Natural Ways to Treat the Most Common Household Pests

Pests are a common household problem. But how you approach that problem, could mean the difference between a comfortable, happy life or one of constant misery.

The Top Three Most Common Household Pests

There are plenty of household pests causing people all sorts of problems. However, the top three most common are:

  • Spiders
  • Ants
  • Fleas

Therefore, we are going to give you several natural methods you can use to get rid of them.

Preventing the Most Common Household Pests

Sometimes it’s possible to get rid of spiders, ants, and fleas using natural methods. And sometimes, depending on the severity and where you live, you might have to call in a professional. However, you can start with trying to address the situation yourself. Then, if it becomes apparent you are going to need some help, don’t hesitate to contact your local pest control company for assistance.

Natural Ways to Treat Pests_Spiders

Natural Pest Control Methods for Spiders

We all know that spiders are beneficial and a necessary part of our environment. However, most of us don’t really want them hanging around our house. So here are a few harmless ways to keep spiders out of your home.

  • Peppermint. Spiders hate peppermint; therefore, you can buy some peppermint essential oil, put it in a spray bottle and apply it around your home. And it smells great too!
  • Vinegar. White vinegar works beautifully for repelling spiders. Just put a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water and spray it around your home concentrating on the cracks and crevices. Yes, it does have an unpleasant odor, but don’t worry the smell doesn’t linger for very long.
  • Citrus. Yep, you got it. Spiders hate citrus as well. Take some citrus peels and rub them on the areas where spiders are known to frequent. Another option that works equally as well, and is a bit more convenient, is using lemon scented furniture polish as that same citrus scent will help repel spiders as well.
  • Chestnuts. We know this sounds a little odd, but chestnuts can also repel spiders and they last a long time before going bad. You simply place a few chestnuts around your home. For example, you can put them on your windowsills, along your baseboards, in your storage cabinets, or anywhere else spiders like to hang out.
  • Cedar. Cedar also works great for repelling spiders. Just take some cedar mulch and put it down around the perimeter of your home and this will help keep them from getting inside. You can also put some cedar blocks or shavings inside your home to repel spiders there as well.

Natural Ways to Treat Pests_Ants

Natural Pest Control Methods for Ants

There are many different kinds of ants. However, these particular natural methods for controlling ants will work for killing fire ants, black ants, carpenter ants and sugar ants.

  • Place cayenne pepper where you see the ants.
  • Spray lemon juice onto the trail of ants. The ants will then get this on their antenna which will, in turn, pollute and kill the entire colony.
  • Lemon juice and bay leaves. Make this into a paste and place the mixture where you see ants.
  • Spray a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water and spray it directly onto the ants to kill them.
  • Use food-grade Diatomaceous Earth and place it around the affected areas. The DE will dry out the exoskeleton of the ants and kill them.

Horse Apples

Natural Pest Control Methods for Fleas

Fleas are probably one of the hardest pests to control. However, it can be done, but you have to be diligent as it will generally require several repeated treatments before you will be rid of them completely.

  • Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth works for fleas just like it does for ants, which is by drying out their exoskeleton. You can also use boric acid, which has the same drying effect and will handily kill fleas. Just sprinkle whichever substance you’ve chosen onto your carpet and work it in with a broom and let it sit for 12-48 hours. Then vacuum and repeat the process after two weeks. Please note, however, that DE could possibly damage some vacuum cleaners so you might want to use a Shop-Vac instead for the first post-treatment vacuuming.
  • Horse apples can be used for flea control. Take whole horse apples and cut them into halves. Then place the apple halves all around your home. This method lasts for approximately two to three months when in an air-conditioned environment.
  • Plain old table salt works wonders for getting rid of fleas. You just sprinkle salt on your carpets, floors and around your baseboards. This method works by drying out the exoskeleton of the fleas which kills them.

The Bottom Line

Pest control can be a time-consuming task; however, it’s a necessary one if you want to keep pests from invading your home. But no matter which pest control method you’ve chosen to use, there might be times when you will have to call in a professional. Especially if you don’t have the time or patience for treating and retreating your home for pests. And that’s OK. Many people find that using a professional is a much quicker, easier route to go. You just have to decide which method is best for you and your particular situation.

 


 

If you liked this article, you might find our earlier post helpful as well: How to Prevent Pest Problems

4 Lessons Learned from Tackling a Green Building Project

Although green building is a trending topic in the construction industry, it hasn’t really evolved from an industry niche to a widely-accepted best practice. Education —both on the industry and consumer side— continues to bring green building into the light, yet there is still a wealth of mystery around the subject.

Shannon Bloemker, Founder of Glasshouse, recently sat down with Builder and Developer Magazine to chat about her experience transforming her mid-century modern Piedmont, California home into a LEED Platinum certified green home (the first in Piedmont and only the third in the San Francisco’s East Bay).

Whether you’re a consumer thinking about tackling a green building project or a contractor or builder who wants to segway into green building, here are four lessons that she learned from tackling that project.

