home maintenance http://m.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/12620/all en-US 17 DIY Projects to Make Your Home Look Amazing (and 3 You Shouldn't Try) http://m.wisebread.com/17-diy-projects-to-make-your-home-look-amazing-and-3-you-shouldnt-try <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/17-diy-projects-to-make-your-home-look-amazing-and-3-you-shouldnt-try" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://m.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-painting-86495282-small.jpg" alt="couple painting" title="couple painting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="145" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When my husband and I bought our first home, I was glued to all those television DIY shows. There were so many things we wanted to do to our starter space, and the Internet hadn't yet exploded with tutorials and inspiration boards. Now? Any and every project you could ever want to do can be found with a quick search. (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-cheap-and-easy-fixes-that-make-your-house-look-amazing?ref=related">25 Cheap and Easy Fixes That Make Your House Look Great</a>)</p> <p>Here are some of the best home and decor improvements even novices can tackle.</p> <h2>1. Leather Refinishing</h2> <p>Have an old, worn leather couch smelling up the place? You can totally revitalize it on the cheap with these <a href="http://knoxvilleflowerpot.blogspot.com/2013/08/how-to-dye-or-stain-leather-furniture.html">easy instructions</a>. You'll need leather cleaner, a good quality dye, and some type of finish coat &mdash; but all the supplies should come in less than $100, depending on the size of your sofa.</p> <h2>2. Blinds Revival</h2> <p>I dream of gorgeous plantation shutters in my home. Thing is, I'm on a plastic blinds sort of budget, so I love this idea to dress them up <a href="http://www.home-dzine.co.za/crafts/craft-sprayblinds.htm">using spray paint</a>. The possibilities are endless! (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/40-ways-to-use-spray-paint-for-cheap-and-easy-decorating?ref=related">40 Ways to Use Spray Paint for Cheap and Easy Decorating</a>)</p> <h2>3. Fireplace Makeover</h2> <p>Neutralize the dated aspects of your home with &mdash; again &mdash; our friend, spray paint. Those brassy accents disappear with a nice coat of black or, in for a more refined color, &quot;oil-rubbed bronze.&quot; With the fireplace, you'll want to choose a formula specifically <a href="http://www.creationsbykara.com/2011/06/fireplace-makeover-spray-paint-magic.html/">designed for high heat</a>.</p> <h2>4. Like-New Appliances</h2> <p>Our new home has a great, spacious kitchen, but the appliances don't match. Since they're all in good working order, we're considering <a href="http://cozycrookedcottage.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/diy-painted-refrigerator/">painting the refrigerator</a> versus buying a new one. You can use special appliance paint or kits, but the tutorial makes use of standard semi-gloss paint.</p> <h2>5. Light Fixture</h2> <p>Though I don't recommend doing your own electrical work, you can <a href="http://www.lowes.com/cd_Change+a+Light+Fixture_279093251_">replace ceiling light fixtures</a> without much trouble. Just be sure to turn out the power to the room you're working in and connect the wires according to your new light's instruction pamphlet.</p> <h2>6. Board and Batten</h2> <p>Adding architectural detail to a room is simple with this detailed <a href="http://www.makeit-loveit.com/2013/07/home-improvement-diy-board-and-batten.html">board and batten tutorial</a>. You need boards, construction adhesive, nails, and a few other supplies. If you aren't handy with a saw, you might even consider asking the folks at your local lumber supply to do the cuts for you at an extra charge to speed up the process.</p> <h2>7. Television Hide-and-Seek</h2> <p>I drool over media cabinets from those expensive home decor stores. Then I found this <a href="http://dixiedelights.blogspot.com/2013/01/honey-does-diy-flat-screen-tv-cabinet.html">smart solution</a> online &mdash; and I can't wait to get my hands on some 2x4s. This project isn't well detailed, but if you have a somewhat experienced woodworker in the family, the concept is easy to follow. For my &quot;doors&quot; I might use (or create) a piece of artwork that comes in two pieces.</p> <h2>8. Tile Re-Grouting</h2> <p>If you have a section &mdash; or entire room &mdash; of tile that looks dingy and old, consider whether the tile itself really needs fixing, or if you can just fix the grout. You can pick up the supplies to add some new life to those dirty grout lines for very little money &mdash; <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTddQ-4EVl8">here's how</a> you do it!</p> <h2>9. Rustic Accent Wall</h2> <p>When I came across this <a href="http://www.bowerpowerblog.com/2010/02/nursery-news-accent-wall/">cozy pallet wall</a>, my jaw literally dropped. It takes some skill, but once you hang the underlayment, it's mostly a puzzle of what pieces look good and where. The author installed it in her son's nursery, but I'd love to put one in my basement recreation room!</p> <h2>10. Custom Built-Ins</h2> <p>When I first came across these <a href="http://thriftydecorchick.blogspot.com/2013/07/dining-room-pretty-organization.html">dining room built-ins</a>, I knew they'd be perfect for almost any room in the house. The author gives <a href="http://thriftydecorchick.blogspot.com/2012/08/how-to-build-built-ins.html">step-by-step instructions</a> for how to select the right cabinets, cut the wood, paint for more artistic flair, etc. &mdash; just note that this project isn't done in a day. However, the time involved is worth it!</p> <h2>11. Smart Shelving</h2> <p>If you're looking to add some unique flair to a room, look outside the home decor department. This <a href="http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2013/02/nesting-ladder-display-makeover.html">ladder turned shelf</a> could hold anything from plants to books, and it's a great way to turn something old into something treasured. All you need are some planks of wood and wood glue! Leave your ladder unpainted for a most rustic look or use a bright color for some cheer. (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-cheap-and-attractive-ideas-for-bookshelves?ref=related">18 Cheap and Attractive Ideas for Bookshelves</a>)</p> <h2>12. Shaker Cabinets</h2> <p>I'm hoping to complete this next project by the end of the summer. Trim out your plain kitchen cabinets <a href="http://www.beautifulmatters.com/2013/02/diy-inexpensive-cabinet-updates/">using yard sticks</a> (or standard trim) for that Shaker look. A little grain filler and paint, and your kitchen will look entirely different for pennies on the dollar.</p> <h2>13. Revived Tub</h2> <p>You can shine up your bathtub without replacing or covering it. Just follow these <a href="http://www.beautifulmatters.com/2013/01/diy-bathtub-refinishing/">simple instructions</a> that explain how everyday products and a tub refinishing kit can take your soaking place from freaky to fab in no time at all.</p> <h2>14. Plywood Planks</h2> <p>Looking for an inexpensive wood flooring solution? These <a href="http://littlegreennotebook.blogspot.com/2014/03/diy-wide-plank-floors-made-from-plywood.html">plywood plank floors</a> can be painted or stained and seem pretty darned easy to install. Just be sure to start with a solid, level subfloor and measure twice, cut once. This is another project where you can take advantage of low-cost cuts made at your hardware store.</p> <h2>15. Distressed Look</h2> <p>I'd file this one under <em>Proceed With Caution</em>, but if you like that distressed leather look, <a href="http://desertwillowlaneblog.blogspot.com/2013/07/distressing-new-leather-furniture-diy.html">this tutorial</a> is for you. Even a shiny, brand new piece can turn into that &quot;old favorite&quot; with some sandpaper, rubbing alcohol, a blow dryer, and a few rags.</p> <h2>16. Console Table</h2> <p>Sometimes the furniture you need can't be found at the store. Or maybe what you see in catalogs and online is outrageously expensive. Either way, this <a href="http://somethingisdone.com/diy-behind-the-sofa-table/">behind-the-sofa table</a> appears to be beginner-friendly. Just assemble a few 2x4s and 1x4s, and you're set to paint or stain it anyway you prefer.</p> <h2>17. Shutter Install</h2> <p>Plantation shutters are one of my favorite design elements because they are both beautiful and functional. They are also quite costly, so if you can order online at a discount and then <a href="http://foxhollowcottage.com/2014/04/easy-diy-plantation-shutter-installation.html">install them yourself</a>, it's worth your while.</p> <h2>And Three Things You Should Hire the Pros to Do</h2> <p>It's true that you can do a lot to improve your home and decor (and have a lot of fun doing it). However, it's also important to know and obey your limits, and we all have our limits. Here are a few projects you <em>shouldn't</em> tackle on your own.</p> <h3>Asbestos Removal</h3> <p>A lot of us have those 9x9 titles in our basements and kitchens, but if you suspect your flooring might contain asbestos, it's best to have it tested before doing any DIY demolition. When in good condition, asbestos tiles doesn't pose much threat. When damaged, the fibers become <a href="http://www2.epa.gov/asbestos/protect-your-family">airborne and crumble easily</a>, so it's best to leave the work to experts or leave it alone entirely.</p> <h3>Amateur Handyman</h3> <p>If your local municipality requires a permit for something &mdash; like <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/property/house-and-home/tradesmen/diy-electrical-work-an-experts-opinion-8548135.html">electrical work</a>, plumbing, or knocking down walls, etc. &mdash; you might not have the skills to tackle it on your own. Rather than search around for a quick fix, you'll probably save more money (and your health and safety) in the long run by calling in a professional.