Home Maintenance for People with Better Things to Do

Owning your own home shouldn’t mean an endless list of chores.

Weekends are meant for coaching a youth soccer team to victory, chopping your way through “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” or training for a 5K to help save the pandas — not working your way through a tedious, 30-item maintenance checklist. But then, taking care of the home you love is important, too.

So how do you have your fun and keep a well-maintained home?

It’s simple: Just be mindful of your home. You don’t need a rigid maintenance list. (They work best for Type A people anyway.) Instead, train your senses to warn you of these problems, and then act ASAP:

Your Dryer Seems Hotter Than Usual

If your clothes and your dryer are super, super hot or, conversely, your dryer is taking longer to dry, you could have a clogged lint vent, a leading cause of house fires. “Sometimes the dryer connection will wiggle loose going to the outside, causing all sorts of issues with lint,” says Jeff Devlin, licensed contractor and host of DIY Network’s “Stone House Revival and “I Hate My Bath.” Heat and packed lint make the perfect recipe for fire. To defuse that combination:

  • Pull out the dryer connection — this is the tube or pipe that connects the dryer to the window vent.
  • Suck out all the lint from the pipe and pipe connection with a vacuum attachment.
  • Re-attach, making sure it’s not loose or bent.

You can also hire a pro to do it.

You Smell Something Musty

Your nose knows what’s normal in your home. “If you go into a room and it smells musty, there’s something going on,” says Frank Lesh, executive director of American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). When you smell that mildew-y smell, you know you’ve got a problem, he says. What kind of problem? Read on.

You Can See Mold or Mildew

Mold and mildew are the banners for moisture, your home’s No. 1 enemy. If you see them, you know moisture has broken through your home’s defenses and is bringing reinforcements. Find out where the water source is and eradicate it ASAP. Moisture is like cancer to a home. If you don’t catch it early, it will eat away at your home’s very structure, causing major damage to its foundation, walls, floors, and ceilings.

You Spot a Water Stain

You get it now. Water = bad. So even a faint water stain should light a fire under you. Zero in on the source before moisture can settle into your home’s bones. A water stain on the ceiling could signal a leak in your roof, or if it’s under a bathroom it could be a pipe that’s leaking. Stain under a window? Your window may need caulking.

Your Drain Is Really Slow (and It Gurgles)

Showering in water up to your ankles defeats the purpose. “A clean drain is a healthy drain,” says Devlin. If your drain makes odd noises and takes foreeeeeeever, you could be at risk of a sewer backup, which is not only a moisture issue, but one that ranks high on the stinky scale. If you’re lucky, it could be a simple clog, but either way it might be a good idea to put your plumber’s number in your cellphone’s favorites list.

You Hear Something That’s Alive

The pitter-patter of tiny rodent footsteps is enough to send shivers down your spine — and can quickly multiply into a mini stampede. One couple found out the hard way.

“We found that a squirrel had taken up residence in the attic and was chewing through electrical wires,” says David Bowers. By the time he and his partner, Sharon Bowers, (BTW, they co-authored “The Useful Book: 201 Life Skills They Used to Teach in Home Ec and Shop”) got around to calling a pro, an entire squirrel family (with more on the way!) had settled in to dine on those wires — a costly fix that was also a fire hazard.

If you hear unwanted visitors, evict them quickly, then block the entry they used. With squirrels, it might be an overgrown tree limb, which they use to jump onto your roof and then slip through a hole under roof flashing or rotting fascia, or an open window. For smaller pests, keep in mind they can come in through the tiniest of holes. (Mice can squeeze through a dime-sized opening.)

Your Gutters Create Waterfalls

You may love the smell and sound of rain, but when it’s cascading off your gutters in torrents instead of traveling neatly through them … well, remember those warnings about moisture? Cleaning the gutters is home maintenance 101 for good reason. “It can lead to exterior damage, as well as water damaging the foundations,” says Bowers. If you spot a gutter clog, clear it. You’ll be happier for it. It’s probably the best thing you can do to protect your home.

Originally posted with HouseLogic.

4 Ways to Avoid DIY Mistakes — From a DIYer Who’s Made Them All

DIY gone wrong is your worst nightmare. Sleep better with these tips to master DIY know-how.

