Show Notes: Decks, Taxes, Air Leaks and Odors – On the House

Show Notes: Decks, Taxes, Air Leaks and Odors

By on February 20, 2016
Winter Check List

Is you deck covered with snow above the handrails? Is your energy bill sky-high? Got air leaks? Don’t let the winter put off your home maintenance. James and Morris have winter help just for you.


Thank you to our guest:

Kris Kiser



Tool Trivia:

Did NASA invent cordless power tools? 

No. The first cordless power tool was unveiled by Black & Decker in 1961. In the mid-1960s, Martin Marietta Corporation contracted with Black & Decker to design tools for NASA. The tool company developed a zero-impact wrench for the Gemini project that spun bolts in zero gravity without spinning the astronaut. Black & Decker also designed a cordless rotary hammer drill for the Apollo moon program. The drill was used to extract rock samples from the surface of the moon and could operate at extreme temperatures and in zero-atmosphere conditions.

Before the zero-impact wrench and rotary hammer drill could go into space, they needed to be tested in anti-gravity conditions. Black & Decker and NASA tested the tools either under water or in transport planes that would climb to the highest possible altitude and then nosedive to simulate anti-gravity conditions. As a result of this work, Black & Decker created several spinoffs, including cordless lightweight battery powered precision medical instruments and a cordless miniature vacuum cleaner called the Dustbuster, but cordless power tools predate the Space Agency’s involvement with the company.


With More Snow in the Forecast, Are Decks at Risk?

With plenty of snow already on the ground and more on the way, should homeowners start worrying and shovel off their decks?

Decks are required by code to support their own weight, plus at least 40 pounds per square foot (psf) in additional loads – from people, pets, furniture, and snow and ice.

The weight of three feet of snow can vary a lot, depending on how wet the snow is. The so-called ‘design weight’ used by engineers is 69 psf, while the actual weight is estimated to range between 36 to 54 PSF.

As snow accumulates, of course, it gets denser. Add warming temperatures or rain to the equation and things get sketchy, even for a deck built to code (and there are a lot of decks that aren’t built to code). But if there’s as much snow on your roof as on your deck, you should be more worried about your roof.


Turfmutt Environmental Education Program

Expands With New Materials And $5,000 Grant Contest Developed With Scholastic

Contest for Students at Schools with Grades K-5 Announced, Entry Deadline April 6, 2016

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Learning how to take care of the planet and studying science just got more fun with TurfMutt, an environmental stewardship and education program for kids, teachers and families. TurfMutt announces today its annual Be a Backyard Superhero” contest, which awards a $5,000 grant to improve two winning schools’ green spaces, and the addition of new in-classroom materials for grades K to 5, including a new digital storybook titled “The West Coast Mission,” an online climate change game, and lesson plans for teachers at

Created in conjunction with Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, the TurfMutt program helps students in grades K to 5 learn about science and the environment from the perspective of the backyard, community and personal green spaces they enjoy every day. The program also provides students with an understanding of how these green spaces benefit the environment when cared for in a sustainable way.

“With drought ransacking the West and many other parts of the country, understanding how to care for green spaces is more important than ever,” said Kris Kiser, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute. “The new digital storybook and climate change game help children understand the importance of taking care of these living landscapes and what they contribute to our communities.”

To inspire kids to apply what they are learning to real life, the “Be a Backyard Superhero” essay contest offers students in grades K through 5 the opportunity to compete for a chance to win a $5,000 grant for a “green space makeover” at their school. Visit for rules and to obtain entry information.

TurfMutt program materials are free and aligned to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) standards. Lesson plans for teachers, take home sheets and learning activities are available. The program also offers a website and blog, interactive games and two digital storybooks.

Visit for rules and to obtain entry information.


More Homeowner Tax Deductions

It’s Not To Soon To Start Planning For Tax Season

Don’t forget to add these items to your homeowner tax deduction list:


Prepaid interest (or points) you paid when you took out your mortgage is generally 100% deductible in the year you paid it along with other mortgage interest.

Vacation Home Tax Deductions

The rules on tax deductions for vacation homes are complicated. Do yourself a favor and keep good records about how and when you use your vacation home.

Homebuyer Tax Credit

This isn’t a deduction, but it’s important to keep track of if you claimed it in 2008.

There were federal first-time homebuyer tax credits in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

If you claimed the homebuyer tax credit for a purchase made after April 8, 2008, and before Jan. 1, 2009, you must repay 1/15th of the credit over 15 years, with no interest.

The IRS has a tool you can use to help figure out what you owe each year until it’s paid off. Or if the home stops being your main home, you may need to add the remaining unpaid credit amount to your income tax on your next tax return.

