What You Need to Know Before Installing a Pool

Avoid installing a pool with never-ending problems and unexpected expenses. Knowing what to ask and look for before installing an inground swimming pool will keep you from regretting the decision.

swimming pool installation

homeandgardeningguide.com gathered the following information and tips about installing a swimming pool, what municipal ordinances may apply, and what safety measures to install or learn.

Is Installing a Pool Worth it?

Besides making you popular with the neighbors and your kids, a pool can increase the value of your home. However, the increase is likely less than you may believe. There are no guarantees that you’ll make your investment back. In fact, adding an inground swimming pool may only increase your home’s overall value by 6 or 7%.

Don’t be surprised when your budget pans out at double the cost of the pool itself. Consider the following expenses when making your final decision:

swimming pool kids toys

  • Decks
  • Fencing
  • Patios
  • Privacy screens
  • Whirlpool spas
  • Outdoor sound system
  • Pool cover
  • Patio/poolside furniture
  • Equipment shed and storage
  • Pool toys and floatation devices
  • Additional outdoor electrical outlets.
  • Outdoor lighting
  • Landscaping
  • Pathways

Note: You must also factor in ongoing expenses like periodic cleaning, eventual repairs, filter replacements, increased power bill, and chemical treatments to keep your pool pristine.

What Type of Pool do I Want?

There are three principal types of inground pools. Consider the following:

Concrete Pools – These pools are custom-built and can conform to virtually any size, shape, or depth. Gunite or Shotcrete pools – as they are referred to in the industry – because concrete is shot from a gun onto preformed steel-reinforced walls. Once the concrete cures, the pool’s surface is plastered, painted, and finished with tiles or a textured surface.

Concrete swimming pool installation

It takes more time to install concrete pools than any other kind, but it is the strongest, most durable pool type. Existing concrete pools can be remodeled, enlarged, and even updated, unlike other inground pool types.

Fiberglass Pools – These pools are factory-molded into one giant piece, which (after transport) is placed into an excavated hole by crane. Fiberglass pools can be installed much faster than other pool types. Fiberglass pools have a smooth gel coat finish that is durable and stain-resistant. Fiberglass pools are nonporous and use fewer pool chemicals while harboring less algae than other pool types.

Fiberglass swimming pool installation

Fiberglass pools come with fewer size and shape options than concrete or vinyl pools. Shipping may also drive up the cost of your pool depending on how many states the truck driver must negotiate to deliver your pool.

Vinyl Pools – These pools are made from a preformed liner that fits into your excavated hole. It is secured to a reinforced metal or polymer frame.

Vinyl swimming pool installation

Vinyl pools can be easily damaged by pool toys, pets, and other sharp objects. While these liners can be repaired, your best option is to choose one that is about ¾ to an inch in thickness.

Swimming Pool Installation Cost

It is virtually impossible to determine precisely how much your pool installation will cost since prices vary widely depending on material availability, your location, water system, the type and size of the pool, and the location’s soil conditions.

Tip: The time of year can also cause the final price to fluctuate. Some contractors offer discounts for projects completed in the off-season.

A 20 X 40-foot rectangular concrete pool will cost somewhere between $70,000 and $100,000. The same-sized vinyl installation will run between $60,000 and $90,000, while a fiberglass inground installation will run between $50,000 and $80,000 (before transportation and crane fees).

Note: These pricing estimates should include the pool’s filtration system, fill-up, underwater lighting, and stonework around the pool’s perimeter.

Building, Land, Tree, and Zoning Regulations

Inground swimming pools are subject to land disturbance, tree removal, building, and zoning ordinances, so you must apply for the corresponding permits and receive approval before any digging or prep work may begin.

Building, land disturbance, tree removal, and zoning ordinances differ from municipality to municipality, but in most cases, you will be required to satisfy minimum distances from the pool to property lines, wells, sewer lines, wetlands, etc. There will also be codes regulating pool barriers and gate height, structure, and functionality.

Safety Tip: For added protection, especially if you have special needs individuals, young children, or grandchildren, consider installing alarms on house doors and gates granting access to the pool.

For a complete list of specific municipal guidelines, rules, and restrictions, contact your local building or city zoning departments.

Swimming Pool Safety

swimming pool safety fence

The unique pleasures that come with installing a swimming pool do not come without significant responsibilities. Topping this list is pool safety, and here are some safety concerns to consider:

  • Never leave a child in or near the pool without supervision
  • Teach children and young adults to stay away from pool drains
  • Teach children and loved ones how to swim and tread water
  • Know how to administer CPR on children and adults
  • Install slip-resistant pathways to, from, and around your pool
  • Install functional gates, barriers, covers, lighting, and alarms on and around your pool

Tip: CPR certification courses are offered by the American Red Cross and/or by your local police and fire rescue departments.

Inground Swimming Pool Installation

In this article, you discovered essential information and tips on swimming pool installation, ordinances that must be considered, and pool safety measures for all to follow.

Installing an inground swimming pool may require more information and knowledge than you initially considered. However, you can enjoy a safe swimming pool for many years by making informed decisions throughout the installation process.

Ignoring the nuances and municipal codes for inground pool installation can result in surprises, costly mistakes, and unforseen costs.

Sources:
muhlenberg.ca.uky.edu/files/pool_installation_-_financial_considerations.pdf
poolsafely.gov/parents/safety-tips/
shotcrete.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/2018Sum_Guarino-Oakes.pdf

Visit http://www.homeandgardeningguide.com/improvement/swimming-pool/ for more swimming pool articles, resources and tips.

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5 Ways to Eliminate Ants in Your House

Prevent pesky ants from moving their nest into your home. Knowing how to recognize the cause of an ant infestation in your home will help you halt their activities and prevent future infestations.

Ant infestations happen when a colony finds a food source

homeandgardeningguide.com gathered the following information and tips about ant infestations, why they enter your home and how to get rid of them.

Why Do Ants Infest Homes?

As a homeowner, the absolute last thing you want to see in your home is a winding trail of ants traveling to and from their food or water source. According to the National Wildlife Federation, there are more than 12,000 ant species worldwide. Driven by instinct, ants search wide and far from their nests for water, nutrients, and shelter, making your home a potential target for an entire colony to infest. Consider the following circumstances in your home that can lead to an ant infestation:

  1. Your pipes or faucets are leaking
  2. You’re leaving food out
  3. You have surfaces with food or grease residue
  4. You have dirty garbage cans/trash bins
  5. You have decaying wood somewhere in your home

Tip: An ant infestation will sometimes (rarely) go away on its own. However, it is more likely that your ant problem will move from one food or water source to another, perpetuating your home’s infestation.

Ant Infestation and Control

Before you start unloading cans of ant & roach killer all over your floors and baseboards, observe the following 5 issues potentially leading to an ant infestation and the measures you can take to halt their presence in your home:

1. Leaking Pipes or Faucets

Problem: Ants, like all other lifeforms, are in a constant struggle to gain access to nutrients, water, and shelter. Your leaking water connections, pipes, faucets, and appliances in your kitchen and bathrooms offer a life-giving water supply for an ant colony.

Ant infestations happen when a colony locates a reliable water source

Solution: Inspect your water connections, toilets, and sinks thoroughly for even the smallest of leaks and repair them. Thoroughly inspect your home for other sources of moisture (including areas where rainwater may be getting in.

2. Food Left Out

Problem: Ants will almost always take advantage of accessible food sources, which explains why infestations are common in kitchens and places where leftover or dropped food may be. This is one of the principal causes of an ant infestation and one of the simplest to eliminate.

Solution: To avoid this type of ant infestation, immediately clean up food spills, store food in sealed containers, and keep fresh fruits in the refrigerator. You can also discretely spread some whole bay leaves, as they are a natural repellant to most ants.

3. Food and Grease Residue

Problem: Another less obvious food source in your kitchen that you may not even be aware of is left-behind grease and/or food residue. Often hidden on your stovetop or on the sides of food storage containers, these food particles easily attract ants.

