A cluttered home causes stress and chaos. One of the best projects you can take on to help your home’s aesthetic and functionality is decluttering the home. Break this task down into four steps to make it more manageable.
Choose Where to Start When Decluttering the Home
You can’t expect yourself to declutter the whole house in one day. This unrealistic goal will only overwhelm and frustrate you. Focus on one area at a time. Choose a room and then hone in on a section of the room. Dive right into the most cluttered areas. At the beginning of the project, you’ll have more energy annd motivation by completing the worst parts first.
Empty the Area
Clear out the area first. When you have a blank slate, it’s less tempting to keep using a storage system that simply wasn’t working. Emptying the space also gives you a chance to deep clean an area that doesn’t get cleaned very often. Clean the walls, shelves, and floor before continuing with your project.
At this stage of the process, you have an empty space with all the items removed and collected on the floor, table, or bed. Sort the items into categories that you’ll either be keeping or getting rid of.
For items that you are keeping, separate them according to whether they belong in this space or somewhere else in the home. For discards, decide if they are trash or worth donating. Take the trash out right away and place donation bins in the car so they won’t end up redistributed back into your house.
Reorganization After Decluttering the Home
Now you are left with useful items that you’ve decided to keep. Find a new way to organize them that makes sense. Things that are used daily, like your favorite coat, should be kept within easy reach. Items used less frequently, like fancy dress shoes, can be tucked away to free up premium space. Keep less-used items on a high shelf or in the back of the closet because you might only wear them a few times a year.
When you are busy, it can be tempting to ignore seemingly minor problems in the home. However, some small signs lead to big problems in a house. Here are 5 serious home issues that may not seem concerning at first, but that should be addressed immediately.
Slanted Floors are Serious Home Issues
Sometimes it is apparent that floors are uneven just by walking across them, and in other homes, it is less obvious. Slanted floors may not bother you, but they can point to serious structural problems that should be addressed for safety’s sake. It may mean that the structural beams underneath the flooring have been damaged by termites, rot, or water.
Doors That Stick
While doors that are difficult to open to close are annoying, they may not seem like a significant issue. However, this could point to the foundation sinking or a settling problem that’s causing misalignment with the door and its frame. Foundation issues should not be ignored; the longer you wait, the worse they will get.
Strange Smells can Point to Serious Home Issues
Any type of odd smell in your home should be investigated. Whether it is a musty smell of wet socks, sewer gas odor, or a fishy scent, it could be the sign of a serious problem that threatens the health and safety of your family. A mold problem, broken vent stack, or overheating circuit may be the cause of these smells.
Water Pooling by the Foundation
Drainage issues lead to serious problems like mold and foundation settling. Water pooling by the foundation may be a result of poor grading or clogged gutters. The fix might be as easy as cleaning out the gutters so that water can be properly channeled away from the home. If water is pooling around the base of the home, check the crawlspace or basement for moisture.
Any signs of termites should be taken seriously. Mud tubes on the exterior of the house are one of the most visible signs of termites. They are about the width of a pencil and run along the foundation and siding. Termites build them for a safe passageway to travel into the house. Other signs to look for are piles of termite droppings and discarded wings. Schedule a termite inspection if you see any of these signs.
Winter is the season that comes with the highest utility bills for many households. Many homeowners don’t know about the small adjustments they can make to help heat the home efficiently. Here are 5 easy tricks that can save you some money.
Heat the Home Efficiently by Programming the Thermostat
You may be surprised how much money you can save by simply setting a schedule on your programmable thermostat. If the members of your household have a routine day-to-day schedule, it is best to set up the thermostat in advance.
If everyone leaves the house by 9 in the morning, program the thermostat to lower a few degrees at that time. There is no reason to keep the house at a warm and toasty temperature when no one is home. Program the thermostat to raise the temperature back up to its normal level about 30 minutes before people start arriving at home.