Energy-Efficiency Upgrades

The Nonbusiness Energy Tax Credit lets you claim a credit for installing energy-efficient home systems. Tax credits are especially valuable because they let you offset what you owe the IRS dollar for dollar, in this case, for up to 10% of the amount you spent on certain upgrades.

The credit carries a lifetime cap of $500 (less for some products), so if you’ve used it in years past, you’ll have to subtract prior tax credits from that $500 limit. Lucky for you, there’s no cap on how much you’ll save on utility bills thanks to your energy-efficiency upgrades.

Among the upgrades that might qualify for the credit:

Biomass stoves

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning


Roofs (metal and asphalt)

Water heaters (non-solar)

Windows, doors, and skylights


Tips For Working In The Attic And Sealing Air Leaks

Have a Plan in Place

The key to any successful home improvement project is adequate planning. Gather all your tools and supplies before you begin to minimize trips in and out of the attic. Be sure that the work area is well-lit by using a drop light, and keep a flashlight handy.

Prepare to Get Dirty

The entire process of sealing your attic will be made easier if you take the time and effort to wear the right gear. Wear knee pads to help prevent pain associated with crawling on attic joists. Additionally, a lightweight disposable coverall, gloves, and hat can keep itchy and irritating insulation off your skin.

Above All — Be Safe

Take precautions to avoid a dangerous working environment in the attic. During hot weather start working early, as attics heat up as the day moves on. Drink plenty of water and use an OSHA-approved particulate respirator or double-strap dust mask to prevent inhalation of hazardous substances. Also remember to watch your step. Walk on joists or truss chords, not exposed ceiling drywall or insulation. In addition, watch out for sharp nails sticking through the roof deck!

Plug the Big Holes First

Don’t worry about finding and sealing all the little holes in your attic; your biggest savings will come from plugging the large ones. Once in the attic, refer to your sketch to locate the areas where leakage is likely to be greatest: where walls (inner and outer) meet the attic floor, dropped soffits (dropped-ceiling areas), and behind or under attic kneewalls.

Look for dirty insulation — this indicates that air is moving through it. Dropped soffits may be filled or covered with insulation and hard to see. Push back the insulation and scoop it out of the soffits. You will place this insulation back over the soffit once the stud cavities have been plugged and the soffits covered.

If You Have a Finished Attic, Seal Behind the Kneewalls

Finished rooms built into attics often have open cavities in the floor framing under the side-walls or kneewalls. Even though insulation may be piled against or stuffed into these spaces, they can still leak air. Again, look for signs of dirty insulation to indicate air is moving through. You need to plug these cavities in order to stop air from traveling under the floor of the finished space.


Make Your Home Smell Better

Our homes have been closed up for the winter and may be in need of some deodorizing:

Eliminate Garbage Disposal Odors

Your garbage disposal could be wreaking more havoc in your home than you might realize. Food and grime build up over time and start to seep through to your kitchen and beyond. Start by running some lemon, lime or orange peels through your disposal to eliminate any odors. It’s said that the acid in the fruit kills some of the odor causing bacteria.

Also, if you’re an advocate of baking soda, this cleaning tip is for you. Dump your baking soda into the garbage disposal, add a cup of white vinegar and let your disposal run. Voila! The hardest part of eliminating odors is remembering to actually run these items through your garbage disposal and not letting gunk build up in the first place.

Deodorize Carpets

Carpets are certainly to blame for a lot of the smelly odors lurking in your house. That’s why it’s recommended that you always have a carpet freshener on deck.

Instead of purchasing products with chemicals in them, you can create your own deodorizing carpet powder using a few natural ingredients. I fell in love with Jillee’s natural DIY recipe on her blog and highly recommend you check it out! This freshener is nice for anyone with carpets and a necessity for anyone who owns pets.

Vanilla Extract

Sprinkling vanilla extract on light bulbs is one trick to eliminating odors. This is one tip I’ve never heard of, so I wanted to learn more! Apparently, it’s an old real estate agent’s trick. Put a drop or two of vanilla extract on a lightbulb, turn on the light and smell the magic. Your house will soon smell like you’ve been baking all day. You can also opt to burn vanilla extract or any other essential oil to quickly enhance the smell of your house.

Potted Plants

This is by far my favorite DIY option for making your home smell fresh and clean. Natural air purifiers include palm trees, orchids and peace lilies. Plants not only bring energy and life to your home but they look beautiful too.


Product Mentions:                                     


Cyonara 32 Oz Rts For Yard And Garden


Kill Roots In Your Septic Tank With A Root Removal Treatment

Paint Remover:

Peel Away Paint Remover :

Water Heater Cleaner: 

Mag-Erad Non-Toxic Cleaner

Window and Door Parts:


Aprilaire | Air Purifiers, Humidifiers, Ventilation, Dehumidifiers and more

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