Category: Home Improvement

Simple Guide to Summer’s Most Important Home Maintenance Tasks

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There are a few home maintenance tasks you should tackle during the summer to keep your Maui home in tiptop shape all season long. Check these eight projects off your to-do list before firing up the grill.

Maintain your refrigerator

To keep your refrigerator running efficiently in these hot months, you’ll want to vacuum and clean the condenser coils, defrost the freezer, and clean the seals around the door. Then, scrub your fridge inside and out—a task that’s often overlooked, but it’s a great way to ensure the cool air in the fridge is remaining where it belongs: inside.

Keep expanding wood from causing cracks

Hot weather makes wood—and many other construction materials—expand. And over time, this expansion and contraction cycle can cause damage to your house. The effect can vary depending on the humidity and climate, but after a while, you may have breaches in the seals around your home.

Inspect the seals around your windows, roof, door frames, vents, ducts, and outdoor faucets, and take note of any cracking. Not only are you ensuring your hard-working AC keeps its efforts inside the house, but you also prevent unwanted bugs and critters from entering.

Bust out the power or pressure washer

Months of harsh weather have probably left your siding and hardscaping looking a little dingy. This gets overlooked, but it’s a huge part of keeping up the curb appeal of your home. Plus, a good pressure washing cleans out the dirt, preventing rot or other unwanted intrusions.

Give your washing machine a break

Just like your fridge, your washing machine deserves some TLC during summer—especially if you have kids. All of those dirty sports jerseys and mud-soaked pants give the machine a serious workout. Check your hoses for leaks, and clean your lint filter, too. And when you do the laundry, wash full loads and use cold water whenever possible.

Declutter your lawn

Scan your yard: Do you have any tall piles of wood, or uncleared corners of brush?

Bugs and other pests make a resurgence as the weather gets warmer. These areas provide pests cool, dark places to escape the heat. Clear them immediately! Depending on the region, black widows, brown recluses, rattlesnakes, or other poisonous critters can be found in clutter such as this.

Wash your window screens

Finally, you can throw open your windows and breathe in fresh air 24/7! But wait, what is all that dust on your screens? Exterior windows take a beating during the winter months, and now that better weather has arrived, it’s time to give them a little refresh.

For best results, take out all of your window screens, prop them up against an exterior wall, and use that pressure or power washer you oh-so-conveniently rented. Don’t feel like renting a power tool? Use a bristle brush and soapy water to get rid of dirt and debris.

Reseal your deck

Ready to host summer barbecues? Make sure your deck is ready, too. If you pour some water on your deck and the water beads up, you’re all good. However, if the water soaks in, it’s time to reseal.

Unsealed, moisture-soaked decks can cause major problems, like rotting or cracked wood. (And nothing makes a grill party less fun than suddenly plummeting through the floor.)

Don’t forget your driveway

Winter weather can be harsh on driveways, especially if you were snowblowing or plowing frequently. Resealing is especially important if you have kids who like to ride a bike or scooter up and down the driveway in the summer months.

To start, give your driveway a good power wash. Once it’s dry, fill in any cracks or holes with asphalt filler. Then give the whole driveway a fresh coat of sealant.

The Best Ways To Deal With Weeds This Summer

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Now that summer weather is here, it’s time to start thinking about lawn maintenance. This is especially true when it comes to keeping weeds at bay. With that in mind, here are all the weed prevention tips that you need to know. Take the time to read them over so that you’re ready to keep your lawn in tip-top shape this summer.

Treat weeds before they happen

The best way to save your garden from being overrun by weeds is to take care of them before they even have a chance to take root. Preemergent herbicides are one way to do this. As the name suggests, these remedies are meant to treat weeds that have not yet emerged from the soil. For those wondering, both commercial and natural varieties — like corn gluten — are available.

If you’re buying commercial, which herbicide you should purchase depends largely on what type of weed appears most frequently in your lawn. You’ll want to be sure to read labels carefully throughout the entire process. Each preemergent must be mixed to the manufacturer’s instructions, then distributed at a specific rate throughout your target area. All preemergents are activated by water, so make sure to give the area a good soak after you’ve finished the application.

