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Creating a Modern Exterior Facade with Slatted Wood Panels

August 18, 2014
1 260x300 Creating a Modern Exterior Facade with Slatted Wood Panels

Photo credit: Jeremy Levine Design on Flickr

If you are looking for an exciting way to update the exterior of your home with a modern look consider adding slatted wood panels. This design option can be used to create a cool elegant look to the front or back of your home. Here are a few places we suggest trying this design option:

Accent Your Siding – Integrate horizontal slats to a traditional home to give it a modern look. Using slates with your already existing siding will give your home texture and curb appeal.

Garage Door – Give your garage a facelift by using slatted wood panels. Incorporate frosted glass windows to contrast the wood and make it even more of a focal point.

Fence or Gate - Instead of opting for a metal or vinyl fence or gate choose slatted wood panels. Using this type of material will provide separation to your backyard and will allow you to feel less closed off from the outdoors.

3 280x300 Creating a Modern Exterior Facade with Slatted Wood Panels

Photo Credit: Jeremy Levine Design on Flickr

Entryway or Balcony – Create shade and solitude in your entryway or on your balcony by adding slatted wood panels. If you have a roof or pergola above you can also consider hanging the panels from a ceiling track to create movable panels.

Porch or Patio – Tear down the walls of your old outdated screened in porch or add much needed privacy to your patio with slated wood panels. This will not only add curb appeal to the facade of your home but it will also create a tranquil space that you will enjoy spending time in.

Adding slatted wood panels to the exterior of your home is an easy way to add privacy and curb appeal. If done correctly, it can take your home’s facade to a whole new level.

Mr. Handyman can maintain your home to save you money. One call really does take care of everything on your to-do list. All Mr. Handyman franchises are Fully Insured with General Liability and Workers Compensation. Some services are subject to state and local licensing and may not be available in all locations. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service in your area.

Walkway and Path Lighting: Great Ideas For Exterior Light Fixtures

August 15, 2014
ICPI Walkway and Path Lighting: Great Ideas For Exterior Light Fixtures

Photo Cred: ICPI on Flickr.

Exterior lighting, and walkway lighting in particular, can often be overlooked. Exterior light fixtures can add a valuable opportunity to enhance and highlight your landscaping, provide texture, uniqueness and depth to your yard, all while increasing your curb appeal. And with proper placements, walkway lighting can provide function without taking away from the natural beauty of your landscaping.

Here are a few of tips we’ve found helpful when designing an outdoor pathway:

1. Keep the eye drifting naturally down the path: Place lights in a way that draw the eye towards the end of the walkway. Lights placed in a methodical, measured way often make the lighted walkway seemed forced and unnatural.

2. Less is more: Don’t overdo it with lights — remember interior and exterior house lights, and sometimes moonlight provide more visibility than you think. The exterior lights along a walkway should be a gentle suggestion, not an airplane landing strip.

3. Choose bulbs with a lower voltage: Balance the softness of light with the softness of natural elements. Make sure the voltage on your light bulbs are not too harsh. The light should feel soft and welcoming, much like the natural light of the moon.

4. Mix & Match: Don’t be afraid to mix styles when choosing light fixtures. It personalizes the walkway to your home and makes an interesting visual experience. Use this opportunity to pick lighting that will accent your home’s style. This will help tie the natural elements of the outdoors with the architectural style of your home.

5.  Highlight your landscaping: Instead of shining your lights on the walkway, try highlighting some of your plants that are planted near your walkway. The light will reflect off the foliage, and add some visual and color for guests to admire on their walk up. Interesting and strategically placed lighting boosts curb appeal and differentiates your yard from others.

6. Highlight your stone work: An alternative to highlighting your landscaping is to highlight your stone work. If you have beautiful stone work, show it off! Lights reflected off the side of your house or the stone pathway create interesting shadows and depth.

7. Safety and security: Last, but certainly not least, keep in mind the functionality of exterior lighting. Adequate lighting not only provides safety to your family and guests, but also acts as a deterrent to intruders.

Walkway and path lighting is a step in landscape design that should be strategic and well thought out. When done right, exterior and pathway lights will enhance the aesthetics of your home, accentuate the design of your yard, and provide safety and security to anyone that comes around.

