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Speed Clean Your Space in 15 Minutes

We’ve all been there: That afternoon you planned to spend cleaning got eaten up with other commitments, and now your dinner guests are on their way, but the house is a mess. Whatever the reason, here are 7 ways to fake that clean home, fast.

All hands on deck. If you’re lucky enough to have family members or roommates around, ask them to pitch in. Divvy up rooms to declutter and tidy. If you don’t have any helping hands, you’ll just have to continue to the next steps, solo.

Focus on trafficked areas. Since time is short, make sure to focus on rooms your guests will frequent, like the living room, kitchen, and bathroom. The entryway is also important, as it’s the first thing your guests will see, so hang the jackets, straighten those shoes and stash that mail stack.

Freshen air. As you begin to clean, throw open the windows to let fresh air in. Too cold for open windows? Light a mildly scented candle or spray odor neutralizer.

Declutter. Step one is to run through your high traffic areas and remove clutter. Piles of mail, shoes on the floor, blankets unfolded, and errant clothes all need to be stashed. If you don’t have time to put things where they belong, do a tornado sweep with a laundry basket, nabbing all out-of-place items to rehome when you have more time. Simply stash your full basket in a hidden area, like a closet or laundry room.

Tidy. Now that the clutter is gone, tidy tables and counters to make your space look open and kempt. Stack those magazines in an orderly pile, arrange the remotes, put away those drying dishes, and take out the trash.

Wipe down. Head to the kitchen and bathroom with a rag and disinfectant and wipe down counters, mirrors and toilets that your guests might encounter.

Vacuum. Now that your surfaces are fully clean, run a vacuum over the floors (and furniture!) to pick up pet hair and dirt. Nothing says “clean home” like vacuum lines on the carpet, so fake it until you make it.

By Zoe Eisenberg

 

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Safety Tips for Your Electrical System

The safety of our home’s electric system is often something we take for granted. From hitting a switch to illuminate your space, to plugging in and charging your devices, we rarely consider the currents coursing through our walls. However, to keep your family safe and your home secure, it’s important to consider your electrical system, and whether or not your system is safe.

 

Get to know your electrical system better – First and foremost, spend some time becoming more familiar with the home’s electric system. Learn what runs on each circuit, and get to know the limits for each. Overloads can be dangerous, and electrical fires from overloads can do a lot of damage in a little amount of time.

Don’t overdo it with extension cords – Extension cords are great for reaching a little further with items like electric blowers or work lights, but it’s important to remember to use them safely. Don’t daisy chain multiple cords together, and don’t use them for items that will pull more power than the extension cords are designed to handle. They can overheat, short and even be the cause of a house fire.

Practice extra care around swimming pools and hot tubs – Swimming pools can make the spring and summer heat bearable, but homeowners should exercise caution when using electricity in their vicinity. One electric grill or sound system tumbling into the water can be fatal to any present occupants. Keep a good amount of space between the pool and items like these, and make sure to dry off before using them. If there is concern about the proximity of any power lines, contact a professional for advice.

Operate backup generators responsibly – When a spring storm knocks out the power, a backup generator can save a lot of money, time and heartache by keeping important appliances like refrigerators and hot water heaters running. However, they can quickly become dangerous if used carelessly. Make sure not to overload them by attempting to power more than they are rated for, as this can cause shorts and electric fires. Also, take care not to operate them near windows or inside a garage as they can introduce poisonous carbon monoxide to your living spaces.

“Always remember that too much confidence can be dangerous when it comes to electricity,” says Tommy Webber, owner of T. Webber Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning . “As electrical professionals, even we practice caution at all times. We encourage homeowners to follow these tips for safety, and always contact a professional when electrical problems or concerns arise.”

Source: www.twebber.com.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Sprinkler Tune-Up Tips

Dragging the sprinkler out of the garage for the spring and summer? Before you begin your first water, consider the following sprinkler tune-up tips from Rain Bird.

