Show Notes: Home Filters: Clean or Replace? – On the House

Show Notes: Home Filters: Clean or Replace?

By on August 27, 2016

Got filters? Do you know how many are in your home or when and how to clean or replace them? James and Morris have the how and when on filters just for you.

Thank you to our guest Kate Smith; Chief Color Maven and Color Trend Forecaster of Sensational Color

For more information visit: and/or



4 Uses For Coca-Cola

Make Cake. Coca-Cola, meet chocolate. You’re a match made in heaven. Coca-Cola takes a classic chocolate cake and turns it up a notch. The sugar in Coke caramelizes, the carbonation tenderizes and the flavor enhances the chocolate! Don’t be fooled into thinking that using Diet Coke will make your cake low fat. Without sugar, the soda won’t hit it off with cake the same way, making your dessert much less delicious! To make the original dense Coca-Cola chocolate cake recipe, visit The Coca-Cola Company

Remove Rust. The acid in Coca-Cola Classic cuts through rust! If small objects in your home have become rusty, soak them in a bowl full of Coca-Cola overnight, and then thoroughly scrub them in the morning. The same properties that make Coke fizz also break down the rust particles. If your rust-spotted object is too big to soak, pour some Coca-Cola on a rough textured cloth and then rub it in a circular motion on the rust.

Clean Pots. Next time you burn the rice, reach for a can of Coke instead of the dish detergent! To restore your pot to its former glory, pour an entire can of coke into the pan and then put it on the stove at low heat. The acid in the Coke will break down the black grime on the pot, making it easier to clean. After an hour or so, wash your pot as you normally would, and you should be grime-free.

Remove Grease. Whether your grease comes from a car engine or a chicken-fried steak, it’s hard to remove from the front of your favorite shirt. To prevent your wardrobe from being ruined, empty a can of Coke into a load of laundry along with your usual detergent. Run it through a normal cycle and voila! Grease-free clothes. Tip: This also works for removing bloodstains from clothes.×4-four-crazy-uses-for-coca-cola-classic


How Many Filters Do Your Have in Your Home?

What do they do? 

We all know there are filters for the furnace and dryer

but did  you know about all these other filters?  




Electronic air filter



A/C housing


Water filters

Range Hood

Electronic air filter

Some furnaces come equipped with this filter, and there are various configurations.   Find the manual and become familiar with it’s operation. You can pull out the filters and check them, make sure they are clean and in place.   Hire a forced air heating specialist if you are unsure about how to operate / clean it and have them show you how it works.


This is not formally a filter, but its operation will affect your air quality, and it may have a screen or a sponge that can get clogged.   Check the manual to see how it operates.    Many older furnace mounted humidifiers have been neglected or abandoned.   See if yours works; call a heating specialist to service it if you are not sure.   Winters in Toronto can be pretty dry and it is best if you can keep the humidity level in your home between 35 – 50%.

Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV)

Many new energy efficient homes come with HRV’s.   These provide a source of fresh filtered air into the house and exhaust the stale air.   Most route the air in and out of the furnace ducting.    HRV’s have several filters including sponge sheets as well as the corrugated core.    Vacuuming or washing with soap and water usually does the trick – follow the instructions in the owner’s manual.  Sometimes instructions are labeled inside the unit too. These filters are very important for air quality in today’s newer, tighter houses.

Window screens

Believe it or not, these are filters – bug filters!   But they get dirty too, and sometimes torn.    Check your window screens in the spring for tears or looseness.    Wipe very gently with a damp sponge.

Air Conditioner or Heat Pump

Check the outside of the  housing for buildup of debris, which can impact the efficiency of the unit.    Grass clippings and dryer lint particularly can foul the grates.  Be careful not to dent the heat exchanger fins, if exposed (more common on older units).   These look a lot like a car radiator, or the outside of a window A/C unit.   Keep the area around the unit free of plants and materials, to help the air to flow freely for best efficiency.

