Is Rotten Wood Hiding in Your Home?

rotten wood

Given enough time and the right conditions, rot can completely destroy wooden building materials.

Occasionally, our houses scream for attention when they need repairs. For instance, it is pretty obvious that you need to spring into action if a water leak begins to gush through your ceiling or if a baseball crashes through your living room window.

However, unlike major water leaks or broken windows, rotting wood can easily escape notice, unless you specifically look for it. And unfortunately, like kudzu or a spot of rust on a car, wood rot can spread far and wide, making it especially dangerous to your home’s wooden building materials.

Because of its tendency to spread, you should repair rotten wood ASAP when you discover it, and make sure you fix it completely. Otherwise, you will only face more serious and extensive repairs down the road. Ultimately, serious enough wood rot can even compromise your home’s structural integrity (look around your home – you see a lot of wood, right?). So, what should homeowners know about rotten wood?

Causes of Rotten Wood

Understanding wood rot is the first step towards fighting it, so take a minute to think about what causes wood to rot. It is actually fairly simple – lingering moisture in wood creates an environment conducive to fungi growth, which in turn causes the wood’s fibers to deteriorate. So, when water contacts an unprotected wood surface for a long enough period of time, the wood begins to rot.

wooden deck

Lingering moisture on unprotected wood allows fungi to grow, eventually causing rot.

Regardless of whether this process begins by rain collecting gently on your window sill or a major leak pouring through your ceiling, wood rot can be astonishingly destructive. Think about the places in your home where moisture could collect – on window sills, near outside doors, or under sinks, for example. These areas are susceptible to wood rot, so keep your eye on them.

Finding Rotten Wood

So, how do you actually go about finding wood rot? You’ll need both your senses of sight and touch for this task, as well as a screwdriver, flashlight, and binoculars. Keep in mind that, although sometimes the rot you are looking for may be easily visible, in plain sight, quite often it will be hidden, for instance behind cracked paint or underneath siding.

One key (and hopefully obvious) principle to bear in mind during your search: wood should not be soft when you press on it.

screwdriver to find rotten wood

Use a screwdriver to probe for rot in your home’s wooden components.

I know – that is probably obvious to most of us. However, to evaluate the health of the wooden components of your home, you do need to give them a good poke and see how they feel. Be on the lookout for any sign of soft, brittle, or crumbly wood. In extreme cases rotten wood may even disintegrate as you touch it.

As you poke around, keep your eyes peeled for discoloration, which is a sign of fungi and rot. Also, if you find a surface with peeling paint that feels damp, you may have just uncovered a water leak behind that spot. Investigate further and fix any leaks you find.

On the subject of damaged paint, check any painted or sealed wooden surfaces on your home’s exterior for cracks in the paint or sealant. Any crack you find, even small ones, can allow water to work its way into the wooden material, resulting in rot.

What if your house’s surface is vinyl or aluminum? Could it still succumb to rotten wood? The answer is yes, since even vinyl or aluminum sided homes likely still have wooden framing, plywood, and trim. Take a look at these wooden components, to the extent possible, and get a sense of their health. Look for damage to the siding, which might let water through, and arm yourself with binoculars and a flashlight to spot wear or discoloration in places you cannot see close up. In areas where you can get close to a wood surface, press it with a screw driver to test its integrity.

You should inspect your home for rotting wood at least annually – or twice per year if you live in a damp climate. Ideally, make this inspection a regular part of your spring and fall maintenance routine.

Specific Areas to Check for Rotting Wood

window frame water damage

Over time, rain can repeatedly soak window frames and sills, causing damage and, eventually, rot.

Here are some particularly vulnerable areas that you should keep a close eye on:

Wooden Window Frames: Water tends to remain on window sills longer than on the rest of the window frame, so the sills are usually the first to suffer from rot. Rain is persistent and can have a powerful cumulative effect. Over time, as rainwater collects on a window sill, it can slowly wear away the paint, allowing water to seep into the wood, and eventually leading to rot. As you inspect your window sills, carefully press the wood to detect any soft, deteriorated areas. Use a screw driver in hard-to-reach places. If the wood punctures easily, replace it ASAP. Finally, inspect the rest of the window frame, as wood rot often spreads up from the sill to the vertical framing pieces and trim.

wooden exterior door

Exterior doors can get damaged over time through normal wear and tear. Add moisture to the mix and rot could eventually result.

Exterior Doors: There is a good chance that your exterior doorways contain a lot of wood, which gets damaged over time from normal wear and tear, making it vulnerable to rainwater. Check all wooden parts of the door and door frame, including the threshold, door jamb, and trim. Make sure there are no soft, spongy areas. The lower sections of the door tend to be prime areas for fungi to form – especially if your home does not have a roof overhang to help protect the entrance from the weather. Poke around with your screw driver to make sure the wood is sound. Inspect the kick plate at the bottom of the door – is there any sign of rot underneath it?

Interior Spaces: Grab your flashlight and pay a down-and-dirty visit to the places in your home where moisture might have a chance to collect. Check the floor areas around your water heater, washer, dishwasher, toilet, tub, and the bottom of your sink cabinets. Unfortunately, this involves some grunt work. Prepare to get down on your hands and knees to peer underneath appliances and clean out those cluttered sink cabinets.