Fully Seal the Home
When a house is not well-sealed, the heating system has to work much harder to keep the home warm. Doors and windows are the most common areas for cold drafts to come in, so focus on sealing these areas first. Old windows become loose over time and may crack around the panes. Use caulk to seal up any openings. Exterior doors may have gaps around the edges. Apply weatherstripping around the door and a door sweep at the bottom to help reduce drafts.
Make Sure the House is Well-Insulated
A poorly insulated house cannot be heated efficiently. Since most of the insulation in a home isn’t accessible, hire a professional to inspect the insulation if you are having trouble lowering your heating bills and keeping your home warm. Damaged insulation may need to be removed and replaced or you may just need to add more insulation.
Heating System Maintenance
A poorly maintained heating system expends more energy to heat the home than one that is annually serviced. Problems like dirty components, malfunctioning parts, and a clogged filter put a strain on the system. Hire an HVAC professional to service your heater once per year, and then keep up with replacing your filters monthly or as directed by the manufacturer.
Use the Sun to Heat the Home Efficiently
The warmth from the sun is a free resource you can use on sunny days in the winter. Open the drapes on south-facing windows to heat up the room. Then, at night, close the drapes to keep the heat in and the cold air out. Outfit all the windows in the home with heavy drapes to help insulate them.
The spring and summer months are not the only times of year to care for your yard. It’s easy to maintain your landscaping in fall and keep your yard looking great even after the green foliage of summer is gone.
Prepare Your Fall Garden
When preparing your home for fall, consider adding a fall garden space. Between late summer and early fall, remove annual flowers planted during the summer and pull out weeds and other unwanted plants.
Once you have tidied up your garden space, you can begin planting for fall. Choose flowers, shrubs, and trees that will perform through the season. Mums, marigolds, and flowering kale are great fall choices.
Care for Your Lawn When Landscaping in Fall
During the fall season, care for your lawn to protect it from the cooler weather and get it ready for next summer. Continue mowing the grass as needed until the first frost. You may notice your grass growing slower than in the summer months, but you can still mow and water it.
Also, apply fertilizer in the fall to keep your lawn healthy. The fertilizer will help your grass grow stronger roots before winter. Fall is also the perfect time to aerate and seed bare patches in your lawn.
Plan a Spring Garden
Fall is a great time of year to plan out your spring garden. Choose flowers and plants you want to see bloom in the spring and add them to your garden now. Bulbs should be planted in the fall so they’re ready to bloom when the weather warms. Tulips and daffodils are popular choices for spring gardens.
Fall is also a good time to plant perennials. The soil is still warm from the summer, providing the right environment for plants to grow strong roots before the harsh, cold months ahead.
Make a Clean-Up Plan
The bright hues of autumn leaves won’t last on the trees for long. Soon the fallen leaves will litter the yard. Caring for the landscape in fall means to plan for leaf pickup. If you have a mulching mower, mulch your leaves as you mow the lawn. The nutrients in mulched leaves will find their way back into the soil.
You can also rake and compost leaves to add to the soil next year. If your town or HOA requires leaf clean-up, rake and gather the leaves for scheduled town leaf collections.
You’re likely to sell your home more quickly and for a higher price when the exterior impresses potential buyers. Here are 8 tips that will help you improve curb appeal.
Wash the House
It’s possible to add profit by simply cleaning the exterior of your home. Get rid of the dust, dirt, and grime on a vinyl, wood, stucco, metal, or brick exterior with a pressure washer. It’s best to hire a pressure washing company if you are inexperienced with using this machine so that you don’t damage your property.
Improve Curb Appeal by Fixing Your Roof
The rest of the home’s exterior may look great, but if the roof is failing, it will bring down the curb appeal of the house. This is especially true if all of your neighbors have newer roofs that are in good condition. Repair the roof, if needed. If your roof is technically sound but dirty, then get it professionally cleaned. Removing moss, algae, lichens, and dirt will make any roof look better.
Get Rid Of All Clutter
Move garbage and recycling bins to the backyard or the garage. Get rid of old, dirty, or broken lawn decor and furniture that is bringing down the curb appeal of the yard. Tidy up toys and bikes that may be laying around the yard, and stash them in a shed or garage.