Mr. Handyman can maintain your home to save you money. One call really does take care of everything on your to-do list. All Mr. Handyman franchises are Fully Insured with General Liability and Workers Compensation. Some services are subject to state and local licensing and may not be available in all locations. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service in your area.

 

Prevent Water in Your Basement: Tips to Stop Leaks and Waterproof

August 12, 2014

The last thing a homeowner wants to find in the basement is water. A leak can cause significant and costly damage, and it also creates health hazards if not addressed. You can prevent water from seeping into your basement with a sump pump or French drain system.

 Prevent Water in Your Basement: Tips to Stop Leaks and Waterproof

Effects of Water Damage

In a basement, water soaks into drywall and causes swelling and disintegration. Wood building materials warp and split. Water tarnishes and eventually rusts uncoated metal surfaces. It starts to smell musty.

Water damage that is not fixed can cause mold to grow. Mold spores not only further break down building materials, but they also can cause health problems. Children, the elderly, and those who already have allergies or asthma suffer the most.

A flooded basement can cost a pretty penny, too. Just 1-inch of water takes hours to clean up and can cause thousands of dollars of damage depending on how you use your basement—man cave or extra bedroom—and what you store in it.


 Prevent Water in Your Basement: Tips to Stop Leaks and Waterproof

Prevention Method: French Drain System

A French drain involves a ditch filled with gravel, rock or perforated pipe. The drain redirects surface and ground water away from where it can do damage. It does so by bypassing air-filled soil that slows drainage and by sloping downward to have gravity help the water along.

08122014 French Drain Prevent Water in Your Basement: Tips to Stop Leaks and Waterproof

The drain should end at a low point on the property where the water does no harm. If using a pipe instead of and/or with gravel or rock, camouflage it with larger rocks or landscaping, with the latter including greenery that appreciates the extra water.

Multiple French drains can interconnect if needed. Any water that enters any drain travels through the system to the low point. This allows for a yard to drain in hours, not days.

Fun fact: The name doesn’t come from the country, but from Henry French, a judge and farmer in 1800s Massachusetts who first presented the idea in a book on farming.

Prevention Method: Sump Pump

This method involves a mechanical pump installed in the lowest part of a basement, typically in a specially made pit—essentially a hole with a gravel base. If water reaches the pit, the pump pumps the water out of and away from the basement.

There are two types of sump pumps: submersible and pedestal. A submersible pump does as its name says, becoming submersed in water. When turned on, it sucks up water through a bottom grate and pumps it through an outlet pipe and away from the basement.

A pedestal pump also does what its name says, sitting on a pedestal that keeps it out of the water. It features an inlet pipe that reaches down into the pit to suck the water up, out and away from the basement.

Most sump pumps automatically turn on when water reaches a certain level, either by it activating a float or pressure sensor. Manually operated pumps also are available but do no good if you are away from home and unaware that the basement is at risk of flooding. Some automatic pumps even have backup and alarm systems.

Installing a French Drain System or Sump Pump

If you regularly perform DIY improvements to your home, this task may be well within your skill set. Keep in mind, though, that proper placement of the French drain or sump pump and pit proves vital to success. You don’t want to find out that the method you hoped would save your from a basement disaster doesn’t work by allowing your basement to flood.

Mr. Handyman can maintain your home to save you money. One call really does take care of everything on your to-do list. All Mr. Handyman franchises are Fully Insured with General Liability and Workers Compensation. Some services are subject to state and local licensing and may not be available in all locations. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service in your area.

Wood Flooring Types: Pros and Cons

August 1, 2014

Are you looking to install wood flooring in your home, but are overwhelmed by all of the styles, materials, and stains…? Fear not! We created a comprehensive list of our favorites, along with a snippet of information about each. This will allow you to feel comfortable about your choices before moving forward and taking your next big step regarding your home renovation.

