Summertime is the perfect time to make improvements to your home!
This week we discuss:
- Projects that can add to the value of your home
- Life-saving products that every home should have
- Ways to fix low water pressure
- Ways to fix a mothy closet and keep it that way
Missed our live show? Don’t worry! Because we have a podcast of the show. It’s the same thing we aired on the radio, but ready for you whenever and wherever you are! Check it out here.
Home improvement projects that can add value to your home (when it comes time to sell)
Add Built-in Bookshelves
For an addition to the room that creates a new focal point, consider built-in bookshelves to change up a plain box of a room and help a very cookie-cutter home look more custom.
Built-in bookshelves can be tricky for a DIY beginner who has no experience with carpentry work, but a handyman could take on the project pretty easily.
Install or Update Wood Floors
Old carpeting or a dingy wood floor can make any room look dated, which is why remodeling from the ground up is often your best option to freshen up your living room. New wood flooring is a great option and can add a lot of value and open up a room.
Redo Molding or Trim
Interior design styles have gotten simpler over recent years, requiring fewer fancy details, but crown molding and trim can still be an eye-catching element that makes a room look fresh.
Installing molding along your living room ceiling may sound relatively simple, but Kuhn recommends hiring a professional who has experience with such a project. If you’re renovating your living room, she says you can offset the cost by doing the demolition work on a wall or pulling up carpeting. But for crown molding, bring in a handyman for that.
Take Down Walls
It’s a big project, but tearing down walls in your living room for a more open floor plan is a common preference among homeowners in older houses.
But this project is not always feasible or budget-friendly, as a load-bearing wall could cost upwards of $10,000 to remove because a support beam is needed to hold the weight the wall will no longer carry. But if the wall is merely a partition between rooms, Kuhn says it’s possible: “Opening up the space … can be done, and can even be a DIY project.”
9 Affordable Products That Can Save Your Life
Fortunately, most of us will never experience a true life-or-death emergency. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared
Although it’s virtually impossible to anticipate everything that could possibly go wrong, there are a few scary scenarios for which you can plan to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Following is an assortment of everyday and specialty items that could save your life. Some you may already have on hand, and others you’ll want to order ASAP.
The best part? All of these products cost less than $50, and many are under $15 each. That’s a small price to pay to save a life — especially your own.
1. First-aid kit
All-Purpose Mini First Aid Kit contains commonly used first-aid items and is the ideal size and weight for travel.
The bright orange embossed first-aid cross allows for easy identification, and the metal case is designed to be crush-resistant. The 27-piece kit includes antiseptic wipes, antibacterial ointment, bandages, and more.
- Water filter
If you run out of food while hiking, camping, or backpacking, you don’t have to worry for quite a while. Unfortunately, the same doesn’t hold true if you run out of water.
That’s where the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter comes in. As you sip from a pond or other water source, the filter removes a multitude of potentially harmful bacteria without using chemicals, making the water safe to drink.
- Potato chips
Need an excuse to always keep your favorite snack food on hand? If you find yourself in a situation where you need to start a signal fire, experts say junk food — such as oily potato chips — can serve as makeshift kindling.
Just be sure that you have plenty of other food on hand before turning your savory snack into inedible ash
If you have a minor cut that clearly requires sutures but don’t have access to a medical professional, you can use the sealant to close the wound until new skin has a chance to form. Just be sure to clean the cut out first so it doesn’t become infected.
Super glue really should only be used this way in a pinch. But it can work when it’s all you have, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Flame-retardant blanket
A Fire Blanket can be draped carefully over flames to smother small fires, including grease fires.
The fiberglass-cloth blanket also can serve as a personal heat shield if you must escape a fire. Simply wrap the blanket around your body for a protective barrier.
Note: Always call 911 in the event of a fire, even if the flames appear to be under control.
- Outdoor Power Bank
Compatible with smartphones and tablets, an Outdoor Portable Power Bank includes foldable solar panels to help you keep your devices powered up even in the great outdoors.
