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Tag Archives: do-it-yourself



Are you thinking about adding a laundry room or perhaps re-vamping your existing laundry room? In the following article, there are some great examples of laundry rooms which service more than just laundry. The picture to the left also doubles as a dog washing/grooming area.

Click on the link below to view many more ideas .



“Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.” – Victor Kiam

Beware of the ‘silent killer’

By Bill and Kevin Burnett
Reprinted from:  Inman News™

Q: Our house was built around 1940; the fireplace is original; and we installed forced-air gas heating about 10 years ago. We haven’t had the fireplace or furnace inspected. What do you guys recommend to get the fireplace and the furnace ready for winter?

A: Regular inspection and servicing of fireplaces and furnaces adds to comfort, makes them more economical and most important, keeps them safe. Regular inspections can prevent a deadly house fire or the introduction of a silent killer: carbon monoxide.

Here’s our checklist to keep you cozy and safe during the winter months:

Wood-burning fireplaces

1. Inspection by a certified chimney sweep is a must. For heavy use, the chimney should be inspected and cleaned annually. Go up to five years if the fireplace is used only occasionally. The sweep should inspect for proper operation of the damper and for cracks in the flue liner, as well as sweeping the flue to remove creosote and other combustion byproducts.

2. Close the damper when the fireplace isn’t in use.

3. Install a chimney cap if you don’t already have one. You don’t want creatures building their nest in your flue.

4. When starting a fire, “prime” the flue by holding lighted newspaper at the back wall of the firebox to start the warm air rising.

5. Burn aged, dry hardwood if possible. Fir or pine burns hot and deposits creosote in the chimney. Don’t burn construction debris. It may contain toxic chemicals that will vaporize in the fire and could enter the living space.

6. Do not clean out the fireplace when the ashes are still hot. And dispose of the ashes in a place where wayward embers won’t start a fire.

Fireplace with gas starter

1. If the flame goes out, wait at least five minutes before attempting to relight the fireplace. This allows time to clear the fireplace of gas.

2. Be alert for unusual odors or odd-colored flames, which are often a sign that the fireplace is not operating properly. In such cases, contact your dealer or licensed technician for servicing. Contact the gas company if you smell gas when the unit is off.

Gas furnace maintenance

1. An annual maintenance check of a gas furnace extends the life of the appliance and ferrets out any hidden problems. A qualified heating contractor should vacuum out the unit, inspect the blower motor, inspect the heat exchanger for cracks, check the electronics and perform a multipoint checklist to make sure the furnace is operating properly.

2. Clean or replace the furnace filter frequently during the heating season. This ensures that air returning from the inside of the house is unobstructed and clean when entering the combustion chamber.

3. Keep vents, space heaters and baseboards clear of furniture, rugs and drapes to allow free air movement.

4. Ensure there is free airflow around your furnace and make sure there are no storage items obstructing airflow.

5. Do not store or use combustible materials, such as chemicals, paint, rags, clothing, draperies, paper, cleaning products, gasoline, or flammable vapors and liquids in the vicinity of the furnace.

6. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and lethal gas that can occur any time there is incomplete combustion or poor venting. Any home that contains fuel-burning appliances, such as a fireplace or furnace, should have a carbon monoxide alarm installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Copyright 2011 Bill and Kevin Burnett


“About the time we can make the ends meet, somebody moves the ends.” – Herbert Hoover

4 truths about home inspectors

Why are there so many consumer complaints?By Barry Stone
Reprinted from:  Inman News™

DEAR BARRY: I read your column religiously every week and it seems that most of the problems answered by you deal with questionable inspections by home inspectors. I am beginning to think that the majority of home inspectors are either extremely incompetent or are in the pocket of the sellers or realty agents. How can a buyer find an honest, reliable and competent home inspector? –Archie

DEAR ARCHIE: Your question raises more than one issue, so I offer the following four answers:

1. Many of the questions I receive are complaints about home inspectors. Human nature being what it is, people speak up more readily when they have a bad experience than when they have a good one. The fact is, there are many competent home inspectors in the profession, but people don’t write to say what a great home inspection they just had. Therefore, the complaints show up often in my articles.

2. Unfortunately, there are many home inspectors who do not perform thorough or competent inspections. No doubt, there are some cases where this is due to unethical relationships with REALTORS®. Personally, I don’t know any inspectors who operate on that level, so I expect that collusion of that kind is a rare practice.

But home inspectors are often exposed to subtle suggestions and pressures from agents. Without intending to be dishonest, there could be a tendency, in such cases, to soften the presentation of some disclosures.

3. Some home inspectors lack the knowledge and experience needed to conduct a thorough and adequate property evaluation. Most home inspectors receive ongoing education from associations such as the American Society of Home Inspectors and various other state associations. But not all home inspectors are on the advanced side of the educational curve.

4. The toughest question is: How can I find a competent, reliable home inspector? The best I can offer is a method that is not foolproof. Try to find someone with years of experience, who has performed thousands of home inspections. Look for someone who is regarded by real estate agents as a nit-picky perfectionist. In fact, you could call real estate offices and ask if there is an inspector who is known as a “deal killer” or “deal breaker.” Inspectors with that kind of reputation are likely to be qualified and honest.

DEAR BARRY: The house I’m buying is more than 100 years old, and there appear to be some structural problems. The main support beam in the basement is cracked, causing the upstairs floor to sag. The sellers have installed temporary supports and say that permanent repairs can be done at a later time for about $1,000. Should I buy this home or leave it well enough alone? –Chris

DEAR CHRIS: If you seriously wish to purchase this home, you should disregard the sellers’ assessment of the support problems and have the foundation and framing systems professionally evaluated. Concerns regarding the structural integrity of a home should not be left to chance or to off-hand opinions.

