There's no place like home, especially when it comes to making improvements.
According to a survey by Wells Fargo & Company in early 2010, the length of time that U.S. homeowners plan to stay in their house is now up to 16 years. That length of time has been increasing by an additional year every year since 2007, which may explain why "upgrading and remodeling" is now the top priority for homeowners.
Home improvements can enhance the way your home looks and make it more comfortable, but this year, some improvements to increase energy efficiency may also earn you a tax credit.
For example, you may receive a tax credit for insulation, replacement windows, certain high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment and low-water-usage landscaping.
Here are a few improvements cited by GreenandSave.com that can help you lower energy costs:
* Replacing windows can reduce your energy bill up to 15 percent.
* Sealing ducts and adding insulation to prevent heat loss can make a big difference, since 50 percent of the energy a single-family house consumes goes toward heating and cooling.
* Exchanging an old furnace and thermostat for a high-efficiency one can save as much as $300 a year.
Learn more about green remodeling--and other improvements that can add value to your home--at wellsfargo.com/home improvement.
Using Home Equity
Many homeowners use their home equity to pay for large projects and improvements. Home equity financing typically has lower interest rates than many other forms of unsecured credit and potentially includes benefits such as tax-deductible interest. (Check with your tax adviser.) Keep in mind that with this type of credit, your home serves as security for repayment.
When you're ready to apply for home equity financing, you can make the process faster and easier by collecting all the necessary information and documentation up front.
Concrete floor repair tips -
Concrete floors may be in your garage, in your basement, on your patio, or in your home itself, but they all eventually need some repair work. There are several types of damage that concrete floors can sustain, and there are just as many remedies for concrete floor repair that will work. One of the first things to do when you begin any concrete floor repair is to gauge how deep the crack or rough area is. This can determine what type of repair is necessary.
Surface cracks and roughness
Some concrete floors will have shallow rough patches that need to be smoothed. In this instance, cleaning the area thoroughly and then painting the rough area and the surrounding floor.
If the rough patch is less than ? inch deep, this is an effective means of evening out the floors texture and smoothness. There are specific basement paints that are effective in these cases, and latex exterior paint can also be effective in this type of concrete floor repair.
If the rough place or depression in the concrete is more than ? of an inch deep, patching with a mortar mix and adding a latex bonding agent to the mixture is a good method of ensuring that the patch will stick to the concrete.
Painting some of the latex bonding agent to the damaged area before applying the mortar mix is a sure way to repair concrete, and it is effective for both indoor and outdoor concrete floor repair.
Deep cracks and crumbling concrete
Repairing cracks in concrete floors is vital to ensuring that the cracks do not become larger and more troublesome. Most concrete floor repair can be done in a few hours and without professional assistance.
Before doing any type of concrete floor repair, the entire area to be repaired should be cleaned thoroughly, and any large chunks of loose concrete should be removed.
A chisel and hammer can be used to remove any loose concrete that is in a crack. Goggles should be worn whenever using a chisel, as small pieces of concrete can fly up and become hazardous.
Most home improvement stores sell tubes of concrete filler specifically for concrete floor repair, and this is effective in filling cracks in floors that are not exposed to water leaks.
The cracks should be slowly filled with the concrete filler, and then left to settle. More filler sometimes needs to be added when the first application has settled, and then a trowel can then be used to smooth out the filled area.
It should then be left to dry overnight. After the filler is thoroughly dry, a water-based polyurethane sealer should be used to keep out water and stains. This can be applied with a broom or with a hand roller. It will dry quickly, and a second coat can be applied within a few hours.
Repairs when moisture is involved
When doing concrete floor repair to floors that are exposed to water leaks or standing water, hydraulic cement powder should be used instead of the tube of concrete filler. It is a powder that is mixed with water and generally dries faster than the regular filler.
The mixture is usually thicker than cement filler and is applied to the cracks with a trowel. It should be allowed to settle, then reapplied and smoothed with the trowel as needed. Most of these will expand as they dry, however, so that the expected moisture will be locked out of the filled area.
Important flood clean-up tips -
If you have experienced any water accumulation in your home, it is important to remember that not all water damage is visible. Since flood water may contain bacteria that can cause serious illnesses, it is vital to clean and disinfect everything that may have been contaminated.
* To ensure that your home and personal belongings are as clean and safe as possible, please follow these simple, but important, cleaning tips:
Act quickly to avoid mildew and odor.
Remove all loose dirt and debris.
Use a chlorine bleach disinfecting solution (3/4 cup of household liquid bleach to 1 gallon of water) to wash any walls, floors, or other surfaces touched by flood waters.
Keep area wet for 2 minutes (2 to 10 minutes for exterior areas), then rinse thoroughly and dry.
* Be sure to clean and disinfect all contaminated surfaces, both interior and exterior.
Interior: walls, counters and floors.
