Considering a Yard Pond?

May 17, 2021 Vincent Russo

Ponds are increasingly popular water features for homeowners. Having a small decorative pond in your yard can help you unwind, provide a unique ecosystem for certain animals, and just generally add some beauty to your property. With that said, it’s important to realize that installing a yard pond is a bigger task than just digging a hole and adding some water. Before diving into a pond project, it’s important that you stop to consider everything that’s involved with the installation, as well as some of the things you’ll need for upkeep once the pond is finished. This isn’t meant to discourage you, just to make you sure that you’re aware of all of this before you get too far into your planning.

Installing a Yard Pond

Yard ponds can range in size between a small 550-gallon pond to one that holds 2,000 gallons or more, so it’s important to take the time to plan exactly how large you want your pond to be. Try outlining your pond with a rope to get an idea of its dimensions, then add an extra 2 feet or so around the entire border to account for transitionary plants, rocks, and other border features. You’ll want to keep an eye on the area once you have it outlined, since most pond plants require at least six hours of sunlight or more per day to thrive.

You’ll also need to have a way to get power to the pond to power any pumps or fountains that you use to circulate water, and a means to add additional water as needed if your local rainfall isn’t sufficient to counter evaporation. Other necessities include a pond liner to keep the water from simply soaking into the ground, any fish or plants that you want to add to the pond once it’s installed, and a pond net or skimmer to keep leaves, seed pods, and similar items from clogging up your pump in the spring and fall. In addition to all of that, you may also need permits or other legal documents before you can break ground, and you will likely have to have a survey to mark underground pipes and wires to avoid potential fines.

Yard Pond Upkeep

Once a pond is installed, there are some things you should keep in mind as part of your ongoing maintenance plan. You’ll need to check your pond every week for leaves, debris, and other things that might gunk up the works and potentially harm fish or plants, though this can be negated with a pond net during the fall or other times when a lot of potential debris is likely. Checking the water level is also important, especially during the summer. If you have cold winters, you may also need a heater or air bubbler to keep everything from freezing as well. In most cases you will only need to spend around 15 to 30 minutes a week checking on these issues, but that can vary depending on where you live.

Another thing you’ll want to consider is insects. While dragonflies and similar insects are often a welcome sight around ponds, water features like this can also be a breeding ground for mosquitoes if you aren’t careful. Making sure that the water is sufficiently circulated or adding products that are designed to prevent mosquito growth without harming fish or other animals are good ways to take care of this problem, though some of these treatments may have to be repeated multiple times per year. Certain fish may also help to keep the mosquito population under control.

Ready to Build Your Pond?

A yard pond can be a major undertaking, but it can really pay off once it’s finished. If you’re not sure where to start, it’s a good idea to consult with a landscaper or water feature installer in your area to see what will work best for your property. HomeKeepr can help you connect with the pros you need to make your pond dreams a reality; sign up for a free account today to get started.

Original post: https://blog.homekeepr.com/considering-a-yard-pond?sharedby=vincent-russo

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Your HVAC Estimate Checklist

May 13, 2021

Vincent Russo
There’s nothing like the feeling of a rush of cool air from your air conditioning system, but what happens when that cool air turns lukewarm, or worse, won’t kick on at all? It may be time to get that ailing HVAC system replaced.

Talking to an HVAC professional about an air conditioning replacement can be intimidating. There’s a lot to know, and it’s probably not going to be cheap. But considering that a typical air conditioning unit lasts 10 to 15 years, what you invest today will help pay for itself in the longer term. That being said, it’s still important to know what to ask and the pitfalls to watch for.

Always Ask About Licensing and Insurance

Before you so much as let someone start to quote your HVAC job, ask about their licensing and insurance status. Not only will this save you a ton of time by weeding out anyone who isn’t actually a practicing professional, you’ll avoid issues that can arise if, for example, your HVAC is installed without a permit, or there’s a jobsite accident without proper coverage. HVAC installers should always be licensed according to your state and local guidelines.