Do a thorough visual inspection with your flashlight, and also run your hand over the wooden surfaces as you look at them. If you come across areas that seem to be consistently moist or find swelling in the floor or sub-floor, you have probably discovered a leak. Investigate further ASAP. Also, check ceilings for any telltale water damage discoloration created by leaks from above.

wood deck

Most decks contain a lot of wood and will require a thorough inspection for rot. Check it from above, from below, and assess the health of the ledger board.

Decks: First, inspect the wooden components that make up your deck and deck stairs for signs of rot – looking from both above (easy!) and below (potentially dirty work!). After that, direct your attention to the piece of wood that attaches your deck to the house. This is called a ledger board, and it is a prime spot for wood rot if it was not connected properly. It should be flashed in aluminum, and when that is not the case, water can get behind it, eventually causing rot. This is a crucial item to check, since rot here can spread to the house’s structure underneath your siding.

Roof: Go out to your yard with binoculars and train them on your roof. Make a close inspection of both the roof itself, as well as the area directly below the roof line, for any wear and tear. This inspection could take a little while. It might feel a bit strange to be standing in the yard or out by the road scanning your roof with binoculars, and you might get a few looks from the neighbors, but take the time to be thorough. Catching a problem early could save you lots of money and hassle.

damaged shingles

On your roof, look for damaged or missing shingles, raised nail heads, cracked seals around chimneys and vent pipes, and discoloration on the fascia below the roof line.

Look for any missing or curled shingles, raised nail heads, cracked seals around chimneys and vent pipes, and also for discoloration on the fascia below your roof line. You may choose to get up on your roof if the pitch is not too steep, which will allow you to feel for any sponginess in the plywood as you walk across it. If you think the roof may be weak, or do not want to take the risk of going up on your roof, have a professional examine it instead. Roofs and ladders can be very tricky to navigate, so if you do go up there, exercise the utmost caution.

Preventing Wood Rot

Now that you know where to look to find rotting wood in your home, here are some tips to prevent it in the first place.

roof gutters

Clean and maintain your gutter system regularly so that water is drawn away from your house.

Maintain your gutters: Well functioning gutters make for a healthy house. Clean your gutters regularly, and keep them in good condition so that rainwater will be drawn away from your house. Water should flow down your spouts, and away from the structure, instead of overflowing out of the gutters and spilling right next to your foundation.

Building materials: Instead of using wood in areas of your house where rot is common, consider using composite building materials with no wood fibers. For example, when replacing windows use vinyl or vinyl clad designs. Similarly, consider aluminum or vinyl siding, which are popular for this reason. Preventative measures like this will help reduce your maintenance costs over time.

covered entryway

Add covered entryways and overhangs to your roof, to protect your windows and doors from precipitation.

Entryways: Next time you re-do your roof, add overhangs and covered entryways if you do not have them already. This added shelter helps to protect your windows and doors from moisture.

Condensation: Keep condensation at bay inside your home. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, an air-tight, well-insulated house can tend to trap moisture indoors. To prevent this, ensure that your bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms are well-ventilated. Proper ventilation is amazingly effective at dissipating humidity through natural airflow (hot, moist air rises and is replaced by fresh air). If necessary, use a dehumidifier to keep persistent moisture problems under control.

Maintain your caulk and paint: Keep any caulking on your home’s exterior in good condition – this is fairly self explanatory, since caulk seals moisture out of your house. Paint is also a vital seal against the elements. In fact, it is often the sole barrier keeping solid wood from rotting, so it is imperative to keep your home wrapped in a good coat of paint.

water leaks rotten wood

Keep your eye out for water leaks in your home. When you find them, fix them immediately, so they don’t turn into larger problems.

Water leaks and basement flooding: Stay alert for water leaks in your home and repair them quickly, regardless of how small they seem. Even a small amount of water can ruin wood, and small leaks often develop into larger problems. Take preventative action, where possible, to prevent or minimize water damage in your home. Use an automatic water shut off valve to turn off your water when a leak occurs. To protect your basement, consider installing a battery backup sump pump or water powered sump pumpto take over for your primary sump pump if your power goes out during a storm, or if the primary pump fails.

To keep your home in good shape, you will need to play the role of detective from time to time, watching for potential problems and investigating those that arise. This is certainly true if you want to avoid rotten wood. Even though rot may not be discernible at first glance, by searching for the right clues, you can spot problems before they become unmanageable.

When you do find rotting wood on your property, get if fixed right away so it does not turn into a larger problem. Finally, take all the preventative measures you can to prevent rot in the first place.


Smart Lighting: a Home Solution with Lots of Health Benefits: smart lighting,

About the guest author: Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener, and aspiring homeowner. She resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence. 

Fluorescent lights, computer screens, neon signs—there is certainly a lot of peripheral light in our lives. And to your circadian rhythms, that light can read like a lot of excess noise.
Fortunately, smart lighting and scheduled scenes can help you cut back on the effects of unwanted light—at least in your home—keeping you alert throughout the day and helping you fall fast asleep at night.

