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Tips to Pest-Proof Your Home for Fall

As the colder months begin to arrive, making sure your home is prepared for all those little critters in and around your home should be a top priority. Our partner, Terminix, has created a list, of how to pest-proof your home for the fall months and what part of the home to do so. Have you already gotten your home pest-proof or have you been holding off until a later date? These tips may make you get your home pest-proofed much sooner than you were originally planning.

Now that the seasons are starting to transition and it’s not 100 degrees outside, you need to make sure your home is ready for fall. Here are a few areas you should inspect in and around your home to help keep pests out as the summer wanes and leaves change.

PEST PROOF YOUR ATTIC/ROOF

“Check for mice, squirrels or raccoons already living here. Trap them and then seal off the entrances. Trapping prior to sealing is important.”

PEST PROOF YOUR WALLS

“While subterranean termites generally swarm as the weather starts to warm up, some species actually can swarm year round. However, you can identify and eradicate all species now. Check for:

  • Wood-colored termite droppings
  • Damage to the wood grain of your home
  • Visible mud tunnels or tubes
  • Actual small winged insects leaving wooden structures.”

PEST PROOF YOUR PORCH

“When it’s time to bring your plants in for the winter, make sure to do it right to avoid carrying in unwanted guests along with them. Remove dead or damaged leaves, check the pots thoroughly and water them to flush insects out of the dirt before bringing them inside. Scrub the pot, too, as spiders will often lay eggs on the bottom of terra cotta pots.”

PEST PROOF YOUR WINDOWS

“Check screens for damage and fix any openings to keep out mosquitoes, stink bugs, ladybugs and more.”

PEST PROOF YOUR BEDROOM

“Getting rid of bed bugs is no easy task, so be thorough and committed in your efforts. Regularly wash everything, including bedding, curtains and mattress covers. Always keep an eye out for bugs on your mattress, headboard and bedframe when replacing your sheets. You’re looking for:

  • Shed bed bug skins, exoskeletons or shells
  • Fecal stains on your mattress and bedding
  • Blood stains on your sheets and pajamas”

PEST PROOF YOUR FLOORS

“Insect hibernation is no joke, and your nice warm home is a great place to wake up. As part of your seasonal inspection and bug prevention, vacuum every floor surface and use the nozzle attachment to get everywhere — you never know where a hibernating boxelder bug or flea eggs could be hidden. Inspect the legs and underside of furniture for pests that can easily make their way to and from your carpet.”

PEST PROOF YOUR ROOF

“Rats and mice can fit through a lot of tight spaces, especially when it’s freezing outside and warm and welcoming inside, so you’ll want to inspect for even the smallest potential points of entry. Take time (and a ladder!) to carefully check every inch of your home’s exterior. Address any potential entrances such as loose shingles or portions of your roof that may be pulling away from the awning. Examine all vents, roof returns, flashing along your chimney and skylights for gaps that could give pests easy access to your home.”

Quoted Content Sourced From Terminix

Maintenance Tips For Your Dishwasher

When you think of kitchen appliances, which one would you say is the most important? The fridge, the stove, the microwave, but most importantly may be the dishwasher. This helps all homeowners make sure their chores take less time by the fundamental ease this appliance offers. Making sure your dishwasher is maintained helps it to continue to have optimal performance. You wouldn’t want to run your wash and create a larger mess than just dirty dishes. These tips from Dishwasher Guide provide great insight on what you can do to help your dishwasher continue to run at optimal performance long after you have purchased it. Are you currently performing any of these tips?

1. Scrape off food particles before washing:

“While the dishwasher does a great job of cleaning dried food, helping it out a little bit is always beneficial. So make sure that you remove the larger food particles that might be stuck on the dishes after a big meal. This will reduce the load on your machine and will help in providing a thoroughly clean job.”

2. Get the hot water started first:

“Cleaning the dishes in hot water always gives the best results. But it takes time for the water from the faucet to get heated up. So if you start your dishwasher at the same time, the first few cycles are always with cold water. The alternative is to turn on the faucet and let the water run for sometime till it starts getting warm. Switch on the dishwasher after this so that the plates get thoroughly cleaned. This can be very useful during the winter months.”

3. Handwash once in a while:

“Washing a few items manually is more sensible than cramming up the dishwasher with too many things. If you overload, none of the dishes will get properly washed.”