Make sure spring has sprung. Although all signs might be pointing to the arrival of spring, the soil beneath the landscape is always the last to thaw, especially in colder climates. Starting the sprinkler system while the ground is still frozen can result in damage to the pipes. Use a shovel to make sure that the soil is frost-free 12 inches deep. If it is still frozen, wait another week and test it again before starting the sprinkler system. (Before digging, make sure there aren’t any utility lines to hit!)

Take control. Run a check of the irrigation controls and programs. This includes dusting away the cobwebs on the timer, making sure the date and time are correct, and that the settings are appropriate for your landscape’s watering needs and meet local watering regulations. Replace the back-up battery in the timer/controller annually and keep a copy of the watering schedule in a handy location.

Check for blockages. Check for rocks, dirt, sand and other types of debris that may block the even flow of water from the sprinkler heads. Uneven distribution can lead to too much water in some areas and not enough in others, resulting in an unhealthy landscape and wasted water. Inspect spray heads and make sure they haven’t become buried. Clear any debris that may have accumulated around them during the winter.

Inspect for broken or worn components. Nozzles and sprinkler heads are designed to withstand normal wear and tear of irrigation, but are no match for errant lawn mowers, the neighbor’s dog or snowplows. Replace cracked, chipped or worn components, such as sprinkler heads, nozzles, valves or pipes. A broken sprinkler can wreak havoc on lawns, gardens and water bills, so it is important to check and replace them periodically.

Examine the valves. Valves are the heart of any irrigation system; they regulate the distribution of water throughout the entire system. A leaky valve will waste water and increase water bills. Visually inspect each valve to make sure they are operating properly. Before turning on any water to the system, make sure all manual drain valves are returned to the closed position. Be aware that overly wet areas in the lawn, resulting in muddy and/or barren patches, may be a result of a leaky valve.

Restore water pressure slowly and pressure-check the system. When restoring water to the sprinkler system, open the main water valve slowly to allow pipes to fill with water in a gradual and controlled manner, thus preventing pressure surge and costly damage. It’s a good idea to get a pressure gauge that attaches to a hose faucet to make sure the pressure is at a safe operating range for sprinkler systems—typically between 40-65 PSI. A system with too much pressure will result in cracked pipes, busted valves, sprinkler head leaks and inefficient watering. If your water pressure is too high, consider adding a pressure regulator.

Time for an upgrade? Spring is also a good opportunity to consider upgrading your system to take advantage of improvements in sprinkler and controller technology. Pressure-regulated and water-efficient sprinkler options can reduce overall irrigation water use. These upgrades can save money on water usage and possibly qualify for a rebate from the government.

By following these seven simple steps, homeowners can have more than luck on their side to avoid some of the more common—and expensive—problems with automatic sprinkler systems.

Source: www.rainbird.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Home improvements to help your home sell faster and for more money

(BPT) – The real estate market is heating up, and if you’re planning to sell your home in the future, you want it to sell quickly and for as high of a price as possible. By taking proactive action now, you can make a few strategic home improvements that can help you achieve both your goals.

To boost your home sale and reduce time on the market, consider these top home improvement ideas to catch buyers’ eyes.

Garage door: When potential buyers visit your property, you want to make the best first impression before they even come inside. That’s why it’s wise to replace your garage door. It takes up a significant amount of exterior visual real estate and helps define the home’s aesthetic. What’s more, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value report, a garage door replacement recoups an astonishing 98.3 percent of cost upon resale.

Bathroom addition: More bathrooms typically mean you can charge more for your home.

Kitchen upgrade: A complete kitchen remodel is costly, but a few smart upgrades can make the heart of the home shine. Consider replacing worn laminate countertops and updating hardware for a fresh look. For extra ‘wow factor,’ add an island .