Using Light Warmth to Wind Down at Night

Scientists who study light’s effects on neurology have noticed one clear through line: cool, white light seems to make the mind more active and productive, while soft, warm light induces melatonin, a precursor to sleep. Color ‘temperature,’ in essence, the amount of blue (‘cool’) or yellow (‘warm’) wavelengths in a light source has been shown to have a definite effect on our sleep—and by extension, our overall health. In fact, Harvard research linked lower melatonin to Type 2 diabetes.

Unfortunately, modern devices and lights tend to land on the cooler side. Standard LEDs may be better for the environment, but they usually produce a bluish light—not the best for prepping for sleep. In one study, for instance, researchers exposed participants to various amounts of green and blue light, and then surveyed their alertness levels—and measured their neural functioning via EEG. Both the responses and the test results showed a positive correlation between blue light and alertness.
Smart device manufacturers are working hard to help solve this problem, however. Using color-changing bulbs, your home can be programmed to switch from blue to yellow light as the day progresses—and kick your melatonin production into gear.

Say ‘Goodnight’ to Your Devices

Let’s face it: a lot of us are pretty addicted to the small screen. But exposing ourselves to that light at the end of the day can also ratchet up the restless nights. Scientists at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have determined that as little as two hours of pre-bedtime screen use can impact your body’s melatonin production.
Digital screens also have a bluish tint, so they can have a similar effect on your alertness levels as bright LEDs. A command-activated scene can put your television and smart devices to sleep—so you can get some shuteye yourself.

Selective Lighting to Reduce Eyestrain and Fatigue

An overhead light can really only do so much. You can reduce headaches and eyestrain by installing task lighting in kitchens, offices, garages—anywhere you need to focus, really. In the bedroom, overhead recessed lights directed towards the pillow can also get you some of the benefits of ceiling lights without flooding your system with too much light right before bed. Automation makes it really easy to switch on additional lighting systems, too. You can program the lights according to the activity. For instance, with a home automation system like Control4, you can simply tap a “Cooking” button that turns on under-cabinet lights, ramps up the kitchen pendants and cans to 100% illumination, and—because it works in unison with other devices and systems—your favorite cooking playlist can begin playing overhead.

In the living room, you can help reduce eyestrain by installing bias lights—a backlighting system that sits behind your TV or computer screen. Use bulbs that have a 6500K color temperature, the same type of light used in your screen. That way, your eyes won’t be struggling to adjust between the bright digital light and the darkness of the rest of the room. In fact, there are certain smart TVs that come with bias lighting features, if you don’t feel like finding the proper bulbs yourself.
A well-lit home just feels more comfortable, and can highlight your decor and interior design—and smart controls make it just a little easier to manage a wider variety of lighting situations. After all, when it comes to your home life, your comfort and ease are top priority.


Remote Control World: 5 Must-Have Automated Home Accessories: smart home,

The home of the future has arrived, thanks in large part to state-of-the-art automation accessories. These “smart” devices can transform an ordinary house into one with improved energy efficiency, safety, and privacy (while making daily tasks a lot more convenient and fun). From controlling your home’s temperature, lighting, and security system, to making it all work together with just a simple voice command, here’s a look at five must-have smart home accessories.



Written by Guest on November 8, 2017

This guest post comes to us from Control4 Dealer, Pro Install AV in London, United Kingdom. 
It may have taken a while, but after researching your options from some of the world’s leading smart home brands, you’ve finally decided that Control4 home automation system is the way to go.
Now there’s just one crucial question left to answer: Which Control4 dealer will you work with to supply, install, and ultimately maintain that system?
Clearly this isn’t the kind of decision you should take lightly. When investing in a Control4 smart home, you’ll want every last detail to be spot on and the installation should be done perfectly the first time. You’ll need a Control4 dealer who combines expert know-how of the latest systems with exceptional quality service.
There’s just one problem: At first glance, every installer you meet seems to promise you just that. How do you determine which one is truly best suited to work with? Easy. Spend some time getting to know each one by asking them these five important questions: 

Are you CEDIA accredited? 

CEDIA (the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) is the globally recognized trade association for those who create and install smart home technology. That includes Control4 home automation specialists.
Not every company out there can boast CEDIA accreditation. To become approved, members must consistently prove that they meet strict high standards of customer service, quality workmanship, and cost-effective solutions. Naturally then, it pays to ask your potential dealer if they’re accredited by CEDIA. If they are not, you may want to consider finding one that is.
If they are, that means you can rely on them to not only do a good job, but to do it on time, provide excellent service throughout the installation and, of course, do all of this without adding huge numbers to the cost of your Control4 installation.

Can I see past projects?

Before you let any company into your home, ask to see case studies of past projects and testimonials from previous clients to get a clear idea of the quality you can expect.
Case studies can also provide another huge benefit in the form of inspiration, which is particularly helpful if you’re not entirely sure on exactly what kind of Control4 home automation system you want. And visting dealer showrooms may also be beneficial to help get the creative juices flowing.

How much does Control4 cost?