</p> <h3>Roofing Repairs</h3> <p>My neighbor recently tore off and re-installed roofing on his garage. A project lower to the ground might be okay, but if you're going to go on a super tall ladder, you should leave it to the professionals. That goes for anything up high, as falls from ladders sent <a href="http://health.yahoo.net/articles/emergency/do-it-yourself-projects-that-lead-to-the-most-er-visits">246,733 Americans</a> to hospital ERs back in 2009. Don't become a statistic!</p> <p><em>Have you tackled any DIY home projects lately? How'd it come out? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/17-diy-projects-to-make-your-home-look-amazing-and-3-you-shouldnt-try" class="sharethis-link" title="17 DIY Projects to Make Your Home Look Amazing (and 3 You Shouldn&#039;t Try) " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Home DIY home maintenance home projects Home repair Tue, 24 Jun 2014 17:00:05 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1146613 at http://m.wisebread.com Selling Your Home: 17 Ways to Prepare Your House for Inspection Success http://m.wisebread.com/selling-your-home-17-ways-to-prepare-your-house-for-inspection-success <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/selling-your-home-17-ways-to-prepare-your-house-for-inspection-success" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://m.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-inspection-78751705-small.jpg" alt="inspection" title="inspection" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Congrats! You've received an offer on your home and agreed upon a sale price. The papers are signed, and the next step in the process is your home inspection. Chances are that a satisfactory report is the last major hurdle toward sale &mdash; so it's important you put your best foot forward. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-cheap-and-easy-fixes-that-make-your-house-look-amazing?ref=seealso">25 Cheap and Easy Fixes That Make Your House Look Amazing</a>)</p> <p>I recently accompanied a home inspector on a 3-&frac12; hour tour of a home we were considering purchasing, and these were some major points I picked up along the way. In general, it's good to have intimate knowledge of your house's nooks, crannies, and weak spots. The following items are things you should consider before the inspector visits your home, possibly bringing up major and minor issues that could cost you money off your sales price or worse &mdash; the deal itself.</p> <h2>1. Clear Access</h2> <p>Ensure access to critical areas of your house are clear. Think about your electrical box, furnace, hot water heater, and air conditioning units, attic door, and any other possible locked spaces. Also make it easier to access under sink plumbing work and back access, as well as any areas blocked off by storage, etc. If the inspector cannot gain access, he or she will be unable to include them in the report, raising questions for your buyers.</p> <h2>2. Banish Clogs</h2> <p>Go through your entire house to all the sinks drains &mdash; one by one &mdash; and run the water. If you notice a slow drain, you can try using store-bought clog removers (consult with staff to find the right one). For very slow or even totally clogged drains, call in a plumber. Same goes with any slow flow or blockage at the water source.</p> <h2>3. Replace Bulbs</h2> <p>Examine your attached light fixtures. Make sure all the light bulbs are working. Inspectors only get an overhead view and cannot determine if the bulb itself is out or if there's possibly an underlying electrical problem.</p> <h2>4. Filter Out</h2> <p>Replace your furnace return air filters. Not only do dirty filters impact the efficiency of your overall HVAC system, they also show neglect, which isn't the type of impression you want to leave with your inspector.</p> <h2>5. Mind Your Monitors</h2> <p>Be sure to have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home. Test before inspection day and look at the expiration dates. You should have a smoke alarm on <a href="http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/alarms/">every level of your home</a> &mdash; including the basement. As for carbon monoxide detectors, there should be <a href="http://www.kidde.com/SafetyMadeSimple/Pages/FrequentlyAskedQuestions.aspx#.U4XECNxofwI">at least one</a> in your home, in the sleeping area.</p> <h2>6. Observe Grading</h2> <p>Check to see that the earth slopes away from your home versus toward it to avoid basement water issues. Even if there's no evidence of water entering your home, it's a good idea to <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hYIda7tWqA">slope dirt away</a> in flowerbeds and other areas that come in contact with your foundation.</p> <h2>7. Check Cracks</h2> <p>If your home has any cracked windows or broken screens, you may want to fix them before the inspector comes. Even if a crack isn't a big issue on some basement window, it will still show up in your report.</p> <h2>8. Get the Bugs Out</h2> <p>Do you see a lot of carpenter bees hanging around? Or perhaps a steady line of ants near your home? Any sort of infestation &mdash; especially of wood destroying insects like termites &mdash; will show up on your inspection report. It's best to take care of it proactively.</p> <h2>9. Cap It Off</h2> <p>Any sort of caps needed in and around your home should be there. Any unused gas lines &mdash; even if shut off &mdash; should be capped. As well, any chimneys or flues should be capped to prevent debris, including leaves and animals, from clogging off critical vents. For example, a home we recently had inspected had a clog in the water heater flue creating a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide.</p> <h2>10. Trim Your Trees</h2> <p>Or at least take a look at any overhanging vegetation at your property. Trees that are over roofs can prematurely shorten roof life by inviting moss and lichen to take hold. Rodents can gain easy access to your chimney and other openings. And the obvious: If there's a low-hanging or unhealthy branch, it could always fall onto the roof.</p> <h2>11. Think Big</h2> <p>If you know you have asbestos, lead, or other health and safety issues in your home, it's good to disclose this information before embarking on the sale process to begin with. Otherwise, be prepared for these items to show up in a report. Though they are usually not confirmed without further testing, &quot;suspected&quot; hazards could certainly scare away potential buyers.</p> <h2>12. Go With the Flow</h2> <p>Flush your toilets to see if any aren't performing as they should. Sometimes a fix is as easy as adjusting <a href="http://www.home-repair-central.com/slow-flushing-toilet-introduction.html">the water level</a> in your tank. Other times, a clog or hard water (creating sediment) might be to blame &mdash; or perhaps a faulty design.</p> <h2>13. Spark Interest</h2> <p>Go to each outlet in your home to see if any aren't working. It's also a good idea to note any weird issues with your electrical system that you have observed and lived with in your time at the home. Any flickering light fixtures or slow switches, etc., can be signs of a problem for an electrician to investigate.</p> <h2>14. Crack It Open</h2> <p>Many older homes, especially those with plaster walls, have hairline cracks. Many of these cracks are not concerning, as they mostly indicate the expansion and contraction of the wall material with normal house settling and temperature fluctuations. If you have <a href="http://realestate.msn.com/is-that-crack-serious-foundation-issues-101">cracks in your foundation</a>&nbsp;or&nbsp;exterior, or your doors and windows aren't closing from misalignment, you may want to have them checked before inspection.</p> <h2>15. Swing Around</h2> <p>While you're at it, open and close all your windows and doors to look for anything that's creaking, loose, or otherwise not functioning properly. Look at hinge pins, door knobs, and anything else that seems amiss.</p> <h2>16. Address the Issues</h2> <p>If you bought your house only a few years ago, chances are you still have a copy of your old home inspection from purchase. Go through the report and look for any unaddressed issues you've come to live with over the years. It's almost like having a cheat sheet.</p> <h2>17. Hire a Professional</h2> <p>If there are any issues in this list that you're not familiar with fixing, it's best to call a certified professional before your inspection date to do the work. Not only will amateur fixes not fare well on inspection reports, but you could also put yourself in harms way, say, if you've never climbed onto your roof or trimmed a tree before. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-time-money-and-hassle-by-bundling-your-home-repairs?ref=seealso">Save Time, Money, and Hassle by Bundling Home Repairs</a>)</p> <p><em>Do you have any items to add to this list? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/selling-your-home-17-ways-to-prepare-your-house-for-inspection-success" class="sharethis-link" title="Selling Your Home: 17 Ways to Prepare Your House for Inspection Success" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Real Estate and Housing home inspection home maintenance Home repair Thu, 05 Jun 2014 09:00:10 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1141614 at http://m.wisebread.com 25 Cheap and Easy Fixes That Make Your House Look Amazing http://m.wisebread.com/25-cheap-and-easy-fixes-that-make-your-house-look-amazing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/25-cheap-and-easy-fixes-that-make-your-house-look-amazing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://m.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/home-5268659-small.jpg" alt="home" title="home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I'm currently in the process of selling my house, and it's been quite an ordeal getting it up to snuff for listing. Over the six years my family has lived here, we've surely settled in. Things like dirty baseboards, slow draining tubs, and a rogue dead outlet didn't seem so horrible; we got used to all these little inconveniences because our minds were elsewhere. When it came time to fix everything, however, we were quite overwhelmed with our to-do list. