Storage Tips for Around the Home

We all have been there. Kids and guests tracking in snow, rain, dirt, and debris into the house. There are many ways to avoid this and help with storage issues as well. If you are fortunate to have a ‘Mud Room’ or an entry-way then this will make things easier.

You can watch a great video on a mudroom build off our website.

Don’t have a mudroom?

Mudrooms are great to help keep your home clean and leave the wet, snowy, dirty outer clothes behind before they enter your home. An ideal location for a mudroom is just before the main entrance to your home. You can enlarge a back-door pantry or build an enclosed room in your garage if the garage is a way into your home. Ideally having a door into the mudroom and a door entering the home would help with losing heat.

One great idea is to have a tray that can collect rain and snow then put a heavy duty screen or rack over the top of it where your kids and guests can put their shoes and boots. This way it will keep the floor dryer and help dry off the shoes and boots. Under tip for this is if possible put the tray and rack in front of a heater vent.

I don’t know about you but when I was a kid my mom had these little alligator clips that were clipped to our jackets so that we don’t keep losing them. This could be a tip in itself for all of you moms out there. You can use this idea to help with storage and organization by using clothespins (Remember using the solar-powered clothes dryer called a clothesline?). When you fold your laundry and find ‘orphan socks’ you can attach them to a clothespin until you find the match. Just take and screw some clothespins to a wall where you fold clothes or take a small enough dowel or wire and attach it to the wall and run the clothespins through. Another idea is to do the same things in your entryway or mudroom so that your kids and guest can hang up there hats, mittens and gloves. This way they can drip dry while they visit and need to use them later.

The inside of closet doors is another great area to add these clothespins for items that do not need to drip dry inside the home.

Unused/wasted space like overhead storage, under objects, etc can be utilized for storage.

An example of this that you may have already heard of is bolting a radio to the underside of a kitchen cabinet so that you can listen to music while cooking or doing the dishes.

Another area is building sliding drawers under your bed. This will help cut down on dust bunnies and give you the extra storage you need. If you are lucky enough you may be able to find storage cabinets that will fit perfectly under the bed but building them is a pretty easy project also.

You can find the tools, materials, and the advice you need right here. Just ask us we will be glad to help!

If you have extra space along the floor in the hallway or mudroom you can pick up some used kitchen cabinets and a countertop to it for extra storage also.

If there is more than enough headroom and not any danger of interfering with the flow of foot traffic you can also install storage areas overhead as well for objects that are not used very often. For objects that are used often, you should have them in areas that are easy to reach.

Blackouts, Brownouts, and Partial Blackouts

Blackouts, Brownouts, and Partial BlackoutsWe all have had at least one of these three things happen to us and we usually know what to do and look for in these situations but this helpful article will show you some things that I am sure you will not have thought of!

Brownouts

When the lights dim, motors slow down you definitely have a brownout. Major contributors to brownouts are space heaters and air conditions being used at the same time where the neighborhood electricity is maxed out. The best thing to do in this case is to turn off any unnecessary electrical items. I know what you are thinking. Why should I turn off the air conditioning on this hot day and let others keep theirs on! Well if you don’t want the brownout to turn into a blackout where you stand the chance of all the food in your fridge spoiling then I recommend turning off that air conditioner.

Blackouts

The power suddenly goes out. The first thing to do is assess the situation. Is it just your home or the immediate area?

Check your neighbor’s houses to see if their power went out to. If it did then it is likely your local power company. You can call them to report the blackout but more than likely many more people are doing the same thing but if you know a lot of your neighbors are out of town I would call anyway. Don’t forget to turn off most of the lights and appliances so that when the power does come back on that you won’t overload the circuits when the power is restored.

Okay, the blackout is in your house only. Now what?

Before you try and track down the cause first turn off most of the lights and appliances in your home so that if the power does come back on you don’t overload your circuits.

Everyone knows the next tip. Do not open the fridge any more than necessary so that you can lower the chance of everything spoiling. But one thing you may not know is that frozen food will stay frozen for up to 48 hours if closed up and never opened. The refrigerator, on the other hand, will be quicker.

Here is another tip that many of you may already know. If this happens during the winter you can conserve your heat by closing the doors of unused rooms and not insulated well rooms. Then start a slow burning fire in the fireplace to keep warm since your furnace will be down for the count as well during a blackout.

This tip is a little less known but is still known by many. If you have a blackout during cold weather (below freezing) then open the faucets and let water trickle out so that you can avoid the pipes freezing. If the power is going to be off for more than 36 hours then it will be necessary to drain the water out of the main water system of the house. Like how you do when you winterize a house when you know you won’t be there during the winter.