Paint Your Home to Improve Curb Appeal
Sometimes washing your home isn’t enough to improve curb appeal. Painting your home with a fresh coat of paint makes the home look much newer. It’s best to use a neutral color that will appeal to most people when selling your home.
Spruce Up The Yard
Add fresh mulch to garden areas. Prune the shrubs and cut the grass to improve curb appeal. Take out old, overgrown bushes and replace them with newer, easy to care for plants. Edge along the driveway and garden beds. Get rid of all the weeds. Add solar garden lights to boost the curb appeal at night.
Fix the Mailbox
A new mailbox can be expensive. Save money by adding a fresh coat of paint to your existing mailbox. Add decorative house numbers to your house while you’re sprucing up the mailbox.
Install a New Fence
Add a decorative or picket fence around the front yard. Buyers will love the look and the extra security a fence provides. Repair any existing fencing issues like broken latches so the fence doesn’t detract from curb appeal.
Make All Needed Repairs
Take a good look at your property after repairing the roof, fixing up the lawn, and replacing the mailbox. Look for anything else that’s taking away from the overall presentation. Do you still see any peeling paint, loose front step bricks, or sagging gutters? Fix all of these problems. Here are other items to pay attention to:
Cracked driveway or walkway cement
Follow these tips to improve curb appeal and sell your home more easily.
Your septic tank is an important component of your home. Taking proper care of it will save you thousands of dollars in repairs or replacement and promote a safe and healthy living environment. Use these 6 tips to maintain your septic tank.
1. Have Your Septic Tank Serviced
Professionals recommend having your septic system inspected yearly. Use a qualified technician to maintain your septic tank and save all service records and inspection reports. The number of people living in your home, the amount of wastewater generated, and the size of the tank determines how often your septic tank should be pumped.
Experts say the average tank should be pumped every three years or more often if yours uses an electrical float switch, pump, or other mechanical pumps. If your septic system is newer, it may have a filter to prevent solids from entering the drain field. If so, the filter should be cleaned or replaced upon servicing.
2. Protect Your Drain Field
The drain field is the part of your septic system that removes contaminants from the liquids that exit the septic tank. Sometimes called the leach field, it is a shallow, covered excavation in the ground. The drain field will flood if it becomes deluged with wastewater or outside liquid, causing a sewage back-up. Maintain your septic tank with regular pumping to protect the drain field. Don’t park vehicles over your drain field and don’t plant trees nearby. The roots can grow into the septic system and cause damage.
3. Watch What Goes Into Your Septic Tank
Most toilet tissue is designed to break down and dissolve inside the septic tank. Don’t flush items like feminine hygiene products, diapers, paper towels, cigarette butts, cat litter, or dental floss down the toilet. In the kitchen, don’t put coffee grounds or grease into the garbage disposal. In fact, if you have a standalone septic system, it’s best not to have a garbage disposal. Drain openers and other chemicals can damage the septic tank, so choose safer, non-toxic solutions instead.
4. Use Water Wisely
Conserving water helps maintain your septic tank. Avoid excessive washing machine and dishwasher use, running toilets, and leaky faucets. When it’s time to replace appliances, toilets, and showerheads, replace them with energy-efficient models if you don’t already have them. Conserving water will help keep your drain field from flooding and you’ll also save money on your utility bills.
5. Use High-Water Pressure Jetting
Regardless of regular pumping, all septic systems will accumulate solids in the drainpipe that can clog connecting pipes to the drain field. Maintain your septic tank by high-pressure water jetting the drain lines about every five years. This will clear away solids and other debris that could affect efficient operation.
6. Use a Bacteria Additive
Another way to maintain your septic tank is by using a bacteria additive. Organic bacteria will break down unnatural substances such as soaps and detergents that enter your tank. These common household products kill the naturally occurring bacteria that keep your system functioning properly. Bacteria additives are inexpensive and can help keep pipes clean and odor-free.