Thursday, October 31, 2013

Start Nesting for Winter

It doesn't need to be spring to do a little spring cleaning! Before hunkering down out of the cold, tidy up and organize to start relaxing for the winter. Here are a few tips to getting everything in order and begin winter nesting.

Low on closet space? Go through and sort clothing. Chances are, sandals, shorts, and tank tops won't be needed at Christmastime. Get some plastic bins or moving boxes to pack all of your summertime clothing away. Once that warm weather wardrobe is out of your closet, the available space should double. Organize the remaining items with closet organizers, like shelves, a shoe rack, or a closet doubler.
Closet organizers perfect for saving room. Find these at

While going through clothing, and anything else in the house, for that matter, this makes it much easier to decide what to do with it all. Make three piles, KEEP, DONATE, and TRASH. Having a goal in mind while sorting will make it easier to get started and help speed up the process.

If you're still having a hard time deciding which pile a pair of shoes should go into, follow this one simple rule. Think back over the last year. Did you wear the shoes at least once in the last twelve months? If not, donate them! There's another way to keep this rule all year long with clothing on hangers. At the beginning of the year, hang up everything with the hangers facing all one direction. When you wear and item and put it back in the closet, flip the hanger around the other way! At the end of the year, you can easily see which items have been used and worn, and which ones weren't touched.

Make your way into the kitchen, because it's time to clean out all of that food that has been collecting in the back of the cupboard. Go through and check dates, and throw away any cans that are dented or bulging. These are signs of contamination and spoiled food. This is caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism, a very serious illness. Plus, anyone who has experienced food poisoning knows it's not even worth getting a day off of work! Visit the FDA website for more information about spoiled canned food, how to identify it, and more.
Throw out cans the bulge like this

Also consider putting organizers into drawers in the kitchen and bathroom. There isn't any reason why that classic junk drawer can't also be clean and organized. Having organizers in drawers creates a specific place or home for items, making it easier to put them away in the correct spot after using them.

Is the kids' play room a disaster? Peter Walsh on gave some great tips to keep the kids' rooms clean and organized. First, he says to ask the kids to pick five toys that are their favorite, and five that they don't play with much to donate to the less fortunate. Another tip he gave was to go through the toys and toss or donate any toys that aren't played with as much. It's likely the kids won't even notice they're gone. And lastly, his advice was to get some bins so sort toys into, and then label. Some examples are bins for Barbies, action figures, farm animals, Lincoln Logs, etc. This not only gives a home to each toy, but also makes it easy for the kids to clean up after themselves, and teaches them good organization skills early on.

Don't forget about the car! Summer brings a lot of dirt and sand, which usually ends up in the car, along with tons of road trip items and trash that were left behind. Take care of all of this in one go. Find a car wash with a vacuum and trash bin. Toss the garbage and vacuum the carpets all at the same time. This also forces you to decide which items to take into the house or leave in the car. Try to leave an extra blanket, some emergency food kits, and a first aid kit in the car, especially in areas that get a lot of snow. You never know when you might get stuck in your car.

And lastly, what to do with all of those bins mentioned above. Store them in the garage or shed. Large plastic bins are easy to store and stack. Put them along walls or up in the rafters. This is the perfect place for seasonal items, like your out of season clothing, holiday decorations, or kid and baby items to save for later.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Central Vacuum Systems FAQ

It is a vacuum system that is installed and runs through the entire house, allowing the user to plug in a hose into a wall inlet where they want to vacuum. Debris is then sucked away to a power unit installed elsewhere in the home.

How is it installed?

A permanent power unit is placed somewhere out of the way, like a garage or basement. Then, tubing from this unit is installed and runs through the walls, crawl space, and/or attic of the house. Inlets are installed to those tubes in the walls wherever the homeowner would like to vacuum. 
Nutone VX1000 Vacuum System Power Unit

How do I use the central vacuum system?

Easy! Plug in the lightweight hose and brush to the inlet, flip the switch on your handle, and use like a normal vacuum. Dust, hair, and debris is carried away to the power unit, along with the suctioned air. There is no need to turn on the power unit when wanting to use it.
Plug the hose into a wall inlet. This is what is installed in the wall.

