Things to Know Before Lighting the First Fire of the Season

With natural gas and propane prices continuing to rise, you’ll likely be looking to the old fireplace this winter to help cut your home-heating bills. But before you spark up the logs, take note that fireplaces and chimneys are involved in 42 percent of all home-heating fires. So first make sure you know how to use your fireplace by following these seven safety tips.

Hire a Chimney Sweep

The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys be swept at least once a year at the beginning of the winter to remove soot and debris. Find a certified sweep in your area via the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

Check for Damage

In addition to cleaning, a chimney sweep should inspect the chimney structure for cracks, loose bricks, or missing mortar. Chimney liners should also be checked for cracking or deterioration.

Cap the Chimney

A cap fitted with wire-mesh sides covers the top of the chimney and keeps rain, birds, squirrels, and debris from entering. Replace or repair a cap that’s missing or damaged.

Burn Seasoned Hardwoods

Choose dense wood, such as oak, that’s been split and stored in a high and dry place for at least six months. Green wood and resinous softwoods like pine produce more creosote, a flammable by-product of combustion that can build up in the chimney.

Don’t Overload

Small fires generate less smoke, thus less creosote buildup. Also, a fire that’s too large or too hot can crack the chimney.

Build It Right

Place logs at the rear of the fireplace on a metal grate. Use kindling, rather than flammable liquids, to start the fire.

Use a Spark Guard

Prevent errant embers from shooting out of the firebox with a mesh metal screen or glass fireplace doors. A guard in front of an open flame is especially important when the room is unoccupied.

Actions to Take When You Have Water Damage in Your Mobile Home

Water damage in a mobile home is a horrible experience financially and personally when trying to deal with it. Along with personal items and collectibles that may have been lost, structural repairs caused by water damage can be costly and time consuming to fix. While prevention is always the best action to take, it’s not always controllable. There are some things you can do after the fact to repair water damage in your mobile home.

Call your agent

If you have Mobile home coverage or even renter insurance, contact your insurance company before taking any action for water damage in your home. Depending on the cause of water damage, your coverage can help with home repairs or reimburse you for damaged or lost assets. Your agent will also provide advice for cleaning procedures that will not interfere with the investigations of any claim. If the damage is extensive, take photos for your personal reference.

Protect your valuables

Move personal and valuable items from the area with water damage. Immediately set clothes, furniture, fabrics and books out to dry. Use fans and dehumidifiers to speed up the drying process. If the water damage was recent, you should not have any issues drying your valuables and your protection; however, if your water has been sitting for a week or more, many of your items may be contaminated with mold spores and should be discarded if they are unable to be thoroughly cleaned. Do not use bleach or harmful chemicals to clean any organic material. Check with your agent or your local security department for safe chemicals and cleaning procedures.

Water Removal

Removing excess water is vital to restore space within your mobile home. Consider hiring a licensed professional to deal with water as well as killing any growth of mold that has produced due to the water damage. Put soggy or moldy materials in sturdy plastic trash bags to avoid contaminating the rest of the house as you haul it away. Start by pulling up the carpet and removing the waterlogged pad underneath. Remove damaged plaster and insulation. Do not attempt to reinstall old materials; instead, buy new items. Move furniture outside if possible and separate cushions and covers to allow maximum drying. Using a shop vac on the carpet is the easiest way to remove excess water from carpets and furniture. Never use the vacuum cleaner,

Repairs and restoration

It is important that each item is completely dry before proceeding with the restoration process. If the materials are still a bit wet, you will end up with a large mold colony that will result in costly repairs and cleaning. Install new insulation, drywall and carpet padding. Consider having your carpet professionally cleaned to prevent mold growth before reinstalling it. Perform regular maintenance and repairs quickly to avoid future water problems.

Displaying Plants on Shelves

Plants can add color and interest to an area, but sometimes finding ways to display them is a challenge. A bookcase, especially one that is open on both sides to allow light to filter through, is the perfect perch for your plants. Not only does it give the plants a place to rest, but can also give a new purpose to a piece of furniture that is traditionally used for books.

Instructions

  1. Install grabs bars below each shelf and add fluorescent light to provide light for flowering plants, such as African violets, if the bookcase is located away from natural light. Leave the lights on six to eight hours per day.
  2. Place a pot on the ground on top of a shelf and let the vines and leaves hang down on the sides or in front. Ivy for example can survive in poor light, but light will produce more variation in the leaves.
  3. Place a plant with low light requirements, like a Chinese evergreen, at the end of a row of books in the bookcase to add color and interest.
  4. Place different types of potted plants, flowering or not, a new open library as a way to add a decorative look to either side of a room. Add decorations, interesting rocks or shells to the shelves to make it more decorative.

