10 Fall Time Maintenance Tips for the Home

Where did the time go? Summer cruised right by and most kids are back to school. That’s the good news, I guess. This is the time of year to start getting your home ready for the fall and of course the dreaded winter.

Things you should check now while the weather is still nice;

  1. Make sure no debris is blocking downspouts. You do not want standing water close to the house as this could cause structural damage that can lead to major repairs.
  2. Check for any broken branches hanging from trees and have them removed unless you feel you can handle the task at hand.
  3. Check for new cracks forming in the driveway and walk ways. Surface cracks are common and some do not require repairs. Just make sure when you walk over any area where cracks are visible that the surface is steady.
  4. Check seals around doorways and windows. If you see any separation or seals that look cracked and or dried out, it’s time to replace. This is important to keep utility costs down by eliminating drafts around windows and doors. It will also keep the bugs out as well.
  5. Get your fireplace ready by removing old ashes and make sure the damper is open to allow air to freely move through the chimney.  If it gets too cold, close the damper. Check to see if the flue is operating correctly. Hire a professional chimney sweep if needed.
  6. Check for leaky faucets and downspouts before the cold weather starts. Fixing a leaky faucet now will cost a lot less than the cost of a ruptured pipe in the dead of winter.
  7. Power wash lawn furniture and cushions and store them in a dry place to avoid rot and weathering.
  8. If you have a lawn sprinkler system make sure to have your irrigation service company check and fix broken heads before the cold weather gets here.
  9. If you have central air condition, make sure to cover your A.C. unit to protect it from weathering. You want to also clear away and or cut back any shrubs and remove any debris around the unit.
  10.  Don’t forget to fertilize in the fall! This will prevent weeds in the spring and prevent lawn damage during the winter.

Air Conditioner Season Approaching

Spring is in full swing and summer is just around the corner and it’s time to inspect you’re air conditioner system to ensure it’s working properly. As we approach the warmer months we put our A/C systems to work to maintain a comfortable temperature in our homes. There’s nothing worse than on a hot summer evening your air conditioner goes out. There’s no stores open and all the service companies are closed for the day. You can only grin and bear to get through a hot summer night.

In order to ensure you have a good working A/C system there’s several tips you should do annually before summer time. Here’s a list of things to follow;

How to maintain your A/C system;

  • The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters.
  • Make sure you change your filters inside your home before winter and again before summer. This will help keep good air quality levels in your home.
  • Every summer inspect the unit’s drain channels. Clogged drain channels prevent a unit from reducing humidity, and the resulting excess moisture may discolor walls or carpet.
  • Inspect your A/C unit outside for any dirt or dust on the surface of the coil. If it is dirty, clean it off. This will help the unit to run more efficient.
  • Have your A/C system maintained by a certified technician. A professional can find issues before they lead to costly repairs.
  • Make sure windows and doors are closed while the A/C is running. Check for leaks around doors and windows and seal them or have a professional come out and make necessary repairs.

Check on more tips at http://www.energy.gov/energysaver/articles/maintaining-your-air-conditioner

Stay cool my friends J

Happy 45th anniversary to Earth Day

Earth Day is celebrated on the 22nd day of April.  Did you know the idea for Earth Day came from Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.  Earth Day 1970 was a time when the flower-child and hippie movement was in full swing.  It was also a time people used leaded gasoline, drove 8 cylinder gas guzzlers and the smell from pollution became the norm.  Earth Day changed all that and influenced people to put environmental concerns front and center.  Since 2000, the focus on global warming and a push for clean energy emerged thanks to Gaylord Nelson.

Did you know this special event is celebrated twice a year? The Northern Hemisphere celebrates in the spring. The Southern Hemisphere celebrates in autumn.

What can I do for Earth Day?