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-cheap-ways-to-stage-your-home-in-a-buyers-market?ref=seealso">Cheap Ways to Stage Your Home</a>)</p> <p>Now that we've finished going through our house from head to toe, I can surely tell you &mdash; tiny changes add up to something big &mdash; mammoth, actually. And you don't need to put your house on the market to improve your habitat and your life. Even if you are living in your forever home, there are 25 super easy projects you can do inexpensively or even for free to really put some extra shine to your house that you didn't know you could get back!</p> <h2>1. Deep Clean</h2> <p>We all try to keep our homes tidy and clean, but when's the last time you lifted all your carpets and vacuumed the floor underneath them? What about scrubbing behind your toilet? Dusting off the blades of your ceiling fans and blinds? Think of all those dark corners and slowly chip away at dusting and scrubbing them. Once they're totally clean, it's amazing the difference you'll feel. I like to start with one room or floor at a time and plow right through. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-one-month-guide-to-spring-cleaning?ref=seealso">One-Month Guide to Spring Cleaning</a>)</p> <h2>2. Toss and Donate</h2> <p>Then comes clutter. Spring is a great time to go through your hoard and see what you want to keep, to toss, and to donate to local thrift shops and charities. I always start with my closet and then work my way through the rest of the house. Old pots and pans or anything I haven't actually used in the last six months are up for debate. I'd rather have open spaces than store stuff I may never use again anyway. If you are questioning if you should purge something, put it (and like-items) in a box to store in your basement or attic for three months. If you don't miss it, clear it out of your house.</p> <h2>3. Scrub Appliances</h2> <p>&quot;Our refrigerator isn't too bad,&quot; I told my husband. And then I moved the food around and saw lots of drips and spills that had hardened into quite a sticky mess. I took a couple hours one day and set the oven to self clean, took all the food out of the fridge and freezer and scrubbed it with an all-purpose cleaner, and then finished off with cleaning out the filter in the dishwasher. They're like new again! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-fridge-last-almost-forever-with-these-8-tips?ref=seealso">8 Tips to Make Your Fridge Last Forever</a>)</p> <h2>4. Rummage Through Your Pantry</h2> <p>While you're at it, go through your food to see what's stale, expired, or might be headed that way soon. You'd be surprised how much space you gain by taking stock, and you might actually find foods you didn't know you had. I have definitely saved some grocery dollars by using up ingredients instead of letting them go to waste in the back of a cabinet.</p> <h2>5. Oil Your Hinges</h2> <p>Open all your doors and hinges and spray a little WD-40 to get those suckers sliding quietly. If you don't feel like running to the store, you can also use three different <a href="http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-silence-16316">household items</a> &mdash; soap, petroleum jelly, and paraffin wax &mdash; for the same silencing effect.</p> <h2>6. Wipe Down Trim and Molding</h2> <p>I don't know about you, but I never wash my door jams or baseboards. I didn't think they were too dirty until I looked closer. Coffee splashes, fingerprints, dust, and other (toddler) messes were very apparent on ours, so a little elbow grease (and a few <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001339ZMW/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001339ZMW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">Magic Erasers</a>) got them bright white again.</p> <h2>7. Or Even Paint Them</h2> <p>Beyond the general cleaning, some of our molding was actually dinged up from years of moving furniture, accidental kicks and scrapes, and even damage from that time when we hung a doorway pull-up bar. I went to our local hardware store and got some paint samples to find a glossy off-white that matched closely and then got a sample size can of paint. I took an artist's paintbrush around and blended them back in again.</p> <h2>8. Safeguard</h2> <p>Take a tour of your home's fire alarms, extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors. If they need new batteries, get new batteries today. If they are expired, broken, or are missing entirely &mdash; buy new today. Safety is one area not to skimp on or leave until tomorrow.</p> <h2>9. Filter and Maintain</h2> <p>As a first-time homeowner, I didn't really know we needed to maintain our furnace every single year. Now, that's not a hard and fast rule, but it's certainly a good idea. At the very least, we put in a new filter each year and make sure to call in help if we suspect there might be an issue. Keeping a furnace, water heater, air conditioning unit, or whatever else in working order is much cheaper than buying a new one. All it takes is a quick call to make an appointment, and be sure to check websites of bigger companies for coupons.</p> <h2>10. Clean Windows</h2> <p>On the inside and out, our windows are exposed to a vast number of icky things. Whether it's handprints, dirt, bugs, or whatever else that's obscuring your view, all it takes is some glass cleaner and time to get them clear again. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-all-purpose-cleaners?ref=seealso">The Best All-Purpose Cleaners</a>)</p> <h2>11. Shine Up Floors</h2> <p>We have gorgeous wood floors that we clean with basic water and vinegar, but we called in the big guns with some store-bought <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005V9Z9NI/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B005V9Z9NI&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">Orange Glo cleaner</a> to get them gleaming. It's something I'd love to start doing once a month, as it helps condition the wood beyond my basic washing. One bottle was only about $6, but I think it will last four or five applications in our small home.</p> <h2>12. Freshen Linens</h2> <p>I'll just come out and admit that we don't make our beds every day. So, doing so has majorly changed how we feel upstairs. Beyond that, we try to change our sheets more frequently these days to keep everything fluffy and smelling great. Be sure to add towels, shower curtains, bath rugs, curtains, and any other cloth item to this list.</p> <h2>13. Caulk Around</h2> <p>Our bathroom caulking had seen better days. Instead of scrubbing the mold and mildew, we decided to start with a fresh application. It sounds more complicated than it actually is. Simply rip out, re-do, and let dry &mdash; <a href="http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-re-caulk-a-bathtub/index.html">here's how</a>.</p> <h2>14. Repurpose and Reimagine</h2> <p>Have a hall closet continually crammed with random junk? Follow the steps above to clean and perhaps clear out and then try to come up with a purpose for that space so it doesn't become a catch-all. We have a small closet near our kitchen that we hung some cheap shelving in and we now use as a pantry. It's actually &quot;supposed&quot; to be a coat closet, but that just didn't work for our family. Give spaces jobs to do, and you'll maximize your living spaces. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-declutter-and-keep-your-stuff-too?ref=seealso">How to Declutter and Keep Your Stuff Too</a>)</p> <h2>15. Focus on Window Treatments</h2> <p>I'm sure we all have a few curtain rods, panels, blinds we bought long ago but haven't yet taken the time to hang. Why not skip the sitcom tonight and take that half an hour and finish that project today? It's incredible how simple window treatments can change the feel (and function) of a whole room. Plus, you'll gain back some storage space.</p> <h2>16. Patch and Paint Walls</h2> <p>I love the deep grey color of our living and dining room walls. However, if you look closely, you'll see some thin spots where the light blue beneath is still peeking through. Beyond that, you can see some holes from where we moved artwork or other nailed or screwed in decorative items. A container of lightweight patching is only a few dollars (and some people just use toothpaste!). If you don't have leftover paint, just head to the store and get a sample sized can in a matching color.</p> <h2>17. De-Clog and Decide About Hiring a Plumber</h2> <p>There's a quick and easy way to determine if your slow-draining tub or sink is a plumbing issue or not: Buy a container of de-clogger and follow its instructions. If you get things moving again &mdash; great! If not, call in a professional. Letting clogs go untreated can cause bigger issues in the long run.</p> <h2>18. Rearrange Furniture</h2> <p>Staging is something I'm no good at, but it makes a huge difference in the flow and feel of a house's interior. Why wait for potential buyers to do something like this? Consider moving around your couches, tables, and chairs to a new style that works well for you. And feel free to change your floor plan a million times until you get it just right.</p> <h2>19. Shine Some Light</h2> <p>Check out all your light fixtures to see where new lightbulbs are needed. Consider investing a little extra money in the energy efficient compact varieties. Not only do they use less power, they also purportedly last longer &mdash; which I have learned from experience. We didn't replace our overhead light in our bedroom for several months. Ridiculous, but it made such a difference to get it working again. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-energy-efficient-light-bulbs?ref=seealso">Best Energy Efficient Light Bulbs</a>)</p> <h2>20. Match Your Outlet Plates</h2> <p>I surveyed our interior and discovered that most of our light switch and outlet plates didn't match. Now, this isn't an issue beyond surface aesthetics, but new plates need not be expensive. If you can, try to get consistency going in your house. It's a subtle detail, but every corner counts.</p> <h2>21. Head Outside</h2> <p>Taking care of our spaces isn't limited to the indoors, unfortunately. Look around your yard to find any debris. Rake up any leaves or brush away any dirt that's on your patios or decks. Consider planting a few low maintenance flowers or shrubs to spruce things up a bit. No need for heavy landscaping, which might just require more work to maintain.