Tips & Warnings

  • Experiment with different placement of plants in the bookcase to determine which is more appealing to you.
  • Do not place a bookcase made of wood or fiber finishing off because they could damage the elements. Use a metal shelf for external purposes.

Unclogging a Shower Drain in an RV

A clogged drain can be caused by hair, small objects or even paper. Strong chemicals can damage RV pipes, so it is best to try to unclog the drain manually first. If that does not work, a simple solution of vinegar and baking soda should do the trick.

Instructions

  1. Pour 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup of baking soda down the shower drain and cover the drain with a glass baking dish for at least two hours (recommended during the night) . This mixture should loosen the obstruction. Rinse the shower drain with hot water after the elapsed time to determine if the blockage is still present. If it is still there, move on to the next stage.
  2. Remove the drain by prying it out of place with a Phillips screwdriver. Use a flashlight to determine if there are any accessible obstructions (i.e., hair balls) that can be reached with a wire. If the obstruction can be seen, use the cable to pry it out of place and bring it to the surface.
  3. Rub Vaseline around the edges of the plunger and place it around the shower drain. Vaseline acts as an adhesive and ensures that the plunger will have maximum suction. Push down and pull the plunger up for approximately 15 to 20 minutes to try to bring the blockage to the surface. If the obstruction does not come immediately to the surface, try to place a cable to the obstruction and pull it through the top of the leak.

How to Paint Metal Chains

If you’re planning to paint a metal chain, you have to take into account two important factors. First, the metal surfaces are nonporous, the paint will not adhere to them until they have been treated with a type specific primer abrasive. Furthermore, due to the interlocking chains, the surface paint is under constant pressure because the metal components rub against each other. You’ll have to select a type of resistant paint or finish will wear out quickly.

Instructions

  1. Put the chain on a concrete surface.
  2. Clean the metal chain with pressurized water. Let it dry completely.
  3. Place it on a high strength cloth or piece of cardboard. Apply a very thin layer of primer to the chain. It is painstaking work to ensure that all metal is covered. Move the chain to expose all surfaces.
  4. Let dry for 1 hour, turn the chain over and apply the primer on the other side. Let dry for 4 hours.
  5. Apply two coats of metal spray paint to the chain in the same way as you did before. Allow for 2 hours drying time between coats.

Tips & Warnings

  • For durability, apply a light transparent metal layer to help protect the finish.
  • If you want to paint a small chain like jewelry, do not use etching primer. Instead, fill a bowl with 1 cup of metal paint and dilute it with 1 oz. of water. Soak the chain in diluted paint for 20 minutes. Place the chain on paper towels to dry and repeat this process until the chain is the desired color.

How to Use Plumber’s Putty in Drains

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How to use plumber’s putty in bathroom drains

 

Plumber’s putty is moldable and is used to seal the joints of pipes to prevent water leaks. Bathroom and kitchen sink drains are commonly sealed with plumber’s putty. When used properly, plumber’s putty provides an airtight seal that will remain leak-free for many years. Plumber’s putty is either oil or water based. Water-based balms are designed for use in materials that are stained if oil-based putty is used. If you are not sure of the composition of your sink, it is best to use water-based putty to avoid unwanted stains.

Instructions

  1. Clean the built-in area of ​​the kitchen or bathroom sink with the mastic knife to remove large debris that may interfere with the application of the plumber’s putty.
  2. Spray an ammonia-based cleaner around the base of the sink, and leave the cleaner to soak for a minute.
  3. Clean the recessed area of ​​the sink with a clean cloth. Use additional rags, if necessary, to ensure that the bottom of the drain is completely dry.
  4. Remove a piece of plumber’s putty the size of a coin from its container, and roll the plumber’s putty between your hands to form a rope that is 1/4 inch (0.65 cm) in diameter and about 5 inches (7.5 cm) in length.
  5. Place the plumber’s putty rope around the drain opening on the bottom of the sink. Once you have formed a circle of plumber putty, remove the excess rope that extends beyond the point where you started to put the rope of putty.
  6. Slide the sink drain into the opening at the bottom of the sink, surrounded by plumber’s putty, and install the sink drain as specified by the manufacturer. Squeeze the sink drain with a socket wrench to place it in the sink.
  7. Pass a 2 inch (5 cm) wide knife around the edge of the drain stack to cut out the putty that protrudes from below the sink drain.
  8. Replace excess plumber’s putty in the putty container for later use.
  9. Fill the sink with water after connecting the sink drain to the pipe to check for leaks. If a leak is observed, remove the drain from the sink, scrape the plumber’s putty from the drain, and re-apply putty as described in the previous steps.

