Five Tips to Avoid Plumbing Problems

Who has not washed dishes with scraps of food in the kitchen sink and let the remains go down the drain? Generally, without paying attention, we do behaviors like this and believe that the pipes of our home will never be affected.

Here are five tips to keep the plumbing in good condition, and if possible, avoid calling the plumber.


We have the mistaken belief that everything we throw into the toilet will go down the drain. That’s why we throw away remains of cotton, toilet paper and all kinds of disposable items. The truth is that sometimes these do not go and obstruct the passage of water.

The ideal is to have a trash can in the bathroom, to throw the corresponding waste there.


You have to be especially careful when washing dishes, or cutting vegetables, that garbage does not go down the drain. Food debris tends to accumulate and clog the pipes, causing an unpleasant odor. For this reason it is advisable to make sure to clean the dishes of food remains so that they do not seep through the drain. Another possible solution is to install a strainer, so that larger pieces do not cause problems.


Under no circumstances should you throw fat down the drain. Fat sticks to the walls of the drain and small bits of food that pass when we wash the dishes stick together. It is recommended that once a week we throw a pot of boiling water down the drain to facilitate the dissolution of the fat.


If you have a hanging rack in the shower where you put the creams and soaps, it is better that you think about removing it. The weight of these contributes to the showerhead loosening, causing leaks.

Clean the plugs regularly

Once a week, remove all the plugs from the drains you have and clean them deeply. It is the main place where loose hair accumulates with bits of soap and clogs drains.

Creating Wood Grain Finish on White Paint

Projects that create faux finishes are usually fun, but sometimes can become a challenge. The key to achieving quality work is to be bold enough to try to create it yourself. When it comes to reproducing wood grain, it is best to apply all the colors in a single layer. In this way, the colors are mixed effectively, creating the sensation of the layers that make up real wood. To achieve the desired effect, begin working with a sample of authentic wood as a guide. Surely you can find excellent examples of various types of grain in samples you would get to pick out wood stain. If you want to reproduce the wood grain on a layer of white paint, choose a bleached oak or pine sample.


  1. Prepare a test piece by applying a layer of the same color of the surface and a translucent white paint using a piece of material similar to what you will cover with the finish. You can use a wooden board 12 inches (30 cm) long and at least six inches (15 cm) wide. Apply the paint with a brush using long, straight strokes along the grain. Let dry completely.
  2. Pour a small amount of white paint, light gray and black on a tray. Preferably use semi-gloss latex paints for interiors. Such formulas better adhere to most surfaces and are easy to work and clean, plus they do not emit toxic gases.
  3. Dip the end of a ½ inch diameter “sash” type soft-bristled brush tip in a bucket or pail of water. Drag the bristles through the edge of the container to squeeze the water until it stops dripping. Load the brush to about one inch (2.5 cm) from the tip end with white paint. Submerge only the end in the gray paint and only the tip of the brush in the black color.
  4. Work in long, straight movements when applying paint to the surface, pressing the brush slightly to make the stroke of the three colors. Drag the brush back along the same path, so you paint back and forth. Applying paint in sections, one at a time, more or less the size of your test piece.
  5. Retrace the section, adding the colors that are not as pronounced. Gray and black should be seen as blurred streaks or lines. Check your wood sample to see if you combine and experiment more with the mixture to obtain a design that you’re happy with.
  6. Use a fine artist brush to paint the lines of the grain with gray and some black. Mimic the lines in the wood sample you have chosen and add some curves. Create areas where the vein becomes darker and add a thin white line along the edge to highlight it. This will help you create an effect of depth and shading.
  7. Go over the dry surface from front to back, with a clean brush. You can rinse the brush tip and use it in this step or work with a wider one. This improves the effect of the grain. The aim is to give the impression of natural wood without knowing it’s actually is a paint job.
  8. Continue to improve the grain, giving reflections on the surface, always trying to work in the right direction. If you’re going to paint a piece of furniture or a detail like molding, make sure the lines are alternated in the same way as they would on a piece of real wood. For example, if the lines of the grain in an authentic piece or your sample have an angle of 90 degrees in a corner, try to paint the piece perpendicular to piece painted earlier.