New backsplash? You’ve done it. Upgrading a faucet? No problem. You’re a DIY master. But what about that electrical issue? Or fixing a leaky roof? Even though you (and your BFF, YouTube) have pulled off many DIY projects, you know there are projects you’ve no business trying on your own. But what about those projects that fall somewhere in between “I got this” and “I’m calling the pros”? How can you know if a project is really DIYable for you?

For Lucas Hall, finding that answer has been trial and error. As a “DIY landlord” for more than two years and founder of Landlordology, an online resource for landlords, he’s gutted three homes and renovated countless others.

“I’m just handy enough to be dangerous,” Hall says.

He’s suffered more than his fair share of DIY disasters, and with each, he’s learned a valuable lesson about his own limits, as well as how he can do better next time.

Think 10 Steps Ahead

When Hall updated a tiny kitchen in one of his rentals, he installed a brand-new, expensive fridge — and then built a peninsula countertop extension.

“We thought it was the greatest idea,” he says. But adding the peninsula narrowed the space in front of the refrigerator, making it impossible to remove without lifting it entirely up and over the extension. (Ever tried to lift a fridge?)

“I’m just praying the fridge doesn’t die on me, because I’m going to have to hire four or five burly guys to get it out,” Hall says. “Or just Sawzall the thing in half.”

DIY lesson: Measure once, measure twice, measure again, and think through every possible scenario before changing a room’s layout.

Don’t Go With the Cheapest Option

Speaking of kitchen appliances: Hall was looking for an island range hood, which can be extra-expensive because it needs to be attractive from all angles. Dismayed by the prices he found elsewhere online, he went to Amazon, where he found an $800 hood on sale for about $250.

“Of course, it was from a brand we hadn’t really heard of,” Hall says.

Less than a year after installation, the hood was on the fritz. Removing the appliance was a challenge. The electrical wiring needed to be redone, and the wall needed to be drywalled, requiring a professional contractor.

“It probably cost me three-fold to fix my mistake,” says Hall. “For any appliance that’s more complicated than plugging it in and rolling it into place, upgrade and buy something that’s not going to break on you within a year.”

DIY lesson: For any DIY project, the cheapest option, from materials to appliances, should raise a red flag.

For Specialty Work, Seek Specialty Advice

Hall is no electrician, but since he’d done some minor electrical work before, he figured the job of adding a dimmer switch would be no big deal.

“We hung a chandelier in the dining room, and figured you might want to dim this giant chandelier for a relaxing candlelit dinner,” says Hall. Because the space had switches at both entrances, he added a dimmer to both — the more the merrier, right?

Wrong.

“After four hours spent blowing circuits and lightbulbs and struggling to get this chandelier to dim correctly, we called the manufacturer,” Hall says. Spoiler alert: You just can’t have two dimmer switches for one circuit.

A dimmer works by modulating the amount of electricity flowing through the circuit; adding another causes chaos. A little research would’ve indicated the second dimmer switch was a no-no.

“It just flips out,” says Hall. “It doesn’t know how much dimming should be happening. The lights were flickering like a poltergeist.”

DIY lesson: No one blames you for not being a specialist, but any time you’re taking on a specialty project make sure to do your research first or consult a pro.

DIY When Help is Available (aka, NOT on a Holiday)

Holidays might be a great time to tackle minor DIY projects, but if you’re working on anything that could require a professional if things go south, consider waiting for a normal business day.

“I was trying to get a property ready to rent,” says Hall. “Time is money. It was the Fourth of July … and I was adding a new cabinet [in the bathroom].”

It sounds easy enough, but the unit was in a condo building with a centralized water system; there wasn’t a water shut-off valve for just that bathroom. Not wanting to shut down the water for the entire building on July Fourth, he decided to risk it.

And oh, what a risk it turned out to be. When trying to loosen a pipe, the whole thing broke off. It was rusted out. Water sprayed out so hard, it hit him in the chest. After rushing to the basement, he flipped every knob he found until the water shut-off.

“Luckily my property was on the first floor and the basement was a laundry room, because water was leaking through the floor, destroying drywall,” Hall says.

Being a holiday, the rest of the day was no less of a disaster. The condo association’s emergency line sent him a plumber who was angry to be missing his holiday events and drinking as he tried to fix the problem. Sloppy work resulted in a fire — in a building with no water.