4. Purchase soaps with rinse aids:

“When purchasing soaps for your dishwasher, only go for the ones that have rinse aids. This makes cleaning a much easier process and you also end up saving some money. Another alternative to rinse aids is using white vinegar. It works just as well as any rinse aid and is much cheaper.”

5. Thorough cleaning is a necessity:

“Always remember to clean your dishwasher on a regular basis. Clean the gasket every few days to ensure its longevity. The nozzles should also be cleared along with the trap. Take out the filters and clean them thoroughly with warm water.”

6. Use dishwasher detergent in a proper manner:

“Always measure the amount of detergent you use. And always remember that detergents meant for hand washing are very different from the ones used in a dishwasher. Never make the mistake of using one for the other.”

7. Using an accurate cycle time:

“Another important dishwasher maintenance tip concerns the time duration of each cycle. Using shorter cycles can cut back on electricity bills and save water. But the downside is that dishes do not get cleaned thoroughly. So if you want to use shorter cycles, make sure that the really dirty dishes get a hand wash too.”

8. Use Vinegar to run an empty dishwasher:

“This procedure helps in removing dirt pieces that might be stuck in the washer. Just fill in a cup of vinegar into an empty dishwasher and let it run for a few cycles. Apart from cleaning the machine, it also ends up giving it a fresh fragrance.”

Quoted Content Sourced From Dishwasher Guide

Save Money By Reducing Your Water Heater Energy Use

Reducing costs and saving energy, those are two of the most used terms we hear from homeowners. Being able to do both allows you to save money on monthly bills while also allowing you to put that money towards other home projects or family vacations. One place where you can look to find those potential reduced costs is with your home’s water heater. HouseLogic has provided several helpful tips that will allow you to save energy and cut down on your monthly bill costs all revolving around how you use your water heater. How many of these tips have you already put to work? Did you see a decrease in your monthly bill and if so, how much did you save?

#1: Turn Down Your Tank’s Thermostat

“For every 10 degrees you turn it down, you’ll save 3% to 5% on your bill. Most water heaters come preset at 140 degrees, which has the added risk of scalding. The Energy Department recommends most households lower it to 120 degrees. That’s high enough for your needs, and high enough to reduce mineral buildup in your tank and pipes.”

“Here’s how to ensure you get 120 degrees:

  • First measure to see what temperature your water is at now. Don’t trust the thermostat. They are often inaccurate. Instead, use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the hot water at the faucet farthest away from the heater.
  • To remember this setting, mark that temperature on your thermostat.
  • Now turn down the thermostat to what you think will be 120 degrees, based on your earlier measurement.
  • Wait at least 2 hours. Measure the water temperature again at the same far-away faucet. It may take a few attempts to get it right.
  • Once it’s right, mark that spot on your thermostat so you’ll remember it.”

“If the thermostat on your water heater doesn’t have a numbered gauge, put it midway between the “low” and “medium” marks. Wait a day, and then measure the tap temperature as described above. Keep adjusting until you hit your target temperature.”

“Keep in mind that some water heaters have two thermostats — one for the bottom heating element and one for the top.”

#2: Use Less Hot Water

“One sure way to cut hot water costs is to use less of it.

A family of four showering five minutes a day uses 700 gallons of water each week — a three-year supply of drinking water for one person!

Simply by installing low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators ($10 to $20 each), you’ll cut your hot water consumption by 25% to 60%. Plus, you’ll save on your water bill. That family of four using low-flow fixtures can save 14,000 gallons of water a year.

Also, make sure you use the “economy” setting on your dishwasher, and break the pre-washing habit. Modern dishwashers can handle a dirty dish. Scrape what’s left of dinner into the trash or compost bin and then load.”

#3: Drain the Sediment

“Tanks naturally build up sediment, which reduces efficiency and makes saving energy a challenge. Draining the tank will keep it running efficiently. And it’s really easy to do:

  • Turn off the water and power to the unit. On a gas unit, set the burner to “pilot.”
  • Connect a garden hose to the spigot at the base of the tank.
  • With the other end of the hose pointed at your floor drain, carefully lift the tank’s pressure-relief valve and turn on the tank’s spigot; water should begin to flow.

