Clearing the Air for 2020 – On the House

Clearing the Air for 2020

By on December 28, 2019

The New Year is nearly here! And with the new year comes all the things that make a new year fresh!

Things like home renovations and plants!

Missed our live show? Don’t worry! Because we have a podcast of the show. It’s the same thing we aired on the radio, but ready for you whenever and wherever you are! Check it out here. 

Home Renovations That Give Owners the Most Joy 

These home upgrades score highly based on how happy homeowners are with them. 

With the New Year close at hand it’s nice to think of things that give us joy! And if we can enjoy it everyday, so much the better! 

 The 2019 Remodeling Impact Report suggests that after remodeling, 74% of homeowners have a greater desire to be in their home, and 65% experience more enjoyment in their homes. 


Which renovations are likely to give homeowners joy? To answer that question, the report assigns popular renovations a “Joy Score,” which reflects “the happiness homeowners reported with their renovations,” NAR explains. 


The higher a Joy Score, the greater the joy a project brought to homeowners. 

Following are a few renovations with the highest Joy Scores of the renovations included in the report. These projects all earned Joy Scores of more than 9.0 out of 10. 

Add a new bathroom 9.2 out of 10 

The top reason that consumers cite for adding a new bathroom, according to the NAR report, is to add features and improve livability. 

New wood flooring 9.2 out of 10 

New garage door 9.3 out of 10 

Not only does this renovation offer a Joy Score of 9.3 out of 10, but it also offers the best return on investment, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value Report.  

Insulation Upgrade 9.3 out of 10  

The No. 1 reason for an insulation upgrade, according to the National Association of Realtors report, is to improve energy efficiency. 

New fiber-cement siding  9.3 pit of 10 

It’s also worth noting that 70% of those who completed this project did it to upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes and materials. 

Bathroom Renovation 9.3 out of 10 

Of consumers who renovate a bathroom, 80% feel a major sense of accomplishment, while 70% have an increased desire to be at home. 

Basement conversion to living area  9.5 out of 10 

The National Association of Realtors report suggests that 72% of consumers who convert a basement to a living area do so to add features and improve livability. 

New Roofing 9.5 out of 10  

75% of those who completed this project report a major sense of accomplishment, while 65% have a greater desire to be at home. 

New vinyl windows 9.6 put of 10  

With new vinyl windows, homeowners can expect to retain about 73.4 percent of the cost when they sell the home,according to Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value Report. Believe it or not, that’s a relatively good cost recouping. 

Kitchen Upgrade  9.7 out of 10  

Among consumers who complete a kitchen upgrade, 85% have a great desire to be at home and 74% report greater enjoyment while at home. 

What gives you joy? 


How to Create a Home Inventory in 6 Steps 

These tips and tools can help you recoup thousands of dollars if the unthinkable happens. 

Most of us have insurance to make us whole if the worst occurs. But if disaster strikes, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to remember everything you own. And unless you have accounted for all that stuff, you won’t get what you should from the insurance company. 

So the key is to have a full inventory of your possessions: Here’s how to create one: 

Pick your software and storage methods: 

Scribbling on a napkin or taking a few snapshots is OK, but many better options exist and cost nothing. There are many different apps and programs available online.  

List your possessions 

Tackle this project by concentrating on one room at a time. Write down the name of every object you own in the room, although you can group items of the same kind, such as kitchen utensils or books. 

Make notes on objects’ condition, model and estimated value. Keep receipts if you have them. 

Take photos and video 

Use a digital camera or smartphone camera to photograph your property. Make a brief video of each room while narrating what is in it and how much things are worth. 

Remember to open closets and drawers to show everything, and don’t forget to record storage and utility areas, including the basement, laundry room and tool shed. 

Don’t forget important paperwork 

Replacing records, financial and legal documents and identification can be a major hassle. So, take steps to preserve and protect such documents. 

List valuables separately 

Big-ticket items such as jewelry, collectibles and high-end electronics may require separate insurance, and you might want a separate section on the list for them. If you’re especially thorough anywhere, it should be here. Try to include: 

  • Make 
  • Model 
  • Serial number 
  • Purchase date and location 
  • Multiple photographs 

A great rule of thumb is that the more you paid, the more you document. 

