The life expectancy of home appliances

Whether you’re shopping for a home or already own one, knowing the current age of the appliances is important. Like us, they have an average life span. Unlike us, they can be replaced. But it’s pricey to do so.

The experts at Consumer Reports recommend that you replace appliances if the cost to repair them is more than half the price of a new one. While that’s a good rule of thumb, it’s something you can put off with care and proper maintenance of your home’s appliances.

As a bonus, your appliances won’t become energy hogs.

 

Kick stink bugs out of the house, naturally

Stink Bug

If you haven’t met your fair share of stink bugs this year, brace yourself. Although stink bug season is officially from March through September, the cooler it gets outdoors, the bigger the problem.

Brown marmorated stink bugs infest both the interior of homes and the garden. In the garden, they feed on fruit and vegetable crops, causing spots and decay.

They prefer to overwinter indoors, in homes. While they aren’t considered harmful to humans or to the home, they create lots of noise and, if bothered, quite a stink.

Once inside the home, they are a challenge to control.

Death by drowning

The least smelly way of ridding the home of stink bugs is also the most labor intensive. But, because stink bugs can’t swim, it’s an effective way of killing them.

Fill a bucket three-fourths of the way with water. Some homeowners add three to four drops of liquid dishwashing soap to the water, although it isn’t necessary.

Use a broom or other item with a long handle to knock the stink bugs off the wall and into the bucket. Those on the floor may be quickly scooped up with a small dustpan, a spatula or other tool and dropped into the water.

Use your vacuum

Entomologists at Virginia Tech suggest using your vacuum to suck the bugs off the walls, floors, drapes and furniture. The problem with this method is that the stink bugs release their scent, smelling up the vacuum and the home.

The scientists suggest replacing the vacuum bag after each use. Once the new bag is in place, sprinkle some perfumed talc, such as room or pet deodorizer onto the floor and vacuum it up to rid the machine of stink bug odor.

If you are the victim of repeated sting bug invasions, invest in an inexpensive shop vac and reserve its use exclusive to stink bug removal.

Insecticidal soap to protect houseplants

While stink bugs don’t hurt people and are considered non-destructive in the home, they may go after your houseplants. Insecticidal soap spray will help discourage stink bugs from feeding on them.

These organic insecticides are available at nurseries and gardening centers or you can make your own.

Combine 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil, 2 teaspoons of liquid soap (not dishwashing liquid) and 2 cups of water. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spray the plants with it. The oil has a tendency to separate, so shake the bottle periodically as you spray.

Dishwashing liquid is detergent and may harm your plants. Look for a liquid soap, such as Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap.

Preventing an infestation

Stick the end of a screwdriver into the opening between the bottom of  your door and the floor. If it fits easily, so will a stink bug.

Like many pests, stink bugs have the ability to squish their bodies down to fit into tight spaces. To prevent their entry into the home, seal all openings to the outdoors.

Virginia Tech entomologists suggest caulking cracks, around doors and windows, baseboards and any other area where the bugs may gain entry.

Cover roof vents with window screening. Replace screens that have holes and seal openings around ceiling fixtures and exhaust fans.

 

Quick fixes for a stinky home

Stinky house remedies

Inured.

That’s just a fancy way of explaining how we humans can, over time, become accustomed to something unpleasant.

If you’ve ever lived near railroad tracks or under the flight path of a local airport you know what we’re talking about. At first, the noise was torture. After time, however, you may have barely noticed it.

It’s the same with smells. We become accustomed to the odors in our home and it’s not until either someone very honest comes to visit or we return home after some time away that we realize just how stinky the home is.

While pets and smokers are obvious causes of home odors, other sources are a bit harder to track down. Let’s take a look at some of the first places to check if you have stinky house.

That “smell” coming from the kitchen drain

If you’ve ever been hit in the face with a sewer-like odor coming from the kitchen sink’s drain, getting rid of it almost becomes your life’s mission.

Plumbers recommend that you start with the simple causes during the process of elimination. In this case, start with the garbage disposal.

After time, food particles can become stuck on the blades. As they build up, and decay, they’ll become smelly.

Empty a tray of ice cubes down the drain and let the disposal run until they’re ground up. Then, run cold water through the drain for about 30 seconds.

