Start out the new year by getting your hard-working dishwasher in top shape. Cleaning it every four to six weeks will help reduce the buildup of lime scale and soap scum and eliminate food particles that can diminish the machine’s effectiveness and clog the little water spouts that rinse your dishes. Houzz had a great article, so I am summarizing it for you below.
Here are the steps:
1. Check your heat. First, check your hot-water heater and set the temperature to 120° to best clean and sanitize your dishes and the inside of your dishwasher.
2. Empty the filter. Manufacturers are designing increasingly quiet dishwashers by removing the noisy macerator, a food-grinding component that operated along the same lines as a garbage disposal, and instead use a detachable cylindrical filter located on the bottom of the machine. When food is washed from dishes, the large particles are trapped inside until the filter is cleaned. If there is a funky odor coming from your dishwasher, this may be the culprit. For most dishwashers, removing the filter requires little more than turning it counterclockwise and gently pulling it out. Review the owner’s manual to locate your filter. Check the screen once a month if you tend to leave a little food on dishes. If you pre-rinse, check the screen every three months.“
3. Inspect the interior. Since you will be removing the bottom rack and silverware container to access the filter, inspect the floor of the machine to look for a buildup of debris.
4. Avoid introducing hand soap and detergent into your machine. Wipe down the inside with a damp cloth and your dishwasher detergent. Even a small amount of soap residue left behind on a sponge can cause foaming. Suds and foaming can loosen the seals inside your machine’s filter and other components and cause leakage.
5. Prevent and remove hard water deposits. Notice white streaks inside your machine? Those are hard water deposits, aka limescale and calcium carbonate. This buildup can clog the holes in a dishwasher’s spray arms and filter components. White vinegar can help remove these deposits .
6. Use quality detergent. High-quality detergent will keep your machine’s interior and your dishes clean. Research indicates that all-in-one products work best. These are the pods or packs you place in your dispenser. Look for different colors and a mix of liquid and powder inside the pack.
7. Watch what goes into your dishwasher. Check plates for toothpicks, bones, fruit pits, paper labels stuck on jars and sticky pricing labels. Paper and water create papier-mâché in filters and clog them. If you pull a glass dish out that’s been chipped, check immediately for broken pieces in your dishwasher. If small enough, broken glass can start breaking down and get inside the system.
8. Use your machine’s options. Use all the cycles and options to see what works best for targeted cleaning. If you don’t run your dishwasher every day, use the short wash and rinse cycles until you’ve got a full load.
9. Load dishes well. Check your owner’s manual or website to see loading tips. Make sure you spin the spray arms before turning on a cycle. If the arms can’t rotate because they’re getting hung up on a protruding pot handle, neither your dishes nor your machine will get adequately cleaned.
10. Check the hose on new installations. Homeowners or installers may hook the machine’s drain hose to a garbage disposal without realizing there’s a knockout plug that needs to be removed first. This is a metal piece about the size of a nickel that’s easily removed with a screwdriver to allow the dishwasher to drain. If your newly installed dishwasher is backing up, this could be the problem.
11. Try these home remedies to remove odors and stains. Once you’ve cleaned the filter, place a dishwasher-safe container with one cup of white vinegar on the top rack of your empty dishwasher. Run a hot-water cycle. This should wash away grease, gunk and odors. Next, sprinkle about a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the inside of your machine. Run a short cycle. This will keep your appliance free of stains and smelling fresh.
Here is a checklist outlining the basics of hanging holiday lights to make the process easy, quick and safe. Hang them on a warm day & work from the roof down.
1. Measure the area & purchase the # of feet of indoor/outdoor LED light strands you will need: the front roofline (measure along the ground below the roof); around the front door; front windows; porch railing or any other areas you want to light.
2. Gather the tools: extension ladder, stepladder, plastic light clips &/or zip ties, retractable tape measure, medium or heavy-duty outdoor extension cords, timer/s.
