Category: home

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.

NEVER PUT THESE ITEMS DOWN YOUR DISPOSAL

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!

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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.

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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 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!

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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.

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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!!

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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.

Outdoors

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.

Tools

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.

Heating

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.

Roof

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!

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Tips to Increase Your Home’s Value

Increasing your homes value is easier than you think. With these tips and tricks, your home will be worth more in no time!daves house

Plan Your Remodel

Have a plan. Whether it’s new construction or an older home, impulse decisions are never a good idea. Start slowly. It’s a work in progress, not a race. Make a list of the things you want to change and categorize them according to cost. Once you’ve done that, narrow it down to the “must haves” and the “wants,” keeping your budget in mind as well as what ones will add actually value to your home. The rest you can work when you have some spare cash.

Take On One Room At A Time

Whether it’s a simple coat of paint or gutting an entire room, taking on one room at makes things attainable and get’s things done! This way the rest of the house still functions instead of living in complete disorder.

Small Improvements Can Really Pay Off

Homeowners are usually torn between making decorative changes or upgrades. I say do a little of both. Make two lists. One for upgrades and the other for decor. Pick some from each list, the ones that fit your budget and go with them. Add something from alternating lists say every other month. Whether it’s new hardware, a new faucet, new window treatments or a new lamp, over time you will see an increase in your enjoyment of the home and in it’s value!

Clean Your House

Everyone loves a clean house. People can tell a lot about you by how you keep your home. Take one room at a time. Organize and throw out anything that you don’t want/need anymore. By cleaning your house one room at a time you accomplish many things. First, you are able to spot and stay on top of any maintenance issues. Second, you don’t allow dirt and clutter to build up over time. Third and most important, a clean home is healthier and better for your family!

Curb Appeal

Take a walk around the neighborhood. Take note of all of the things you admire about your neighbors homes. Things that make them feel warm and welcoming. When you get back, stand in the road and look at your house. Does it have any of those qualities you liked? If not, change it. Paint the door, add a flower bed, some new light fixtures maybe? Whatever you saw around the neighborhood that you liked. Whatever you do to improve your home’s curb appeal will increase the value of your home.

The Kitchen

Paint the walls a different color. Sounds simple but it makes a world of difference. Maybe paint the cabinets instead or try a different finish on them. If that’s too much try swapping out the hardware. Maybe add a tile back splash* or redo your counter tops.* Add stainless steel appliances or an island. The possibilities are endless.

*For ideas on faux finishes on counter tops and for tile back splash ideas, see some of our previous blogs for step by step videos

Bathroom

As we’ve already covered, keep it clean. The bathroom is the first place to get grime and mold so stay on top of it. Nothing looks worse than that! Try adding a new vanity. The big hardware stores carry box sets now. They come with the vanity, sink and matching mirror. They have several different choices and they are all very reasonable in price. Add an upgraded faucet and it will look like you spent a fortune. You could use the same faux granite technique we discussed earlier on your old vanity. Changing out lighting make a huge difference. If you want to really pamper yourself, install heated towel holders and a toilet seat. Now that’s living!

Pay Down Your Principle 

Before we go there is one more thing to increase value on your home and that is pay down the principle. You don’t have to go crazy but a little extra here and there can make a huge difference in the end. Also look into refinancing. When and if the market changes, so will the rates. Take advantage of lower rates but be careful of the fine print. You don’t want to get into something that could be worse in the long run

Well that’s it for now. Whether you plan to sell or retire in your home, these tips will help you get the most enjoyment and investment out of your home!

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How To Snake Your Own Drain

There is nothing worse than a clogged drain, especially in the shower. You’re standing there, trying to get clean while you play beat the clock with the rising water. Most of the time the clogs are caused by hair. If you have a woman around the house, you know what I’m saying!

Drain cleaners can only do so much. So what do you do? Call a plumber every month? Not if you know how to snake your own drain. Here is a step by step video that shows you just how easy it is to do yourself!

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Fall Lawn Maintenance

Everyone takes pride in their home and nothing showcases that like a lush green lawn. There is nothing like seeing that beautiful green grass come roaring back in the spring. Well, here are three quick tips to make that happen!

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10 Tips For Keeping Your House Warmer This Winter

Winter is just around the corner and along with it comes cold weather and higher energy bills.

No one wants to spend more money than absolutely necessary, so I’ve come up with a 10 tips for keeping your house warmer this winter. So let’s get cozy and start saving money!

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Install a programmable thermostat

This will help lower your bill. It automatically adjusts for times when no one is home, like work, school or even vacation.

Allow sunlight in during the day

Open all blinds/curtains and let that sun shine. There are reasons dogs and cats lay in the rays!

Close blinds/curtains at night

This will keep the cold out and the heat in. You may even want to consider buying thermal window treatments. I know they boast energy efficiency.

Use your ceiling fans

Most ceiling fans have a winter mode. Its a little switch that changes direction of the blades. Heat rises, so turing your fan on low will circulate the heat back down where it belongs.

Don’t block vents

Blocked vents cause your efficiency to go way down. Go around and make sure all of your vents ( and returns ) are free from any obstructions.

Seal up any leaks

Go around the outside. basement and attic of your home and caulk any areas where cold air could come in. Windows, doors, etc.. everywhere. For a little help with this, see this guide from energystar.gov on sealing your home!

Make use of your doors

If you are in one room a lot, you may want to consider closing that door while you are in there. You can crank the heat in that one room and it wont disperse to the rest of the house. The same thing goes for room that you don’t use often. Try closing off those rooms so its less square footage to heat.

Use the oven

Baking and roasting are multi use in the winter. You have great food to enjoy but also reap the benefits of the oven heating the kitchen. Most of us don’t use the oven much in the summer so now’s the time to get your baking on!

Throw rugs

Wood and tile floors can be the cause of up to 10% of your heat loss. Why not throw a rug down, even if it’s just for the winter. It not only adds a nice cozy feel but it keeps you warmer too.

Bundle up

Ultimately, it’s you that cares about being cold, not the house. Keep things like slippers and throw blankets handy. Stock up on tea and hot chocolate. Switch to flannel sheets and add extra blankets to the bed. Anything you can think of to make yourself nice and toasty. Let’s face it..no one like to be cold!

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