Any leading home automation specialist will offer you a bespoke system tailored to meet the exact needs of you, your family, and your home. As such, Control4 costs are likely to vary from client to client. That said, there are some things you should check with your installer about before signing anything.
No hidden charges
Ask whether the price quoted includes absolutely everything, from the cost of the products themselves to installation charges and any post-installation support you’ve agreed to. Finding surprises on your final invoice can really take the shine out of getting that brand new system installed.
Best Price Guarantee
Remember, as with most things in life, ‘cheap’ is not something to be aspired to. Instead, your Control4 costs should represent value for money at a price within your budget. If they’re too low, ask your dealer how they can afford to charge much less than their competitors. If they’re too high, nobody could blame you for asking for a better deal.

Can you integrate other leading products, devices, and systems into my Control4 Installation?

What happens if you already have a home entertainment system installed in your property and now want to set that up to be powered by your Control4 system? Or if you’re planning to integrate intelligent lighting control into your home at some point in the future?
Before you start your project then, ask whether your dealer has the expertise and experience integrating other consumer electronic products and brands into a Control4 system. They should be able to not only install your Control4 system, but also integrate all of your favorite devices so that you can enjoy one complete, bespoke system.

What happens if things go wrong?

With the perfect combination of a quality installation and Control4’s world-class technology, your system should function flawlessly long after it has been installed in your home. Yet there are times when unexpected problems do occur, or when you may need a little help making the most of your system.
That’s why it pays to ask your installer if they offer after-sales care and support packages, and of course, how much they cost. By investing in long-term support, you have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that no matter what happens, your new Control4 system is always in safe hands.

10 Essential Skills Every New Homeowner Should Have

home maintenance man fixing sink

Such things as knowing how to shut off the water to your sink are essential skills to pick up soon after moving into your new home.

t let clogged gutters or a running toilet put a damper on your new-home high.

Ah, the joys of homeownership — you can paint the walls any color you choose, let Fido run free in your backyard, and finally leave your bike outside your side door, without getting a citation from your property-management company.

There are many perks of having a place to call your own, but the honeymoon can come to a sudden end as soon as something goes awry. Suddenly, there’s no one to call when your toilet just won’t stop running, a leak appears below your bedroom window, or your garbage disposal gets clogged. You’ve got to figure out how to fix the problem yourself — or hire someone to do it.

But with a little patience (and some smart internet research), it’s possible to take on many common home maintenance tasks yourself. Who knows: You may even start to take pride in your newfound handyman (or handywoman) skills! Whether you’re moving into a new home in San Diego, CA, or Wilmington, DE, these 10 skills are essential techniques that new homeowners across the country should know how to do.

  1. 1. How to change your air filters

    Chances are, if you’re moving from a rental, your landlord took care of this task for you. Changing your air filters regularly is important to maintain air quality. “We get calls from homeowners who can’t figure out why their homes are so dusty,” says Bailey Neal, CEO of Nestive, a Nashville, TN-based home maintenance, repair, and cleaning service. “Come to find out: They’ve never changed their air filters.”

    Neal says for new construction, consider changing your filters every two to three weeks at first, because of the initial drywall dust. Every three to six months is recommended for people without pets or allergies; if you have pets or allergies, every 30 to 90 days is best. Once you determine the size of your filters (it will be printed on the old one, for example 10x20x1), such services as Amazon or EZFilter can automatically deliver new filters at a determined frequency.

  2. 2. How to shut off your water

    Ask someone, whether it’s your home inspector, a friend with construction experience, or a plumber, to locate and show you where the main water valve is in your home. “Water is one of the leading causes of damage in homes,” says Neal. “If you can shut off your water quickly, you can prevent thousands in damage.” Neal notes that if you’re going to be away for longer than one or two days, you should turn off the water to your washing machine — it’s as simple as turning the water-valve handle behind the machine to the right. “If there’s a leak while you’re gone, that water is going to run continuously,” he says.

  3. 3. How to change the temperature on your water heater

    Many manufacturers set water-heater thermostats to reach 140 degrees, but most houses need only a maximum of 120. Setting the thermostat to a lower temperature prevents the potential of scalding, slows mineral buildup and corrosion in your heater and pipes, and can save you $10 to $30 per each 10-degree reduction on your annual energy bill. Plus, it’s as easy as turning a dial.

  4. 4. How to turn off your gas

    If you smell gas or suspect there’s a gas problem, your first step should be calling your gas company. But it’s important to know how to turn off the gas yourself just in case you need to. The shut-off valve is usually located outside at the meter and will require an adjustable pipe or crescent-type wrench to operate.

  5. 5. How to fix a running toilet

    A running toilet might sound like the start of a joke, but it can be very annoying — not to mention become a waste of water that could amp up your next water bill. Toilets run for several reasons: problems with the flapper, chain, or float are the most common. A diagnosis and repair is quick and easy. And remember, the water inside the toilet tank is clean, so don’t worry about putting your hands in there.