3. Inspect & test the strands, then clamp them into the clips every 6-10”. I suggest LEDs as they use less power BUT do not mix LEDs with incandescent strands on the same circuit!
4. Clamp the clips onto the gutters, eaves or siding . Zip ties work great for railings. Be sure to end with a MALE plug. Connect it to an extension cord and plug that into an outdoor outlet either on a timer or controlled by a light switch or app.
5. Add accent lighting—solar lighting and projection spotlights.
Best Overall: Everglow Clear White Wire Light Set-Amazon
Best LED: TaoTronics LED Lights w Remote Control-Amazon
Best Solar: Lalapao Solar String Lights-Amazon
Best Budget: Home Accents Clear Light Set-Home Depot
Best Projection Spotlight: 1byone Magical Laser Light-Amazon
If you want to save money and time, buy high-quality paint from the best paint brands such as Benjamin Moore and Behr (my personal favorite). In lab testing by Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping and Consumer Affairs, Benjamin Moore Regal Select came in first. It is the most expensive paint but goes on easily, one coat coverage, lasts for years, is extremely durable and cleans easily. Behr Premium Plus was voted best for bathrooms, laundry areas and other damp areas while Behr Marquee was voted best for hiding old paint with just one coat. Low-quality paint simply doesn’t cover or last and will almost always cost you more time and money in the long run.
Regardless of brand, go with the highest quality and ‘paint/primer in one’ products for the best coverage and durability.
There are 6 degrees of gloss/shine to consider. Flatter, low-luster paints roughen the surface, creating an even coat that hides flaws. Glossier paints form a smoother, more durable finish, but they show imperfections. The higher the sheen, the more scrubbable. In general, Satin is the most versatile, multi-purpose wall finish. Gloss is used mainly for woodwork in high use areas.
Baths & Laundry Rooms: Satin or Semigloss sheen with mildewcide for damp areas
Entries & Stairways: Eggshell washes off fingerprints
Bedrooms: Satin or Matte finishes give off a warm glow
Ceilings: Flat hides imperfections & have an even tone
Kitchen: Satin or Semigloss are scrubbable & resist mildew
Trim & Built-ins: Oil-based gloss for a hard, scrubbable finish
I will admit that I enjoy useful gadgets! Here are a few highly rated gadgets to help keep your home healthy.
Air Quality Monitors/Purifiers: To monitor & remove dust, pollen, CO2 (carbon monoxide), VOCs (i.e. gas from paint & disinfectants) and radon.
Cleaning Up Dust & Particles:
Purchase a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter system such as a Shark Rotator, Dyson V8, KOIOS Robotic, Kenmore Elite or Hoover Windtunnel Max.
Mold: You can look for common signs of mold yourself and purchase a mold test kit, however, you will need an expert to determine how much, what kind of mold and best methods for remediation.
Fire Prevention: Purchase a few First Alert fire extinguishers for liquid, electric & combustible materials. (keep one near each exit)
As always, if I can be of assistance to you in any way, please give me a call.
The blizzard/windstorm on March 13th caused
damage to many trees in our community—including the 80 foot pine in our front yard.
We watched from the window as it was slowly
uprooted over a 2 minute period and finally came to rest on one of our gigantic elm trees. Thankfully (and miraculously), it did not damage any property—nor the old elm.
The next week was busy obtaining estimates and having the tree removed. Your trees may appear to have weathered the storm, but if they are located in an area where your home, fencing, vehicles etc. could be damaged, it would be wise to inspect them and call in an arborist if you suspect problems. You don’t want the next storm to uproot your tree or result in large branches breaking off.
Signs of damage and potential issues include:
Perform the following to reduce risk of damage:
As always, if I can be of assistance to you in any way, please give me a call.
While it can feel inconvenient to schedule
maintenance on an HVAC system that seems to be working just fine, nothing is worse than being
without heat or A/C when you need it.
