Show Notes: New Years Resolutions For Your Home – On the House

Show Notes: New Years Resolutions For Your Home

By on January 3, 2015

It’s a new year and our home improvement planning has begun! It’s not to soon to start your research for home improvement projects you will want to begin in the late spring or early summer. January is Nation Radon Awareness Month. Do you know how to test for radon? 


Do You Have New Years Resolutions For Your Home?

 How to invest in your home for increased value and livability.

Is 2015 the year to make changes to your home to better suit your ever changing lifestyle needs? If you are, here are some important ideas to help your planning:

 Long-Term Home Needs

If you are planning a major home remodeling project focus on elements of the project to make sure it will work for your long-term living needs. The project should improve your day-to-day living and add to the future value of your home.

 Start You Research Now

The most difficult part of any home improvement is planning and research. Before you even call a contractor, do your homework. The internet has made looking for products that fit your needs and taste easy. Assemble links or print information on products you want to include in your project. This will insure your ideas will be more easily communicated to either a designer or contractor.

Research Contractors

Do your due diligence and be a good consumer. Investigate at least three contractors. Get the firm’s client references and visit recent projects they have completed to get a sense for their craftsmanship. Meet the contractor’s staff, would you want them in your home? Check with the Better Business Bureau and the State Contractors Licensee Board. Make sure the contractor is licensed, bonded and insured.

Are they a full service design/build company? Will they draw plans and offer design assistance?

Contractors and their staff become part of your family during the building process, so it’s important to be extremely comfortable with the company you select.

For more on how to plan a remodel and hire a contractor read “Home Remodeling for Dummies” by The Carey Brothers


January Is National Radon Action Month

Radon gas is becoming more of a widespread problem in the United States. In the U.S., one in fifteen homes are affected by elevated radon levels. Radon cannot be seen, it has no scent, and is colorless. Radon invades homes and buildings through foundation cracks and openings and even directly through concrete.

Radon gas is considered a carcinogen that comes from decayed radium and uranium in the soil. It is the #1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and causes people that do smoke greater chance of being diagnosed with lung cancer when exposed to this deadly gas. The EPA suggests levels of 4 (pCi/L) picocuries and above be addressed. Levels of 4 pCi/L is equivalent to 8 cigarettes a day or 250 chest x-rays per year. World Health Organization (WHO) states that 3% and 14% of lung cancer cases are caused by Radon, and suggests people take action against levels higher than 2.7 pCi/L.

The purpose of National Radon Action Month is to educate people about the health risks of radon, learning about radon gas itself, and also to inform everyone how to test their homes for radon and what actions need to be taken if there are high levels of radon present. Radon is a problem that affects millions of homes, daycares, schools, and buildings across the country. This is the time to get informed in order to stay safe and healthy in the place you spend most of your time. Check with your local health department and home improvement store for radon test kits.

Visit  for more information.

Radon Hotline

1-800-SOSRADON (1-800-767-7236)


Other Ways to Keep the Cold Away in Your Home

Sitting near a window or large patio door can cause radiant heat loss from your body to the glass. This will make you feel cold. Try re-arranging your furniture away from windows or up against an outside wall. Add a sofa table with a lamp between the sofa and outside wall. Move beds to an inside wall and large pieces of furniture to outside walls for additional insulation.

Window coverings will help keep the cold out. Try thermal curtains for some extra insulation from the cold. Do the same for your floors.

Add carpets over your bare floors. Remember to keep the windows covered at night and uncovered during the day to let warmth and sunlight in.


Re-Creating Wall Textures

Until you match surrounding texture, ready to paint it ain’t.

 A repaired hole in the drywall might seem to be ready to paint, but until you match the surrounding texture it really isn’t. Today you’ll learn how to recreate wall texture when it’s time to complete a minor repair.

Does the surrounding surface look swirly? Or is it covered with raised freeform shapes? Or maybe it’s covered with bumps? Swirl just requires a bit of experimentation and practice. Study the wall first, then put some drywall joint compound on a practice board — using your best guess at what was used. Whether brush, roller, squeegee or sponge, try duplicating their moves until you get it right. Then tackle the wall without hesitation. Duplicating raised freeform shapes is easier than you might think. All you need is a can of spray texture from the hardware store with various spray tips to match different patterns. Just spray it on (it’ll spit blobs out on the wall), wait a few minutes, then lightly flatten them using a wide-blade drywall knife (for rounded bumps, don’t flatten). With your repair made and texture matched, you’re ready to paint.


What Should You Do If Your Septic System Freezes

 There are many misconceptions about how to deal with a frozen septic system.

  • Do NOT add antifreeze, salt or a septic system additive into the system.
  • Do NOT pump sewage onto the ground surface.
  • Do NOT start a fire over the system to attempt to thaw it out.

Do NOT run water continually to try to unfreeze system

 If your septic system is frozen, your first step is to call an onsite professional. Unless the cause of freezing is corrected the system will refreeze next winter. If you have a pump and hear water constantly running in a pump tank (a possible indication of a frozen system) shut off your pump and call an onsite professional. This will likely be a pumper or an installer who can help determine the cause of the problem and offer solutions. Many pumpers and installers have devices called steamers and high-pressure jetters to try to unfreeze system piping. Other methods used to help fix a freezing problem include adding heat tape and tank heaters. Cameras can be sent down the pipes to determine where the freezing is occurring and if repairs are needed. If the soil treatment system is full of ice, or there is evidence of leaking, there is no need to thaw the lines leading to the treatment area, as it cannot accept liquid until the area is thawed in spring.