Solution: Wipe off condiment dispensers, honey bottles, syrup containers, jam jars, and anything else that could leave a sticky or sugary residue. Regularly wipe down your stovetop after cooking, especially when making foods that typically splatter, like fried chicken, bacon, and sauces.

4. Dirty Trash Bins and Garbage Cans

Problem: It’s easy to miss or forget to regularly rinse out your garbage bins, soda bottles, and canned food jars before throwing them away. Ants have no problems searching your trash to find your leftover food scraps.

Solution: Try to regularly clean out your garbage bins, especially those in your kitchen. Be sure to also rinse out food packaging waste before you toss any of it in the trash.

5. Decaying Wood

Problem: Leaky pipes or a severe rainstorm can saturate wood components in and around your home, creating the perfect conditions for carpenter ants to move their nest or establish a satellite nest (this species typically nests in moist or decaying wood).

Ant infestations can happen when a colony detects decaying wood

Solution: Remove and replace any rotting wood in your home’s structure, and remove any dead or dying trees, tree stumps, and fallen branches from your yard. It is also wise to store any firewood at least 20 feet away from your home!

Ant Infestation

In this article, you discovered essential information about ant infestations in your home, why they invade your home, and how to get rid of them.

Knowing how ants seek food and water and communicate with each other will help you identify and eliminate the attractions your home presents them.

Ignoring an ant infestation in your home can lead to severe structural damages and become extremely frustrating when you start finding ants in all of your food and anywhere in your home they can find a water source.

Sources:
consumerreports.org/pest-control/how-to-get-rid-of-ants-in-the-house-a3627053544/
nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Invertebrates/Ants
nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/facts/ants

Visit http://www.homeandgardeningguide.com/repairs/pest-control/ for more pest control articles, resources and how-to tips.

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Fireplace Maintenance and Safety Tips

Avoid igniting a dangerous house fire due to using a poorly maintained fireplace. Knowing how to clean and maintain your fireplace will keep you and your loved ones safe and warm.

Fireplace maintenance and safety

homeandgardeningguide.com gathered the following fireplace maintenance information and safety tips to help you avoid severe personal injury or catastrophic fire damage to your home.

Wood-burning Fireplace Maintenance

The mesmerizing crackle and warmth of a wood-burning fireplace is often the lure for family time in your living or family room. Consider the following maintenance tasks to help prevent fire from spreading outside of the fireplace:

Clean Out the Firebox – After each use, the remaining ash should be removed from the firebox and carefully disposed of in a fireproof container. Wait a minimum of twelve hours after the fire has died out to ensure the ash is no longer hot.

Tip: Add cold ash to soil, a compost pile, or potted plants to enhance their nutrient profile.

Remove Soot and Creosote – Burning wood naturally produces soot and creosote. This is the dark residue coating the firebox walls and the chimney lining. This buildup needs to be removed after each burn season or when the residue reaches 1/8 inch thick. Creosote and soot buildup is highly flammable, and creosote buildup is a significant contributing cause of dangerous chimney fires.

Check the Chimney and its Cap – A properly functioning chimney is vital for an efficiently working fireplace. For a masonry or metal chimney, it is essential that you regularly check it for cracks, dents, or deterioration, as these could be signals of a more significant issue.

Fireplace chimney cap and screens

Your chimney has a cap typically made from stone or metal and is designed to prevent water, wildlife, and other materials out of your chimney. Caps will normally have a screen on the side, which functions as a spark arrester.

Tip: Check your cap and its screen annually, replacing them when necessary.

Keep a Fire Extinguisher Readily Available – Keep a class A extinguisher near your wood-burning fireplace in case of a chimney fire or to extinguish an uncontrolled burn. Maintain a class B fire extinguisher when the fireplace’s fuel source is a combustible gas or liquid like ethanol or propane. Gas-fueled flames typically burn out fairly quickly when their fuel source is eliminated. However, they can spread remarkably fast if not halted.

Fireplace safety includes keeping a fire extinguisher close by

When You Need to Put the Fire Out (non-emergency) – To safely and effectively extinguish a fire in your fireplace, use the following steps:

  1. Spread out the remaining fuel and embers with your poker.
  2. Bury the fuel and embers with ash with your fireplace shovel.
  3. Generously cover the fuel and embers with baking soda.

Note: The sodium bicarbonate in baking soda is the same extinguishing component used in many fire extinguishers.

Avoid Flammable Flooring – What is in front of your fireplace? Hot ambers can be launched out of your fireplace when air pockets burst (cracking or popping sound). Keep these ambers from igniting a carpet fire by installing ceramic tile or a non-flammable rug in front of your fireplace.

Absolutely No Vacuums – Never use a vacuum to clean up or remove ashes. Live coals may remain in those ashes, potentially causing your equipment to malfunction or erupt in flames.

Hire a Professional Chimney Sweep – After about 65 to 80 fires, hire a professional chimney sweep to clean your fireplace and chimney. Hiring this service benefits you in that problems, and potential structural failures can be detected far enough in advance to avoid costly damages and repairs.

Fireplace disasters happen from a lack of maintenance and safety measures

Test Your Fireplace Before Use – Verify that your fireplace is functioning properly before you start using it. Light a couple small pieces of wood and follow the smoke. If it is drawn through the chimney, it stands to reason that your fireplace is ready to go.

However, if smoke backs up into the room, troubleshoot and solve the problem before using the fireplace in any capacity. Common issues causing this could be:

  • An obstruction in the chimney duct
  • Too much creosote or soot buildup
  • Closed damper

Note: Clean chimneys do not catch fire.

Tip: Test your fireplace multiple times through the burning season and request professional help when necessary.

Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Smoke Alarms – Your wood-burning fireplace could be a potential health hazard. A properly installed and maintained fireplace shouldn’t give you any problem. However, issues like carbon monoxide poisoning can occur when you have an obstructed chimney or ventilation system. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas making it more difficult for people to detect it. 

Fireplace safety includes installing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

Smoke inhalation is another potential health hazard that comes with having a fireplace in your home. Smoke is typically released through the chimney unless it is obstructed, and that’s when smoke backs up into your home. To ensure your safety and the safety of your loved ones, install a carbon monoxide detector and a smoke alarm.

Fireplace Safety and Maintenance

In this article, you discovered wood-burning fireplace maintenance information and safety tips to keep your fireplace in its best working condition.

Keeping your wood-burning fireplace in its best condition will help you enjoy a multitude of safe, cozy, and warm fires throughout the winter months.

Allowing your fireplace to build up soot and creosote or develop cracks and fissures can lead to violent chimney fires causing deadly home fires.

Sources:
oaklandcc.edu/news/press-releases/fireplacesafetytips.aspx
http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/wood-burning-installation-and-maintenance
firesafe.sc.gov/weekly/fireplace.pdf
fema.gov/fact-sheet/chimney-fire-precautions

Visit http://www.homeandgardeningguide.com/repairs/fireplace/ for more fireplace articles, resources and how-to tips.

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Space Heater Information and Safety

Avoid injury or burning down your home when using a space heater to adjust a room’s temperature. Being aware of space heater safety practices will help keep you and your loved ones safe and warm during cold times.

homeandgardeningguide.com assembled the following space heater information and safety tips to help you avoid severe personal injury or catastrophic fire damage to your home.

Types of Electric Space Heaters

As temperatures drop, you may be ready to pull out the old space heater (or get a new one). The overall intention of these heaters is to temporarily warm a single room or space within your home where your central heating may not be maintaining a comfortable or desired temperature.