1. Solid Wood
Pros: The visual appeal of solid wood is undeniable. This timeless look is relatively easy to clean and maintain. Also, because it is one solid piece of wood from top to bottom, it can be sanded and refinished many times.
Cons: Cost can be a big drawback for people. Although a range of cost exists, the better looking woods come with a higher price tag. In addition, solid hardwoods occasionally require refinishing in high-traffic areas.
Costs: Ranges from $3 to $13 per square foot

hard Metro ATL flooring 300x199 Wood Flooring Types: Pros and Cons

Photo Credit: Metro Atl. Flooring on Flickr

2. Engineered Wood
Pros: This flooring is manufactured by using multiple layers of varying wood veneers. The grain of each layer runs in different directions, making it very stable.  The plank width is not as limited as solid wood, and you can often find them as wide as 7 ½-inches.
Cons: One drawback is that, compared to solid wood, engineered wood cannot be sanded and finished as often.
Costs: Ranges from $3 to $13 per square foot (very similar to solid wood)

Engineered Eurotex Flooring 300x199 Wood Flooring Types: Pros and Cons

Photo Credit: Eurotex-Flooring on Flickr

3. Laminate
Pros:
The best things about laminate include the fact that it does not easily scratch, and it is less expensive than solid or engineered wood.  You can also find some that look almost exactly like wood, often fooling even the most seasoned flooring experts!  Like real wood, laminate flooring is extremely easy to clean.
Cons: Standing water has the potential to ruin laminate flooring.  Also, if a section of the laminate does become damaged, unlike real hardwoods, laminate cannot be refinished.
Costs: Ranges from $0.50 to $3.50 per square foot.

 

Laminate Flooring America 267x300 Wood Flooring Types: Pros and Cons

Photo Credit: Flooring America on Flickr

4. Bamboo.
Pros: A very trendy look. Compared to other types of wood, bamboo is slightly more resistant to water damage, stains, and warping. Certain types of bamboo, like strand woven bamboo, can be manufactured to be as durable as red oak.
Cons: Like most woods, Bamboo is subject to becoming discolored, scratched and marred, and must be refinished.
Cost: Ranges from $2 to $8 per square foot.

Bamboo Pape Floors 300x225 Wood Flooring Types: Pros and Cons

Photo Credit: Pape Floors on Flickr

5. Cork
Pros: Cork is an excellent insulator. It’s warm, soft material absorbs sounds better than any other flooring types. Also, it is antimicrobial which means that it is very resistant to mold, and can be safer for the family.
Cons: Cork has been known to have some durability issues, and will fade in direct sunlight. It also has been known to turn yellow over time. Due to the soft nature of cork, it may get damaged underneath furniture pressure points.
Costs: Ranges from $2 to $8 per square foot.

 

Cork Megan Manogue 198x300 Wood Flooring Types: Pros and Cons

Photo Credit: Megan Manogue on Flickr

Mr. Handyman can maintain your home to save you money. One call really does take care of everything on your to-do list. All Mr. Handyman franchises are Fully Insured with General Liability and Workers Compensation. Some services are subject to state and local licensing and may not be available in all locations. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service in your area.

Custom Cabinets: Great Ideas for your Kitchen, Bathroom or Garage

July 28, 2014

If you are a homeowner that has an awkward kitchen layout or just a garage that is in desperate need of organization, custom cabinets might be the right solution for you. Custom cabinets are those that are built specifically for a homeowner and can provide you with design freedom and style.  Here are a few items to consider before you contact a professional about your project.

What is your design style?  Do you prefer a more traditional look or to you have an eclectic taste?  The first rule to choosing custom cabinetry is to know what design style you are.

Design StylesKitchen 2 300x198 Custom Cabinets: Great Ideas for your Kitchen, Bathroom or Garage

  • Modern Design- Minimalist home design that includes clean straight lines, the use of chrome and stainless steel, the use of a neutral color palette, also referred to as retro design.
  • Contemporary Design – Refers to what is popular right now, use of cutting edge materials, includes strong bold colors, clean lines, can barrow pieces and styles from different eras, often confused with modern design.
  • Traditional Design– Classic European décor, deep wood tones, architectural detail, elegant features, classic colors and elaborate moldings.
  • Eclectic Design – A combination of all the above design styles that all work together cohesively.