Your installer should also carry the proper insurance policies. For example, a comprehensive policy will protect you should there be damage to your property as a result of a mistake made during the installation. And Workers Compensation insurance can also help by protecting you from being held liable should your HVAC workers have an accident on the job. Be aware that small shops don’t always carry Workers Compensation because of rules on who can be insured, so if your installer doesn’t carry Workers Compensation, be sure to get a liability waiver.

Your HVAC Estimate

As far as the estimate itself is concerned, there are several questions you should ask right up front. These questions and their answers should also be included on the estimate itself, as it serves as a sort of informal contract on the job you’re having done. Make sure you’ve hit these points:

  • What’s the brand and SEER rating of the unit that will be installed? If you’re having both your furnace and air conditioner replaced, ask about the fuel type and efficiency of the furnace, as well. If you’ve got a standard heating and air conditioning system, this is your opportunity to switch to something a bit more energy efficient, like a heat pump, so be sure to ask if there are other options that can use your existing ductwork.
  • What size is the unit that will be installed? Make sure to note the size of the unit you’re having removed and how well it worked during its service. A single like-for-like replacement unit should be the same size if the performance was good, or should be adjusted slightly depending on your actual needs. Note that you will need a matching A-coil if you change air conditioner sizes without changing your furnace, too.
  • Will you need ductwork? Ductwork can usually be reused, but as it gets older it can develop damage, come apart, or rust through, depending on the materials and conditions it’s subjected to. If any amount of ductwork is being replaced, make sure to have this noted and broken out in the estimate, because ductwork costs can add up fast. On the other hand, this is also a great time to add additional registers or cold air returns in older homes to help improve efficiency.
  • What other things will be done while they’re working? HVAC companies do more than just install heating and air conditioning units. They can remove old furnaces left behind in crawl spaces, clean your ductwork, install smart thermometers, or provide you with electrostatic filters, just to name a few. If any of this work is being done, have it included in the estimate and later ensure it was completed as promised.
  • Is there a warranty? Most importantly, make sure you have all the details on any warranties offered. Most HVAC systems will come with warranties on the individual parts, as well as a separate warranty on labor. This information can be extremely useful should your air conditioner need unexpected repairs, like a replacement control board or compressor.

How Do You Find Qualified HVAC People?

There’s no easier way to find the right person for the job than to look in your HomeKeepr community where you’ll find recommendations of HVAC pros in your area from people you know and trust.

Original post: https://blog.homekeepr.com/your-hvac-estimate-checklist?sharedby=vincent-russo

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Picking a Peck of Nursery Plants

May 10, 2021 Vincent Russo

Spring is a great time to get things done around the home, and this includes revamping your landscaping. Maybe you’ve always wanted to add flowers and other plants but have never had the time, or you just want to expand on what’s already growing around your home. Regardless of why you’re shopping for new plants, knowing what to look for to find the best new plants will save you a lot of frustration and wasted effort in the long run. Here are some things to keep in mind the next time you hit the nursery.

Check the Leaves, Stems, and Roots

A lot of people buy plants based on the early appearance of flowers and buds, but that can be misleading. If you want a better idea of how healthy a plant is, there are much better places to look. Some of the biggest indicators come in the form of the leaves and stems. You want to pick plants with undamaged leaves that have vivid colors that are even across the plant, with no signs of wilting, yellowing, or drooping. Stems should have smooth surfaces, as opposed to cracks or rough patches which can be signs of insect damage or other problems.

Another way to check the health of a plant before buying it is to examine the container it’s growing in for signs that the plant may be rootbound. While you won’t always be able to tell, there are a few signs that could indicate a problem. Plants with root tendrils growing out of drainage holes in the container or obvious root growth across the surface of the soil have clearly been in containers that are too small for too long. It can take a long time for rootbound plants to recover fully, and some never will, so avoid plants that show signs of this problem.