There so much you can do to help on Earth Day and all year round.  Here’s a list of ideas you can do to help our environment;

  1. Install a programmable electronic thermostat.  An electronic thermostat is much more accurate and more energy efficient as you can set different temperatures when you are home or away.
  2. Get a low-flush toilet. On average, toilets are the single largest use of water inside of a house, and older models can use up to 5 times as much water as state-of-the-art versions.
  3. Purchase energy efficient appliance to save on energy and also reduce your utility bills.
  4. Organize an event in your community to clean up trash and debris in your neighborhood and parks.  You can also contact your city hall to see what else you can volunteer to do to help with Earth Day.
  5. Fisherman can help our local fisheries by cleaning up any trash around ponds or lakes.  Bring a plastic bag next time you go fishing.
  6. Plant trees, flowers or start a garden.
  7. Check for water leaks around your home and get them repaired by a professional plumber.
  8. If you see running water unattended, report it immediately.

Earth Day is Every Day

How to Clean Exterior Walls

Over time all exterior walls get soiled with dust, pollen, leaves, mildew, spiders’ webs, mold, birds’ excrement’s and other type of contamination. Regular cleaning of the exterior walls of your apartment building, house or office building is very important. I would recommend that you clean your exterior walls at least once to twice a year. This will keep your home and workplace well maintained and give it that nice curb side appeal. You can also inspect exterior walls during your cleaning to see if any repairs are needed.

If you have brick, stone, masonry, weatherboard or vinyl clad exterior walls, you can apply these cleaning methods. Before starting to clean the exterior walls, you need to make some checks in advance to make sure your property doesn’t need repairs. This way you can be sure the cleaning process won’t damage your building.

Before starting the cleaning of your exterior walls, HomeMates W5 suggest to make these checks:

  • Inspect carefully the roof, exterior molding and windows to see if any repairs are needed.
  • If you have stone, brick or masonry made exterior walls, test your mortar for damage. If you need repairs, let the walls dry and or mend for seven days before you start cleaning them.
  • Clean the gutters.
  • Prune off all tree branches and shrubs which are reclined in a close distance to your walls.

Now you can start the actual work. The best machine for cleaning exterior walls is the high pressure water cleaner. It uses less water and chemicals compared to washing your exterior walls manually. It will also spare you a lot of effort, cleaning on your own. It does a great job and the results are above expectation, if you know how to use a pressure washer. If you don’t have a high water pressure cleaner, you can buy one from the store. Some places even rent them out. If you prefer not to do the exterior wall cleaning on your own, you can always order your exterior wall cleaning from local service company who specializes in pressure washing.

Before you start to clean with your pressure washer, check your local authority for water usage restrictions. Some authorities may allow you to use unlimited amount of water but you need to be cautious, if you haven’t used water pressure on walls before. Of course you need to read the instructions on how to use your pressure washer. You should test it on a small area on your wall, where it is less noticeable. Be careful, because pressure washers can damage your brick, paint and timber finishes of your walls.

Stand one meter and no closer to the wall and move the hose up and down, without stopping, instead of directing it to just one place. If you need to use a ladder for the higher areas, be extra careful, because the pressure form the device can push you backwards and you can easily fall. If you want to apply a detergent in the high pressure water cleaner, check if it is appropriate for your device and choose a milder detergent. Eco-friendly products can do the job and there safer for the environment.

Remember that regular cleaning of your exterior walls will keep them well maintained and ease the cleaning process the next time. Whether you choose to do the cleaning on your own or decide to use the services of a cleaning company, it’s up to you. In the first case you need to get supplied with the necessary device and detergents, read and follow the instructions of your cleaner to get the most out of your device and to clean your exterior wall correctly.

How To Prepare Your Home for The End of Winter

When you no longer feel the freezing air of the cold winter days, you are ready to welcome the spring spirit without any problem. However, before that, you need to look around your home and to make some changes that will help you to feel most comfortable as spring approaches. If your schedule is too tight you can devote your weekend on this activity and to think of all the changes that could be made. If you plan some huge improvements in your home, you had better pay attention to them later. Now it is the time for focusing on all the procedures that will bring the spring spirit right into your home.

You can take up with the preparations in your home all by yourself, or you can ask someone to give you a helping hand for this activity – it does not matter- the important thing is to be well organized and to take into account some of the following tips:

Rearrange Your Wardrobe

It may be early to remove all of your thick and warm clothes from your closet, however, you can move part of them, so that you can ensure more free space for your spring collection. Leave one or two pull-overs and pack the rest of the clothes, so that they could be situated at more appropriate place. If you prefer, you can arrange all of them in a separate wardrobe, putting all of your hats, scarfs and thick clothes there. It is true that during the spring there are also some colder days, however, they could not be compared with the freezing temperatures in winter.