Now that you know your design style it is time to choose that cabinets and accessories that will make your space work for you.

Cabinet OptionsBathroom cabinetry and countertops Custom Cabinets: Great Ideas for your Kitchen, Bathroom or Garage

  • Flat-Panel Doors – Cabinets that have a flat center panel and look best with a traditional or contemporary design.
  • Raised-Panel Doors – Cabinets with raised center panels with contour around it and look best with traditional design.
  • Slab Doors – Flat cabinets with no panels or accents and look best with contemporary and modern design.
  • Accent Doors – Cabinets that serve more style then function and may include a bank of glass to showcase china, geometric patterns or molding.

Cabinet Accessories

  • Hardware – handles, knobs and door pulls
  • Pull-out tables to extend work space
  • Swing-out shelving and pull-outs
  • Rollout drawer trays and drawer dividers

If hiring a carpenter is not within your budget you can still have custom cabinets. Semi-custom cabinets are lower in cost but still allow for creative freedom for any space.  This option of cabinetry provides mass produced cabinets but can still give the homeowner a choice on door styles, colors and materials.

Mr. Handyman can maintain your home to save you money. One call really does take care of everything on your to-do list. All Mr. Handyman franchises are Fully Insured with General Liability and Workers Compensation. Some services are subject to state and local licensing and may not be available in all locations. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service in your area.

Wheelchair Ramps for Homes: Design and Plans for Greater Accessibility

July 24, 2014

A wheelchair ramp allows family members of all abilities to more easily enter and exit the home. You may need to add a ramp because an elderly parent with limited mobility will be moving in, or another family member may have an injury or other health condition that requires additional accessibility. No matter the reason, such a project must be undertaken with the utmost attention to detail, whether you DIY or outsource the work, to ensure safety for all who use the ramp.

American With Disabilities Act Guidelines

While ADA guidelines for wheelchair ramps do not apply to private residences, they are an excellent starting point for designing and building your structure. In general, these guidelines call for:

  • 1:16 to 1:20 slope ratio
  • Minimum 36-inch ramp width
  • Minimum top and bottom landing width that matches or exceeds minimum ramp width
  • Minimum 60-inch top and bottom landing length
  • Handrails on each side for ramps with a 6-inch or greater rise and/or a 72-inch or greater horizontal projection

For the complete guidelines, including requirements for edge protection, visit ADA.gov. You should check with your city building code and homeowners’ association offices to ensure you meet local regulations as well.

Materials for Building a Wheelchair Ramp

Options for wheelchair ramp materials include concrete, wood, steel, and aluminum. A variety of factors go into your decision. Do you want the ramp to be a permanent addition to your home? How much maintenance do you want to do? Is it important that it blend into the design of your home?

  • Wheelchair Ramp 02 300x201 Wheelchair Ramps for Homes: Design and Plans for Greater AccessibilityConcrete proves the most permanent material, requires the least amount of maintenance and fits into the aesthetic of modern homes. It comes with one of the highest cost in terms of materials and labor.
  • A wood ramp costs less to build, but the regular maintenance required to ensure the material does not rot, warp or splinter can wipe out any initial savings.
  • Steel also requires rust and corrosion prevention, and while you need not worry about either with aluminum most homeowners find the high cost of the material prohibitive.

All of these materials require anti-slip features to ensure those using the ramp can do so in all types of weather, adding to the total cost of installation and upkeep.

Designs for Wheelchair Ramps

Wheelchair Ramp 01 300x202 Wheelchair Ramps for Homes: Design and Plans for Greater AccessibilityIf you would like the ramp to reflect the existing design of your home, choose matching or complementary materials as well as a similar style. Great places to look for ideas that will fit the look and layout of your particular home are home design websites such as Houzz.com. There you will find photos shared by homeowners who have already solved the design challenge. You can use them as inspiration for your DIY project or show to your professional handyman.

Building a Wheelchair Ramp

As noted above, attention to detail is a must with a construction job such as this. Measurements and execution must be precise to ensure wheelchair users and pedestrians alike can use it safely. The combined weight of the user and wheelchair also must be considered;  to plan for the future, factor in how much a motorized chair weighs even if the user does not yet have one.