A Guide to Maintaining Your Chimney

There’s definite appeal to having a traditional, wood-burning fireplace in your living room. It can especially enhance the classy feel of your home if it already has an array of visually pleasing features. However, you can’t have a fireplace without a chimney, which will call for a very particular and stringent maintenance regime. Don’t let your chimney go up in smoke!

Keep it clean – the chimney, that is

Both your fireplace and chimney should be regularly cleaned to ensure that problems – including life-threatening ones – don’t arise. You should, for example, clear the fireplace of ashes – as advised by DIY Network – and use soapy water and a stiff wire brush to remove soot and stains from the firebox.

A very good reason to keep chimneys clean is that soot, creosote and organic matter that gathers in the chimney flue could lead to a chimney fire. Once a fire of that kind starts, the flames can speedily spread to elsewhere in the building.

It would be possible for you to personally clean your own chimney; however, there are some warnings to observe before you go ahead. Firstly, you would need particular tools and materials. You should also follow other precautions detailed by Fix. All the while, keep in mind that self-sweeping should only augment, not replace, a regular cleaning available from a certified technician.

A case of “prevention is better than cure”

It’s worth emphasizing that many chimney maintenance jobs should be carried out strictly by professionals. However, there are still some ways in which you can personally check your chimney. Those include verifying that the chimney cap remains in good condition.

Another problem with a chimney cap is that leaves and other debris can gather inside; however, a wire screen can prevent this from occurring. It would also stop animals from entering the chimney, in which birds might build nests should the chimney not be in frequent use.

You might still be unsure how you could check the chimney stack yourself without putting yourself in danger. However, a professional chimney company will take the appropriate health and safety procedures applicable for assessing a chimney’s condition.

What if the chimney is already damaged?

It’s not out of the question that your chimney might have incurred damage for which repairs would be recommended. For example, roofing materials and flashing close to your chimney may have become warped or distended. The flashing should have a watertight seal. There might also be damage to the stack brickwork, such as cracking or flaking in the mortar between the bricks.

Preparing an Emergency Food Supply

Setting aside a stash of food is a great way to be prepared for emergencies. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends storing enough food and drink for three days, but survival experts often recommend that you set aside enough provisions to last a week so you’re prepared for the worst possible situation. Focus on food that provides a balance of nutrients that can last a long time and occupies as little space as possible.



  1. Find a cool, dry, dark area for your emergency pantry. Basements are great choices as well as large closets and garages.
  2. Measure and record the exact size of your storage space. Before you can decide what to store, you must be realistic and determine exactly how much space you have to devote to food storage.
  3. Arrange the space for easy access. Plan where the water bottles will go and boxes or bins will be put. Install shelves if necessary.


  1. Water is the thing only necessary drink you need.
  2. Store the water first. The human body can survive for weeks without food, but only a few days without water. FEMA recommends aside one gallon per person per day. This is a lot of space to keep in mind if you are going to create a long-term reserve. Also set aside purification tablets, a gallon of bleach or a portable water purifier, like those used by backpackers.
  3. Stored carbohydrates. At the time of a crisis, you will recover most of your calories through carbohydrates such as grains, pasta and rice. Store carbohydrates in large quantities as they should make up 50 to 60% of the foods you keep in your warehouse.
  4. Store canned meat and beans because they are excellent sources of protein with lasting flavor. Protein bars are also a useful source of protein and other dietary needs. Proteins should assume about 25% of the stored food.
  5. Supplement with dehydrated milk, powdered eggs, dried fruit and vegetables, prepared foods or dehydrated food. All are ideal long items to save space. Include dried beans to the extent permitted by the space, occupying less than canned, but the downside is you have to use water for cooking.
  6. Set aside salt, pepper, garlic powder and sugar or sweetener as a replacement for it. Add your favorite spices. Tasteless food can be demoralizing. Also include olive oil or sunflower oil to add flavor.
  7. Put in a box tools and basic utensils to prepare food, and store them with emergency food supplies. Make sure you have a can opener, eating utensils and a cup. Also stores a gel fuel stove or butane fuel reinforcements.


