A special supplement of
Things to consider before downsizing your home
2 - Spring Home & Garden – April 2014
Once their kids have left the nest, many men and women over 50 begin to consider downsizing their homes. Downsizing to a smaller home can be beneficial for a variety of reasons, including less home to clean and maintain, more affordable utility bills and lower property taxes. But the decision to downsize is rarely black and white, and men and women often struggle with that decision. Perhaps the most difficult part of the decision of whether or not to downsize to a smaller home concerns the sentimental attachment many homeowners, especially those with children, have to their homes. The home might be too big for your current needs, but it also was the same place where your son took his first steps and where your daughter lost her first tooth. Saying goodbye to a place that was home to so many memories isn’t easy. But there’s more than just sentimental value to consider when deciding whether or not to downsize your home after the kids have grown up and moved out.
Your financial situation merits significant consideration when deciding if the time is right to downsize your home. If your retirement nest egg is not as substantial as you would like it to be, then it would seem as though downsizing to a smaller, more affordable home is a great opportunity for you to start catching up on your retirement savings. But that’s only true if your new home won’t incur any additional expenses that are already taken care of in your current home. For example, your current home may be fully furnished, while a new, smaller home may require you to buy all new furniture because your existing items simply won’t fit. The cost of such furnishings can be considerable. If you plan to move into a condominium, you can expect to pay monthly homeowners association fees, and such fees are often substantial. So while the condo itself might be smaller, the additional expenses associated with the property may end up making the smaller home more expensive and prevent you from saving more money for retirement.
buyer’s markets, and ideally you would like to sell your home in a seller’s market. But keep in mind that this might be the same market in which you hope to buy a new home. The nature of the real estate market depends on a host of factors, including geography. If the city or town where you currently live is in the midst of a seller’s market and you are planning on moving to a location where buyers have the upper hand, then now might be a great time to move. But if you currently live in a buyer’s market and hope to move to a seller’s market, then you may end up paying a steep price, even when downsizing to a smaller home. Things may even themselves out if you want to downsize to a smaller home within your current community, but do your homework nonetheless, researching the time of year when you’re most likely to get the most for your home and find the best deal on your next place. The advantage men and women considering downsizing have is that they are rarely in a rush to move out of their current home and into their next one. This gives them ample time to make the real estate market work for them.
How much space do you really need? Once the kids have moved out, couples may feel like all of that extra space is going to waste. But that can be a knee-jerk reaction, and upon a more thorough examination of the space and your needs you may just find that you can put all of that extra square footage to good use after all. If you have always wanted your own art studio, then now might be the perfect time to make that a reality. Always wanted a room devoted to home theater? Get to work on converting your basement from an all-purpose game room to your own private movie theater. If, after considering the space in your home, you find that the extra square footage really is just upkeep you aren’t especially interested in doing, then you would no doubt like a cozier home that’s less of a responsibility to maintain. Downsizing a home is something many men and women over 50 consider after their children have moved out. Such a decision is rarely easy, so homeowners should take as much Real estate market time as they need before making a final deciThere are seller’s markets and there are sion to move or stay put.
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Patios, decks and outdoor entertaining areas often need some TLC. Homeowners looking forward to enjoying the warm air again often start their annual chore of readying such areas for the entertaining season in the spring, and cleaning outdoor furniture and entertaining areas is a big part of that process. Very often individuals turn to pressure washing machines to clean such areas; while pressure and power washers are effective, they also can be dangerous if homeowners don’t prioritize safety when operating these machines. Pressure washing machines come in many varieties, and not all are created equal. Smaller, electric-powered systems may be effective for cars and boats but ineffective at cleaning grime on a house or driveway. Pressure washers also may have hot or cold water supplies. Hot water can help cleaning detergents emulsify dirt faster and more effectively than cold water. The cleaning capacity of these machines is measured in cleaning units -- or the water pressure multiplied by the flow rate. The higher the cleaning units, the greater the cleaning power of the device. But more powerful tools also carry a greater safety risk, highlighting the importance users must place on safety when operating such machines. The following are a few safety tips homeowners can employ to ensure their next power washing project goes off without a hitch. * Clear away furniture and any obstacles from the area where you will be cleaning. You want the area to be free of tripping hazards or items that can be damaged by
Prioritize safety when power washing patios and decks
April, 2014 – Spring Home & Garden - 3
the spray. * Keep children and pets away from the area while the cleaning is taking place. Pressure washers are powerful, and highly pressurized water spray can cause injuries. Slips and falls on wet surfaces may occur, and high-pressure injection can happen when water and chemicals penetrate the skin and cause tissue damage. * Eye and ear protection should be worn at all times when working with a pressure washer. * Many pressure washers work better
when used in conjunction with some type of cleaning solution. A combination of bleach and water will help loosen dirt and will require less pressure from the washer. * As you grow accustomed to the power of the washer, it is best to adjust the nozzle to a wide angle fan and the lowest pressure setting to see how effectively it cleans a given surface. Increase pressure accordingly as the project progresses. Making the water stream too narrow could cause damage. It takes time to learn the subtleties of the machine, so users should allow
themselves ample time to grow comfortable with the machine. * Keep the pressure wand 10 to 12 inches away from the surface that needs cleaning. Make small passes and check the cleaned area, adjusting the pressure and stream accordingly. * Begin in the farthest corner of a deck, driveway or patio and the highest spot of a home. Use slow, even sweeps with the pressure wand, being careful to maintain an equal distance from the tip to the work surface. This helps to ensure even cleaning and reduces the chances of streaks and overlapping of the pressure spray. * When working on a home, avoid spraying the water at a steep angle under siding or directly into corners. Do not spray under the edges of window or doors. Use caution around dryer and attic vents as well. You may end up soaking the inside of the home or cause water damage unwittingly. * Always use caution when operating a pressure washer while on a ladder. The power of the device can easily compromise your balance. If ever you feel uncomfortable using the pressure washer, stop and consider hiring a professional. It is much better to make that investment rather than damage your home or risk injury. CAPTION: Pressure washers have various levels of power. Some may be effective for washing cars, while stronger settings are often most effective at cleaning home siding.