</p> <h2>22. Tackle Simple DIY</h2> <p>One of my favorite cheap projects is to use vinyl tile ($1 a square foot where we live) to refresh an old floor. Painting a room a new hue can have big impact, too. Hanging smart shelving is another project most novices can undertake in an afternoon. Make a list of items you'd like to undertake and be realistic about your expectations. For example, if you've never tried your hand at plumbing, you could cause more harm than good.</p> <h2>23. Hire Help for the Rest</h2> <p>Then make a list of things you <em>don't</em> have the ability to do (whether for time or safety reasons). We had a light switch that was giving us trouble and a toilet that was leaking and our fix wouldn't hold. Calling the neighborhood handyman once versus multiple times can actually save you money. Many charge a flat rate just to come to your home, so it's best to get your money's worth while you can!</p> <h2>24. Nest</h2> <p>Sometimes all you need for renewed pride in your house is something homey. Slap an inexpensive wreath on your front door or add a flag pole with a festive banner. Hang a picture. Get a couple new throw pillows or even a new rug. We waited to do these things until our house was listed, but once we did &mdash; we were surely sad we didn't do it sooner.</p> <h2>25. Live Like You're Listed</h2> <p>From there, it's just a matter of keeping things clean and tidy, which is much more difficult in practice than it sounds in theory. I suggest following the 5- or 10-minute rule. If you can pick up, clean, or fix something in less than 5 or 10 minutes, do it right away. You'll keep up your spaces easily this way. Leave bigger projects to the weekend, but make a running list so you don't forget anything.</p> <p><em>Anything I've missed? Please tell us in comments your best, low-effort, high-impact home care projects!</em></p> <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/25-cheap-and-easy-fixes-that-make-your-house-look-amazing" class="sharethis-link" title="25 Cheap and Easy Fixes That Make Your House Look Amazing" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home Real Estate and Housing home maintenance Home repair home sale Fri, 18 Apr 2014 08:48:21 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1135888 at http://m.wisebread.com Make Your Fridge Last (Almost) Forever With These 8 Tips http://m.wisebread.com/make-your-fridge-last-almost-forever-with-these-8-tips <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/make-your-fridge-last-almost-forever-with-these-8-tips" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://m.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/refrigerator-477295393.jpg" alt="refrigerator" title="refrigerator" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="165" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>After the furnace, the most important appliance in your home is probably the refrigerator. It's also one of the most expensive ones. When you spend $1,000 or more on an item, you want it to last for many years. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-refrigerators?ref=seealso">Best Refrigerators</a>)</p> <p>The tips below will ensure that your fridge is running efficiently and for years beyond the warranty.</p> <h2>1. Place It Away From Heat</h2> <p>Anytime a motor is working harder than necessary, it is likely to die early. This is what happens when a heat source such as the stove or oven is nearby. The refrigerator has to work hard to keep itself cool due to the excess heat in the kitchen. Installing a refrigerator in the garage may be practical for overflow and when entertaining; however, if you live in a climate that gets warm in the summer, you may want to move it to a basement. Garages get extremely hot, especially in the summer, and the refrigerator will be working overtime to stay cool. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-dishwasher-last-almost-forever-with-these-6-tricks?ref=seealso">6 Tips to Make Your Dishwasher Last Forever</a>)</p> <h2>2. Keep It Level</h2> <p>When you first install your refrigerator, make sure it is level. A fridge that is not level will not close properly. This allows air to escape from any leaks. When air is leaking from the fridge, the motor runs continuously to keep it cool. The more the motor runs, the sooner it will quit. Be sure to check it once a year to make sure it is still level, as homes do shift and settle. (For information on how to level your refrigerator, see the owner's manual.)</p> <h2>3. Keep the Top Clear</h2> <p>The top of your refrigerator should not be used as storage. When you fill the space above your refrigerator with storage containers, cereal boxes, and baskets, you are keeping the warm air that flows from the top inside. This causes the motor to work harder and can lead to it overheating. Find another place for your storage and only put small decorative items on top of your fridge.</p> <h2>4. Keep It Clean</h2> <p>On most refrigerators there are coils on the outside that function as the cooling system (some newer models may have coils that are completely covered). These coils can accumulate pet hair, dust, and food particles. Vacuuming the coils on a regular basis (2-3 times a year) keeps the fridge running efficiently. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-one-month-guide-to-spring-cleaning?ref=seealso">One-Month Guide to Spring Cleaning</a>)</p> <h2>5. Inspect the Seals</h2> <p>Regularly inspect the seals around the refrigerator and freezer doors. Broken, cracked, and damaged seals cause air to leave the refrigerator, which forces it to run longer. This runs up your electricity bill and again, causes the motor to work harder. LG, one of the leading manufacturers of refrigerators, recommends also <a href="http://www.lg.com/us/support/product-help/CT10000005-CT10000021-1341840848445">inspecting and cleaning the gaskets</a> on the doors to ensure a tight seal is maintained.</p> <h2>6. Keep It Filled (but Not Too Full)</h2> <p>What you put inside your fridge is as important as what you put next to it or on top of it. A fridge that has food stored in every available space is going to work harder to keep it cool due to the lack of air circulation. On the other hand, a refrigerator that is too empty also works harder to keep itself cool. If your fridge gets too empty and will be for a while, for example while you are on vacation, fill bottles and jugs with water to store inside. This will keep your fridge running at its optimal speed.</p> <h2>7. Set the Proper Temperature</h2> <p>To keep your fridge from working too hard, set the freezer to a temperature of zero degrees Fahrenheit and <a href="http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm093704.htm">the fridge below 40 degrees Fahrenheit</a>. This keeps food safe, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and allows the refrigerator to run efficiently. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-i-eat-this-a-quick-guide-to-expiration-dates-and-food-safety?ref=seealso">Expiration Dates and Food Safety</a>)</p> <h2>8. Avoid Placing Warm Foods Inside</h2> <p>When warm foods or liquids are placed inside of the fridge or freezer, it must work extra hard to cool them off. Keep foods on the counter to cool for a short while before placing them in the refrigerator. If you are concerned about food-borne bacteria, place the food in the fridge while it is warm along with a frozen jug of water. The jug will keep the inside cool at the same time as the food is cooling without causing the fridge to work harder.</p> <p>Following these tips may not keep your refrigerator around forever, but they will extend the life of it for many years. Careful placement, cleaning, and maintenance will ensure that you do not have to replace it any time soon.</p> <p><em>How old is your fridge? What are you doing to help it last longer?</em></p> <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/make-your-fridge-last-almost-forever-with-these-8-tips" class="sharethis-link" title="Make Your Fridge Last (Almost) Forever With These 8 Tips" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips appliance care home maintenance refrigerator maintenance Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:36:22 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1135731 at http://m.wisebread.com Make Your Dishwasher Last (Almost) Forever With These 6 Tricks http://m.wisebread.com/make-your-dishwasher-last-almost-forever-with-these-6-tricks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/make-your-dishwasher-last-almost-forever-with-these-6-tricks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://m.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/dishwasher-200283593-001.jpg" alt="dishwasher" title="dishwasher" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Bringing home a new dishwasher is a major commitment. When you spend that much money on an appliance, you hope it will last and last. While there are no guarantees that you didn&#39;t somehow buy a lemon, there are things you can do to make your new dishwasher last much, much longer than its expected life (usually about 15 years). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-dishwashers?ref=seealso">5 Best Dishwashers</a>)</p> <h2>1. Check Your Filter Regularly</h2> <p>Some new dishwashers have self-cleaning filters, but that&#39;s an expensive feature that doesn&#39;t always work as well as you&#39;d expect. If you don&#39;t have this feature on your dishwasher or don&#39;t want to rely on it, simply clean out the filter manually. The amount of cleaning yours needs may vary &mdash; some manuals say to clean every load, some say once a week, and others once a month. Follow the instructions in your manual. Cleaning the filter allows you to remove large pieces of debris that would otherwise be trapped in your washer and impede its functioning. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-clean-your-dishwasher?ref=seealso">How to Clean Your Dishwasher</a>)</p> <p><strong>Bonus:</strong> If you no longer have your manual, Google the make and model of your dishwasher. Many manufacturers have their manuals posted online for easy access.