Electric space heaters come in all shapes and sizes. Here are some primary types of heating devices or systems you may see in use at any given time:

Electric space heater safety information

  • Electric Space Heaters – An electric space heater is a mobile heating device designed to focus heat in a single room or small area. They work by expelling hot air via a fan, which naturally rises and forces cooler air to the floor.
  • Electric Floor Heaters – Electric radiant floors typically consist of electric heating cables built directly into the floor and are among the safest heating systems.
  • Electric Baseboard Heaters – Electric baseboard heaters are long, narrow heating devices that run along the bottom of walls. Inside the heater’s aluminum housing is a metal heating element.
  • Electric Heat Pumps – Heat pumps can be used to heat and cool a home. A heat pump can also be used to heat water.
  • Electric Fireplaces – An electric fireplace is a heating element that looks similar to a traditional wood-burning or gas fireplace but does not require venting or combustible substance.
  • Electric Fan Heaters – Fan heaters are essentially electric hot air fans. These heaters are small, portable, and practical heating devices.
  • Electric Infrared Heaters – Infrared heaters work by converting electricity into radiant heat. Infrared is part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • Electric Kickspace Heaters – Kickspace electric heaters are recessed in under-cabinet spaces and provide supplemental heat where space is limited or where central heating cannot reach. Also known as toespace or toekick heaters.
  • Micathermic Heaters – A micathermic heater is a type of electrical space heater in which the heating element is covered by thin sheets of mica.
  • Ceramic Heaters – The principal difference between a fan heater and a ceramic heater is that it produces heat via a ceramic plate rather than a filament. This plate retains heat, so a ceramic heater produces more heat than a fan heater with filament.

Safe Space Heater Operation

Your electric space heater should only be used for its intended purpose. They are only meant to emit supplemental heat in relatively small spaces. Don’t use them to warm sheets/blankets, cook, dry off clothes, or thaw frozen pipes.

Portable Electric Space Heater Safety Tips

The following tips will help you purchase and utilize a portable electric space heater in the safest possible way.

1. Is the Heater Tested?

Check the label before purchasing a space heater. The heater for your home should be listed by a reputable and qualified testing laboratory. You are looking for the UL mark from Underwriters Laboratories, the ETL label from Intertek, or CSA International certification.

2. Has Your Heater Been Recalled?

Search the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) Safer Products site to see if your electric heater has been recalled. Find them at saferproducts.gov/

3. Prepare Your Home

Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms in your home and test them monthly. Change their batteries when necessary.

Smoke and fire detectors alert homeowners to dangerous conditions in the home

4. Frequently Inspect Your Heater

Inspect your heater, cord, and plug. If anything looks melted, deformed, frayed, or damaged in any manner, don’t run it.

5. Heater Location

Place your heater on a firm, flat and stable surface, keeping it at least three feet from anything that could catch fire, such as throw pillows, furniture, or bedding.

Note: If you’re operating your heater in a shop or a garage, be mindful of flammable items, including paint, gas cans, or exposed insulation and construction material.

6. Avoid Using Power Strips and Extension Cords

Plug your space heater directly into the wall outlet. Using a space heater with an extension cord or power strip could lead to overheating. Be certain the plug fits snug and is the only device plugged into that outlet.

Note: Prevent the power cord from resting anywhere with foot traffic and avoid running it under rugs, carpeting, or any furniture.

7. Avoid Contact with Water

To prevent short circuits and electrocution, always keep electric heaters at a distance from any water sources and never touch or hold an electric heater if you’re wet.

8. Avoid Excessive Use

Operate your electric space heater during short periods and avoid letting it run throughout the night. Allowing them to run for an extended time increases the potential to overheat and end up malfunctioning or causing a fire.

9. Safety Features

When purchasing an electric space heater, consider the following:

  • A “tip-over switch” that shuts the unit off if it’s not in a proper, upright position.  
  • Automatic shut-off/Overheating protection that automatically shuts the heater down in case of overheating.
  • A programmable thermostat that monitors the room temperature, allowing the unit to turn on and off when the desired temperature is reached.

Tip: Before purchasing any electric space heater, ask for a demonstration of the heating unit’s features.

Space Heater Safety

In this article, you discovered space heater information and common-sense safety tips to help you correctly operate one.

Correct operation and placement of a space heater will help you avoid its malfunctioning while keeping your space cozy and comfortable.

The improper operation of an electric space heater can result in electrocution, injury, or a house fire.

Sources:
energy.gov/energysaver/small-space-heaters
consumerreports.org/space-heater/space-heater-safety-tips-a1096367334/
geico.com/living/home/home-protection/space-heaters/
nfpa.org/-/media/Files/Public-Education/Resources/Safety-tip-sheets/PortableHeaterSafety.ashx

Visit http://www.homeandgardeningguide.com/repairs/heating-cooling/ for more heating unit articles, resources and how-to tips.

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11 Water Appliances for Your Home

Whether you purchased a new home or are looking to update an existing property, knowing which appliances have the greatest potential for leaks and your ability to reduce expensive water bills depends on your knowledge of water appliances. By knowing the water appliances and fixtures throughout your home, you can better keep track whether they have been neglected and their ability to deliver water as intended.

homeandgardeningguide.com assembled the following list of water-based appliances and fixtures commonly found in homes, their uses, and maintenance necessities.

Water Appliances and Fixtures List

You’d be surprised at the number of water connections made to appliances and fixtures in the average home. The following items should be a part of your routine home safety walk to ensure the proper functioning and leak/flood prevention:

1. The Washing Machine

Household water based appliances and fixtures washing machine

Keep clothes and fabrics throughout the house clean without the need for hand-washing or the expense of dry-cleaning. Washing machines typically come as front-loading or top-loading and should be placed on your water connection and electrical connection checklists.

2. The Bathtub

Household water based appliances and fixtures bathtub

Bathtubs are intended and designed for you to soak away the stressors of daily life. A bathtub may have its plumbing and drain systems concealed by framing or exposed with a stand-alone tub. Bathtubs should be periodically checked for cracks and fissures that may lead to severe water damage, water connection, and drain leaks.

3. Showerheads

Household water based appliances and fixtures showerhead

Whether you have showerheads fixed to the wall or a hand-held version, the shower is the place to start your daily journey or wash away the day’s stress. These fixtures are capable of dispensing tremendous volumes of water. They should be routinely checked for leaks, cracks, or sediment buildup.

4. Bathroom Sink

Household water based appliances and fixtures bathroom sink

Another household fixture often taken for granted or forgotten is the bathroom sink. This fixture helps you promote cleanliness and hygiene in the household. Sinks should have their overflow and drains checked frequently.

5. Bathroom Faucets

Household water based appliances and fixtures bathroom faucet

Whether it is turned on by a twist, pull, a nudge, push, or a tap, bathroom faucets should have their water supply connection checked periodically for proper (leak-free) operation.

6. The Toilet

Household water based appliances and fixtures toilet

No modern-day home can do without a toilet to efficiently remove liquid and solid waste by way of its sewage connection. This appliance needs its water connection, flushing, and filling mechanisms verified often for proper filling and leak-free system.

7. Bidet (Standalone and Sprayer)

Household water based appliances and fixtures bidet

An often curious fixture in the bathroom is known as a bidet (b-day). This fixture is intended to enhance hygiene in the bathroom by eliminating the use of toilet paper and relying on spraying water to clean yourself after using the toilet. For those with limited space, integrated toilets or hand-held sprayers are available to accommodate your hygiene necessities. Bidets should be checked frequently for leaks and potential cracks/defects.

8. Kitchen Sink

Household water based appliances and fixtures kitchen sink

Whether you’re cooking, cleaning, or filling a pot to boil, the kitchen sink is a central fixture to your home that influences your disposal, dishwasher, and supply of clean water in your kitchen. This fixture should be inspected frequently to detect and prevent leaks, pipe burst, or appliance failure.

9. Kitchen Faucets

Household water based appliances and fixtures kitchen faucet

Similar to your bathroom faucets, Whether turned on by a twist, pull, a nudge, push, or a tap, kitchen faucets should also have their water supply connection checked periodically for rust, deterioration, and proper (leak-free) operation.