How to repair and replace window screens
Window screens can let fresh air into a home while preventing insects and outdoor critters from making their way inside. But screens are far less effective at keeping critters out of a home when they’re damaged. Addressing such damage is typically an easy do-it-yourself project, one that begins with gathering the right materials, including: * new screening, synthetic or aluminum * a rubber spline * a screen rolling tool * a razor knife or sharp scissor * measuring tape * masking tape * a screwdriver or an awl Once those materials have been gathered, the process of replacing or repairing damaged screens is rather simple. 1. Measure the area of the window to determine how much replacement screening you will need. Remember to leave extra room in your measurements so you have slack to make the new screen fit taut. The measurement will also help you determine how much spline you will need. 2. Remove the screen from the window frame. Some windows do not have removable screen frames, and you will have to work on the screen in its upright position. 3. Use the screwdriver or awl to pry the edge of the existing spline that holds the screening material in the frame. Pull out the old spline and remove the damaged screening. 4. Measure the new screening from a replacement roll. Lay the screening down on the frame, ensuring there is overhang on all sides. If necessary, use masking tape to temporarily secure the screening to the frame while freeing up your hands. This also works if you must replace screening vertically and cannot remove the window frame and make repairs on a flat surface. 5. Take a new piece of rubber spline and push it into the edge of the screen frame, securing a corner of the new screening to the frame. Continue to press the spline around the perimeter of the screen frame firmly into the groove with the screen rolling tool, which looks like a small pizza cutter. This effectively secures the screen into the frame. 6. Continue around the edge of the frame, pulling the new screening taut as you go. This helps to keep it free of wrinkles. 7. Once you have inserted the spline all the way around, cut it off from the spline spool and push in the edge. 8. Use a razor knife or sharp scissor to cut off the excess screening, being careful not to dislodge it from behind the spline when cutting. 9. Replace the screen in the window. In the case of small tears in a screen, a complete replacement may not be necessary. Home improvement stores sell screen patch kits. Some work by cutting out a piece of patch that is attached to an adhesive backing and sticking it over the hole. Other patches are small, woven wires that can be threaded through the hole in the screen. A really small hole can be mended with a drop of clear-drying glue. The same method of screen replacement can be used to replace screens on screened-in porches, aluminum doors or sliding patio doors. Just be sure to purchase replacement screening that will fit the dimensions.
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Improve your home and diet with a vegetable garden
4 - Spring Home & Garden – April 2014
Planting a garden can add aesthetic appeal and functionality to a property. Vegetable gardens can transform landscapes while putting healthy and homegrown food on the table. By growing their own fruits and vegetables, homeowners have total control over what foods can be harvested, and they can ensure sustainable, safe practices are used to care for the plants. Vegetable gardens can be compact or expansive, depending on how much space is available to cultivate. However, first-time gardeners may want to begin small so they can hone their skills and experiment to see which plants are most likely to thrive in their gardens. Expansion is always a possibility down the road.
Don’t place the garden too close to rain gutters or near a pool, where splash-out may occur. Select a location that is isolated from pets so the plants are not trampled and cats and dogs do not relieve themselves nearby.
Decide what to plant
Choose a location
Spend some time examining your landscape. Vegetables generally need ample warmth and sunlight to thrive, so find an area of the yard that gets several hours of direct sunlight per day. A sunny spot is good, but you also want a location with adequate drainage so your garden does not succumb to flooding or fungus during and after heavy downpours.
When deciding what to plant, consider what you eat and how much produce the household consumes, then choose vegetables that fit with your diet. Some vegetables, like peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and squash, produce throughout the season. Others, such as carrots and corn, produce one crop and then expire. Plan accordingly when you purchase plants or seeds, as you want enough food but not so much that it will go to waste. Choose three to four different vegetables and plant them in the garden. Select varieties that require similar soil conditions, so that you can adjust the pH and mix of the soil accordingly. This will serve as good practice, particularly the first year of your garden. After you have mastered the basics, you can branch out into other produce.