If it is not feasible to correct the problem or equipment is not available in your area, the only other option is to use the septic tank(s) in the system as a holding tank until the system thaws naturally. You will need to contact a pumper who will empty out the tanks when they are full on a regular basis .This can be very costly, especially with normal volumes of water use (50 to 75 gallons per person per day). Reduce water use by limiting the number of toilet flushes, taking short showers, using the dishwasher at full capacity, limiting running water to get hot or cold and doing laundry at a laundromat. It is smart to find the cause of the freezing problem so that it can be addressed in the spring, preventing future freeze-ups. Then preventative measures can be added to the system such as adding insulation around the tank and pipes or adding additional cover.

Thank You University Of Minnesota


Don’t Overload Electrical Circuits

 Are You Plugging In All Those New Electronic Toys and Appliances?

Be safe and add longevity to your electrical system and possibly to your family!

 Each time too many electrical appliances are used on the same circuit a fuse fries or a breaker pops. Take heed, when a breaker pops your house is trying to tell you something. The message, “Don’t overload circuits and moreover don’t do it repeatedly.

” Frequent popping means frequent circuit overloading and slowly but surely such activity (circuit overheating) will fatigue the wiring inside the wall tempering it and making it less conductive. You might eventually end up with tempered wire, a condition more dangerous than overloading. Find out how many watts of power each of your circuits will hold and don’t exceed that limit. Following this simple rule will add longevity to your electrical system and create safer conditions for you and yours.


Metal Flashing Can Save Leaky Windows Or Doors

There’s an old saying, “It’s the little things that matter.” And we agree. Because we know firsthand that even the tiniest leak can result in super-duper damage to your home.

 This is where a $25 modification can save you thousands of dollars worth of heartache. And when it comes to “rot-repair-home-maintenance-heartache,” it doesn’t get any worse than a window or door leak.

Window and door leaks are a constant source of irritation. Every year we find ourselves outside adding a fresh bead of caulk around every opening at the connection between the wood siding and the trim around the opening. Even with the best caulking available, there is still the chance that house movement or wood expansion — or contraction — will break the precious seal allowing unwanted water into places where it shouldn’t be.

Rather than caulking year in and year out, why not improve the connection between your siding and trim by adding a piece of metal flashing? The task is easy and inexpensive and can substantially reduce the chance of a leak.

You will need the following tools and materials:

A circular saw.

A flat pry bar.

A measuring tape.

A hammer and nails.

A length of aluminum or galvanized sheetmetal flashing.

Keep in mind that this modification works best on homes where plank (horizontal, vertical or diagonal) wood siding butts up against the outside edge of wood window or door trim. However, a very similar process can be performed where plywood siding exists.

Here’s what to do:

First, remove the top piece of window trim. Be patient here. Prying the trim away from the building a little bit at a time will help to prevent the trim and the siding from being damaged. Back the nails out of the trim and set it aside.

You should now be able to see a layer of building paper in the area behind the wood trim. We’ll refer to this newly exposed spot as the “open area.”

Use a pencil to make two 1-inch horizontal marks, one at each of the two upper corners of the open area — one to the left and one to the right. Use the circular saw to make a 1-inch long slit through the siding at each of these two points. Essentially, this extends the topmost edge at the open area by 2 inches by adding a 1-inch long saw-blade-width slit in each direction.

Next, you will need to make two lengths of flashing that will fit behind the siding and over the top and down the face of the window trim, sort of “Z” shaped. Aluminum works best because it is a soft metal that is easy to form and shape.

The flashing should be bent to the following specifications:

The first bend should be about 2 inches. This section will fit beneath the upper side of the open area.

The second bend should be about a 16th of an inch greater than the thickness of the wood trim. This part of the flashing will cover the top of the wood trim.

The final dimension should be about one-half to three-quarters of an inch. This part of the flashing will drop down over the front face of the wood trim.

The combined length of the two flashings should be 8 inches greater than the length of the piece of wood trim that was removed. This will allow for a 3-inch overlap in the center and leave enough length for the flashing to extend to the end of the 1-inch slits that have been added to either side of the open area. The flashing ends up being longer than the wood trim by about 2 inches.

The reason for using two pieces of flashing is so that the each piece can be fitted behind the siding and then slid beyond the open area into one of the slits. The additional length allows the two pieces to overlap in the center by 3 inches — a good way of creating a leak-free connection that won’t need caulking.

With the two flashings sitting loosely in place, it’s time to replace the wood trim. Nail the trim in place and caulk the ends and the bottom edge.

With your new flashing in place you should never have to worry about caulking the top of a window or door opening again. Yes, it is still wise to continue to caulk the sides of these openings from time to time, but keep in mind that side trim will not hold water like top trim. Therefore, the chance of leaks at side pieces is pretty remote.


Website Mentions:

Wagner Spray Tech:

ThermaTru Doors:

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