Look for Signs of Trouble

It was mentioned that you should look for signs of insect damage when looking at leaves and stems, but holes in the leaves or marks on the stem aren’t the only indicators that a plant might have been damaged by insects. Spots on the top or bottom of leaves, signs of webbing, or oddly shaped leaves and buds can also signal that insects have been on the plant. Feel the leaves and stems as well to see if they feel sticky or excessively soft, both of which could indicate small insects have infested the plant itself. Also, take a look at the soil for signs of insect activity, especially if it looks like something has burrowed down into it.

You should also compare the plant you’re considering to others of its type. Look for signs of disease, such as the plant being generally paler than others, or spots or discolorations on its stems and leaves that are either darker or lighter than the rest of the plant. Color patterns or patterns on leaves or stems that appear on one plant and aren’t present on the others can also be a sign of disease that you don’t want to spread to other plants around your home.

One other potential sign of trouble that you should keep an eye out for is grass, weeds, or other types of unexpected plants growing in the same container as the plant you’re buying. While these often won’t directly attack your plant and can be easily removed, they are still competing with the plant for the same water and nutrients in the container. This can weaken the plant and lead to growth and development problems down the road.

Getting a Second Opinion

If you aren’t sure about which plants are best, don’t be afraid to ask the nursery workers about the various plants you’re considering. They can give you an additional insight into the health of these plants and how well they’ll do in different lighting conditions in your yard. They’re there to help, so be sure to make use of that resource.

Of course, if the prospect of finding the perfect plants among all the nursery’s options seem overwhelming, you can also consider calling a local landscaper to help you choose the perfect options for your property. HomeKeepr can help you find the right pro for the job; sign up for a free account today to find landscaping pros in your area.

Original post: https://blog.homekeepr.com/picking-a-peck-of-nursery-plants?sharedby=vincent-russo

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Refresh Your Garage This Spring

May 06, 2021 Vincent Russo

In most households, the garage serves many important purposes. It keeps your car safe from weather, theft, and other damage. It provides a storage space for your outdoor equipment and other things. In some homes it even provides a crawl space or attic access. Despite this, however, the garage is often one of the last places many homeowners think of when trying to come up with spring home improvement projects. If you think that your garage might need a little extra love this spring, here are a few things that you could do to give it a refresh.

Enhance Your Storage

One way that you can reinvigorate your garage and make it a much more useful space is to add additional storage options within it. Depending on how your garage is currently set up, this could be as simple as installing a few shelves or adding a couple of cabinets to give you somewhere to put items that might otherwise just be sitting around or cluttered together. You could even add a cabinet with a lock to give you a secure space to store chemicals or other items that you don’t want children or pets to have easy access to.

There are a few ways that you could take this a bit further if you really want some nice storage solutions, though. A pegboard can be a great addition to your garage, especially if you need a place to store tools for easy access; you can even trace around the various tools with a permanent marker or paint pen to make it obvious what goes in which space. Other storage options include a rack to hold a bicycle to keep it out of the way, corner shelves with a lazy Susan for storing small components out of the way, or under-shelf bins to hold small items like screws, nails, and other fasteners.

Fix Up That Floor

Your garage floor takes a lot of abuse, and over time it can really start to show. Stains, discolorations, and cracks are all common in garage floors, and over time the floor can really start to degrade. While it will probably take a while before the damage gets so bad that you have to start making major repairs, having a messed up garage floor can make you less likely to use the garage, and beyond a certain point can even affect the resale value of your home. Luckily, this is usually pretty easy to fix.

Concrete crack fillers can smooth out the surface of your garage floor, preventing further damage and giving you a uniform surface again. In many cases, these fillers can even roughly match the color of your existing garage floor so that the filled cracks aren’t overly obvious. A variety of concrete cleaners are also available to help remove stains and discoloration from the floor as well. If you want to really enhance the look of your floor while protecting it from further damage, epoxy-based sealants and floor paints provide you with a hard coat on top of the cleaned and filled concrete that will resist leaks, stains, and everyday traffic to keep your garage floor looking good for years to come.

Revive Those Garage Doors

Have your garage doors seen better days, or do you not have doors on your garage at all? Either way, installing new garage doors, or even just replacing the door opening mechanism, can give new life to your garage. Modern garage doors help to protect everything in your garage and provide a decorative enhancement to the look of your home. In many cases the openers can even be connected to smartphone apps or other smart home components to give you more control even when you’re away from the house.