If you do not have experience with this type of construction, seriously consider outsourcing the work. Not only will a professional ensure the wheelchair ramp meets any local codes, he or she will have all of the equipment required, tools you may not own or have access to yourself. This project also can be a lengthy one, even for experienced DIYers. To see the many steps involved in building a wooden wheelchair ramp, check out this how-to from Lowe’s.

Mr. Handyman can maintain your home to save you money. One call really does take care of everything on your to-do list. All Mr. Handyman franchises are Fully Insured with General Liability and Workers Compensation. Some services are subject to state and local licensing and may not be available in all locations. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service in your area.

Load Bearing Wall Removal: Important Info for a Remodeling Project

July 21, 2014

Are there walls in your home that you wish weren’t there? Perhaps between the kitchen and dining room? Or between two small bedrooms that could combine into a much larger sleeping space? You can remove walls during remodeling, even load-bearing ones. Learn what the wall removal process involves, and then talk to a professional about your project.

What Are Load-Bearing Walls?

Load Bearing Wall 021 201x300 Load Bearing Wall Removal: Important Info for a Remodeling Project While the term itself is self-explanatory—the walls bear a load—understanding the mechanics helps you value their importance. These walls bear the weight and force of a home and transfer it to the ground. Walls are just one type of this structure, and both interior and exterior walls can qualify as such. Without these load bearers, the structural integrity of your home would be compromised.

How to Identify a Load-Bearing Wall

Simply put: Unless you are a building professional, leave this task to the experts. An architect, engineer or experienced contractor can tell you which walls must stay and which can go, as well as the work that must be done to replace the load-bearing support, after a thorough inspection of your home.

What the Remodeling Process Will Involve

If you want to remove a load-bearing wall between your kitchen and dining room, for example, you will need to install new load-bearing and grounding points. You also will need a weight-bearing header between the two. These can come in the form of columns and soffit combinations. You won’t have a completely open plan, but the structure will be safe.

Once your building professional comes up with a plan for the space, demolition can begin. All of the drywall and interior framing must go, with sturdy bracing added along the way to provide temporary support until the new load-bearing and ground points are installed. What exactly they are will vary by structure of the home and the end result you want to achieve.

DIY or Hire a Professional?

Load Bearing Wall 01 300x200 Load Bearing Wall Removal: Important Info for a Remodeling ProjectIt should be clear at this point that removing a load-bearing wall requires the expertise of a professional—several, in fact. An architect or engineer can draw up plans that capture both your wants for the new space and its structural needs. Your experienced contractor can handle demolition and construction of the new elements in the room. A professional also will help you through the permitting process, as in most cities you must obtain a building permit for such extensive work.

Keep in mind that you also may require the services of other professionals, such as an electricianplumber and/or HVAC contractor if the wall you want gone has wiring or pipes running through it. And don’t forget about the painters who will apply a fresh coat to the rooms so that they blend together.

The cost of hiring experienced professionals for this type of work proves well worth it. You not only get a polished look, but also the structural integrity needed to keep you family and belongings safe. You also won’t run into any problems associated with the work if you decide to resell the house. Faulty support and shoddy work will cost you dearly when found during an inspection.

Many homeowners are choosing to open up spaces in older homes, especially ones built decades ago that feature small bedrooms and separation between the kitchen, dining room and living room. The trend in home construction and design continues to evolve, but great rooms in which the entire family can spend time together, without being on top of each other, will always be in demand. Create such a space for your family and for those to come after you move.

Mr. Handyman can maintain your home to save you money. One call really does take care of everything on your to-do list. All Mr. Handyman franchises are Fully Insured with General Liability and Workers Compensation. Some services are subject to state and local licensing and may not be available in all locations. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service in your area.

Fall Prevention: Tips to Reduce Slips, Trips, & Falls in Your Home

July 20, 2014

9422456078 aa83a3725a z 219x300 Fall Prevention: Tips to Reduce Slips, Trips, & Falls in Your HomeThe surfaces in your home can become very dangerous if not treated properly. According to the National Safety Council, slipping and falling accounts for 8.9 million visits to the emergency room each year– 50% of which occur inside the home. With the proper safety precautions, you can significantly reduce the chances of having an falling accident in your home.