  1. Put water in a large plastic barrel with a pump, 5 gallon jugs, one-gallon jugs or individual bottles, whichever best suits the space you have available.
  2. Add the bags of rice, dried beans or packages of dried or vacuum-sealed food containers. Keep them safe from bugs and insects by putting them in metal containers with sealable lids.
  3. Organize cans and jars on shelves, lined by type and with labels facing forward for easy rotation.
  4. Switch out items regularly every time you buy more. This will prevent spoilage.

Tips & Warnings

  • Fully pre-cooked meals are available online and in supermarkets. They are more expensive than store staples but are simple, tasty and an “all-in-one” solution. They come canned, vacuum-packed and usually have an expiration date of more than a decade.
  • The food will not do much if you have the crucial medication for chronic conditions. Store small supplies of essential medicines next to your food supply for the long term, rotating them with new ones when you renew your prescriptions.
  • Do not store cans with large dents or deep near the opening. Dents may compromise the seal of the can, allowing the food to spoil.

Eight Tips to Save Energy at Home

Whether it is summer or winter, the energy consumption we make in homes does not stop. When it is not the heating it is the refrigeration system, the different appliances or the special occasions in which the house is filled with people. Therefore, we bring you some tips to save energy at home, useful for any time of the year.

Use energy-saving light bulbs

Low energy bulbs spend up to 80% less, last 8 times longer and reduce to a quarter of the heat generation by comparison with incandescent lamps. With these benefits it is worth investing in them despite the fact that their price is higher than the traditional ones.  In the long run you will be rewarded with the energy savings that their use implies.

Choose appliances class A or higher

When buying an appliance we must consider, apart from its aesthetics, the brand or style, its energy efficiency. With equal performance, a Class A appliance consumes 70% less energy than a Class G appliance.

Each degree in heating counts

Heating and domestic hot water production represent around 60% of the energy consumed in a home. Therefore, we must be aware that for every degree that we increase the temperature unnecessarily, it increases the energy consumption between 7% and 10%. The recommended temperature in the house in winter is between 69.8ºF and 73.4ºF, except in the bedrooms, which ranges between 66.2ºF and 69.4ºF.

In refrigeration each degree also counts. In summer, the recommended temperature is 77ºF inside homes. For all this, it is not energetically sustainable to be at home in August with a jacket or in December with short sleeves.

Improve the isolation of the house

Another very important point, and one that often goes unnoticed when we talk about saving energy is isolation. By placing weather-stripping on doors and windows we can avoid heat losses in winter and cold losses in summer. In this way we will make our home more comfortable. The Energy Foundation of the Community of Madrid (FENERCOM) in its guide on insulation, states that when there is not a good thermal insulation, the demand for energy is greater and, therefore, so is the expense.

Do not cover the radiators

It is not usual to pay attention to this point, but you should avoid placing objects in front of radiators such as furniture. In this way the heat will be distributed better, increasing comfort and avoiding the loss of energy that would occur if we put obstacles blocking it.

Ventilate 10 minutes

Both in winter and summer it is advisable to renew the air of the house once a day. Ten minutes is enough time to allow it to circulate and renew without excessive heat escaping in winter and cool in summer. It is always recommended to do it first thing in the morning, in winter before lighting the heating and in summer because the temperatures are cooler.

Bet on the dishwasher and the washing machine

The use of the dishwasher is up to 40% less water and 10% less energy than washing the dishes by hand. Of course, as with the washing machine, you should ensure that they are always full, to save the maximum possible energy.

All these tips to save energy are small changes in our day to day that will translate into great benefits for the environment and for our domestic economy.

Ideas for a Small, Cozy Living Space

When you are redecorating, one of the easiest ways to make a small living room feel more spacious is to add soft, pastel shades into your design scheme to keep the room warm and inviting.