If you think that installing new doors or updating your garage door hardware is a big step to undertake on your own, HomeKeepr is here to help. Sign up for a free account today to connect to garage door installers and other home improvement pros in your area that can get this, and other jobs, done just the way that you want.

Original Post: http://WinWithVin.kw.com/blog

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Are You Cleaning These Spots Often Enough?

May 03, 2021 Vincent Russo

Cleaning up around the house is obviously an important task, and some areas require cleaning more often than others. There are some spots that might need a bit more attention than they’re getting, though. This is especially true for those areas that are out of sight or otherwise not as easily noticed as higher-profile and more visible areas that get cleaned on the regular. While the specifics of your cleaning and maintenance schedule will depend on your home and what you have in it, here are a few common areas for you to consider in case they’re not getting enough attention in your home.

Interior Cleaning

Most of the time when you think of cleaning in the house, you’re likely thinking of tasks like dusting, vacuuming, and other common indoor cleaning tasks. Here are a few other places to clean that might not be getting nearly as much attention as they need:

  • Washer and dryer: You should clean your washing machine every week or two, or at least once a month if it isn’t used very often. The dryer should also be cleaned at least once a month, and make sure you take a vacuum and suck out some of the lint that might build up around your lint trap.
  • Blinds: While dust on the blinds is the most obvious sign that they need to be cleaned, they also build up with grease and other dirt over time which can stick and even stain. Even if they don’t look like they need it, clean your blinds at least once a month.
  • Refrigerator: The coils on the back of your fridge need periodic cleaning, but you should also clean the grill, shelves, and other internal locations as well. This not only keeps buildup from stopping airflow, but also helps to prevent food contamination.
  • Furniture: If your furniture is upholstered, try to vacuum its surface at least once a month. This will get rid of crumbs and dirt while also cutting back on dust, dander, and other allergens that can plague you throughout the year.

These obviously aren’t the only locations that you need to hit when cleaning up around the house, but they’re some of the more easily overlooked. Other appliances and features of rooms that are frequently used might need to go on the list as well when thinking of what to clean.

Exterior Cleaning

There are a lot of areas outside that could probably use more attention than they’re getting. This can vary significantly depending on where you live and the features of your home and yard, but here are a few of the most common:

  • External HVAC components: If you have central heat and air, you’ve likely got a large exterior unit that at best only gets cleaned once or maybe twice a year. If you rely on window-mounted air conditioners, those may get even less love. Check these components at least 3 or 4 times a year if not more often and remove built-up leaves, dirt, dust, and other potential hazards that could hurt their efficiency.
  • Patios and walkways: Leaves, cut grass, and a variety of types of dirt can have a negative effect on walkways, stonework, and even wooden features like patios if left alone. They can cause unsightly stains, chips, and other decay. Clean these outdoor features at least once a month, and more often during the summer and fall when there’s a lot of mowing and falling leaves around.
  • Garage doors: There’s a good chance that you clean your garage at least a few times per year, but what about the garage doors? Not only do the tracks need to be cleaned periodically to prevent dirt or debris from clogging them up, but you also might want to add some appropriate lubricant to the rollers at least once or twice per year.
  • Gutters: If your home has gutters, you likely clean them at least once a year when the leaves are falling. What about other times, though? Falling seed pods, pollen, and even dirt and dust that washes down from your shingles can all have a negative effect on your gutters. Try to clean them at least once per season if not more often.

There are other areas that may be overlooked as well, such as bricks or siding and the outside of windows (which should be cleaned at least as often as the inside window glass is cleaned.) Stay mindful of this as you make a list of things to clean and maintain around the outside of your home.

Other Considerations

There are a lot of tasks around the home when it comes to cleaning, and some of them are things you might not even consider. To help make sure that you get everything, try hiring a professional cleaner or home maintenance pro at least a few times a year to help you tackle everything. HomeKeepr can help you find pros in your area to get the job done; just sign up for a free account today and you’ll be on your way.