10. Dishwasher

Household water based appliances and fixtures dishwasher

The dishwasher could be called the kitchen’s washing machine. This appliance connects to your plumbing and electrical system. If you look closely, you may notice that this appliance relies on your kitchen sink’s drainage to get rid of its own water. Make sure that this appliance gets a thorough inspection each time you go over your checklist.

11. Ice and Water Dispenser (Refrigerator)

Household water based appliances and fixtures water dispenser

One of the most overlooked water-based appliances in a home is, without a doubt, the ice and water dispensers built into your refrigerator. While these modern marvels help keep us cool and hydrated year-round, they can leak from the water supply line or the overflow drip pan. When this appliance malfunctions, you may be better off calling a repairman authorized by the manufacturer to get it up and running again.

Essential Home Appliances

In this article, you discovered a list of commonly found water-based appliances and fixtures, their uses, and maintenance needs.

Knowing which appliances use water in your home is fundamental in preventing flood and electrical damage from potential malfunctions.

Neglecting or putting off appliance inspections or repairs may lead to expensive repairs, flood cleanup, and appliance replacement.

Sources:
epa.gov/watersense/watersense-products
energystar.gov/products

Visit www.homeandgardeningguide.com/repairs/interior/ for more appliance and fixture articles, resources and how-to tips.

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Summer Garden Tips and Vegetable Planting Ideas

Keep your summer garden from being dull, non-productive or dying out. Knowing which veggie produce varieties thrive in summer gardens will help you plant, and keep a stunning summer garden.

Summer gardening diy tips and ideas for working in the garden

homeandgardeningguide.com assembled helpful tips and ideas to assist you in keeping your garden flourishing and producing throughout the summer months.

When Should I Start a Summer Garden?

You can start a summer garden as early as January. The following will give you vital insight into each month and how you can prepare your garden for the coming summer:


January Summer Garden Preparation

While this may seem extraordinarily early, this is the time that new and improved seeds come available to the market. If you do indeed plan on starting your vegetables from seeds, getting them started indoors will provide a head start and potential early harvest for your garden.

The earlier you browse seed catalogs, the better your chances of ordering the seeds you want. Popular or new varieties will tend to sell out early.

Summer garden diy tips and ideas growing from seeds

Tip: Create a map of your garden and sketch out how you want your garden to look this summer (crops should be rotated each year). Keep these maps from year to year and take detailed notes on your garden’s performance.

If you prefer beginning with seedlings ready to be transplanted, make a list of what you’d like to buy at your nursery when the time comes. Since nursery operators are typically local, ask for recommendations about which vegetables to grow (if needed) and if there have been any infestation or disease warnings issued for your area.

February Summer Garden Preparation

For most vegetables, typical February weather is still considered too early for outdoor planting. However, there are some tasks you can perform indoors and outdoors:

  • Finish acquiring your seeds
  • Using the instructions on the packets, put them in planting order (by date)
  • Buy enough growing mix, seed trays, peat, etc. to get your seeds started
  • Start your plants indoors, so they are ready for planting after the threat of frost passes

Take the time to clean, sharpen, or replace your essential garden tools such as:

  • Shovels
  • Garden Spade and Fork
  • Hoe
  • Rake
  • Bypass Pruner
  • Trowel
  • Wheelbarrow

Summer garden diy tips ideas and equipment

Tip: Sanitizing your garden equipment after each use will help you avoid spreading diseases throughout your garden.


February Planting

Outdoors: Only when the ground is reasonably workable you can plant bare-root perennial species like:

  • Asparagus
  • Artichoke
  • Spinach (some varieties)
  • Sweet Potato
  • Horseradish
  • Rhubarb

Summer garden diy tips and ideas growing rhubarb

Tip: If your winter season is particularly cold, wait until temperatures come up a bit or plant them indoors for eventual outdoor replanting.


Indoors: Start seeds for vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale, lettuce, and onions (follow the start dates indicated on seed packets).

Read this blog for more ideas, as some fruits and vegetables thrive in containers and indoors.

March Summer Garden Preparation

Weather-wise, March tends to be an unpredictable month. Be prepared to deal with late-season frosts or freezes that could severely damage perennials (cover your crops with row covers when projected temperatures may dip to or below freezing).


March Planting

Most vegetable crops will flourish in slightly acidic soil (6.0 to 6.8 pH). Pick up a pH test kit at your local garden center or send a soil sample to an extension laboratory to make sure your soil pH is in the proper range for the growing season.

You should annually amend your garden soil with compost, peat moss, manure, etc., to improve its structure. Give a healthy start to your perennial vegetables by adding organic compost along the sides of your plant rows. Turn the compost into the existing soil with a spading fork and rake it smooth.

Summer garden diy tips and ideas to improve soil

Tip: If your garden soil continuously suffers from erosion, leeching, or other damaging conditions, consider building raised beds in which you can better control soil conditions.


Outdoors: Once soil temperatures are consistently above 40°F, start moving the vegetables you’ve already started like kale, lettuce, spinach to the garden. By the end of the month, your garden should be ready for you to plant peas.

Indoors: Start seeds for crops such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, pumpkin, squash, and sweet corn.

April Summer Garden Preparation and Planting

Avoid being lured into a false sense of security. April weather can still throw you a curveball. The row covers you used in March will come in handy during an occasional April nighttime cold snap.

Summer garden diy tips and ideas avoid late season frost

When soil temperatures consistently register at 60ºF or above, you can start safely planting warm-season crops.



Note: If you didn’t start your own seeds, buy sprouts and seedlings of early-season crops like radishes, spinach, onions, leeks, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, beets, peas, and Brussels sprouts.


Summer garden diy tips and ideas growing spinach

April Planting

Start planting your early-season crops. Select a mild weathered, overcast day to reduce transplant shock. Water well when planting, and When finished, lay down a two- to three-inch layer of organic mulch to suppress any weeds and regulate soil moisture and temperature.



Tip: For your greens, sow seeds in the garden where they’ll germinate and grow. Try planting them in succession, every 2-3 weeks, for a continuous harvest during the season.

Note: Until your newly transplanted seedlings develop their root systems, keep them watered and moist – if they dry out, you’ll likely lose them.

May Summer Garden Preparation and planting

Now is the time to take advantage of warmer temperatures, longer days, and moist soil to do the majority of your remaining planting. However, resist any temptation to plant more than you can reasonably tend to as the season advances.

May Planting

When soil temperatures remain consistently at or above 70°F, you can start or continue planting your early-season crops, your tomatoes, peppers, melons, eggplants, peppers, corn, cucumbers, potatoes, and herbs.

Tip: Make sure your watering patterns are sufficient to provide your plants with enough water and mulch to remain hydrated through the growing season.


If sowing directly in the garden, start your carrots, beets, and radishes now.

Summer garden diy tips and ideas growing carrots

Note: Follow seed packet instructions for proper crop spacing that were direct sown, and thin your seedlings accordingly.

Tip: This is the stage in the growing season to be vigilant for insect damage on leaves. When you spot signs of trouble, take immediate measures to control the situation by removing the affected leaves, using row covers or physical barriers, or spraying with an organic pesticide like neem oil. If you are perplexed by the insect damage, consult your garden center or extension service for recommended actions.


May Harvest

Your early-season plants like asparagus, spring greens, and peas should be approaching harvest time.

Summer garden diy tips and ideas for growing asparagus

Tip: The more you harvest, the more these crops will produce.

Can You Plant a Garden in Summer?

Despite common perception, June or July are not too late to plant garden vegetables and herbs. Vegetables and herbs that yield multiple harvests can be planted in midsummer for a reasonable harvest in the fall. Even though July may be too late for varieties like tomatoes or squash, you can still pick seeds according to your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone that permit later planting and harvesting.

What Can You Plant in a Summer Garden?