Use stools as seats

The first thing you should never do if you have a small living room is cram in too much furniture. Instead, choose a sofa that’s proportional to the size of the space, and if you’re still in need of more seating, use stools. They’ll take up far less room than bulky armchairs, and can be easily maneuvered. If you like your living room cute and cozy, try clustering color-coordinated objects together – from pictures to cushions – to create a coherent look.

Make the most of natural light in the room by keeping window dressings simple. If you are lucky enough to have high ceilings, full-length curtains are a good choice as they’ll draw the eye upwards and create the illusion of space, even if the square footage in your living room is a bit meagre. Subtle stripe designs add to the feeling of extra depth. If you do choose curtains, make sure they can be swept away from the window for light or alternatively go for Roman or roller blinds.

Invest in multi-functional furniture

When it comes to small living rooms, multi-functional pieces of furniture are your friends. Pick a coffee table which doubles as a storage bin, allowing you to clear away any clutter at a moment’s notice. You could also invest in lidded stools, or even a sofa with storage under the seat. Add wall mirrors and furniture with reflective surfaces into your design scheme to maximize the amount of natural light in your living room to make it feel bigger and brighter.

Draw attention away from the door

Whether you have a country cottage or a studio flat, it can be tricky to create a relaxing bolt hole when your front door opens straight into your living room. Take the emphasis away from the entrance by creating a focal point with thoughtfully arranged seating. A cool neutral palette works beautifully with the rustic plasterwork and a roller blind can make the most of a recessed window to add extra square inches to the room.

Decorate vertically

Think about living room wallpaper designs to complement your living room. Take that décor up high when floor space is limited. A small corner of a brilliant white room can been transformed with a column of geometric pattern to pull the eye upwards to make the most of a high ceiling. The pattern can be echoed with a sheer voile on the window, allowing natural light to filter in for a clean and bright effect.

Pare it back with wood

Think about alternatives to traditional living room furniture. It’s still possible to have a cozy area for relaxing and reading with less space-greedy furnishings. Swap an upholstered armchair for a wooden rocker with cushions; and bookcases for slim line ladder-style shelving. Paint walls and accessories with subtle color.

Get creative with space

Before decorating or furnishing an awkwardly shaped living room, consider how best to optimize the space available. Think about an L-shaped sofa in a tight eaves space teamed with trunks that can function as coffee tables as well as handy storage. Make a dark room white to make the most of what little light there is.

Factor in textural pieces

Decorating with white on walls, ceiling and floor can leave a space feeling clinical and stark. Take the chill off a compact nook with a homely leather armchair, red floor lamp and woolen rug – all circled around a log-filled fireplace. A tactile cushion and soft throw in viridian green add a final designer touch.

Use lighting to your advantage

Mark out a living space with an overhanging pendant light and carefully positioned round coffee table. The two pieces work together to create a focal point around which you can sit a couple of chairs and add floor cushions or stools when guests visit. A selection of accessories and books can be displayed on industrial-style open shelving to create a relaxed feel without hiding the beautiful texture of a slate feature wall.

Show off interesting objects

Just because your living room is verging on the small side, it doesn’t mean that you should hide away all your favorite belongings in storage. If you have objects that are worthy of showing off then display them along an open shelf, above the sofa. This idea is great for when floor space is at a premium.

Warm up white

Give a white room heaps of character and personality by adorning it with artwork that you just can’t live without. A crisp, clear wall is a good backdrop for styling with colorful accessories and won’t make the space feel cluttered. Keep to a palette of one or two colors to keep the look consistent and cohesive.

Place your pattern to create a theme

Pattern can work as well in small living rooms as it does in large, but it pays to think carefully about where you put it. Wool fabrics are made for cozy country-style firesides, but keep checks, paisleys and floral confined to throws and cushions on sofas and armchairs, leaving walls for plain paint finishes. Add a natural flooring rug to bring the two sides of a room together.

