Category: Home Improvement

Household Items You Should Replace Regularly

Maui home improvement
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

Maui real estate
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.