Think of Providing Extensive Cleaning

Apart from the usual cleaning that you need to provide, you can also plan complete cleaning of every room in your home just before the spring arrives. Remove all the dust with a clean and wet towel and use the occasion to take a look at the windows. Make them sparkling clean for the pleasant spring sun that is knocking at your door. After that you can sanitize all of your rooms with appropriate detergents and to check for any stains or dirt left unnoticed during the winter.

Wake up From the Winter Lethargy

It is essential to prepare not only your home but your spirit before the end of the winter. To ensure the nice and cozy atmosphere in your home, you may need to make some little decorations that will highlight and revive the mood in all the inhabitants. You can buy new pots and to situate them in some of the rooms. They will be the perfect addition to your living room, as they will remind you of the upcoming warmer days.

These are the basic things to prepare in your home before the winter ends. You can also think of some innovative ideas, depending on the size and the design of your property and to apply them for ensuring the welcoming and nice atmosphere in your home. Make sure that you have prepared your home for the end of the cold winter days in the most appropriate way. Open the windows and let the sun shine into all of your rooms. Forget about the freezing temperatures and let the pleasant mood come into your lovely home.

This remains the best approach as soon as you leave your hat and scarf in the wardrobe. Involve your relatives or friends in this activity and make it fun and unforgettable experience during your weekend.

The article is contributed by TopGardeningServices SW19

How to Prepare for Winter Storms

Knowing a reliable handyman who can respond to you whenever something needs repair or upgrades is great. However, that won’t get you very far in a bad winter storm. Is your home prepared to protect the people in it?

Winter storms can make for pretty landscapes, but can also wreak havoc on you and your family. You can protect your family by being prepared before winter storms start moving in.

How to prepare a winter storm survival kit. The National Weather Service recommends having the following items:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and portable radio to receive emergency information
  • Extra food and water. Have 3 gallons of bottled water for each person in the household, as well as high-energy food, such as dried fruit or candy, and food requiring no cooking or refrigeration. Stock up on food for your pets as well.
  • Extra medicine and baby items
  • First-aid supplies
  • Emergency heating source, such as a fireplace space heater. Learn to use properly to prevent a fire.
  • Warm clothing and plenty of blankets

Stay informed. Keep the TV or radio on for regular updates about an approaching winter storm, or visit the National Weather Service’s weather-advisory website.

Stay home. Get home before the storm hits and then don’t drive unless you have to — the majority of winter-storms-related deaths are in car accidents. If you must travel, fill up your gas tank, stay on cleared roads and carry a fully charged cell phone. Just like your winter storm survival kit for home you should have a kit in the trunk of your car with the following winter survival items;

Winter Survival Car Kit

  • Charged cell phone
  • First-aid kit
  • Jumper cables
  • 6 bottles of water minimum
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Road flares
  • Duct tape you never know
  • Sleeping Bags or Blankets
  • Extra jacket, gloves, boots and rain gear
  • A few trash bags to be used as a poncho

Stay safe and stay home when winter storms are approaching.

CES 2015 Underway

The ServiceLive team is out at CES 2015 in sunny Las Vegas. It’s a perfect week to be in Las Vegas where the weather is sunny and in the 60’s. Our corporate office in Hoffman Estates, IL is experiencing wind chills of -25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Enough with the weather and onto what’s trending at CES.

TVs with curves: How sexy is that? Well not at all, but from a technology perceptive it’s the newest form factor in support of 4K HDTV. That 1080P is going through obsolescence with the new 4K TVs being sold. Prices are expected to drop on 4K TVs this year. A 4K TV stretches 4,000 pixels wide, giving you an incredible resolution compared to the once popular LED 1080P TVs. Even though 4K has been around for a while, expect prices to drop on these super resolution TVs.

Connected Cars & Homes OH MY! Just imagine a car that drives itself, obeys traffic laws and doesn’t talk back with disrespect…At least not yet. The connected home technology has been around for a little while but it’s starting to get popular in the mainstream. We will start seeing more things that are connected like door locks, HVAC systems, thermostats, garage door openers, lighting, security systems, and so much more. Let’s not forget about appliances, like refrigerators and thermostats, that have the capability to intelligently manage the energy you have and visualize it for you.