Fresh flooring: You don’t have to replace all your flooring, but focal areas like the kitchen or family room, as well as areas that tend to experience higher wear, such as the entryway, can benefit from a new floor. Forget expensive tile or hardwood replacements. Vinyl wood flooring looks incredibly similar to real wood, and modern luxury vinyl tile mimics the gorgeous look of stone or ceramic tile but is more durable and affordable. You may be able to simply add new flooring on top of old, making it a much easier DIY project.

Neutral paint: Don’t ever underestimate the value of a fresh coat of paint throughout your home. Walls get dingy and colors get dated. Repaint rooms with modern, neutral tones. As much as you love plum, buyers may not, so stick with whites, creams and grays whenever possible. Visit your local paint store and you’ll see there are many neutral options to add excitement to interior spaces. Don’t forget the ceiling, too! A fresh coat of white can do wonders.

These five projects will enhance your listing so you get more attention and book more showings. You may even start a bidding war with enough interest, and that can really drive up the price. Take action now and these home improvement efforts are sure to make an impact.

Categories: BPT

3 Kitchen and Bath Trends for 2018

(Family Features)–When it’s time for a home remodel, specifically of a bathroom or kitchen, many homeowners turn to trendy looks as inspiration. Color, texture and material variance, like using different types of tile, lead the way in this year’s kitchen and bath trends.

To help amplify the look and appeal of your space, consider these tips from the experts at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry:

Try Different Shades
White is classic, crisp and always in style, while gray also provides a traditional look. Many designers pair white or gray cabinets, tile and wall color with a pop of color to add interest without overwhelming the space. There are many ways to introduce color, such as a bright island or items that are easily switched out like window treatments and artwork.

Combining different shades of white, gray and other neutral colors like beige is an effective way to create a warm and inviting space. One important note to consider when mixing these hues is that they need to be in the same color family. When incorporating white and gray, go for colors that have the same base – either yellow or blue. Mixing a yellow-gray with a blue-white can result in discord that may not “feel” right. A qualified remodeler who has experience in design can provide expert advice and guide the decision-making process to help avoid costly mistakes.

Consider Various Tile Types
Another popular treatment in kitchens and bathrooms is to use different types of tile and surface stone. Incorporating tile of different shapes and texture such as quartz, marble or granite can energize even the smallest space.

Scale provides another way to create interest. To achieve a mosaic feel, look for 1-by-1-foot tiles prepped on larger 12-by-12-foot sheets. Sometimes these sheets include a predefined pattern that can help simplify installation.

Pick Alternate Patterns
Tile options are available in many varieties, so it can be difficult to know where to start. Subway tile, a classic standby, can be invigorated by arranging the rectangular 3-by-6-inch shapes in patterns like herringbone or basket weave. This versatile tile can be used in both traditional kitchens and bathrooms as well as transitional or more contemporary spaces.

Many manufacturers now include textured tile, featuring patterns that carry the look of wood grain; tiles are also available in three-dimensional textures adding movement and interest with easy care. For example, using a variety of gray hues can create a relaxing and warm environment.

Source: National Association of the Remodeling Industry

Published with permission from RISMedia.

5 musts for a low-stress, on-budget DIY home project

(BPT) – Owning your own home is a life accomplishment for many adults, and keeping it looking sharp and adding your personal touches brings a sense of pride. It seems there are always things you want to improve, so don’t let a limited budget or lack of know-how hold you back from dreaming. There are plenty of ways to enhance a room or remake a space without breaking the bank, along with many resources out there to show you how.

With a little research and a weekend or two of elbow grease, your budget and your abilities are more than enough to take on many smaller jobs. When you’re done, the satisfaction you’ll experience from a successful DIY project will give you plenty of motivation to start the next improvement.

Before you launch your plans, here are a few tips for an affordable and stress-free DIY project.

1. Map it out

Prioritize the projects you’d like to tackle first. Whether it’s painting the living room, replacing the kitchen countertops or retiling the bathroom, the project will be much less stressful when you have solid planning behind it. Set a realistic schedule, gather your supplies in advance and be sure and review instructions before starting. If you’re making an improvement for a special event or out-of-town guests, give yourself ample time to complete it so you’re not adding stress to the project.