  6. 6. How to turn off power to different parts of your house

    “We had a customer who bought a new house, and the first week she was there, her hair blow-dryer suddenly stopped working,” says Neal. “Our electrician went in, hit the ‘reset’ button on the outlet, and the dryer started working again.” The lesson? Look to see if your outlet has a reset button (common for grounded outlets, which are typically located in kitchens and bathrooms, since they are close to water); and while you’re at it, familiarize yourself with the circuit-breaker box. Neal says it’s common for power to die in one room of the house and people then think there’s a power outage. “They don’t even think to go to the breaker box to see if it has tripped,” he says. “Especially if you have (an) older house, the wiring was not built to handle the same capacity of modern electrical systems. Older homes will get overloaded quicker.” When you move into your new home, take some time to flip your circuit-breaker switches and figure out what controls what room — and that the switches are properly marked.

  7. 7. How to find a wall stud

    It’s important to locate wall studs, which are vertical wood boards behind your drywall, when you’re hanging heavy wall adornments in your new home — including TV wall mounts, shelves that will support significant weight, or even a heavy mirror. Luckily, technology has made it pretty simple to do this — for around $10 at a hardware or home improvement store, you can purchase a stud finder that will help you locate the boards. Pro tip: Studs are almost always spaced either 16 or 24 inches apart.

  8. 8. How to clean your gutters

    Clogged gutters are no joke. They can cause water to flow onto the wood trim and siding of your house, which can eventually lead to rot — and replacement, notes Neal. Gutters should be cleaned every year, or twice a year if you have overhanging trees. If you feel confident on a ladder, you can clear the gutters yourself by suiting up (wear long sleeves, gloves, even goggles and a mask) and using a small garden shovel to clear the muck, followed by a high-pressure water rinse from your hose. Focus on clog-prone areas: mainly where the downspouts join the gutter system.

  9. 9. How to caulk

    Caulking is a simple task but delivers big impact — not to mention, it keeps air and water at bay. First, pick the right caulk. For a long-lasting seal, choose permanently waterproof, flexible, shrinkproof, crackproof silicone caulk. (Skip acrylic caulk, which can shrink and crack over time.)

    Next, remove old caulk with a utility knife and make sure your surface is clean and dry. Cut the nozzle of the caulk tube to your desired bead size and run a line of caulk — make sure to use even pressure when applying with a caulking gun. Finally, smooth the line with a wet finger. Need more instruction? Do a little research about proper caulk protocol, and you’ll be sealed up in no time.

  10. 10. How to maintain your appliances

    This doesn’t exactly seem like a skill, right? But you’d be surprised: Knowing how to properly clean and maintain your appliances is key to extending their life span. For one resource, locate your oven’s instruction manual (or look it up on and run the self-clean feature — no need to bake your cookies with lasagna leftovers from the previous homeowner.

    If your refrigerator is equipped with a water dispenser (i.e., it makes its own ice), we’re betting it has been awhile since the filter was replaced. Again, use the manual to determine the correct filter model and how to replace it. Next, clean your dryer vent of lint buildup — in the lint trap, behind the lint trap, and in the duct that leads to the outside of your home. Then clean your dishwasher filter or trap (depending on your dishwasher model) and run an empty cycle on “hot” with a cup of white vinegar: This will remove all grease and grime. And finally, know how to unclog the garbage disposal — a clean toilet plunger can work or, in more extreme cases, an auger, which is sold at home improvement stores.



15 home maintenance tips


Home maintenance is something we often neglect. Between our daily and weekly responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc., maintenance is something that often falls by the wayside. But it’s essential. Like your vehicle, your home and property benefit from regular tune-ups.

Fun, right? We know: not so much. But here’s the good news. Tackling home maintenance in 10-minute bursts is the smart way to get it done. 

Here’s our checklist of 15 things you can keep on top of, each in 10 minutes or fewer. Killing time before Lost?  Cross off one of these tasks.

1 Vacuum the condenser coils at the back of your fridge annually.

2 Replace your furnace filters seasonally.

3 Polish your natural wood front door. If painted, surface wash it.

4 Clean the air conditioner grill and register. 

5 Dust and test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (twice a year).

6 Replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (annually).

7 Self-clean the oven (Okay, technically this takes hours, but it only takes a few minutes to set it up).

8 Clean your coffeemaker. 
Technically this takes more than 10 minutes, but each step itself takes only a minute or two. Tackle each step during commercial breaks in your favourite show. 

Commercial break 1: Fill up the coffeemaker reservoir with one-part white vinegar to two parts cold water and “brew.”

Commercial break 2: Pour the heated vinegar-and-water combination back into the reservoir after it “brews” the first time and run it again. 

Commercial break 3: Discard, then fill reservoir with cold water. Run through.

Commercial break 4: Discard used rinse water and repeat with fresh water. 

9 Clean your kitchen exhaust hood. Clean or replace the filter.

10 Check your water heater for signs of leakage or rust. 

11 Look for worn extension cords. Replace them. 

12 Inspect your furnace. Any signs of rust or scale? Any weird noises? If so, book a professional inspection.

13 Pick a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet (GFCI) and test it. Push the Test button, check that this has popped out the Reset button and that anything hooked up to the outlet will no longer power on. Push Reset and you’re good to go. Test a different GFCI outlet next time. 