Wearables – Yep the trend continues. The Apple Watch, due out early this year, is already dominating the conversation for 2015, but the tech giant won’t be participating at CES. Expect to see hundreds of other companies showing off their wearables, including some accessories that are designed to work with the Apple Watch. (Credit ABC News)

Virtual Reality while there’s no release date yet for the consumer version of the Oculus virtual reality headset, plenty of chatter has centered around 2015 being the year of virtual reality for the masses. (according to ABC News)

At the Web Summit in November, CEO Brendan Iribe said a consumer release is “months, not years away, but many months.”

Maybe CES 2016 will showcase technology in the health space because with all the connected and virtual stuff who needs to get off the couch?


Top Home Improvement and Maintenance Apps

If your household is in need of renovations, your mobile device is a solid first step. There are many home improvement, DIY and interior design apps that can offer beneficial information when it comes to fixing up or redoing your home.

Some apps function as calculators to determine the estimated price of materials, while others provide fix-it guides and paint color matching functionality. Many of the apps are free, while some cost a small fee for access.

Below, we’ve put together a list of apps that can provide guidance and inspiration for your home improvement projects.

1. iFixIt

iFixit is a free app for Android and iOS devices. This DIY app helps you diagnose household problems, make repairs, and make replacements if necessary. You can look through categories, device models, featured guides, and upload your own teardown or repair guide to the app. The app has another great feature. If you need any tools or parts, it includes a link to iFixIt’s online store.

2. Homezada

The Homezada app is available for iOS and Android devices, and it’s free. Homezada is a one-stop shop that handles every aspect of your household, including insurance and maintenance. It’s beneficial for renovations, providing a project management platform to set deadlines, monitor your budget, and manage your to-do list.

3. Adornably

Adornably is a free app for iOS that allows you to design and shop for your home from your mobile device. The app lets you visualize furniture and décor in the room of your choice. If you decide to buy something, just click on the item(s), and it will be placed in your shopping cart!

4. iHandy Carpenter

The $1.99 iHandy Carpenter app is available on iOS devices. Sensors in your iPhone or iPad can turn the devices into a set of handy carpentry tools. The surface and bubble level of each device will let you check surfaces that are even. A plumb bob will also allow you to test the verticality of walls in your home. Angles up to 180 degrees can be measured with a steel protractor, while the ruler is displayed on the screen and you can see measurements in inches and centimeters.

5. Home Improvement Calcs

The Home Improvement Calcs app is designed for iOS devices and can be purchased for $1.99. The app offers various calculators and estimation tools for typical construction projects, landscaping, and home improvement task. If you need to determine the calculations of a particular job, all you need to do is enter the measurements, and the app will provide you with results.

6. Handyman Calculator

The Handyman Calculator app is free for Android devices, and it’s great for DIY enthusiasts and construction workers alike. The app is equipped with both esoteric and simple calculations. Some of the calculations include fractions, unit conversions, density, arc length, and rebar weight. This is the perfect app for home improvement mavens who want to make sure their projects go perfectly.

7. Houzz

Houzz, which is free for iOS and Android devices, encompasses a vast repository of articles, discussions, and pictures that can be used for home improvements and interior design ideas. It can help with ideas that you may not know how to put together, and bring them to life. Houzz is one of the best apps to help you find unusual furniture, or seek advice from local professionals or talented amateurs to assist you with your home improvements.

8. ServiceLive

ServiceLive, has a free app for service providers currently performing work on the ServiceLive network. The app let’s service providers manage work orders anywhere, anytime. It’s like having an office manager in your pocket! The ServiceLive Mobile App is available for free on Android and iPhone.

Each of these apps can provide you with all of the resources you need for your maintenance, home improvements, and interior design ideas. There really is an app for everything!

Abby Perkins is Editor in Chief at Software Providers, where she writes about all things technology.

Do It Yourself or Call a Pro?

Some of us tend to think we can DIY (Do It Yourself) when it comes to home repairs and or improvements, but we may be getting in over our heads. Trust me, I am one of those people who can hardly turn a wrench. If you’re like me, it’s an easy decision to just call a professional plumber, carpenter, electrician, or any other service professional needed to do the job right.