While certain situations make a pre-listing inspection undesirable, for most sellers a pre-listing inspection offers too many benefits to ignore. It is a proactive step that puts you ahead of the curve, allowing you to see the path ahead of you much more clearly.
Home inspections have the power to send all parties back to the negotiation table. As such, some sellers are taking the precautionary step of having an inspection done before listing the home for sale. Some real estate professionals say that having a home inspection prior to listing can offer several benefits to the seller.
Sellers who have a home inspection upfront can identify any major problems that could potentially derail a sale later on. Addressing repairs before a home is listed not only helps sell the home, but many times is more cost effective. It allows time to research the best repair option and compare bids. It also allows the seller time to contact their homeowner’s insurance if they intend to file a claim.
If items are repaired or replaced ahead of time, it becomes a non-issue for the buyer. In certain situations, if a seller does not want to make a repair or repairs, instead they can adjust their listing price to reflect the need for the work to be completed.
There have been instances where the seller will give the buyer a copy of the pre-inspection report along with the repair receipts showing that the work was completed. In some cases, the buyer will forgo having the home inspected after receiving the report.
There are lots of pros to having a pre-inspection; however, you must remember that every state has disclosure laws and that you may be legally required to disclose the problems uncovered. Whether or not it is the law to disclose, it is always best to be upfront about any known issues.
With the holidays approaching, I want to share some gift ideas that will not only make the Fix-It member of your home happy, but will also help you complete your ongoing home maintenance projects with ease—and perhaps, even fun!
When it comes to tools I can be very picky about some types. My wife gives me a hard time as I routinely peruse the Harbor Freight ads and clip their 20% off coupon. Often, they have great deals that no one else can match. Harbor Freight is great for household tools or a tool that is infrequently used.
For my construction tools, I go with the more heavy-duty, well-known brands. To purchase these, my favorite purveyors are Home Depot and Amazon. Lowes does not always carry the brands I prefer. When buying more expensive tools I always start with an online search of the above vendors. If you don’t need the tool immediately Amazon can have some fantastic deals—especially via “Amazon Warehouse Deals.”
If you are contemplating buying tools as a Christmas present or as a stocking stuffer, check out Home Depot and Lowes on Black Friday. They are rarely busy, and they have some fantastic buys. When buying tools as a gift, do a little sleuthing before making your purchase. If the person you are buying for already has numerous tools check to see what brand they seem to prefer and the intended purpose which can make a big difference when buying a tool.
When stocking someone’s toolbox or replacing a number of older pieces, look for package deals which let you buy several tools at once. You might spend up to 30 percent less compared to buying each tool individually. Package deals seem to be more prevalent during the holidays. Combos can be an especially good deal in the era of cordless tools. You can buy several tools, but you only need to purchase a single battery and charger, which is less expensive than buying a battery and charger for each one.
Lastly, retailers' websites can offer unique promotions, such as different tool combinations and discounts from what's listed in-store simply because they can't fit everything in a store. Many times, the shipping is free especially if sent directly to the store.
Here are my favorite places to shop:
Online distributors (e.g. Amazon.com, Harry Epstein Co.)
Big Box Retailers (e.g. Home Depot, Lowes, Sears)
Industrial Suppliers (e.g. Enco, McMaster Carr, MSC)
Woodworking Shops (e.g. Lee Valley, Rockler, Woodcraft)
As always, if you have questions about home inspections, maintenance, repairs, remodeling or tools, feel free to give me a call.
The kitchen is the most expensive room in the house to remodel, on a square foot by square foot basis.
When you remodel a low-intensity, low-function room such as a living room , you have few services (i.e. no running water, few electrical needs) and inexpensive materials (i.e. drywall, trim).
By contrast, a kitchen needs cabinetry, appliances, extra lighting, extra electrical needs, plumbing, ventilation, and more. The materials also tend to be expensive (i.e. granite, stainless steel, Corian, marble, custom or stock cabinets). So, here are a few things to consider:
20+ years of residential experience.