Tip: While most manufacturers recommend draining the tank once or twice a year, you don’t have to drain it completely; in fact, the Department of Energy recommends draining less water more often — just a quart every three months.”

#4: Insulate Exposed Hot-Water Pipes

“By insulating your hot water pipes, water will arrive at the faucet 2 to 4 degrees warmer, which means you won’t have to wait as long for it to heat up, thus saving energy, water, and money.

While this isn’t an expensive DIY job — 6-ft.-long, self-sealing sleeves ($2.50) easily slip over pipes — it could take effort, depending on where your hot water pipes are located. Exposed pipes in the basement are easy targets: Hard-to-reach pipes in crawl spaces or walls might not be worth the trouble.”

#5: Insulate Your Hot Water Tank

“If you have an older tank, and especially if it’s located in an unheated space, wrapping it with an insulating blanket is a cheap and easy way to reduce costs.

Manufacturers have figured this out, so most newer models already are insulated. It’s easy to find out which one you have. Look on its label to see if it has an R-value of at least 24. If not, you should insulate your tank.

With these older models, an insulating blanket can cut heat loss by 25% to 45% and save 4% to 9% on the average water-heating bill.

Insulating blankets are easy to install and inexpensive ($20). When dressing your tank for saving energy, be careful not to block the thermostat on an electric water heater or the air inlet and exhaust on a gas unit.

If you have a newer model that’s already insulated, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can get additional savings by adding a layer of insulation. It can block critical components and become hazardous. Check with your manufacturer.”

Quoted Content Sourced From HouseLogic

Cost-Efficient Home Upgrades That Might Surprise You

Are you afraid of the costs attached with adding upgrades to your home? Don’t be, there’s so many cost-efficient options out there that can add between 1%-10% value to your home that you may have thought were pricey upgrades. Realtor.com has highlighted six home upgrades that are surprisingly not as pricey as you might think and will add an immediate increase in home value. These projects are also sure to add immediate satisfaction as soon as you begin enjoying the benefits of these upgrades once they’re completed. Have you done any of the below upgrades in your home?

1. Spruce up your patio

Average cost of a new patio: $3,007
Increase in home value: 3% to 4%

“It’s no secret that more homeowners regard their backyard as an extension of their living space. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that outdoor kitchens and furnished patio areas alongside a fire pit are increasingly popular.”

“Irene Medina, a real estate agent at Medina Group Real Estate in Coral Springs, FL, says an outdoor kitchen is “a big plus in homes [priced] from $350,000 and up.” This can be anything from an area in the patio with a built-in grill and sink to a full-blown kitchen.”

“Low-hassle option: Don’t have the money for an all-out kitchen? Try adding french doors that open to the outside. This simple change will make your home feel lighter and brighter, and will appeal to potential buyers—all for an average cost of $879.”

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2. Add a hot tub

Average cost to install an above-ground hot tub: $321
Increase in home value1% to 4%

“Having a hot tub on the property is a great selling point if the home doesn’t have a pool or a water view,” Medina says. If the property has a built-in pool, a hot spa attached to it or nearby could also go a long way, she says. Prices run the gamut, depending on how elaborate you want your spa to be. At the upper end, these babies can cost thousands, once plumbing, electrical, and the tub itself are factored in. But they don’t have to.”

“Low-hassle option: Don’t want to heat things up that much? Potential buyers are simply looking for a backyard oasis. Consider a simpler (and cheaper) upgrade by adding a hammock surrounded by lush landscaping—your costs will start around a whopping $30 for the hammock.”

———

3. Get smart

Average cost to install a home automation system: $1,282
Increase in home value3% to 5%

“These days, smart intercom/doorbells that can show a homeowner video of a visitor at the door (and use remote communication) are becoming the Main Street version of the urban doorman. Smart garage door openers, security systems, and thermostats are also becoming more common.”

“Not only will these smart gadgets help you feel more secure in your home, they are also a big draw for the tech-savvy buyer looking for innovative and practical home features, says Mike McGrew, treasurer for the National Association of Realtors® and CEO of McGrew Real Estate in Lawrence, KS.”

“Low-hassle option: Consider a small splurge on just a Wi-Fi video doorbell. For as little as $100, you’ll have a fancy amenity that can provide convenience and some peace of mind.”