Are there any health benefits?

Yes! Central vacuum systems help reduce the amount of allergens in the house, improving air quality and reducing allergy symptoms. The University of California at Davis School of Medicine conducted a study, comparing the effects of a portable vacuum vs. a central vacuum system, and found the central system to be superior in all areas. The central system found the following:
  • improved nasal symptoms
  • improved eye symptoms
  • improved non-nasal symptoms
  • improved activity
  • improved emotions
  • improved sleep 
These improvements were reported in all participants who had documented these problems before using a central system (J Invest Allergol Clin Immunol 2001; Vol. 11(4): 290–294).

What are the other benefits of a central system vs. a portable vacuum?

First, the hoses and accessories for a central vacuum are much lighter and easier to move around than a portable vacuum. This is especially important for homeowners with multiple story houses. 
Also, portable vacuums will suction and recycle air back into the room, often releasing dust particles straight back to the house. Central vacuum systems carry the dusty air out into the power unit to filter the air so it's not released back into the home.
Additionally, a central system has higher suction power. This is because of the permanent power unit, which is able to have higher power and suction due to it not needing to be portable or light weight. It is also able to suck up chunks of trash, hair, and other things too large for a portable vacuum to suck up.
Lastly, it is much quieter. Since the suction is controlled in a separate part of the house, there is hardly any noise, excluding the sucking sound from the hose.

Are there any other uses with a central vacuum?

Yes! There are also dustpans that can be installed low by the floors of any room. When sweeping, turn on the dustpan, and sweep the debris straight into the hole, where it will be sucked away to the power unit with the vacuumed debris. There is no more need to bend over to sweep the dirt and dust into a pan, or to throw away the dirt into the trash, where it would continue to sit in the house.
AirVac VPANA Vacuum System Dustpan. Installed next to the floor. Push the lever on front to turn on suction.
What is the upkeep with one of these systems?

Air filters will need to be replaced every so often if the system requires filters. The bag or container holding dust and dirt will need to be emptied once about every three months. Hoses and brushes may need to be replaced, depending on careful the user is while storing and using them. They are generally very durable and can withstand a lot of use. It is overall a good, long-term investment.

What about if I have to move? I will have to leave my central system in the house when I go, since it's permanently installed.

A central vacuum increases home resale value, so after installing and enjoying the other benefits and uses, it continues to pay itself back if the need to move to a new home arises.

For any other questions, concerns, or to discuss installing a system in your home, call us anytime. (866) 368-8663.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

10 Quick and Affordable Home Improvement Tips

It's so easy to look around the house and notice things just look a little drab, and yet so hard to start working to fix it! The usual culprits to this are usually time and money. So we've compiled a list of simple, quick, and affordable home improvement projects that make it easy to get started! It may seem too easy, but all of these can make a huge impact in a room and make any house feel more like a home.