There are a few major areas of your home that are known for having slippery surfaces, which we’ll focus on in this post: bathroom, kitchen, backyard deck, and garage.

 

 

The Bathroom:  The bathroom can be a safety hazard due to its typical water-resistant floors and likelihood to be wet. Almost every bathroom floor, when wet, can be very slippery. The best thing you can do to prevent slips and falls is to keep a bath mat outside the shower or bath area. Keeping water off the floor is the #1 thing you can do to prevent slippage. You can also choose a “non-slip” floor tile that should significantly reduce the risk of slips. Keep in mind,  however, that even if you have “non-slip” tile, they may lose resistance over time, and can become a safety hazard.

The Kitchen: Much like the bathroom, the kitchen is a likely area to have spills on slick wooden or tile floors. The key here, like the bathroom, is to keep the floor clean of water and other spills. Contain water in areas around the sink by placing a mat or area rug in front of the sink.

The Deck: Wooden decks can be a safety issue especially when weathering and precipitation is the perfect combination to create a slick, dangerous environment. The best way to prevent slippage on  your deck is to keep it clean. Sweeping your deck often ensures that leaves and dirt are not trapping moisture on your deck and growing slippery mildew and mold. Giving your wood deck a good power washing and scrub down is a great way to clean your deck. There are also a wide variety of “anti-slip” products and finishes you can use on any outdoor surface. Check them out here.

The Garage: The garage could be the most common area for slips and falls. Between oil drips, melted slush from your car, or rain that has been tracked in, the cement floor in most garages can become extremely dangerous when wet. We recommend using 3M’s Safety Walk Tape to protect the high traffic areas of your garage. You can also use the indoor/outdoor tape on wooden stairs or pool steps to ensure safety in all areas. Order Safety Walk Tape Here.

Safety and fall prevention practices is crucial in order to protect your family from preventable injuries.  After following our simple DIY ways to maintain a slip-free home, you should be confident in the safety of your family.

Mr. Handyman can maintain your home to save you money. One call really does take care of everything on your to-do list. All Mr. Handyman franchises are Fully Insured with General Liability and Workers Compensation. Some services are subject to state and local licensing and may not be available in all locations. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service in your area.

 

 

Summer Home Maintenance: Exterior Inspection

July 18, 2014

In the spring, we clean the inside of our home from top to bottom. But what about the outside? It needs attention, too, and summer proves the perfect season to give your home exterior a thorough inspection and any needed maintenance. Knock these items off your to-do list during the cooler hours of a few early mornings.

Inspect the Entire Exterior

clogged gutter Summer Home Maintenance: Exterior InspectionGrab a sturdy ladder and get started. Check for any insect nests that need removing, chipping or peeling paint, and cracked stucco or masonry if applicable. Look for any signs of wood rot on windowsills and frames. The same goes for decking and fencing. Also check your gutters for debris that could keep them from properly draining. Note any tree branches or shrubbery growing too close to the house.

Make a list of any supplies and equipment you will need—insect spray, paintbrushes, tree trimmers, etc.—to complete the tasks needing to be done. Or note the to-do’s for your professional handyman to tackle.

Re-Caulk Windows and Doors, Check for Leaks

Changing temperatures can cause caulk to shrink and to expand. Start the summer with your best chance for energy efficiency by checking the caulk around your windows and replacing it as needed. A simple candle test—hold a candle against the frame while inside—can tell you if there are breezes coming through closed windows

home window repair Summer Home Maintenance: Exterior InspectionIf there are, remove old caulk using a caulk softener and a putty knife before reapplying to a clean surface. After 16 hours or so of drying time, your windows should be resealed.

While your window screens are off, take the opportunity to rinse them with a garden hose and check for rips and tears. Replace or repair screens to help keep insects from entering your home through open windows in the summer.

If you’re feeling especially ambitious, or perhaps if you moved into the home recently and have had multiple seasons worth of work to do, check out these other home maintenance checklists to learn which tasks need to be done regularly.