———

4. Add an in-law suite

Average cost of a basement remodel: $18,618
Increase in home value: 5% to 10%

“Real estate agent Nancy Itteilag of Washington Fine Properties in Washington, DC, says she recently was “thisclose” to selling a home, but for one major obstacle: The property wasn’t fit to accommodate the prospective buyer’s au pair.”

“In her market, where double incomes are at an all-time high, there’s big demand for homes with an au pair suite, in-law unit, or a flexible living space (often on the lower level of a two-story house to maximize privacy for both au pair and family). So while the initial costs seem quite high, they could pay off in spades when it’s time for a sale.”

“Low-hassle option: If you already have a finished basement, you’re in luck. Want to give the feeling of privacy without doing a total remodel of the space? Throw up some temporary walls. For just over $200, you’ll have an extra bedroom instantly. And if your basement has a separate entrance, it’s all the better—it can double as a living space that can be rented out for extra income.”

———

5. Create a wine room 

Cost of a wine cellar: Starts at $4,000
Increase in home value: Varies, but can be as much as 2%

“We’re not talking about a dark closet where you hide your best reds (although those pay off, too). We mean a next-level wine space—possibly furnished with a small island or table—for entertaining guests and igniting conversation.”

“For some wine collectors, this room is becoming more of a showpiece than simply a repository to let wine age. Accordingly, in high-end homes, these cellars are also moving from the lower level to upper floors—often housed in glass walls and under LED lighting.”

“Wine cellars are a bit like swimming pools. They come in all shapes and sizes and costs. And the next folks that look at your house may want nothing to do with them,” McGrew says. “So do a wine cellar because you want a wine cellar, and don’t try to justify it by an increase in value when you sell.”

“Low-hassle option: Carve out a space in your home to display a few decorative wine racks and a wine fridge to keep bottles chilled and ready for entertaining. You could create your own wine enclave for as little as $200!”

———

6. Change up your flooring

Average cost of installing new flooring: $2,853
Increase in home value: 5%

“It might not sound sexy, but flooring is also high on the list when it comes to features that pay off in a big way. Whether it’s made of reclaimed hardwood or picturesque tile or features heating, it can set the tone for the whole house.”

“Want to step it up even more? Heated floors in common areas such as kitchens and bathrooms are a nice amenity for cold winter mornings—and, of course, add a sweet touch of luxury to your home.”

“Low-hassle option: If you’re looking for a home makeover on the cheap, consider new carpeting in neutral colors, which can go a long way in pleasing prospective buyers. The best part? The price tag, with an average cost of just $1,491.”

Quoted Content Sourced From Realtor.com

Don’t Overlook These Minor Projects

Moving in to your new home can be both an exciting but also stressful time. There are so many projects to do that we often overlook some of the most important ones. At first glance, these tasks may seem unimportant and can easily be placed on hold, but look again, these are actually the projects you should take care of right away. Realtor.com has called out eight projects that you should take the time from unpacking and focus on. They may seem minor, but if not attended to could create larger problems later.

Change the locks

“Before moving even one tiny piece of furniture into your new home, change the locks—or at least have them re-keyed. It’s not that you don’t trust the sellers (who are, we’re sure, perfectly respectable and upstanding citizens). It’s that you shouldn’t trust everyone who’s had contact with those keys over the years, any of whom could have copied the keys for some unsavory purpose.”

Change the alarm batteries

“Making sure your fire and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries may not seemlike a pressing issue while you’re in the middle of a stressful move (and aren’t they all), but it’s the kind of thing that gets ignored and then forgotten. Better to deal with it now, when the home is empty and you can make a quick sweep of the house—without lugging a ladder around furniture.”

Review your home inspector’s report

“Can’t find your inspector’s report? Minto says reports are often filed with the escrow papers—but don’t wait until something goes wrong to pull them out. A good home inspector will outline the most important issues in their report, so use their expertise as a guide for your first few days of ownership. If they’ve marked anything as particularly pressing, make sure to handle it before moving in.”

Find the circuit breaker

“If you were there during inspection, you should know where your junction box is, but if you don’t, finding it “should be the first and foremost thing that should be attended to,” Minto says. During a move, when you’re plugging all sorts of electrical doodads into the wall, you don’t want to be lost in the dark hunting for that elusive metal box. (While you’re there, find the water shut-off, too.)”