This is the fun part: pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar (white or apple cider – it doesn’t matter).

Like a child’s science project, the drain will begin to foam and fizz and pop. Allow the self-made volcano to erupt to its fullest and when it’s finished, run hot water down the drain.

If the stench remains, and it resembles the smell of rotten eggs, you may have a larger problem.

It could be hydrogen sulfide gas, also known as “sewer gas,” coming from the main sewer line. “Sewer drains that have dry traps can allow hydrogen sulfide gas to enter the home,” according to experts at the Illinois Department of Health.

While breathing low levels of sewer gas won’t typically cause health problems, at high levels, “hydrogen sulfide gas can make you sick and could be fatal,” according to the health department.

While we can’t vouch for this detection method (published at WomansDay.com), it may be worth a try. Pour one teaspoon of peppermint oil down the kitchen drain, followed by hot water.

Walk around the home, especially to rooms with sinks (bathroom, laundry room). If you can smell the peppermint, call a plumber. The trap may be dry or even cracked.

Wait – while you’re in the laundry room

Laundry rooms centrally located within the home are often an overlooked cause of household odors.

Naturally you’ll want to be more mindful if you are one of us who allows the wet load to sit too long. After a load is finished, and you’ve removed the items from the washer, allow the washer door to remain open so that the moisture dries.

If your washer has a rubber seal around the door, clean it periodically with a solution of equal parts of white vinegar and warm water.

Newer washers have self-cleaning cycles that should be set in motion once a month. If your front-loading washer lacks this feature, run an empty load of hot water to which you’ve added 2 cups of white vinegar to the detergent dispenser.

Allow the cycle to complete and then run another, long, hot cycle with 1 cup of baking soda added to the drum.

Top loaders get a bit of a twist on the procedure, according to the experts interviewed by Today.com.

Again, set the washer to the hottest setting, at the highest water level. Place four cups of white vinegar in the detergent dispenser (or in the drum if your washer lacks a dispenser). When the machine fills and begins agitating, set it to pause and wait one hour before allowing the cycle to continue.

Run a second cycle with 1 cup of baking soda added to the hot water.

Are you really going to eat off those dishes?

Our dishwasher is the workhorse of the kitchen. Experts say it should be cleaned once a month and it’s an easy process. Run a load, without dishes, but with 1 cup of vinegar added.

You may also want to do a deep cleaning to get rid of the food debris that can cause quite the stench. This process is a bit more complicated, but worth it if it gets rid of odors.

Your owner’s manual may have deep-clean instructions. If not, the following procedure should help.

  • Remove the bottom rack from the empty dishwasher.
  • Inspect the drain and remove any debris.
  • Wipe up food scraps and other nasties from the bottom of the dishwasher.
  • Locate the dishwasher’s filter (if it has one) and remove it. Open it and clean out debris trapped inside. Rinse it well in hot water before replacing it.
  • Use a damp rag to which you’ve added a few drops of liquid dish detergent or vinegar to wipe down the dishwasher door along with its seals and the dishwasher’s racks and spray arm.
  • Use a toothpick to pick out any debris in the holes in the spray arm.
  • Check for other areas where food debris or a buildup of soap may be causing odors (for instance, around the soap dispenser and the inside of the door).
  • Run an empty load to which you’ve added dishwasher cleaner or 2 cups of vinegar.

Appliance owners’ manuals contain a wealth of valuable maintenance and cleaning information.

If you’ve lost yours you may find one online. Go to your favorite search engine and enter the name of the manufacturer and your appliance’s model number.

Autumn: the perfect time to whip that mudroom into shape

Mudroom

Folks who live in areas of the country with wild winter weather use a vocabulary that sounds like a foreign language to those who live in more mild climes.

One of the words not in the Hawaiian’s or Floridian’s vocabulary is “mudroom.”

But, whether it’s an entryway retrofitted in the winter to hold wet, muddy shoes or an entire room devoted to winter over-clothes, boots and recreational equipment, a mudroom is something many Americans can’t fathom living without.

After all, it helps keep the rest of the home clean.

That’s the beauty of the mudroom. Located at a home’s entry point, it’s a corral for grimy gear.

Whether you need to create a mudroom or want to deck out the one you already have, we’ve rounded up some brilliant tips for its floors and walls.