Other Summer Maintenance Tasks

AC Air Filters—The arrival of summer is also a good time to change or clean the air filters in your HVAC system. Dirty filters reduce the efficiency of your air conditioner, upping electricity bills already raised by the warmer temperatures. Grab a three pack so you will remember to change the filter monthly for the rest of the season.

Ceiling Fans—Whether indoors or out, ceiling fans get dirty. You can use the brush attachment on your vacuum to remove light dust from blades and a damp microfiber cloth if heavier dirt has accumulated. As always, be careful on the ladder and do not pull down on the blades, which can unbalance the ceiling fan and lead to a sound that will annoy you to no end. While you are up there, flip the switch to change the direction in which the fan will turn. It should rotate counterclockwise in the summer months, pushing cool air down.

Patio Lights Summer Home Maintenance: Exterior Inspection

Photo Credit Ian Muttoo (imuttoo) via Flickr

Exterior Lights—Lights outside serve two purposes: They provide light for you, your family and guests, and they also shine light that can deter criminals. Ensure all outside fixtures and bulbs are in working order, and consider installing motion-detecting lights in areas where you might not want a light shining at all times, such as near a garage or near a bedroom window. If you do install new outside lights, be sure to check where they shine off your property. Your neighbors might not appreciate having a spotlight shined into their master bedroom each night.

Mr. Handyman can maintain your home to save you money. One call really does take care of everything on your to-do list. All Mr. Handyman franchises are Fully Insured with General Liability and Workers Compensation. Some services are subject to state and local licensing and may not be available in all locations. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service in your area.

10 Things To Do Before Going Out of Town

July 3, 2014

Summer is in full swing. And many of us will be heading out of town (if we haven’t already) to spend time with family and friends.

Before that next trip out of town, keep reading to learn Mike McCalley’s 10 tips to prevent potential issues when you return. Mike is the owner of Mr. Handyman serving Greater Jacksonville and put together this list of 10 things to do before going out of town (some are based on experience) so when you return from that amazing trip, you aren’t completely shocked back to reality with trouble at home…

07032014 Locking Door 10 Things To Do Before Going Out of Town

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver on Flickr

1)      Get it Fixed. Before you leave, resolve any known home maintenance and repair issues that have the potential to go from bad to worse while you’re gone.  A slow drip under the sink, a window or door that leaks when the rain comes from just the right direction, a breaker that trips often during thunder storms, gutters that overflow and cascade water down around doors and windows, or any of a number of other issues that you’ve been keeping an eye on.  When home, you may have gotten used to managing these issues.  Should they go from bad to worse while you’re not home – damage can accrue quickly.  The issues need to be dealt with anyway and by resolving them prior to your trip you ensure no surprises upon your return and peace of mind while on your trip.

 

2)     Turn it Off.  Turn off the water supply (H&C) to your washing machine.  The water is always ‘on’ and the machine themselves control the flow when it’s not running.  The black rubber hoses that come with the washing machine are rated for a 3 year life, but we commonly see homeowners with 10+ year old machines with original hoses.  It’s not an issue till those hoses fail, and Murphy’s Law states this will happen while you’re at work or on vacation.  Flooded homes from bursting hoses is more common than many would assume.  Unrelated to your travel plans, if you hoses are 3 or more years old, replace them.  Replacement hoses wrapped with braided steel or nylon are rated to last longer, but none are rated for the life of your machine.

 

3)      Keep it Level. If you have a programmable thermostat – program it for a constant temperature for the period you’ll be gone.  This isn’t designed for comfort, just practicality.  If it normally runs at one temperature while you’re at work, but warms or cools the home prior to your arrival home (depending on the season), then that temperature setting for when nobody is home might be the right one.  Remember, comfort is not the issue.  It needs to be warm enough during winter that pipes don’t freeze and cool enough during summer that you don’t ‘cook’ the houseplant, or any pets the neighbors might be feeding.  If you’ll be on an extended trip during warm humid months, a bit of cooling pulls moisture from the home and prevents mold.  We commonly see homes that have been vacant and closed up without power for extended periods (bank owned properties that were foreclosed and are now coming back on the market) that have mold issues, peeling wallpaper and a dank smell.  This won’t happen while you’re on a one week cruise, regardless of your setting, but this is what you’re guarding against on an extended trip.