Here is how you drain the water out of the main system:

  • Turn off the main water supply valve. This can be found close to where the main supply of water comes into the house.
  • Stop the water from entering into your hot water heater by closing the valve where the water enters it usually a pipe along the top. If you have a gas water heater be sure to turn off the gas and if you have an electric water heater be sure to turn off the breaker switch in your breaker box.
  • If your house uses a boiler shut off the water that goes into the boiler. This valve should be located near the pipe leading into it then flush all of your toilets to help drain the system.
  • If your house is heated by a hot water system you will have to open the valves on all of your radiators then open the air valves. Don’t forget to catch draining water with a bucket.
  • When checking the temperature on your boiler and it shows it cooled down enough you can attach a hose to the drain valve and send the water through the hose and outdoors.
  • Then take the hose to the bottom of the drain valve on your hot water heater and do the same thing.
  • Next, open the draincock on your main water supply and drain out the excess water that did not leave the system into a bucket. If you do not have a draincock or spigot then take two pipe wrenches and separate the pipes to drain out the remaining water.
  • Empty the remaining water out of the toilet with cups or draining into buckets by siphoning and using sponges. I know, right, who wants to try to siphon a toilet out by hand?

Partial Blackouts

Okay, you have a partial blackout this could be hazardous or as simple as a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse. But there is always a reason for the fuse to blow or a circuit breaker to trip. To keep everyone safe you have to find out why this is happening.

Overload a circuit breaker is the most common cause for tripping a breaker or blowing a fuse. Do you have a microwave and an air conditioner with a power strip with six more additional things plugged into the same outlet? This is a big no-no! Try to distribute what you have plugged in evenly and have the air conditioner on its own outlet and/or breaker if possible.

If you take care of this and replace the fuse or reset the circuit breaker and it goes out again then you have a short circuit somewhere. Look at all of the electrical cords for loose, fraying and exposed wires, or defective plugs and replace them immediately. It is possible that all of the cords look fine but it was found that behind an outlet was an old style metal circuit housing that had a wire shorting out against it. You can tell by looking at it. If you cannot replace all of the metal housings right away then wrap some electrical tape, after you shut off the power to the outlets, around the outlet itself to put a barrier between the wires and the metal housings.

To test the breaker unplug everything turn on the breaker and if it doesn’t trip or the fuse does not blow plug in each item one at a time until the fuse blows or the circuit trips then you will know which one is the problem.

If you unplug everything and the fuse still blows or the circuit breaker still trips there is a short elsewhere in the house and it is a good idea to call an electrician to test things out.

There you have a more complete guide if you experience a blackout, brownout, or partial blackout.

Remember if you have any questions please feel free to contact us!

Blackouts, Brownouts, and Partial Blackouts

Blackouts, Brownouts, and Partial BlackoutsWe all have had at least one of these three things happen to us and we usually know what to do and look for in these situations but this helpful article will show you some things that I am sure you will not have thought of!

Brownouts

When the lights dim, motors slow down you definitely have a brownout. Major contributors to brownouts are space heaters and air conditions being used at the same time where the neighborhood electricity is maxed out. The best thing to do in this case is to turn off any unnecessary electrical items. I know what you are thinking. Why should I turn off the air conditioning on this hot day and let others keep theirs on! Well if you don’t want the brownout to turn into a blackout where you stand the chance of all the food in your fridge spoiling then I recommend turning off that air conditioner.

Blackouts

The power suddenly goes out. The first thing to do is assess the situation. Is it just your home or the immediate area?

Check your neighbor’s houses to see if their power went out to. If it did then it is likely your local power company. You can call them to report the blackout but more than likely many more people are doing the same thing but if you know a lot of your neighbors are out of town I would call anyway. Don’t forget to turn off most of the lights and appliances so that when the power does come back on that you won’t overload the circuits when the power is restored.

Okay, the blackout is in your house only. Now what?

Before you try and track down the cause first turn off most of the lights and appliances in your home so that if the power does come back on you don’t overload your circuits.

Everyone knows the next tip. Do not open the fridge any more than necessary so that you can lower the chance of everything spoiling. But one thing you may not know is that frozen food will stay frozen for up to 48 hours if closed up and never opened. The refrigerator, on the other hand, will be quicker.

Here is another tip that many of you may already know. If this happens during the winter you can conserve your heat by closing the doors of unused rooms and not insulated well rooms. Then start a slow burning fire in the fireplace to keep warm since your furnace will be down for the count as well during a blackout.

