Check Yourself: 7 Home Maintenance Tasks You Should Tackle in October

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Ah, October. Temperatures are dropping, the days are growing shorter, and the pumpkin spice latte is, in a word, inescapable. But before you go hog wild with the Halloween decorations and settle in for that horror movie binge session, take some time to prep your home for winter’s onslaught (buzzkill, we know!).

Luckily, we’re here to make it a breeze with our handy checklist of home maintenance chores to tackle this month. Some of these are so quick and easy that you won’t even miss a beat of that “Friday the 13th” marathon (although we’d recommend skipping “Jason X.” He’s in space—do we need to say more?) Read on for details about where to start, and who to call if you need reinforcements.

1. Clean your dryer vents

This one’s a lot more serious than it sounds. Excess lint can dramatically increase the risk of fire.

“A key indicator of a dryer vent needing to be cleaned is if clothes aren’t drying as fast as they usually do, or if it takes multiple cycles to get them completely dry,” says Maria Vizzi of Indoor Environmental Solutions.

DIY: Prevent buildup from the get-go by emptying your lint trap every single time you use your dryer. If possible, move your dryer closer to an exterior wall; if your vent pipe is particularly long or has to snake around corners, you’re at a greater risk of a clog.

Call in a pro: If you want peace of mind that all your vents are squeaky clean, call in a professional. You’ll spend anywhere from $90 to $180.  Look for a dryer technician specially trained by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

2. Seal your outdoor surfaces

Cold temperatures and snow can cause your paint to peel, leading to moisture intrusion and wood rot, says Brian Osterried, a product manager at paint company PPG. Protect your exterior surfaces by applying a stain and sealant.

DIY:  Clean the surface first—taking care to remove any built-up ickiness between planks or in crevices—using a screwdriver or putty knife. Wait at least 48 hours before sanding the surface using 80-grit sandpaper, then sweep or vacuum, and apply your sealant.

Call in a pro: The cost of professional sealant jobs vary depending on size and the surface to be sealed, but for an average deck, expect to spend around $800.

3. Store your yard furniture

The fastest way to make your outdoor furniture look faded is to leave it out in the elements. Store your grill, deck chairs, and outdoor set in a shed or garage.

Shortcut: If you don’t have the storage space, invest in durable covers for your furniture to protect it from snow and rain.

Call in a pro: We suppose you could hire a personal assistant for this task (who are you, the Queen of England?!), but this one really just requires a little lifting and five minutes of your time. You’ve got this!

4. Stow that hose

If you live where it snows (yes, it’s time for that word again—sigh), it’s a good idea to drain and store your garden hose before temps start significantly dropping.

“Hoses with water in them will freeze and burst,” says Lisa Turner, author of “House Keys: Tips and Tricks from a Female Home Inspector.”

DIY: Here’s a clever hack: Unroll your hose on a downslope and then recoil it upslope so the water drains out, Turner recommends. You can store the hose outside in a shed or underhang if most of the water is removed. But it’s best to stash it inside if possible.

Next, shut off the water supply to your external faucets. Then drain the line by turning the faucet on and letting the residual water drain out.

For extra protection from freezing temps, install a foam insulator cover over each external faucet.

Call in the pros: If you see any faucet damage or leaking that won’t stop, call in a pro ASAP to repair or replace it. Expect to spend anywhere from $150 to $300.

5. Do a ‘fall cleaning’

“Open those windows up wide and do a thorough fall cleaning of your home that includes dusting areas that don’t always make the cut, like ceiling fans and ceiling corners,” says home organization expert Marty Basher.

DIY: Wash your draperies, dust your blinds, remove your window screens, and wash the windows inside and out.

Call in a pro: Depending on where you live, a professional home cleaningcould run you upward of $100. Now is also the time to have your carpets and rugs professionally cleaned to rid them of dust and other allergens (you should do this once a year). For a professional carpet cleaning, expect to spend anywhere between $100 and $250.

6. Feed and seed your lawn

“After a long, hot summer your lawn could probably use a bit of extra TLC, and seeding is proven to be the most effective way to repair damage,” says Bryan Raehl, general manager of Agronomic Lawn Management in Virginia Beach, VA.

Plus, by seeding now—before the first frost of the season—you can allow seeds to begin taking root in the soil and get a jump on spring growth.

DIY: Choose a seed for your lawn that’s right for your budget and your geographic region. You can complete a soil test, which will allow you to measure your soil’s health and nutrients, using a DIY kit. You’ll then have to prepare your lawn, lay the seeds by hand or using a spreader, and water.

