Latest Event Updates
A few weekends of work before the weather really turns will help you get ready for winter and avoid any nasty surprises—and big repair bills—the cold might bring.
Here’s your must-do checklist for fall.
1. Gutter Maintenance
Clogged gutters can allow overflowing water to damage walls, spark a rodent infestation and erode your landscaping. Worse, the water can leak through your foundation, causing a flood in your basement.
A minor flood could cost $500 to $1,500 to repair, if you catch the problem quickly. If you don’t, there could be mold, damage to the sheet rock and ruined installation to repair as well, pushing the cost up to $10,000 or more.
To prevent a problem before it starts, clean and repair your gutters early in the fall. Once cleaned and repaired, consider adding a layer of waterproof mesh over your gutters to keep leaves out.
2. Protect Screen Doors
Winter’s harsh weather can rip holes in screen doors or cause the metal to rust. Replacing a damaged screen door in the spring will cost you from $150 for a lightweight model to $225 for a heavy-duty model.
To keep your screen doors intact, remove the door, clean the screen and store it in a dry place until spring.
Scaling your roof to check for loose or broken shingles may not seem like the ideal Saturday, but if left unattended, small problems in your roofing can lead to major leaks during the winter as rain, hail, sleet and snow pound your home.
Professional repairs on a 10-by-10-foot roof cost an average of $630. Save yourself money and make the small repairs now.
4. Winterize Your Pipes
Burst pipes are a costly problem. A non-urgent call to a plumber can cost up to $250, while an emergency pipe repair can cost up to $600. Repairing the damage from the resulting flood could costs thousands more.
In cold climates, you need to winterize your pipes to protect your home. Outdoors, shut the water off to any spigots and drain any remaining water by briefly turning on the spigot. Indoors, locate any exposed pipes that may get cold in the winter. Wrap the pipes in foam or vinyl insulation to prevent freezing.
5. Mind the Gap
Gaps in your window or door frames let in cold air, causing your heater to work overtime all winter long, but these have an easy fix.
Start by running your hand over windows and doors. If you feel a draft, apply weather stripping around the frame to create a tighter feel. Sealing up those leaks can reduce your utilities bills by up to 10%.
6. Call the Chimney Sweep
Your fireplace should be inspected and cleaned once a year, even if you don’t use it much. While a professional may charge up to $350, it is worth the cost.
The most minor potential problem is that the lining of the chimney could crack, costing $2,000 to $4,500 to repair. At worst, the chimney could force carbon monoxide into your home or cause a fire.
7. Test Your Heater
Before the cold sets in, fire up your heater.
After your home starts to warm up, walk from room to room. If you notice cold spots, loud screeching sounds or strange smells, you may have a heating problem.
If the furnace stops working, repairs could cost $325 to $475. And if you wait until the busy season, technicians may raise their prices.
To ensure your jack-o’-lantern is primed for Halloween, follow these tips.
It’s October. The air is getting crisp; the leaves are starting to turn. Football is in full swing. And all over America kiddies are planning costumes and candy-hauling strategies. When they arrive at your doorstep, you’ll want to be ready — with your Halloween spirit and the best jack-o’-lantern on the block. Before you head to the pumpkin patch for your sacrificial squash, check out these top tips for making a carv-tastic display.
There are no rules for what size or shape makes a great jack-o’-lantern. Any pumpkin can rise to ghoulish greatness. Do look for a pumpkin that isn’t bruised and has no mold around the stem. Who wants to cut into a rotted pumpkin? Also, look for a pumpkin with a flat bottom that will sit firmly without rocking.
Every job is made easier by the right tools. A kitchen knife is not the best — or safest — thing to use for pumpkin carving. You can get a set of pumpkin carving tools at many hardware or drug stores around Halloween, but you can also use items already in your possession —power drills, awls, wood gouges or even cookie cutters. Don’t forget a big spoon to scoop out the guts!
Rather than giving your jack-o’-lantern a cap by cutting it at the top, draw a circle on the bottom of your pumpkin and cut your opening there, making sure to angle your blade toward the center to create a ledge for support of the finished cut area. Clean out the guts (save the seeds for your post-carving snack!) and scrape the insides of your pumpkin until they are about an inch thick in the areas you plan to carve. If you’re using a pattern, tape it on and transfer it by tracing with a poking tool. Then you’re ready to carve! If you’re using a pumpkin saw, it’s easiest to keep the pumpkin on your lap, holding the saw like a pencil and using a steady up-and-down motion. Saw at a 90-degree angle with gentle pressure.
To extend the life of your jack-o’-lantern, spritz it with water and keep it in the refrigerator while it’s not on display. Spread some petroleum jelly on the cut edges to keep them from drying out. If your pumpkin starts to shrivel, submerge it in cold water for a couple of hours. It should come back to life. Just make sure to dry it well on the inside to avoid mold. You can also ward off mold and insects by spraying or soaking the pumpkin with a water-and-bleach solution.