1.) Get Your Squad Together

Tackling a green building project is no small feat. There is the environmental impact to consider, but also the cost, user experience, maintenance, design and more —and you’ll be hard pressed to find an expert that specializes in each of these areas. To make any green building project come to life, be sure to enlist the support and collaborative effort of a team of experts.  

From the onset —even during the research and planning stages— start building a team. Choices that are made for a certain design aesthetic could create high installation costs, for example, or a decision on building materials could impact design. When the homeowner, architect, builder, and subs are working toward the same end goal (your awesome home!), the result is a terrific design with a reasonable scope at a cost that everyone understands.  

2.) Brush Up On City Codes

Code restrictions, homeowners association CC&Rs and LEED certification requirements (among others) will have a huge impact on your green building project. During Shannon’s project, she found that the city had an array of ordinances (viewsheds, lot coverage, garage requirements, and design restrictions) that impacted the project. Her team needed to develop plans to make the vast majority of changes fit within the home’s existing footprint to maximize the existing space, including converting the garage and carport areas into living space.

As you begin your green building project, make sure to brush up on any codes, ordinances and restrictions that might impact the project. It might not be easy to design with these items in mind, but the alternative can be unforgiving.

3.) Be Patient When Sourcing Materials

The difficult and time consuming process of sourcing green materials can be a surprise for those tackling green building projects. In her interview with Builder and Developer Magazine, Shannon reflected on the material-sourcing process.

“The LEED Certification team I worked with was excellent at making sure materials used in the project contained no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and wouldn’t off-gas any detrimental materials into the home’s interior. This is more challenging than it sounds considering “green materials” extend into multitudinous categories from the glue used to adhere various surfaces to types of plywood, paint, carpet, shelving —everything you can think of inside a home’s interior.”

The lesson here is to remember to be patient, to think outside the box and to work with a team that shares your vision so you can effectively source quality green materials that bring the project to life.

4.) Don’t Forget the Interior

One of Shannon’s professors used to say a building is only green until it’s occupied. Meaning, what you bring into the building and the behavior of the inhabitants (cooking, showering, etc.) can change a healthy building into a sick one.

As you begin any green building project, don’t forget the interior components. From furniture and bedding, to plants and interior design features —sourcing eco-friendly materials in these areas will ensure that your home is not only built with sustainable principles in mind, but is also healthy to live in.

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Making Green Building Work For You

If there’s one key takeaway to learn from Shannon’s experience, it’s perseverance. Because green building is still a relatively new concept, it’s takes perseverance and persistence to get to the finish line. Having a team on your side, understanding the parameters of what’s possible, sourcing materials effectively and looking at the project holistically can help you get there.
Have you recently tackled a green building project? We’d love to hear from you! Whether you’re a builder or homeowner, share your green building experience with us on Facebook. Together we can help bring green building further into the mainstream.

10-Minute Fixes to Improve Energy Efficiency this Weekend

Have you got about an hour? That’s all you’ll need this weekend to make these five 10-minute fixes that will improve your home’s energy efficiency —resulting in potentially hundreds of dollars in savings.

1.) Unplug Things that Sap Energy

The Energy Department provides a handy visual guide for just how much those little appliances that you keep plugged in at all times are costing you. Whether they are actually turned on or not, little electrical pulses are still flowing through the outlet that they are plugged in, increasing your overall energy costs.

Turn off and unplug TVs in rooms where no one is watching. Unplug your toaster, computers, portable stereos, and other electronics when not in use to immediately start bringing down your electric bill. Take ten minutes this weekend to pick the items that should be unplugged and do it.

2.) Automate as Many Things as You Can (Like your thermostat!)

Technology has made it even easier to mind your electricity use, ironically considering most technology runs on electricity. Still, when you can program your thermostat and HVAC systems, you can potentially knock a huge chunk out of your energy bill.

By far, heating and cooling eats up the majority of your energy budget, accounting for 40% of all energy consumption in the average household. Turning it down by just one degree can cut that 40% down by 1%. Lights and sprinklers are programmable now. Automate these tiny energy wasters today if you can.

3.) Vacuum Your Vents and Air Filters

Clogged filters are a huge energy guzzler. When your vents are clogged, your air conditioning unit has to work twice as hard to cool the place down (and vice versa in the winter). Cleaning your vents and air filters regularly can cut your energy waste by 15%. Clean them this weekend but replace them every three months for maximum effect.

4.) Caulk Windows and Doors in Drafty Rooms

Is there a particularly drafty room in your house? Hundreds of dollars a year are escaping from some crack in there every year. Take 10 minutes to walk around your house with a caulk gun inspecting the air around your windows, doors, and any cracks in the foundation, filling them as you go.

5.) Swap Out Halogen and Incandescent Bulbs for EE Ones

When you go on an errand this weekend, don’t forget to pick up some energy efficient bulbs; enough to replace all of your halogen and incandescent ones. Take ten minutes by yourself or with your family to replace old bulbs in each room with energy efficient ones to reduce each light’s energy use by 75%!

