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Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 11/24/2017

Owning a home is expensive. Aside from your mortgage, you also have to pay for insurance, utilities, property taxes... the list goes on.

It may seem like there are few ways to cut back on the expenses of owning a home. However, one of the most effective things you can do to save money as a homeowner is to do your own maintenance. The cost of home repairs can add up, especially if you live in an older home or in an area where services like plumbers and electricians arenít accessible or affordable.

With a little research and some hard work, however, maintaining your home can be a source of pride and of saving yourself money.

In this article, weíll cover the basic home maintenance and home improvement knowledge that will save you money, and point you in the direction of some resources that will help you attain those skills.

Maintenance is key

To increase the longevity of appliances like refrigerators, washers and dryers, youíll need to perform some mundane tasks regularly. That includes cleaning filters, fans, and going online to order new ones when necessary. In the same way that failing to change your oil filter will result in a much more expensive issue, so will failing to properly maintain your appliances.

In a world where companies are making it increasingly difficult for consumers to repair their own devices, itís more important than ever to learn the basic skills needed to make simple repairs.

What you should do before repairing anything

There are some precautions you should take before repairing or maintaining things like appliances. First, always be sure the item is turned off and unplugged before working with its components.

Next, refer to the manual first, but if that fails, search for tutorials online such as on YouTube for your particular model. Always keep in mind that sometimes warranties are void if you attempt repairs yourself,  so make sure the repair youíre attempting is easy enough so that you donít risk losing your warranty.

The right tools for the job

It might be tempting to go down to The Home Depot and fill a cart with power tools when you buy your first home. Remember, however, that certain tools are more useful than others. Find out which tools youíll be using most often. Odds are theyíre simple, inexpensive hand tools that will fit in a small toolbox. Some power tools, such as a cordless drill, will probably be worth the investment as long as you take care of the batteries.

Donít throw out good materials

Ample storage space is a problem many homeowners face. But if you can spare the space, hold onto materials from previous projects that might come in handy. Some examples include:

  • Paint. You donít want to have to go back to the store and mix a new can of paint just for a touch-up.

  • Nails and screws that come with your purchases. Sometimes the screws are designed specifically for whatever youíre building. Save your backups so you donít have to buy a new bag if one is lost.

  • Wood. Having extra wood around can come in handy for any number of home improvement projects.




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Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 9/8/2017

Wait, when was the last time you cleaned that ? And how often are you supposed to wash that? Never have to ask yourself these questions again by creating a monthly chore calendar. Creating a chore calendar may seem like youíre taking your house cleaning duties a little too seriously, but by creating a regular cleaning schedule you will set yourself up for success. And youíll have a guaranteed cleaner home, and who doesnít want that? Monthly

  • Scrub grout in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Wash pillow and mattress protectors as well as duvet covers.
  • Discard any food in the†freezer that has become freezer burnt or is past its time.
  • Wax any wood floors your home may have.
  • Dust fans you have throughout your home. Donít forget to do this in the winter when they are not in use to avoid build-up.
  • Wipe down and disinfect light switch plates and door knobs.
  • Wipe down and disinfect your home phones and your familyís cell phones.
  • Flush drains. Try a natural solution by pouring baking soda down drains and allowing to sit overnight to deodorize. In the morning pour hot water down the drain to rinse the baking soda out and flush the drain.
  • Wipe down walls, doors and baseboards.
  • Check the fire alarms throughout your home and replace any batteries when necessary.
Weekly
  • Dust each room in your home.
  • Empty all trash bins throughout your home. Donít forget smaller, less used baskets like in your childís room or in the office.
  • Clean sinks, toilets, and bath of any soap scum or buildup.
  • Vacuum and mop the floors throughout your home.
  • Wipe down surfaces like tables and counters.
  • Clean mirrors and windows.
  • Wash sheets and pillowcases.
  • Sort through your mail and email inbox. Pay any upcoming bill and file paperwork as necessary.
  • Clean fridge out of any food that has gone past its expiration.
  • Wipe down appliances in the kitchen such as the microwave, stove, and toaster.
  • Wipe down and deodorize trashcans and recycling bins.
  • Put out fresh towels in your bathrooms and kitchen
Daily
  • Tidy up. Keep on top of clutter by putting items away when they are no longer in use.
  • Make the beds and if your children are old enough encourage them to make theirs.
  • Sort out mail. File and discard as necessary.
  • Clean up as you prepare meals to leave time to relax after dinner time instead of spending another hour in the kitchen.
  • Wipe up any spills as they happen to avoid having to use elbow grease to clean up later.
  • Sweep the kitchen floor and any other high traffic areas.
  • Throw in a load of laundry. If you have a large family make laundry more manageable by doing a load a day.
Keeping your home clean is hard work, there is no doubt about that, especially if you have a family. However, by creating a monthly chore calendar you can create a more manageable workload for yourself. With a little planning up front you can have a neat and tidy home you can sit back and truly enjoy!





Posted by Stacey West (NH/MA) on 4/1/2016

Life can be busy and tending to houselhold items can often times be overwhelming. Doing the little things will help prevent big problems later on. Here are five quick and easy fixes you can do around in your home in a just a few short hours. Do the Little Things Walk through your home and make a list of any broken electrical plates, locks that need lubrication, sinks or tubs that need caulk. Take a quick trip to the†home improvement store and get all of the items to finish up these little jobs. That way you can get it all done in one concerted effort. Rotate Your Mattress Flip, spin and vacuum your mattress. This helps keep your mattress lasting longer and may also help you catch some more Zzzz's. Clean One Closet Choose an easy one to clean at first and pick a day to do it in. Pull everything out and start from scratch. Make a pile of things to give away or donate. Things that are stained or torn can be used for rags. If you haven't used it in the last year get rid of it. Conduct an Energy Audit It would be great to see if you could save money on your utility bills. Call the utility company and ask for an energy audit. They will make recommendations to help you improve the efficiency of your home. Clean the Dryer Vent To achieve maximum energy efficiency and to prevent a fire hazard clean the dryer †vent twice a year. Remove the tube that attaches to the machine and clear out the lint. Don't forget to clean the outside vent, too. It is the little things that add up, so keeping the easy tasks under control will have you more prepared to tackle a bigger task. What are some quick and easy things you do to keep your home working smoothly?







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