</p> <h2>2. Clean the Sprayer Arms</h2> <p>Depending on your model of washer, you may have one sprayer arm or two in your dishwasher. The little holes in these can get filled with debris particles, hard water deposits, and other gunk. Usually, you can remove the arm and wash it in your sink with warm, soapy water. However, you will want to follow the specific directions in your manual to make sure you don&#39;t do more harm than good. Do this somewhere between once a week and once a month to ensure optimal spraying and a long life for these arms.</p> <p><strong>Bonus:</strong> You can also soak this arm with diluted vinegar, which will help remove any stubborn hard water deposits. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-weird-and-wonderful-ways-to-use-vinegar?ref=seealso">Weird and Wonderful Ways to Use Vinegar</a>)</p> <h2>3. Use Water at the Correct Temperature</h2> <p>To ensure that your dishwasher operates well without melting or burning any of the components, make sure that your hot water heater is set at the optimal temperature as listed in your manual. Even if your water isn&#39;t hot enough to hurt any parts during one cycle, repeated exposure to water that is too hot can cause damage over time. Since these are not always the &quot;typical&quot; parts that break, replacing them can be quite expensive.</p> <p><strong>Bonus:</strong> If you aren&#39;t sure how to change the temp settings on your hot water heater, look that up in its manual. Again, you can usually find the manual online if you don&#39;t have it anymore.</p> <h2>4. Manage Rust</h2> <p>If you have metal parts in your dishwasher, check to make sure that they are not rusting. While most dishwashers use stainless steel for any parts that have regular contact with water, some older models do not. And even stainless steel can be damaged under certain conditions. If you notice any rust or other metal damage, replace the parts immediately. Rust and/or metal pieces can clog your pump, which is usually a costly repair.</p> <p><strong>Bonus:</strong> Sometimes you can repair your dishwasher racks with a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001AAAZ1I/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001AAAZ1I&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">repair kit</a>. Other times, you may need to buy brand new racks to get rid of the problem.</p> <h2>5. Only Wash Dishes</h2> <p>While there are different sites online that advocate using your dishwasher to wash everything from keyboards to vegetables, doing this can harm your dishwasher. Some of these items have pieces that can break off under the force of water in the washer, and these can cause clogs and other damage. Since washing things that aren&#39;t dishes usually voids the warranty, you&#39;ll be out of luck and have to pay for repairs yourself.</p> <p><strong>Bonus:</strong> Other items, like keyboards and trash can lids, can contain germs that <a href="http://homeguides.sfgate.com/dishwashers-sterilize-84323.html">won&#39;t necessarily be destroyed</a> by your dishwasher. Since you don&#39;t want these on your dishes, don&#39;t put these in your dishwasher in the first place! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dirty-little-secrets-shocking-germ-hotspots-you-touch-every-day?ref=seealso">Shocking Germ Hotspots You Touch Every Day</a>)</p> <h2>6. Run Cleansing Cycles</h2> <p>If you do nothing else for your dishwasher, run cleansing cycles at least once a month. You can use special dishwasher cleaner for this, or simply put a packet of lemon Kool-Aid (or other lemonade mix) where you would usually put detergent (some say to make sure it is sugar-free). The mix contains citric acid, which will help dissolve any clogs and/or mineral deposits that have built up in the washer.</p> <p><strong>Bonus:</strong> Lemon Kool-Aid also makes your dishwasher smell lemony fresh!</p> <p><em>Good luck, and may your dishes be ever sparkling! And if you have any other dishwasher tips for us and our readers, leave them in the comments.</em></p> <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/make-your-dishwasher-last-almost-forever-with-these-6-tricks" class="sharethis-link" title="Make Your Dishwasher Last (Almost) Forever With These 6 Tricks" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> and published on <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home appliance maintenance appliances dishwasher home maintenance Thu, 16 Jan 2014 11:36:11 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1111195 at http://m.wisebread.com Must-Do Home Maintenance That Saves You Money...and Might Save Your Family http://m.wisebread.com/must-do-home-maintenance-that-saves-you-moneyand-might-save-your-family <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/must-do-home-maintenance-that-saves-you-moneyand-might-save-your-family" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://m.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/home-80295644.jpg" alt="home maintenance" title="home maintenance" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Certain home maintenance matters are a given. But what about those not-so-obvious ones, and are they really worth it? Here is a quick breakdown of several home safety and prevention items so you can learn more about the protection they provide and how they might save you money down the road. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/home-maintenance-and-repair-whats-an-emergency-and-what-can-wait?ref=seealso">Home Maintenance and Repairs That Shouldn&#39;t Wait</a>)</p> <h2>Water Alarms</h2> <p>A simple water alarm device is a great precautionary measure for helping to protect homes from undetected water damage. These alarms serve as leak monitors to alert a homeowner when water is first detected from anything from overflowing sump pumps to a busted pipe. Early warning means you may be able to stop a problem and avoid the costly repairs associated with water damage.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002Q8GRPG/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B002Q8GRPG&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">cheapest alarms</a> are passive battery devices that give off an audible alert tone and flashing light when water is detected. You can find these at home improvement stores for as little as $10. We use a couple on the floor in our basement near our sump pit and water heater. <a href="http://www.statefarm.com/learning/loss_prevent/learning_loss_business_waterdam.asp">State Farm Insurance</a> provides some useful information on the usual places where water damage can occur.</p> <p>More advanced alarms also exist, but they can cost upwards of several hundred dollars. These active leak systems not only detect water, but also perform shut-off functions. You can contact a plumber or a flood specialist to find out more.</p> <h2>Dryer Vent Maintenance</h2> <p>You may know it&#39;s important to clean your dryer lint screen after each use, but you also should periodically clean out dryer vents and ducts. Cleaning allows for better operation and prevents your dryer from becoming a fire hazard. According to the <a href="https://www.cpsc.gov/Regulations-Laws--Standards/Voluntary-Standards/Clothes-Dryers/">U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission</a>, clothes dryers cause thousands of residential fires per year, mainly due to people not properly cleaning the ducts.</p> <p>Luckily, keeping your dryer vent maintained is a pretty easy thing to do. It is typically recommended that you have your vent cleaned once a year. For professional duct cleaning, make sure to do a little research. I found quotes for as low as $50 and as high as $250 for a simple duct cleaning. You can also have them change your duct to ensure it is fireproof (many flexible ones are not). Some people even DIY the job, but you need to know what you are doing and do so safely. Check out <a href="http://www.allstate.com/tools-and-resources/home-insurance/clean-dryer-vent.aspx">Allstate&#39;s overview of dryer vent cleaning safety</a> for additional information. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-home-diy-projects-you-can-do-in-one-day?ref=seealso">Home DIY Projects You Can Do in a Day</a>)</p> <h2>Radon Testing and Remediation</h2> <p>According to the <a href="http://www.epa.gov/radon/index.html">EPA</a>, radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas that is produced from the natural decay of uranium found in most rocks and soils. Radon moves out of the ground up to the air above and can get trapped in your home. According to the <a href="http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html#risk">EPA</a> and <a href="http://www.who.int/ionizing_radiation/env/radon/en/index.html">World Health Organization</a>, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer (behind smoking). Sounds scary, but the good news is that radon in homes is fixable.</p> <p>The EPA recommends testing to ensure radon in the lowest level of the home is below 4.0 picocuries per liter. You can buy test kits or get free kits through some state offices to test on your own. Or, many people rely on professional testers to do a short-term test, especially for real estate transactions. Professional testing prices vary, but the ones in my area are around $100. Check out the <a href="http://www.epa.gov/radon/radontest.html">EPA&#39;s listing of how to find test kits or qualified radon professionals</a> in your area.</p> <p>If your levels are above 4.0 pCi/L, get a qualified radon professional to give you remediation quotes for options to reduce your levels. The most popular method is usually a vent pipe system connected to a radon exhaust fan, which pipes the radon out of your house.</p> <p>I live in a very high radon region, and luckily the builders of my home had already installed a radon vent pipe. We ended up spending $300 for a professional to hook up a radon fan and make a few modifications to our existing system to bring our levels down. If a brand new system or additional vent pipes need to be installed, keep in mind the cost will be significantly higher. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-costly-things-new-homeowners-dont-prepare-for?ref=seealso">Costly Things New Homeowners Don&#39;t Prepare For</a>)</p> <h2>Lightning Rods</h2> <p>Lightning can cause everything from surge damage to electronics and appliances from indirect strikes to structural damage and fires from direct hits. However, lightning protection systems (LPS) on homes can prevent such destruction as they work to provide a path for lightning to safely travel to the ground, leaving the home unharmed. And contrary to popular belief, lightning rods do not attract lightning, but rather provide a safe place to dissipate the electricity rather than having your home take the hit. The <a href="http://www.lightning.org/">Lightning Protection Institute</a> has a library of information for learning more about lightning and home protection. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/preparing-financially-for-a-natural-disaster?ref=seealso">How to Prepare Financially for a Natural Disaster</a>)</p> <p>Some people can go a lifetime without lightning damage, while others are all too familiar with the threat. If you decide on getting an LPS, you need to know it&#39;s not a small investment. It can cost several thousands of dollars depending on the size of your home and if you choose to conceal the system (hide the wires below the roof) or do any kind of decorative rod. Most importantly, installing a LPS is not a DIY job. It must be done by an experienced and reputable UL-listed and <a href="http://www.lightning.org/installers/">LPI certified contractor</a>. Additionally, when our LPI contractor installed our system, he gave us documentation, which we used to receive a small credit on our homeowner&#39;s insurance for protecting our home with a certified LPS.</p> <p>These are just some items to consider as you go about maintaining your home. While it may feel like investing in your home is never-ending, certain items may save you money in the long run, while also keeping your family safe, should you decide to implement them.</p> <p><em>What other home safety or maintenance items do you think are worth considering?</em></p> <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/must-do-home-maintenance-that-saves-you-moneyand-might-save-your-family" class="sharethis-link" title="Must-Do Home Maintenance That Saves You Money...and Might Save Your Family" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/kelly-medeiros">Kelly Medeiros</a> and published on <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home home maintenance insurance Thu, 05 Dec 2013 11:24:05 +0000 Kelly Medeiros 1098855 at http://m.wisebread.com Home Maintenance and Repair: What's an Emergency and What Can Wait? http://m.wisebread.com/home-maintenance-and-repair-whats-an-emergency-and-what-can-wait <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/home-maintenance-and-repair-whats-an-emergency-and-what-can-wait" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://m.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/home-repair-5230053-small.jpg" alt="man with wrench" title="man with wrench" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When money's tight, even a minor home repair takes on a new and stressful dimension. But when you're looking a laundry list of things that need to be done with limited funds, it can be overwhelming. If home repairs have you longing for the days of apartment life, don't despair. Here's how to take a step back, prioritize what needs to be done, and embrace a slow, steady, and budget-friendly approach to home maintenance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-it-really-costs-to-own-a-home">What It Actually Costs to Own a Home</a>)</p> <h2>1. Electrical and Wiring</h2> <p>Safety comes first. Wiring and electrical problems can damage sensitive electronics, and lead to fires and even electrocution, so it's best to address them head-on and with the help of a licensed professional. If the lights in your home dim when you turn on multiple appliances, if your circuit breakers trip frequently, or if your outlets are hot to the touch, it may be time to call an electrician. The cost of rewiring a house varies based on the size of the home, but typically ranges between <a href="http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/electrical/do-you-need-electrical-service-upgrade/#.">$3,500&ndash;$8,000</a>, according to houselogic.com. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-top-10-diy-jobs-homeowners-should-avoid">10 DIY Jobs Homeowners Should Avoid</a>)</p> <h2>2. Roof</h2> <p>Water intrusion is one of the quickest ways to rack up big-dollar expenses. Rot, mold, insect infestation, and electrical problems can all result from even small leaks in your roof. Be aware of dank or damp smells in your home, stains on drywall, and damaged shingles, algae growth, or pooling water on the roof.</p> <p>Because roof problems usually progress quickly, if you notice an issue, contact a roofer right away. An initial inspection is usually free of charge. Again, roof replacement costs depend on the size of your home and can <a href="http://www.ehow.com/facts_4870641_typical-cost-roof-replacement.html">run anywhere from $2,000 to $25,000</a>.</p> <h2>3. Basement and Foundation</h2> <p>A solid footing supports (literally and figuratively) everything else in your home. Protect it.</p> <p>As homes settle naturally or shift due to extreme rain or flooding, structural problems can occur. If you notice sagging beams, large cracks in the masonry, or floors that develop a new dip or slant, it might indicate a larger problem. Hire a contractor to inspect your home and if there are significant issues, retain a home inspection engineer to get an accurate picture of the solutions and the associated costs. You can search for a qualified home inspection engineer by visiting the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers website at <a href="http://www.nabie.org/">NABIE.org</a>.</p> <h2>4. Gutters and Drainage</h2> <p>Gutters help your roof do its job and without good drainage, even the highest quality roof can't protect your home from water damage. Look for dented, damaged, or split gutters and downspouts that don't connect properly. Also, survey your home immediately after a rainstorm; look for clogs, leaks, or pooling water that may indicate larger problems with your gutter system. The cost of new gutters varies depending on the size of your home and the complexity of roofline. For a handy calculator on the price of seamless gutters, try <a href="http://www.homewyse.com/services/cost_to_install_seamless_gutters.html">this calculator</a> from homewyse.com.</p> <h2>5. Exterior Paint</h2> <p>Paint does more than beautify your home &mdash; it provides protection from the elements that damage wood and other siding products and helps discourage boring insects. Look over areas with cracked, flaking, or blistering paint. Small areas can usually be sanded and repainted without hiring a professional. A full paint job usually runs <a href="http://home.costhelper.com/painting-exterior.html">between $3,000 and $5,000</a> according to costhelper.com (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-home-diy-projects-you-can-do-in-one-day">Home DIY Projects You Can Do in One Day</a>)</p> <h2>6. Heating and Cooling Systems</h2> <p>Upgrading the heating and cooling systems in your home can help reduce energy costs and minimize the chances of a malfunction that could lead to frozen and burst pipes in winter.</p> <p>If your system is working properly, replacement is, of course, elective. But if you're not sure how well your system is performing, keep an eye out for frequent on/off cycles that may indicate a bad thermostat or equipment that's struggling to regulate temperature. Call in an expert if you have other concerns or would like an estimate on the price of new equipment. Typically the price of a new HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system runs between <a href="http://www.realestate.com/advice/heating-and-cooling-systems/">$5,000 and $7,000</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-seal-leaks-and-reduce-your-winter-heating-bill">9 Ways to Seal Leaks and Reduce Your Winter Heating Bill</a>)</p> <p>For broader information on how to plan for and buy a new heating and cooling system, check out from HomeAdvisor's <a href="http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/heating-and-cooling/#closing-article">Heating and Cooling Cost Guide</a>.</p> <p>Although we can't always predict when home repair or maintenance issues will arise, we can plan for them and be strategic in how we react to them. By understanding that not all issues are emergencies, we can leverage our resources to take care of what's essential first and phase in less urgent repairs over time. As with any expense, it always helps to anticipate likely repairs based on the condition and age of your home and begin to set aside funds for those inevitable expenses before they become critical.</p> <p><em>Have you prioritized your home maintenance to-do list?</em></p> <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/home-maintenance-and-repair-whats-an-emergency-and-what-can-wait" class="sharethis-link" title="Home Maintenance and Repair: What&#039;s an Emergency and What Can Wait?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> and published on <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Real Estate and Housing first time home buyer home maintenance Home repair refinancing Tue, 03 Sep 2013 10:24:28 +0000 Kentin Waits 981652 at http://m.wisebread.com The Top 10 DIY Jobs Homeowners Should Avoid http://m.wisebread.com/the-top-10-diy-jobs-homeowners-should-avoid <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-top-10-diy-jobs-homeowners-should-avoid" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://m.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/home-tools-3760668-small.jpg" alt="home repair" title="home repair" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Doing it yourself is a great way to save money. Home improvements and repairs can be costly, and any contractor you hire to do the job will mark-up prices on materials and labor. Some will also charge for an estimate, although that is rare these days.