Appreciate Your Houseplants

houseplant-appreciation-day

Houseplants are a wonderful addition to any home, adding to the fresh scent of living earth, the subtle fragrance of your favorite flower, or just a bit of the outdoors in the indoors. While some people have difficulty being able to sustain these little treasures, it has been shown to be incredibly therapeutic to have this blush of the natural world inside your home.

There are so many things that houseplants can help with when it comes to enhancing your life. Aloe Vera grows quite well indoors, and is perfect for minor cuts and bruises, helping to moisturize skin, and healing minor burns. A small herb garden in our window sill can bring the delicious taste of fresh herbs to your meals, while catnip can make your cats happy. Though you may want to grow those someplace they can’t get to them.

Bring the joy and pleasure of the houseplant into your home. Whether you decide to start growing a small group of flowering plants of their color and fragrance, or a small herb garden to enhance your kitchen, you can really brighten up your home! If you don’t have a green thumb, then try some of the plants that require very little attention. Fill your home with air plants, Aloe Vera, succulents, bamboo or orchids.

These low-maintenance plants are perfect for beginners. If you prefer something a bit more in the realm of vinery, spider plants are perfect. No, they don’t have anything to do with spiders, they just have long thin vines and delicate leaves that are somewhat reminiscent of insect. For the ambitious gardener, you can dive into creating a small window garden full of beautiful flowers and deliciously savory herbs. Plants give you wonderful rewards for everything you put in. For all the little nooks and crannies in your home, fill them with plants!

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Moving Appliances

moving-appliances

Contact the Manufacturer or Dealer
For all major appliances, contact the dealer for specific move instructions or refer to the owner’s manual if you have a copy.

Unplug the Fridge
The refrigerator should be unplugged at least 24 hours prior to the move. Dispose of all perishables and make sure you clean it well. Once the freezer unit has defrosted, thoroughly clean and dry all surfaces and removable containers to prevent mildew and odors from forming. Remove all racks or secure them so they don’t shift during the move. If your unit has an ice maker, disconnect the waterline and make sure it’s completely drained.

Clean and Prep the Stove
The stove should be thoroughly cleaned inside and out with the racks removed or securely fastened. If you have a gas stove, make sure the gas is turned off before you start disconnecting the line and be very careful. Gas lines can be fragile and need special handling. If you’re unsure, call your gas company and ask for help. You may want to consult your gas company or the place where you purchased the stove to find out if it’s okay for you to move it on your own without a professional. Tape down the knobs and elements to ensure no parts are lost during the move.

Empty the Dishwasher
Dishwasher units need to be emptied and the utensil holder/rack removed and packed separately. It’s a good idea to clean the unit if needed. Run a cycle then let the unit dry before you tape the door closed.

Prepare the Washer and Dryer 
Washer and dryer units need special handling. It’s a good idea to consult the owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer before you disconnect and start preparing for your move. Remove all hoses and pack separately in a box or place them in the washer or driver cavity for safe keeping. For the washer, you’ll need to secure the drum so there isn’t any damage during the move. Again, consult the manual for thorough instructions or ask a professional for help.

Secure Cords
For all appliances, unplug each unit and secure the plug to the back using packing tape. Don’t let cords dangle or come loose.

Pack Up
For all appliances, if you choose, pack lightweight, unbreakable items in empty caverns, such as in the refrigerator crisper or the oven. Blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, chair cushions or clothing can be stored and moved this way. Simply protect the items by wrapping them in a plastic garbage bag before you use them to stuff into empty spaces.

Tape all Doors and Lids Shut
Make sure all doors, cords, extra nuts or screws are taped and secured before moving.

Get Rid of Carpet Stains

get-rid-of-carpet-stains

If company’s coming and your carpet is looking a little worse for wear, here are six easy steps you can take to remove telltale stains and restore its appearance.