Original post: http://WinWithVin.kw.com/blog

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Getting Started With Epoxy Cabinet Refinishing Kits

Apr 29, 2021Vincent Russo

What do you do when your kitchen needs a facelift? Those cabinets are solid, they’re functional, but man, are they dated! One option many homeowners are turning to is cabinet refinishing kits. Many of these pre-built kits use a water-based epoxy coating to ensure that the cabinets get the most rock-solid finish possible without investing in a lot of professional grade equipment. But there’s a lot more to refinishing cabinets with these materials than opening the can and getting to work.

Prepping for an Epoxy Finish

If you’ve never heard it before, take this away with you: The biggest predictor of success for your DIY project is how well you prep your surfaces and work area. It’s really that simple, even though prep work can be pretty involved. Creating a clean, smooth, ready to coat cabinet door takes a lot of effort, but yields magnificent results. This is the number one secret of the pros, besides having all that fancy painting equipment.

So how do you prep for an epoxy cabinet refinish? There are steps.

  1. Remove all the cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and hardware. Label each and store them where they won’t get lost or damaged. Using sticky notes to track cabinet doors can be a really good trick, since doors may look alike but not actually fit the same.
  2. Fill any cracked surfaces with a compatible filler and sand it smooth. You can’t simply paint away problems in your cabinetry.
  3. Clean your cabinet fronts, cabinet doors, and exposed finish on cabinet bases thoroughly to remove oils, spills, and other messes that will interfere with paint adherence.
  4. Cover any surface that you don’t want paint on. This includes your backsplash and your countertops, and even your work area. This is not a material that you can necessarily just peel off should you have a drip.
  5. Set up areas for your doors and drawer fronts to cure. Curing can take several days per painted side, so ensure the area is super clean and free of any drafts that could deposit dust and other debris.

Only once you’ve fully prepped your area should you begin the task at hand. Taping your cabinet bases can help keep the paint lines sharp, but remember to remove the tape while the paint is wet for the best results. It’s not always necessary to paint the insides of your cabinets, but should you choose to, remember that the pre-built kits are only designed to cover outer surfaces, so you’ll need extra coating material.

The Right Equipment Matters

Another important thing to know about using an epoxy cabinet refinishing kit is that the right equipment really does matter. Buy the right tools, and don’t just settle for a single brush or a single roller; they come in a variety of options for different jobs. Because rollers and brushes both create different textures depending on their design, it’s going to be really important to make the right choices here. Ask experts if you’re not sure. Rollers are not all the same, and there are lots of differences in naps and roller density. And brushes made of natural material are very different from synthetics.

The size and shape of your rollers or brushes also matter big time. Brushes in particular come in tons of different shapes, each meant to do specific jobs. For example, an angle brush will help you get into corners better, though they can also be used on the flat, open areas too, if you’re careful. Rollers vary dramatically in width, and bigger isn’t always better.

Whatever you do, though, don’t mix brushes with foam applicators of any sort. The resulting texture won’t be consistent and will likely drive you to refinish your cabinets yet again long before the epoxy coating is in need of refreshing.

For a Faster, Harder Coating…

If you’re not sure you want to live with the excitement that is refinishing your cabinets, you’ve got another option: you can call in a painter. Professional painters often use harder coatings like lacquers and oil-based epoxies, as well as paint sprayers to ensure a smooth and even finish. Because they can take your cabinet doors away to their shop, it’ll also minimize the mess you have to live with.

Not sure where to find a painter? Just look in HomeKeepr for a recommendation! Make sure to choose a painter who has cabinet-refinishing experience, since there are often specialized tools and racks involved in the process.

Original Post: http://WinWithVin.kw.com/blog

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Garden Walkway Lighting Basics

There’s not much that makes as big of an impact on a garden or other outdoor space as some mood lighting. Although your garden or walkway lighting won’t shine quite as brightly in the daytime, the lighting you choose can make a huge difference to the functionality and look of the space where you install it. There are several different options when it comes to outdoor lighting, so how do you begin to choose the right lighting for your space?