5 Golden Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Your home is the place where you feel safe, however, we often overlook an important security element: air quality. Contaminated air in the house affects your mood and even your health. And in our hyper-insulated houses that bad air cannot escape. The question therefore arises: how do you improve the air quality at home?

A determining factor for indoor air quality: moisture

Cooking, sweating, taking a warm bath or taking a steamy shower: these all increase the humidity in the house. You can measure them with a hygrometer. Too high humidity is the ideal breeding ground for bacteria, fungi and even house fungus. Too dry air in the house has an effect on your breathing and sometimes causes headaches.

Prevention is better than cure

You would rather lose chemicals than rich ones. Some chemicals in cleaning products, paint or fragrant air fresheners remain suspended in the air. Carbon monoxide, fine dust and allergens such as pollen float around your home. These inevitably arise from poorly maintained appliances, traffic, plants and trees. Number one on the list of causes is tobacco smoke. So know what is bad for you, and if necessary, change your habits.

Temporary measures

Opening your window is the classic trick for quick ventilation. With 2 open windows you create an airflow through your house (‘draft’). Make no mistake: you move air, but hardly improve air humidity or air quality. The risk of fungi growing in small corners remains large. Make it a habit to air your bedroom and bathroom for a short time every day.

Sustainable, green decisions

Plants in the house are beautiful and some plants purify air, although you cannot overestimate the strength of our green friends. Go for green technology: a new heating boiler is more economical, more efficient and ensures less emissions in the home.

Regularly check the air quality at home

Measuring air quality is specialist work. What you can do:  maintain your devices properly. Clean and replace filters in your hood, dust fans on the inside and outside, have your boiler checked by a specialist in time. Investments on good appliances only pay if these devices function optimally.

Choose structural solutions

Connect air purification to optimum humidity with an air cleaner. This drastically reduces the negative effects of bad indoor air and you remove disturbing factors such as bad odors, bacteria and pollen. With sophisticated technology and combined filters, an air purifier keeps your indoor climate livable.

Preventing Plumbing Issues in Your Home

Damage to personal property as a result of a plumbing-related incident can be covered by your homeowners or renters insurance, but the repair cost of the pipeline that caused the damage is very likely not covered by the insurance. Proper maintenance of drains and other plumbing features can help prevent plumbing problems in the home.

Instructions

  1. Control what happens in the plumbing drain. Cooking fat can solidify and clog drains. Keep the drain cover in place to prevent food debris, jewelry and other small objects from going down the drain and ending in the drain elbow (aptly named a drain trap) where hair and other debris cling together, causing an obstruction.
  2. Pour a cleaner or a pot of boiling water down a slow drain to deactivate it before the drain becomes completely clogged by drainage based on chemicals.
  3. Check the hoses of the washing machine. Old, cracked hoses must be replaced and loose connections must be tightened.
  4. Shut off the flow of water to outdoor spickets before winter arrives in cold weather regions. This is usually done from the basement or crawl space. Interrupting the flow of water can prevent bursting pipes caused by water in the lines that are prone to freezing. In addition, garden hoses must be disconnected from the spicket.
  5. Install the washing machine in an overflow tray to direct possible overflow to a drain.
  6. Leave the heat on when you are away from the house for a long time in the winter. You can lower the temperature but leave the kitchen doors and the vanity cabinet open so that the heat can reach the pipes to prevent freezing.
  7. Wrap exposed pipes in the garage, crawl space or basement with pipe insulation. Not only will this help prevent pipes from bursting in cold weather, insulated pipes will reduce the energy needed to heat water for use.
  8. Place water heaters in a tray that will direct possible leaks to a drain.
  9. Only put toilet paper and bodily waste down the toilet. Do not flush diapers or feminine products in the toilet.
  10. Leaks should be investigated and repaired immediately before they become major problems.
  11. Keep the emergency overflow in the bathtub open. Do not plug the overflow to increase the amount of water that the tub will hold. Overflow may occur.
  12. Find out where the main shutoff valve of the water is from the street in casea pipe breaks, you can cut off the water.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep a plunger useful for dealing with toilet or sink clogs.
  • Chemical drain cleaners are dangerous. Read labels carefully. Keep out of reach of children and pets.

