Even More Top Tips for Handy Home Repairs

1. Close your sink stopper whenever you are repairing the faucet. It will prevent any small parts from falling down the drain. Extra tip: Get a little mesh drain cover (one of the ones that goes partly down the drain) or covers over the hole to stop any items from getting washed down and to help prevent clogs. Put one in your kitchen sink, and you will be shocked at how much debris collects each time you wash the dishes. Shake the debris out into your trash can and/or scoop it out with a spoon. Rinse and replace.

2. To prevent hitting your thumb or hand with the hammer, hold the nail in place with a pair of pliers with one hand, and hammer with the other. Do this when nailing into hard wood to help avoid bounce-back injuries. Holding it in position firmly in this manner can also prevent the nail from going in crookedly.

3. Pushing the tips of your nails or screws into a bar of soap or candle will lubricate them and make it easier to drive them into wood.

4. If the flames of your gas stove are uneven, the burner is most likely clogged. Turn off the stove, turn off the gas connection, and use a Q-tip with some baking soda and vinegar to clean around and inside each hole. Use a new Q-tip as needed until you’ve removed the cooked-on food and residue to clean each pore of the burner.

5. Save the handles of old brooms. They make great extension handles for paint rollers, or paint stirrers.


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More Top Tips for Handy Home Repairs

1. To minimize the need for repairing the toilet, flush a cup of baking soda into the bowl once a week. Baking soda controls the pH level in the septic tank that aids the flushing process.

2. Consider a tool that can do more tasks when deciding what power tool/s to buy. Consider cordless tools if you live in a large home.

3. If there is no penetrating oil available for emergency repairs, use soda or vinegar to loosen a stuck screw. Let the soda or vinegar seep into the hole for about 2 minutes, then try to turn it. If that does not work, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda and add a teaspoon of vinegar. The explosive foaming action will loosen it in no time. (Hint-Baking soda and vinegar is a very convenient home cleaning solution, but do NOT use on old pipes. You can blast a hole in them or make the pipes come apart at the seams.

4. To remedy a hole in a window screen in order to keep out insects, cut a piece of screen an inch bigger than the hole on all sides. Position the patch over the hole, unravel some of the wires from the piece you have cut the patch from, and weave the metal wires through both sets of screen openings until the patch is attached securely to the main screen and no bugs can sneak through.

5. Storing small pieces of chalk inside the toolbox can not only help you have some handy if you need to mark doors or walls when you are measuring or doing DIY projects. They can also absorb moisture which can rust tools over time, and therefore help you protect and preserve your investment.


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Housekeeping Hints

1. A paste of butter and cigarette ashes do a good job of removing white water marks on wood. Spread onto the spot and rub with a damp cloth.

2. To prevent damage to delicate clothes when washing them inside a washing machine, place the garments inside a pillowcase and wash on the gentle cycle. This can help you save a great deal of money on dry cleaning. You can also freshen up wool sweaters in this way-it will actually do far less damage than trying to wash them by hand, since they will go through a spin cycle in the pillow case and not lose their shape due to the weight of the water in the wool stretching the fibers.

3. To remove crayon marks from your walls, try using a small smear of toothpaste on the marks. Leave it to stand for a minute, then rub off with a clean cloth.

4. Regularly set aside a time each year to clean out storage areas and take stock of what you have. Either keep it, or put it aside for a yard sale and/or charitable donation, or sell it on eBay. In this way you can keep your house clutter-free and easier to clean.

5. Make your own kitchen air freshener for the holidays. In a saucepan, bring a small amount of water to a boil and add cinnamon sticks and orange peel. Simmer under a low fire, and let the homey scent fill your kitchen. This will also work well with cloves instead of the cinnamon. For a fresh scent every day, use any discarded orange or lemon rinds you might have.

6. Do you have a child who wets the bed? Or a pet who has soiled his and you’re tired of washing the dog bed all the time? Remove nasty urine odors on mattresses with borax. Dampen the affected areas with cold water, and sprinkle borax over them. Rub the borax vigorously over the affected areas and let dry. Then brush off the remaining powder and it should be much fresher and cleaner.


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Top Tips for Handy Home Repairs

1. When fixing a backed up toilet, remember that oval plungers or augers are generally better than the bell shaped ones because they can push more air without creating a vacuum. Handy hint: Try pouring a quarter of a cup of dish washing liquid into the bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes. Boil a saucepan of water. Pour it into the toilet at the end of 15 minutes. Plunge GENTLY to avoid any splashing or excessive bubbles. It should clear up the clog easily without any need for a plumber.

