Show Notes: Fireplace Cleaning, Door Colors for 2015 – On the House

Show Notes: Fireplace Cleaning, Door Colors for 2015

By on October 3, 2014
Window Weather Stripping

Thank you for joining the Carey’s today for more fall and winter home maintenance tips. If you missed any part of the show today, here are the highlights.


Thank you Kate Smith, president and chief color maven at Sensational Color  for joining James and Morris to talk about the trendiest colors for homeowners to paint their exterior doors in 2015.

If you would like to receive Kate’s ebooks: Fresh Home Exterior Colors and Fresh Color Schemes for Your Home Exterior  at


Fireplace Cleaning Tips

 Your fireplace needs regular care and cleaning to assure a safe and efficient fire. Creo­sote, a flammable tar-like substance that accumulates in the chimney and flue, should be removed by a professional, eliminating the worry of at least one potential fire hazard.

­Give your fireplace and its accessories routine cleaning throughout the wood-burning season to eliminate an accumulation of soot, ashes, and creosote tars.

­Here are several cleaning suggestions:

  • Vacuum or dust the hearth area weekly to prevent dust and soot buildup. Do not sweep or vacuum until all the embers have been extinguished for at least 12 hours.
  • Burn only seasoned, well-dried wood to minimize dangerous creosote buildup.
  • Inspect the firebox, flue, and chimney annually for creosote accumulation.
  • Do not use water to drown a fire unless there is an emergency. It will make a paste of the ashes, which is difficult to remove.
  • Never use an abrasive cleanser inside the fireplace. Many leave a flammable residue.
  • When cleaning your fireplace, sprinkle damp coffee grounds over the cooled ashes to keep down the dust.

Zero Clearance fireplaces must be cleaned yearly if used!

If creosote is left unchecked and allowed to build up over a period of time, it can superheat, and turn into 3rd degree creosote. This is the cause of chimney fires.

So the cleaning of your chimney not only returns your flues interior dimensions to it’s proper working dimensions, but if early, can stop creosote build up before it is un removable with a sweep, and other actions are needed to ensure your chimneys safe use.

The good news about Zero Clearance Fireplace liners is that they are made of metal, and Creosote can not get a permanent foothold on it like they can with masonry fireplaces, which are made of bricks with pours. Cleaning them yearly will handle any creosote
problem your unit may have.

When cleaning a zero clearance fireplace flue, both soot and creosote are removed from the fireplace pipe.


Got A Big Air Leak Under Your Feet?

 The biggest air leak in your home is right; underfoot It’s the hole in the subfloor to make room for the drain assembly at the bottom of a bathtub.

If you have a first-floor bathroom over a crawl space or unheated basement, you likely have one of these energy in your home.

Having that big hole for the bathtub drain can waste about as much energy as leaving one of your windows open a few inches, all day, every day. And, that hole also is big enough for good-size critters to crawl inside your home!

Best Way to Plug the Leak

Plumbers may plug this hole with a wad of loose insulation, but that’s an imperfect solution — fiberglass insulation can sag over time, especially if it gets damp.

The preferred method:

  1. Crawl under your bathroom to look at the drain assembly from underneath.

  2. Patch the hole with pieces of foam board that’s cut to fit around the pipes. Screw them in place.

  3. Then seal any gaps with spray foam insulation ($8/can).

A plumber will do the job, too, but that’ll set you back $100-$150. Probably worth it when you think about energy savings, comfort, and keeping critters and insects out of your house.


Evaluating Electrical Safety In Your Home

A good start is to take inventory of the outlets both inside and outside your home. If you do not have Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets in areas that contain exposure to water or which are prone to dampness the home may not be as safe as it could be. Remember that electricity and water don’t mix! Don’t know if your house is equipped with GFCI outlets? They’re easy to spot. They have two buttons on the face – one to test the outlet and the other to reset the protection following an interruption of power caused by a ground fault. A GFCI helps protect people by interrupting the flow of electricity when it detects a problem such as a ground fault.

“GFCI protected outlets are essential in areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, basements, laundry areas, garages and outdoors,” said Bill Grande, a Leviton Manufacturing Company product expert. “In fact, the National Electric Code requires GFCIs in these areas for all new construction.”

In terms of maintenance, GFCIs should be tested monthly to ensure they are in working condition.

Testing your GFCI takes less than a minute when following these simple steps:

  • Plug a lamp into the GFCI and turn it on. The light should now be on.
  • Push the “TEST” button of the GFCI. The GFCI should “trip” and the light should go off.
  • Push the “RESET” button. The light should come back on.
  • If the device either did not trip or reset as described the GFCI should be replaced.

While checking the outdoor outlets, it is also a good idea to inspect any weather-resistant covers. The elements – particularly cold and snow – can potentially damage covers. Covers which appear cracked, have damaged hinges or are otherwise compromised should be replaced in order to provide maximum protection.


Leave Dirt At The Door

Eighty-five percent of the dirt that comes into the home is from shoes! So nag your family members to take them off. Place shoes on doormats to contain the dirt. A 20 x 30-in. mat costs about $20 at discount stores.


How Much Does it Cost to Repair Water Damage?

Repairing water damage can be very expensive depending on the location and extent of the damage. Costly damage occurs when water comes in contact with wood, sheetrock, fabrics, or other biodegradable material like paper or cardboard. Left untreated these develop mold, causing other health and safety issues. The most important aspect of repairing water damage in your home is to catch it as early as possible.

Preventing water damage

If you don’t yet have any water damage problems, stopping one before it begins may be your best defense. It may cost you money up front but will save you countless dollars in the long run. Think about varnishing wood surfaces, installing sealants around your doors and windows, looking on your roof for holes, and checking your pipes regularly for leaks or rust to prevent water damage.

Common causes

The most common causes for water damage are:

  • Leaky roof
  • Burst pipe
  • Faulty window and door installations

Broken or leaking water lines

  • Leaky toilet

It’s important to keep an eye out for these causes so you can catch them early on and avoid expensive water damage to your home.


Most homeowners’ insurance policies will cover water damage as long as the damage is caught soon after it occurs. If the insurance company can prove negligence on the part of the homeowner, then they can refuse to pay. Report leaking roofs and pipes as soon as you discover them so your insurance will cover the damage.


Mold and mildew are among the biggest and worst damages by water. Mold grows often where it can’t be seen, such as the corners of basements, under rugs and carpets, and between walls and baseboards. By the time you find it, there might be extensive damage to your home, not to mention your health. If you think you smell mold, call a mold specialist or water damage restoration company immediately.


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