The best location for a mudroom

If you’re starting from scratch (creating a new mudroom), the first thing to know is that it needs to be a room off of an exterior door.

Depending on how much space you have, you’ll ideally want it out-of-sight from the rest of the house. Sure, that’s not always possible, but it’s the ideal.

After that, the sky is the limit.

Here are some tips to consider if you’ll be creating a mudroom:

If the design and décor will be more utilitarian than decorative, site the mudroom near a side or rear entryway.

If you lack space inside the home, consider turning a corner of the garage or carport into a mudroom. One of the trends in new-home construction is to combine the mudroom and the utility room.

This way, soiled clothing goes right into the washer instead of being piled in a basket (or on the floor) awaiting a trip to the laundry room.

The designers at HGTV claim that the best location for a mudroom is the room accessed first by the door to the home that you use most.

Durability is key in choosing mudroom flooring

Everything in a mudroom should be durable and efficient to use. Start with durability and you’ll thank yourself later.

Skip carpeting and opt for a flooring product that is easy to clean yet still slip-resistant. This means no tile (unless it’s labeled as slip-resistant).

Good options include:

  • Vinyl – There are some gorgeous luxury plank vinyl flooring options available today (see examples here). Some look and feel like wood and many are waterproof.

 

  • Natural stone – Yes, some types of natural stone can be quite slippery when wet. According to a study published in the Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, it’s the composition of the stone product and not the rough finish that determines how slick it will be.

Products with more quartz, such as mica schist, are less slippery, but granite, with a high quartz content, is quite “slippery in wet conditions” because of other minerals included in the rock wear down easily. Shop carefully if you’re considering natural stone floors for your mudroom.

 

  • Concrete – Wait, don’t turn your nose up at the thought of a concrete floor. Installers are doing wonders with finishes nowadays. Take a look at examples of “Why Concrete Floors Rock” at HGTV.com.

Buy a bunch of throw rugs and some boot scrubbers and your floors will be a snap to clean.

Move on to the walls

Paint or wallpaper? Again, you’ll want to keep the focus on durability when considering how to cover the mudroom walls.

Either one, if chosen wisely, will stand up to the gunk that gets flung around a mudroom.

Semi-gloss painted walls are the easiest to clean, but choose a color that won’t show the grime (forego white).

The folks at HGTV recommend, aside from paint, wainscoting and beadboard.

When you’re considering wallpaper, look to the vinyl selections first. They clean up easily and hide a lot of “sins.” Take a look at how some homeowners have used wallpaper in their mudrooms at Houzz.com.

Find additional mudroom makeover ideas at ElleDecor.com and Pinterest.com.

4 signs that your HVAC system is in trouble

From handling summer’s heat to keeping us toasty when it’s chilly outside, our HVACs are one of the hardest working systems in our homes.

As they chug through their lives with nary a problem, it’s frighteningly easy to become complacent about routine maintenance and checkups.

Since a new system can run you between $1,900 and $5,100 (on average), according to HomeAdvisor.com, it only makes sense to start paying attention for signs that the system may be in trouble.

Let’s take a look at some common symptoms to watch for.

1. Something stinks

Strange, nasty odors in the air inside your home may indicate a number of problems with your HVAC system.

If the air smells like something may be burning, it could be a “problem within the motor or the wiring,” according to the pros at compactappliance.com.

They suggest that when you turn the heating system on at the beginning of the season, it may blow out stale air that may have a tinge of an odor similar to something burning.

Let the system run for about 20 or 30 minutes and if the odor doesn’t go away, call an HVAC repair specialist before using it again.

If, on the other hand, the system is emitting a rotten egg smell, turn it off, leave the home immediately and call your gas company. A rotten egg smell is the sign of a natural gas leak.

Does the air smell moldy? One of the most common problems with HVAC systems is a failure to drain moisture adequately. If the moisture gets into the ducts, it can cause mold.

Thankfully, this isn’t a serious problem and can be remedied by an HVAC technician. Don’t let the problem fester, though, or you it may cause health problems.

2. The A/C is blowing hot air

According to pippinbrothers.com, there are many reasons an air conditioning system blows hot – instead of cool – air.