Call in a pro: If you don’t know what you’re doing (or if your thumb isn’t the greenest), call in a professional landscaper, who will charge between $250 and $1,300.

7. Inspect your gutters and downspouts

Maintaining gutters and downspouts, which direct water away from your home, can go a long way toward preventing catastrophic roof leaks—especially if you live in an older home. This is particularly important during autumn, since it’s prime time for those gutters to get clogged with fallen leaves and twigs.

DIY: If you’re comfortable shimmying onto the roof, grab a ladder and have at it. Clear leaves, dirt, and pine needles from gutters, and examine downspouts for damage or loose pieces. Use a hose to flush out small bits of debris, and check the underside of the gutter to ensure no water leaks through. Inspect the downspout to verify that water is running freely through it and away from your home. Then inspect the flashing around your chimney and any openings in the roof (like skylights) for leaks.

Call in a pro: If you’re afraid of heights (guilty!), call in a pro for a thorough inspection. Expect to shell out around $150.

 

Posted by Holly Amaya on realtor.com

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How to Organize Your Refrigerator (Because It’s Gross)

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“How do you organize a refrigerator?” is a question that, for most of us, simply doesn’t get asked enough. You pile your groceries in, and it’s not until you find moldy broccoli buried beneath a 2-month-old burrito (or at least what you think might have been a burrito) that it dawns on you: Yuck. It’s time to clean this sucker! 

If you’re finding that you have to rummage endlessly for that bottle of rose or never lay your eyes on fruit until it’s too far gone, then read on. These refrigerator organization tips will help you find your food faster—as well as waste less and maybe even eat more healthfully, too.

How to clean a refrigerator

“The absolute best tip I’ve got is to clean the fridge out the day before you go food shopping,” says Darla DeMorro of HeartWork Organizing in Wayne, PA. “The fridge is probably mostly empty at that point, so it takes very little effort to toss the few mystery containers and quickly wipe down the shelves.”

Start by moving what’s left to the counter or piling it onto one shelf while you give the other (now-empty) shelves and bins a good wipe-down (don’t forget to also wipe the shelf in use). A spray bottle filled with one part vinegar to 10 parts water works well.

How to organize your fridge

Next, group like items together to make it easier to find what you need. For example, if you put all the condiments together, you’ll be able to assess your selections quickly and avoid opening duplicates since you couldn’t find the first one, says Janet Schiesl of Basic Organization in Washington, DC.

Also, if sandwiches are a staple in your house, keep all of the fixings together.

“That will save you time by being able to pull everything needed for a quick meal, and it will also be easy to put everything back,” Schiesl says.

Tools to help you organize your fridge

If you find you need more space, you can always add an extra shelf or find a slew of organizational products to make maximum use of your space.

Tatiana Knight, a professional organizer with NeatWithKnight.com, says she’s particularly fond of products from The Container Store, such as soda can organizers and wine and water bottle holders.

“When you have the right tools for organizing, you’ll create more space and improve the appearance of your refrigerator,” Knight says.

Others have found creative ways to organize with tools that aren’t made specifically for the refrigerator. For example, a simple office supply holder (see below) can be used to keep kids’ snacks organized.

Keep safety in mind when organizing your fridge

Don’t forget about food safety while you’re organizing your fridge.

Judy Barbe, a registered dietitian in Casper, WY, offers these tips to keep in mind when you’re trying to decide where to place items.

  • Don’t store milk in the door. That’s the warmest part of the fridge. Milk needs to stay cold, so the back bottom area is ideal.
  • Don’t store eggs in the door. Keep them in their carton (to help retain moisture) in the middle of the fridge, where it’s colder. They may be refrigerated four to five weeks. Once cooked (such as in a pie or casserole) or out of their shell, eggs should be eaten within three to four days.
  • Store packaged raw meat on a tray on a bottom shelf. Plan to use refrigerated roasts and steaks within three to four days and ground beef within one to two days of purchase.
  • Do not store potatoes in the fridge. They like dark and cool places such as a cellar or pantry. Sweet potatoes, garlic, and onions are also best stored in a cool, dark, and ventilated place.
  • Use the crisper drawer levers if your refrigerator has them. An open lever allows moisture and gases to escape for apples, pears, peppers, mushrooms, mangoes, and avocados. A closed lever keeps moisture in for lettuce, spinach, broccoli, and strawberries.

How to keep your refrigerator clean

Once everything is organized, the challenge is keeping it that way. One big problem that often thwarts that plan: leftovers. Schiesl says having a strategy for leftovers—such as taking them for lunch or using them in other dishes like soups or quesadillas—is key to keeping a clean refrigerator.