1. Mix up a solution of 1/4 teaspoon plain dishwashing liquid and one cup warm water in a spray bottle. Make sure the detergent you select doesn’t contain any skin-moisturizing ingredients, as they can cause additional staining. Fill another spray bottle with clear cool water for rinsing.

2. Lightly spritz the stain with the detergent solution. By using a spray bottle rather than just pouring on the solution, you keep the carpet, the backing, the padding, and even the floor underneath from becoming saturated and damaged. Remember, a little goes a long way so only give it a squirt or two at a time.

3. Gently blot the stain with a clean cloth or paper towel, turning it to a clean area as it absorbs the stain. For stains that are set deep into the carpet, work the cleaner into the fibers with your fingers, but don’t aggressively rub the stain or you’ll distort and untwist the pile and cause the stain to spread. Continue spraying and blotting until the stain is gone or no longer comes up into your towel.

4. Spritz the carpet with the clear water to rinse, then blot with a clean, dry towel until all traces of the soap mixture are removed. Leftover soap only attracts more soil, so it’s important to completely rinse and blot it out.

5. Place a stack of three or four clean, dry paper towels on top of the wet carpet and weigh them down with a heavy vase or stockpot. Leave it overnight so any residual stain will wick from the carpet to the paper towels. Omit this step and the stain will just reappear the next day as the carpet dries.

6. Toss the towels, then fluff the carpet fibers with your fingers. Let the area air dry and admire!

If your entire carpet needs a cleaning, check out which machines to buy or rent did best in our tests.

Get Organized Month

get-organized-monthAre you organized? It’s an important question. There are many ways to being organized, but some of us certainly have better organizational skills than others. A bit of organization can make even the most chaotic of spaces relatively manageable. Sometimes being organized is actually a safety issue. Think about the job of a safety issue. Think about the job of a surgeon – if something were misplaced, that could be a serious problem. Not everyone finds themselves in such high-pressure situations, but anyone could use a bit of organization in their life. After all, when was the last time that you spent an hour looking for something in the closet and had to dig through the mess only to have to put it all back? Some of us even keep bedrooms where the floor itself Is an obstacle course to navigate around. Still, others keep their cars in such disarray with a collection of fast-food containers and cups haphazardly thrown in the back along with all of their candy wrappers. Yeah, we’re sure that you’re award of just how bad it can get.

How to Celebrate the Month
We suggest that you take the whole month to truly consider whether you’re organized and the things that you should focus on. Perhaps you keep both your personal and work spaces perfectly tidy. Nevertheless, forget dates; take note of them so you don’t forget. Perhaps you have cupboards and drawers at home that you can’t even close because there’s so much random stuff just crammed inside. Even then, take the time to take everything out and figure out its rightful place. Don’t sweat it because you have a whole month to organize everything. Perhaps there’s just too much clutter and disorganization at work. If so, do what you can to remedy that. If you’ve got kids, this is a good time to tach them why it’s important not to keep their room a mess and then help them clean it up. There are also various tools that you can employ to help you stay organized, everything from apps to professional organizers to old-fashioned label makers. This month is the perfect time to think about investing in those things.

Winterizing Your Plumbing

02Freezing temperatures can destroy your plumbing system from the inside out. Extremely low temperatures can freeze sitting water in your pipes, causing the water to expand. If it expands just enough, your pipes will burst, causing extensive damage. Fortunately there are several different ways you can prepare for cold weather and winterize your pipes to prevent them from bursting.

Fix All Existing Plumbing Leaks
Even the tiniest of leaks can be a huge problem when temperatures fall below freezing. Examine all your piping, indoors and outdoors, for any plumbing leaks before temperatures drop. Preventing leaks before they happen can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars on repairs before the winter season arrives.

Insulate Your Pipes
Any pipes that are exposed to open air can be protected by applying insulation. If you can see it, it needs to be wrapped in plumbing insulation foam (this includes pumps in pump houses as well). Insulation is relatively inexpensive and easy to apply and install.