Keep copies away from home 

Whatever your solution, remember you can’t store your inventory only on your computer’s hard drive. After all, your computer could be destroyed in a disaster. 

The best option is to save your inventory to the cloud so you can access it anywhere. Do this by emailing it to yourself as an attachment or storing it in free cloud storage services 

Keep copies away from home 

Whatever your solution, remember you can’t store your inventory only on your computer’s hard drive. After all, your computer could be destroyed in a disaster. 

The best option is to save your inventory to the cloud so you can access it anywhere. Do this by emailing it to yourself as an attachment or storing it in free cloud storage services 


Got Something Stinky? 

Sump pump odors – how to detect & eliminate issues 

Sump pumps are lifesavers. If you live in an area with a lot of moisture or a high water table, your basement is always at risk for flooding, but a quality sump pump redirects any incoming water away from your home’s foundation. 

However, like all technology, these machines sometimes run into difficulties. They work almost all year round, sometimes for several hours a day (if there’s heavy rainfall), and so they put up with a lot of abuse. They should work for about 10 years without replacement, but in the meantime they may require occasional maintenance. Here are some common questions you may encounter: 

What Can I Do about Sump Pump Odor 

Like any drain, your pump has a trap that holds water in order to prevent sewage gas from backing up and entering into the home. If you’re going through a dry spell and this drain has not been used for two or three weeks, the water in the trap has evaporated, allowing the gas to escape, thereby creating sump pump m 

So it’s important to make sure there is always a least a little water in the trap at all times: just enough to cover the outgoing pipes and drain lines. To get rid of the smell though, concoct a diluted bleach solution (about one cup per gallon) and pour it into the basin until the float switch activates. Plus, scrubbing down the sides of the basin will help eliminate the smell. 

My Sump Pump Doesn’t Run At All 

First, see if it is plugged in. It may sound silly, but you’d be surprised how many times the plug gets disconnected due to the machine’s shifting vibrations or the water’s ebb and flow. Next, because these appliances tend to use their own circuits, check for blown fuses. Since they’re located near water, you’ll probably have a GFI switch, so see if it has tripped as well. Or it may work, but it just hasn’t had a chance: if it’s been dry for a few weeks, pour water into the well to see if simply needs to be primed. 

What If It Runs but It Doesn’t Remove Water 

The easiest solution is to test the float. See if it is stuck on something that’s impeding its activation: sump pumps often shift and settle so moving parts can often get tangled. Next, lift it out, remove its housing, and clear the screen. Since it’s sitting at the bottom of a basin, sand, mud, rocks, and other debris may be trapped inside and impairing the impellor. 

It may be a good idea to set the apparatus slightly above the well floor, such as on bricks, and clear out the bottom so that there is less risk of future clogging. There could also be a clog somewhere else (such as in the discharge lines) or the drainage pipes could be air-locked, which means they’ll need to be properly ventilated by a professional. 

What To Do If The Power Goes Out  

The biggest problem with sump pumps is electrical outage. In a thunderstorm, water is constantly coming into your basement, but when the power goes out, it also turns off the one machine keeping your house dry. It’s recommended you invest in a battery backup system: these gel-packs feed power to the pump so it can work for days without electricity from your main power source. It’s great for when you’re out of town during an outage: there’s nothing worse than coming home from vacation to a swamped basement. 

Is It The Right Size Pump 

The other biggest sump pump problem comes withimproper installation, so always call a trained plumber who has adequate experience with these specialized pieces of equipment. It may cost more but they can supply quality products with guaranteed installation (and they should always offer warranties to back this up). 

Plus, they’ll know which size works best for you: it’ll usually be 110 volts or 1/3 horsepower, but it depends on your situation. Also, they’ll know if the basin is the right size: it should be at least 2 feet across and 20 gallons in volume (any smaller and it’ll constantly run or increase risk for entanglement). 

If these simple repairs don’t do the trick, the sump pump problems may be complicated. It doesn’t necessarily mean replacement, but it does mean a professional plumber is needed. It may be that your drainage lines or pipes, your septic system or your tiling. These more in-depth repairs should be left to the experts. So when calling on technicians, make sure you have information ready for them: check the manufacture’s warranty, get the model number, and any other appropriate information they may need in order to help. 