Know what type of weed you’re facing

Believe it or not, not all weeds are created equal. There are actually three distinct subtypes of weeds and each has its own ideal prevention strategy. The types are as follows:

  • Grassy weeds: These weeds may look similar to the grass on your lawn. In fact, they’re even considered grasses. Examples include crabgrass, goosegrass and barnyard grass. The way to attack these weeds is to keep your grass longer and to water it deeply. Longer grass shades the soil, helping to prevent the weed seeds from germinating, while longer, infrequent waterings help encourage strong root growth for your grass.
  • Sedge weeds: Sedge weeds look a lot like grassy weeds, but they have unjointed stems and are most often found in marshes and bogs. It’s important to note the difference because herbicides geared towards grassy weeds will not work on these varieties. Some common types of sedge weeds are yellow and purple nutsedge, wild onion or garlic and Star of Bethlehem.
  • Broadleaf weeds: Broadleaf weeds are the most common weed variety found in gardens. Their leaves are wide and flat with net-like veins. This type of weed includes dandelions, ground ivy, white clover and violets.

Create unfavorable weed conditions

Just like other plant varieties, weeds need favorable conditions in order to grow. When you’re trying to keep weeds to a minimum, your goal should be to create the opposite: a lawn and garden environment that makes it difficult for them to flourish. The harder it is for weeds to grow, the less likely it is for them to be able to spread their seeds and begin to take over your lawn.

As far as creating an unfavorable environment, there are multiple steps you can take. However, properly mulching is one of the best. Start by placing a layer of newspaper or fabric on top of the soil to block out any light. Then, add about two inches of mulch over the top before putting in your plantings. You’ll also want to make sure to plant items close together so that there’s less room for weeds to grow in between them.

Weed at the right time

There’s an old saying: “Pull wet, hoe dry.” It’s good advice to keep in mind when looking for the best time to weed. Conventional wisdom states that the best time to pull weeds out by the root is right after a rainstorm. However, if you’re going to weed when it’s dry, the better bet is to use a hoe with a sharp edge to slice the weed just below the soil line.

In situations where the weed cannot be easily removed — such as in a tightly-packed flower bed — aim to lop off its head. Simply use a pair of pruning shears to do the job. This forces the weeds to use up their food supply and reduces their root buds, which minimizes their ability to spread.

Lawn Care Mistakes That Could Hurt Your Maui Home’s Curb Appeal

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A great lawn adds instant curb appeal to a home’s first impression, but according to Reviewed.com, homeowners may be making one of these common mistakes in their lawn maintenance:

Cutting the grass too short

Most grasses should be cut no shorter than 2.5 inches, according to Reviewed.com. Anything shorter could impede the grasses’ ability to absorb enough sunlight to thrive.

Failing to water enough

Reviewed.com says that most grasses need 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. “If you’re just turning on your sprinkler for 10 minutes a day, the water isn’t getting down to the grass’s deep roots, and a lot of that water is going to evaporate before the grass has a chance to absorb it,” the article notes. The grass needs about 30 minutes for most irrigation systems. Reviewed.com suggests a test: Place cans across the lawn and run the sprinkler for 30 minutes. Measure with a ruler the amount of water that collects in the cans. Adjust your timing, as needed, to get 1 inch per watering session. Another test: If you can see your footprints in the grass after you walk on it, that is a sign it’s time to water.

Watering at the wrong time of day

To minimize evaporation loss, water early in the morning before it gets too hot. Avoid watering at night, as cool water sitting on the grass overnight can increase disease, Reviewed.com notes. “Don’t rush out to water the grass the moment the sun comes out either,” the article notes. “Grass grows deeper roots when it gets slightly drought-stressed.”

Using too much fertilizer

If your grass turns brown, don’t just dump a bag of fertilizer on it. That can waste money and hurt your plants. You likely will need less fertilizer than you think. Follow the directions on the bag for how much to fertilize. Also, avoid applying powdered or granular fertilizer before a rain. It will run off with rainwater. Reviewed.com also notes that if you use compost, try three-fourths of a cubic yard per 1,000 square feet of lawn.

Applying fertilizer at the wrong time

Fertilizer will be the most beneficial for a yard in the spring and fall in most climates. “Fertilizer will help your lawn the most when it’s growing the most—that is, not in the middle of summer, when your grass gets stressed by heat and drought,” the article notes.

Household Items You Should Replace Regularly

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Until Homeownership 101 becomes a prerequisite for obtaining a mortgage, most of us will learn how to handle many household tasks through trial and error. There are certain tasks—like replacing critical items before they reach the end of their life span—that you don’t want to learn the hard way.

HVAC filters

When to replace: Every three months

It’s easy to forget about the filter in your heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. It’s not something you look at every day (or ever), but that filter works hard behind the scenes to keep the air in your home clean and your HVAC system running smoothly.

Replace HVAC filters according to the manufacturer’s instructions—every three months or so, on average. Even if you’re not DIY savvy, replacing the filter is a simple swap.