Look for features such as; waterproof construction and a built-in LED flashlight with SOS mode for emergencies. It also has a hook for hanging.
7. Baking soda
If you face a small kitchen grease fire and don’t have an extinguisher, you can use baking soda to douse the flames before they rage out of control, says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. You’ll be ready to fight fires or bake cookies with this 5-pound package of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda.
Note: Always call 911 in the event of a fire, even if the flames appear to be under control.
- Fire escape ladder
Do you have a safety plan in place in the event of a fire at your home? A Two-Story Fire Escape Ladder should be a tangle-free design that allows for a quick and easy setup and escape out a window.
A 13-foot, flame-resistant ladder stores compactly and features anti-slip steel rungs designed to give you more secure footing.
- Emergency sleeping bag
An Emergency Sleeping Bag is designed to keep you warm — and alive — in extreme conditions. The windproof, waterproof bag serves as a survival shelter and an emergency blanket.
It should be made of puncture-resistant polyethylene material and includes an attached survival whistle.
Got low water pressure?
Common causes of low water pressure
Home water pressure problems may present themselves in different ways, all of which can be quite frustrating. Faucets may take forever to fill a sink or bathtub, or a showerhead may not give you that strong spray you want. Your dishwasher or washing machine may take much longer to run a cycle than it should.
When only one fixture has low water pressure, it’s likely that the problem can be remedied if you just focus on fixing that one fixture or the pipes serving it. But widespread water pressure issues affecting the whole house indicate different problems. If your home water pressure seems low, then the first thing to do is to narrow down the cause.
Is the Water Meter Valve Fully Open?
In many homes, there are two major shutoff valves controlling water to the home. The first is the water meter valve, located right next to the water meter on the main city supply pipe serving your home. Normally, you will not use this valve, as technically it belongs to the water company and is typically used only by water company personnel. But if your water pressure is low throughout your house, especially after some work has been done on your plumbing system, it’s possible that this valve is not fully open.
If you have recently had a repair done and are now noticing a reduction in the water pressure throughout your house, check the meter valve. It may be located on an outside wall of the house (in warm climates), in an underground box between the house and the street, or in an interior utility area, such as a basement or attached garage.
The valve is fully open when the valve handle (which may be just a metal tab that is turned with a special wrench) is parallel with the water pipe. If the handle is set at an angle to the pipe, it is not fully open.
Is the Main House Shutoff Valve Open?
The other main shutoff valve is the home’s shutoff, usually located inside the house, near where the main city supply pipe enters the home through the foundation wall. In warm climates, the main shutoff may be outdoors. Make sure this valve is fully open. If this is a gate valve, indicated by a wheel-like handle, make sure the handle is turned fully in the counterclockwise direction. If it is a ball valve, indicated by a lever handle, the handle must be parallel to the pipe direction to be fully open.
As with the water meter valve, this main shutoff valve is sometimes left partially closed after some kind of repair has been done to the system. If your water pressure has mysteriously lessened after a recent repair, there is a good chance that the valve wasn’t fully opened after the repair was completed.
Is the Pressure Regulator Failing?
Another common cause for home water pressure problems is a faulty pressure regulator or pressure-reducing valve. A pressure regulator is a control valve that reduces the input pressure in your plumbing system to a safe level that will not damage your pipes. Not all homes have them, but for those that do, a failing pressure regulator can cause a serious upward spike in water pressure. It can also have the opposite effect: a sudden reduction in your water pressure.
When the pressure regulator fails, you will notice the effect on all of the fixtures in the home, and it will happen rather suddenly. Although a pressure regulator can sometimes be replaced by yourself with the same brand and size, in most cases is it better to call a professional to take care of it. Replacing it requires shutting off the water to the home at the water meter shutoff valve.
To get an accurate reading of your water pressure, you can test the pressure by attaching a water pressure gauge to the outdoor hose spigot closest to the water main or pressure regulator. Recommended water pressure is 52 to 75 pounds per square inch. If your pressure tests very low, this may indicate a failed pressure regulator.