“So often leftovers linger in the refrigerator until they turn fuzzy and green, but not if you have a plan,” she says. “Incorporate leftovers into another meal to save time, make the next meal prep quick, and save money by not having to buy another whole meal.”

Or just toss them. Your fridge (and family) will be the better for it.

Posted by Julie Ryan Evans on realtor.com

5 Simple Ways to Stage the Exterior of Your Home Before an Open House

If you’re selling your home, chances are good you’re familiar with the concept of staging your home. Real estate agents recommend your home look its best to prospective buyers, and home staging is a great way to ensure you receive top dollar. But did you know you should stage the exterior of your home too? Failing to update the look of your home’s exterior can cause buyers to get a bad first impression when they initially arrive to view your home.  Whether your audience are luxury home buyers or you are selling your starter home, staging the exterior of your home will have a major impact in the sale of your home.  If you want to put exterior home staging to work, here are five elements you should consider tweaking.

Clean Your Exterior Windows and Screens

Nothing says poor maintenance like dirty windows and window screens. If your windows are caked with dust or muck from the last rainstorm, open house visitors are going to wonder what other maintenance jobs you haven’t attended to. Don’t give visitors the opportunity to question whether your home has been properly maintained or not; clean those windows and screens before authorizing an open house.

Refresh Your Gardens and Walkways

Just like dirty windows are a real estate faux pas, so are unkempt flower beds. Weeds and overgrown bushes tell visitors you can’t be bothered with the small stuff. Spend a day removing weeds and trimming flowers, or hire a professional landscaper to refresh your gardens.  It is amazing what a refreshed garden can do to your home’s curb appeal.

Refresh Your Home’s Siding

No, you don’t have to replace your home’s siding prior to an open house. A quick power wash could be all it takes to remove years of dust and grime. You can attempt this task yourself, but it might be worth your while to hire a professional. Some homeowners have been known to damage their home’s siding by using too forceful a water stream. This is one task that is often best left to experienced professionals.  The last thing you want to deal with is replacing siding before an open house.

Update/Clean Door Fixtures and House Address Signage

Something as simple as a new doorknob or address signage can give your home a refreshed look. You needn’t spring for a new door; just update the faceplate and/or doorknob. Purchase new address numbers from the local hardware store and you’ll have tweaked the look of your home’s exterior in just a few minutes.

Clean Patio Furniture

Whether you have chairs on your front veranda or a dining set on your back deck, tired patio furniture can cost you big dollars when it comes time to negotiate with a potential homebuyer. Dilapidated patio furniture instantly gives a bad impression and can cause potential homebuyers to request replacement furniture as part of their deal. Spruce up your existing furniture with a quick power wash, or replace it if it is beyond cleaning.

Simple tweaks to the exterior of your home can have a big impact on your home’s final selling price. By spending just a few days improving the look of the outside of your home, you can increase the amount buyers are willing to offer and make your home the cleanest real estate listing on the block. Will you be trying these exterior home staging tricks when you list your home for sale?

 

Posted by Charles Muotoh on RISMedia

7 Habits People with Clean Homes Have

We all seem to have that one friend whose house looks so refreshing and clean each time we visit them, yet we never see them struggling with cleaning their homes. Do they have house elves? Is the house actually magic, and it simply cleans itself? What type of sorcery is this?

Actually, it’s not sorcery at all. They are just people who hate cleaning, and who came up with solutions to keep their house clean for a longer time. Years of experience taught them a thing or two, and now we’re sharing the love with you.

1. Put the Clothes Away

At some point in life, everyone had “the chair”, also known as the place where we’d dump the clothes that we’d worn that day. Due to laziness, the clothes would no longer reach the laundry the next day – so one pair of jeans and one T-shirt would become two pairs of jeans and two T-shirts.

You’d do this until the mountain would become so big, you’d be afraid to touch it – but what’s worse is that it would ruin the way your room looks like.

To prevent this from happening, make a habit out of putting your clothes away when you are done with them – either in the wardrobe or the laundry. It’s also more convenient to look for a pair of jeans in an organized closet rather than in a huge stash on the sofa.

2. Don’t Stash Extras

Do you have three staplers, five bottle openers and hundreds of pens lying around in your house? We get it, just in case the other one breaks; however, that “just in case” will give that feeling of clutter in your home. So, your house will no longer look clean and organized. Keep just one item of each.

3. Dust and Vacuum on a Regular Basis

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Nothing says a clean home more than a clean carpet. No matter if you vacuum yourself or hire a carpet cleaning company, you have to make sure that the floor you step on is clean.

How often you do that, it also depends. If you have pets, you must do it daily. If not, once every two days is also alright. This way, you won’t have to go through major cleaning sessions every time at the end of the week.