Summer garden diy tips and ideas for growing vegetables

Some popular vegetables to grow in summer gardens include:

  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Squash
  • Sorrels
  • Beans
  • Greens
  • Berries

Summer garden diy tips and ideas for strawberries

And some of the top vegetables to grow in the summer heat include:

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Southern Peas
  • Hot Peppers
  • Green Beans
  • Okra
  • Sunflowers

Which Flowering Plants Grow in Summer Season?

If you have the space in your garden and want to get some summer color in it, consider the following flowering plants for the summer season:

Summer garden diy tips and ideas flowering marigolds

  • Angelonia
  • Begonia
  • Dahlias
  • Daisies
  • Daylily
  • Geranium
  • Gerbera Daisies
  • Lavender
  • Marigolds
  • Dahlias
  • Peony
  • Salvia

Tip: Growing flowering plants amidst your vegetables will help you keep your garden looking full and vibrant as it thins from summer harvesting activities.

Summer Garden

In this article, you discovered gardening tips and ideas to help you keep your garden producing through the entire growing season.

Knowing what to plant, when to plant it, how to care for it, and when to harvest will help you grow quality edibles through the growing season in its entirety.

Planting without a plan may leave you with an unhealthy garden, low crop yield, or wilted and dying plants.

Sources:
agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/solutions/easy-vegetables-to-grow/
extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/planting-vegetables-midsummer-fall-harvest
gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/summer-bedding-plants.html
pss.uvm.edu/ppp/articles/sumveg.html

Visit http://www.homeandgardeningguide.com/gardening-landscaping/maintenance/ for more garden maintenance articles, resources, DIY and how-to tips.

The post Summer Garden Tips and Vegetable Planting Ideas appeared first on http://www.homeandgardeningguide.com

How to Replace an Old Thermostat

Avoid astronomical energy bills with an old inefficient thermostat. By replacing your analog thermostat with a programmable or Wi-Fi thermostat, you can save hundreds of dollars per year in heating and cooling costs.

homeandgardeningguide.com assembled helpful information to help you replace your old thermostat, new thermostat options for your home, and where your thermostat should be located.

How to Replace a Thermostat

Few home improvement projects can provide the type of savings garnered from replacing an old, non-programmable thermostat. The following steps will help you upgrade your thermostat:

old analog thermostat with limited capabilities

Project Parameters – This is an easy “beginner level” project that can be completed in under two hours. You will need the following tools/equipment:

  • Screwdriver (Phillips or flathead depending on the screws used in the original installation)
  • Level
  • Drill (with an appropriate sized bit for mounting screws)
  • Wide Painters Tape/Blue Tape (used to catch falling debris from drilling activities)
  • Multimeter (voltage meter)
  • Camera/Cameraphone

Tip: If your new thermostat occupies a smaller space than the old one, use touch-up paint or repaint the wall for a professional-looking job.

If you need to paint, some great tips and guidance can be found at homeandgardeningguide.com/improvement/painting/diy-interior-painting-trim-baseboard-crown-molding/

Step 1 – Turn off the Power

The first thing to do is turn off the power to your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) unit and existing thermostat. You can turn off the power by flipping the breaker to the off position (this breaker should be clearly labeled on the breaker panel).

Match the voltage of your HVAC wiring to your new thermostat. If the voltage is not labeled on the unit or the breaker, use a multimeter to verify the voltage.

Note: Make sure the wiring voltage does not exceed the thermostat manufacturer-specified voltage. Higher voltage wiring may lead to control damage, electric shock, or extreme fire risk.

Tip: If the wiring voltage is not labeled on the breaker or the HVAC unit, for future reference, write the wiring voltage on stickers, then place one next to the breaker and another on the unit.

Step 2 – Remove the Old Thermostat and Base

In most cases, old thermostats are attached to their base by clips or brackets. It may sound like you are breaking the thermostat when removing it, don’t stress it. Even if the mounting bracket breaks, you are replacing the unit.

Outdated thermostat technology

Examine the base and its wiring. Depending on the age of the unit, you may see a two-wire or four-wire configuration. Take a picture of the base and wiring before removing them from their terminals. You should also label each wire as it is removed from its terminal (these coded labels should be supplied with your new thermostat).

With the wires removed from their terminals, unscrew the baseplate from the wall and slide it off of the wires.

Note: If your old thermostat operates on a mercury-filled “thermometer,” don’t add it to your regular trash. Rather, call your local waste recycling center for proper disposal instructions.

Tip: When you pull off the old baseplate, hold onto the wires. If the wires fall back into the wall, fishing them out can get very frustrating. Use vise grips to hold the wires or fold them down and tape them to the wall.

Step 3 – Mount the New Thermostat Base

Put the new thermostat base in place (right-side up), level it, and mark the two holes. Then, drill the holes, insert the plastic anchors, pull the wires through the base, and screw it in place (follow the instructions provided with your thermostat).

Note: Depending on the thermostat model, there may be multiple holes in the base that already line up with existing holes in the wall.

Tip: Before you drill your holes, use the blue tape to attach a small plastic bag flush with the wall below the thermostat location.

Digital smart thermostat installation

Step 4 – Wire Your New Thermostat

With the base screwed in place, spread out the labeled wires, so they are close to their designated terminal. Terminals will most commonly be “press, insert, and release” or secured by terminal screws.

If you did not label the wires, refer to the picture you took earlier and attach each wire to its appropriate terminal. Due to the immense number of potential wiring configurations, you may need to refer to the diagram in the instructions.

If there is still confusion about the wiring, call the thermostat manufacturer’s technical service line. They can help you troubleshoot wiring and other installation problems and doubts.

Once you have wired your thermostat and attached the control panel/unit, turn the power on, adjust the unit’s settings, and enjoy your handiwork!

Digital Thermostat Options

Digital/smart thermostats offer multiple features that help keep your home comfortable while reducing heating and cooling costs. Basic models are relatively inexpensive and still equipped with Wi-Fi, allowing you to connect it to the internet and control your thermostat from anywhere using your mobile device.

Nest Learning Thermostat – This thermostat, besides its stylish appearance, can save you between 10% to 15% on your heating and cooling bills. Consider the following:

Google nest smart thermostat

Pros:

  • Easy installation
  • Can be controlled from anywhere
  • Fully interactive with other Nest and 3rd-party devices (WeMo switches, Haiku fans, LIFX lighting, the Wink Hub, and more)
  • Compatible with Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and IFTTT
  • Geofencing (detects when you are coming or leaving home)
  • Furnace monitoring

Cons:

  • No remote room sensors
  • Pricey (average cost of $249)

Perhaps the most advantageous feature of this thermostat is Auto-Schedule. The unit learns your daily heating and cooling temperature settings and times during the first week of operation. The thermostat then creates a schedule based on your preferences.

Note: This thermostat requires a bit of finessing until you become accustomed to the physical “dial-type” control. However, you’ll find it extremely easy and intuitive when controlling the unit from the Nest app.

Find this thermostat at:

Amazon
Best Buy
Lowe’s 

Honeywell Home T9 Smart Thermostat With Sensor – This thermostat is best for uniform temperatures throughout your home. It has an average price of $199. Consider these features:

Honeywell digital smart thermostat

Pros:

  • Easy installation
  • Interacts with Alexa, Google voice commands, and Cortana
  • Remote room temperature sensors
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi

Cons:

  • Does not integrate with other Honeywell smart devices directly
  • Limited IFTTT functionality
  • No HomeKit support

As previously mentioned, the feature that sets this thermostat apart is its remote room temperature sensors, giving this unit the capability to monitor and maintain temperature equilibrium in your entire home.

Find this thermostat at:

Amazon
Best Buy
Lowe’s

Bosch Connected Control BCC100 Thermostat – While this thermostat is not as “intelligent” as its competitors, its features and price are still quite appealing. Coming in at an average of $145, this thermostat has the following pros and cons:

Bosch digital smart thermostat

Pros:

  • Easy installation
  • Can be controlled from anywhere
  • Large, easy to use color touch screen
  • Threshold alerts
  • Integrates with Alexa

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have IFTTT support or geofencing capabilities
  • Cannot integrate with other smart devices

For those that prefer a more “hands-on” approach, this thermostat combines simple functionality and large touchscreen control.