Kitchen Range Hood

Filter on range hood – testing flow with tissue

Check the screens under the fans – they will accumulate grease and dust over time, reducing their effectiveness.  Clean the screen according to manufacturer’s recommendations.  If the unit recirculates air through the hood back into the room, it will likely also have a carbon filter behind the screen.  Replace these as needed.

Water filters

Is your drinking water filtered under the sink?   Do you have a water softener?   Make sure these are maintained per manufacturers instructions.   A clogged water filter can be worse than none.

Condensate filter

Gas furnaces may have a condensate filter on the condensate drain line to keep the acidic water discharge from polluting the city waste water.  Check your furnace manual and look around the outside of the furnace to trace the drain line.

Now take a few minutes to walk around your house and look for these items.  My home inspection service will guide you through the specifics of your house and I will even find operating manufacturers manuals for you if you need them.    This is what I do to help owners improve the comfort, safety and value of their homes.


Adding Color to Your Homes Exterior

Top-Down Curb Appeal for the Home

As part of National Curb Appeal Month in August, Smith offers color insights to guide homeowners toward colorful exterior home enhancements, starting from the roof down to the landscaping!           

Tip #1 – Consider the fixed features of a home before deciding on what colors to add.  These elements include the colors of foundation and chimney materials, like brick, stone and concrete, along with other fixed elements like porches, steps, walkways and retaining walls.

Tip #2Think about regional colors that might work well on your home. It’s fine to have a home that stands out in the neighborhood, but it needs to link in with the overall geography where you live.

Tip #3 – Look at your environment. The natural setting and landscaping around your home can help you select colors that complement the existing setting.

Tip #4 – Let the style of your home help you determine how bold or subdued you should go with color. For example, bright colors are almost expected on a Victorian home, while more refined colors like off white, dark green and rich chocolate would complement a Ranch style home.

Tip #5 – Consider the historic element of the home and let that help lead you to colors that reflect the house’s history. Also make sure to check with any homeowner associations you might belong to for possible restrictions on color usage.

Black and White Curb Appeal

– White and black are the two biggest extremes in curb appeal color. 

– Using black trim to accent a home makes a regal, independent statement. 

– Black is often associated with prestige, elegance and a timelessness that is envied by many.

– White is a very popular color for many aspects of a home exterior because it makes a house look bright, clean and fresh.

– White exteriors are wildly popular in the United States with homeowners who then paint their trim, doors and shutters with accent colors to create their personalized curb appeal.

– Sticking with white trim allows you the chance to change your ‘removable colors’ with the seasons. Pull back the potted pink begonias after the summer and use pumpkins on the steps of a porch to set the color tone. Then, replace those with big red hearts for Valentine’s Day to your front door after the holidays! and/or


Carpenters Tools In Your Phone 

iHandy Carpenter by iHandy

5 professional tools from measuring to leveling

Plum Bob Level

Surface Level

Bubble Level Bar

Ruler – Inches and Centimeters

Protractor – measures angles from 0 to 180 degrees


Home Maintenance for People With Better Things to Do

Owning your own home shouldn’t mean an endless list of chores.

Weekends are meant for coaching a youth soccer team to victory, chopping your way through “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” or training for a 5K to help save the pandas — not working your way through a tedious, 30-item maintenance checklist. But then, taking care of the home you love is important, too.

So how do you have your fun and keep a well-maintained home?

It’s simple: Just be mindful of your home. You don’t need a rigid maintenance list. (They work best for Type A people anyway.) Instead, train your senses to warn you of these problems, and then act ASAP:

Your Dryer Seems Hotter Than Usual

If your clothes and your dryer are super, super hot or, conversely, your dryer is taking longer to dry, you could have a clogged lint vent, a leading cause of house fires. “Sometimes the dryer connection will wiggle loose going to the outside, causing all sorts of issues with lint,” says Jeff Devlin, licensed contractor and host of DIY Network’s “Stone House Revival” and “I Hate My Bath.” Heat and packed lint make the perfect recipe for fire. To defuse that combination:

  • Pull out the dryer connection — this is the tube or pipe that connects the dryer to the window vent.
  • Suck out all the lint from the pipe and pipe connection with a vacuum attachment.
  • Re-attach, making sure it’s not loose or bent.