And if you don’t replace those filters regularly? Running your HVAC system with an old filter can hurt its performance—and it can also invalidate your system’s warranty, Faccone warns.

Humidifier and dehumidifier filters

When to replace: Every one to three months

If you live in a climate that sees drastic temperature swings, there’s a good chance you rely on a humidifier or a dehumidifier to keep levels stable.

But your humidifier and dehumidifier can’t run on autopilot—you need to change each system’s filters according to the manufacturer’s instructions, which generally recommend every one to three months. If you don’t, your filters can quickly become a hotbed for bacteria and mold, and you may notice that your unit is less effective.

Vacuum cleaner HEPA filters

When to replace: Every few months, up to every few years

The high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your vacuum is another filter you should be replacing regularly. These filters help capture tiny particles like dust mites, allergens, and bacteria, but over time, they can get clogged and don’t work as well. If you continue vacuuming with an old HEPA filter, your vacuum may lose some of its suction, and it’s far more affordable to replace a filter than an entire vacuum.

Check with your manufacturer to see how often you should replace the filter; some suggest every six months, others say only once every two to three years.

If all this filter-changing is starting to feel like a drag, we get it. But clean filters keep your household equipment in tiptop shape, and they’re also important from a safety perspective.

Smoke detectors

When to replace: When they stop working, or every 10 years—whichever comes first

Resist the urge to dismantle and abandon your smoke detector when it begins the end-of-life chirp. Keep fresh batteries on hand so your detectors are always in good working order, and test your smoke detectors once a month….(Yes, really!)

If your smoke detectors are more than 10 years old, play it safe and replace them altogether.

If you can’t be bothered with batteries, consider investing in a hardwired system for your home.

Kitchen sponges

When to replace: Every two weeks

Your kitchen sponges do not have nine lives. They barely even have one life, it turns out—experts say kitchen sponges should be replaced every two weeks.

It makes sense, when you think about it: Your kitchen sponge endures a hard life full of daily, dirty use. It’s easy for bacteria from food to get trapped in sponges, which is not only nasty but can create an unsavory stench in your kitchen. Stock up on this staple so you can swap in a new sponge at least once every few weeks.

GFCI outlets

When to replace: When they stop working

Outlets with ground-fault circuit interrupters—GFCI outlets for short—are a safety must-have in any room prone to dampness or humidity, like a kitchen or bathroom. These outlets cut the power in dangerous situations (say, if you drop your toaster in the sink).

Even if your house is fully loaded with GFCI outlets, you need to test them regularly to ensure they’re working.

Underutilized Spaces: Getting the Most Out of Your Home

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Some of the areas of your Maui home probably feel like an afterthought. After all, it’s not like you’ll be showing your linen closets off to your guests. But some overlooked spaces can provide you with quite a bit of functionality. In fact, some of the underutilized spaces in your home can actually become the most useful. By thinking outside of the box, you can turn what seems like wasted space and dusty corners into your favorite places in your home.

The Space Under the Stairs

The space under the stairs is typically ignored or drywalled. But, with the right repurposing, it’s valuable square footage. Before you opt to drywall that empty area, consider making it into a kids’ play area. It might not be a great space for adults, but it’s the perfect area to set up with toy storage, or even to create a playhouse. No kids? The space under the stairs can make an ideal mini-library. Installing simple shelves means your favorite books stay dry, organized and easily accessible.

The Mudroom

The mudroom is one of those spaces that you can’t live without – but don’t really want to see. It can become a dumping ground for backpacks, coats and shoes, so put it to work: rearrange to create a homework nook. If your kids tend to dump their backpacks there anyway, a small desk with supplied and dedicated study space makes sense. It’ll keep the endless papers and pencils out of your main living space and give kids a quiet place to work that’s still close to the action.

The Foot of the Bed

There’s nothing like your own bed – unless it’s the foot of your own bed. This underutilized space is ideal for solving storage problems, especially if your home is short on closet space. A hinged ottoman becomes the perfect place to put on shoes and can help stash away blankets, sheets, clothes and any other quick-access items. Or, add a desk and chair for study space that won’t fit on any of your walls. Rethink the space at the foot of your bed as functional square footage and it becomes more than just a place for your socks.

The Guest Room

If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated guest room, you know how great the space can be. But while it’s an ideal place for friends and family to crash, it can sometimes go unused. Instead of keeping one room as just a guest space, double up on functionality so you can use it when you’re home solo.

