Don’t Call a Maid! DIY House Cleaning

Filed Under: Cleaning, Do it yourself    by: ITC

It is almost the end of the year, a time when many people prepare to do some major cleaning in their homes. They are ready not only to vacuum and dust, but to go through their closets, drawers, and other storage spaces and decide what they want to keep, what they want to toss, and what they want to reorganize.

They also make a mental inventory to help them decide what purchases they will want to make during the new year. However, this kind of in-depth cleaning which is only done once or twice a year can be a daunting, time-consuming, and stressful undertaking. If you are nodding your head in agreement, take heart! What follows are some tried and true tips to make this big task a little bit more manageable. Don’t forget that many hands make light work!

Invite your family to join in. You might divide the house into rooms with each person assigned a different area to work in. Or you may all pitch in together, which can often be fun as you discover items you squirreled away months ago and subsequently forgot about. If your family is hesitant to help, remind them that you all live in the house together! Unless you live alone, every member of family should be involved to some extent. Giving family members a choice about what they want to do can make them more likely to help cheerfully. Perhaps someone wants to wash the windows or organize the garage.

Maybe someone would prefer to clean up the kitchen or sweep the floors. Whatever it is, giving options is likely to increase the level of your family’s participation in the process. Not only will the work go faster, but your family will feel a spirit of togetherness and unity when joining together for the common good of all. Even young children can be involved in some way in this work. Can your little one do some dusting? Help organize her room? Assist you in weeding the garden? Children are often eager to be a part of the real work of adults. Assigning chores to your children not only benefits you, it also is good for them.

Teaching them how to accept and follow through with responsibilities is an invaluable life lesson. Everything from feeding pets to sorting the laundry and folding clothes, or matching socks while others are doing more intensive cleaning, are valuable contributions to the work of the family that children can do. Does your child have his or her own room? Cleaning up the room, putting toys away, or taking out the trash are just some of the ways your child can become involved. Sometimes it can be hard to know where to begin with this big cleaning job.

A good rule of thumb is to start at the top of your house and work your way down. Not only is it a good idea to start at the top of the house, but you will also want to start at the top of each room. This means you clean the ceiling, walls, and windows before doing the furniture or floors. Cleaning in this way will allow dust that falls from the upper areas to collect below before you vacuum the lower parts of the room, including any furniture. If many people are helping you in one room, just remember to do a final vacuum of the furniture and floors when everyone is finished. It’s tempting to be a scavenger and hold onto everything you find.

Don’t do it! If you have not used something for more than a year, it is unlikely you are going to find a use for it now or in the future. Those clothes in your closet that have dust on them because it has been so long since you wore them need to be given away. Bite the bullet and get rid of them. Many people are reluctant to throw away things because they are sure that at some point down the road they will find a use for those items. However, unless you are able to device some kind of accounting or tracking system in which you itemize each of those knick knacks and other objects of interest, chances are you won’t remember that you have them.

Make a pile of those things and have a yard sale. You will make some spending money, and someone else who might have a use for those things now will reap the benefits. Divide and conquer: planning out a strategy for achieving your goals over a period of time will help you accomplish things in a timely manner. Remember you won’t finish this monumental task in one day, even if you have an army of helpers.

Make a realistic schedule for each day which includes what cleaning will be done. Within a week, depending on the size of your house and how many people you have helping you, you will have finished your work. Then you can sit back, look around at your fresh, clean, organized house, and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

Popular Home Improvement TV Shows

Filed Under: Cleaning, DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Home repair, Redecorating, Remodeling, TV    by: ITC

If you are planning to work on a home improvement project but are at a loss on where to start, you might want to consider watching some home improvement TV shows. These shows are becoming more and more popular because of the valuable information, tips and tricks that viewers can pick up from watching them. As a matter of fact, some of these shows are selling DVDs with their episodes that homeowners and designers could buy to get some home improvement project and design ideas from.