</p> <p>So, with that in mind, and with the Internet being such a vast resource of free information, it's very easy to be tempted to do a lot of these expensive jobs yourself. However, you can soon find yourself out of your depth and spending even more money than the initial job would have cost to correct your own mistakes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-household-fixes-you-should-stop-paying-others-for" target="_blank">5 Household Fixes You Should Stop Paying Others For</a>)</p> <p>I talked to several professionals over the last few weeks, some of whom I have hired to work on my own home. They outlined a list of jobs that you should think twice about attempting. Of course, if you're a skilled handyman or handywoman, or have experience doing particular repairs, go ahead and do your thing. But if in doubt, get a professional out.</p> <h2>1. Roof Repair</h2> <p>We recently had to replace the whole roof due to hail damage. Insurance picked up the $12,000 tab, but there's a reason it costs a lot of money to repair or replace a roof. It's time-consuming, it's labor-intensive, it takes a lot of people, it's dangerous, and it can mess up your whole house if you do it wrong. If it's replacing one or two shingles, and you are confident you can do the job well, that's one thing. But any major repairs you should leave to the pros. A roof should last 20 years or more; it's worth the investment.</p> <h2>2. Tree Removal</h2> <p>Big, bad tree taking up too much of your yard? Well, think twice before pulling that sucker out.</p> <p>If it's a large tree, you need to know exactly how to make it fall in the right direction. One false move and you have a tree in your bedroom. If you do manage to plan it correctly, and it falls just where you want, you now have a stump to remove. A huge, heavy stump with a root system that could spread 20 to 40 feet. After all that heaving and pulling, probably with a truck, you now have a very heavy stump to haul away, plus the rest of the tree. Is it worth it? Nope. Hire a tree service; they do this daily and they're reasonably priced.</p> <h2>3. Structural Improvements</h2> <p>Most people know about load bearing walls. They may not know exactly how to handle them though, and if you don't do it right, your whole house is at risk. But even if you avoid the load bearing walls, you still have other walls to deal with that contain water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, and ductwork for the HVAC system. If you're planning on taking out a wall or two, plan to bring in the professionals.</p> <h2>4. Major Plumbing or Electrical Work</h2> <p>If you have <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-repair-a-dripping-faucet" target="_blank">a blocked toilet or a leaky faucet</a>, don't pay big money on a contractor when you can do the job in a few minutes. Similarly, installing a new ceiling fan or light is no big deal either. But when it comes to anything that involves rerouting pipe work or significant rewiring, don't save a buck and do it yourself. This requires the work of professionals, and when you consider the house could burn down or be flooded by your actions (not to mention you could kill yourself in the process) it's not worth the risk.</p> <h2>5. Installing New Windows</h2> <p>My wife wants a new window in our bathroom. Well, she wants a window in our bathroom period. There isn't one in there right now. I'm tempted to do it myself; it would be so much cheaper. You may feel the same way, too. But when you consider you are literally cutting a huge hole in the side of your house and have to make sure it is safe and watertight, is it worth saving the money? What if you don't get it quite right, and the window falls out? It could kill someone. Even a small mistake could result in serious damage to your home and the contents. Hire a contractor.</p> <h2>6. Attic Insulation</h2> <p>What? Just throwing a bit of insulation in the attic? No worries. Well, think again. If you don't know <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-diy-tips-to-winterize-your-home-for-cheap" target="_blank">which type of insulation to use</a>, how much to use, and where to put it, you can actually create new problems. These include improper ventilation, home overheating, and even wood rot from moisture buildup. And if you don't watch your step, you could come right through the ceiling. If you feel confident and have done your research, you could give it a try. But I would recommend a professional service.</p> <h2>7. Replacing Exterior Siding</h2> <p>A little piece here or there, well, that's something you could attempt to do if you consider yourself handy. But the whole house? If the siding on your abode is looking past its prime, it will take a serious amount of time and knowledge to replace it. This is what is considered a major DIY task, and one most homeowners know better than to take on. Remember, this is not just making your home look good; it is protecting it from the elements. Mess this one up and you can severely impact the value of your home and its ability to stand up to the elements.</p> <h2>8. Gutter Repair or Replacement</h2> <p>At first glance, it seems easy enough. A few screws here and there and you're done. Easy. But consider this&nbsp;&mdash; the guttering system is directly linked to the roof, and it is virtually impossible to repair it without impacting that roof. It's also tricky work, done on a long ladder with limited stability. It should certainly not be attempted alone. But save yourself the headache and the risk of injury to yourself and damage to the roof. Call the pros.</p> <h2>9. Basement Finishing</h2> <p>If you have an unfinished basement, you have probably already thought about the option of getting it transformed into a livable space. No doubt you have even looked into the costs and cried a little. It is expensive. And there's a reason for that. It takes time, planning, and a lot of experience.</p> <p>I have a friend who just finished his basement remodel. He started it five years ago. He said he's probably spent twice what it would have cost to get it done by a professional firm, taking into account his own time, the amount of mess-ups he had to replace, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/like-diy-avoid-these-ten-costly-mistakes" target="_blank">the &quot;money&quot; he spent learning on the job</a>. This is a massive undertaking. Some call it an adventure, others, a potential nightmare. And if you do it wrong, you may have to pay someone to rip it out and redo it. Unless you have some major DIY chops, a stockpile of equipment, and a lot of friends who can help, give this one a very wide berth.</p> <h2>10. HVAC Systems</h2> <p>HVAC, if you don't already know, stands for Heating, Ventilation &amp; Air Conditioning. This is complicated stuff. Your air conditioner, your furnace, your boiler, the ductwork, the electrics, the pipe work&nbsp;&mdash; it goes on and on and on. You may know a few things about HVAC, but certainly not enough to rival the professionals who do this for a living. This is what makes your home livable. It keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer, and if it's done wrong, it can seriously mess up your home's value. This is not something you want to tackle, even if you consider yourself fairly handy.</p> <p><em>That's my top 10 DIY jobs homeowners should avoid. Did I miss anything? Is something on this list that you believe is easier than I've made it sound? Let us know in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/the-top-10-diy-jobs-homeowners-should-avoid" class="sharethis-link" title="The Top 10 DIY Jobs Homeowners Should Avoid" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY home improvement home maintenance Home repair Mistakes Thu, 23 May 2013 10:38:36 +0000 Paul Michael 974180 at http://m.wisebread.com January: The Perfect Maintenance Month http://m.wisebread.com/january-the-perfect-maintenance-month <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/january-the-perfect-maintenance-month" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://m.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/oil_change.jpg" alt="oil change" title="oil change" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="240" height="192" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In between doing my own household chores on New Year's Day, I noticed that my husband (a.k.a. Mr. Handyman) seemed very busy.&nbsp;Rather than focus on my own boring list, I decided to pester him and see what he was up to. As it turns out, he was doing his &quot;January 1<sup>st</sup> money-saving stuff.&quot; Why January 1<sup>st</sup>, I wondered? He says it&rsquo;s just because that&rsquo;s a pretty easy date to remember to do his &quot;money-saving annual chores.&quot;</p> <p>I was intrigued and figured he might be doing something I could parlay into a post for Wise Bread readers, a crowd that is also pretty darned interested in money-saving stuff. Don&rsquo;t worry, we&rsquo;re not too late. He says if you don&rsquo;t actually get these things done right on the first day of the year, the system still works, because &ldquo;approximately annually&rdquo; is close enough. Once you get into the annual, first-of-the-year cycle, you can catch everything on time next year.&nbsp;</p> <p>I began by quizzing him while he was underneath his truck. Frankly, he is not much of a conversationalist in that position, but I persisted in the name of thorough reporting. Patiently, he explained that he uses synthetic oil, which is more expensive, but it does not break down over time the way petroleum-based oils do. Thus, because he does not put very many miles on his pickup, he can go for extended periods of time between oil changes. He says he could go even longer than a year, but he always errs on the conservative side when it comes to oil changes. Of course, changing it himself also saves the labor charges. Though he admits that the labor charges for an oil-and-filter change are often not significant, he also reminded me of the several-hundred-dollar repair bill we wound up splitting with a national muffler chain when we had to replace the oil pan on my car, and we weren&rsquo;t confident that we could prove the chain&rsquo;s negligence in cross-threading the oil plug when they replaced it the previous time. He carefully threads the plug in by hand and then tightens it with a torque wrench to the manufacturer&rsquo;s specs, instead of jamming it in with an air wrench the way the muffler shop apparently did. I wish I had taken auto shop in high school.