Tips On Appliances

How to hook up your icemaker.

Purchase an icemaker installation kit from your local hardware store. The kit usually runs less than twenty dollars. The kit will include a small valve, ample hose and the necessary fittings. Follow the instructions and your task should be complete in less than thirty minutes.

How to properly move your refrigerator.

Never move a full refrigerator. Turn off your refrigerator and unplug it from the electrical outlet. Slip a large, flat piece of heavy cardboard under the front of your refrigerator. Slide the appliance onto the cardboard so it does not come in contact with your vinyl flooring. Then move the refrigerator slowly to your designated area.

How to keep you refrigerator clean.

Keep your refrigerator's condenser coils clean by vacuuming them. Signs of a dirty condenser are: inability to maintain interior temperature, longer running time, and increased cost.

How to care for your range hood.

The filter should be checked and rinsed with water and the fan motor checked every six months.

Tips On Attic Storage

How to maximize your attic storage.

Attic spaces are commonly used for storage, but you should be careful not to put too much strain on your attic floor. By installing sheets of plywood your attic can accommodate heavier material between 20-30 pounds per square foot. However, even a reinforced floor will not withstand the strain of certain heavy items. Attics are susceptible to extremes of hot and cold because attic spaces have non-conditioned air. Materials stored in attics should not be combustible or perishable under these extreme temperatures. Paint, for example should not be stored in the attic.

Bathroom Care Tips

Caring for your faucets.

Most faucet exteriors will stay new looking with regular cleaning. Use a mild liquid cleaner, such as Pine Sol. Lime Away or CLR is helpful in removing stubborn lime or calcium deposits. Abrasive cleaners will cause permanent damage to your faucets. Acrylic handles on lavatory faucets and tub and shower faucets may be removed for cleaning. Carefully insert a knife blade under the "cap" on top of the handle and it will come off easily. Then using a phillips head screwdriver, remove the screw in the center of the handle. Reverse the process to replace the handle. Kitchen and bathroom faucets are often equipped with aerators which mix air with the stream of water and prevent splashing. Clean the aerators periodically to remove any accumulation of minerals deposited from the water. If you have a water softener you only need to do this once a year. If not, every three to four months should take care of most problems. Clean the aerator by unscrewing it from the mouth of the faucet, removing and rinsing the screens, replacing them in their original order and screwing the aerator back on the faucet.

How to keep your drains functioning properly.

Drain plugs in all the tubs and lavatories need to be kept free of hair and soap deposits. Remove the stopper and drain plug to clean. A straightened paper clip with a hook on the end is helpful in cleaning the tub drain. Commercial drain cleaners such as Drano and Liquid Plumber, are often not recommended due to their harsh chemical content.

Clogged Toilet?

Treat your clogged toilet almost the same way you would treat a clogged drain. The trap is built into the toilet and is therefore less accessible. Instead of a snake, use a coil spring auger, which can be purchased at a hardware or plumbing store. Insert the auger so the point goes into the trap. Turning the handle of the auger will break up the blockage or catch it so that it can be removed. An auger is easier to use if one person holds it while another turns the handle.

How to Care for Ceramic Tile Floors

Proper care for your ceramic tile.

Ceramic tile may be affected by shrinkage of adjacent materials, causing a separation between tub and wall tile and between floor tile and tub. Cracks also may occur between tiles in the tub and shower and in the corners because of excessive moisture in these areas. The cracks should be filled with grouting compound, such as Dap, Kwik Seal or Lifetime, available in hardware stores. This will prevent damage caused by water seepage. Use a rubber squeegee to remove surface water on ceramic tile to prolong life. For routine cleaning wipe with a damp cloth. When heavy soap or mildew accumulates, use a soapless detergent like Spic and Span or a tile cleaner such as Tilex. Allow the solution to stand for five minutes, scrub lightly with a sponge and rinse well to remove all cleanser.

Proper care for your tile flooring.

Occasional wet mopping is all that ceramic, stone, marble and other hard flooring normally needs to stay clean. If a more thorough cleaning is needed use a soapless detergent like Spic and Span or a commercial tile cleaner, such as Tile Glo. Rinse thoroughly to remove detergent film. To clean the grout between tiles, use a fiber brush and a mild cleanser.