Turn your guest room into a sleek office part of the time, or store craft supplies in the guest room closet for when you’re feeling creative. There’s no reason to leave an entire room unused except for when you have house guests. Be a little selfish and use the room for yourself the rest of the time.

The Linen Closet

Most people would say the linen closet is one of the most underrated spaces in a home. But that doesn’t mean you have to fill it with linens and blankets. If you’re able to store extra blankets in bins underneath each bed, you’ll free up an entire closet for things that make more sense to you. Whether it’s outfitting your linen closet as bathroom storage for products and towels or making over your closet as a storage pantry, think beyond sheets when rethinking your linen closet.

The Space Over Doors

The space over each door in your home is a treasure trove for storage and decor. With simple shelving solutions, you’ll find a totally new space to store books or to show off souvenirs and decor items that don’t have a home elsewhere. Simple, straight shelving is easy to install and remove and can add plenty of character to an otherwise stark hallway.

The Garage

The typical garage is a catch-all space for anything you don’t want in your house. But it can also be valuable space for other interests. With the right storage solutions, you can get larger items off the ground, opening up precious square footage. Store bins up in your garage trusses to get rarely used items out of the way. Then, use wall hooks to keep bikes and gear organized. With your new floor space, you could have a great indoor gym, a lounge, a rec area for rowdy kids or even a music studio.

How To Prepare Your Home Before You Go on Vacation

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Do you have a vacation checklist for your Maui home? It might take a little extra work to get your home ready for vacation, but you’ll be able to relax more once you’re at your destination. Consider this your checklist for peace-of-mind while you’re getting away.

Make it look like someone is home

Vacation season is prime time for criminals to make a visit. Take a few precautions to make your home look lived-in while you’re away.

  • Park at least one car in the driveway, so it looks like someone’s at home
  • Hold all mail and packages or ask a neighbor to bring in your deliveries
  • Bring in your spare keys
  • Put your lights on a timer to mimic your family’s typical schedule
  • Mow your lawn and trim hedges
  • Set up smart locks for helpful neighbors and pet sitters
  • Play it safe and don’t mention your travel plans on social media

Clean your house before you vacation

Nobody wants to come home to a stinky situation. Keep your vacation vibe going by taking time to tidy up before you head out. That way you can come home and rest, instead of cleaning up a mess. Clean out the refrigerator and freezer. Take out the trash — check every room. Vacuum, dust and wipe down counters and sinks. And finally, make your bed, so you can sink right in when you get back.

Set electronics and appliances to energy-saving mode

If you’re gone for 3 days or more, take a vacation from your electric bill by dialing back your energy usage.

Set thermostats up to 85 degrees in the summer and as low as 55 degrees in the winter. If you have pets staying at home while you’re gone, choose a setting that will still keep them comfortable. If you use smart home automation, turn your thermostat off completely so it won’t turn on every time your neighbor brings in the mail.

Unplug small electronics, especially chargers, which continually draw electricity and can increase your electric bill. Close blinds and curtains to keep your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Then your air conditioner and heater won’t have to work too hard while you’re on vacation. Put the water heater on vacation mode if it has that option so it operates more efficiently.

Hopefully these tips come in handy next time you’re planning a getaway!

4 Easy Tips to Help You Downsize During a Move

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Regardless of your reasons for downsizing during your Maui move, the process does not have to be stressful. By keeping a few pieces of advice in mind, downsizing can go smoothly, giving you a new, uncluttered home.

Start as soon as possible

Perhaps the single most important piece of advice for downsizing during a move is to start early. As soon as you know you will be moving into a smaller space, get to work. Although going through an entire home or apartment can seem daunting, if you plan ahead, you can take care of a room each week or even one room a month. By tackling the space bit by bit, it will seem more manageable.

Sort, sort, sort

The best way to downsize during your move is to be honest with yourself about what you truly need. Before you begin going through the items in your house, sit down and make a list of what you will definitely need. These should be the items you use on a regular basis and the essentials, such as your bed and cookware.

Sell or donate items

Depending on your personal preference, you should sell or donate the items you decide you no longer need, provided they are in good condition. If you find yourself struggling emotionally to get rid of that unnecessary TV, the extra money you get from selling it might help convince you.

Consider a storage unit

Storage units are not for everyone, but if you have some items that you simply cannot get rid of but will not have space for in your new place, go ahead and rent one. Just make sure that you do not use a storage unit as an excuse to keep items you should not. After all, that just moves the problem instead of resolving it. It also forces you to rent a larger unit, costing more every month. Instead, use your storage unit for items you cannot bear to part with or might legitimately need in the future.