Find this thermostat at:

Amazon
Home Depot
Wayfair

Tip: Many utility providers across the nation offer incentives to upgrade analog thermostats to digital/smart ones. Call or visit your utility provider’s website to see what offers may be available.

Digital Thermostat Location

The location of your thermostat is as essential as its many features. Thermostats are generally placed in a central area of a home. However, there are cases where a thermostat may be located in a room or on a wall that is subject to intense sunlight or severe drafts from doors and windows.

If your thermostat was mounted in a precarious location, you may have the air conditioning come on when it’s 40°F outside or the heater coming on when it should not.

To relocate your thermostat to a hallway or more central location, call an electrician or HVAC professional. Depending on your home’s configuration and existing wiring, this could be more complicated and dangerous of a job than you can handle.

Replace an Old Thermostat

In this article, you discovered valuable tips and insight to help you upgrade your home’s thermostat, several digital thermostat options, and how to determine if your thermostat is in the right location.

Upgrading your old, analog thermostat to a more modern, digital one will save you hundreds of dollars in cooling and heating costs and leave you in better control of your home’s overall energy efficiency.

Leaving your old, outdated thermostat to poorly control your HVAC can become very costly and leave your home uncomfortable during extreme temperature fluctuations.

Sources:
extension.msstate.edu/publications/energy-efficient-homes-programmable-thermostats
engineering.purdue.edu/ece477/Course/Lectures/Slides/CS1-Nest.pdf
https://grains.caes.uga.edu/news/story.html?storyid=1024&story=Digital-Degrees.

Visit homeandgardeningguide.com/repairs/heating-cooling/ for more heating and cooling articles, resources, and tips.

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HVAC Inspection – What Is It, Its Cost, and How Long it Takes

Prevent your HVAC system from suffering major malfunctions when you need it the most. Understanding the importance and need for HVAC inspections will help you detect potential problems and prevent them.

hvac external unit inspection and maintenance

homeandgardeningguide.com assembled information about what an HVAC inspection is, how much one costs, how long it takes, and what information can be found on an inspection checklist.

What Is an HVAC Inspection

A Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system inspection is a complete examination and testing of your home’s heating, cooling, and air quality components. During an HVAC inspection, the unit’s basic functions are checked. Sometimes, HVAC systems (heat pumps, furnaces, air conditioners) can function and appear to operate normally, even while the system is suffering significant malfunctions.

What Is Involved in an HVAC Inspection?

Once you have an HVAC inspection scheduled, here’s what to do and expect:

  1. Make sure all HVAC components are accessible (free from obstructions)
  2. Make a list of your concerns, sounds, odors, and irregularities you’ve noticed
  3. Your technician will eliminate safety hazards by checking that all of your HVAC system parts are clean and in good working order
  4. Built-in safety components will also be checked
  5. Your vents or flues will be checked to make sure they are clean, undamaged, free from obstructions, and vented properly to the outdoors
  6. HVAC ducts will be checked for dirt and dust buildup.

The objective of HVAC inspections is to ensure home safety and determine whether your HVAC system is meeting your current home’s comfort requirements. An HVAC inspection identifies areas where cleaning, repairs, or replacement will increase efficiencies, benefiting your home in terms of overall heating and cooling. Cleaning, lubrication, and minor repairs are typically all that’s required to keep your HVAC system operating at its peak performance.

Your technician will also relay issues to you such as wear and tear or improperly-sized appliances for you to consider options, like an eventual system replacement.

hvac notes after full unit inspection and servicing

Note: in most cases, a simple cleaning or bit of maintenance can be performed on the day of the inspection. However, larger, more intricate jobs might require subsequent appointments.

How Long Does an HVAC Inspection Take?

One and a half to two hours is the average time it takes to inspect a one to three-zone heating and cooling system in a residential structure. This time may increase or decrease depending on the size of the home and the number of components making up the HVAC system.

Note: HVAC inspection times will also increase or decrease depending on the technician’s experience and familiarity with your HVAC system.

hvac inspection overview and cost

How Much Does an HVAC Inspection Cost?

For a home with 1,000 sq ft. or less, you could pay as little as $200 for an HVAC inspection. The larger the house or, the more extensive the HVAC system is, the more you can expect to pay for this service, ranging upwards of $600. Cleaning and minor repairs may be charged separately.

Tip: Prices and minimum charges vary between HVAC contractors. Check their inspection charges and any associated fees or potential add-ons before agreeing to any services.

HVAC Inspection Checklist

Removing and inspecting air conditioning condenser fan assembly

A comprehensive HVAC inspection checklist will consist of the following…

Air Conditioner and Heat Pump:

Inspection Item

P

F

Inspection Item

P

F

Outdoor AC Condenser Unit

 

 

Indoor Coil

 

 

Refrigerant Lines and Leaks

 

 

Condensate Drain Pan

 

 

Condensate Drain Line

 

 

Unit Wiring

 

 

System Control Unit

 

 

Blower Assembly

 

 

Thermostat Operation/Programming

 

 

Suction and Discharge Pressure

 

 

Supply and Return Air Static Pressure

 

 

Safety Controls

 

 

Electrical Components

 

 

Temperature Drop (Rise for Heat Pump)

 

 

Motor Amps/Unit Voltage

 

 

Blower Speed

 

 

System Operation

 

 

Clean/Replace Filters

 

 

hvac split system internal unit

Mini Split Inspection (Ductless):

Indoor Inspection Item

P

F

Outdoor Inspection Item

P

F

Clean/Replace Filters

 

 

Inspect and clean condensing unit

 

 

Inspect/Change Batteries in Remote

 

 

Inspect the Indoor Coil

 

 

Inspect/Clean Blower Wheel

 

 

Refrigerant Leaks

 

 

Inspect/Clean Condensate Line

 

 

Flare Connections/Refrigerant Lines

 

 

Inspect/Clean Indoor Housing

 

 

Wiring and Control Unit

 

 

Inspect/Clean Indoor Coil

 

 

Electrical Components

 

 

Confirm Condensate Pump Operation

 

 

Blower Wheel

 

 

Confirm Equipment Voltage and Communication

 

 

Confirm Equipment Voltage and Communication

 

 

Flush Drain Line

 

 

Inspect Equipment and Safety Controls

 

 

Flare Connections/Refrigerant Lines

 

 

Inspect/Clean Fan Blade

 

 

System Operation

 

 

System Operation

 

 

hvac gas furnace unit inspection

Electric Furnace Inspection:

Inspection Item

P

F

Inspection Item

P

F

Limit Switches

 

 

Fuses

 

 

Sequencers

 

 

Heat Strip Amp Draw

 

 

Heat Strip Continuity

 

 

Blower Motor Amps

 

 

Low Voltage Wiring

 

 

Line Voltage Wiring

 

 

Electronic Air Cleaner

 

 

Clean/Replace Media Filter

 

 

System Operation

 

 

Thermostat Operation/Programming

 

 

hvac heating unit connection inspection

Gas Furnace Inspection:

Inspection Item

P

F

Inspection Item

P

F

Wiring and Control Circuit

 

 

Temperature Rise

 

 

Blower Assembly

 

 

Flue Temperature and Draft

 

 

Heat Exchanger

 

 

Motor Amps

 

 

Fuel and Air Mixture

 

 

Clean Control Panels and Burners

 

 

Venting and Combustion

 

 

Supply and Return Air Static Pressure

 

 

Flame Rectification and Sensor

 

 

Voltage to Furnace Equipment

 

 

Intake and Outlet Gas Pressure

 

 

Test/Measure Carbon Monoxide Levels

 

 

Gas Leaks

 

 

Thermostat Operation/Programming

 

 

Safety Controls/Devices

 

 

Electronic Air Cleaner

 

 

Electrical Components

 

 

System Operation

 

 

Note: For any HVAC system inspection, you should be provided with a written diagnostic report of the technician’s findings.