14 Conduct a garage door safety check. 
• Put it into manual mode and lift it: it should glide smoothly and stay open on its own three feet from the ground: if not, have a pro counterbalance it.

• Put a pet- or child-size object on the ground (a small cardboard box or lightweight plastic laundry hamper, for example) and close the door. It should pop up as soon as it meets the obstacle. If not, call a pro.

15 Check your emergency flashlight. Do the batteries work? If not, replace them, or consider upgrading to a non-battery powered, manual wind-up model.

13 Simple Home Maintenance Tips & Ideas


interior painting




It’s tempting to disregard the steep price tag and hire a professional contractor for home improvement repairs rather than doing them yourself. Home repairs can seem complex and intimidating to the uninitiated, and fear that your own attempts at fixing that leaky faucet or drafty window will cause further damage. 

However, having a home maintenance plan can make a huge difference in your bank account. And, fortunately, performing proper home maintenance does not require a lot of specialized know-how or training, nor does it require a lot of time or money.

Simple Home Maintenance Tips

1. Toilets

Water leaking from your toilet tank will not only cost you money when it comes to your utility bill, but it can also cause water damage to your bathroom floor and premature wear of your toilet’s internal workings. To find out whether your toilet tank is leaking, add some red food coloring to the water in the tank. Come back in about an hour and see if the water in the bowl is pink. If it is, you have a leak.

If you find that your toilet is leaking from the tank to the bowl, the flapper needs to be replaced. To change your toilet’s flapper, first shut off the water supply to your toilet. To do this, simply turn the water valve located directly behind the toilet. Remove the tank lid and flush the toilet in order to empty the tank. Use a towel or sponge to mop out any excess water left in the tank. Remove the flush chain from the lever, and then slide the old flapper up off the overflow tube. Slide the new flapper in place over the overflow tube, reconnect the chain, and turn the water supply back on.

toilet cistern

2. Faucets

The main cause of leaky faucets is worn out washers. The washers inside of the faucet handles are rubber and tend to wear out quickly. Replace them by turning off the main water supply, unscrewing the leaky handle that controls the flow of water to the spout, removing the old washer, and dropping in the new one.

leaky faucet

3. Washing Machine & Dryer

It is important to regularly inspect your washing machine water supply hoses for leaks. One of the top reasons for insurance claims is for water damage caused by leaky washing machine supply lines. Inspect washing machine water supply lines at least annually and replace them every three years if they are plastic. If you notice that the metal ends of your water supply lines are discolored or rusty, replace them immediately.

Faulty washing machine drain hoses are as important as water supply lines when it comes to keeping water off of your floor and in your drain where it belongs. As with supply lines, regularly inspect the ends of your washing machine drain lines for discoloration or rust, and replace them immediately if you find evidence of leaking.

Additionally, check the snugness of the drain lines by using a crescent wrench or a pair of pliers. You should not be able to tighten the line any further if the line is properly tightened. Plastic lines should be replaced every three years.

When it comes to your dryer, it is important to make sure that you regularly clean your lint screen in order to prevent fires. Not only will a clean lint screen prevent fires, but it will also increase the life of the heating element. Physically remove the lint from the screen between each load of laundry. Also, be sure to remove fabric softener residue by washing the screen with warm water and dish detergent once per week.

fix washing machine

4. Water Heater

There is nothing more frustrating than turning on the hot water in your shower and instead receiving cold water. Water heaters, like other appliances, need maintenance to increase longevity and reduce the possibility of damage.

Water has sediment suspended in it, and as the water sits in your water heater, these particles will often settle to the bottom of the tank, causing damage to the floor of your water heater. At least once per year, drain the water from your water heater and clean the inside surface of its floor.

To drain your water heater, first turn off the water supply and power to the water heater. For electric water heaters, turning off the power means that you simply flip the circuit breaker to the “off” position. For gas water heaters, turn the thermostat setting to the pilot position.

Next, connect a water hose to the drain fitting at the bottom of the tank and put the other end in a place, such as your driveway, where the draining hot water won’t cause any damage. A typical garden hose is a direct fit to the drain fitting. Turn on all the hot water faucets in your home and then open the drain valve on the water heater. Turn the water supply back on with the drain valve still open to remove any built up sediment in the bottom of the tank. Then close the drain valve, refill the tank, and turn the power back on.

water heater

5. Plumbing

In order to keep water flowing freely through your pipes, keep the following things in mind:

  • Accumulating fats and oils are the main cause for clogs, so never pour fats or other oils down your drains. This includes oils that are not solid at room temperature. If you accidentally spill oils or fats down the drain, run hot water down your drain along with a healthy serving of dishwashing liquid. The soap will emulsify the fat or oil and move it on down the pipe, preventing a clog.
  • Get a hair strainer for the bathtub drain. If fats and oils are the main source of clogs in the kitchen, hair is the primary culprit in the bathroom. If you have a strainer, make sure that you remove any accumulated hair from it following each shower. This will reduce the amount of hair that finds its way through the strainer and into your plumbing.
  • Skip the Drano. Though the acids it contains can help unclog a drain, they also cause significant damage to your plumbing, including premature leaking. This can lead to costly repairs later on. If your bathtub or toilet is completely clogged, use a small drain snake – which you can purchase at any hardware outlet – to pull the offending clog to the surface. If your kitchen sink is clogged, try plunging it before trying to snake the drain. If you cannot remove the clog using a drain snake, call a professional.
unclog drain

6. Air Conditioning

Air conditioners are among the most overlooked appliances when it comes to performing regular home maintenance. However, they can be one of the most costly appliances to repair.