2. Always plan ahead before you replace or buy light fixtures. Location and cleaning are factors that you should always consider. Oddly shaped lights placed high up are very hard to clean and will get dark and dingy over time, darkening your room. A tall Swiffer feature duster can help, but they do cost money, so keep things simple and spend less time cleaning.

3. If repaired cracks are an eyesore for you, use brush-on resurfacers, which will help even out the area and enable it to look like new.

4. Use a thin-bladed utility knife instead of a pencil to draw a saw line when you are working with wood. Scoring the surface of the wood makes sawing easier, and yields a more precise measurement than the pencil mark.

5. Get into the good habit of “Cleaning as you go.” Just as with cooking, in which dirty pots and pans piling up can start to limit your ability to work safely and sanely, clean as you go when you are doing DIY as well. A work area that is cluttered with tools and other items will make you more prone to accidents. Be alert for cords that can trip you up, blades and other sharp instruments that can nick and cut and caustic chemicals that can harm the skin and the eyes.

6. You can repair carpet troubles without having to replace the whole rug. Vacuum stained portions of carpet before repairing. Trim carefully with a sharp knife or scissors. If the damage is deep, cut out the piece using a sharp carpet knife, and replace with one the same size that you cut from a covered area of the rug that no one will see, such as under a piece of furniture like the sofa. Patch it in place with double sided carpet tape.


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Coping with Clutter in Your Home

There is nothing worse than coming home after a long day to a house full of clutter, or trying to work from home in a disorganized environment. Statistics have shown that the square footage of the average home in America has increased significantly in the past 20 years, while family sizes have shrunk.

At the same time, we see more hoarding than ever, with people cramming their apartments and houses full of possessions and actually getting into trouble with credit card companies in order to do so. Conspicuous consumption has been curbed somewhat by the current recession, but for some people, online shopping or television shopping channels have become an addiction.

In addition to this acquisitiveness, families live at a faster pace than ever before. Increased work and school responsibilities can mean that everyday household duties can start to get pushed back to later and later in the week or the month, and things start to pile up.

Aside from extreme solutions like renting a dumpster and hauling away rooms full of junk (1-800-Junk and other companies are springing up to help with this problem) many people seem to have a hard time coping with their clutter. There are several simple and inexpensive solutions that you can consider to help get your home more organized without divesting yourself of all your worldly goods.

One way to tackle the problem of clutter is to work together as a family. If you have 6 rooms in the house, it might take you 6 days to de-clutter, but it will then be far easier to keep on top of your organizational issues once you do so.

Start with one room at a time, such as the family room or kitchen and start getting rid of all the non-essentials that have started accumulating. Get rid of old newspapers, magazines, and so on. Assign age-appropriate tasks to your family members as you work. For example, you can give a younger child the responsibility of dusting with a soft cloth on which you have already sprayed polish, once you have cleaned off all the tabletops.

You could ask your geeky teenager to check over all the electronic equipment and run all the cords through an empty paper towel tube in order to prevent tangling. Involve the entire family in the task. It’s only fair. If everyone uses the family room, then everyone should help clean up and organize the place. Once it is de-cluttered, everyone should take responsibility for cleaning up after themselves. If everyone cleans up their own messes, no one will be over-burdened with household responsibilities.

Once you have worked your way through all the common areas of the house, it will be time to work on tidying individual rooms. This can be a touchy subject for the children and even your partner, but the fact of the matters is, if there are any items in closets, drawers, under beds and so on that have not been used or even looked at for a while, it might be time to consider de-cluttering them from your life as well.

Thanks to eBay, people have made small fortunes getting rid of items that they no longer want. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as the common saying points out. Make four piles for the clutter:-to keep, to sell, to donate, to give away to someone who would really appreciate it.

Keep is the easy part. In fact, you will have to discipline yourself to not hang onto things ‘just in case’. With the children’s items, selling or donating might be easier than you think. They will have a variety of items, from clothes to books, that they will have outgrown. Once your youngest child has outgrown these items, think of selling them, donating them to charity, or passing them along to someone who will appreciate them, such as a friend or neighbor who is expecting or has children the right age for the item.

You can sell almost anything on eBay so long as it is in good condition. You can also have a yard sale or garage sale and sell your items one by one, or in lots, such as a lot of girl’s clothes in pink, all size X.

If you donate to charity, be sure to get a receipt so you can deduct the value of your donation from your taxes.

Once you get rid of these items, avoid the temptation to buy more to fill up the empty drawers and closets. With children, in particular, there is no need to buy a lot of clothing and toys. They grow out of everything so fast, a few items are better than dozens.