Know when to plant
Many of the foods grown in vegetable gardens, including tomatoes and peppers, are summer vegetables, which means they reach peak ripeness after the height of the summer season. Pumpkins, brussel sprouts and peas are planted to be harvested later on. These plants may be put in the ground a little later than others. It is less expensive to start seedlings indoors and then transplant them to a garden when the time comes. Seeds can be started three to four weeks before they would be put outdoors. Many vegetables are planted outside in April or May, but definitely after frost conditions have waned. Read seed packets to know exactly when to plant or consult with the nursery where you purchased established seedlings. You also can visit The Garden Helper at www.thegardenhelper. com/vegtips to find out when to plant, seed depth and how long it takes plants to reach maturity. Vegetable gardens can become central components of outdoor home landscapes. Not only do gardens add aesthetic appeal, but also they produce fresh fruits and vegetables to enjoy throughout the season.
How to create a rainwater harvesting system for your garden
Rainwater collection is a way to conserve water that can be adopted by both private homeowners and businesses. Harvesting water during peak times of precipitation ensures water will be on hand during drought or when water restrictions are implemented. Making use of rainwater reduces reliance on underground wells or municipal water systems. Harvesting rainwater also can help prevent flooding and soil erosion. The average homeowner can collect thousands of gallons of rainwater each year. To learn just how much water can be harvested, visit savethe-rain.com. Afterward, homeowners may be inclined help you determine if there is lead present in your gutters. At a later time you can choose to replace the gutters if you desire a potable supply of water. * Invest in a collection tank or barrel. A number of manufacturers offer prefabricated rain collection systems complete with collection barrels. Otherwise, you can use your own barrel or tank to house the collected water. Ensure it is large enough to handle the volume of water collected. * Purchase and install leaf guards. If your home is surrounded by many trees, you probably accumulate leaf and tree debris in your home gutters and downspouts. Leaf guards will help keep the gutters clear and increase water flow through the water collection system. * Create a water collection area. A portion of the gutter system should be removed so that it connects to the collection barrel or tank. As the rain falls, it will run down the roof and into the gutters before it streams into the downspouts. The downspout connected to the tank will deposit the water directly inside. Filters can be installed to help block the flow of debris. * Outfit the tank for overflow and water usage. A spigot and hose connection makes it easy to use the collected water for outdoor purposes. Many rainwater collection systems are designed with an overflow safeguard that will prevent the water from backing up through the system. It will divert the rainwater back out of the downspout when the barrel or tank is full. A rainwater collection system harnesses a natural source of water to be used for gardens and other outdoor purposes. This water doesn’t contain chlorine or other additives, making it relatively clean and safe to use. Homeowners should check to see if a permit is necessary to install a rainwater collection system and then begin gathering water for various uses.
to establish their own rainwater harvesting systems. Here is how to get started. * Determine your roofing material. Potable water can be harvested from homes with sheet metal or slate roofing. Clay or adobe tiles also may be acceptable. Asphalt, wood shingles and tar roofs may
leach toxic chemicals into the water, making it unsafe for drinking. This rainwater may only be collected to use for irrigation methods or washing cars and outdoor items. * Check gutter materials. Some gutters are made with lead soldering components. A commercial lead swab test can
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How to rid your yard of pesky pests
Spring is the season when lawn and garden equipment is dusted off, windows are washed and homes are aired out. Spring also is a great time to get started on lawn and garden projects. Early spring might not be warm enough to start planting, but it is a great time to inspect a yard for any property damage or problems, including pests. Small animals like groundhogs can compromise lawn and garden projects. For example, vegetable gardens are prime targets for such pests, while trees and shrubbery offer cozy abodes and camouflage from other predators. Homeowners can grow frustrated by the damage such critters can do to their properties. But identifying the offenders early on can minimize that damage.
April, 2014 – Spring Home & Garden - 5
Groundhogs are one of 14 species of marmots and are the largest members of the squirrel family. They frequent the areas where woodlands meet open spaces, like streams, roads or fields. Groundhogs feed on grass, plants, fruit and tree bark. They also will feast on home gardens during the summer and fall seasons. Groundhogs are most active during the warm months, when they forage and feast to build up large reserves for winter hibernation. Humane methods of keeping groundhogs at bay include making the area inhospitable. Groundhogs can climb trees and fencing, but they’re less likely to get into plants if there is a fence around them. Dogs can be preventive as well, as some dogs will chase groundhogs off of the property. The scent of urine can also scare groundhogs off. Using traps to capture and then relocate groundhogs is another option.
Groundhogs feed on plants, frustrating homeowners who want to keep the critters off of their properties.