2. Find creative ways to cover costs

Make a budget for your project that includes a list of expected expenses and add padding for the unexpected. Assess what funds you have available, and if you don’t have enough, consider a savings plan so you can avoid paying interest and fees on a credit card. To speed up your progress, grab your change jar and bring it to a Coinstar kiosk where you can select cash or a no-fee eGift card from retailers including Amazon.com, Lowe’s, Home Depot and Sears. You’ll be surprised at how quickly a jar of coins can add up to purchase needed supplies on your list.

3. Learn through many available resources

If you’re like most DIYers, you’ll find online videos and home improvement websites are great sources for how-to tips and information. And if you’re a novice, take advantage of the vast information that’s available at your fingertips and review several sources so that you completely understand the process and are confident before your dive in. Don’t be afraid to tap friends, family members and neighbors who have completed similar projects, as they can be good advisers and may even offer to help! You can reward them by inviting them back to your newly improved home to just relax and enjoy.

4. Keep it light

Doing DIY projects with a spouse or a family member can be fun if you take the right approach. When working alongside each other, it’s all too easy to take a frustration out on each other. Two-thirds of those surveyed in a recent Coinstar survey said they do projects with others in their household, and 65 percent said they got into a disagreement during a home DIY project. Minimize tension by creating clear expectations and give everyone a defined role. Take needed breaks and acknowledge accomplishments along the way. Keeping things calm and positive ensures everyone feels good about their contribution.

5. Permission to make mistakes

Most homeowners are not professional contractors and projects can and do go wrong. If you make a mistake, do your best to correct it and don’t beat yourself up. Focus on the fact you’re making progress in getting your house just the way you want it and saving money by doing it yourself. Next time, you will be that much more proficient! According to the survey, 90 percent of homeowners say they feel a sense of pride after completing a DIY project. Pat yourself on the back and plan your next DIY endeavor!

To learn more about how Coinstar can help you find the cash you need for your next DIY project, visit coinstar.com.

Categories: BPT

5 Ways to Refresh Your Home for Spring

(Family Features)–Spring is a time for renewal and awakenings. It’s also the perfect time to take your cues from Mother Nature and devise a plan to reduce and reimagine your way to a refreshing, updated home you can fully enjoy once more.

Reorganize cluttered areas
If a room (or rooms) in your house are in disarray, start by reorganizing those often-used spaces to give them a like-new look and feel. Begin by removing everything from the room – including the furniture, if you’re able – and separate your belongings into boxes or piles based on what you plan to put back in the room, move to another location and throw away or donate. Once you’ve cleaned the space, resituate the necessary furniture then place items you’re keeping back in their places in tidy fashion so they’re easy to locate.

Eliminate the extras
While you’re freshening up the house, it’s the perfect time to purge unwanted and unused items, but remember that items in good condition can actually do good for those in need. By donating clothing, electronics, furniture, household goods and vehicles to be sold in The Salvation Army Family and Thrift Stores, you can help transform lives in your local community. A good rule of thumb: if you haven’t used it in the last year and it doesn’t have special sentimental value, it’s probably time to let it go.

Get rid of grime
A whole season’s worth of dirt and dust accumulates during the cold winter months. A deep clean inside and out can restore your home to its former glory. Inside, take time to launder all of your linens, including curtains, rugs and bedding. Move furniture to vacuum behind and below, and don’t overlook dust and dirt magnets like mirrors, light fixtures and the insides of cabinets, especially higher shelves that see infrequent use. Outdoors, hose off or power-wash surfaces like windows, siding, decks and concrete to restore a crisp, clean appearance.