Cleaning Tips

What is CLR?

This product helps to remove calcium deposits, lime scales or rust stains from bathtubs, sinks and toilets. The liquid, which is industrial strength, can be diluted with water and poured into a squirt bottle to clean large surfaces such as shower stalls. Test a small area before use as it may etch some ceramic tile, tubs, sinks and concrete. Do not use on marble, aluminum, painted or metallic glazed surfaces such as polished brass. CLR is available at most hardware stores.

How to clear pipes & avoid clogs.

First pour boiling water down the drain. Next take two handfuls of salt and place it in the drain. Then follow by more boiling water. Your drains should be clear and clog free.

How to clean your windows.

Clean windows and glass with two tablespoons of vinegar in one quart of water.

How to clean brass.

Brass comes with either a shiny, lacquered finish or a duller unlacquered finish. To prevent tarnish, bright brass that does not have a lacquer brass finish should be coated with a non-abrasive automobile paste wax twice each year. Bright brass that has tarnished can be cleaned with a mixture made from salt and a slice of lemon, or with a paste composed of vinegar, flour and salt. An automobile rubbing compound, or international silver company's "metal polish," also can be used to clean up bright brass. Note: the above cleaning methods do not apply to antique brass finishes.

Proper Care for Your Countertops

A clean countertop.

Clean countertops with a damp sponge or cloth and mild soap, detergent or household cleaner. Avoid stong abrasive cleaners and powders. Keep a trivet on your counter to avoid damaging burns. Treat stains immediately! Use a cutting board! Direct slicing on your countertop can damage it.

Proper Care for Your Doors

Interior & exterior door care.

Wood products are subject to natural expansion and contraction. Sticking is the most common problem with doors. Avoid planning a door that has swelled during damp weather. It may correct itself when dry weather returns. Usually soap or candle wax can ease a binding door. When you do plane, those areas should be painted or stained and sealed to match the door and protect the wood. If sticking results from uneven alignment, make sure the hinge screws are tight and holding properly. Small rust spots may appear on exterior metal doors and should be sanded and repainted to keep the rust from spreading. Panels in wood doors are designed to shrink or move inside the stiles that surround them. Where this occurs apply silicone or butyl-based caulk to the joint between the panel and stile. Treat squeaky door hinges with a spray lubricant, such as WD-40, or use a household oil...have a cloth handy! Keep bi-fold door tracks, pivots, and brackets free of dirt. A little silicone sprayed on the guide edges of the track once in a while will aid in smooth operation.

Sliding glass doors

You might consider placing decorative decals on your sliding glass doors at eye level to deter people from walking into them! Make sure your drainage holes in the tracks are kept clear. Unclog them with a sharp object like an ice pick or a nail. If the door begins to drag, lubricate the wheels with a silicone spray. Clean aluminum frames with laundry or dishwashing detergent and water.

Garage door maintenance

Garage doors are not designed to be water, air or dust tight...Lubricate the rollers and springs of the garage door every two months with silicone or WD-40. Don't use grease, it will attract dirt. Check screws that fasten the hardware to a wood door, because over time, normal shrinkage of the wood, may leave the screws a little loose. Think safety, have a qualified installer do any necessary adjustments to your garage door. Spray silicone or WD-40 on the chain drives of your garage door opener every six months.

Energy Saving Tips

Heating & air conditioning tips.

Set your thermostat at your desired temperature and let the unit run automatically to maintain that temperature and/or humidity control. In tests conducted by several independent laboratories, it has been concluded you save little, if any by turning off the unit, because it runs much longer when turned back on. Wait three minutes between adjustments which turn off and on the unit to avoid tripping the internal breaker and placing an undue load on the unit. Replace filters every 30 days. Let your monthly electric bill be a reminder to change your filter. Have your system checked and cleaned annually by a professional to maintain highest efficiency.

Fireplace Tips

Proper lighting of a fire.

Use a fireplace screen. Use andirons or a grate to hold firewood as it burns, allowing the air to flow under the logs so they burn more efficiently. Make sure your fireplace draws correctly by opening the damper and lighting a newspaper on the grate to see if the smoke goes up the chimney. Open the damper before you light a fire and keep it open as long as the embers burn. Close the damper when the fireplace is not in use so air will not escape.