Moles are cylindrical mammals that are most comfortable living a subterranean lifestyle. The fur of moles feels similar to velvet, and they have small ears and eyes. Moles also have strong forelimbs with forepaws that have an extra thumb and multiple joints. These help them to burrow underground effectively and hollow out subterranean chambers. The diet of moles is primarily earthworms and small invertebrates found in the soil. The runs they create beneath the surface of the soil are used to
trap prey and store it in “larders” for later. Moles are not harmful to lawns and gardens, but they can compromise the aesthetic appeal of lawns and gardens. That is why homeowners often want to prevent moles from making homes on their property. While there are traps and poisons available, one of the easiest ways to prevent mole infestation is to remove their sources of food. Homeowners also can cut back on watering property and get rid of grubs and other insects. Also, consider installing a mole barrier of aluminum sheeting or hardware cloth by burying these
materials between two and three feet deep along the perimeter of a lawn or garden. Cats are natural enemies of moles, so sprinkling cat litter around mole runs may dissuade moles from visiting the area.
Often mistaken for mice, voles are small rodents with shorter, hairier tails and more stout bodies than mice. Voles are commonly referred to as meadow or field mice, and they feed on small plants and will eat nuts, fruits and even dead animals. Voles will frequently eat succulent root systems
and burrow under lawns and gardens. The runways of voles will be shallow, so they aren’t prevalent in frequently cultivated soils. They are also less likely to burrow beneath frequently mowed lawns. Voles do not like open areas. Remove protection like weeds, tall grass, dense vegetation, and heavy mulch to make a yard a less popular habitat. Keep grass adjacent to flower beds or gardens mowed short. If groundhogs, moles and voles become particularly troublesome or infest a yard in great numbers, an exterminator may be needed.
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Practice garage and workshop smarts
Completing home improvement projects on your own can be both rewarding and financially responsible. A growing number of homeowners are dabbling in do-ityourself projects, recognizing both the personal and financial rewards of such undertakings. As more and more homeowners perform their own renovations and other improvement projects, many are outfitting their homes with state-of-the-art workshops and transforming garages into a doit-yourselfer’s paradise. Safety is vital in any workshop. During a typical home renovation, homeowners will use all sorts of dangerous tools and chemicals, and even the simplest mishap can result in a serious injury. Following safety rules can reduce the risk of injury. muscle strain. Make the workshop as comfortable as possible. Ensure the work table is at the right height. Use a rubber mat on the floor to reduce standing fatigue. Have a stool or chair available for taking breaks.
Keep a clean shop
Power cords strewn around the workshop present a tripping hazard. They also make it possible to drag sharp or heavy tools off of tables and workbenches if the cords are pulled or tripped over. A neat workshop is a safer workshop. Pay attention to where tools are kept and keep cords manageable.
Know your tools
Before novice do-it-yourselfers begin working with power tools, they should familiarize themselves with their owners’ manuals and the operating instructions. Some home-improvement retailers offer classes in various home renovation projects and may be able to teach tool usage. Do-it-yourselfers should consult professionals with regard to proper tool use and safety. Do not use tools for purposes other than what the tool was intended to do. If machine guards are provided, they should be used and never removed.
Loose clothing and hair can become tangled or lodged in equipment. Do not wear jewelry. Dress comfortably but appropriately for the workshop, being sure to wear sturdy shoes.
Lock it up
working with certain products, and debris can be kicked up and enter the eyes, causing irritation or even blindness. Loud power tools can damage sensitive ears, especially when used in a contained room. Always wear goggles, sound-muffling earphones and dust masks when working. can affect concentration or alertness. All it takes is a moment of distraction to cause an injury. Never surprise anyone who is working with power tools and keep unnecessary people out of the workshop, where they might chat and distract others from the tasks at hand.
Wear safety gear
Do-it-yourselfers should never work Factor in ergonomics Eye, ear and breathing protection are Failure to work in comfortable condiwith machinery if they are feeling sick or key in any workshop environment. Dust and chemical gases may be present when fatigued or while taking medication that tions can result in repetition injuries or
Assess physical well-being
Children and pets are curious and may wander into a workshop to explore. They can become seriously ill or injured by the bevy of chemicals and tools used for common projects. Some items are flammable and sharp and should always be out of reach. Locking cabinets and drawers can keep tools inaccessible. Also warn youngsters against entering the workshop unattended. As more people engage in do-it-yourself projects, homeowners should reacquaint themselves with safety procedures.