How Often Should HVAC Be Inspected

hvac compressor test with gas pressure guage

Annually. To remain in optimal performance, your HVAC system (central AC and/or furnace) should be serviced once per year.

Consider servicing your HVAC system once every 6 months for regions with severe cold weather requiring near-continuous heating or those with severe hot weather requiring near-continuous cooling.

HVAC Inspection

In this article, you discovered information about HVAC inspections, what you can expect to pay, how long they take, and what information can be found on the inspection checklists.

Having your HVAC system inspected annually or bi-annually will help you keep your system functioning flawlessly while detecting potential problems well in advance.

Ignoring HVAC system inspections can lead to costly system failures, electrical problems, and gas leaks with potentially catastrophic results.

Sources:
florida-academy.edu/schedule-hvac-inspection/
ndsu.edu/vpfa_apps/safety/Clientweb/Files/IAQ%20Building%20Guide/hvacshrt.pdf
epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-08/documents/hvaclong.pdf

Visit homeandgardeningguide.com/repairs/heating-cooling/ for more heating and cooling articles, resources and tips.

The post HVAC Inspection – What Is It, Its Cost, and How Long it Takes appeared first on http://www.homeandgardeningguide.com

Accent Wall Tips

Keep your home’s drab interior from embarrassing you. By adding an accent wall to your interior decor, you can add depth and personality to an otherwise plain room.

DIY accent walls

homeandgardeningguide.com assembled helpful tips and information about what accent walls are, which wall to choose, which color to use, what you need, the preparation, and painting of the wall.

What is an Accent Wall?

An accent wall is an interior (or exterior) wall with a differing design from the others in that room. An accent wall’s color may be a different shade of the adjacent walls or designed differently with color, texture, and materials.

Accent walls often find their way in and out of interior design favor. However, when properly selected, designed, and painted, an accent wall will nearly always be the object of or initiate a conversation about your home’s decor.

Which Wall Do I Use As an Accent Wall?

Selecting a wall as your accent wall is easier than you may think. Answer the following questions to help you determine which wall to use:

  • When you walk into the room, which wall draws your attention first?
  • Is one of your walls designed differently?
  • Does one of your walls have a door, a fireplace, window(s), built-in shelves, or other standout feature?

DIY accent wall painting tips

Don’t forget to consider your ceiling as your accent wall. If your ceiling doesn’t have a popcorn finish and has cross beams or recessed features, it may be your best option to highlight.

If you are painting an accent wall in your bedroom, the most common wall to use is the one behind your headboard.

Tip: Avoid long walls in a room unless it has a feature that breaks it up (door, window, sliding glass door, fireplace, etc.). If an accent wall is too big, it can overpower the room and leave you disappointed after the newness wears off.

Which Color Is Best for an Accent Wall?

Twenty years ago, the answer to this question was likely red. Since the turn of the century, though, the 60/30/10 rule has helped many homeowners determine their interior color schemes. The 60/30/10 rule is explained as:

  • 60% of the space painted with a dominant color
  • 30% of the space should be in a secondary color or texture (often a lighter shade of the dominant color)
  • 10% of the space is used as the accent (often a darker shade of the dominant color)

This design rule will help you put a color scheme together and create a color palette throughout your home.

For an accent wall, you should choose a color that complements your decor. Consider the following:

  • If your 60 is cream and your 30 is tan, you could use a dark brown as your 10. This offers a stark contrast without clashing.
  • If your sofa is green with yellow highlights, choose yellow so the sofa won’t disappear into the accent wall.
  • If you have a dark accent wall in an adjacent room, use a lighter shade of that color for the accent wall you are painting. This ties the two spaces together.
  • If you intend to use wallpaper, the colors and patterns are unlimited. Tie in the color or pattern with furniture or design accents.

DIY accent wall painted black with paintings

See this link for some Examples of Living Room Architecture and Decor. Check out Glidden’s color palette and explore Sherwin-Williams paint colors here.

Use a flat white latex or acrylic paint as your base. When purchasing paint at a home improvement/supply store, you can have your paint tinted into over 1,000 colors. You will use just over a half-gallon of paint for a 15’ X 8’ (120sqft) wall.

Note: After painting, if you decide that the color is too bright, too dull, too dark, or just doesn’t fit, remember, it’s only paint, and you can repaint it.

Tip: Always purchase a minimum of a half-gallon more than you need (or safeguard the color code). This leaves you with a reserve that can be used for eventual touchups and repairs.

Tools and Supplies Needed to Paint an Accent Wall

The following tools and supplies will help you paint your accent wall easily and cleanly:

  • Flathead screwdriver (open the paint can and remove faceplates from switches and outlets)
  • Two or three disposable dampened cloths (quickly wipes up accidents and splatters)
  • Putty knife
  • Drywall spackle or mud
  • 150 grit sandpaper
  • 3/4 to 1-inch wide painters tape or masking tape
  • 2-inch wide paintbrush (corner and trim work)
  • Standard 7 to 12-inch synthetic roller with a 3/16 to 1/4-inch nap (thickness)
  • Sturdy roller tray
  • Extension pole for your roller
  • Drop cloth (paper, cloth, or plastic)
  • Power drill
  • Auger drill bit (10 to 12-inches) and one 6-inch zip tie
  • The paint
  • 1 empty paint can
  • A sturdy step, stool, or small ladder to get you to a comfortable height for trim work along the top edge of the wall

Tip: Use a floor duster to “wipe down” the wall from ceiling to floor. Dust and cobwebs can leave undesired textures and a “dirty appearance.”

Painting Your Accent Wall – Preparation

The time you spend preparing your wall will make painting it much easier and less time-consuming. Consider the following:

  1. Move any furniture near the wall to the opposite side of the room (give yourself space to work).
  2. Cover a small table or surface to work from.
  3. Remove switch and outlet faceplates (this is a great time to clean or update them).
  4. Remove fixtures or coverings like doorbell covers and motion sensor covers.
  5. Remove nails and screws from the wall.
  6. Put your drop cloth in place.
  7. Fill holes with drywall spackle or mud (this is the time to repair any issues along baseboards or trim).
  8. Once dried, use 150 grit sandpaper to smooth your repair work.
  9. Wipe down the wall again, removing all dust and debris.
  10. Unless you are comfortable cutting (painting trim) without tape, apply masking or painter’s tape to your baseboards, trim, and edges.
  11. Turn off your central air and use fans blowing out of (away from) the workspace. Circulating air in the space can deposit dust all over your paint job.

Note: Your preparation of the wall will have a direct impact on the outcome of your painting. People notice uneven lines and painted fixtures or faceplates. They also see work that looks professionally done. It is worth the time to thoroughly prepare your accent wall.

Watch this video on filling nail or screw holes in drywall.

Tip: If you are concerned about the masking or painter’s tape leaving a “bubbly” or uneven edge, seal it. Do this by:

  1. Applying the tape
  2. Painting the tape’s edge with the wall’s original color (this will fill in and seal the imperfections)
  3. When dried, paint the new color as instructed in the next step (cutting the wall)

When it comes time to remove the tape, you’ll be left with a flawlessly straight edge.

Tip: If you are using a plastic drop cloth, when you apply tape to the baseboards, stick the drop cloth’s edge to the outside half of the tape.