The most common reasons include:

The thermostat is set incorrectly. “It may sound silly, but we’ve seen it happen before,” say the Pippin Brothers. They suggest the first thing to check when you aren’t getting cool air is the thermostat. It may be set to “heat” instead of “cool.”

If that isn’t the cause, ensure that the thermostat is set to “auto” or “on.” “If it’s set to ‘on,’ that means the fan will blow even when the air conditioner isn’t actually cooling,” according to the brothers.

Switch it to auto and adjust the temperature to start the unit. If it’s still blowing hot air, you may have a more serious problem and it’s time to call in a specialist.

3. Little to no air coming from the HVAC unit

Check the filters if the airflow from the HVAC unit is restricted. Often, all it takes to remedy the situation is a new or clean air filter.

If you don’t have routine maintenance done on the unit, it may be dirty coils restricting the airflow. If you can’t determine the problem, call in a professional. Allowing this problem to fester can cause the compressor to fail.

The compressor is one of the main parts of the system and it’s costly to replace. Depending on the system, it may cost between $1,500 and $2,000 according to the pros at AceHomeServices.com.

4. Weird noises

The professionals at American Home Shield, the home warranty company, say that there are eight different noises that may come from your HVAC system.

“Ignoring the mysterious noises from your AC can turn minor issues into major expenses, as these noises could signal anything from needing a simple tune up to costly repairs, to —worst case — replacement of the entire unit,” they caution.

Banging, clanging, clicking, buzzing, squealing, screaming, humming or rattling may be an indication of

  • A refrigerant leak
  • High internal pressure within the compressor
  • Loose parts
  • A clog in the system
  • Bad fan motor or indoor blower
  • Dirty condenser coil

Any noises coming from the system indicate a problem (which may not be serious). Turn off the system and call an HVAC technician for a diagnosis.

Having the A/C fail during summer heat or the heater give out during winter can largely be prevented with routine maintenance of the system.

5 Mistakes to avoid when hiring a plumber

From $45 to $200 per hour. That’s what you’ll pay, on average, to hire a plumber, according to HomeAdvisor.com’s True Cost Guide. But, that’s for small tasks, such as faucet, toilet or sink repair.

Need a water heater installed? That will run you around $1,000, on average, nationwide.

Not all plumbers are alike, with the same amount of experience and the same skills. Assuming they are is probably the most common mistake consumers make.

Let’s take a look at five additional mistakes that homeowners commonly make when hiring a plumber.

1. Choosing “cheap” over qualified

Go to any local social media platform, such as Facebook neighborhood groups and NextDoor, or sites such as Craigslist.org and you’ll find lots of people offering their services for a variety of home repair and maintenance tasks.

Group members often offer referrals. Far too often, however, the person seeking the referral is looking for the lowest price, not the most qualified contractor. Inevitably, this same neighbor will be back posting a month later, bemoaning the horrible job that was done.

Yes, it’s always smart to save money. But, remember, you truly do get what you pay for. When the job is something important to your family’s comfort and safety, such as many plumbing tasks, hire a professional plumber.

2. Not ensuring the plumber is licensed

Some states require that plumbers be licensed, while others require registration with the state. You can find each state’s requirements at HomeAdvisor.com.

A license is proof that the plumber has passed an exam that tests his or her knowledge. Always ask if the plumber is licensed and ask to see the license.

Also ensure that the business the plumber works for is licensed.

3. Not inquiring about bonding and insurance

Ask the plumber you are interviewing if he or she carries general liability insurance. This insurance covers any damage caused as a result of the plumber’s work.

Then inquire about bonding. A bond guarantees financial protection against a number of issues, such as work that doesn’t meet local codes or an incomplete job. Ask for written proof of the bond.

Finally, if the plumber works for someone else, ask if his or her employer carries worker’s compensation insurance. This insurance pays for injuries incurred during the time the plumber is working in your home.

4. It’s a huge mistake to not ask for references

When a friend, colleague or neighbor recommends a plumber, do yourself a favor and do some additional checking.

Go to the plumber’s website to find reviews. If you can’t find any there, check Yelp.com. Then, ask the plumber for the names and phone numbers of his or her last three clients. Call each one for a review of the plumber’s work.

Finally, check to see if the plumber is rated at the Better Business Bureau and whether any complaints have been filed against the plumber and/or the business.