“Then, get familiar: If it’s not already well-marked, have your spouse or another family member stand in different parts of the house while you flip different switches, and make a note of which ones handle different rooms.”

Deal with any water problems

“Looking at that inspector’s report? Deal with water-related issues immediately, says Minto. These tend to be troublesome because they’re so easily ignored—”out of sight, out of mind,” he says. A leaky toilet might seem minor, but the steady drip can damage internal structural components.”

“Check your roof, too: If the rubber vent boots on your roof are leaking, you might not know it for a while.”

“By the time they see it in a ceiling, there’s been a fair amount of water,” Minto says.”

Caulk everything

“This one isn’t mandatory, but caulking is a whole lot easier if you do it when the house is empty, letting you see all the nooks and crannies that might need a little sealing—and don’t forget the exterior. Minto says he sees caulking issues on “every home,” and while they might seem minor, it doesn’t take long before cracking gives way to leaks and even more water issues.”

Plan your emergency exits

“Before you begin bringing in furniture, walk through every room and decide how you would escape in an emergency. This can help you spot problem areas or rooms that need some adjustments—say, removing bars or adding egress windows to a basement.”

Clean your gutters

“BO-RING. Right? You can put this off until Day 2 of your big move, but don’t let the dullness of the task push you to procrastination: If the previous homeowners didn’t clean the gutters, you need to do so ASAP.”

Quoted Content Sourced From Realtor.com

Key Measurements for Kitchen Design

One of the most exciting, but also difficult renovation projects any homeowner comes across is the kitchen renovation. From deciding on what type of countertop, to the overall flow of the kitchen, this renovation project can cause any homeowner headaches. It is however, important to also make sure that you’re measuring each part of the kitchen correctly. Any wrong measurement can create a lot more problems and headaches than you had originally planned for. Kristen Whalen has outlined several measurement tips for each part of the kitchen that any home renovator should remember and consider when creating the plan for the project. Do you make sure to take a good look at your measurements to make sure they’re accurate, let us know!

Cabinetry

“New cabinetry will serve as the backbone of the kitchen. Configure the cabinetry to make the most use of your kitchen’s size and floor plan. Here are some basic dimensions that will help you envision your new space. Most standard base cabinets are 34-1/2” high. Add an additional 1-1/2” for a standard countertop and 18” for a standard backsplash. The standard depth will be 24”. Countertops typically will be installed around 25 1/2” in depth to allow for an overhang. An overhang allows for spills to fall onto the floor instead of onto your cabinets.”

“Sizes for upper wall cabinets vary a great deal. Standard depth varies between 12″ to 13” with the exception cabinets above the fridge which are 24’’. In height, cabinets often extend to the ceiling in order to maximize storage space. Standard widths for cabinetry are typically available in 3” increments, with the exception for custom cabinets that can be made to any dimension. This is a brief overview of cabinetry dimensions, but partner with your designer to see what’s available to fit into the dimensions of your room.”

Triangle

“If you’ve been thinking about a remodel, odds are you’ve heard a lot about the kitchen work triangle. In basic terms, the kitchen triangle refers to the connection of the three main work areas in your kitchen: the sink, stove and refrigerator. As a general guideline, the distance between these areas should be no less than 4’ and no larger than 9’. In addition, the sum of all the legs in a work triangle should not be greater than 26’. This will require careful space planning because if the sum of the legs in the work triangle is too small, the kitchen will feel too cramped and people will be bumping into each other.”

“Conversely, if the sum of the legs is too large, cooking can become a very tiring task. As well as the recommended distance between the points of the work triangle, another crucial thing to bear in mind is to make sure that the legs of the triangle aren’t obstructed by anything. Trash cans, islands and other kitchen necessities in the wrong place can end up making cooking a hassle.”

Islands

“When it comes to kitchen islands, we generally think of additional storage, preparation and serving space in the kitchen. It can also serve as additional seating in the room. The size and location of the island can really affect the efficiency of the kitchen if done incorrectly. Islands that obstruct the flow of traffic to and from the sink, refrigerator, stove and primary workstations can create blockages.”

“How can you tell if an island will work in your kitchen? At minimum, you want to leave 36” of floor space on the ends of the island and 42” of space between the working sides of the island. If there are multiple cooks in the kitchen, a minimum 48” work aisle is recommended.”