6 Cost-Effective Home Security Upgrades Every Homeowner Should Take Advantage Of

Every single homeowner knows that timely upgrades are a part of owning a home. Some people view upgrades as a burden because they can be expensive, especially if you are undertaking a major project. However, home upgrades don’t always need to be a hassle. These upgrades can be easy, and they can be done in a cost-effective manner. In this post, we will be discussing some cost-effective home security upgrades that every homeowner should take advantage of at some point. These upgrades will not break the bank, but they will help you keep your home and your family secure.

teal-door-with-peephole

1. Door Upgrades

When it comes to home security, your strong doors are essential. This is the reason why it is always important to make sure that your doors (and all the components that come together to make it work) are always in tip-top shape and functioning at full capacity.

The first door upgrade should involve setting up a maintenance schedule (which is completely free). If you properly maintain your doors, door locks, and doorframes, your door will end up lasting much longer. That means that you will get the most out of the door while saving money and staying secure.

Next up, homeowners should look to upgrade their door locks. Ideally, you should have Grade 1 deadbolts installed to offer you a maximum amount of security. To make your deadbolts stronger, use 3-inch screws in your strike plates. This will make your locks much more resistant to any force exerted on them. In addition, you should use longer screws in your door hinges, which will secure them deeper into the doorframe, hence bolstering their security.

Another simple cost-effective door upgrade is the installation of a peephole. This simple action prevents any surprise attacks and reduces the chance of a burglar catching homeowners off guard. This can easily be accomplished with a drill and a peephole, which you can get at your local hardware store.

window-with-plant

2. Window Upgrades

Upgrading the security of your windows is just as important as upgrading the security of your doors. There are times when even the most security-minded homeowners neglect their windows. However, burglars pay close attention to your windows, even when you don’t. Windows are, statistically, a favored entry point among burglars so they should be high on your list of priorities when the time comes for upgrades.

Chances are, there are a few of your windows that do not have any locks. If this is the case, now is the time to upgrade. Installing window locks does not require a huge financial investment, it merely requires the time. One simple cost-effective measure that can be employed simply involves installing your window locks on the interior of your home. This will prevent burglars from being able to access your window screws/locks from the exterior of your home. This concept applies to both the locks and hinges (for both the window and the window locks).

Another cost-effective upgrade that comes in handy is the use of security film to reinforce glass windows. This simple measure makes it much harder for burglars to gain entry into your home by breaking through your windows. There are some expensive glass films on the market, but there are cheaper versions that run as low as $14. Even at a lower cost, these are still very effective in boosting your home security.

Homeowners can also secure their sliding windows by placing bars within the tracks to prevent anyone from opening the window from the exterior. Finally, another cost-effective addition is the inclusion of security bars. This might sound expensive, but you can get the required material at your local hardware store, and they can easily be installed by even the most novice DIY homeowner. If you are not comfortable handling these installations yourself, a locksmith can always help you repair and install window locks.

rose-bush

3. Landscape Upgrades

Home security does not always entail locking things up. Sometimes safety can involve using the environment to your advantage. This is where landscaping comes into play. The layout of your exterior can either be to your advantage or to your detriment, so it is important to pay close attention to it.

One upgrade that you can take advantage of is to simply place thorny plants under easily reached windows. This will serve as a natural barrier to anyone attempting to climb up through your windows. Also, if you have a driveway leading up to your home, make sure that you use gravel and loose stones to your advantage. These can be placed along the walkway so that there is always an indication that someone is approaching. Furthermore, utilizing exterior motion sensor lights will help alert you to any exterior movement.

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4. Surveillance Upgrades

Do not let the word surveillance scare you away. There is a common misconception that every means of surveillance is extremely expensive. However, thanks to many technological advancements, there are many easy to install DIY cameras that are available for homeowners to choose from.

Compared to subscribing to a surveillance service, these DIY options are affordable and are meant to meet homeowners at their point of need. A majority of these cameras are easy to install and operate. They come with many features (like remote monitoring capabilities), which allow you to fine tune and customize your surveillance and your home security.

smart_alarm_system

5. Alarm System Upgrades

As I mentioned up above, do not be scared by the name of this section. There are many affordable alarm options that homeowners can choose from. With this selection, you can pick the product that fits your needs and budget. My personal suggestion is that you choose an easy-to-use hub, which will allow you to monitor window and door sensors, as well as connect to your surveillance cameras.

This gives you the freedom to select the parts of an alarm that you want to be installed, rather than settling for what some alarm company might give you. Window and door sensors can be incorporated into your alarm, and these can be used to set the groundwork for a basic alarm system.

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6. Valuable Storage Upgrades

One of the main reasons why people employ home security measures is to prevent burglary. However, there are times when burglars can still foil the best-laid plans, so it is important to have contingencies in place. In this instance, the contingency plan refers to properly storing your valuable items away so that they are not left exposed. This is a very effective measure that people do not use enough.

One of the cheapest options to help you accomplish this is a lockbox. However, if you have a little more to spend, a safe will be more secure. These measures will help you keep your valuable items secure and out of sight which will make it much harder for burglars to get to, hence increasing your home security.

Although, you do not necessarily have to use any of these to keep your valuables secure, just make sure that they are obscure enough and well hidden. There is no cost for a good hiding spot.