&nbsp;</p> <p>While he had all the tools out and the rubber gloves on, he also changed the oil in the lawnmower, which Briggs &amp; Stratton recommends be done at the lesser of every fifty hours of operation, or (wait for it&hellip;) annually! Since he definitely doesn&rsquo;t mow the lawn every week, and it usually takes less than an hour to mow each time, he changes the oil once a year, near the first of the year. Mr. Handyman says that most small-engine mechanics will tell you that the single best thing you can do to prolong the life of your four-cycle, air-cooled engine is to regularly change the oil. For the cost of less than a quart of oil, the use of a wrench, and a few minutes, you can keep your lawnmower engine purring for years after your neighbors have had to shell out for new ones.</p> <p>To support himself through college, my husband sold tires for a living. That experience taught him the importance of proper tire inflation and wheel alignment in maximizing the life of tires. So he regularly checks the tire pressure on our cars &mdash; about semi-monthly &mdash; to make sure they are inflated to our cars&rsquo; specifications (not, as some people think, to the maximum pressure stamped on the side of the tire). Every set of tires we have owned since we have been married has lasted more than 55,000 miles. He reminded me that we have been married for a very, very, very long time (sarcasm noted). At several hundred dollars per set, that really helps the cause.</p> <p>But there&rsquo;s something else I learned on New Year&rsquo;s Day. Not only did I spy him under the front of his pickup, changing his oil, but also under the rear. I suspected he was trying to ditch me, but he had removed his spare tire from its winch under the truck bed to check its pressure and general condition. After that, he did the same for my car. <em>Somewhat </em>patiently, he explained that if we happened to have a blowout on the mountain road we frequent, we would either need to use that spare or call a tow truck (if we happened to be in an area with cell phone coverage).</p> <p>If he left the spare under there the way many people do, without ever checking it, chances are it would be flat when we needed it &mdash; as he found most of his tire customers&rsquo; spares to be back in his college days. The average car old enough to have worn out a set of tires is also old enough for an unattended spare to have naturally gone flat. So for the cost of only a few cents in electricity to run the compressor while filling the spare, he avoids the potential tow-truck call up the mountain, which could easily run a couple hundred dollars, depending upon the location. You do the math: Even if you have towing insurance, it is reassuring not to be completely dependent upon your cell-phone coverage and a towing company.</p> <p>For his last auto-related New Year&rsquo;s task, he also changed our wiper blades. Because East Hawaii is known for its prodigious rainstorms, wiper blades last just about a year before becoming noticeably less effective.</p> <p>I thought he was trying to ditch me again by going inside the house, but he still had some chores. While putting the Christmas ornaments away in the attic, he paused to change smoke alarm batteries. Most fire marshals recommend that you change smoke alarm batteries every six months. When we lived on the mainland, he changed them at each Daylight Savings Time change. However, the state of Hawaii does not participate in Daylight Savings Time, so his reminder dates are January 1 and July 1. Though this technically isn&rsquo;t a &ldquo;money saver,&rdquo; you can&rsquo;t put a price on having working smoke detectors, should ever need them.</p> <p><em>Readers, if you have other suggestions to add to my husband&rsquo;s New Year&rsquo;s to-do list, I am sure he would like to know!</em></p> <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/january-the-perfect-maintenance-month" class="sharethis-link" title="January: The Perfect Maintenance Month" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/marla-walters">Marla Walters</a> and published on <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/topic/life-hacks/general-tips">General Tips articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips car maintenance home maintenance oil change smoke alarms Fri, 07 Jan 2011 14:00:10 +0000 Marla Walters 439127 at http://m.wisebread.com 7 DIY Tips to Winterize Your Home for Cheap http://m.wisebread.com/7-diy-tips-to-winterize-your-home-for-cheap <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-diy-tips-to-winterize-your-home-for-cheap" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://m.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/home%20winterization.jpg" alt="home winterization" title="home winterization" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are two kinds of home winterization tips. The first variety often involves spending a load of money to upgrade your energy efficiency. While definitely worthwhile and timely with many <a href="http://20somethingfinance.com/2010-irs-federal-energy-tax-credit/">federal energy tax credits</a> expiring this year, these fixes can still be very costly (think adding insulation, getting a new energy efficient furnace, energy efficient windows, etc.).</p> <p>(See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-save-water-energy-money-the-world-in-one-afternoon">5 Ways to Save Water, Energy, Money, and the World in One Afternoon</a>.)</p> <p>The other variety of home winterizing tips focus on the things that you can do on a weekend afternoon for very little money (or free) with a little bit of elbow grease. The cost savings of doing such work generally comes in the form of preventing <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/like-diy-avoid-these-ten-costly-mistakes">costly fix-it repairs</a> that come from neglect. Here are seven things that you should do around the house every year before the first sign of snow hits.</p> <h3>1. Clean Out Your Gutters</h3> <p>Gutters that are dammed up with leaves can result in ice dams, which can lead to all kinds of costly outdoor repairs &mdash; damaged shingles, roof leaks, broken gutters, etc. Additionally, if your gutters are clogged up, water could be falling right next to your foundation and leads to possible flooding in the basement.</p> <p><strong>Estimated Cost: Free, as long as you don't fall off the roof and end up with a medical bill.</strong></p> <h3>2. Drain Your External Faucets</h3> <p>Water that is sitting in pipes that lead to outside faucets can freeze and burst, ultimately flooding your basement and leading to possible water damage and mold problems. Simply close off the interior faucet valves by turning them clockwise all the way to the right. Then go outside and make sure that every last drop has come out of the faucet.</p> <p><strong>Estimated Cost: Free</strong></p> <h3>3. Caulk</h3> <p>Search for drafts around windows and doors on a cold windy day. Place a tissue paper over the suspected draft area. If the paper flutters, you've probably located the draft. For drafts under doors, you may have to buy a rubber draft stopper to place at the bottom of the door.</p> <p><strong>Estimated Cost: $3/tube (One tube should be more than enough.)</strong></p> <h3>4. Repair Your Shingles</h3> <p>If you have cracked, missing, or otherwise damaged shingles, have them replaced immediately so that you don't get roof leaks. Strong winds, falling tree limbs, and sun weathering can all lead to damaged shingles. You might as well check them out while you're up on your roof cleaning out your gutters.</p> <p><strong>Estimated Cost: $1/shingle</strong></p> <h3>5. Flush Your Hot Water Heater</h3> <p>You can <a href="http://www.wikihow.com/Flush-a-Water-Heater">flush a hot water heater</a> any time of year, but you might as well throw it in with the other maintenance work you'll be doing since you really only need to do it about once a year. If you don't, sediment can build up at the bottom of your water heater and cause it to lose efficiency or even leak.</p> <p>Simply take one of your water hoses and fasten it to the water faucet at the bottom of your water heater. Turn off the water heater so that you don't get burned by hot water accidentally. Run the hose outdoors, preferably, but if you can't do that, then a laundry tub should be sufficient. Open the valve and let the water drain out completely, rinsing out the sediment with it.</p> <p><strong>Estimated Cost: $0.001 for the water</strong></p> <h3>6. Replace Your Furnace Filter</h3> <p>Furnace filters, in a clean basement, can lead to a more efficient furnace when replaced about every six months. I usually replace mine when I first turn on the heat and then when I switch over to air conditioning in the summer.</p> <p><strong>Estimated Cost: $5-$15, depending on the furnace</strong></p> <h3>7. Programmable Thermostat</h3> <p>Most programmable thermostats can be purchased for $30-$70. In a cold climate, you might be able to save that much in a month alone if you set one up to be cooler while you are out of the house and at night, and warmer when you are at home. And they are easier to install than you may think (half-hour job, max.).</p> <p><strong>Estimated Cost: $30-70</strong></p> <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/7-diy-tips-to-winterize-your-home-for-cheap" class="sharethis-link" title="7 DIY Tips to Winterize Your Home for Cheap" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/ge-miller">G.E. Miller</a> and published on <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://m.wisebread.com/topic/frugal-living/home">Home articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Home home improvement home maintenance Home repair winterizing Tue, 19 Oct 2010 12:00:19 +0000 G.E. Miller 264957 at http://m.wisebread.com