“He runs to my fridge and starts grabbing anything liquid — milk, a bottle of Sprite, cans of beer,” Hall recalls. “He’s dumping water into the middle of the wall, punching holes in it, trying to find the fire.”

DIY lesson: Always do tricky DIY projects when you know a pro — a pro you trust — can help out in a hurry.

Originally posted with HouseLogic.

Luxurious Living 7501 Cambridge Drive, Crestwood KY

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Beautiful vaulted ceilings in Living room
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Beautiful Home
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Gorgeous views from the sunroom

Appreciate luxurious living in this impressive home in Briar Hill Estates. You will find many hours of solitude and peace on its one acre of treed land. Enter the home through the custom designed front door with palladium window to be greeted with a living room boasting cathedral ceilings that opens into the family room. The family room welcomes you with cathedral ceiling complimented with two skylights and recessed lighting and a wall with floor to ceiling windows and gorgeous double palladium window and French doors leading to the sunroom. You will spend hours reading a book in front of the wood-burning fireplace built with creek rock. The sunroom has a ceiling fan and offers a magnificent view of the nature’s stunning beauty.Enjoy many holiday celebrations in the formal dining room’s festive atmosphere as you immediately notice attention to the double trey ceiling and floor to ceiling windows. The eat-in kitchen is a gourmet chef’s dream. Picture friends sitting around the oversized island visiting as you prepare meals. Featured are custom designed Cherry cabinets, Silestone countertops, backsplash, bar sink in island, custom designed planning desk, recessed lighting, skylight and cathedral ceiling in the breakfast area, as well as palladium window and sliding glass doors leading to the sunroom. Begin each day with a cup of coffee looking at nature’s supremacy through the wall of windows in the sunroom. You can also gain access to the two levels of decks that stretch across the back of the home. There is a huge laundry room with custom designed cabinets including a built-in rod for hanging your clothes and plenty of counter space and utility sink. The master bedroom envelops you with warmth and security under its double trey ceiling. The master bathroom has a double vanity and Jacuzzi corner tub. The remaining 3 bedrooms are large in nature with big closets. Wait until you see the finished walkout basement and its many areas for entertaining. There is a bedroom, full bathroom, workout/office, and an enormous family room with fireplace and recessed lighting. You will only to need to walk across the room for a beverage at the wet bar. French doors lead you to an oversized patio great for hosting cookouts and gatherings. Equipped with central vacuuming and upgrades, this home has more features and details than words can describe. We invite you to take a private tour and see this impeccably maintained home and its peaceful, easy living. Call today.

148 Watts Lane Elizabethtown KY

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The Beauty
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The gorgeous stone fireplace
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Look at all those cabinets
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relax on the back patio
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What a view!

This home is Amazing! From the minute you pull up to your first step in the door you will be in Awe! From the deck to the ponds, there is nothing this property does not have! You need a pool? got it! You want hardwood floors? got it! You want a pond? got it! Do not miss out on the opportunity to see this fabulous home! This is someone’s dream come true and I don’t think it will last long! Call today so we can take you home!

9508 Chadbourn Ct Louisville KY

Brand NEW listing!!

You will fall in love with this fabulous 4 bedroom 1.5 bath home just like the owners did when they first bought it. First floor features the large living room and even larger family room with easy to maintain laminate flooring. The large eat-in kitchen has newer appliances and has been updated in the last 5 years. This floor also has an office that could be turned into a dining room if needed and a half bath with laundry. All appliances stay, including the front load washer and dryer. Did I mention that there is plenty of storage in this home with it’s 9 closets? The second floor has an extra large Master Bedroom, and 3 other bedrooms that are nice size. See the Room information for details on all room sizes. This floor also includes a full bath.

On the outside in the backyard, you will think you have come to the islands for vacation as the owners have made this their paradise complete with a cabana area, 16 x 32 in-ground pool that is 3′ to 8.5′ deep and a one year old liner.

Every person’s work place is what the garage is all about and the sign above the door says Pop’s Fix it Shop. 2.5 cars and extra deep makes this a great place to do those projects you always wanted to do but did not have the space to do them. Garage has 220 outlet available too.

Be sure to get your appointment soon as it will not last long at this price.chadbourn

More pics to come on Tuesday