Make a plan for garage organization during your spring cleaning
Spring cleaning plans are on the minds of many once the weather warms up. Many homeowners feel a sense of renewal in the spring, when the desire to clean house and get organized becomes a priority. Garages are often targets for homeowners hoping to target clutter. Once a space reserved for cars, garages are no longer strictly for vehicles, used instead to store items that simply do not fit inside the home or a backyard shed. Organizing the garage is typically a weekend or several-day project. Here’s how to turn a garage from a cluttered mess into a space suited for storing items of all shapes and sizes. * Enlist a helper. Organizing a garage is a significant undertaking that is best tackled with two or more people. Enlist a helper to make the project less intimidating. * Decide what is important to keep. Start the organization process by clearing out the garage and taking inventory of what you have. Items that have not been used for several years can likely be tossed. Make a pile of what will be kept and then put the rest at the curb or donate useful items to charity. * Give thought to where you want to store particular items. Tools and items that are used more often should be stored within reach or where easily visible, while items that are not used as frequently can be stored higher up. Think about how you operate in the garage. Recycling bins can be stored closer to the door into the home, while bicycles and skates can be nearer to the garage door for easy access. * Group like items together. Categorize items that will be kept. Garden tools, camping gear, sporting equipment, and automotive supplies should be categorized and stored in their own areas of the garage, determining if certain items can be stored inside the home to free up garage space. Grouping items together will make them easier to locate in the garage. * Move boxed items into clear storage containers. It’s much easier to see what you have when it is stored in clear containers. Some containers are interlocking or stackable, making it much more convenient to store items vertically and free up more floor space. * Invest in vertical storage systems. Moving items from the floor and putting them on shelving or behind cabinets can make the garage more organized. Hooks and bins also can be used. Employ a peg board full of hooks for oft-used tools or other items you need at the ready. * Leave space for hobby and work areas. Garages are where many improvement projects begin or where hobbies, such as woodworking or crafting, take place. Leave space for these tasks and hobbies. * Give the space a fresh coat of paint. Some garages are dingy and dark. Bright paint on the walls and floor can open up the space and, when combined with more lighting, can make it lighter and brighter. Garage organization is a common spring cleaning project. But it shouldn’t be reserved for this season alone. Periodic checks of the garage and straightening up can keep a garage clean and organized throughout the entire year and make yearly spring cleaning much more manageable.
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Lighting sets the stage for outdoor fun
Tis the season for making changes in and around the home. The arrival of warmer weather renews homeowners’ vigor for various home improvement projects, and many have grand plans for interior and exterior renovations as they prep their living spaces for comfort, beauty and entertaining opportunities. While there are many worthy projects to pursue, adding outdoor lighting to a home can help increase its value and make the home safer and more attractive in the evening hours. According to the American Lighting Association, with a few updates to outside lighting, families can make even better use of their homes at night. Adding outdoor lighting is easier and less expensive than many homeowners may know, allowing them to transform an existing patio, deck or pool area into an enjoyable nighttime retreat. Pool parties, dinners on the patio or barbecues with neighbors become even more memorable when outdoor lighting is added or improved. But homeowners who want to install or upgrade their outdoor lighting should consider the following tips, courtesy of ALA. * Improve navigation. Lighting is typically layered into a room or outdoor space in three ways: overhead, task and ambient. Even outdoors, where there are no typical boundaries and borders, those three layers are necessary. Outdoor overhead lighting should improve visibility on steps, paths and walking surfaces, especially where there’s a bend or an intersection. Task lighting can be used around cooking or gardening areas. Ambient light will cast a comforting glow around any outdoor space. * Enhance security. To improve visibility and security, combine a motion detector with a sconce to illuminate dark corners or entryways. Be sure to aim lights away from the door to improve visibility. Lanterns on either side of the door can give a home a warm, welcoming appearance and improve the safety of entryways. * Create outdoor rooms. Outdoor lighting at the borders of a space is a great way to create barriers, both vertically and horizontally. Lights in a tree create something akin to a chandelier hung in the middle of the sky, and even accent lights in the general area of the edge of a patio, deck or porch will shine across the space and provide enough of a comfort level for people to understand where things are. * Reduce glare. Outdoor lighting that casts a glare can be blinding, as can light that’s too bright. Lighting along paths should be cast downward, with fixtures that are hooded. A variety of lighting options will create layers, allowing you to add or subtract as necessary. Exterior-safe dimmers also can provide flexible control over the level of light, as can movable fixtures added to a patio or porch. * Add decorative elements. Just as arbors, pergolas, patios and other outdoor elements help to enhance the style of an outdoor space, so, too, can lighting contribute to a well-designed landscape. Lighting should play up decorative features of a yard and add the ambience that homeowners desire. Step lights make passage safe while also highlighting molding or trim details. An outdoor chandelier can make for a wonderful accent during dinnertime on the deck or under a pergola. Patio lights provide atmosphere as well as illumination for cooking outside. * Enhance views from inside. Outdoor lighting can make the view from inside pleasant and enjoyable. Use a variety of lights, including spotlights on trees, lights dotted along pathways and accent lights on unique landscape features, to create an idyllic landscape visible from
April, 2014 – Spring Home & Garden - 7
inside the home. Outdoor lighting enhances functionality of yards and landscapes while making such areas safer for homeowners and their guests once the sun has gone down.