DIY accent wall drop cloth tip with tape

Painting Your Accent Wall – Cutting The Wall

Now that your wall is prepped, it’s time to start painting it. When you paint the wall’s trim, and around its fixtures, this is called “cutting the wall.” Consider the following:

Preparing The Paint – Use your screwdriver or prying tool to gently open your paint. Once the can is open, place it on your covered table and:

  • Stir the paint (see image below)

To thoroughly stir your paint (especially if it has been sitting for a while), do the following:

  1. Attach a zip tie to the end of your auger drill bit
  2. Insert a small wad of tape between the zip tie and auger (this keeps it in place)
  3. Pull the zip tie tight
  4. Bend the zip tie in half, so it forms an L or 7 shape
  5. Attach the drill bit to your drill
  6. Submerse the zip tie deep into the can
  7. Start the drill slow at first, then increase the speed (don’t drill a hole in the bottom of the can)
  8. Keep stirring until the paint is fully mixed, then stop the drill
  9. Carefully remove the drill bit and zip tie from the paint can
  10. Immediately discard the zip tie and wash your drill bit

DIY accent wall tip on mixing paint

Cutting The Wall – Pour about 1 inch of paint into the empty paint can. You will do your brushwork from this can (trying to use the full can may cause unwanted drips and splatters). Follow these steps:

  • Dip your brush into the paint you separated previously and “fill” the brush
  • With mild pressure, scrape all four sides of the brush on the can’s rim (you’re working with the paint left inside the brush)
  • Paint around fixtures, switches, and outlets to get a feel for the brush and the paint’s texture
  • Paint along the ceiling’s edge (if your ceiling is textured or popcorn), apply pressure to the brush to push its bristles into the edge, and trace the edge as straight as you can
  • Paint the vertical corners/edges
  • Paint the edge along the baseboard

DIY accent wall painting the trim and borders

Tip: When cutting a wall, you should paint from the edges inward (or the fixtures outward) about 3-inches. Also, use the brush to paint areas of the wall where a roller may not fit.

Note: Use a stool, step, or ladder for work that is above your head. This will help you avoid strain, muscle fatigue, and potential injury.

Painting Your Accent Wall – Rolling The Wall

Once your wall is cut, it’s time to roll it. The following steps will help you roll your wall like a pro:

  • Fill the trough (deep end of the roller tray) halfway.
  • Attach the extension pole to your roller (if you are using it).
  • Fill the roller by rolling it into the paint, lift it, return to the starting point and roll it into the paint again. Repeat until the roller looks full (never fully submerge the roller in the paint).
  • Working left to right or right to left, apply paint from ceiling to floor with slow and deliberate rolling motions.
  • Continue rolling and refilling as needed until your wall is completely painted.
  • Shine a couple of bright lights on the wall to expose “holes” or flaws in the paint job and correct them with the roller or the brush.

DIY accent wall tip on how to load a roller with paint

Note: Many will recommend rolling in W’s, M’s, or V’s, then crisscrossing for smooth coverage. At Home and Gardening Guide, we recommend painting floor to ceiling 2-feet at a time or two rollers wide.

Tip: Save your back from all the bending, crouching, and reaching by using a sturdy extension pole on your roller (Most standard broomsticks will screw onto most standard rollers).

Inspecting The Wall – Before you seal up your paint and roll up your drop cloth, wait for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then:

  • Carefully remove the painter’s or masking tape from the wall’s edges. There may be some touchup work to be done.
  • If you purchased poor quality paint, you will see “bleed” (it looks like the paint was too thin), and the wall will likely need to be cut and painted again.
  • Examine the wall looking for “dots” where the paint separated; touch these up.
  • Stand back and look for flaws. Repaint or touch these up.

Once you are satisfied with the paint job, pour any excess paint from the “empty” can and the roller tray back into the original can and seal it shut.

Finish The Job – Once your wall is painted and dried, it’s time to finish up your work. Here’s what’s left:

  • Roll up your drop cloth. If you used paper or plastic, you can discard it.
  • Put your clean or updated faceplates and fixtures back in their places.
  • Clean and put away your tools.
  • Clean and put away your paintbrush and roller.
  • Return your furniture to its place

Note: When cleaning oil or lacquer-based paint products, these residuals should be taken to a special household waste collection center. Check with your local municipality for locations. Do not allow these paints to go down your drain; they are not soluble with water.

Watch this video about cleaning latex and water-based paint from your brush and roller.

Painting Accent Walls

In this article, you discovered what an accent wall is, how to select an accent wall, how to choose its color, the equipment, preparation, and painting of the wall.

By adding an accent wall to your living space, you are adding depth, warmth, and personality to an otherwise monotone room.

Choosing the wrong wall or color may turn your accent wall into more of a distraction than an accomplishment.

Sources:
nyiad.edu/design-articles/interior-design/redesiging-any-room-with-paint
scalar.usc.edu/works/anne/interior-accents-for-a-fresh-look
4hresources.tennessee.edu/Projects/activities/LineDesignbw-W137.pdf

Visit homeandgardeningguide.com/improvement/painting/ for more painting articles, resources and tips.

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How to Fix Your Shower’s Low Water Pressure

improve bathroom shower head pressure

Showering with low water pressure can be an unpleasant experience. Washing becomes needlessly difficult, which in turn requires more time in the shower. Unfortunately, an article on The Washington Post explains how water conservation laws passed a decade or so ago has made this problem more common nowadays. The reason being that plumbing fixture manufacturers were forced to install flow restrictors inside showerheads.

Is it Really Low? Measuring Your Shower’s Water Pressure

On top of that, other issues can exacerbate matters. But before delving into potential problem areas and their solutions, it is imperative that you first know how to measure your shower’s water pressure. In this way, you can determine whether or not it is low compared to standard pressure ranges. The good news is that the process isn’t that complicated. A HomeServe Living guide to fixing low water pressure in the shower outlines the steps to take to test your shower’s water pressure. The guide begins with the things you will need: a measuring jug that’s at least 1−2 liters (L), a stopwatch, and a calculator.

Next, turn on the shower and put it on full. Then, with your stopwatch ready, place the measuring jug under the shower and let the water flow for six seconds. Afterward set the measuring jug aside and turn off the shower. Finish by computing your shower’s water pressure using this formula: water pressure = amount of water in the jug x 10. Ideally your shower’s water pressure should be 10−15L per minute, as anything under 10 liters is considered low pressure.

Yes, the Water Pressure is Low: Try These Quick Fixes

1. Clean the Flow Restrictor and Filter

The first solution to your shower’s low water pressure is to remove both the flow restrictor and filter and clean them, as sediments can accumulate in both and restrict water pressure even more. In addition see if you can adjust the flow restrictor and open it up a little to let the water flow a lot more freely. You can opt to remove it entirely as well or replace it with a new showerhead.

2. Clean the Entire Showerhead

You’ll need to clean the showerhead too, as mineral deposits can clog it in the same way sediments in the filter block water flow. To minimize the chances of that ever happening in the first place, make it a habit to clean the showerhead annually, as suggested in our ‘7 Summer Maintenance Tips for Every Homeowner’. Additionally, clean the aerator of your faucets since it can trap sediments over time and cause the same reduction in water pressure.

3. Have the Curb-Side Main Shutoff Opened All the Way

Sometimes, the water pressure in your entire house could be low because the curb-side main isn’t turned on fully. So, go take a look and see if the valve is turned on all the way. The Spruce details how a fully turned on main should have its valve rotated counter clockwise all the way if it has a round handle. If it has a lever-type handle, check that the lever isn’t parallel to the water pipe. That said, it’s better if you don’t tamper with the main yourself; instead, call your water provider and report the matter, so they can send someone to fix it.

4. Check the In-Line Shut-off Valve

Many homes nowadays have in-line shutoff valves on the different water lines in the house, so that you can turn off the water pressure only in specific areas (in case of repair, for instance). That said, it’s possible that some of these valves — including the one for your shower — isn’t fully open. So, do check if your shower’s in-line shut-off valve, located on the pipe leading up to the shower is turned counter clockwise all the way so that the valve is fully open.

If all else fails, it’s likely time to call in professional help. In this way, the underlying issue will be correctly identified, and then remedied accordingly.

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