 

4)     Turn it Off…Again. Most homes have an electric water heater.  If you have a timer on your water heater, cycling your heating elements for times when folks are and are not home, turn it off.  There’s no reason to keep all the water warm if nobody is home to use it.  Remember this upon your return.  You will not be able to settle the dust from a long trip without turning this back on and allowing your water heater to charge.  If you don’t have a timer and your water heater is on a dedicated circuit, you may flip this breaker to achieve the same effect.  Be aware that other things may be on that circuit that you don’t want off, so learn your system well before your trip so you aren’t figuring this out the night before you depart.  A licensed electrician can help you understand how your system is setup, and can discuss the options for installing a timer on your water heater, if desired.  This may or may not be allowed under your local codes.  Going tankless may also be an option worth considering if your water heater is nearing its useful life.

 

5)      Keep ‘Em Open (or Closed). Consider whether to open or close the blinds based on the season.  Sun streaming through glass can be quite warming.  Opening things up during winter months will reduce the amount of time your HVAC units need to run to warm your home.  Reversing this, and closing blinds and curtains, will keep the sun’s rays out and reduce the cooling needs of your home during warmer seasons.  This thought process can be leveraged year round, whether you are traveling or not, to help with your energy bills.  Few like to live in a cave, but you can open or close the blinds and curtains on the East side of your home in the morning, and the West side of the home in the afternoon – thus dealing with the sun when it’s coming through those windows to assist with your cooling or warming needs.

 

6)      Lock it Up.  While this sounds obvious, homes have many entry points.  Doors, windows, maybe a basement access that allow entry to the home.  Make sure all are secure.  The night before you leave, or the morning of the trip, go door to door, and window to window, and make sure somebody hasn’t unlocked them.  Windows often get closed, but less often get locked.  Don’t assume it, check it out.

 

7)      Clean it Out. Clean out the fridge and take out the trash, in that order.  Obviously there’s a difference between getting away for the weekend, and that month long trip of a lifetime to the home of your ancestors.  Milk spoils, fruits and veggies and meat products rot and you simply don’t want to return from a long trip to a science experiment in your fridge.  Consider the length of your trip, and the potential for delays in getting home, and clean out the fridge(s) as appropriate.  Whatever goes in the trash must then leave the home or you are simply moving the science experiment from one local to another.  Things decaying in the trashcan will also attract roaches and other non-desirable pests.

 

8)      Outsource the Credible. The pool, for those who have them, is another mechanical system that is generally run from a timer but which occasionally needs help.  Heavy rains may fill the pool and require it be flushed.  If you generally deal with your own pool needs, checking PH, cleaning, adding chemicals and algaecide as needed – an extended trip may cause you to take on outside help.  There are plenty of reputable independent and chain pool services that can do a spot service while you’re away.  Ask around and find somebody your friends and neighbors trust.  Hiring the cheapest guy you can find on Craigslist and then explaining to him that you’ll be done from date X to Y might not be the best idea.

 

9)     Tell Someone You Trust.  Let a neighbor know you’re going, ask them to keep their eyes open and if you trust this neighbor consider giving them a key.  Depending on the duration of your trip, a walk through on a regular basis will alert them (and thus you) to potential issues.  We were away for a weeklong trip once when a thunderstorm came through.  Power was lost and then came back some time later, all the clocks were blinking upon our return.  In the process the breaker for the kitchen tripped, killing power to the fridge and freezer.  We had cleaned the fridge out, but all the food in the freezer thawed, including several pounds of shrimp, and we had quite a smelly mess upon our return.

 

10)   Do a Final Sweep. Finally, one last check before leaving the home.   Especially in homes with kids, there’s usually a few “one last thing” trips back into the home before you load up and head off on your trip.  Those hurried trips into the home can leave lights on, toilets running, or previously locked doors unlocked.  The last person from the home should be responsible with an eye out for problems, and not be primarily worried about getting a window seat as you depart on your grand adventure.

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