5. Not getting the agreement in writing

Ask that all the details of the job, the agreed upon time for completion and the price be put in writing, signed by the owner of the plumbing company.

While this agreement will keep the plumber on task, it will also protect you in the event something doesn’t occur as agreed or there is another problem.

Ensure that their refund policy is clearly outlined in the agreement.

Like those in most industries, honest, ethical plumbers suffer from those among them who are unscrupulous, dishonest and who perform substandard work.

Avoid going the “cheap” route and hire a professional.

 

September is National Preparedness Month: Are you ready?

Each September, since 2004, National Preparedness Month “reminds Americans to be prepared for disasters or emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities,” according to Ready.gov.

And, how is this working out for us?

After 15 years, 75 percent of us have set aside emergency supplies but fewer than 50 percent of us have an emergency plan.

After compiling your supply kit, it’s important to make an emergency plan for the family. To be completely prepared, you may want to get some emergency preparedness training.

Prepared for what?

According to the president’s annual proclamation, preparedness is not meant for only weather and natural disasters. Since those are the most common, let’s start there.

If you live in a disaster-prone area, you’ll want to take extra precautions. Just in the past few years, Americans have experienced catastrophic losses from:

  • Hurricane
  • Wildfire
  • Tornado
  • Flood
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Earthquake

But there are other dangers to prepare for as well:

  • Hazardous materials leaks and spills
  • Extreme heat and cold
  • Power outages
  • Active shooter
  • Terrorist-related incidents
  • Drought
  • Landslide
  • Tsunami
  • Infectious disease outbreaks
  • Community unrest
  • Nuclear explosion

Yes, the list can be frightening, especially if you’re unprepared. In fact, the 2019 Preparedness Month theme is “Prepared, Not Scared.”

Take the following steps now to increase your family’s protection (both physical and financial) in the future.

Get insured

“Insured losses due to natural disasters in the United States in 2018 totaled $52 billion,” according to the Insurance Information Institute. While that sounds like a rather large chunk of money, consider 2017’s losses: $78 billion.

More than one-third of those losses were due to droughts, wildfires and heat waves. Other losses incurred were due to tropical, winter and severe thunder storms, floods and earthquakes.

It is estimated, however, that half of the total dollar amount of losses caused by natural disasters are uninsured. The costs are therefore passed on to the victims or the taxpayers.

Natural disaster damage that is not covered under standard homeowners policies include:

  • Floods – If you live in an area prone to flooding, you can purchase insurance coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program. Learn more about it at Fema.gov.
  • Earthquakes – Most large insurers offer either separate earthquake coverage or an endorsement to your current policy.

If you cannot afford to replace your home, either in its entirety or any portion that is damaged, purchase insurance.

Protect important paperwork

Gather, copy and protect all of your vital documents. These include:

  • Driver’s licenses
  • Adoption papers
  • Social security cards
  • Birth certificates
  • Passports
  • Citizenship papers
  • Child custody papers, military ID or DD Form 214
  • Current photos of your pets along with copies of  vaccination records and chip ID numbers.
  • Title to your home or loan information
  • Car registration
  • Insurance policies (homeowners, flood, earthquake, auto, life, etc.)
  • Health insurance cards
  • Detailed photos of the home and its contents

Ensure that physical copies of the documents are kept away from the home, such as in a safe deposit box or with a relative in an area not prone to disaster.

Stash cash

The experts at Ready.gov suggest that the average family should have cash in the amount of $2,400. Yes, that’s easier said than done. Any amount of cash will help, so start small and keep adding to your stash.

Prepare an emergency kit

Supplies that you’ll need during the recovery from disaster vary according to the size of your family, your age and the ages of your children, the weather and more.

For instance, older Americans living alone won’t have to stock up on baby formula and diapers but may want to ensure they have extra prescription and over-the-counter medications they use frequently.

For a good overview of what to consider adding to your supply list, consult Fema.gov. And, don’t forget your pets. Although this list at TheSeniorDog.com is based on the needs of a senior dog, it can be used for any dog or cat.

Add to the list collars, harnesses, leashes, feeding bowls and food.

Develop a family emergency response plan

The chances are good that your family won’t be together if a disaster hits. How will you contact one another? Where will you meet up?