If you are using a candle, cut a hole in the top of the pumpkin toward the back to act as a chimney for smoke and heat. A candle will be more secure if you drill a hole for it. You can also use battery-operated LEDs, Christmas lights or even a nightlight to illuminate your pumpkin. If you carve a design in the back of your jack-o’-lantern, you’ll produce a shadowy effect on the wall behind it, making it extra spooky!
However you choose to carve your jack o’ lantern, use your creativity and have fun. It’s just a pumpkin, after all. The ghosts and goblins coming to your door will be excited about whatever you display — especially the stuff in your candy bowl.
This post was originally published by Jennifer Noonan of BobVila.com on Zillow Blog. See the original post here.
The idea of settling down in an area known for its horror-filled past may seem counter-intuitive, but for some horror movie buffs, living in a legendary horror movie town is worth the potential chills.
We peered through the darkness and found six cities with reputations as iconic horror destinations.
And before we stroll further down this dark and creepy path, here is a giant disclaimer: None of the homes featured below were featured in their city’s infamous screen presence.
However, if you’re a horror fan in need of some spine-tingling inspiration, here are some starting points.
The infamous Exorcist Steps are on M Street in D.C.’s tony Georgetown neighborhood. We found a cute brick row house located just a block away.
This old Colonial stands just across the creek from the Evans City cemetery. That burial ground is where the opening scenes of the iconic zombie flick were filmed in 1968.
Shaky hand-held camera not included. Whether you decide to venture into the nearby woods is entirely up to you.
This lovely home is less than a half mile away from the infamous movie address of 112 Ocean Avenue. The beautiful and welcoming facade are nothing to be afraid of.
This mega-mansion on the east side of the posh island offers pond frontage—where it’s probably safe to go in the water.
This modest split-level is about 15 minutes away from the Monroeville Mall. You can make a stop at Monroeville Zombies to stock up on gifts for the family.
Learn from others’ past experiences to overcome frequent home improvement hurdles.
The do-it-yourself movement is on the rise, and while revamping your home’s interior without professional assistance is a financially savvy move, it’s also one full of potential roadblocks.
To help you stay on the right path, we’ve asked 12 DIY writers for their been-there, done-that advice for completing a project without becoming discouraged.
1. Settle on a theme
“When tackling home design my biggest problem is trying to keep it cohesive and flowing from room to room.” – Danielle Leonard of The Frugal Navy Wife
Solution? Go eclectic. While cohesive style is classic, assorted designs are trending. Mix and match without going overboard by combining large, traditional living spaces with small, bright and bold powder rooms or entryways.
2. Prepare ahead of time
“Planning is the biggest challenge: gathering supplies, blocking off time, getting up the guts to start and then doing all the prep work.” – Jessica Davis of Nest Studio
“There are so many times I’ve rushed through a project because I was so excited to get to the end result, but then had to start all over because it didn’t turn out as well as I anticipated.” – Katie Nathey of Upcycled Treasures
You need to prepare for your project, both mentally and physically. Purchase a DIY day planner to keep track of timelines, to-do lists, materials and reminders. You’ll likely fall slightly behind – or skip ahead – but a written plan is a helpful guide.
3. Stick to the budget
“We did anticipate finding several problems in a 112-year-old house, so we budgeted a good amount for miscellaneous. But we still went over budget!” – Sarah Gaylor of 702 Park Project
“It’s a great feeling when a project is successfully completed and for a fraction of the costs of hiring a professional.” – Audrey Kuether of Oh So Lovely.
Most homeowners attest to spending more on their remodels than initially planned. Unfortunately, there’s no way to combat unanticipated, yet necessary, expenses. Make fixing structural problems a priority, even if it decreases the budget for aesthetic trimmings.
4. Remain flexible
“If you are renovating an old home, sometimes you just have to go with the flow. There isn’t much you can do about the uneven floors and crooked walls in a historic home.” – Kelly Raether of Corner of Main
“I’ve learned to expect something to go wrong and now nothing ever does. That may sound cynical, but I swear it helps things to go more smoothly.” – Jourdan Mclaws of Little Yellow Barn
Keep optimistic, and consider yourself lucky if you only hit minor roadblocks, such as purchasing the wrong paint colors or misplacing necessary tools.
5. Project a realistic timeline
“We thought we’d have the house completed a couple of months after moving in. Four years later we are about half way done!” – Amanda Bassetti of Simply Maggie
“Two to three hours of work daily in the evenings seemed exhausting after a whole day of work, and the time to finish the project was prolonged.” – Beauty Harmony Life
Don’t expect results to happen overnight. Many homeowners choose to delay their plans until their busy lifestyles can accommodate demanding projects.
6. Take advantage of resources
“Tackle the project with a friend or spouse. Having someone help you will ensure you double-check each step so it is correctly done, but it is also more fun to do a new project with someone you enjoy working/talking with.” – Rachel Pereira of Shades of Blue Interiors
“If you’re really stuck, call a friend or hit up Google. Chances are, someone else ran into the same problem as you.” – Bre Bertolini of Brepurposed
“We are so fortunate in having the Internet as a resource. It has given us encyclopedia of knowledge at our fingertips.” – Anne Davis of DesignDreams by Anne
Don’t underestimate the power of collaboration. Even seasoned professionals consult friends and colleagues from time to time.