Chimney Cleaning 101

Did you know that most structure fires, fire deaths and fire injuries occur in the home? According to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 357,000 reported home structure fires caused 2,470 civilian deaths per year. During the five-year period of 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 357,000 home structure fires per year. These fires caused an annual average of 2,470 civilian deaths, 12,890 civilian fire injuries, and $6.9 billion in direct property damage.

Home fire deaths occur more often in winter and between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. In 2009-2013, 28% of home structure fires and one-third of home structure fire deaths occurred in the winter months of December, January and February. Of these fires, heating equipment was the second leading cause of home fires, home fire deaths, and home fire injuries during this period. Chimney fires were the most common type of heating fire!

I’m not saying all this to scare you. I am, however, trying to warn you. We all think it’s not going to happen to us. Well, why not make sure of it? The number one way to prevent a chimney fire is by cleaning your chimney EVERY year BEFORE you use it! I know it’s dirty work but isn’t it worth it? Below is a video on how to do it yourself. It’s really not that hard. Give it a try. It could save your life!

As with anything, if you are not comfortable handling it yourself, hire a professional. Whatever route you choose, just do it!


Preventing Ice Damage

Last year was one of the worst winters for ice damage to homes. It seems almost everyone I talked with had some form of damage. Whether it was damage to the roof itself, the gutters, the inside of the home, or a complete roof collapse, it was disheartening to see so many home owners suffer!

ice dam bylin

It doesn’t have to be that way. There are things you can do to try and prevent this from happening. Here are just a few…

1, Make sure your gutters are cleaned out. Leaves and debris can cause the gutters to back up and ice to form on your roof. Winter storms build up snow on the roof. Heat from the building (through insulation, chimneys, and roof vents) and from the sun (solar gain) causes roof snow-melt. Melted snow runs down roof lines to valleys and eaves. The melted snow refreezes at the base of the valleys and at the roof eaves. As day/night time temperatures cycle up and down, the ice dams and icicles continue to grow and cause damage to your home.

2, Make sure you remove excess snow from your roof throughout the winter. This cuts down on the amount of snow melting and as a result, less water in your gutter to freeze and build up. The best way to do this is with a roof rake. Scrape as much as you can off for the best results. You may want to get a roof rake now. Once the snowstorms start, they are next to impossible to find!

3, Install an Ice Melt System. Here at Newhouse & Sun, we offer state-of-the-art Roof Ice Melt Systems. For more information, visit our Ice Melt information page HERE or call us at (978) 657-7274


Garbage Disposal 101

A garbage disposal is a great addition to any kitchen. It cuts down on waste and reduces any lingering food odors from the trash can. The problem is though, they can become easily clogged if not taken care of properly. Today we will include ways to clean your disposal, what not to put it in and even a how to video, should yours ever clog.


Grease or Oil: They can solidify and build up on your pipes.

Vegetable Peels: This is ok for some fruits and vegetables, but not the tougher skinned ones so choose wisely.

Egg Shells: There is a membrane on the inside of the egg that can wrap around the blades.

Coffee Grounds: They don’t flush away like you think and over time build up and clog.

Pits, Seeds or Bones. I think this is obvious but just in case… don’t!

Garbage: Anything non food, no matter how small it is. Example, those little stickers on the fruit.

If you should find that your disposal is clogged. There are a few things you can try yourself before hiring a professional or replacing the unit. Watch this short video…

Now that we’ve gotten your disposal up and running. Let’s talk ways to keep it clean and running smoothly.

Ice & Salt: Take one cup ice and one cup salt and put it down the disposal. Turn on the water and let run for a minute or so. This will scrape away any build up that you may have.

Baking Soda & Vinegar: A little of each with create a natural fizzy cleaning action that rinses grim away

Lemon: This is my personal favorite because of the scent it gives off. Cut up a lemon into smaller chunks. Place them down the disposal and let it run for a couple minutes. The lemon is a natural disinfectant. It cleans and makes the whole kitchen smell amazing!

Well that’s it for now. Hope you don’t have any issues but if you do, you know what to do!


Is Your Home Green?

I’m not talking about color. I’m talking about lifestyle. “Going green” means to pursue knowledge and practices that can lead to more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions and lifestyles, which can help protect the environment and sustain its natural resources for current and future generations.


There are several ways you can achieve this. Here are just a few…

Install a programmable thermostat

These automatically adjust for when you are away or asleep, saving you money.