Distract the eye with characterful furnishings

While banishing clutter might help a smaller living room feel more open, if you’re a fan of the cozy, lived-in look such a pared back scheme will do little for you. But small doesn’t have to mean bare and characterless. Try the classic combination of dark leather armchair and traditional fireplace – there’s nothing like it for creating a warm, cozy environment. Add much-loved items and accessories – in an interesting, character-filled scheme, no one will be thinking about how small the room is.

Make the most of the space under the stairs

Make the most of the unused space under the stairs by incorporating everything from storage to quirky accessories. If you have space issues in your small abode and need to make the most of every nook and cranny then turn to that nimble spot under the stairs into a warm and cozy living space.

Work with original features

Give architectural features a modern update with a fresh coat of paint and light retouching.  A black fireplace can be the focal point and add a sense of coziness along with a chunky sofa and rustic wooden coffee table. A wool rug can bring texture to the scheme and enhance the inviting feel of the room.

Maximize storage potential

Small living rooms need to be kept fresh and uncluttered with well-chosen storage. A great way to make a small living room feel larger is to keep it meticulously tidy and in order to do that, everything in the room needs to have its proper place. Floating shelves are perfect for small rooms because they can hold a lot of things on a wall or in alcoves, or choose fitted, floor-to-ceiling shelves and cupboards that make use of every inch of spare space.

Will you be incorporating any of these small living room ideas into your scheme? Make the most of a compact home with these clever room brightening and space-saving decorating tips for small rooms.

Tips for Putting Things in Storage

  • Use furniture drawers to store delicate items. Do not forget to label them as “fragile”. Bubble wrap and wrapping paper, are excellent for this purpose.
  • When packing toys or smaller objects, remember to completely fill the boxes, fill in the open spaces with newspaper to prevent the boxes from collapsing when stacked.
  • Do not to keep anything combustible, (such as paint and chemicals) or perishable (such as foods that are not sealed).
  • When storing lawn and garden equipment, drain any fluids before storage to prevent damage from corrosion.
  • Use trash cans to store shovels, hoes and rakes.
  • Always use high quality locks on your unit.
  • When storing delicate heirlooms, use such as boxes, clothing boxes, and use dehumidifiers to prevent mildew buildup. Remember to label these boxes with “fragile”.
  • Store furniture on cardboard or wooden platforms to help prevent moisture.
  • Mattresses should be covered and stored on flat surfaces.
  • Larger items, such as stoves or refrigerators, allow for additional space to store towels, blankets, etc.
  • Take off objects such as table legs to save space.
  • Use protective covers and treat wood surface before storing.
  • When storing business records and inventory, label all boxes and store them in rows so that they are easily accessible.

How to Replace and Clean a Tub Drain

There are times when you may find that you need to replace or clean out the tub drain. If you try to clean the tub drain first, you may be able to resolve any problems that may have caused it to not work in the first place, such as debris in the tub drain plug. If it still does not drain properly, you have to remove and completely replace the tub drain. Most replacements can be purchased at home improvement stores.

How to replace the tub drain
• Determine what type of bathtub you have – with or without a mounting lever. A lever-mounted drain means that you have the extra hand lever to plug and unplug the tub drain, mounted on top of your own drain.
• Turn the lever to open mode if you have a bathtub with the lever mounted drain. If not, go to the next step.
• Record the drain plug and turn it counterclockwise to unscrew it. Eventually it will come free, even if you have to rock it back and forth and move to pull it. A clogged drain may be harder to remove, but keep turning and lifting it.
• Clean the tub drain at this time if this is your definitive intention to solve your tub problem. If you have a spare drain tub, remove the container.
• Place the new (or clean) drain by replacing the plug and turning to screw in. Now your drain has been replaced.

How to clean out a tub drain
• Remove the drain tub according to the previous steps.
• Pull any loose residue from the drain plug. Tufts of hair and dirt can be easily removed with your fingers.
• Use a toothbrush and a bath cleaner to drain the bathtub thoroughly. Use a cleaner for rust spots and hard-to-clean areas.
• REINSTALL the clean drain tub by placing it in the drain hole and screwing it counterclockwise until it fits properly.