This tip is a little less known but is still known by many. If you have a blackout during cold weather (below freezing) then open the faucets and let water trickle out so that you can avoid the pipes freezing. If the power is going to be off for more than 36 hours then it will be necessary to drain the water out of the main water system of the house. Like how you do when you winterize a house when you know you won’t be there during the winter.

Here is how you drain the water out of the main system:

  • Turn off the main water supply valve. This can be found close to where the main supply of water comes into the house.
  • Stop the water from entering into your hot water heater by closing the valve where the water enters it usually a pipe along the top. If you have a gas water heater be sure to turn off the gas and if you have an electric water heater be sure to turn off the breaker switch in your breaker box.
  • If your house uses a boiler shut off the water that goes into the boiler. This valve should be located near the pipe leading into it then flush all of your toilets to help drain the system.
  • If your house is heated by a hot water system you will have to open the valves on all of your radiators then open the air valves. Don’t forget to catch draining water with a bucket.
  • When checking the temperature on your boiler and it shows it cooled down enough you can attach a hose to the drain valve and send the water through the hose and outdoors.
  • Then take the hose to the bottom of the drain valve on your hot water heater and do the same thing.
  • Next, open the draincock on your main water supply and drain out the excess water that did not leave the system into a bucket. If you do not have a draincock or spigot then take two pipe wrenches and separate the pipes to drain out the remaining water.
  • Empty the remaining water out of the toilet with cups or draining into buckets by siphoning and using sponges. I know, right, who wants to try to siphon a toilet out by hand?

Partial Blackouts

Okay, you have a partial blackout this could be hazardous or as simple as a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse. But there is always a reason for the fuse to blow or a circuit breaker to trip. To keep everyone safe you have to find out why this is happening.

Overload a circuit breaker is the most common cause for tripping a breaker or blowing a fuse. Do you have a microwave and an air conditioner with a power strip with six more additional things plugged into the same outlet? This is a big no-no! Try to distribute what you have plugged in evenly and have the air conditioner on its own outlet and/or breaker if possible.

If you take care of this and replace the fuse or reset the circuit breaker and it goes out again then you have a short circuit somewhere. Look at all of the electrical cords for loose, fraying and exposed wires, or defective plugs and replace them immediately. It is possible that all of the cords look fine but it was found that behind an outlet was an old style metal circuit housing that had a wire shorting out against it. You can tell by looking at it. If you cannot replace all of the metal housings right away then wrap some electrical tape, after you shut off the power to the outlets, around the outlet itself to put a barrier between the wires and the metal housings.

To test the breaker unplug everything turn on the breaker and if it doesn’t trip or the fuse does not blow plug in each item one at a time until the fuse blows or the circuit trips then you will know which one is the problem.

If you unplug everything and the fuse still blows or the circuit breaker still trips there is a short elsewhere in the house and it is a good idea to call an electrician to test things out.

There you have a more complete guide if you experience a blackout, brownout, or partial blackout.

Remember if you have any questions please feel free to contact us!

How to use a screw extractor

http://www.bobvila.com/articles/screw-extractors/#.Vechx2TBzGc

Stymied by a stripped screw, or a screw without a head? No worries! There’s a brilliant little tool that can help you remove a stubborn screw with ease. It’s known, appropriately, as a screw extractor.

Here’s how it works: First, you use a very small drill bit to bore into the screw. Next, insert the threaded end of the screw extractor into the pilot hole you’ve created. Finally, attach the opposite, square-shaped end of the extractor either to an electric drill or a T handle. When you turn the screw extractor, it digs further into the damaged screw, exerting counter-clockwise force that backs the screw out. Though screw extractors are one of the least costly extras you can add to your toolbox, they often prove priceless if and when you face a fastener that refuses to budge.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!

How to use a screw extractor

http://www.bobvila.com/articles/screw-extractors/#.Vechx2TBzGc

Stymied by a stripped screw, or a screw without a head? No worries! There’s a brilliant little tool that can help you remove a stubborn screw with ease. It’s known, appropriately, as a screw extractor.

Here’s how it works: First, you use a very small drill bit to bore into the screw. Next, insert the threaded end of the screw extractor into the pilot hole you’ve created. Finally, attach the opposite, square-shaped end of the extractor either to an electric drill or a T handle. When you turn the screw extractor, it digs further into the damaged screw, exerting counter-clockwise force that backs the screw out. Though screw extractors are one of the least costly extras you can add to your toolbox, they often prove priceless if and when you face a fastener that refuses to budge.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!

