Window Repair and Maintenance Tips for your Home

Where is your cool reprise from the hot spring and summer weather?  For Handyman Matters, we believe that place should be your home.  While installing cooling units can be a quick fix, it’s also one of the most expensive.  The lesser known truth is, cooling your home can be affordable.  These are the window repair and window maintenance tips that will make your home more energy efficient in the summer.

  • Re-caulk Window – When the windows of your home are closed, can you feel air leaking through the caulk of the window? If so, this is a sign you need to re-caulk.  Check both the interior as well as the exterior as this leak can be on either side of the window.  With a putty knife, scrape off the caulk remains, and then reapply. Make sure to perform this repair during the most shaded and cool part of the day so that the fresh coat does not melt.
  • Repairing Window Seal – This isn’t a problem you’re going to find on single paned windows, but for those of you with double or triple pane – here’s what you need to know. Look closely at your windows, if you can spot condensation forming in-between the panes, you are losing energy.  Your next steps will be to replace the window sash.  To find out more on replacing a window sash, check out this tutorial.
  • Stuck Wooden Window – Oddly enough, keeping your windows closed during the day, with blinds drawn will help keep your house cool, but sometimes there’s a cold front, and it can be nice to open your windows and let in some air. If you are trying to open your window and you find it’s stuck, it’s likely due to excess particles in the track.  The best way to solve this problem is to remove the window and clear out excess dust, old caulk, and to clean off the tracks.
  • Installing Blinds – Control the amount of natural light in your home by teaming up with some blinds. Adding blinds, especially to larger windows makes it possible to keep a little light, while restricting the heavier rays from heating up your home.
  • Hanging Curtains – If blinds aren’t doing the trick, heavier curtains have been known to work similarly to window panes, trapping heat, and they also reduce sunlight. For larger bay windows consider hanging floor length curtains to acquire more coverage.

Stay cool this spring and summer.  These window repairs and window maintenance tips are the first line of defense when it comes to keeping out the heat.  For more information on how to increase your home’s energy efficiency, give Handyman Matters a call at 866-FIX-MY-HOME!

 

 

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

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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.

Transitioning from cool to warm seasons requires a large adjustment in your home and its appliances.

Knock a few tasks off your list with help from Handyman Matters.  We do everything from small repairs to total overhauls.

Enjoy the sun, and let us take care of the dirty work, call 866-FIX-MY-HOME.

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?

fireplace

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.

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

3 Most Common Home Energy Leaks

Fall is all about nesting.

We begin to focus on cozy indoor areas, well lit work spaces, warm meals, and consistent home temperatures.  It is the seasonal hierarchy of needs.  However, maintaining all these layers can be costly, both financially and environmentally.  During a season of comfort, we don’t have to give in to a guilt inducing, energy bill.  Handyman Matters has the answer to making your home and wallet just that more green.Green House

  • Let’s Start with Lighting

This is probably the easiest thing in your home to fix.  The issue is the type of bulb.  If you have high watt bulbs that overheat easily – you are likely still using the original, incandescent bulb.  Bulbs that will save you energy but still operate at the same level of brightness are: halogen incandescent bulbs, CFL’s, and LED light bulbs.  Some of these bulbs when they first came out, gave off a harsh, blue light.  Luckily, these lights have had time to adapt from their original model: now coming in a soft, white light.  Although these options may be pricier than the bulbs you’re used to, in the long run they are not.  Energy efficient bulbs last up to 20 times longer than traditional bulbs!

  • On To Insulation

In order to make sure your home is properly insulated, we will be checking your attic’s R value aka its thermal resistance.  Northern, chillier states require a higher R value, while Southern states are typically warmer and can get away with less.   Before you measure the depth, you will need to cover up, as insulation is toxic.  Paper coveralls, a face mask, goggles, gloves, and measuring tape will be necessary.  Use your tape measurer to find the depth of the insulation, and then multiply that by the type of insulation you have.

There are 2 main types of insulation: fiberglass and cellulose.  Fiberglass is usually pink or yellow-y and lightweight, while cellulose is more of a gray and flat consistency.  Decide which one you have, and then multiply your attic’s depth by 2.5 for fiberglass, or 3.7 for cellulose.  The product of these two is your R value. We can then compare the R value against the recommended value for your area.  Here is a link to an area based, R value calculator.