We spoke to Sumant Sridharan, COO of HomeLight!

 HomeLight empowers people to make smarter decisions during one of life’s most important moments: buying or selling their home. 

Real estate must change 

The process hasn’t changed in decades — so there’s a lot of complexity in it that adds unnecessary risk, uncertainty, and stress. 

HomeLight is here to help. Our technology crunches the numbers to determine which real estate agent or which instant offer company will get you the most money for your home. 

We build products that put more power in your hands and make it easier to get the best outcome when you buy or sell a home. 

HomeLight conducts quarterly surveys with over 400 of America’s top real estate agents.  

 91% of survey respondents found that making repairs now in anticipation of a home sale can save money because contractors are busiest in spring and summer and building materials and labor are more affordable.   



things to do around the bay

Illuminate 2019: SF’s Festival of Light | 39 Light Sculptures 

Get your glow onwith this  celebration during the longest nights of the year, featuring free light art tours, nighttime neighborhood walks, artist talksandparticipatory experiences. 

 > 2019 Light Art Installations – 39 different light sculptures (both permanent and temporary) in 17 neighborhoods by 30+ artists with three free light art tours.

For more information and maps visit


 Clear the Air for the New Year With Plants 

Some well-placed greenery can not only brighten a space but also purify the air ― and they’re also helpful in creating a more relaxing, restful ambiance in any room. We know that spending time in nature is linked toreduced stress levelsand tension relief. 

That’s why we’ve rounded up eight beautiful houseplants that are easy to take care of and effective at increasing oxygen and clearing out toxins for cleaner breathing air, some of which even have theNASA stamp of approval. 

Aloe Plant 

The gel of the aloe plant has a number of healing properties. Not only does it soothe skin burns and cuts, it can also help to monitor the air quality in your home. The plant can help clear the air of pollutants found in chemical cleaning products, and when the amount of harmful chemicals in the air becomes excessive, the plants’ leaves will display brown spots. Just an FYI: It grows best with lots of sun.  

Rubber Tree 

Rubber trees are good for cleaning the air and are one of the easiest plants to grow, as they thrive even in dim lighting and cooler climates. The low-maintenance plant is a powerful toxin eliminator and air purifier. 

Peace Lily 

The beautiful peace lily plant is a wonderful low-maintenance flower to keep in the home. Peace lilies do well in shade and cooler temperatures, and they can reduce the levels of a number of toxins in the air. 

Snake Plant 

Snake plants don’t need much light or water to survive, so they’re an easy choice for any corner of your home. The plant absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen during the night (while most plants do so during the day), so add one to your bedroom for a clean-air boost.  

Bamboo Palm 

 The attractive bamboo palm also made NASA’s listof top clean-air plants with a purifying score of 8.4. It’s also particularly effective at clearing out benzene and trichloroethylene. These need to be well-watered, in shade or indirect sunlight. 


 The heart-shaped philodendron is a popular plant choice for indoor areas, as they’re easy to care for and can grow decorative vines. Like the English ivy, they are particularly good at absorbing xylene. They can also last for many years when properly cared for. Grow with moderate water and some sunlight and they’ll be fine. 

 Red-Edged Dracaena 

 This beautiful, vibrant plant can grow to be ceiling-height (15-foot dracaenas are common), making it a great plant for decorating and filling up space. It also removes toxins including xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde from the air. Grows best in sunlight. 

 Golden Pothos 

 The golden pothos makes the NASA list for its ability to clear formaldehyde from the air. Try adding it to your kitchen or living room as a hanging plant, as the leaves will grow down in cascading vines. They grow easily in cool temperatures will low levels of sunlight. 


Mentioned Links 

Thank you~ 

A very special thank you to all of our callers! We live to answer your questions, so keep them coming! 

Thank you to our Technical Support: 

  • Danny Bringer – Chief Engineer  
  • Carol “Remodeling Babe” Carey – Executive Producer  
  • Sam Reed – Associate Producer  
  • Rico Figliolini – Digital Master 


Thank you for tuning in for some air clearing tips! And check in next week for more cool tips! 

“Clearing the Air for 2020” Show Notes for On The House with the Carey Brothers aired December 21, 2019.  

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