Getting started cutting back on the clutter can be the most difficult part of the process of de-cluttering your life, but once you begin, it can give you a great sense of accomplishment.

It may take some time to get the rest of your house in order, such as your home office, attic, garage and so on, but it will be worth it. Your goal will be to have a clean, inviting home that you would not be ashamed to invite anyone to visit. Your home does not have to be spotless, but you can certainly accomplish more and feel less frustrated and claustrophobic if you are not surrounded by mountains of clutter.


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The Best Ways to Clean the Air in Your Home, Part 2

(Continued in Part 1)

Now that you know the benefits of keeping the air clean in your home, it is time to consider how to clean it.

5 Ways to Keep the Air Cleaner Inside Your Home

Improve the quality of the air in your home easily with these quick tips:

*Change your air filters.
Filters remove certain pollutants from the surrounding air. This includes, dust, dust mites, allergens, pollen and smaller particles. Every time you open the door or window, you are letting in more than just air. Not cleaning the filters in your A/C or heating units causes them to circulate dirty air plus, it forces them to work harder as well. This in turn makes them burn more energy and operate less efficiently, resulting their losing even more of their ability to pull the dirty particles out of the air.

*Buy houseplants.
Houseplants absorb the waste products we breathe out, provide cleaner air as a result. Several houseplants can help to keep the indoor air free of pollution. Some varieties to consider include, Peace Lily, Gerbera Daisy, Red-Edged Dracaena and English Ivy. For optimum results, keep houseplants wiped down and well-watered and fed, and keep out of reach of all children and pets.

For some people, however, who are allergic to mold or spores, plants might not always be the best idea. Here are some suggestions for helpful house plants which can even beautify your home (with excellent pictures): http://www.aerias.org/DesktopModules/ArticleDetail.aspx?articleId=126#plants-problems
And information about which plants can help counteract certain chemicals in the home.
It also discusses health reasons for not to having a plant in the house.

*Keep your ceiling fans clean.
Ceiling fans are an environmentally friendly way to keep the air circulating in your home, but they also collect dust. A dusty fan can keep all sorts of pollutants blowing all around the room and the house. Dust them regularly to cut down on poor air quality. Also remember to turn the direction of the paddles depending on the season. Warm air rises. Have them face down in the winter and up in the warmer weather.

*Check for mold and mildew.
Keep moisture from creeping into the little nooks and crannies of your house, such as around bathroom fixtures, under cabinets and in bathtubs. Mold that becomes airborne can make your family sick. Let shower curtains dry flat and completely after washing. Clean out washing machines and dishwashers to stop mildew from forming. Keep your refrigerator, basement and closets clean and dry. Beware of wall to wall carpeting, as it can absorb a great deal of moisture and start to get moldy.

*Open your windows
You might not want to open them all the time, but letting in fresh air from outdoors can boost the air quality of your home. Also clean the inside of your windows so that dust doesn’t blow back into your home.

How good is the quality of the air in your house? Try these simple ways to keep the air quality high and see if it makes a difference to your family’s health.



The Best Ways to Clean the Air in Your Home, Part 1

When it comes to pollution, we often think about the air outside our house or apartment, picturing smog and exhaust fumes from cars and trucks. But the truth of the matter is that a great deal has been done to curb harmful emissions from factories and vehicles.

If you are subject to allergies, have you ever stopped to think about the quality of the air in your home?

If you have not had a good spring cleaning yet, now is the time to start thinking about not only improving the cleanliness of your carpets, curtains, counters, and other surfaces, but the air in your home as well.

The Need for Clean Air

Air is a mixture of elements including nitrogen and oxygen. The unique mix provides us with fresh air to breath into our lungs to help us feed all the cells in our bodies with nutrients through the oxygen in our blood stream.

Trees take in the carbon monoxide we breathe out and turn it into the oxygen that we need to breathe in. it is a symbiotic relationship that has kept life thriving on this planet for billions of years, until of course we started to de-forest our planet.

When it comes to clean air in your home, you really can never have too much of it. Most people don’t think about the air that they breathe in their homes, but they might be polluting it far more with their own habits than any factory or car exhaust. Polluted air can fill the lungs with particles that can predispose us to certain illnesses and other health problems if we are not careful, including asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).

The air passes through our nasal passages, our sinuses, down the back of our throat, all the way down to our lungs. If you find yourself coughing or sneezing more than usual, it could be seasonal allergies, but more than likely, it will actually be the air quality in your home.

If you or any member of your family suffers from respiratory problems, you might want to consider the best ways to purify the air inside your home.

(Continued in Part 2)