Five Ways to Improve Air Quality in Your Home

Go natural for household products

Conventional cleaning products are filled with toxic ingredients and endocrine disruptors. While we think they’ve done well by polishing every corner of the house, they leave harmful particles in the air that can harm our health. To avoid this, choose home-made or products with a minimal number of ingredients: baking soda, vinegar and lemon are your best allies!

Adopt depolluting plants for better air quality

Although the term “depolluting plant” is now debated within the scientific community, green plants are no less interesting for breathing in the interior spaces. We choose plants according to their aesthetics but also our ability to take care of them: Monster and Kallithea for those who have a true green thumb, Clorophytum and Areca for individuals who don’t need to be on an exact schedule for watering their plants or Cactus and succulent for distracted people who forget to water. Good vibrations guaranteed.

Spread cleansing essential oils

Essential oils have real concentrated benefits. They fight bacteria, purify and disinfect the air while leaving a pleasant scent. They are sprayed early in the morning to give a boost to the rooms or throughout the day in living rooms. If you’re just starting out, opt for classics like Ravensara or eucalyptus. For a double effect, take a look at citrus: in addition to being cleansed, essential oils of lemon or grapefruit boost our mood and our energy. Be sure to use essential oils with moderation and caution (many are not recommended in the presence of children or pregnant women).

Beware of volatile components in the decor

Plastics, paints, glues, varnishes, solvents and agglomerated panels contain in varying proportions volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which, when they accumulate in the air, are harmful to our health. Make sure that the brands you buy meet the environmental standards of manufacturing or favor second-hand purchases. Also, be sure to air the house every day, especially if it is new or recently renovated.

Ventilate the house every day

This is the most effective advice and the easiest to implement: open the windows one or more times a day to renew the air of the interior. Modern building materials allow such insulation that the exchange of air between indoor and outdoor is no longer as natural as it was a few years ago. Air quality is synonymous with quality of life and this simple gesture of everyday life can on its own improve the quality of the air you breathe at home.

Actions to Take For Water Damage in a Mobile Home

Water damage in a mobile home is an horrible experience financially and personally try to deal with. Along with personal items and collectibles that may have been lost, structural repairs caused by water damage can be costly and time consuming to fix. While prevention is always the best action to take, not all cases are controllable. There are some things you can do after the fact to repair water damage in your mobile home.

Call your agent

If you have Mobile home coverage or even renter insurance, contact your insurance company before taking any action for water damage in your home. Depending on the cause of water damage, your coverage can help with home repairs or refund of damaged or lost assets. Your agent will also provide advice for cleaning procedures that will not interfere with the investigations of any claim. If the damage is extensive, take photos for your personal reference.

Protect your valuables

Move personal and valuable items from the area with water damage. Immediately set clothes, furniture, fabrics and books out to dry. Use fans and dehumidifiers to speed up the drying process. If the water damage was recent, you should not have any issues drying your valuables and your protection; however, if your water has been sitting for a week or more, many of your items may be contaminated with mold spores and should be discarded if they are unable to be thoroughly cleaned. Do not use bleach or harmful chemicals to clean any organic material. Check with your agent or your local security department for safe chemicals and cleaning procedures.

Water Removal

Removing excess water is vital to restore space within your mobile home. Consider hiring a licensed professional to deal with water as well as killing any growth of mold that has produced due to the water damage. Put soggy or moldy materials in sturdy plastic trash bags to avoid contaminating the rest of the house as you haul it away. Start by pulling up the carpet and removing the waterlogged pad underneath. Remove damaged plaster and insulation. Do not attempt to reinstall old materials; instead, buy new items. Move furniture outside if possible and separate cushions and covers to allow maximum drying. Using a shop vac on the carpet is the easiest way to remove excess water from carpets and furniture. Never use the vacuum cleaner,

Repairs and restoration

It is important that each item is completely dry before proceeding with the restoration process. If the materials are still a bit wet, you will end up with a large mold colony that will result in costly repairs and cleaning. Install new insulation, drywall and carpet padding. Consider having your carpet professionally cleaned to prevent mold growth before reinstalling it. As everything is dry, repairs must move smoothly and can return to a normal state of life. Perform regular maintenance and repairs quickly to avoid future water problems.