  • And then, Heating and Cooling Appliances

There are a few things you can do to make you heater more energy efficient.  First, make sure you swap out your filters at least every 3 months when the appliance is being used.  Old filters cause air movement to slow, and the heater to work harder.

Secondly, sealing the ducts around the heating system will also help to improve your home’s energy efficiency.  You want to make sure your attic and walls are well insulated, and that the connection points of the ducts are filled.  Duct sealant and metal-backed tape can be used to cover and fill the connection points.  Additionally, if you wrap a piece of insulation around the duct, it will improve its ability to maintain your home’s temperature without working overtime.

Finally, programmable thermostats are great for stabilizing the weather in your home.  They keep the climate steady when you’re at home, on vacation, or at work. Your house can sit at a slightly colder temperature during the colder months when you are gone, and then warm up when you are home.

 

Going Green doesn’t have to mean overhauling your lifestyle.  It’s not a question of sacrificing amenities, but a question of preparation.  The easiest way to make the most out of your home’s efficiency is through proper maintenance.  Small seasonal checkups, like the ones above, will not only improve your homes efficiency, but it will also lower your energy bills, prolong the lifespan of your home, and preserve its resell value.

Handyman Matters can help improve your home’s energy efficiency!  Call 866-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to locate a handyman near you.

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.

Window Energy Efficiency

Homeowners are always on the lookout for ways in which to increase their home’s efficient use of energy for the dual purposes of lowering heating and air conditioning bills and in an effort to go green.  Some improved window designs currently being offered these days will block the heat that can leak through the glass, and that will reduce your heating costs considerably.

For a small upgrade cost per window you can choose double paned windows that are several times more efficient than the standard windows that are offered by builders. These newer style windows actually use a specialized gas that is sealed between the panes and it will help lower the transfer of heat through the panes and also it will reduce drafts.

Upgrading these windows now will allow you to reduce your heating and energy bills and will pay for itself a number of times over the life of your house. Also changing these windows out for more efficient models when the home is being built is a lot less expensive, since the window frame is still exposed.

Window placement is also important. Energy efficient homes will often have larger windows on the side of their building that receives the most sun to allow them to take advantage of sunlight, thereby reducing electricity bills for lighting. To help you with your lighting requirements, skylights also can be easy to install and can be fairly inexpensive, as well. By using this natural light for your home you will have to have fewer lights on during the day and can reduce your energy consumption considerably.

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Trim Heating Costs, Create Ambience

Take the chill out of the air and the burden off of your primary home heating system with a supplemental heat source. Space heaters are handy, but often not very attractive – and can be dangerous if used improperly. The National Fire Protection Association reports that in 2006, 73 percent of home heating deaths were attributed to improper space heater use.

Consider adding a home fireplace or making an existing fireplace functional. Wood-, pellet- and corn-burning fireplaces are options for those with the ability to add a chimney. In order to effectively augment your regular heat source, these options require regular addition of wood, corn or pellets. And don’t forget the need for regular cleaning and maintenance of not only the fireplace, but also the chimney.

To reduce the need to purchase materials to burn, improve the efficiency of fireplace heat and avoid messy maintenance chores, many homeowners convert existing traditional fireplaces to gas or electric units. If your home does not currently have a fireplace, chimney or gas line access, you can easily purchase and install a freestanding electrical fireplace.

The unpredictable nature of gas prices combined with ease of installation means frequent spikes in electric fireplace purchases. After all, the only technical know-how needed is the ability to plug the unit into the wall. As an added bonus, electrical fireplace heat is not lost to the chimney as with traditional wood or pellet-burning units. The steady heat source is easily turned on or off as needed; many units even include an automatic shutoff or sleep timer.

Other than the occasional need to dust the unit and change the light bulb, electric fireplaces provide trouble-free, safe ambient heat and light. Fire safety experts note the importance of making sure the electrical outlet and set-up in your home can handle the new addition to your family room, living room, basement or other space in need of additional heat.

If you’ve decided to add a new, energy-efficient heat source to your home, browse your local home improvement centers and the internet for ideas and price ranges. Simple units are available as well as those with the appearance of a traditional fireplace with a wood fireplace surround—a key fireplace safety measure for homes with children or pets. From major furnace manufacturer brands to Amish fireplaces, there is an option to fit your needs. An investment in a finely-crafted electric fireplace can not only improve your home’s warmth, but also its ambiance.

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