4. Make Your Bed Every Morning

Have you noticed how clean your home looks after you make your bed? You may have all your things in order, but if your bed is messy, then it’s all in vain. Nothing makes a room look so nice and clean than a tidy bed.

5. Wipe the Surface After Use

No matter if you are cooking, making a sandwich, brushing your teeth or putting on makeup, wipe the surface right after you use it. A dirty sink or counter will make your house look messy. Therefore, if you just wipe it right away, you won’t have to go through thorough cleaning when you see the slime or dirt piling up on the surface.

6. Stash Away the Paper

You have no idea the damage that a paper forgotten on the desk can do to your clean home. Before long, bills will start stashing next to those papers, and it will literally seem like the room itself is breeding more paper.

To keep this from happening, place all your bills in one place the moment you read them – and do the same for coupons, menus, and other paper-made things. A solution would be some DIY file holders or paper trays.

7. Wash the Dishes Right After You Use Them

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“I’ll wash this later; it’s only one bowl.” The problem is, it’s never only one bowl. Things keep stashing after the first one, and before you know it, you’ll have a mountain of dishes that you’re too afraid to touch (kind of like “the chair” syndrome).

To prevent this from happening, you may want to clean your dishes and glassware right after you use them. An empty sink with no dishes will make your house look clean for a longer time. Plus, it’s easier to wash just one dish instead of twenty.

These are some simple little things that will only take you a few minutes at a time; but if you master these habits, then you won’t have to clean your home as often – because it will already be clean.

Author Bio: Nathan Raymond is the CEO of West Coast Restoration & Cleaning. “Ray” and his staff are experts in water and fire restoration, and mold removal, carpet cleaning, and much more.

Posted by HomeZada

20 Tips for Preparing Your House for Sale [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • When listing your house for sale your top goal will be to get the home sold for the best price possible!
  • There are many small projects that you can do to ensure this happens!
  • Your real estate agent will have a list of specific suggestions for getting your house ready for market and is a great resource for finding local contractors who can help!

Posted by The KCM Crew

Your Anti-To-Do List: 7 Summer Chores You Can Skip

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Summertime brings not only booze-enhanced barbecues in the backyard and frenzied bocce tournaments on the lawn, but also a slew of home maintenance and housekeeping tasks. Buzzkill! But here’s some good news: You might be overdoing it. Experts say that certain tasks you might have assumed you have to do during the warm-weather months might not be as critical—or onerous—as you think. In case you’re looking to let certain items on your long to-do list slide, consider rethinking these tasks below so you can spend more of your summer having fun than slaving away.

1. Cleaning your grill

Now that barbecue weather is in full swing, many roll up their sleeves and set out to scour gunk off their grill. But watch out—doing so is not only unnecessary, but also potentially dangerous. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned Americans against wire grill-cleaning brushes because the bristles can come loose and get lodged in your food.

A far easier and safer alternative? Pop the grates in the oven and set it on the self-cleaning mode, then pop them in the dishwasher to rinse them off. And rub the grates with a little cooking oil to keep stuff from sticking. Here’s more on how to clean a grill.

2. Washing your windows

With all that bright sunlight streaming through your panes, it is suddenly a lot easier to see all the grime that accumulated through the winter. But here’s a little secret: Most of that gunk is on the outside—so there’s no need to clean both inside and out. Target the dirtier side, and you’ll be amazed by the difference you can make in half the time.

As for the screens, Green Cleaning Coach Leslie Reichert says not to worry about removing and washing them.

“Just wipe them with a large, looped microfiber cloth. The microfiber will capture the dust on the screen and make it look as clean as if you washed it.”

3. Dusting your drapes and curtains

Simply toss your curtains and (machine-washable) drapes into the dryer for 10 to 15 minutes on low.

“That will knock the dust off, and you won’t have to go through washing, drying, and ironing,” Reichert says.

4. Scrubbing your deck and outdoor furniture

“Get yourself an electric blower and power washer,” Reichert recommends. These two tools will do all the scrubbing for you.

“Use the blower to remove dirt and debris from your patio, deck, driveway, walkways, and even the sides of your house,” she says. Then, “the power washer will clean off all of the above.”

If you can’t afford to buy this equipment, you can rent a pressure washer or a blower from stores such as Home Depot.

5. Weeding your garden

Mulch your garden instead! Start by covering the ground around your plants with light-blocking biodegradable fabric. Then cover with two inches of mulch. This will keep weeds from taking over and will help your garden retain more water, resulting in a break on another summer chore: watering.