Do You Have Old Steel Water Pipes?
The most serious and potentially expensive reason for low water pressure occurs when old galvanized steel water pipes are corroded to the point that water flow is significantly restricted. These pipes corrode on the inside (so you usually can’t see the corrosion) but over time, the buildup of corrosion and scale gradually closes off the pipe.
This problem develops over decades, so the reduction in water flow is very gradual; you will not notice a sudden drop in pressure. However, if you move into an old house with steel pipes, the pipes may have significant corrosion to start with and the problem may worsen relatively quickly.
Unfortunately, the only solution for corroded pipes is to re-pipe the system with new copper or plastic water supply piping. It is the only way to solve the problem. Usually the best option for re-piping these days, in terms of cost and ease of installation, is to use PEX tubing rather than copper pipe.
Summertime improvements include removing moths from your pantry!
What are pantry moths?
You’ve just encountered the Indian meal moth, perhaps the most common among the “pantry pests.” These moths can infest bags or boxes of flour, grains, dried beans, seeds, nuts, cereals, baking chocolate, cake mixes, rice, nuts, dried fruit, dog food, birdseed, teas, herbs, spices, potpourri mixtures, and even decorative wreaths that include nuts, fruits, and/or seed heads.
One Cooperative Extension fact sheet describes what you’ve just seen this way: “Most of the ‘damage’ to stored products occurs when the larvae spin massive amounts of silk that accumulate fecal pellets, cast skins, and eggshells in food products.”
Not a very appetizing image.
Where do they come from?
Although you may need to do some serious cupboard-cleaning, don’t lay the blame for the infestation on your poor housekeeping. Meal moths probably laid those eggs at a food-packaging facility or in the bulk bins at the natural food store.
After mating, the half-inch long gray/brown female meal moth finds a suitable environment for laying her eggs—as many as 400 at one time. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed and grow for several weeks before spinning a cocoon (pupa), from which emerges an adult moth. Depending on the temperature, food source, and other factors, the meal moth’s life cycle lasts from a month to 10 months or longer.
Are pantry moths harmful?
The good news: This pest does not cause disease, even if you accidentally cook and eat a few larvae (gross), and it doesn’t escape your foodstuffs to eat its way through your fabrics or furniture. It likes the same foods that you and your pets like.
The bad news: Indian meal moths can be difficult to eradicate, especially if they’ve completed their life cycle and dispersed throughout your pantry.
How to control pantry moths:
- First, get the infested flour and any other infested products you might find out of your house. Don’t just throw them in the trash, unless you plan on taking the trash out right away. You could also dig a hole away from the house and bury the infested product(s) in the soil.
- Don’t store that trash in the garage or basement while you wait for trash pickup or your next trip to the dump.
- Then, remove everything from your cupboards and food-storage areas, including cans and glass jars. Vacuum and scrub all surfaces. Remove and replace torn or peeling shelf liners. Using a flashlight, pay special attention to the corners and the undersides of shelves, as well as to cracks or holes in the shelving
- Meal-moth larvae have legs and often move quite far from their original home. You may find larvae and pupae tucked away in door hinges, backs of doorknobs, and corners of wire baskets; underneath shelves, and around the edges of jar lids, cans, and non-food items also stored in your pantry or cupboard.
- The larvae can chew through paper and plastic. If (like me) you tend to keep an assortment of nuts, fruits, and grains bought from bulk storage bins and stored in plastic or paper bags, check every bag for openings that could have allowed entry of meal-moth larvae, or for holes the larvae may have chewed themselves.
- If you have concerns, place any items that seem intact with no signs of damage to the food inside, in the freezer at 0° or below for four days. That will kill any eggs that might be present.
- Now, resolve to store all pantry edibles in sealed glass or metal containers as soon as you bring the food products into your home. If a product is infested, the larvae won’t be able to escape the container to contaminate other products.