Regularly inspect the condensation hose to make sure that water can flow freely from the line. If there is standing water where your condensation line drains, create a drainage path using a small garden trowel and line the path with gravel to keep mold and algae from forming, which can be a serious health hazard when the spores are drawn into the appliance and blown into your home.

Additionally, keep the screen around your air conditioner free from debris to keep air flowing easily. This will prevent your air conditioner from using more power than necessary to keep your house cool and keep the internal parts from wearing out too quickly.

fix air conditioner

7. Humidifiers

Some climate control systems have in-duct humidifiers that help keep air moist and healthy during the winter when artificial heat systems are in use. But when these systems aren’t working properly, they become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, which can cause serious air quality issues.

At the end of each winter season, it is important to drain the unit and close the water valve to keep water from stagnating in the system. Also, cleaning the reservoir with a mixture of water and white vinegar helps to keep mineral deposits to a minimum.

8. Air Filters

Change the air filter in your central heat and air unit often, especially during peak usage months. Thirty days is the absolute longest you should ever leave an air filter in place; two weeks is maximum for high-usage months.

Using cheap fiberglass filters is actually preferred as opposed to more expensive HEPA filters for two reasons: First, replacing the more expensive filters often isn’t cost-effective. Second, the fiberglass filters actually allow for more air to flow into your climate-controlled unit, reducing the amount of energy needed to effectively heat or cool your home.

replace air filter

9. Paint

You can easily give your house a facelift by repainting the interior. However, repainting the entire interior of your house can be costly and difficult to accomplish. You can save both time and money by strategically touching up your paint job every so often. The first thing you need is a spot-on color match. The only way to get this is to save paint from your current paint job for future touch-ups. If you have leftover paint, simply roll the paint over the dirty spots on your walls. When the paint dries, it will dry perfectly, leaving you with a wall that looks as though you just painted it.

If you don’t have any leftover paint, you can still touch up your walls, though your efforts will be more labor intensive than spot painting. Take a sample of your color to your local hardware outlet and have your paint tinted to match. When you are ready to touch up your walls, paint the dirty wall from corner to corner, being careful to keep the new paint off any surface you aren’t looking to touch up. If there is a shade difference, you won’t notice it, even if the wall you are painting butts up against another wall.

If you are trying to cover up nicotine-stained walls, you will need to apply a stain blocker to the walls before applying paint. Nicotine will prevent your paint from adhering properly to the wall surface and will cause bubbles. Additionally, if stale smoke or other odor is an issue, add a few drops of vanilla to your paint. This will help combat odors that have seeped into your drywall.


10. Refrigerators

The main component of your refrigerator that should get your attention is the door seals. Keeping your door seals tight will reduce the amount of energy it takes to keep your food cool or frozen, but will also keep your refrigerator working efficiently, preventing premature wear on internal parts.

To test the door seals, close the door on a dollar bill and attempt to pull it out with the door closed. If you cannot easily pull the dollar bill out from the door, your seals are in good shape. However, if the bill slides out without much resistance, it’s time to replace the seals. You can purchase new seals from any home repair outlet store.

Also, if you have a refrigerator that has coils along the back, periodically vacuum these coils to remove dirt and dust build up. These coils contain the coolant the refrigerator uses to keep the internal temperature cold. If they become dirty, they won’t work efficiently and your refrigerator may stop cooling altogether.

As a general tip, keeping your refrigerator full uses less energy than trying to cool when it’s empty. Therefore, keep as many items in your refrigerator as possible to help reduce energy costs.

refrigerator door

11. Drafty Windows

Drafty windows are a major culprit of high energy bills in the summer and winter months. Periodically check the condition of the caulk line that holds your windows in place. If the caulk appears to be dry, cracked, or otherwise weathered, remove the old caulk with a box cutter or other sharp knife and run a new bead of caulk along the seam.

For added utility bill savings, you can further insulate your window by applying an insulating window film over the glass. These methods cost much less than the price of replacing your windows and implementing green energy technologies in your home.

windows caulk

12. Gutters

While gutters may go practically unnoticed when you look at your house, they are the main line of defense between your foundation and siding and the elements. Gutters are designed to capture water and debris runoff from your roof and divert it away from your foundation, and one of the main causes of water accumulation in basements is a lack of gutter maintenance and proper water diversion.

Clean your gutters at least once per year by physically removing debris from the channels and rinsing them thoroughly by using a garden hose. Avoid installing gutter guards – not only do these not adequately prevent debris from entering your gutters, they also make it extremely difficult (if not impossible) to properly clean your gutter system.