Conclusion

It is always important to make sure that you are keeping an eye on your home so that you know exactly when you are due for some upgrades. A majority of these tasks do not take up too much time, and can even be tackled on a weekend. Even though this post focuses specifically on home security upgrades, it is important to apply the same mindset to other facets of the home. One thing that will always help you stay abreast with necessary upgrades is establishing a maintenance schedule. This will give you the opportunity to see how your security measures are holding up. It will also help you map out any changes that need to be made. Remember, this does not mean that you should neglect more expensive, but necessary, home maintenance tasks. It simply is meant to help you get an upgrade without spending too much money.

 

How to Prevent Pest Problems

Whether you have a spider phobia or can’t stand the thought of creepy-crawlers invading your home, it’s always a good idea to take precautions to prevent pest problems at home. In fact, a national study by HomeTeam Pest Defense found that 84 percent of America’s homeowners experienced a pest problem over a 12 month period. The top pest issues were ants (49 percent), spiders (43 percent), flies (37 percent), mosquitoes (34 percent), mice (30 percent) and wasps (29 percent).

While no home is completely safe from the occasional ant or spider, there are some simple —and practical— steps you can take to ensure you’re keeping the creepy-crawlers at bay. Follow these tips so you don’t become part of the statistic:

1. Inspect Your Home Regularly

Common pests like ants and spiders tend to sneak in through the cracks, so be sure to look around your home for holes, cracks and other potential entry points on a regular basis. Some of the most often overlooked areas are those around pipes and wires that enter the home. Make sure these areas are sealed and checked regularly.

2. Don’t Forget the Chimney

Forget ants and spiders, imagine having a bat infestation in your chimney! To prevent these and other critters like squirrels from entering your home, be sure to install and inspect chimney screens. A similar area that’s often forgotten? Flood vents in low-country garages, which need screens to not only prevent animals from entering, but debris from potential flood waters.

3. Fido Needs an Inspection, Too   

Critters can enter your home in more ways than you can imagine, so it’s important to think outside the box. Be sure to check your dog or cat regularly for fleas and ticks and, should you find any, be sure to spray your furniture and carpets with treatment spray.

4. Use Airtight Containers

It may seem like common knowledge, but sometimes we need reminding. Always store your food and pantry essentials in airtight containers to avoid late-night feasts in your kitchen. A quality set of Tupperware can last for years and —bonus— your pantry will be super clean and organized.

5. Maintain Your Faucets and Drains

Not only will pests enter your home in the cracks and openings around pipes and wires (Tip #1), many are attracted to water, since they need that to survive. Be sure to fix leaky faucets immediately, and make sure your drains are clear of leftover food.

A great, all-natural solution for this is to pour ½ a cup of baking soda then ½ cup of vinegar down the drain. Wait a few minutes and then bour boiling water down the drain to clear it all out.

6. Go All-Natural

Essential oils are all the rage right now, and they can keep the pests at bay, too! Whether you’re trying to keep mosquitoes out of the house or want to prevent ants and spiders from coming inside, you can mix 2 ½ teaspoons of essential oil with 1 cup of grain alcohol (like vodka) in an empty spray bottle to mist throughout your home or in problem areas.

Here are a few common uses:

  • Citronella essential oil = mosquitoes
  • Lavender essential oil = mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, flies
  • Peppermint essential oil = spiders and ants
  • Rosemary essential oil = fleas and ticks
  • Tea tree essential oil = mosquitoes and ants

7. Keep Nature at a Distance

Bugs and creepy-crawlers can live in the soil, grass and trees in your yard, so keep these plants at a slight distance from your house. Be sure to also manicure your grass, shrubs, bushes and trees regularly to cultivate your yard’s landscape and keep pests from coming inside.

Along the same lines, don’t pile firewood directly against your home’s walls or foundation and keep any piles of mulch or leaves at a distance.

8. Cover Up Your Trash

Unwanted visitors can be drawn to your garbage, so make sure you’re putting a lid on your trash —both inside and outside the home. And, be sure to rinse out your trash can regularly with a combination of water and vinegar to ensure bugs are not enticed to snoop around.

How to Prevent Other Home Issues

From tips on how to prevent pest problems to articles on numerous DIY projects around the home, be sure to explore our “How to” series to find more ways to maintain your home with ease. With a little effort and some elbow grease, keeping your home in tip-top shape can be simple.
Learn more in these recent posts:

5 Home Improvement Trends for 2017

Spring is in the air and that means DIY and home improvement projects are on the mind. Whether you’re a homeowner, builder or contractor, it’s always fun (and important) to keep up with the latest trends in home improvement. As a homeowner, this will help you get cued-in to what improvements will keep your home up-to-date and desirable, and for contractors and builders, it will enable you to stay in-tune with the desires of your clients.

We’ve put together the top 5 home improvement trends for 2017 to help you stay in-the-loop. Which trends are you most excited about?

1. Promoting a Healthier Lifestyle

It might not sound like a home improvement trend, but it is. A recent Houzz study found that ⅓ of homeowners report leading a healthier lifestyle after a kitchen renovation. And, the push for a healthier lifestyle is creating an entirely new market in the home improvement and products industry.