What’s Your Lighting Goal?

Before you so much as shop for lighting, it’s important to determine what it is that you want your lighting to do. Should it simply illuminate a path? Is it going to highlight a particular garden element like a nice plant or a fountain? Do you need to brighten stairs to help prevent falls? There are so many different types of garden and walkway lighting available today that identifying your needs can help to narrow your focus before you begin. That way you won’t waste a lot of time poring over options that will never be suitable for the job at hand.

Next, your lighting location should be considered. There are plenty of benefits to choosing a wired lighting system, but if your garden is far from your home, you may need to bring an electrician onto the project to properly run the wiring to the location in question. If that’s not an option, you’ll need to seriously consider solar lighting kits. Although a freestanding solar panel can be installed to power all your lights, there are many lighting kits made of lights fitted with individual tiny solar panels.

Solar Versus Wired Lighting

Solar garden walkway lighting is undoubtedly a convenient option, but it won’t work for every space or every need. Because solar lighting is powered by the sun, the location of your solar panels is vital. Bright, direct sunlight is best for charging these lights, so if you live in a location that tends to have a lot of cloud cover or your vegetation is dense, you’re going to lose a lot of potential lighting hours. Generally, solar-powered lights need to be recharged daily, making them difficult to rely on during the darker, colder months of the year, even if they’re in an ideal location.

Low voltage landscape lighting, on the other hand, receives continuous power from your electrical system, allowing them to work on demand. Some homeowners worry this means they’ll run all day long and create expensive electricity bills, but most lighting systems are designed to come on at or near dark and turn off at sunrise, or on demand, or both, depending on the system you’re using. On-demand systems come in pretty handy when there’s a weird noise outside and you need to go chase a raccoon out of the trash.

Many solar systems are also built to be disposable, so if that’s the way you’re leaning, be prepared to spend quite a bit more than you might expect for a low-end plastic solar light. There are solar lighting kits made to last much longer, but you should be looking for light sets made with metal bodies that allow you to change the bulb, should it need replacement.

Need Help Selecting the Right Outdoor Lighting?

There are a whole host of professionals who can help you make these important lighting decisions, based on your specific situation. For example, if you want to know if your site is suitable for solar lighting or needs a permanently powered lighting solution, calling an electrician into the project can get the right answers quickly. If you already know the type of system you’d prefer but aren’t quite sure about how to configure your lighting system to meet your goals, a landscape professional may be an excellent investment.

The good news is that no matter who you’d like to bring into your project, you can find them with the help of your HomeKeepr community! Just look for a recommendation for your situation or specific professional need, and before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to lighting the neighbors will envy.

Original post: http://WinWithVin.kw.cm/blog

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Whole Home Water Filtration Systems and You

Your home is your castle, but like a lot of castles in the days of yore, the water could probably be better. Unlike in those ancient castles, though, modern technology makes it possible for you to have clean, safe water, no matter what sort of problems plague your fortress’s water supply. Choosing a whole home water filtration system is a big commitment, but depending on your water quality and source, it can make more sense than using filters at specific end points in the house.

Many homeowners wonder what the advantages are to installing a whole home filtration system versus simply using things like tap filters and refrigerator filters. After all, aren’t those the only places where water quality really matters? Absolutely not.

Hard water, for example, can be very hard on any appliance that has water regularly run through it, from your washing machine to your toilet or dishwasher. Over time, sediment and mineral build-up can shorten the life span of any and all of these often expensive pieces of equipment. Installing a whole home water filtration system automatically removes problematic minerals and particulates from your water before it enters other points in your home, so you won’t have to take your chances on when an appliance will stop working or need repairs.

Water filters on specific appliances can be sufficient if you really just don’t like the taste of your water, or if you’ve placed in-line filters on your most delicate equipment. But remember that spot filters can only protect the items that are being filtered, and won’t cover other parts of your home that you may not have realized need filtering. They can also get expensive to maintain if you have many filters that need to be changed regularly.