Appliances

“The availability of appliance options in size, style, configuration and features keeps growing. Where should you begin? Simplify the process by narrowing your focus to what will best fit your kitchen, your cooking habits and your aesthetics. Are you ready to start shopping? Before you begin, here are a few dimensions you need to know.”

“Industry standards on appliance sizes (widths) usually include reserving at least 30″ for a refrigerator, 30″ for a range and/or cooktop, 24″ for dishwashers, and 30″ for wall ovens. Many cooktops and ranges can add a 5th and 6th burner, increasing their size to 42″ and 48″ respectively. Refrigerators come in all sizes all the way up to 48″ and over. Appliances don’t always meet standard sizing, so decide on the appliances you want in your kitchen before you begin planning your cabinetry. This ensures that you know the exact height, width and depth your openings should be.”

Quoted Content Sourced From Kristen Whalen and Improvenet

Six Ways To Clean Your Bathroom and Save Money

Cleaning the bathroom can be one of those chores that you continuously put on hold while the mess continues to build. A couple major headaches are the inflated cost of bathroom cleaning materials and the time it takes to tackle an entire bathroom cleaning depending on the size of the bathroom. There might just be a solution to all those problems courtesy of http://home.bt.com/. Below are several solutions they say will help alleviate the stress and hassle of cleaning your bathroom, all while lowering the cost you would normally encounter when purchasing bathroom cleaning materials and liquids from the store. Have you used any of the methods described below?

Home science

“Make baking soda and white vinegar your new best friends. Pour a mixture of half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of white vinegar down the toilet bowl, leave for a few hours and flush away to spruce it up and remove stains – no scrubbing needed!

The pair even make unclogging drains easy, too. Mix a quarter of a cup of baking soda with one cup of vinegar and pour it down your drain. Wash out with boiling water half an hour later for sparkling clean drains and pipes.

You can also make a paste by mixing baking soda with a little water; spread it on grout or use it to wipe down surfaces for an all-round clean.

Keep these ingredients in your cupboard for a quick fix whenever you need it.”

Natural citrus

“Cleaning the shower head can be tricky and risks leaving the harsh chemical residue to fall on your hair and skin during your next shower. Instead of using shop-bought sprays simply fill a plastic bag with lemon juice and dunk the shower head in it so it’s fully covered by the juice. Tie the bag securely and leave overnight, then rinse off in the morning.”

Squeegee it

“Eco-friendly cleaning product company method recommend: “Prevent a build-up of mildew in your bath or shower by squeegeeing the walls (it’s a specific kind of window cleaning sponge) after each use. It helps keep your tub clean, prevents mildew and is an excellent arm workout.”

Fizzy pop

“Pour a can of Coca-Cola down your toilet bowl and leave for a few hours, or even overnight if you have big stains, and flush away in the morning. The acidity of the Coke will break down stains and leave the toilet shining.”

No streaks

“A streaky mirror can make a bathroom look dirty no matter how clean your sink and tiles are. Get rid of toothpaste splashes, finger marks and hairspray by sponging a mirror with rubbing alcohol, working quickly so it doesn’t dry, then spraying the mirror with a one-part-vinegar to four-parts-water solution.

Wipe the mirror down with a microfibre cloth; these work better than normal cloths because the fibres pick up dirt rather than just spreading it around the glass.”

Double up

“Your personal bathroom products can also work wonders at no extra cost. Shampoo and body wash are great cleaners for the bath tub and shower.

Simply squirt on and wipe down with a wet sponge. If you don’t fancy using your luxury hair products to wash out the bathroom, supermarket budget versions work a treat and can cost as little as 10p a bottle.”

Quoted Content Sourced From http://home.bt.com/

Reduce Home Security False Alarms With These Tips

One thing homeowners hope to avoid when purchasing an advanced security system are false alarms. False alarms can cause major issues for assurance of having reliable home safety, to unanticipated costs attributed to a false alarm occurring, to issues of misusing Police and Fire resources. Making sure you’re prepared for potential false alarms can actually reduce the potential of it actually happening. The helpful tips below from our client, ADT, will help you reduce potential Home Security False Alarms before they even happen.

Tips For Reducing False Alarms

“You can take several steps to reduce false alarms. The first is to identify their causes.”