Insulation keeps your pipes from freezing by retaining warm air. Not only will it protect your pipes but it will also save you money on heating costs. Plumbing insulation is highly effective and is one of the best methods plumbing experts recommend when it comes to preparing your pipes for winter.

Keep Your Thermostat at a Reasonably Warm Temperature
People going on trips during the winter season try to keep their thermostats low to keep their heating bills to a minimum while they aren’t there, but this can put pipes at risk of freezing. Water freezes at 32 degrees so it’s important to keep your home at a temperature that will keep them above 32 degrees.

A common theory is that the inside of your home is naturally a few degrees higher than the current temperature outside. If it’s 32 degrees outside, then your home will be about 37-38 degrees on the inside with heating unaccounted for. However, temperatures can plummet at night, so keep an eye on the expected lows and plan accordingly.

Take into account the average overnight temperatures of your area over the last few years. This can give you an accurate assessment on what temperature to set your heating at so you can save on energy bills while also keeping your home warm enough to prevent your pipes from freezing.

Flush Your Sprinkler System
Irrigation pipes are a likely place for water to collect and freeze during cold weather. To effectively winterize your sprinkler system, turn off your water and flush any standing or collected water by ensuring you turn each individual valve connected to the sprinkler system.

If you’re going on vacation or an extended trip, it’s best to flush your sprinkler and water system before leaving. After, your pipes will be full of air which will prevent damage caused by expanding frozen water.

Let Your Faucet Drip
It may sound counterproductive, but letting your faucet drip can help alleviate the pressure built up within frozen pipes. Opening a faucet provides relief by alleviating the pressure that builds between the faucet and the ice blockage when freezing occurs.

Dripping faucets can be a serious waste of water so it’s advised that this tactic is only used with pipes that are vulnerable or are not insulated. However, even the slightest drip at normal pressure can provide much needed relief to stressed pipes without wasting excessive amounts of water.

Seal Off Crawl Spaces and Exterior Cracks
Reducing the amount of cold air that reaches your home’s interior pipes plays a vital role in keeping them from freezing. Covering your vents with cardboard, sealing off crawl spaces and filling in holes and cracks with spray foam insulation and caulking can prevent cold air from seeping into your home. Window cracks and missing insulation around your garage and utility doors should also be fixed to not just prevent cold air from seeping in but to retain warm air within your home.

Follow these steps and you will have done a fairly good amount towards winterizing your home plumbing. For more information, contact a professional.

Furnace Inspection

01Although living in the Seattle area can be beautiful many parts of the year, we all know how important it is to have a properly functioning heating system in your home once those crisp, wet winters roll around.

Imagine not having heat during the coldest part of winter, only because you forgot about or put off having your heating system checked out.

A simple furnace inspection and check-up is often all it takes to ensure you and your family stay warm all winter long and you don’t have any unexpected issues arise with your HVAC system.

Most furnace manufacturers and HVAC companies recommend having your furnace inspected annually. Some people may think this is just a ploy to help their dealers make money, but it’s not just manufacturers and industry groups who suggest annual inspections. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency also suggests checking your furnace before cold weather arrives.

Proper inspection by a qualified heating technician should include:

  • Vent system checked for blockages and leaks
  • Combustion gases analyzed and compared to unit specifications
  • Blower access door checked to ensure it makes a tight seal at the furnace
  • Fresh air intake grills and louvers checked for blockages
  • Heat exchanger inspected for corrosion and rust
  • Burners checked for proper ignition, flame sense and burner flame
  • Drainage system checked for blockages and leakages
  • Blower wheel checked for debris and cleaned if necessary
  • Amp-draw test conducted on the blower motor
  • Wiring checked for corrosion and damage
  • Filters checked (should be done more often than annually)

Preparing your heating system for winter is not only about safety. It’s also about preventative maintenance and being prepared for the coldest time of the year. Don’t wait until it gets too cold outside to start making sure your heating system is in proper working order.