What Can You Filter With a Whole House Filter?

A whole house filter can remove many common contaminants that may be present in your water. It’s a good idea to have a water test before you make a final decision on what you’d like your whole house filter to accomplish. A few things the most popular filtration mediums can reduce or eliminate entirely include:

  • Sediment
  • Chlorine and chloramine
  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • Heavy metals
  • Bacteria and viruses
  • Pesticides and herbicides
  • VOCs

Most whole home filters consist of sediment filters, carbon filters, and, if you’re on well water, a UV lamp. However, because these are generally cartridge systems, you ultimately have control over what’s being filtered out. If your water tests show significant problems with heavy metals, you may need additional equipment for drinking water. Reverse osmosis systems can also filter out things like heavy metals and produce very pure water, but they use a lot of extra water and can be very slow, so they’re generally only recommended for spot usage. They’re often used only for drinking and cooking water, so you won’t necessarily need a huge add-on to your whole home filter.

Choosing the Right System for Your Home

The right system for your home is the system that both meets your needs for water usage and is able to filter out the contaminants that are in your water. This is why it’s so important to have a water test before you even start to look at whole home filter systems, even if you already have an idea as to what you think would be good for your lifestyle. You may discover that your water simply doesn’t contain the contaminates you’re most concerned about, which would be great news! Since both municipal water and well water can change over time, a system that allows for multiple interchangeable cartridges, from a company that will support your whole home filter over the long term, is always the ideal. The same can be said for a reverse osmosis system, should you need one in addition to a filtration system.

A professional can help you find the exact system that will meet your needs for many years to come. Don’t be shy, look in the HomeKeepr community for a recommendation for a water quality expert. You’ll have cleaner, tastier water in almost no time!

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Original post: http://WinWithVin.kw.com/blog

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist: Top Items to Watch

Spring is here, so that means it’s time to start getting ready for the months ahead. Chances are you’re looking forward to being outdoors, maybe firing up the grill, planting a garden, or spending some quality time in the pool. Before you get down to the business of enjoying the nice weather, though, there are a few things that need to be taken care of first. That’s right: It’s time to knock out some home maintenance tasks to make sure everything is ready for the changing weather.

Home maintenance is important throughout the year, but spring and fall are two of the top times to really hit some of the big points. In the fall you’re prepping for winter and making sure that your home is ready for icy weather, while in the spring you’re checking to make sure everything came through the winter ok and prepping for the heat and rain that comes with spring and summer. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are some of the top items to check off on your spring home maintenance checklist.

Outdoor Maintenance

Cold winter months can really take their toll on the outside of your home. This is one of the reasons that spring maintenance is so important. By performing external maintenance early in the spring, you can identify damage caused by ice and snow and repair it before it turns into leaks and other problems when the spring and summer rains start up. Here are a few key areas that you need to make sure that you check:

  • Inspect your roof, looking for cracked or missing shingles or other signs of damage or leaks
  • Check around the foundation for cracks or other wear
  • Look at the bricks and siding on your home to see if you need repairs or new paint
  • Clean the outdoor unit of your HVAC system and inspect it for obvious signs of damage

This is also a good time to check any external fixtures, outdoor electrical outlets, hose faucets, and other objects on or around the outside of your home for signs of damage.

Indoor Maintenance

A lot of people think that the main thing to do indoors is a bit of spring cleaning. While a good deep clean a few times a year is important for keeping your home livable, there are a few specific maintenance areas that you need to be sure to cover. Here are some of the key points to hit:

  • Clean the condenser coils on the back of the refrigerator and check the temperature in both the fridge and freezer
  • Inspect the ceilings and walls for discolorations or cracks that could indicate water damage
  • Test your HVAC system to ensure that it functions properly when switched from heating to cooling
  • Lubricate the hinges and tracks on doors, windows, and other areas that will see a lot of motion or traffic in coming months

While you’re already in maintenance mode, this could also be a good time to replace light bulbs (possibly with more energy-efficient bulbs or bulbs with smart connect features), test outlets, and perform other basic maintenance tasks around the house.