For Homeowners, Some of The Common Cause Are:

  • “Using incorrect keypad codes.
  • Failing to train authorized users.
  • Failure to secure doors and windows once the alarm is turned on.
  • Wandering pets.
  • Re-entering the home just after leaving without disarming (assuming the exit delay is long enough to compensate).
  • Objects hanging by or around motion detectors.
  • Weak system batteries.
  • Faulty equipment.
  • Acts of nature (strong winds, electrical storms, etc.).”

“False alarms due to faulty equipment or acts of nature are rare. The single largest cause of false alarms is human error.”

Once The Causes Are Identified, Some Basic Steps Should Help Reduce False Alarms: 

  • “Properly train all users (e.g., babysitters, relatives, children, visitors, etc.).
  • Secure doors and windows before turning on alarm.
  • Inform the monitoring center of new pass codes and arming codes, and new or removed authorized users.
  • Service and maintain the system (including batteries) properly.”

Quoted Content Sourced From ADT 

Don’t Do These Things, Unless You Want A Visit From A Plumber

We all make mistakes when it comes to our plumbing. Whether it’s putting things down the garbage disposal that you probably shouldn’t, or your children putting their favorite toy down the toilet to see if it will come back up. Mistakes happen, however, there are ways to avoid these problems from occurring again in the future. Check out 10 items below that will help you avoid incurring additional costs from plumbing errors inflicted by you and your children. The following 10 items, courtesy of Popular Mechanics, will help you avoid plumbing headaches in the future.

1. Treating the Garbage Disposal Like a Trash Compactor

“Despite the name, not all garbage belongs in the disposals. Most garbage doesn’t, yet some homeowners want to cram their waste down there until the blades stop turning. Watermelon rinds, potato peels, and pumpkin carvings are common items that plumbers and handymen have had to remove to free the blades. “Say ‘garbage disposal’ and people think they can put anything in there,” says Tim Gaulke, a handyman and president of Northland Improvements in Shakopee, Minn.”

“Joseph Albergo, a professional plumber and an assistant to the executive director for the Plumbing Council of Chicagoland, said homeowners aren’t always the problem: If you’re having a house party, make sure your guests don’t dump everything down there.”

2. Forgetting to Remove the Disposal Plug

“Another common mistake with garbage disposals happens with the installation. The install is straightforward and doesn’t require advanced plumbing skills, but if the unit is to be connected to a dishwasher, a knockout plug in the disposal must be removed first. If there’s no dishwasher, there’s no issue—the plug creates a seal. But if there is a dishwasher and the plug isn’t removed, then it’ll block the hole where the dishwasher hose connects, causing water to leak everywhere.”

“We get calls from people saying they just installed the disposal and water is leaking all over,” says Alex Holland, general manager for Plumbing Masters in Peoria, Ariz. “You have to remove the plug in there.”

3. Placing Too Much Weight on Fixtures

“Holland has a simple message for homeowners: Don’t put weight on plumbing fixtures. That means not hanging heavy shampoo racks from showerheads or using the bathtub spout as a footrest. “They are not made to have weight on them,” Holland says. “It’ll snap the showerhead right off at the threads.”

4. Joining Dissimilar Metals Without the Proper Connector

“Connecting different types of metals in plumbing pipes, such as steel and copper, requires the proper coupling. Without it the metals can quickly corrode at the connection, which is called dielectric corrosion. “The corrosion can build up and close the pipe,” Albergo points.

Plumbers know that connecting two different metals requires the use of a special dielectric union, which costs about $6. Dielectric unions separate the two metals with a rubber washer and plastic sleeve so they don’t touch each other.”

5. Flushing Household Items or Toys Down the Toilet

“Every veteran plumber or handyman has a story about getting called to a home because the family flushed something inappropriate or bizarre down the toilet. “I’ve seen everything from matchbox cars to tweezers to golf balls in the toilet,” Gaulke said. Holland blames a certain Pixar movie from a few years back: “Kids who have seen Monsters, Inc., throw their toys in the toilet,” Holland says—he saw a rise in these kinds of calls following the film’s release.”

“If the items get stuck in the trap, then the toilet has to be removed to retrieve them. Plunging can make the problem worse by pushing the toy into the waste line. Holland says he once found a plastic toy camera that had been plunged into, and then stuck inside, the waste line.”