Especially if your children are young, a family emergency plan is imperative. Get help creating one online at USA.gov.

What to do in the fall garden

With fall just around the corner, many new gardeners naturally assume that the gardening season is over. It doesn’t have to be; many vegetable crops do best when planted out in fall (fresh lettuce for your salads!).

If you are strictly an ornamental gardener, however, fall typically signals the end of active gardening until next spring. If your garden wasn’t all you’d hoped it would be, take steps now to ensure that next season is a winner.

Evict pests

It seems counterintuitive, right? What with fall coming and all the junk that is bound to blow in, why bother cleaning now?

Bugs and diseases.

All that “stuff” laying on the soil – you know, the dead plants, the leaves and other detritus – provides shelter over the winter to pests and disease organisms.

Unless you want to deal with the onslaught in spring, stop it now. Rake it all up and bag it or compost it, but get it out of the garden.

Fix the soil

The best thing you can do for next season’s plants is to provide the soil in which they’re grown with yummy nutrients right now.

Combine about 4 inches of shredded bark with the same amount of compost and dig the mixture into the top 6 inches of soil. Top it all off with another 4-inch layer of the wood chips to sit on top of the soil.

Over the winter, this combination will go to work, lightening clay soil and decomposing to provide an amazingly rich environment for plant roots.

If you’re not a victim of clay soil, just spread a big, thick layer of compost on top of the soil and let it sit over winter. It will work its way down, into the soil.

If you won’t be planting winter vegetables, add 2.5 pounds of ammonium sulfate per 1,000 square feet of space. Mix it down at least 10 inches into the soil.

Pamper your perennials

Although most perennials should not be cut back in fall, some require it, according to Don Kinzler at AgWeek.com. These include:

  • Daylilies – prune the leaves after the first fall frost.
  • Hosta – avoid the mushy foliage of spring by cutting back hosta foliage (to 1 to 2 inches above the soil) around the time of the first frost.
  • Iris – not only should you cut back the foliage (to a “fan shape 2 to 3 inches high,” according to Kinzler), but division is best done in August and September.

Check the other perennials in the garden for signs of diseased branches or stems. Remove them and rake up the mulch beneath the shrub and dispose of it. Then, apply a fresh layer of mulch, even if it’s leaves or pine needles.

Inspect shrubs for any branches or stems that may be diseased, prune them off and then rake up the mulch under the plant (it may contain disease organisms or spores).

Get spring-blooming bulbs into the ground now

Spring is daffodil time (and tulip and crocus time) and you’ll only get all that deliciousness if you get the bulbs planted before the ground freezes.

Unsure of how deep to plant? Eyeball the height of the bulb and bury it two to three times that. If your bulb is 2 inches tall, the planting hole should be 4 to 6 inches deep.

Tender bulbs, such as canna, dahlia and gladiolus should be protected from being brought to the surface by frost heave during winter. Use pine tree boughs, wood chips or pine bark, according to the experts at Better Homes and Gardens.

Don’t forget the lawn

In fall, your lawn is preparing to go dormant, so it’s absorbing as much water and nutrients as it can. Help it out by aerating it and then, in late fall, fertilizing it with 24-0-10, slow-release fertilizer.

Finally, mow the lawn at the mower’s lowest height but don’t remove more than one-third of its current height in one session.

Your final gardening task is to ensure that you have enough gardening books and seed catalogs to get you through a long winter.

 

4 tips to transform that spare room into a home gym

There are gym rats and then there are those of us who feel intimidated by them. Can you blame us? As we sweat and toil, we’re surrounded by effortless iron pumping, bench pressing and simulated bike riding, stair climbing and running.

It’s enough to make you wish you could work out at home. And, you can. Creating a home gym doesn’t have to bust the budget or take up an entire wing of your home.

You can remain committed to your fitness goals right in your own home.

1. Choose the room

Even if you have a room that is currently not being used for much more than storage, think carefully about whether it will work as a gym. The main thing to think about is ceiling height. You’ll need at least 8 feet, according to Scott McGillivray at YouTube.com.

If the ceilings are substantially lower, consider swapping (steal the kids’ room!). If you don’t have an extra room, you can still create a gym by partitioning off a larger space, such as the living room.