Set your hot water tank to 120

Not only does higher temperatures increase risk of injury, it also increases energy costs as well.

Start a nightly routine

Go through the house and make sure all unused lights, appliances, ceiling fans, electronics, etc are all turned off.

Upgrade your appliances

Today’s appliances are so energy efficient. They come with ratings so you’ll know exactly what you are getting.

Seal, Seal, Seal!

Around windows, doors, basements, attics! Everywhere that cool air can get in and heat can escape. Also, if you have older windows, you may want to cover them with those shrinking plastic kits until you can afford to replace them.

Buy energy efficient light bulbs

These typically use about 25%-80% less energy than traditional incandescent, saving you money and they last significantly longer!

One last thing I want to include is specific for Massachusetts home owners. Have you ever heard of Mass Save? It is an initiative sponsored by Massachusetts gas and electric utilities and energy efficiency service providers. They work closely to provide a wide range of energy efficiency services to help residents manage energy use and related costs. They have rebates, incentives, tips, resources and more. There is even a place to take an online assessment to see where you could save more. It’s a great program and is worth checking out. Just click HERE!

Well, that’s it for now. Stay warm!

How to Cut Crown Molding

There is no doubt about it, crown molding adds beauty and character to a home but it’s not always easy to do. So many times I have come across people trying to do it themselves and ruining piece after piece of molding. UGH!

There is another way. You could hire a professional or you could watch this step by step video on how to do it properly yourself. YouTube is amazing when it comes to how to videos. Anything you could ever want to know how to do is just a click away.

So watch this video on how to miter a perfect molding, grab your tools and let’s get to work!

Don’t have expensive power tools? That’s ok. You can do it by hand with a miter box. Here’s how….


How to Lay A Tile Floor

A tiled floor can add so much to your home. It can add value, quality and most of all, style! There are so many decisions to make. What kind of material? What colors? Shapes? The possibilities are endless.

Now that you’ve got your tile picked out, here comes the best part. Installing it! You could hire someone to do it but with this step by step video, you might want to try it yourself. It’s really pretty easy and it could save you a bundle! So grab your tile and let’s get to work!


Upgrade Your Kitchen Cabinets

The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where friends and family gather. It’s where we spend most of our time, so we want it to look the best that it can. Whether you are replacing or refinishing, here are some helpful tips to help you make the right decisions and the kitchen of your dreams.

Still need some more ideas? Check out this link from HGTV on different styles ideas! Some of them are really cool!

Good luck!


Control Mold and Mildew in Your Home

Mildew and molds are fungi – simple microscopic organisms that thrive anywhere there is a moist environment. Molds are a necessary part of the environment; without them, leaves would not decay and aspects of soil enrichment could not take place. It is their ability to destroy organic materials, however, that makes mold a problem for people – in our homes and in our bodies. Mildew (mold in early stage) and molds grow on wood products, ceiling tiles, cardboard, wallpaper, carpets, drywall, fabric, plants, foods, insulation, decaying leaves and other organic materials. Exposure to mold can cause harm to you and your family so it’s best to take care of it right away. Here is a short video filled with tips and suggestions to help rid your home of mold and mildew and help keep your family safe.


Winter Preparation Checklist

Winter is on it’s way! Being proactive, you will lower your energy bills, increase efficiency and the lifespan of your home. Here is a checklist to make sure you keep the warmth in and Old Man Winter out!!


Windows and Doors

Check all weatherstripping and replace if necessary. Install storm windows and doors. Check for drafts and caulk where necessary. Replace any cracked or broken glass.


Trim any branches that hang over wires in case of ice storms. Clean, dry and store all patio furniture. Bring in and store any decorations that are made of glass or stone. They can crack in the cold. Drain and remove hoses. Shut off valves to the outside. Check walkways and handrails to ensure ease of shoveling and decreased chances of falling.


Winterize your lawnmower. Bring in and store any other landscaping equipment. Move shovels and snowblower to the front of the garage. Get your roof rake ready as well as an ample supply of ice melt.


Remove window air conditioners. Inspect and clean fireplace. Replace the air filter in your furnace. Make sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Change the batteries if you haven’t in a while. Replace old thermostats with energy efficient ones. Change the position of the ceiling fans to circulate heat. Check the insulation in attics, basements and other places.


Check for any loose or damaged shingles and replace. Make sure the gutters are clean, secure and the downspouts drain far away from the house. Check the chimney flashing and seal where needed. Check all vents and openings for debris.

Now you’re ready for winter. Bring on the snow!