6. Dumping Construction Materials Down Drains

“You probably feel a great sense of accomplishment after completing a DIY project such as filling holes in walls or giving the room a new paint job. But you could have a new project on your hands if you dump building materials, such as the joint compound used for repairing walls, down the drain. Emptying into or cleaning construction materials in the sink can cause it to back up because the materials can harden in the drain and block it, Albergo says. “Most of the time, the liquid goes down the drain and the solids stay behind. You’re not going to get that out with a drain cleaner.”

7. Cranking on a Faucet Handle

“Repeat after me: Pushing or pulling really hard on a faucet handle when you turn it off is not going to stop a leak or a chronic drip. “One of the most common things homeowners do is crank on it when it’s not working,” Holland says, and pushing too hard can break the handle without solving the leak or drip problem.”

8. Stripping Threads

“Here is more proof that good plumbing is not a test of strength. Like pushing too hard on faucet handles, overtightening plumbing components can cause them to leak or break.

Albergo says that any type of drain part, especially the common plastic and chrome materials, can have their threads stripped by too much tightening. “It doesn’t take much.”

9. Turning on the Water Heater Before it’s Ready

“Some homeowners can’t wait to turn on their new electric water heater and put it to work. But just because the pipes are attached doesn’t mean it’s immediately ready for use. If the water heater is turned on before it’s full of water, it can burn up, Holland says. “That’s an expensive mistake. You want to fill it up with water, take the air bubbles out by running water, then turn it on.”

10. Forgetting How Things Go Back Together

“Taking apart your plumbing components is easy. Putting them back together? Not so much. Some experts advise taking digital pictures of the disassembly process to help when it’s time to put the item together again. Whether you’re working on your kitchen or your car, it’s a good idea to back up your own memory with some written records.”

Holland said homeowners often have problems reassembling kitchen and shower faucets. “With shower valves or kitchen faucets, there are clips in there and a certain way to take them off. There are certain ways to take them apart and put them back together to replace cartridges. And they’re not all the same.”

Quoted Content Sourced From Popular Mechanics

Which Type of Window Is Right For Your Home?

Many homeowners don’t realize how many different window options there really are; and let us tell you, there’s a lot. Windows not only add a wow factor to any home, they can also add additional natural light to your home and make small spaces seem much larger when you choose the right window. What type of windows did you decide to put in your home or which type are you debating between for an upcoming renovation project? Check out a few of the different types of window variations below from Andersen Windows and Coldwell Banker. 

Awning Windows

“Awning windows are often used to provide extra ventilation higher on walls, promoting airflow within the home and limiting energy consumption. Due to their typical placement high on a wall, awning windows can provide light and ventilation while maintaining privacy and wall space for art or furniture. Awning windows are a popular choice in many contemporary American homes.”

Bay and Bow Windows

“Because they physically project outward from a room, bay and bow windows uniquely add interior space to the home. This also works to bring in light from different angles and provide a more panoramic view. These windows draw the eye as an architectural feature and often direct attention to a beautiful view. Bay and bow windows bring light in from different angles, while providing a panoramic view.”

Casement Windows

Casement windows offer maximum unobstructed visible glass opening while still providing ventilation to a home. Their glass opening promotes greater vertical airflow as the opening runs along the height of the unit rather than the width.  Casement windows are often used in places where opening a window with a crank operator is a more ergonomic friendly movement than lifting or sliding a window, like over a kitchen sink.”

Double-Hung Windows

Double-hung windows allow both top and bottom sash ventilation options. When opened strategically, these windows can promote air movement within the home to maximize fresh air. Double-hung windows with a tilt-wash feature are also the easiest to keep clean, ensuring a view unobstructed by dirty glass.”

Gliding Windows

Gliding windows can be wider than other types of windows. Since eyes naturally take in the world left to right rather than up and down, gliding windows allow for a large, natural view of the world. A large window also means more light and ventilation.”

Picture Windows

Picture windows are perhaps the most literal interpretation of a window style, framing the view in a wide expanse of glass. They are available in a variety of sizes and shapes and can therefore bring light into a home in unique ways. Picture windows can be paired with ventilating windows for the best of both worlds.”

Specialty Windows

Specialty windows fit the need you have in your home and can allow you to bring light into unexpected places or frame views in unique and stunning ways.”

Quoted Content and Images Sourced From Andersen Windows & Coldwell Banker

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