- Keep small bags of spices in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Keep pet foods and birdseed away from the pantry in covered metal containers in a laundry room, garage or outside shed.
- Hang seed-and-fruit wreaths outside. Better yet, purchase or make wreaths of twigs or evergreens that don’t contain edibles.
- Consider placing some meal-moth pheromone traps (widely available online and in hardware, garden, and home-supply stores). These traps monitor the presence of meal moths and perhaps prevent a future infestation. The traps work by attracting the male moths, who then become stuck to glue boards and die, unable to fertilize female moths. (Warning: Some folks find the glue traps a bit gruesome, since the trapped moths aren’t killed quickly, but flutter for some time before dying. ) Note: Don’t be deterred by negative comments from others who claim the traps didn’t work and now they have moths flying all around their homes. These folks are probably aren’t seeing meal moths, but rather one or more of the many other Lepidopterans (butterflies and moths) that commonly visit home interiors.
Finally, please don’t use insecticides to kill meal moths. Not only are they unlikely to be effective, but many aren’t safe for use around food.
Summertime Improvement Project: Add a water feature to your backyard
Maybe you’re looking to mask the noise from a busy road, or you just want a quiet, contemplative space. You may even want to inject some tranquility into your backyard. How can you do this? By adding the right water feature to your backyard. What kinds of water features are there, and how will you know what’s right for you?
A pond is what most people think about when you say “backyard water feature.” Technology has advanced to the point where ponds can be treated as their own self-contained ecosystems. Properly constructed and balanced, a pond is lower in maintenance than many homeowners realize. The bigger the pond, the less likely small changes in water quality will have a huge impact. As an added bonus, ponds often attract wildlife, providing a chance to appreciate deer, frogs, dragonflies, etc.
A pond can be a small, simple pool with a bubbler; it can be a large koi pond with massive boulders and crashing waterfalls, or it can be somewhere in the middle. A pond can be natural in appearance, looking as though it’s a spring coming from the hillside. A pond can also be formal, with geometric shapes defined with stone, brick, or tile coping. The execution of the pond comes down to your personal tastes and budget.
If you’re considering a pond, check with your local town or county about ordinances that may affect you. If your pond exceeds a certain depth (varies by locale), you may be required to meet the same barrier code requirements as a residential pool.
Pond–less water feature
A pond–less water feature is exactly what its name implies. It’s a waterfall, or streambed and series of waterfalls, that cascade into a concealed reservoir covered with stone. For busy homeowners who want the sound of running water without the maintenance of a pond, a pond–less water feature is an excellent choice. Another benefit of a pond–less water feature is safety: with no open water, there’s no need for fencing or barriers to keep people or animals from falling in.
The simplest water feature you can create is a recirculating fountain. That can be anything from the ever-popular bubbling vase, to a core-drilled boulder, to a formal fountain. In all of these water features, water collects in a basin at the bottom where a small pump sits, and is pumped back up to the top. These types of water features are generally the most economical choice for adding some kind of water feature to the backyard.
Backyard water features can be small or large, simple or complex. They can range from a simple accent piece to a key focal point of the landscape. If you have a yearning for the beauty and mystique of moving water in your yard, your local landscape professional can help you determine what is the right fit for your taste, your budget, and your landscape.
Listeners: Please stay inside and stay safe while working on your summertime improvements!
~ Thank you~
A very special thank you to all of our callers! We live to answer your questions, so keep them coming!
Thank you to our Technical Support:
- Danny Bringer – Chief Engineer
- Carol “Remodeling Babe” Carey – Executive Producer
- Sam Reed – Associate Producer
- Rico Figliolini – Digital Master
Thank you to our Interviewer:
Kathleen Kuhn – HouseMaster
President and CEO, www.housemaster.com
Thank you for tuning in to Summertime Improvements! And check in next week for more cool tips!
“Summertime Improvements” Show Notes for On The House with the Carey Brothers aired June 6, 2020.