Exterior: outdoor furniture, patios, decks and playground equipment.
Kitchen Items: dishes, glassware and utensils.
* Don't forget about clothing. You can also remove mildew and germs from clothing by washing them with chlorine bleach.
Check clothing labels to make sure they are machine washable and colorfast.
For a standard-size washing machine, use one cup chlorine bleach per load to disinfect clothing and remove odors.
* When using a disinfecting solution to clean up after a flood, ALWAYS remember to:
Wear gloves and protective clothing. Do not touch your face or eyes.
Change the disinfecting solution often and whenever it is cloudy.
Be thorough. Wash and dry everything well.
Only use regular chlorine bleach for sanitation; do not use scented or color safe bleach.
How to get rid of black mold -
Once you have completely finished inspecting your home and found even the smallest infestation of black mold growth, its time to begin ridding your home of it. Especially before it begins growing out of control and taking over your house.
Since most all mold reproduces with a combination of dampness and darkness, the first thing you should do to get rid of black mold is start drying out your home. This can be done with a dehumidifier unit that you can purchase affordably enough from any home supply store, or a major store such as Wal-Mart that sells these types of units.
You will be surprised at the amount of humidity in the air once you begin running a dehumidifier unit. The purpose of a dehumidifier is to suck natural moisture out of the air inside your home. Be sure that you empty the water collection bucket regularly as mold can grow within this as well if left unchecked for extended periods of time.
Having a dehumidifier is important especially if you run any type of air conditioning or heating unit regularly in your home and you can physically see moisture build up on your window panes. Window air conditioning units are good for this type of moisture build up excessively. So, if you use these, its a really great idea to pick up a dehumidifier.
While having a dehumidifier is step one in drying up your home, its also important to fix any water leaks around your home as well to prevent further mold build up and growth.
To further improve the quality of your home's air, you can consider purchasing an air filtration unit such as Ionic Breeze(tm). This will trap some of the pesky mold spores that travel through the air from outdoors into your home and stop some mold growth before it even starts. These units can be rather pricey, so be sure to shop around and find the best unit that fits into your budget and will get the air cleaning done.
Cleaning black mold
If you already have mold growth then this next step is very important to get rid of black mold and continuing to stop rampant mold developing. You will want to use a bleach-water solution mixture of 1 Part Chlorine Bleach to 10 Parts Water. This is roughly One-Half to Three-Fourths Cup of Bleach to 1 Gallon of Water.
You may also want to purchase some disposable cleaning supplies for this job as you won't want to hang on to them as they will become contaminated afterwards. So a pair of non-porous rubber gloves, a few dollar sponges and/or hand held scrubbers would be perfect, depending on where the mold is growing.
There is no need to leave the bleach-water solution set for any amount of time. Simply spray it on, wait for a duration of around 10 to 15 minutes, and then scrub the mold until the surface comes clean and clear of mold. You may want to leave the bleach solution set for a few minutes longer to loosen up those hard to scrub moldy areas before trying to re-clean and remove the mold.
This bleach-water solution can be used for wooden or rubber baseboards so long as there is no threat of your carpet being ruined from using it, or the wood being warped or otherwise damaged from the watery solution. If so, you can always lay down a plastic painting tarp on any areas you fear may be ruined by bleach. It can also be used for walls if necessary so long as the bleach will not ruin them. If you are going to be using the bleach-water solution on wooded areas, you may want to make use of large fans to dry the area more quickly after cleaning.
NEVER combine ammonia with bleach for any reason as this can create hazardous fumes by doing so. Only use bleach-water solutions and nothing else added to them to prevent further health issues.
Now, if you encounter mold underneath your household carpeting, furniture, or upolstery, you may want to consider completely removing any of these items. The reason being is that even with steam cleaning, it may not, and most likely will not, remove the mold spores. The best course of action is to remove the moldy materials, clean any other areas that were exposed to the moldy items, and then begin fresh with brand new materials.
Of course, this is going to be costly to replace, but necessary for complete mold removal if the infestation is there. However, if you have experienced flooding within your home, and catch it right away, you may be able to air dry your carpet and furnishings by using large fans to "blow dry" the areas and prevent mold growth from starting.
Another good combination is using detergent-water for cleaning hard floors and walls after flooding has occurred.
Once your home has been completely disinfected and mold removed, a great way to keep mold from coming back is to invest in a vacuum cleaner that features a HEPA filtration system within it. This will trap most of the mold spores before they have a chance to begin growing again in damp, warm, dark areas in your home.
10 Fall and Winter home-maintenance tips to prevent costly fixes -
With the fall and winter months upon us, now is the time to do some routine maintenance around your home to prepare for the changing weather ahead. Taking the time to do some work now may save on some major expenses later on. Some of these maintenance jobs can be performed by the homeowner, and some may need to be done by professionals. Many homeowners may not know where to begin when trying to figure out what type of routine maintenance needs to be performed on their homes. Hopefully, these tips will give the homeowners a place to start.