On the other hand, for those of us with some skill who know a thing or two about DIY, there is always this question of whether we can do it ourselves or whether we need to hire a professional. Here’s a list of questions that will help you decide whether to roll up your sleeves or hire a Pro to do the job right.

1. Do I understand the problem at hand 100%?

The most common mistake that people make when attempting to DIY is biting off more than they can chew. For example, let’s say that there is something wrong with your washer and you know quite a bit about washers and electricity in general. You think you have identified the problem and you start working on it. A few hours later, you have dismantled your entire washer, found out that it is not what you thought and you are now left with little more than scrap metal lying all around you.

This is why you need to be 100% positive that you know what the problem is, which leads us to our second question…

2. Do I have the skills to do this, honestly?

Once you have identified the problem, you need to honestly and seriously consider your skills. Is this something that you know enough about that you will be able to fix? Is there a possibility that you will do more damage than good? Is there a chance that you will hurt yourself or cause a neighborhood-wide utility disaster? If you do not like the answers or even if you are not sure about the answers, it is probably a better idea to call a professional to do the job right.

3. Do I have the right tools?

As we all know, tools are a huge part of every DIY project and if you lack the tools that are needed to make the necessary repairs or to build something. It’s probably best to either call the pros or go out and buy the tools. The worst thing that you can do is to improvise and use tools that are not meant to be used for that specific purpose.

4. Do I risk an injury doing this?

Some people say that every DIY project involves some level of risk of injury. While this may be true, there are definitely levels of likelihood that you need to factor in. Changing a light bulb and replacing the lightning rod on your house involve different levels of risk. If something sounds or looks too dangerous, it probably is and this probably means that it is time to start looking for a professional. There is no shame in that.

Author Bio: James Burbank is a blogger who writes on many subjects that are of interest to him. Among these is DIY and interior design. He sometimes works with LPZ Plumbing Services from Sydney, Australia.

How to Choose Quality Paint

Whenever a painting project is ahead of us, we focus on the colors we want for it, but we seem to forget about the importance of the quality of the paint itself. If you happen to spend some time on this subject, considering it and making sure it works well enough for you, the end results will be much better-looking and longer-lasting than usual. Quality paint will cover its surfaces much better, which will mean less work you have to deal with in the long run. The tips below will give you an idea what you must do to make the right purchase:

  • The type of paint you plan on using will play a leading part in your project and what you must do with it. Whether its oil or latex paint, you will have to deal with two very different sets of work you need to do. Latex paint will give you greater freedom when it comes to cleaning up, however oil-based paint will be far sturdier and better with unfinished wood.
  • You will then need to focus your efforts on picking the right finish. There are four to choose from, ranging from flat to satin, semi-gloss and gloss in order of shiny looks. Flat paint will be harder to clean once dry, while gloss paint will be very resistant to staining, which makes it an excellent choice for kitchens and kid’s rooms if you want to keep things safe and sound from marring and stains.
  • Pay attention to the price of the product, but also its quality. Thankfully, when it comes to paint you pretty much get what you pay for, since the chemicals used in it happen to be expensive and quality products need a lot to make. The higher price however is balanced out by quality you can count on, as well as better coating and cover, compared to the cheaper alternatives. Make sure you read the details about the ingredients of your paint for more information.
  • You can trust brand names you know you can count on, so keep that in mind when it comes to quality. You don’t really have to be insanely brand loyal, but you can still consider working with a single one if you know you’ve had positive experiences before. You can also check the reviews of its quality online as well as testimonies if you haven’t had the chance to work with a certain <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paint”>paint</a> before.

An easy way to figure out whether your chosen paint is good quality is a simple touch test. Open a can, dip your fingertips inside and rub your finger and thumb together. If it feels smooth, then this is a good sign. If it feels gritty, then you would do well to look for another brand, as smooth paint will work a lot better and provide much more efficient cover overall. It may be messy, but it’s the fastest way to figure things out if you can do so.

Check out Sears Painting & Supplies for a wide range of products.

To obtain more helpful tips for your household visit: deep-cleaning service Islington