Indoor gardening, for example, was quite popular at the recent Consumer Electronics Show. Tower Garden, edn, and others have been growing in popularity —and homeowners are looking for new ways to incorporate indoor gardening in their homes. This home improvement trend doesn’t stop here. We’re also seeing things like food recyclers and compactors being added to high-end kitchens.

2. Incorporating Smart Home Technology

Smart home technology has come a long way over the last few years. Companies like Ring have broadened their product offerings, as homeowners continue to show interest in ways to protect and automate their homes. Ring not only offers video doorbells, they’ve added the world’s only motion-activated HD security camera with built-in flood lights, a siren alarm and two-way talk.

Some smart technology is worth the investment, but do your research to make sure the products live up to their promises. For example,  all of GE Appliances’ WiFi-ready models feature a digital assistant called Geneva that communicates with Amazon’s Alexa, making hands free communication a breeze. However when we tested WallyHome, the home sensing solution failed to detect a leak even though the sensor was sitting in pool of water.

If you’re taking on a home renovation, it’s a smart idea to include smart technology!

3. Smaller, But Fancier

According to a recent Consumer Reports article and US Census Bureau data, for the first time since 2009, the average size of new homes built in 2016 went down from the prior year, to 2,634 square feet. But, with all the smart home technology they’re getting more modern.

Because they’re not splurging on McMansions, homeowners are able to splurge in other areas like kitchen appliances, high-end design finishes and other upgrades that may have previously been considered unnecessary.

4. Keeping Easy Cleaning in Mind

Homeowners are also keeping the ease of cleaning in mind when remodeling or upgrading their homes. From surfaces like tile and granite that are relatively easy to keep in good condition to high-tech appliances like this self-cleaning toilet (yes, you read that right), we’re looking for upgrades that will help make life a bit easier.

Touchless faucets and smudge-free stainless steel appliances are other examples of this trend coming to life.  

5. Color, Color Everywhere

Another easy-to-do yet popular home improvement trend for 2017 is color. We’re seeing everything from jewel-toned kitchens and bathrooms to color used as an accent to increase the depth and visual appeal of big, open spaces.

Painting is perhaps the easiest way to DIY your home improvement, and can easily be modified as trends change.

Making Home Improvements That Count

These home improvement trends offer insight into the many ways homeowners are advancing their living spaces this year. As a homeowner or construction professional, achieving any of these trends will bring your home into the 21st century —keeping it up-to-date and appealing should you decide to sell.

Whether you’re aching for the latest smart home gadgets or are planning a big remodel, 2017 is the year to modernize and live better. Spring is a great time to get your home life on track, and, if you’re still a bit behind the times, consult the smart home gift guide to see what you’ve been missing.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Refrigerator?

With good maintenance and care, your refrigerator can have an average lifespan of 14-17 years. That’s not too shabby! But, all good things must come to an end —even our trusty refrigerators.

When it comes time to replace your refrigerator, there are a number of things to consider and some important must-have features to look for. Remember, it’s going to be with you for a while, so it only makes sense to do your research, choose wisely and take great care to prolong its life.

With that said, here’s how much it costs to replace a refrigerator and some of those must-have features you should watch out for. Plus, we’ve included a little advice on knowing when to replace your fridge so you’re not left hanging with a bunch of melted ice cream on a hot summer day.

Is Your Refrigerator Dying?

Knowing that your fridge can last between 14 and 17 years is a great way to start planning ahead and budgeting for a new one, but you also need to be proactive and watch for the signs so you’re not stuck with a fridge full of spoiled food.

Some of the symptoms of a dying fridge include:

  • Excessive condensation — If you notice that your fridge is “sweating” more than usual, this could be a sign of inaccurate temperature control.
  • A hot motor — It’s normal to feel a bit of heat coming from behind your fridge, but if it’s getting really hot it might mean the coils are going bad.
  • You can hear it running — If you’re hearing your fridge running during the day, it’s likely that it’s having to work too hard to keep cool.
  • Frost buildup — If you notice a lot of frost buildup in the freezer, this can also be a sign that the coils are going bad. Defrost the fridge and wait to see if it happens again.

If your refrigerator exhibits any of these signs, it might be time to have a technician come out to do an inspection. Sometimes things like coils can be replaced for a fraction of the cost of replacing the entire refrigerator. On average, the cost to repair a refrigerator ranges from $292 to $413  —depending on model, repair and supplies.

Things to Look for When Replacing a Refrigerator

The best refrigerator for your home is the one that suits your family’s needs, offers enough space, and works with your current kitchen setup. In addition, consider these following tips when replacing your refrigerator:

Style #1: Top Freezer (Priced from $500+)

This is the traditional style of refrigerator that we all grew up with. The freezer compartment is at the top, with the refrigerated section below.

Why you’ll love it:

  • This no-frills refrigerator often offers more usable space than those with features like in-door water/ice, which takes up space.
  • If you have a slim space, these are often the best bet. Typical widths are 30-33 inches.
  • They use 10% to 25% less energy than bottom-freezer and side-by-side door models.
  • They’re usually the least expensive.