Also, be sure to regularly check that your gutters are properly affixed to your fascia boards, and replace any sections that appear to be damaged or leaking.

cleaning gutter

13. Roof

Periodically check your roof for damage. Damaged, discolored, or gravel-less shingles should be quickly replaced to prevent the need to replace your roof, water-damaged trusses, or drywall when you finally discover a leak. During the inspection of your roof, pay special attention to shingles that surround skylights, vents, and chimneys, as these areas are the most leak-prone.

small roof repair

Hallway wallpaper ideas that will add interest to your space

Wallpaper is making a big comeback and, with so many different designs and colours available, it’s a fabulous choice for creating impact in your hallway. Whether you’re looking for something bold and bright to enhance a modern scheme, calm and elegant to complement a period home or a bright retro wallpaper, the choice is endless. We’ve put together some fab hallway wallpaper ideas to help inspire you.

Bear in mind the size of the entrance hall you are decorating before you start. Smaller spaces will often be dark, so white, cream and other neutral colours are a great way to enhance the light and make the hallway appear larger, while darker shades will make it feel more enclosed. When it comes to patterned wallpaper, it’s also worth choosing carefully, as large designs will dominate the space and you will lose the beauty of a repeated pattern in a small area.

If you do have the luxury of a larger hallway, there are lots of bold designs that would work well. Stripes and trailing patterns looks gorgeous running the length of a long hallway or working their way up the stairs, extending the space and drawing your eye into the room. Incorporating the staircase into the scheme means you need to consider the pattern repeat and drop of the wallpaper as it ascends, but the large expanse of wall will provide the perfect opportunity to be brave and go for a statement design.

Many period homes, particularly Victorian and Edwardian, may be lucky enough to have retained the dado rail in the hallway, which helps to break up the space. Choosing a bold wallpaper design for above or below the dado rail means you can mix and match colours and patterns on the other half or simply go for a cohesive look.

Art for a Lot Less Than You Think

Who said artwork has to cost an arm and a leg? With some crafting supplies and a little imagination, you can create your own art in no time! Plus, each of these fabulous art ideas is surprisingly low-cost, making decorating your home that much easier.


Chevron Wood Shims

Add eye-catching flair to a plain wall with colored wood shims laid out in a chevron pattern. This project starts at your local hardware store: Swing by and pick up wood shims and spray paints in your fave colors.

Interior and outdoor molding and trim

Interior and outdoor molding and trimThe finishing touches are how normal, ordinary things become wonderful pieces of greatness.

For example, if you were to look on the far side of sequins, a ballerina’s complex tutu is simply an apparent unitard. Removing that secret dash of his one extra special ingredient, the gourmand chef’s chicken tastes rather like one thing you prepare for dinner any normal traditional night. A similar thought can be made via the aforesaid chef analogy for your home style – the limited details like trim and molding will build all the distinction within the overall look and feel of your personal paradise .

Once upon a time, molding was an installation nightmare that engulfed the foremost bold designers. Materials were significant, tough to manage, and still required to be fit, painted, cut, and positioned – by no means a task for the typical house owner to undertake. Today’s materials eliminate a number of those challenges, creating molding and trim installation an exquisite homemade task that’s not very time overwhelming. However before busting out the seal gun and your hammer/nails, there’s some preparation involved and a good book on this subject can help.

molding2Molding and trim are both functional and decorative, and after being installed, the details are eye appealing and add significantly to your decor, while hiding joints from your walls, floors, ceilings, windows, doors, etc. Molding is available in several different materials that can widely vary based on its finish and price.

Molding and trim work is not limited to the interior of your house, as finishing touches are also needed outside, too. Outdoor molding will enhance your house’s curb appeal, and with a plethora of options, it is quite simple to find what suits your house and personal decor style.




20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas The fastest and (often) least expensive way to add color or personality to your walls? Hang something up! We adore changing up the walls in our homes too, too much. Here’s a few of our very favorite projects.


1. Corner gallery wall20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas abeautifulmess.com2. Tips for installing a gallery wall20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas 3. Three easy 30-minute art projects20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas 4. Song lyric wall art20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas 5. Create your own instax wallpaper20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas 6. Make your own photo wall clock.20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas 7. Add life to your room with gold dipped hanging planters.20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas 8. Don’t forget your kitchen walls! Try this easy kitchen wall art.20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas 9. Pretty storage? Yes, please! Try hats in place of art.20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas 10. We are still swooning over this copper pipe wall hanging.20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas 11. Make this starburst mirror DIY.20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas 12. Create a modern wall art with paint swatches.20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas 13. Craft these triangle shelves. Too cute!20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas 14. Use a personal photo to make your own canvas portrait.20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas 15. Get ready for February with this best friend wall art.20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas 16. Add a soft touch above a dining room table with this fabric chandelier.20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas 17. Be cool with this skull string art. 🙂20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas 18. Get out your tools and make these honeycomb shelves.20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas 19. Make personalized pet art with little more than pens and paper.20 Easy Wall Hanging Ideas 20. Create this song lyric denim art in one afternoon! Go on and make something pretty this weekend!