The framing defects should be investigated by a licensed structural engineer. The property should also be fully evaluated by the most thorough and experienced home inspector you can find.

Additional problems will be revealed by a qualified home inspector, and with the sellers soft-selling a structural defect, additional findings could be decisive.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at



“Of all human activities, man’s listening to God is the supreme act of his reasoning and will.” –  Pope Paul VI

Let’s keep America working! We can do this by buying American made products.  Should we be such bleeding hearts that we build up another country at the expense of our own country and livelihood?  I think not.  Here’s a video from “Good Morning America” about a builder who refuses to use anything other than American made.  That’s right, everything in the home from the concrete, nails, sheet rock, to joists and sheathing have been made in America.  Koodoos to you Mr. Contractor,  I wish there were more people who felt this way.  For more information, and to look at the video please click on the link below.  Thanks Helen for sending me this link!


“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of    regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”                         – Jim Rohn

Residential fires take their toll every day, every year, in lost lives and destroyed property. The fact is that many conditions that cause house fires can be avoided or prevented by homeowners. Taking the time for some simple precautions, preventive inspections, and concrete planning can help prevent fire in the home — and can even save your life should disaster strike.

  • All electrical devices including lamps, appliances, and electronics should be checked for frayed cords, loose or broken plugs, and exposed wiring. Never run electrical wires under carpet or rugs as this creates a fire hazard.
  • Wood-burning fireplaces should be cleaned by a professional chimney sweep each year to prevent a dangerous buildup of creosote, which can cause a flash fire in the chimney. Cracks in masonry chimneys should be repaired, and spark arresters inspected to ensure they are in good condition and free of debris.
  • When using space heaters, keep them away from beds and bedding, curtains, papers — anything flammable. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Space heaters should not be left unattended or where a child or pet could knock them over.
  • Use smoke detectors with fresh batteries unless they are hard-wired to your home’s electrical system. Smoke detectors should be installed high on walls or on ceilings on every level of the home and inside each bedroom. Statistics show that nearly 60% of home fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms. Many municipalities now require the use of working smoke detectors in both single and multi-family residences.
  • Children should not have access to or be allowed to play with matches, lighters, or candles. Flammable materials such as gasoline or kerosene should be stored outside the house.
  • Kitchen fires know no season. Grease spills, items left unattended on the stove or in the oven, and food left in toasters or toaster ovens can catch fire quickly. Don’t wear loose-fitting clothing, especially with long sleeves, around the stove. Handles of pots and pans should be turned away from the front of the stove to prevent accidental contact. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher within easy reach.
  • Have an escape plan. This is one of the most important measures you can take to prevent death in a fire. Your local fire department can provide detailed recommendations on escape planning and preparedness. In addition, all family members should know how to dial 911 in case of a fire or other emergency.
  • Live Christmas trees should be kept in a water-filled stand and checked daily for dehydration. Needles should not easily break off a freshly cut tree. Brown needles or lots of fallen needles indicate a dangerously dried-out tree, which should be discarded immediately. Always use non flammable decorations in the home, and never use lights on a dried-out tree.
  • Candles should be placed in stable holders and placed away from curtains, drafts, pets, and children. Never leave candles unattended, even for a short time.
  • Christmas or other holiday lights should be checked for fraying or broken wires and plugs. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when joining two or more strands together, as a fire hazard could result from overload. Enjoy your indoor holiday lighting only while someone is home, and turn them off before going to bed at night.

Your local Pillar To Post office wishes you and your clients a happy and safe holiday season.

A big thank you to Karl for sending this article my way.

Karl Spitzer


“Ah, mon cher, for anyone who is alone, without God and without a master, the weight of days is dreadful.” –  Albert Camus

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This weekend Rob wanted pizza, so I made one.  After a summer of  eating pizzas – some good, some not so good, I finally perfected the crust, and Rob the sauce.  Now our pizza rivals even “New York Pizza Plus” and “I Love New York Pizza”!   Since the oven was on for the pizza, I whipped up a pumpkin bread.   I cleaned out the pumpkin this morning, washed the seeds, and stored three cups of pumpkin in the refrigerator. It only takes one cup of pumpkin to make pumpkin bread and two cups of pumpkin for a pie.  So far I have baked one pumpkin bread.  I can either make two more breads or one pie.  I guess the deciding factor will be whether or not the bread is any good. Then, while the oven was still warm, I decided to roast some chestnuts. While the chestnuts were roasting, I put the pumpkin seeds in a cast iron skillet with some olive oil and roasted them. What a delight those little seeds are when they are eaten warm.

Today, Fifi had her stitches removed and she was so very happy to get that Elizabethan collar off.  I was happy I could give her a bath! Louie got a bath as well, much to his chagrin!  Unfortunately, when Fifi had her surgery, the Vet found it necessary to shave the ear on the side of the surgery. Today, I shaved the other ear so they would both match.  When Fifi was just a pup, her ear hairs got so tangled with Spanish needles, we had to trim them and they never grew back.  I mentioned that to the vet and she said that is typical if a poodle is very young.   I hope the ear hairs will grow back some, now that they have been shaved.  It will take some getting use to, to look at Fifi with no hair on her ears.

Louie, on the other hand, has long hairs on his ears.  The last time he got a trim, we gave him a Mohawk along his back.  Next time I think I’ll shave it off.


“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

I received this from a friend in an email and thought it was too good not to post. Even if just one of the items help someone it was worth the effort.  I knew about quite a few of these suggestions but not all of them.

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