Style #2: Bottom Freezer (Priced from $700+)

Flipping the traditional style, refrigerators with the freezer on the bottom are popular for their convenience —putting the refrigerated compartment at eye-level where things are easy to see and reach. They can also accommodate wider trays of food.

Why you’ll love it:

  • Everything is easily reachable with little bending to get things in and out.
  • Those with double doors (french) are more energy efficient, as only one door is being opened and it minimizes the amount of cold air that escapes.
  • French door models don’t require as much room for the doors to swing open as other models.

Style #3: Side-by-Side (Priced from $900+)

Side-by-side models offer an equal balance between freezer and refrigerator space, which is popular with families who eat a great mix of frozen and fresh foods.

Why you’ll love it:

  • These allow for easy access and viewing of food in both compartments.
  • Perfect for family members with disabilities who need to access food without bending or a stepstool.
  • Typical widths are 32 to 26 inches, but keep in mind the divider between fridge and freezer means there’s some unusable space.

Style #4: Cabinet- and Counter-Depth (Priced from $2000+)

These models provide a custom look if overlayed with cabinet faces and are offered in shorter depths so they don’t stick out past cabinets and counters.

Why you’ll love it:

  • These models create a clean, custom look that can be the finishing touch in a luxury kitchen.
  • They often come in various sizes and configurations, such as under-the-counter beverage refrigerators or under-the-counter produce drawers.
  • Various depths and widths are available to create a truly custom kitchen.

Other Costs and Features to Consider

There have been a lot of advances in refrigerator technology over the past decade. If you haven’t purchased a fridge in the last few years, some of these options and features might surprise you. Keep these in mind as you shop:

Smudge-Free Stainless — Stainless appliances are all the rage, but the fingerprints left behind aren’t! Some manufacturers have developed smudge-free stainless options. Just remember that finishes vary from brand to brand and might not be a perfect match to your other appliances.

Smart Refrigerators — Believe it or not, your refrigerator can tell you what groceries you’re running low on. For $5,000, you can buy (Spring ‘17) the Samsung Family Hub refrigerator, which you’ll be able to digitally access from your phone while in the grocery store to see what you’re missing.

Water and Ice — In-door water and ice has been a must-have feature for a number of years, particularly with families that use water/ice often. Just keep in mind that this option takes up a lot of interior space, is susceptible to problems and can be messy. It also increases the cost of the fridge.

Installation and Removal — As with any new appliance, also factor in the cost of installation and the removal of your old refrigerator. Installation and removal charges vary by vendor and location, so always ask ahead of time. If your fridge is still in good working order, you should consider donating it to a local charity, which might pick it up for free.  

More on Replacing Appliances …

If you’re looking for more information regarding how much it costs to replace other household appliances, please don’t hesitate to consult our blog. Our team offers an ongoing series on this topic, so you have all the tools you need to maintain your home.

How to Maintain my Deck or Patio

Outdoor living spaces add tremendous value to your home, as well as your everyday enjoyment. A rustic stone patio or sleek modern deck can be the perfect gathering place for family and friends. Throw in some comfortable seating and perhaps a firepit, and you’ve got a real amenity.

The materials used for decks and patios vary as widely as home styles. They should be chosen with their intended use in mind. If the space will be used for dining, for example, it’s wise to choose a smooth, regular surface, like brick pavers or concrete for your patio. A more casual space might call for gravel or flagstones.

Here are some of the most popular materials for outdoor living spaces:

Deck Materials

These days, you can choose between many different natural surfaces, as well as a range of composite and artificial decking materials that may extend the life and reduce the maintenance costs of your deck.

Option #1: Wood

The most common choice for wood deck materials is pressure-treated or “PT” lumber. This is inexpensive, and can easily make for a sturdy, attractive structure. On the other hand, PT is also highly susceptible to warping, cracking and splitting, so it has to be treated regularly for weather resistance.  A deck made with PT lumber will last around 15 years, and the cost is around $1.32 per lineal foot.

An option for longer lasting wood decks would be redwood or cedar, which are naturally resistant to warping, cracking and pests. These woods are about three times as expensive as pressure treated lumber.

Tropical woods like ipe (pronounced e-pay), cambara, and ironwood, fall into the same price range. These are very dense and pest resistant and considered to be some of the most beautiful decking materials available. These are also relatively expensive, averaging $2.00 per foot, but they last for about 25 years.

Option #2: Composite

Composite wood is composed of wood fibers and recycled plastic, and comes in a wide range of colors and stains. It won’t warp, split or crack, and is an environmentally friendly option. It doesn’t need to be stained or painted, but should be scrubbed regularly to prevent mildew.

Patio Materials

Your first consideration in choosing patio materials is what you’ll be using the patio for most. If you’re like most folks, the answer is “general outdoor entertaining.” This usually includes dining, which means you’ll want a solid, flat surface and should consider patio materials like brick, concrete, cast pavers, or flat stone like slate.

Uneven surfaces like fieldstone, pebbles, or gravel aren’t recommended (unless you want to make eating and sitting comfortably more challenging).