6. Laundering winter bedding

If you prefer lighter bedding when it gets hot, don’t worry about laundering it before putting it away.

“Place blankets in a vacuum-sealed bag and put them away until fall,” says Reichert. She says you can wait to launder them in the fall, when that freshly laundered bedding will feel nicer.

But realistically, there’s actually no need to swap out winter bedding for summer. The reason: All-season duvets are available that can cover you comfortably all year round.

7. Transitioning from your winter to summer wardrobe

Reality check: There’s no reason to store our winter sweaters under the bed to make room for T-shirts and shorts, provided you’ve purged your wardrobe of all the things you don’t wear. And rather than pulling out each item and hemming and hawing over whether it should stay or go, Reichert says there’s a much easier way: Weed it out in reverse.

Start by putting all your cold-weather clothes in a plastic bin and set it aside for the season. Next, put all your warm-weather clothes in another bin. As you use those clothes, launder and replace them in your closet and drawers.

“Anything that doesn’t come out of the summer container by the end of the summer gets given away,” Reichert says.

Plus, postpurge you’ve likely got tons of room in your closet and drawers, so you can keep everything where it is; just rearrange so your summer stuff is more easily within reach.

Now relax and enjoy the season. And save an emu burger for us.

 

Posted by Adriana Velez on realtor.com

10 Tips on Keeping Your Home Smelling Fresh

Have you ever walked in your home and something was just out of whack?  A stench takes your breath away when you walk into a room. You know what we are talking about … your home just stinks! Keeping your home smelling fresh can be simple with a few tips.

Flowers

Open Your Windows

That’s right, start by opening your windows to let the fresh air in. A good cleaning out of the house with fresh air is the perfect step to removing odors.

Add Fresh Flowers

If you do not have allergies and do have a few extra dollars, practice what some European countries practice. Get yourself some fresh flowers. Fresh flowers can brighten up a room but they also make a room smell so beautiful. Choose your favorite scented flower and keep in your favorite room. Lilacs and roses are great flowers that have vibrant scents.

Change Your Air Filters

Fresh air starts with the air flowing through your ventilation system. To have clean air and to keep your home healthy, remember to regularly change your air filters. Depending on the type of air filters you have, you will change them every 2 – 6 months. We recommend changing them at least four times in the year.

Add Scented Fragrances

Adding candles or plug ins or some other scented item to your home can step up and remove the stink from your abode. There are so many scented items to make your home smell good. Try using oils and reeds. Even natural fragrances like gently simmering herbs and cinnamon on stovetop with some water can make a home smell homey.

Clean Your Trash Cans

We quickly throw out trash and use bags to store it, thinking that these bags can protect the cans they cover. But our cans carry odors from our coffee grounds, left over foods, boxes and containers from yogurt and milk. These items carry odors that stay with the trash cans. Take the time and wash out the trash cans regularly, and practice using baking soda in your bags to limit the odors.

Run a Cleaning Solution in Your Garbage Disposals

Garbage disposals naturally crush food to allow the flow of water in your sinks. But food creates odors. And therefore, your sinks can smell like a trash can. Using a disposal cleaner that you buy in the store is simple to run in your garbage disposal. Also using some white vinegar or ¼ of a whole lemon to clean the disposal is a good thing. To sharpen the disposal blades, add a few ice cubes to the disposal and run the disposal.

Clean your Washer

Fine smelling clothes can smell good on our bodies and in our closets. But foul, musty, and mildew scents can exist if you have a washing machine that has not been cleaned. Simply running some vinegar in a washing cycle without any clothes can clean any odors from the washer that can cause mildew like scents.

Run a solution through Your Dishwasher

Dishwashers are another area of the homes that have lingering odors from caked on food and dirty dishes. You can buy specific dishwasher cleaners from your store and run per the directions. Or like with the washing machine, use vinegar in the dishwasher to run a full empty cycle. Once you have run the cycle, you will have a fresh clean smelling dishwasher ready to take on any grime.

Clean Your Microwave

Like dishwashers, microwaves can carry ongoing smells from food. Food can also splatter on the walls of the microwave. So time to wipe down the inside of the microwave. Using a bowl of 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar, place it in the microwave. Turn the microwave on high for 4 – 6 minutes. Remove the bowl and wipe down the inside of the oven. Now a fresh smelling microwave.

Give your Pets a Bath

We love our pets and they are family. But our pets have fur and dander and pets do not take showers and baths regularly like we do. They go outside in the rain and sun to play in the grass. All fun things for our pets, but our pets then come in our homes and our homes can smell like a wet dog. Giving our pets baths regularly and brushing their fur will help keep our homes fresh and clean.

 

Posted on HomeZada