Category Archive: Home Maintenance

Getting Our House Ready For Fall

A quick Google check confirms it:  The first day of fall is September 22.

I had to look that up just to be sure, because the high today was 91 degrees, which is decidedly un-fall-ish.

In just a few weeks (hopefully!) the weather will turn and fall will be here.  In preparation, I’ve been working hard to get our house ready for fall – and the winter to follow.

Outside -

Rain Gutters – At the end of summer and winter, I clean out our rain gutters.  With several large oak trees in our yard, it’s important to routinely remove fallen leaves from our rain gutters.

Vinyl Siding – Our house has vinyl siding and I pressure wash the siding (at least) twice a year.  I’ll do so this week, washing off the dust of from summer mowing, so that house will look nice for fall.

Tool Shed – The summer is a busy time in the yard – and that means that tools get used – and often misplaced.  I like to take the time, while the weather is still nice, to organize my tools.

Lawn Mower – I use my lawn mower year round – to mow the grass in spring and summer – and to mulch leaves in fall and winter.  So, at the end of each summer, I sharpen (or replace) the blades, change the spark plug, drain and refill the oil, and replace the air filter.  I’ll repeat this at winter’s end.

Pipes and Spigots – We rarely have to worry about long periods with freezing temperatures, but I’m still mindful of the need to insulate exposed pipes and outdoor water spigots.

Shrubbery – We have a few shrubs which require annual pruning, which I’ll take care of, as soon as temperature drop.

Inside -

HVAC – We have electric heating and air.  I recently replaced all HVAC filters throughout our house.  This is important, because a clogged filter reduces efficiency, which increases electricity costs.

Refrigerator Filter – Our refrigerator has a water filter which needs replacing every 6 months.  I replace at the end of each summer and winter.  These things can be quite expensive – so I buy the 2-pack and save a few dollars.

Carpets – We have a mixture of carpet and hardwood in our house.  At the end of each summer, I’ll clean the carpet in our den.  I’ll also spot-clean throughout the year.  We don’t have pets, so we’re dealing mainly with foot-traffic.

Detectors – There are several smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in our house – and I change their batteries each year, on the first day of school.  It’s an odd habit, but it’s my way of always remembering!

Laundry Room – I visually inspect the hoses that connect our washing machine to the water supply.  I also clean out the dryer vent and dryer vent hose.

Clothing – Our kids just keep on growing, which means they have clothing that no longer fits.  Now is a great time to sort through their closets and get rid of, via charitable donation or yard sale, clothes they do not need.

I love the fall, with milder temperatures and lots of football.  It feels good to get the above mentioned tasks taken care of – so that we can better enjoy the season to come.  Blessings.

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My DIY Adventures

Over the past few years, I’ve worked to improve my DIY skills.  Here are a few of the projects I’ve tackled – with an eye towards saving money and doing it myself.

I replaced the garbage disposal below our kitchen sink.  This project was relatively simple.  I worried a little bit about the electrical connection, but I figured it out.  The disposal connects to the bottom of the sink via a special bracket and connects to the dishwasher via a long hose.  Prior to disconnecting the old disposal, I snapped several pictures of its various connections.  When connecting the new disposal, I referred the the pictures, and installation was a snap.

I built three shelving units for our kids. We have three kids and they have stuff. This past Spring, I built each of them a shelving unit. Using my Kreg Pocket Hole Jig and the table saw, these were simple, easy-to-build projects. My real struggle – I like to build but I’m not much of a fan of painting!

DIY Bookshelf Shelving UnitI replaced our dishwasher’s drain hose. This hose connects the dishwasher to the garbage disposal. This was a bit of a challenge, because I had to unscrew the dish washer from the kitchen counter brace, roll it out, and then remove the drain hose. The drain hose was filled with water, and removing it caused a bit of a mess. If you plan to tackle this project – be sure to have plenty of towels on hand! Side note: Finding the correct size hose was a bit of a challenge. For some reason, the fitting-size (on the end of the hose) isn’t universal.