Tip #1 - If you have outdoor furniture, make sure to clean all parts of the furniture, including the cushions, prior to putting it up for the winter. If your furniture has metal frames, make sure to check for rust damage and repair it, if necessary, prior to putting up. It is recommended that outdoor furniture be put inside for the winter, if possible. Just remember that if you cover your furniture to allow for airflow so no mold or mildew forms.
Tip #2 - If you have a fireplace, make sure you have the chimney checked out by a professional chimney cleaner before starting the first fire. All chimneys should be checked out at least once a year prior to use to look for any damage and to have it cleaned. This maintenance will prevent possible chimney fires.
Tip #3 - Check your home around windows and doors for air leaks. An easy way to check for leaks is to move a lighter around the window or door frame and see if the flame moves with a breeze. If you find a leak, you can caulk it or you may have to replace the wood frame. If you are unable to repair the leak around a window frame, you can buy a plastic sealing kit from any home improvement store that can be placed on the outside of the window to prevent air from getting in. For door leaks around the bottom of the door, you can put on a new door sweep. By having these leaks repaired can save you money on your energy bill during the cold months.
Tip #4 - Make sure you have proper insulation in both your attic and basement. While checking your insulation, if you see any dark, dirty spots, it may indicate you have air leaks coming into your home. You will need to try and locate these leaks and repair them.
Tip #5 - Fall is a good time to do some indoor painting. The weather will still be warm enough outside to leave windows open to ventilate during painting. Most of your professional painters are not as busy in the fall months as the rest of the year. You may be able to get a good price to have your home painted. After the painting is done, make sure your leftover paint is stored in a heated area of your home, like a garage, to prevent it from freezing.
Tip #6 - You will need to drain the gas out of your gasoline powered equipment during the winter. If you are unable to drain the gas, there are products available in home improvement stores to put into your gasoline for the winter months.
Tip #7 - Make sure you have enough wood cut and stacked to burn during the winter months. By making sure you have enough wood now will prevent you from running out and having to pay a higher price for it later. Always make sure you have a small stack close to your home to have quick access to if there is a lot of snow on the ground. When buying wood, make sure it is not "green". Green wood will not burn. If you buy green wood, you may have to buy more that can be burned before your green wood dries out. If this happens, you are paying double for your wood for the winter.
Tip #8 - If you have a gas powered generator you keep on hand for possible power outages, make sure you have containers of gas for the generator. Keep the gasoline stored in a garage or outside storage unit. Never store gasoline inside your home. Test your generator and make sure it is in good working order.
Tip # 9 - Make sure your snow shovels and/or snow blower are in good shape. Check your shovel handle for possible cracks or breaks and replace if needed. Now is the best time to buy a new shovel. If you wait until a snow storm is approaching to buy one, there may not be any available. Have the routine maintenance performed on your snow blower.
Tip #10 - No matter how you heat your home during the cold months, you need to have your heating unit checked out to make sure it is working properly. If you use a kerosene heater for backup heat, make sure you have kerosene on hand and make sure the heater is in good working order with no leaks. If your kerosene heater is leaking it can cause a fire. It would be best to buy a new one if there is a leak.
By performing these routine maintenance measures now, you can prevent possible problems later on during the cold months. If you have to have repair work done during the colder weather, it could be more costly than having the maintenance work done now.
Gutter repair -
Many have succeeded at proper gutter repair while a good many others have failed. The differences between great results and poor results can often be found in how the individual doing it approaches the task.
Here are 3 ideas to help you be among the list of winners, as one who succeeds. Follow these tips and you can be sure that you will get better results!
First, you want to examine gutters for flaking or peeling paint, rust spots, broken hangers and holes. It will be most important that you do it at the right time and accomplish this adequately. If you do it in this manner, when all rain and snow has stopped and gutters are dry you will be in good shape. In the event you neglect it or forget to pay attention, you're likely to be facing serious gutter damage which could leak to foundation water issues.
Second, you'll want to patch any small holes you find using roofing cement. This is essential, could be crucial in determining whether you succeed or fail. It is important for these reasons: holes let water drip close to the foundation Failing to accomplish this is likely to mean a very wet basement
Third, you have to remember to tighten loose hangers and replace broken ones. Should you neglect this or get it wrong, you must only be prepared to replace your gutters after they've fallen to the ground.
A few other tips: apply silicone sealant around the seams of leaky joints. Remove all debris from gutters regularly and if you have a gutter guard be sure the top of it is cleaned of twigs and branches.
Follow these three techniques for proper gutter repair and you will in all likelihood succeed and enjoy every one of the rewards and benefits that proper gutter repair would bring you. Ignore them and the forecast isn't good. It's up to you... follow them and reap the rewards; ignore them and you will most likely not. Fail to follow these tips and proper gutter repair will in all probability remain only an elusive dream...