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Home improvement tips learned the hard way
8 - Spring Home & Garden – April 2014
‘Tis the season for home improvement projects, and weekend warriors will soon be visiting home supply retailers to buy everything from paint to plywood. There are many advantages to making home improvements on your own, including the opportunity to test your mettle at projects big and small. Many a novice DIYer has learned the ups and downs of home improvement through trial and error. But the following are a handful of lessons first-timers can heed before beginning their maiden voyages into the world of DIY home improvements. * Measure twice, cut once. Perhaps this is the best-known mantra of home improvement, yet many still ignore it. Whether you’re anxious to get started or simply because you still cannot convert metric to standard formula, you must take the time to measure twice before cutting. Learning that you’re a hair too short later will be prove frustrating and time-consuming and often necessitates a last-minute
run to the store for more materials. Always measure multiple times before making cuts. * Enlist a helper. Having a partner helping with the work is the most efficient way to tackle a project. This person can assist you with heavy lifting or moving things or by holding the ladder or simply passing tools your way. He or she also can manage work while you make another run to the home center for more supplies. Having a helper around also provides companionship during tedious projects. * Lighten the load. You run the risk of injury, both to yourself and your belongings, if you attempt to move heavy items on your own. When moving heavy items, take steps to lighten your load. For example, empty or remove drawers from desks and dressers before moving them. Rely on sliding pads when moving furniture so items can be slid into place instead of lifted. Always ask a buddy to help move especially heavy items. * Prime before painting.
Painting can be a time-consuming task. In an effort to save time, some people will look for painting shortcuts, and these may include skipping the priming portion of painting. Priming helps to cover existing paint color and prevent bleed-through of stains or darker hues to the next coat of paint. Failure to use a primer could mean having to paint coat after coat, which can become costly and take up a significant amount of time. Always rely on a priming product, or look for a paint that blends a primer within to achieve better coverage. And while you are ensuring a proper paint job, remember to use painter’s tape or an edging product to help keep paint off of moldings and trim. * Use the right tools. The right tools make work safer and easier. Think about how much faster you can cut through a tree trunk with a chainsaw rather than a handsaw. Improvising or using the wrong tools for the job can cost you time and increase your risk of injury.
* Turn electricity off at the panel box. Be especially cautious when working with electricity, turning off the current. This means shutting down the power on the breaker box. A live wire can provide a minor shock or lead to serious injury. Take the extra time to ensure the power is off before working with any exposed wiring. * Expect the unexpected. Although many renovation projects go off without a hitch, you never know what you might uncover when you embark on repairs or remodels. Homeowners have come across all sorts of hidden problems when doing seemingly minor repairs. Removal of drywall may uncover insect damage in beams or indications of water infiltration. Some people take down old paneling, only to discover it was covering heavily damaged walls beneath. One repair project can run into another when home improvements are being made. Always leave breathing room in your budget and schedule extra time for unforeseen tasks as well.
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Improving attic ventilation benefits the roof and more
Homeowners are often interested in projects to improve the aesthetic appeal of their homes, particularly those that may increase the curb appeal of their properties. But some projects, including improving attic ventilation, can benefit a home even when they aren’t especially eye-catching. Attic venting preserves the life of a roof while improving the energy efficiency of a home. Although it may seem counterproductive to let air into the attic when you are sealing drafts elsewhere in the home, there is rhyme and reason to venting an attic throughout the year. and rising heat from warming up roofs during the winter, creating the freeze-thaw pattern that results in ice dams. HVAC systems running endlessly to keep the home comfortable can benefit from improved attic ventilation, as can those homeowners whose attics feature moisture Improving attic air flow damage in the way of rusty nails Many attics already contain or moldy wood framing. An attic passive ventilation in the form fan is often an effective remedy to of vents or ventilation strips built these issues. into the edge of the roof. Other vents may appear in gables or Attic fan 101 eaves. Some homeowners preThe installation of an attic fan fer the addition of an attic fan is best left to a professional, as it to work in concert with exist- requires running wiring to the fan ing venting. The spring season and it may necessitate cutting into is an ideal time to have an attic the roof for venting. Many fans fan installed because the weather work with a thermostat and will is temperate, making it easier to turn on when the air temperature in the attic reaches a certain temwork up in the attic. According to Natural Light perature. The fan will circulate Energy Systems, attic tempera- the air, helping to keep the attic tures can exceed 160 F on hot cooler and dryer. Also, the fan summer days. Proper attic venti- can help expel fumes from cooklation can reduce those ing or appliances from the home. temperatures by up to 40 F, proCanada Go Green notes that longing the life of the roof. Attic attic fans can reduce energy bills ventilation also reduces the load considerably by making HVAC on heating and cooling systems. systems work more efficientNo matter how much insulation is ly. Keeping attics cool and dry in an attic, some transfer of attic may also reduce how frequently air will occur between the home HVAC systems need to be turned and the attic, and that transfer on or at which temperatures thermakes heating and air condition- mostats in the home are set. ing systems run longer and harder Improving attic ventilation to compensate. may not add much to a home’s can save homeowners money and provide year-round benefits. Homeowners who notice their curb appeal, but such a project
April, 2014 – Spring Home & Garden - 9
What is attic ventilation?