Understanding Outdoor Patio and Deck Maintenance

Like any other feature of your home, your deck or patio is only an asset if it’s properly maintained

Even though pressure-treated lumber resists insects and decay, it’s still vulnerable to moisture and the sun’s rays. Eventually these forces will have your deck looking gray or grimy, so regular maintenance is necessary.

The first consideration in deck maintenance is a good cleaning. Deck cleaners come in bleach and non-bleach formulas. Either can remove surface and ground-in dirt. Bleach cleaners lighten the wood, while non-bleach ones gently remove dirt and grime without damaging the wood fibers or the wood’s natural color.

Here are some steps for cleaning a wood deck:

  • Sweep away all the leaves and other debris.
  • Gently rinse off the deck and the surrounding bushes and grass with a garden hose.
  • Using a roller, sprayer or a bucket and brush, apply the cleaner, being sure to remember to wear gloves to protect your hands. Don’t forget vertical surfaces, like posts and railings.
  • Let the cleaner set for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse, using a pressure washer to remove stubborn grime.
  • After cleaning, allow the deck to dry for a few days and then make any needed repairs: drive in any protruding nails and replace boards if necessary.
  • Finally, apply a protective stain or clear coat to bring new life to the deck.
  • Cover all the surrounding areas with a cloth tarp
  • Apply the wood finish according to directions
  • Let it set for about 20 minutes to penetrate.
  • Brush out any puddles to avoid shiny patches, and then apply a second coat.

Just like your deck, patios need regular attention to optimize usefulness and visual appeal. Check at least annually for needed repairs and cleaning. Some common patio problems are easy enough to solve with these steps:

Uneven Pavers

Weathering and settling can cause pavers to be less level, and this requires some adjustment. Pull up the offending stones or bricks and re-level the bedding material (ideally crushed stone) before replacing them.

Dirty, Moldy, or Faded Pavers

Clean and seal pavers every 2 or 3 years, using an acid-based masonry detergent, then apply a sealant.

Weeds and Debris Between Pavers  

Pressure wash the joints, clean the pavers, and sweep in polymeric joint sand, which solidifies with moisture, creating a solid and permanent bond.

A New Approach to Home Maintenance with Glasshouse

Not all homeowners have the time to maintain their homes in the way they know is required. Enter Glasshouse. Designed for the modern homeowner, Glasshouse Service Providers take care of your home so you can spend your time enjoying it. Learn more about our scheduled preventative maintenance service today.

8 of the Most Neglected Home Maintenance Tasks (Don’t Ignore Them!)

Your home is likely your biggest investment. You use it every day. It’s important. Despite these facts, many of us struggle to keep up with important maintenance tasks that are really essential for retaining our home’s value. When it comes to home maintenance, paying attention to the little things can save you lots of money, time and house-repair headaches.

Preventative maintenance means that you avoid costly breakdowns and repairs. Taking the initiative to care for systems and structures before there is a problem can be difficult. We all have busy lives, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you want to do yourself a favor, though, see about attending to some of these frequently neglected household maintenance jobs.

Change HVAC filters

The furnace and AC in your home work tirelessly, and you may not ever give them a thought –until there’s a problem. Depending on its features, you can expect to get 10-15 years out of an air conditioning unit. Furnaces last a little longer: 15-20 years.  Once it’s time for a replacement you can expect to pay between $8000 and $20,000 for your new system and installation.

Regularly changing the filters will make these systems last as long as possible, and it’s a quick, inexpensive job. You should change the filter at least twice a year, when the seasons change. As a bonus, clean filters help your system run more efficiently, saving energy costs.

Clean dryer vents

Many of us are not aware that clogged dryer vents are a leading cause of household fires. They also make your dryer much less efficient. It’s easy to check the exterior vent occasionally to make sure it’s not blocked, but many people don’t make time for this task.

The vent should be checked annually. It’s as simple as going outside, taking the cover off and vacuuming the dryer vent tube.

Clean gutters

Many homeowners neglect the gutter system on their house, and this can be a costly oversight.  If a system is not maintained, water may pool in the gutters and damage eaves, leak into the house, and damage walls and flooring. Clogged gutters can cause extensive damage to your home’s roof, which then leads to moisture problems.

Thoroughly cleaning and inspecting the gutters once a year can prevent all these problems. Get a sturdy ladder, some stout gloves, a hand trowel and a garden hose, and go to it. Or hire a pro. Either way, make a point of addressing this important maintenance task.

Roof inspection

It’s wise to inspect your roof closely once a year. Even if you haven’t detected any leaks, check for loose shingles, cracks, and damage.  Look for sun rot, cracked caulk, rust, or algae. These issues should be addressed immediately. A small leak in the roof can cause major damage over time, including the creation of cracks and weakness in the foundation, which can be painfully expensive to repair.

With good care, the average asphalt shingle roof lasts about 20 years, and cement shingles last a few years longer. A slate or tile roof can last as long as 50 years. Considering that a new roof will set you back thousands of dollars, it makes sense to invest a little time now to prolong the life of your existing roof.