The 7 Best Low-Cost Alternatives to Hardwood Flooring

Fantastic Flooring Alternatives

Are your floors scratched, worn, or out of style? In the past, there weren’t a lot of options for replacing your flooring, as the primary materials were beautiful—but expensive—hardwood or costly carpeting. Today, however, this project doesn’t have to be a budget-buster. There are a number of reasonably priced flooring options that will give you a fashionable floor at a fraction of the cost. Many of these options mimic the look and texture of solid wood or other natural materials, but without the high price tag. Read on for more popular and inexpensive flooring options.

Click this link to view a slideshow and further descriptions!

Contact Us if you would like a hardwood floor or an alternative. We have the answers to your questions!

The 7 Best Low-Cost Alternatives to Hardwood Flooring

Fantastic Flooring Alternatives

Are your floors scratched, worn, or out of style? In the past, there weren’t a lot of options for replacing your flooring, as the primary materials were beautiful—but expensive—hardwood or costly carpeting. Today, however, this project doesn’t have to be a budget-buster. There are a number of reasonably priced flooring options that will give you a fashionable floor at a fraction of the cost. Many of these options mimic the look and texture of solid wood or other natural materials, but without the high price tag. Read on for more popular and inexpensive flooring options.

Click this link to view a slideshow and further descriptions!

Contact Us if you would like a hardwood floor or an alternative. We have the answers to your questions!

5 Uses for Ice Cubes

5 Uses of Ice Cubes

There’s nothing more refreshing than a cool drink on the rocks—but a cup of ice cubes can do a lot more than quench your thirst. These versatile drink chillers work in a pinch to treat any number of household dilemmas, whether you’re looking to improve your gardening game or simply to polish up an at-home fix-it job. So, go on; refill that ice cube tray. While you wait for its contents to freeze, check out these five incredibly useful ways to repurpose ice cubes outside the glass.

 

1. FRESHEN UP THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL

Uses of Ice - Cleaning a Garbage Disposal

Photo: flickr.com via zzazazz

There’s nothing worse than a stinky garbage disposal, especially when you’ve got a sink full of dirty dishes to do. To clean the blades and remove odor-causing food particles that may have gotten stuck, place 2 cups of ice cubes and a cup of rock salt in the garbage disposal, then run the cold tap for a minute or two. Freshen further by tossing in a few lemon peels, turning the cool water back on, and running the machine.

 

2. TEND TO THIRSTY HOUSEPLANTS

Uses of Ice - Watering Orchids

Photo: fotosearch.com

If you’re worried about over-hydrating your orchid, skip the watering can and reach for an ice cube instead. This temperamental houseplant hates to stay constantly wet, which makes an ice cube the perfect solution because it melts slowly, giving the soil time to absorb the water it needs without harming the roots. Depending on the size of your orchid, two to three ice cubes (about a quarter-cup of water) per week should be enough; when one melts, place the next in its empty spot. Similarly, ice cubes can deliver H2O to hanging houseplants that are just out of reach.

 

3. REMOVE A CARPET DENT

Uses of Ice - Removing Carpet Dents

Photo: fotosearch.com

You decided to rearrange your furniture, but that improved feng shui came at a price: carpet indentations right where the sofa used to be. For a quick fix, place an ice cube in each carpet dent (or several down a line) and let it melt. After 12 hours, use a paper towel to blot up any excess water, then gently lift the carpet fibers with a fork so they’re back in place.

 

4. SMOOTH UNEVEN CAULKING

Uses of Ice - Smoothing Fresh Caulk

Photo: flickr.com via emilysnuffer

It’s not easy to lay down the perfect bead of caulk! The next time you’re re-caulking your bathtub, use an ice cube to smooth the finished line. Simply run the chunk of ice along the joint (that space between the tile and tub, now fresh with new caulk) and even out the surface as you go. The ice cube won’t stick to the caulk; rather, it will melt to fit the shape of the joint, turning into the ideal custom tool for your DIY job.

 

5. CLEAN YOUR FAVORITE VASE

Uses of Ice - Cleaning a Vase

Photo: fotosearch.com

For vases with slender necks, it can be very tough to scrub away flower residue and grime. Ice cubes make it easy: Toss a few cubes in the vase (you may have to crush them into smaller pieces to fit, depending on the size of the neck) and add 1/4 cup of salt. After that, swish the vase vigorously and watch as the ice and salt combine, forming a gentle abrasive that will quickly clean the glass.