Other Maintenance Tasks

There are a number of other maintenance tasks that don’t really fall into these two categories. Little things like lubricating the moving parts in your garage doors, changing the oil in mowers and other outdoor equipment, sharpening tools, prepping garden spaces, and similar tasks will go a long way toward getting you ready for spring and summer. It may also be a good time to do some deep sanitizing or moving around some outdoor fixtures to make it easy to have some friends over while giving everyone their space as well.

This all might sound like a lot of work, but fortunately HomeKeepr is here to help. From cleaning pros to roofers and HVAC specialists, you can use HomeKeepr to connect to professionals in your area that can help with all your spring maintenance and repair tasks. Sign up for a free account today to get started.

#WinWithVin #KWMerrimackValley

Original Blog: http://WinWithVin.kw.com/blog

Outdoor Structures Make Your Yard More Fun!

Although it’s barely spring, summer is right around the corner. And nothing says summer like better outdoor spaces to play and work in! Now is the time to plan and install outdoor structures so you can spend the hottest days of the year taking advantage of the breeze and shade, while still being able to spend time in the great outdoors.

A Short List of Outdoor Structures

Outdoor structures offer endless possibilities when it comes to sizes, shapes, construction materials, and intended uses. However, there are a few that are hardcore backyard staples, to the point that some might argue a home is completely bare without them. Of course, the outdoor structures you choose will depend greatly on how you use your home, but here’s a short list to get you started.

  • Patio covers. Already have a patio, but the sun’s putting the kibosh on your outdoor plans? It’s time for a patio cover. These very simple structures are essentially a roof for your patio, designed to seamlessly marry with your existing rooflines and structures. If a permanent roof isn’t possible, consider adding a shade sail, which can provide a great deal of shade with very little cost or maintenance.
  • Pergolas and trellises. Looking for a fancy place to run some plants for natural shade with the added benefit of flowers, fruits, or foliage? Pergolas and trellises provide spaces for plants to climb, as well as providing broken shade throughout the day. The tighter the construction, the more shade you’ll have, but if you plan to train vines on your structure, leave ample room for growth.
  • Decks. Of course, not all the best structures are aerial. There’s absolutely nothing like a nice deck. You get all the benefits of sitting outside without all the mud, grass, and bugs. What’s not to like? Decks allow for a lot of creativity and customization, too, with common add-ons like benches, fancy railings, and multiple levels to create even more interest.
  • Screen porches. If you already have a deck or a patio that you like, and a roof on it, you can easily convert it to a screen porch with a few weekends’ worth of effort. With a screen porch, you can still enjoy the great outdoors, but without having to worry about stinging insects or debris that may be blowing on the wind.
  • Gazebos. Looking for a freestanding structure away from your house? A gazebo or shelter may be a good choice. These largely open buildings feature a floor and a roof, and not a lot else, making them ideal for shady spots or poolside buildings. Hang a hammock inside and you’ve got the ideal summer relaxation spot.
  • Recreational sheds. By now, most of us have heard of the “she shed,” but freestanding recreational sheds can be hideouts for anyone. Not a garage and not a house, a freestanding shed is a structure that allows you to create any kind of year-round space you can imagine. Add electricity and a heater, and even winter’s chill is no match for your outdoor studio space or reading room.
  • Greenhouses. If you’ve got a green thumb, a greenhouse may be the perfect addition to your garden space. Even a small greenhouse structure will give you more room for plant-based experiments and somewhere to house your sensitive plants through the cold of the winter. Be sure to choose a model with excellent ventilation!

Now That You’ve Chosen a Structure…

… who’s going to install it? Although many outdoor structures come in kit form, they can be pretty complicated to build, especially by yourself. But don’t sweat it, your HomeKeepr community can help! You can find the best handymen, general contractors, or other backyard specialists in your area. Before you know it, your outdoor structure will be ready for all sorts of summer fun!

#WinWithVin #KWMerrimackValley

Original post: http://WinWithVin.kw.com/blog