You can also hire a pro to do it.

You Smell Something Musty

Your nose knows what’s normal in your home. “If you go into a room and it smells musty, there’s something going on,” says Frank Lesh, executive director of American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). When you smell that mildew-y smell, you know you’ve got a problem, he says. What kind of problem? Read on.

You Can See Mold or Mildew

Mold and mildew are the banners for moisture, your home’s No. 1 enemy. If you see them, you know moisture has broken through your home’s defenses and is bringing reinforcements. Find out where the water source is and eradicate it ASAP. Moisture is like cancer to a home. If you don’t catch it early, it will eat away at your home’s very structure, causing major damage to its foundation, walls, floors, and ceilings.

You Spot a Water Stain

You get it now. Water = bad. So even a faint water stain should light a fire under you. Zero in on the source before moisture can settle into your home’s bones. A water stain on the ceiling could signal a leak in your roof, or if it’s under a bathroom it could be a pipe that’s leaking. Stain under a window? Your window may need caulking.

Your Drain Is Really Slow (and It Gurgles)

Showering in water up to your ankles defeats the purpose. “A clean drain is a healthy drain,” says Devlin. If your drain makes odd noises and takes foreeeeeeever, you could be at risk of a sewer backup, which is not only a moisture issue, but one that ranks high on the stinky scale. If you’re lucky, it could be a simple clog, but either way it might be a good idea to put your plumber’s number in your cellphone’s favorites list.

You Hear Something That’s Alive

The pitter-patter of tiny rodent footsteps is enough to send shivers down your spine — and can quickly multiply into a mini stampede. One couple found out the hard way.

“We found that a squirrel had taken up residence in the attic and was chewing through electrical wires,” says David Bowers. By the time he and his partner, Sharon Bowers, (BTW, they co-authored “The Useful Book: 201 Life Skills They Used to Teach in Home Ec and Shop”) got around to calling a pro, an entire squirrel family (with more on the way!) had settled in to dine on those wires — a costly fix that was also a fire hazard.

If you hear unwanted visitors, evict them quickly, then block the entry they used. With squirrels, it might be an overgrown tree limb, which they use to jump onto your roof and then slip through a hole under roof flashing or rotting fascia, or an open window. For smaller pests, keep in mind they can come in through the tiniest of holes. (Mice can squeeze through a dime-sized opening.)

Your Gutters Create Waterfalls

You may love the smell and sound of rain, but when it’s cascading off your gutters in torrents instead of traveling neatly through them … well, remember those warnings about moisture? Cleaning the gutters is home maintenance 101 for good reason. “It can lead to exterior damage, as well as water damaging the foundations,” says Bowers. If you spot a gutter clog, clear it. You’ll be happier for it. It’s probably the best thing you can do to protect your home.


Growing Garlic Chives Without Soil

How to grow Garlic Chives in water couldn’t be simpler.

Simply take an unpeeled garlic clove and plunk it in a shallow glass or dish. Cover the clove partially with water. Don’t submerge the entire clove or it will rot. If you select organically grown garlic, then you will be regrowing organic garlic chives. This can save you a bunch of money since organics can be pricey. Also, if you happen upon an old bit of garlic, often the cloves have begun to sprout. Don’t throw them out. Put them in a bit of water as above and, in no time, you will have delicious garlic scapes. Roots will be seen growing in a few days and shoots soon thereafter. Growing garlic chives without soil is that easy! Once green stems have formed, you can use the garlic chives. Just snip the green ends as needed to add to eggs, as a tasty garnish, or in anything you want a kick of mild garlic flavor.

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