Attic ventilation is a system of air intake and exhaust that creates a flow of air through the attic. In the summertime, air flowing through the attic will cool temperatures within the attic, preventing damage to the underside of roofing shingles and preventing ambient heat from traveling inside of a home. In the winter, air flow helps to keep the attic cool and dry. This prevents moisture that can lead to mold and rot issues from building up inside of the attic. Attic ventilation also prevents warm indoor temperatures
Sealing a driveway can extend its life
Installing an asphalt or a concrete driveway can be an expensive undertaking. To preserve the fresh, new look of the driveway, have the driveway sealed and then routinely seal it to keep it looking pristine. A good sealant can keep a driveway looking new longer and also can rejuvenate the appearance of an older driveway. Sealant can be compared to car wax. It provides an outer coating that will repel stains, stop UV rays from fading the driveway and help to protect against cracks and driveway degradation. Over time, asphalt driveways will begin to fade in color and the stone and rocks used in the asphalt mix will appear more prominent. By sealing the drive way, a homeowner can maintain its original dark color. Another reason to seal a driveway is to reduce the chance of freezethaw damage. This type of damage results when water penetrates the surface of the driveway and then expands as it freezes. The expansion can cause cracks and fissures, as well as compromise the soil underneath the driveway, making it sink or become unstable. Sealed driveways help to keep water beading on the surface of the driveway, rather than being absorbed into the driveway material. When water no longer beads on the driveway, this is often an indicator that the driveway needs to be resealed. There are some guidelines to follow when sealing driveways. When starting, sealant should not be applied immediately after the driveway is poured. Concrete needs to cure for a period of up to one month before sealant should be applied. Fresh asphalt contains oils that eventually evaporate. The oils are what makes fresh asphalt pliable and soft. Once these oils evaporate, the asphalt gets harder and more durable. Sealers can prevent evaporation and may make the asphalt permanently soft. After the initial base application of sealant, the driveway should only be sealed every two to three years, depending on its condition. Sealants are just coatings, and adding too many layers can cause the sealant coatings to crack and peel away. Sealing a driveway is a labor-intensive process that’s best left to professionals. These professionals have the knowledge of technique
Driveway sealants preserve the look of the driveway and can make the surface durable and impervious to stains.
and the right tools to get an even, thin coating of sealant. Remember, a driveway should not be walked or driven on for a minimum of 24 hours after sealant is applied. Weather conditions also can influence the amount of time
it takes for the driveway to cure. Having the driveway sealed prolongs its durability and appearance. It also can make the driveway less prone to staining and cracking, mak ing this project a sound investment.
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Equip your home with a sump pump and backup battery
10 - Spring Home & Garden – April 2014
In 2012, hundreds of miles of coastline along the northeastern United States were battered and decimated due to Hurricane Sandy. More than a year later, many homeowners were still dealing with the consequences of the devastating storm. Hurricane Sandy illustrated just how destructive water can be. Each year, storms across North America have the potential to flood homes or cause water to enter the basement or first floor. According to the National Flood Insurance Program, a mere six inches of water in a 2,000 square foot home can cause around $40,000 in damage. Homeowners looking to avoid such damages can rely on sump pumps and backup emergency systems to keep sublevels dry and safe. Sump pumps are frequently used in homes at risk of flooding or in homes where the water table is above the foundation of the home. Sump pumps remove water that has accumulated in a water collecting sump basin built into the foundation of the home. Water may enter through perimeter drains (French drains) built into the basement or directly through the sump basin itself. The pump will send the water away from the house through a series of pipes that could drain into a dry well, into a municipal storm drain or at the curb. Many sump pumps are hard-wired into
a home’s electrical system and will automatically turn on when the water level in the sump basin has risen enough to trigger the pump. A flotation device built into the pump will rise enough to turn on the pump, which will then dispel the water until the device returns to its regular level. When operating correctly, sump pumps are effective at removing water and keeping basements and crawl spaces dry. However, in the event of a power outage, which is common when strong winds accompany flooding rains, a sump pump is rendered useless unless there is a backup battery attached to the sump pump. Having a battery hooked up to a sump pump, or a backup sump pump that is battery-powered, can give homeowners peace of mind in any storm. A backup plan ensures the pump will still be able to remove water for a certain period of time until electricity is restored to the home. Another option is to make sure the sump pump is connected to a power generator should the main power supply go out. As long as the generator is running, the sump pump will expel the water. Water damage to a home can cost thousands of dollars in repairs, particularly when it is not covered by standard home insurance policies. Sump pumps can help keep homes dry and safe.