5 Uses for Ice Cubes

5 Uses of Ice Cubes

There’s nothing more refreshing than a cool drink on the rocks—but a cup of ice cubes can do a lot more than quench your thirst. These versatile drink chillers work in a pinch to treat any number of household dilemmas, whether you’re looking to improve your gardening game or simply to polish up an at-home fix-it job. So, go on; refill that ice cube tray. While you wait for its contents to freeze, check out these five incredibly useful ways to repurpose ice cubes outside the glass.

 

1. FRESHEN UP THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL

Uses of Ice - Cleaning a Garbage Disposal

Photo: flickr.com via zzazazz

There’s nothing worse than a stinky garbage disposal, especially when you’ve got a sink full of dirty dishes to do. To clean the blades and remove odor-causing food particles that may have gotten stuck, place 2 cups of ice cubes and a cup of rock salt in the garbage disposal, then run the cold tap for a minute or two. Freshen further by tossing in a few lemon peels, turning the cool water back on, and running the machine.

 

2. TEND TO THIRSTY HOUSEPLANTS

Uses of Ice - Watering Orchids

Photo: fotosearch.com

If you’re worried about over-hydrating your orchid, skip the watering can and reach for an ice cube instead. This temperamental houseplant hates to stay constantly wet, which makes an ice cube the perfect solution because it melts slowly, giving the soil time to absorb the water it needs without harming the roots. Depending on the size of your orchid, two to three ice cubes (about a quarter-cup of water) per week should be enough; when one melts, place the next in its empty spot. Similarly, ice cubes can deliver H2O to hanging houseplants that are just out of reach.

 

3. REMOVE A CARPET DENT

Uses of Ice - Removing Carpet Dents

Photo: fotosearch.com

You decided to rearrange your furniture, but that improved feng shui came at a price: carpet indentations right where the sofa used to be. For a quick fix, place an ice cube in each carpet dent (or several down a line) and let it melt. After 12 hours, use a paper towel to blot up any excess water, then gently lift the carpet fibers with a fork so they’re back in place.

 

4. SMOOTH UNEVEN CAULKING

Uses of Ice - Smoothing Fresh Caulk

Photo: flickr.com via emilysnuffer

It’s not easy to lay down the perfect bead of caulk! The next time you’re re-caulking your bathtub, use an ice cube to smooth the finished line. Simply run the chunk of ice along the joint (that space between the tile and tub, now fresh with new caulk) and even out the surface as you go. The ice cube won’t stick to the caulk; rather, it will melt to fit the shape of the joint, turning into the ideal custom tool for your DIY job.

 

5. CLEAN YOUR FAVORITE VASE

Uses of Ice - Cleaning a Vase

Photo: fotosearch.com

For vases with slender necks, it can be very tough to scrub away flower residue and grime. Ice cubes make it easy: Toss a few cubes in the vase (you may have to crush them into smaller pieces to fit, depending on the size of the neck) and add 1/4 cup of salt. After that, swish the vase vigorously and watch as the ice and salt combine, forming a gentle abrasive that will quickly clean the glass.

Use an onion to clean your grill easier!

How to Clean Grill Grates - With an Onion

Photo: fotosearch.com

If cleaning your outdoor grill were just as easy as cleaning your household oven, it wouldn’t be so bad—but, alas, there’s no self-cleaning feature on this appliance. You’re stuck with the entire job. As unpleasant as it is, you absolutely have to give your grill athorough cleaning at the beginning and end of each barbecuing season. But you also need to give it a quick once-over between grilling sessions. Keeping your grates free from grease and burnt-on gunk will both prolong the life of your grill and improve the taste of your food. Fortunately for you, there’s an effective, inexpensive, and chemical-free way to get the job done right, and the key ingredient—an onion—is most likely already sitting out on your kitchen counter with the rest of your grill-time supplies.

How to Clean Grill Grates - Backyard Grill

Photo: fotosearch.com

Not only does an onion contain a natural disinfectant, but it also cleans surprisingly well. To work it over your grill, cut the onion in half and peel back the papery skin. Next, light the grill and turn the heat up high until the grates are nice and hot. (It doesn’t matter whether yours is a gas or charcoal grill—this trick works on both!) Skewer the onion with a long metal barbecue fork or grab it with tongs, and rub its cut side back and forth along the grates. Notice how the onion removes any built-up residue. Plus, the onion leaves behind a bit of seasoning on the surface—an added bonus the next time you cook. Once you’re done, dispose of the onion in your compost pile or, if you’re about to fire up your charcoal grill, throw the vegetable into the coals and enjoy an extra hint of smoked onion in your meal.