Flush out hot water heater

The water heater is another appliance that we rarely think of until it fails us and our teeth are chattering in the shower. Besides the risk of a breakdown, neglecting your water heater can lead to damage. Water heater failures make up 20 percent of residential water loss incidents.

Caring for the water heater is easy. Just inspect for leaks, and fully drain the tank about once a year to minimize sediment buildup.

Clean refrigerator coils

You may have never even heard of condenser coils, but they need you. They’re at the back or bottom of your fridge, and they can get clogged with dust and hair. That makes the fridge work harder, which translates to shorter life and higher energy costs. Fix that by cleaning the condenser coils once a year with a brush and vacuum.

Check for high water pressure

High water pressure can waste a lot of water, and also harm pipes, connections, and appliances. With a very inexpensive (about $25) pressure gauge, you can check to see if pressure is too high, and if it is consider installing a new pressure-reducing valve, available at home improvement and hardware stores.

Snake your main drain

This task isn’t something you need to do annually, but it’s a good idea to clear your main sewage drain every few years. Over time tree roots can push in and create cracks and blockages in these lines, which can lead to a major mess and high repair costs.  This job is best done by your plumber, and it’s one of the most frequently overlooked home maintenance tasks.

Get Help

Don’t have the time or energy to tackle these home maintenance jobs? Let Glasshouse help. Learn more about our regularly scheduled maintenance programs today!

Decoding a Home Inspection Report: What Buyers Need to Know

The home inspection is a critical step in the home buying process. It generally confirms the buyer’s favorable impression and perhaps identifies a few issues that should be part of negotiations. In some cases, however, the home inspection can uncover real problems that can throw the entire deal into question.

For the typical home buyer, it can be difficult to interpret a home inspection report, know which points are especially significant —possible deal breakers— and which are common and easily addressed. It’s a good idea to get familiar with some of the components of a home inspection report and to know what sorts of questions to ask along the way.

The Big Red Flags

The purpose of a home inspection is to verify that the home’s structure and systems are in good shape and working order. It protects the buyer from inheriting problems that weren’t obvious in touring the home, and is absolutely a necessary step, no matter how pristine the property appears. Generally, a few minor issues won’t derail a deal, but there are some things that should give the buyer pause, and definitely indicate some re-negotiating, at least.

Forbes recommends watching for these home inspection red flags:

foundation-cracks

1. Problems with drainage or grading

This can cause a multitude of problems ranging from rotting wood frame to the shifting and/or cracking a home’s foundation over time. A good inspector will notice possible signs of foundation movement. If this is noted on a home inspection, understand that repairs will be costly.

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2. Worn out roofing

Watch for any mention of signs of aging such as cupping, curling, blistering, lifting, splitting, insect damage, cracking, rotting and missing granular/sections. These symptoms of an aging roof may be warning signs of future water intrusion unless a new roof is installed; and once again there is a hefty price tag to this sort of project.

Wondering how to maintain a roof? Here are some tips.

Broken electric cable.

3. Unsafe wiring

Defective electrical wiring is a common cause of residential fires. Also, be aware that the number of electrical outlets in the home is significant. Too few outlets can lead to the overuse of extension cords, which places too much stress on the electrical system. You should also be mindful of any exposed wires. Remedying any of these problems will require a professional and the associated costs.

Plumbing

4. Faulty plumbing

This can indicate substantial problems that may even necessitate replacing the entire system. Pay attention to the smallest leak, since the potential for damage is considerable.

Other signs of trouble include mold, water damage, foundation damage, or insect infestations. All of these can be the result of poor maintenance, which has a negative effect on the property as a whole.

What to Do With the Report

Once you’ve received an inspection report, what’s the next step? Be sure to reach out to the inspector if you have questions or if you feel that information is missing. How you handle the report has a big impact on your actual purchase price and on the condition of your new home.  Here are some tips for how to proceed:

  • Discuss it with your real estate agent

Share the report with your agent. They see dozens of reports, and will be able to quickly identify any areas for concern.  They can also recommend contractors to handle needed repairs.

  • Get an estimate for repairs

Have the contractor come to the house and share the inspection report. Make sure that the estimate you’re given covers the specific repairs called for in the inspection. Get a firm timeline for when the work could be accomplished.

  • Negotiate with the seller

Based on your meeting with the contractor, decide which repairs are most important to you, and what issues you may not be interested in addressing. Discuss the inspection report and required repairs with the seller. Negotiate how those will be covered: the seller may make the repairs or may provide compensation for repairs that you arrange.

The ideal scenario is a clean inspection, although it’s rare that a home has no issues at all. A favorable inspection boosts buyer confidence, as it should. It indicates a home that has been well cared for, and helps deals move forward more quickly.

Improving Value with Glasshouse

If you’re selling your home, being able to demonstrate meticulous maintenance is a big plus. Our Glasshouse customers have 24/7 access to detailed maintenance reports on their property, and can document that their home has been on a comprehensive maintenance schedule. We like to think that we make the inspector’s job easy.

Whether you’re thinking about selling your home or simply understand the importance of preventative maintenance, connect with our team at Glasshouse to learn more about our preventative maintenance service.