No, you won’t need to build a wall. Hang curtains to use as a divider. We found these very cool and extra-long tension rods online at RoomDividersNow.com. Or, check out Home Depot’s assortment of screens.

Once you have the required space set aside, clear the entire area. Will you add a mirror or two? Now is the time to do so.

2. Consider the floors

If the room is carpeted or covered with a textured vinyl floorcovering, you’re good to go. Hardwood, laminate, tile or other hard surfaces may be a bit more challenging.

Remember that you’ll be using heavy equipment and accessories. When dropped, they may damage the floor. Ceramic tile is especially prone to fractures and breakage. Consider as well that some of these materials may become slippery when wet.

No carpet? Consider rubber matting. Home Depot carries interlocking gym floor matting and you’ll also find solutions online at Amazon.com and AmericanFloormats.com. The beauty of these tiles is that you can lay them right over existing hard flooring materials.

3. Determine the layout before spending money on equipment

The square footage of the room will be the main factor when determining the equipment you’ll eventually choose.

Window shop for the equipment online, jotting down the height, length and depth of each piece. Then, draw out a placement plan. Keep in mind that you’ll need to allow extra room for some pieces, such as a bench press.

Hold one arm out to your side, as if you were holding a weight. Measure the distance from fingertip to shoulder, double that and add the result to the width measurement for the bench press you have your eye on.

The same holds true for extra-long dumbbells. If you use them, measure their length and add it to the width of the bench press.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on high-end equipment. If your fitness routines are simpler, all you’ll need is room for some yoga props, a medicine ball, foam roller, Pilates equipment or whatever suits your simple workout style.

No room for a step machine? Check out these space-saving and affordable stackable aerobic steppers at Amazon.com, DicksSportingGoods.com and Walmart.com. We also like the Dual Action Swivel Stepper at SunnyHealthFitness.com.

4. Where to shop for equipment

Gym equipment can be pricey, but not if you shop carefully. Did you know that Amazon.com has an entire fitness “store” online? Indeed, they do and you can find inexpensive workout accessories and even machines.

If your budget is a bit tight, consider buying used equipment. Check out the inventories at:

  • Play It Again Sports (you can also shop online)
  • Garage sales and yard sales
  • Second-hand and consignment stores

Prefer to shop online?

Ok, you’re all set to get buff in the privacy of your own home gym.

 

 

Asbestos: Does your home have it?

Does your home have asbestos?

The word “asbestos” strikes terror into the ears of homeowners. It sounds like a big problem, and it often is.

But, how do you know if it’s an issue in your home? What should you do about it? And can it affect the sale of your property?

What Is Asbestos?

Although you may think asbestos was cooked up in a laboratory, it wasn’t. It’s a naturally occurring mineral that’s still quarried in some countries.

When it was found to have insulator and fire-retardant properties around the 1940s, asbestos was put into large-scale use. It’s often found as insulation in ceilings, floors, walls and around pipes.

Sadly, it was only later that researchers discovered it also posed a serious health risk, including severe types of respiratory cancer. In the 1980s, there was a movement to remove asbestos from public buildings such as schools and hospitals to make it safer for communities.

Private property owners were mostly left to handle the situation on their own.

How Do You Know If You Have Asbestos in Your Home?

If your house was built between the 1940s and the 1970s, it’s entirely possible that you have some form of asbestos insulation lurking somewhere.

But, don’t panic yet.

Asbestos only creates a problem for homeowners if it’s disturbed. Left intact, the micro-particles don’t enter the air and, therefore, won’t get into your lungs.

The trouble comes when you plan to build an extension or do heavy renovations.

So how do you know whether you have it and whether you should be concerned?

The only way to safely determine whether asbestos is present in a structure is to have it professionally tested… and then professionally removed while the home is unoccupied.

If you are buying or selling a home that was built before 1980, it’s likely that there is some level of asbestos unless you have a certificate regarding its removal.

But checking for this mineral is usually not part of the home inspection process unless specifically requested. And, the onus is on the buyer to check for asbestos, especially if renovations are in the cards after purchase. Naturally, the buyer will need permission from the seller to perform these tests.

All in all, it can become complicated if you are contemplating structural changes to the home, but it’s not a deal breaker in most cases.

Learn more about asbestos in the home and how to protect yourself and your family at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website.