1.  Replace lighting fixtures. Is your house stuck with shiny gold fixtures installed over 20 years ago? These make the house look dated and old. Replace these with a new style that shows off your taste and gives a new chic look to your room. Challenge: Add a chandelier in the kitchen over the eating bar to glam up the dining experience.
2.  Change ceiling fans. Fans are not only functional in both summer and winter, but they give the potential to improve a room. Similar to lighting fixtures, they have a lot of style they can add to a room. Consider replacing a simple lighting fixture with a ceiling fan with a light to cut down on air conditioning costs. Challenge: Reverse the blade direction in the winter to draw up cold air, pushing warmer air down into the living area to keep it warmer.
3.  Paint kitchen cabinets. Replacing cabinets in the kitchen can be a long and costly experience, especially if the kitchen requires custom fits. Instead of tearing out the old ones, consider giving them a second life with a coat of paint. This DIY takes a bit of elbow grease, but it well worth the reward. It's very important to sand first to make sure the paint will stick, and remove cabinet doors to avoid painting the hinges. Shop for a semigloss or gloss paint that will make them easier to clean. And most importantly, clean them first! Make sure all dust, grease, fingerprints, and oil are cleaned away so the paint will go on smoothly and evenly. Challenge: Find a neutral gray color that is very "in" and will be easy to decorate around in the long run.
4.  Replace furniture and cabinet hardware. Changing out drawer pulls and cabinet door handles takes a screwdriver and 5 minutes, but gives a lasting impact that speaks your design language. There is such a wide variety to hardware, from modern metals, classic ceramic, to fabulous baroque and dazzling crystal. Challenge: Search antique stores to find vintage and unique hardware.
5.  Get a new doorbell button and chime. A new doorbell adds character and introduces the feel of the house to visitors in the first few seconds they arrive. The possibilities of doorbell buttons are endless! Find one to add curb appeal and cheer up guests. Challenge: Find a chime in a cheery, familiar tune.
6.  Hang new artwork. Make a room unique by hanging art that speaks to you and tells your story. Challenge: Take a photograph your favorite place, make a large print, and hang it! Be your own artist.
7.  Install an Iron-A-Way. Save space in your laundry room or kitchen by installing the Iron-A-Way. It's a cabinet that holds an ironing board and other iron needs. Open the cabinet and fold the ironing board down to use it, and then fold it back up to the wall when you're finished. Instead of having the ironing board sitting around, leaning against the wall and taking up space, this one easily hides behind a cabinet that comes in different colors. Challenge: Iron your wrinkly clothes! 
8.  Update window curtains and shades. Stuck with those aluminum, industrial looking window shades? Replace them with shades that are just as effective, but give your home a fresh, homey look. Also, continue to treat the windows with some new curtains. Look for ones that are both decorative and functional. Challenge: Find fabric you love and make curtains yourself!
9.  Add an area rug. Sometimes carpets get unsavory stains and hardwood floors get scratches and dents. It's not always possible to replace floors, so a good solution is to add an area rug. Add a pop of color or style while also functioning to cover up the blemishes on the floor. Challenge: Find a bold rug to be the center of attention in the room.
10.  Use a couch cover. Furniture is expensive. That's why it's so easy to get stuck with that old couch purchased 20 years ago. It can quickly become outdated, which then ages the whole atmosphere of the room. Investing in a chic couch cover can liven up the room and transform it instantly. Challenge: Find one in a print to set the tone of the room.

After updating and making these affordable DIY improvements, a brand new, chic style can finally come through! No more wishing for improvements that you wish you had. Now, make it happen!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Home Spot Heating

With the dip in temperature sweeping through last week, it was a good reminder that soon it will be time to pull out the down blankets, wool hats, and fuzzy sheepskin slippers. Some may have even teased the idea of turning on that dusty house heater to escape back into summer for just a little longer.

This season, look into a more efficient and better way to heat your home. Spot heating using wall heaters has many benefits, and can improve the long winter months.
Pictured: Broan 170, 174, 178 comfort wall heater

  • Have empty rooms in the house? Instead of heating the whole house at once, use wall heaters to heat only the rooms that are being used. 
  • Instead of waiting for the whole house to be heated, wall heaters will heat the space more quickly. Finally, the bathroom will be warm before you have to get out of the shower in the morning!
  • Everyone has their own idea of a comfortable, ambient temperature. Wall heaters allow each person to set the temperature to their own preference while they are in the room. 
  • Since wall heaters don't use any external venting, all of the heat and energy the heater creates will go to your home instead of up the chimney.
The many sizes available make it easy to select a heater that is perfect for each individual room.

Baseboard heaters sit low to the floor and are perfect for bedrooms and bathrooms. A wall-mounted thermostat installed above it make it easy for anyone to control the temperature. The BROAN model 112 is perfect for small areas where high heat output is desired, like a bathroom. 

A variety of wall mounted heaters and thermostats are available, each catering to different room sizes and functions. High capacity heaters are ideal for entry ways, lobbies, or large rooms requiring a high wattage heating. For areas like this, consider the BROAN 9810WH wall heater.

Smaller rooms only need lower wattage heaters, or ones that can be converted to half-wattage, in order to heat the room perfectly. Another good use for these heaters are large rooms with multiple heaters. Use one to heat only a portion of the room at a time, or turn them all on for a cozy, evenly heated atmosphere. Our most popular fan wall heater is the Cadet CSC101TW.

Shop for the perfect wall heaters for your home, and check out our selection of wall, kickspace, and baseboard heaters

~~Home Products, Inc.