I replaced the dryer belt on our dryer. Now, this one was a bit of a struggle. For some reason, the dryer belt on our dryer was slipping. (I’m pretty much convinced that it was over-stretched when the dryer was built – or damaged during transport.) I took dozens of pictures during dis-assembly. I had to remove the dryer door, the metal casing, and the back panel. Then, I had to figure out how to support the drying drum, removed the old belt, and then put the new belt on. It took me some time (and a few skinned knuckles), but I managed to replace the belt – and put the dryer back together. Now, it works just fine!

I repaired the trim around our back door. Our back door is exposed to the elements – and water had damaged much of its trim. I replaced the wooden trim with vinyl. This was a super-simple repair, made much easier because I could rip the trim with my table saw.

I (tried) to repair our toilet. This was a huge fail. Our toilet needed a new wax ring – and after watching several videos and talking with a couple of friends – I was convinced that this was a project I could tackle. Well, I manage to break one of the bolts needed to attach the toilet to the floor, drop a wrench down the toilet drain, and buy, not one, but two incorrectly sized wax rings. In the end, I called a plumber – and $75 later, the toilet was repaired. Lesson learned.

I like DIY projects. It feels good to fix something – and to save a little money.  Most of the time, I can figure things out, but there are times when I get in over my head, and it’s good to have professionals to call.

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DIY Videos – Preparing To Build New Cabinets And Greenhouse

I am a big fan of DIY projects.  Over the past few months, I have built a picnic table, replaced our garbage disposal unit, and repaired our clothes dryer.  I tackled all of these projects using two sources of information – my Dad, who is an awesome handyman – and youtube.

I have a couple of projects planned for the coming months, so I thought I would share the videos I’ve bookmarked for both information and inspiration.  You can click on the links to view the individual videos or stream them from this site.

I plan to build a cabinet / desk unit for my son’s bedroom, which means I will be dealing with sheet goods.  First, I am going to build the awesome I-beam based work support system from the video below.  I love the fact that this system can be built using a single sheet of plywood and a few scraps.  This video is from the Down To Earth Woodworking youtube page.

My favorite new DIY tool is the SKIL 1830 120-Volt 2-1/4 HP Combo Base Router Set. It’s a great little router – especially for someone like me, who doesn’t need a super high-end power tool, but is looking for enough power to get the job done. Check it out, if you are looking for both a fixed-base router and plunge router, for less than $100.

I will be using both the router and a plate (biscuit) joiner to build face-frames for my son’s cabinets. I really learned a lot from the Beachside Hank youtube channel, including this video about the triangle marking system, which helps to organize stock.  I also learned a lot from Hank’s other videos, especially the ones about using the biscuit joiner.

I am also planning to build a greenhouse. When I do, this video from the Wranglerstar channel will come in handy. I love the fact that materials, both recycled and new, are used to create a functional AND attractive place to start a garden. The video below is part 1 of a series.

These are just a few of the videos that I have bookmarked. Over the coming weeks and months, as I work on various projects, I’ll share my progress – and the videos / websites which inspire. Be blessed.

 

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Ants In Air Conditioner

We have two HVAC systems.  One controls the temperature downstairs, while the other controls the temperature upstairs.

Less than two months ago, I had both HVAC systems cleaned and inspected, so I was shocked when one of them started acting up.  I would turn on the upstairs system, air would circulate, but instead cooling, the room remained warm.  Upon inspection, I noticed that the fan, inside the outside unit, wasn’t spinning.

I called the HVAC company and they sent out a technician.  He inspected the upstairs controller and duct work and found nothing.  He then went outside and removed the protective cover from the outside unit – and found the problem.

All around the “contact” – the little piston-like device that tells the fan to spin – there were ANTS.  Fire ants, to be exact.  The ants were crawling in and around the contact area, and were preventing the contact from making, well, contact.

Apparently, this is a rather common problem, especially in the hot and humid South.  He turned off the breaker to the outside unit, removed all of the dead ants and used a small vacuum to remove the living ones.  He then suggested that I put some granules of fire ant poison, sprinkled around the base of each outside unit.  (I did this as soon as he left.)

The technician recommended treating the area for fire ants two or three times a year.  He also suggested visually inspecting the units once a month or so, especially during the spring and summer.  I asked him why the ants would choose to get inside the unit in the first place, and he suggested that it might have something to do with the slight magnetic field around the copper coil.

For the cost of a service call, we now have ice cold air, no more ants, peace of mind, and a little more knowledge.

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