What type of wood is best.

Hardwoods like oak, birch, hickory and maple burn slowly with little smoke. Soft woods, such as evergreens, can produce a fast, hot fire with more smoke and sparks. Their use requires more diligent chimney maintenance because they leave creosote deposits. (Remember, creosote is an oily residue that can ignite when a thick layer forms in the chimney.) Soft woods are best used for kindling or combining with harder woods. Well-aged wood burns more safely and efficiently because of its lower moisture content. You can identify aged wood by cracks in the grain and the hollow ringing sound when two logs are clapped together. Newspaper can be used to start your fire. However, burning colored pages is dangerous due to the lead from the ink.

Fireplace ashes.

Let a layer of ashes spread evenly over the hearth area to insulate your cold hearth so your fires will start more easily. Always dispose of excess ashes safely, preferably using a metal container with a lid. Have your fireplace checked for creosote build up every three to five years by a professional chimney sweep. Check your damper system each season.

Garbage Disposal Care

Proper usage of your disposal.

When using your garbage disposal, make it a habit to run cold water before the disposal is turned on, and continue to run the water after the disposal is turned off. By running water continually, the chance of food becoming lodged in plumbing pipes should be minimized. Do not put large amounts of fibrous materials (such as banana peels or corn husks) down the disposal. Be absolutely sure the circuit breaker is off before inserting your hand to move material when the disposal is stalled. Do not clog your disposal with grease. When grinding greasy substances use plenty of cold water. Should your drain become clogged do not put chemicals down the disposal.

Gutters and Downspouts

How to maintain your gutters & downspouts.

Always keep gutters and downspouts unobstructed from leaves, tree limbs, or anything that could cause overflowing. Aluminum gutters do not need painting unless you choose. Be sure that downspouts direct water away from the foundation.

Landscape Tips

Restore your damaged lawn.

First use a steel spring or bamboo rake to lift matted grass and remove dead grass from damaged areas. Next loosen the soil with a stiff-tine rake two to three inches depth in damaged areas. Then mix some fresh topsoil into area and rake smooth. Soak the area to be re-seeded thoroughly. Next sow the seed according to package directions. Finally cover the seed lightly with peat or clean straw to aid germination and to conceal the seeds from the birds.


Mulch is an important component of most landscape beds because it discourages weeds and holds moisture in the soil. Apply mulch two to three inches deep around shrubs and trees and replenish it when it thins. Leave air space around trunks and stems. You will save on water, energy and weed killer! Mulch creates a more natural landscape with healthier plants. Remember to keep the mulch below the siding...the concrete must always show.

Textured Ceilings

Proper care for your textured ceilings.

1) Ceilings should be vacuumed at least once a year with a soft brush attachment. 2) Use kitchen and exhaust fans. 3) Change heating and air conditioning and exhaust fan filters frequently. 4) Be sure fireplace chimneys draw smoke properly and that the flue is open before lighting a fire. 5) Conceal small nail holes with a small amount of spackle compound on your fingertip and apply to the blemished area, then dab with a porous sponge to approximate the textured effect. 6) Spot clean small areas with a solution of one part water & one part bleach. Do not use a stronger solution, it will decompose your sprayed textured ceilings. Use a fine mist, don't over saturate the area. Cover the floors with a plastic tarp to avoid the bleach spotting your carpet.

Caring For Your Wood Trim

Trim care.

Wooden doors, other trim and finished wood is affected by moisture and shrinkage. In cases where moldings separate slightly, cracks may be filled with a wood filler. If nails begin peaking out of the wood work, they can easily be reset and filled.

Wood Flooring

Caring for your wooden floors.

Wood flooring is a natural material requiring specific care, cleaning and maintenance to keep its finish rich and long lasting. Routine sweeping or vacuuming is necessary to remove loose dirt before it can scratch or be ground into the floor surface. Urethane finished floors do not require buffing or waxing. Clean all types of wood floors only with products recommended by the manufacturer. Place rugs where water could splash onto the wood floor surface, such as bathrooms and kitchens.