Removing Spray Paint from a Table

Spray paint coats surfaces evenly with water, oil or latex paint. The fact that spray paint has several bases makes it difficult to remove without damaging other finishes if you are not sure what type of paint was used. When removing spray paint from a table you must take into account the type of paint and the type of finish on the table, if it exists.


Method solvent

  1. Read the spray paint label to determine what the base is, if you can. Select the solvent considering the base paint: water-based paint is water, latex paint is alcohol and oil based is acetone.
  2. Look closely at the table to see what type of finish the surface is. Wood can be raw, stained or varnished. Plastic and glass are more resistant to solvents with less worry.
  3. Apply the appropriate solvent on a clean cloth and if there are no worries about the underlying table finish. If you are concerned about the finish, you use the scraping method to remove paint.
  4. Apply mineral oil on a rag and clean a section of the table where you have worry about the paint finish, such as wood. Mineral oil lubricates the wood and helps protect any finish.
  5. Place a cloth on the stain paint.
  6. Scrape the paint with a scraper. Be careful not to apply too much pressure to scratch or damage the finish of the table. Use a finger nail if you have big concerns.

Tips & Warnings

  • Clean paint accidents immediately to make the job easier.

Preventing Mold After Water Damage

If you’ve had any water damage to your home after a storm or flooding, you have roughly a 72-hour window to prevent the growth of mold. Mold that can be extremely hazardous to you and your family’s health. It’s highly important that you start the process of drying out your water damage or you could be left with repairs to your home that are even more time consuming then they already will be. Not to mention that mold can cause health issues like fever and difficulty breathing. Those with existing lung issues like Asthma are especially susceptible to these issues and should not be anywhere near mold.

If mold begins to grow, the process of getting your home and life back to normal must wait until all the mold is removed and your restoration company is given the OK to get started on the repairs.

Keep in mind that the process of drying out the water damage is not always straightforward and often what appears dry is not. Most moisture is often hidden in the walls and flooring, so it’s critical to identify and dry all the affected areas to prevent the growth of mold!

Can You Dry the Water Damage Yourself?

While you might think that you can dry out your water damaged areas yourself by using fans and wet-vans, we’ve found that most homeowners never fully dry out the water damaged areas. This is simply because they don’t have the proper tools to detect hidden pockets of mold-growing wet areas. Your best bet is to hire a professional to dry out your water damaged areas.

The cost to professionally dry your water damaged areas is almost always covered by insurance so it doesn’t cost you anything more to have a restoration company dry out your water damaged areas to speed up the time to getting life back to normal.

Can You Kill The Mold Yourself?

While some property owners will try to dry the area or spray bleach, the truth is that these methods often only spread the mold to other areas of the home. What’s worse, AC and heating systems can spread the spores throughout the home through the air.

So please do not try to kill the mold yourself. You can Google “How to kill mold” and find hundreds of ways to do that, but those methods are usually for surface area mold, NOT for water damaged area mold.

What to Do Until Help Arrives?

One big step that you can take to prevent mold from growing until help arrives is simply assessing and mitigating the damage as quickly as possible. Mitigating the loss is an insurance term in most policies that means you are responsible to do everything in your power to contain the damage.

When you are dealing with water damage and a potential mold problem, there are a few definitive do’s and don’ts to implement while you’re waiting for help to arrive.

  • Shut the water off.
  • Be sure to turn off all Air Conditioning units and heating systems. Excess coolness or heat can complicate the drying process.
  • Next, turn off all fans that you have running. These aren’t helping you dry the area like you think they are. In fact, they will often spread mold throughout the home quicker.
  • Pick up any personal items from the floor that would add to your loss.
  • Try to either move furniture out of the wet area or lift it up and put something under the legs such as a block of wood that will keep it out of the water.

Don’t throw anything away! If possible, take photos to document all your damage. This will be helpful if, and when, you file an insurance claim.