Lawn care tips for the fall -
When the weather starts to get chilly, it is time to look for lawn care tips for the fall. Taking care of your lawn in the fall is essential to your lawns year round health. With proper fall lawn watering, grass seed planting, fertilizing and mowing, your lawn will shine year round.
How high to mow grass in fall
The first step to a health fall lawn is to know how high to mow grass in fall. During the summer months, the grass should be left longer. Once the cool weather has set back in, you can reduce the cutting height to around 2 -- 2 1/2 inches. Any shorter than this, and you will risk killing the grass.
Fall lawn watering
Fall lawn watering is the next component in our lawn care tips for the fall. Normally in the fall, rain fall returns to a decent level. This means that your fall lawn watering needs should be less. Measure the rainfall during the fall months. Make sure that your lawn is getting at least 1 inch of rain a week. If the lawn is not getting at least this much rain a week, supplement with the hose.
Fertilize the lawn in fall
When you fertilize the lawn in fall, you should fertilize once from September to mid-October. After this, the lawn stops taking up nutrients from the soil and prepares for winter. You should fertilize the lawn in fall with a high nitrogen fertilizer. When you fertilize the lawn in fall, your lawn will be better able to survive winter damage and will become greener faster in the spring.
Fall grass seed planting
Fall grass seed planting is an excellent way to fill in the bare spots in your lawn. Typically, fall weather has an ideal about of rain fall and temperatures for grass seed germination. You have two options for fall grass seed planting. You can plant the seeds in September and the grass will germinate and establish this year, or you can plant the seeds after this, and they will stay dormant for the winter and germinate in early spring, when the conditions are ideal as well. The bonus of a late fall grass seed planting is that many of the local birds will have left by then, making the seed less vulnerable to them. Then the winter rain or snow will quickly cover it up until spring.
Follow these lawn care tips for the fall and your lawn will be looking fantastic come next spring!
Marcus Lumber to give away $1,000 in merchandise -
MARCUS - From September to November, Marcus Lumber will be accepting local entries for a $1,000 shopping giveaway. Celebrating its 90th year of operation Marcus Lumber is proud to hold a give-away as a way to give back to the local community.
Past local winners of the Grand Prize Event include Steve Ogren, Joel Carver, Milt Wurth, and Jason Galles. Stop in at Marcus Lumber today to register for your chance at the $1,000 give away and see the expansive 18,000 square foot showroom displaying the latest in home designs. Marcus Lumber is open from Monday to Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays 7:30 a.m. to noon. Visit the online showroom anytime at MarcusLumber.com. The contest ends Nov. 16.
Disaster recovery still available in Cherokee County -
It's with out a doubt that most peoples number one asset it their home. With the recent storms and floods many Cherokee residents are force into some kind of home improvement.
Most of the time home improvement needs are done at the homeowner's timetable but other times the repairs are forced onto the homeowner.
That is why the Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in Cherokee County is here, to help those in need. Recently a federal /state DRC center opened in Cherokee to assist individuals, households and businesses affected by Iowa's recent storms and flooding.
The DRC is located at 530 W. Bluff St. at the upper level of the Cherokee Community Center. The hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday until further notice.
The deadline to register for assistance is Oct. 13, 2010.
There are representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) along with members of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to help county residents affected by flood and storm damage that was received this summer in Cherokee County. Currently there are 196 reported registrations in Cherokee County.
Cherokee County's DRC is the eighth to open in the state. Those affected by the disaster may visit any DRC. DRC are also located in Delaware, Hamilton, Jasper, Mahaska, Polk, Story and Wright counties.
Representatives from FEMA and SBA will be available at the DRC to answer questions and provide recovery information. Written materials about various assistance programs from other federal and state agencies also are available to individuals and business owners. No cash, checks, debit cards or vouchers are distributed at DRC.
At the DRC you can get help completing applications for federal low-interest disaster loans from the SBA for homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private non-profit organizations. Plus, you can inquire about the status of applications for federal assistance or obtain referrals to voluntary organizations that may help with immediate unmet needs. Also, you can learn cost-effective mitigation measures to reduce the impact of future disaster losses.
SBA disaster loans cover costs of repair or replacement of damaged real estate, personal property and business assets not fully covered by insurance or other aid; and for small businesses, such loans cover working capital needs caused by the disaster.
Before visiting a DRC, first register with FEMA online at www.disasterassistance.gov
; or by calling toll-free, 800-621-FEMA(3362) or TTY, 800-462-7585 for the hearing- or speech-impaired. The numbers are available seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., local time, until further notice.
Additional disaster information and recovery resources are available directly from your smartphone at FEMA's new mobile website at http://m.fema.gov/