How to reduce home improvement project waste to help the environment
The home improvement industry has grown considerably over the last several decades, as homeowners increasingly took steps to turn their homes into personal oases. But such projects often produce substantial amounts of waste, negatively impacting the environment as a result. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated 170 million tons of building construction, renovation and demolition-derived wastes were generated in 2003, a year when the housing market was thriving and homeowners were not shying away from costly home improvement projects. With the housing market once again on the rebound, the home improvement industry figures to benefit once again. There are steps eco-conscious homeowners can take to reduce waste while improving their homes. * Save salvageable materials. Some materials simply must be discarded when making improvements to a home. But many more materials can be salvaged. When making renovations to a home, separate materials like lumber, hardware, fixtures, and even appliances that can be salvaged from those materials that must be discarded. Many communities are home to organizations that collect salvageable materials, and these materials can be reused by fellow homeowners or other organizations down the road. * Speak to contractors about recycling. Contractors working on a home typically know which materials can be recycled in a given area. When discussing prospective projects with contractors, homeowners can mention their willingness to recycle materials. Wood is a versatile material that can be turned into reclaimed or composite wood products, including decks or other items used around the home. Old wood being removed from a home may even work as mulch, which homeowners can spread around their yards to add aesthetic appeal and protect plants on hot summer days. Even asphalt and concrete can be recycled into new products, and homeowners should discuss their wishes to recycle as many materials as possible. * Choose recycled content building materials. Another way to reduce home improvement project waste is to make use of other homeowners’ discarded materials. Recycled content building materials are products that include materials recycled from previous projects. These once-sparse materials are now commonplace, and labels often include the percentages of postconsumer and recovered materials used in each product. Materials such as drywall,
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insulation, kitchen countertops, glass tiles, carpeting and carpet padding may include recycled content, and the growing popularity of such products has made them relatively simple for homeowners to find. When working with contractors, homeowners should emphasize their desire to use materials made from recycled content. Such materials are both pleasing to the eye and the environment. * Embrace adaptability when designing a new home. Rarely do homeowners design their homes with renovations in mind. When building a dream home, homeowners do not consider the likelihood that they will one day move out or even outgrow the home. Estimates vary considerably with regard to how long the average homeowner stays in his home, with some suggesting as little as seven years. While data collected from the United States
Census Bureau within the last decade suggests that roughly half of all homeowners had lived in their homes for at least 10 years. Homeowners building new homes should expect to one day move, and ensuring their new homes are easily adaptable is both financially sound and ecofriendly. When a home is built with adaptability in mind, prospective buyers won’t have to make costly overhauls. In addition, homes built to facilitate future renovations won’t produce the same amount of waste as homes that are less easily adapted. Many homeowners embrace home improvement projects as opportunities to turn their homes into private sanctuaries. But those who do so with the environment in mind can significantly reduce waste and still end up living in luxury.
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9 ways to improve curb appeal
Homeowners who want their homes to make strong first impressions must prioritize curb appeal. Homes with strong curb appeal sell well and can impart a welcoming feel to all visitors. Improving curb appeal need not be expensive, and the following are a handful of ways to improve the appearance of your home. 1. Install a bold-looking door in a vibrant color or one with a custom design. This helps the home stand out from other properties in the neighborhood. 2. Edge the driveway to create a distinct border between the driveway and the lawn or other landscaping features. This helps homes appear neat and well kept. 3. Use outdoor lighting to make a home more inviting. Outdoor lighting also makes properties safer at night. 4. Clean a home’s exterior to remove mildew or discolorations from the siding, driveway, patio, and other outdoor elements. 5. Improve landscapes with fresh plants and seasonal color. Homeowners without the time to plant can consider container gardens, which don’t take much time to assemble but still add appeal to a home’s exterior. 6. Prune planting beds and add new mulch to restore color. 7. Add shutters and accent trim to a home’s exterior to improve on the beauty of the house. 8. Install new fencing or give a fresh coat of paint or stain to an existing fence. 9. Replace concrete paths with tile or stone walkways to make entryways more impressive and inviting.
April, 2014 – Spring Home & Garden - 11
Common sources of indoor air pollution that can be harmful to humans
When considering the threat of air pollution, many people immediately note the damage done by excessive emissions from vehicles and factories. However, the air inside a home is susceptible to pollution as well. The following are some of the more common sources of indoor air pollution that can prove just as harmful to human beings as those sources emanating from outside our homes. * Carpet: Some materials in carpet emit volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which are emitted as gases and can have both short- and longterm adverse health effects. The concentration of many VOCs is as much as 10 times higher indoors than outdoors. When purchasing new carpet, homeowners can choose low-VOC adhesives that do not contain formaldehyde. It’s also ideal to install new carpet in spring or early summer, when windows can be opened to air out the carpet for several hours without compromising comfort for those people inside the home. * Glue: Glue is widely considered a handy cure-all for minor problems around the house, but glue may also be compromising your health. Certain glues and adhesives like rubber cement emit VOCs, which can irritate the eyes and even the nervous system, and some may even emit toxic formaldehyde. When purchasing glues and other adhesives, opt for water-based products and avoid using glues and adhesives in smaller, poorly ventilated areas of your home. * Air fresheners: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that many household air fresheners almost continuously release pollutants. While some air fresheners are safe, the best way to freshen air in a home is to open the windows and let fresh air inside. When possible, open the windows to let fresh air in rather than relying on potentially harmful store-bought air fresheners. * Older appliances: Old or malfunctioning stoves, furnaces and space heaters pose both safety and health risks around a home. Old or malfunctioning stoves increase the risk of fire around a home. But such products also intermittently release pollutants, putting residents’ health in jeopardy. Homeowners should look into replacing especially old appliances, as today’s newer products are both more efficient and liable to emit fewer pollutants than older products. Malfunctioning products should be fixed immediately or replaced if repairs are unlikely to significantly extend the life expectancy of the product.
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12 - Spring Home & Garden – April 2014
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