This year, make a resolution to protect one of your biggest assets: your HOME! Below is an excellent checklist for maintaining your home year-round. It’s divided up into seasons so it’s easy to keep track of when to do each task…makes a great “honey-do” list, too!
Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season. May the new year bring you health, happiness, and prosperity!
The best way to keep your house toasty in the winter is to make sure that your weatherstripping for your doors and windows are in good shape, and your heating unit is in good working order. But sometimes, that’s not enough. Here are some easy tips for staying warm this winter:
Before you reach for the thermostat, reach for a sweater instead! Or what about that Snuggie your great-aunt gave you last Christmas? Adding clothing indoors is the easiest (and cheapest!) way to feel cozy. Don’t forget about a good pair of house shoes, too! Your energy bills will thank you.
Close off the vents in unused rooms and shut the door. No need to be heating the guest bedroom or game room when they’re not in use.
On sunny days, open up the curtains on the windows that receive direct sunlight. Just remember to close them again when the sun goes down to hold the heat in.
Reverse your ceiling fans so they rotate clockwise. There’s usually a switch on the fan that will reverse the motor. Since warm air rises, this will help push the warm air at the ceiling back down into the living space.
Switch your regular bed sheets with flannel or jersey knit sheets. These are warmer to the touch, so your bed won’t feel chilly when you get in. Speaking of which, remember in old cartoons, they would show people sleeping in night caps like this?:
It’s actually a really good idea! OK, maybe not an actual old-timey night cap, but a stocking hat works great!
Area rugs are your friend when it comes to keeping your house warm. The more surface area you can cover on your floor, the better insulated it is.
And lastly, if possible, move your furniture toward the middle of the room and away from windows.
If all else fails, just remember those blistering days of summer and know they’ll be back again before you know it!
Halloween is steeped in superstition–like putting on costumes to trick evil spirits into thinking you’re someone else, or that black cats are Satan in disguise. But did you know that there are lots of superstitions about houses? Here are a few interesting ones:
If you paint your porch blue, it will deter wasps from building nests. This one is widely believed here in the southern states; in fact I have been told this by more than one person. There may have actually been some truth to this at one time, due to the fact that people used to use a product that was known as milk paint. Milk paint had lye in it, which is a insect repellent. It also faded pretty quickly, which means you have to keep re-applying– keeping a fresh coat of lye on the area. There isn’t any real proof that the color is significant, but still, some people swear by it. Also, people used to believe if you paint your porch blue, it keeps away evil spirits because 1.–it gives the illusion that it’s still daylight out and 2.–ghosts can’t cross water.
With summer coming to an end (I know; it’s still hot outside but bear with me), now is a perfect time to get your home ready for the coming months.
Having your very own in-ground pool in your backyard is the dream of many homeowners. What better way to deal with our Texas summers? The problem with pool ownership though, is knowing how to maintain it. Pool chemicals, pH levels, pumps, filters, cleaning tools…there’s a lot that goes into owning a pool.
Another aspect of having an in-ground pool is understanding the engineering behind the idea of having a large hole in your backyard. In-ground pools have something called a “hydrostatic pressure relief valve”. What does it do? It prevents the pressure of ground water from damaging your pool. Usually, this isn’t an issue when the pool is full of water; the weight of the pool water presses against the ground water and keeps the pool firmly in the ground, where it’s supposed to be.
So, what happens if the pool is drained and the pressure relief valve is clogged, or someone forgets to open the valve? Take a look:
What’s up with all the rain we’ve been having lately?? Oh, I’m not complaining! Here in Texas, we need all the rain we can get. The only downside to it is that we will be battling more mosquitoes than ever this summer. You’ve heard about all the things you can do to minimize their breeding locations, like making sure there isn’t any standing water around your home. The usual places you look for this kind of thing is birdbaths, kiddie pools, planters, etc. BUT there is one major place that most people overlook! The gutters on your home.
When we get lots of rain, leaves and other debris gather in the gutters and can stop it up. It’s always a good idea to keep your gutters clean so that they function properly, but they also become the ideal place for mosquitoes to breed. Think about it… standing water + organic material + undisturbed location = mosquitoes!
So, when it stops raining, go get your ladder and clear your gutters. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it!
Have you ever had a backyard barbecue ruined by uninvited guests? I’m not talking about the annoying family that lives across the street, I’m talking about WASPS! If you have an area that seems to be a favorite hangout for these pests, I’ve got a really ingenious solution.
Take a brown paper bag and stuff it with more paper. Twist the top closed and tape it shut. Then, squash the bag into an oblong, oval shape so that it mimics the shape of a hornet’s nest. Hang this up in the area that you want wasps to stay away from. Wasps are territorial, and if they see an existing nest, they will avoid the area. Pretty cool, right?
Whatever you do, DON’T swat wasps. When you kill a wasp, it will release a pheromone that sends out the call to their wasp brethren. They will then proceed to AVENGE THE DEATH OF THEIR FALLEN COMRADE! This can’t end well.
First of all, make sure that your mower is in good shape for the season. Change the oil, air filter, and spark plug and make sure the blade is nice and sharp. Yeah, you can do these things yourself, or, ya know, do what I do and take it in for a tune-up. Your call. I save my energy for the mowing part.
Don’t mow wet grass. Not only does it make messy clumps that stick to the underside of the mower, it also won’t give a clean cut. It just tears the grass off as if you have a dull blade.
Set your mower to cut the grass about 1 1/2 inches high. Taller grass holds moisture better, which is so important here in Texas!
Mow in different directions each time you mow. Side to side one time, then back and forth the next. This will result in a more uniform and thicker growth.
Use a grass-catcher only at the beginning and end of the season. The rest of the time, let the mower mulch back into the lawn. This will help return valuable nutrients back to the soil.
Prepare a “safe place” within your home to go in the event of a tornado. A closet towards the middle of the house on the lowest level is your best bet if you don’t have a storm shelter or basement. Gather these items into a box or bag and keep them in or close to your safe place:
-A blanket or other soft material to cover yourself with, to protect from debris that might fall on you.
-A battery or crank powered flashlight.
-A battery or crank powered radio. Sometimes you can find both flashlight and radio in one unit–these are great! If the radio is equipped with NOAA weather stations pre-programmed into it, even better.
-Extra batteries, if your flashlight and radio require them.
-Copies of important papers, such as insurance policies, IDs, prescriptions, emergency contact numbers. Put them in a Ziploc bag to protect them from water damage.
-A change of clothes for each member of the family, along with shoes. If there is a baby in the household, remember diapers and formula, with bottled water and a baby bottle.
-An emergency whistle, in case you become trapped. This could help rescue workers locate you.
-Dry food, such as breakfast bars, nuts, or jerky along with a jug of bottled water.
-Lastly, remember to grab your cell phone and wallet or purse before going into your safe place.
In the event that you don’t have a storm shelter, basement, or adequate closet, get into a bathtub and cover yourself with a mattress, pillows, or blankets. Keep away from windows and exterior doors!
Stay safe, and don’t get blown away.