Revise for real life
If there’s an area of your home that isn’t quite working for your lifestyle, spring cleaning is the perfect opportunity to make a change. That may mean reconfiguring furniture for a more functional living room or converting an underused guest room into a useful craft or project space. Take time to consider what changes will make the space more practical, and even sketch out some possibilities on paper to fine-tune your ideas before you get to work.

Discover new decor
A spring refresh is about more than just decluttering and cleaning, it’s about giving new life to your home with new decor, accessories and artwork. One affordable option: seek out unexpected treasures by shopping for great bargains at thrift stores.

Source: The Salvation Army

Published with permission from RISMedia.

5 Ways to Springify Your Home

Winter got you down? Bring a little spring into your home long before the season arrives with these few simple tricks:

Set a flower budget. While it’s certainly not a necessary expense, adding an arrangement of fresh flowers to your home weekly might be well worth the mood-boosting value they bring. Opt for your local supermarket instead of the florist and stick with brightly colored mums, carnations and daisy to keep the investment low. Or up the springtime vide with a bouquet of pastel colored tulips

Force bulbs. If you can’t wait to see those first harbingers of spring pop up through the ground outdoors, plant some bulbs in a few pots around the house and watch them sprout and bloom long before the calendar turns to spring.

Trick your senses. There’s no law that says scented seasonal candles must be used in said season! Use the powerful sense of smell to make you feel like spring, even if the weather outside says otherwise. Try a lilac, hyacinth or rose scented candle, or take it a step further and light candles that smell like the beach or warm-weather fruits like peaches or watermelon.

Lighten your surroundings. There is also no decorating rule that says you must wait until spring to replace your heavy drapery with your airy sheers. Doing so will instantly brighten your mood by letting more natural light and sunshine in.

Start your veggies from scratch. Make a small investment in a few indoor potting supplies and start your tomato and other vegetables from seed this year. Choose a sunny window and watch them sprout. By the time the weather is ready for them outdoors, they’ll be strong enough to plant.By taking these few simple steps, you’ll be feeling like spring in no time!

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Home Buying: 5 Steps for Beginners

Venturing out to search for your first home is one of the most exciting times of your life! Unfortunately, it is also one of the most daunting. Between a lexicon of new terms and an onslaught of online information, the process of shopping for a home is understandably overwhelming for first-timers. First, take a deep breath. Then follow these steps and you’ll be on the path to finding your first home in no time:

1. Start searching for a real estate professional. You’ll need a well-informed, trusted guide throughout this process so start looking for a real estate agent to work with. Ask friends and family members for recommendations then do your research online to evaluate any individuals and conduct in-person interviews as well. Be sure to speak with at least three agents before choosing someone to work with.

2. Figure out what you can afford. Before you start looking at neighborhoods and homes, determine what you can comfortably afford… the key word being “comfortable.” There are many unexpected expenses that arise when you’re a homeowner, so don’t stretch yourself too thin. Determine how much you can afford for a downpayment, then use an online mortgage calculator to see what your monthly payments might be for various-priced homes. Once you’ve arrived at your budget, stick with it.

3. Pick your neighborhoods. Choose your location before you start looking at homes, as where you live will ultimately be more important – both in terms of your day-to-day happiness and your investment – than the home itself. You may have to compromise a bit on location depending on the home you can afford. Your real estate agent can help advise you here.

4. Choose your musts. When thinking about the home you’d like to buy, take an honest look at needs vs. wants. Sure, there are a lot of things we’d love to have in our dream home, but figure out what are the nice-to-haves vs. the must-haves.

5. Search online. Once you’ve got your price range, your neighborhoods, and your must-haves down, start your search online to narrow down your options. Your real estate agent may also know of some homes that fit the bill right off the bat. This will mean fewer homes to visit in person and hopefully, lead to a quicker selection.

Above all, be open minded, flexible and patient in the home-search process. Your opinions and priorities may change as you learn more, and despite the best planning, curve balls happen. The journey will be well worth it, however, once you’re happily settled as a new homeowner.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

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