There is a wide variety of home improvement TV shows that can give you plenty of tips on home improvement, organization, interior decorating, gardening and landscaping and home repair. There are also some which show arts and crafts projects and home makeovers.

Here are some of the more popular home improvement TV shows today.

1. Clean House

Hosted by Niecy Nash, this home improvement TV show helps individuals and families who are in need of a home makeover and reorganization. The show basically brings in a group of interior designers and organizers to work on the home. They first decide which items and furniture in the house to get rid of and then sell them in a yard sale. From the money earned, the crew works on different home improvement projects from adding storage spaces to painting walls to installing new flooring. Clean House is an excellent show to watch if you have been wanting to get rid of the clutter in your home and if you need some simple and inexpensive design ideas which can improve the functionality and appearance of your home.

2. Home Made Simple

Debuting in 2006, Home Made Simple is a home improvement TV show that is hosted by the Home Mavens. They help families from all over to come up with simple solutions to improve their homes from talking handyman projects to room organization to interior decorating to creating easy meals for the family. It is a show that any homeowner or home renter would be able to pick up plenty of ideas and expert tips from.

3. Take Home Handyman

This is a home improvement TV show on TLC which is hosted by Andrew Dan-Jumbo, a craftsman, carpenter and a handyman. At the beginning of each episode, Andrew approaches a Home Depot customer and offers his services to help them complete any home improvement project that they are working on or are planning to work on. Aside from the main project, Andrew also works on small additional projects around the home. The good thing about this show is that viewers can easily understand and follow the steps done by Andrew so that they can do it in their own homes as well.

Some of the other home improvement TV shows would include Trading Spaces, Holmes on Homes, Design Start, Mission: Organization, I Want That!, Designed to Sell, Designers’ Challenge and Decorating with Style.

Overflows from gullies

Filed Under: Cleaning, Do it yourself, Home repair, Plumbing    by: ITC

Where waste pipes and downpipes discharge into gullies, the first signs of trouble may be when the gully overflows and the surrounding area is flooded as a result. The gully trap has probably become blocked, either by blown leaves or other debris, or by a build-up of grease and scum on the sides of the trap. Raise the gully grid if one is fitted (and get a new one if it’s broken or missing). Then scoop out any debris with a rubber-gloved hand or an improvised scoop, scrub the gully out with caustic soda and flush it through with plenty of clean water before replacing the grid.

A blockage in the underground drains may be shown up by a WC which, when flushed, fills with water almost to the rim and then very slowly subsides, or by dirty water seeping from under a manhole cover. You’ll need a set of drain rods to clear any underground blockage. It is best to hire these from a local tool hire firm if and when the emergency arises. A drain that blocks sufficiently frequently to justify the purchase of a set of rods undoubtedly has a major defect that needs professional advice and attention.

Raising the manhole covers will give you an indication of the position of the blockage. If, for instance, the manhole near your front boundary is empty, but the one beside the house into which the soil pipe and yard gully discharges is flooded, then the blockage must be between these two manholes.

Screw two or three lengths of drain-rod together, add the appropriate accessory to one end and then lower it into the flooded manhole. Feel for the drain half-channel at its base and push the rod end along it and into the drain towards the obstruction. Screw on extra rods as necessary until you reach and clear the blockage. You may find it easier to push the rods into the drain — and to extract them again — if you twist them as you do so. Always twist in a clockwise direction. If you twist anti-clockwise the rods will unscrew and one or more lengths will be left irretrievably in the drain.

Many older houses have intercepting traps. These traps. which were intended to keep sewer gases out of the house drains, are the commonest site of drain blockage. You can see if your drains have an intercepting trap by raising the cover of the manhole nearest to your property boundary before trouble occurs and looking inside. If there is an intercepting trap the half-channel of the gully will fall into what appears to be a hole at the end of the manhole; actually it is the inlet to the trap. Immediately above this hole will be a stoneware stopper. This closes the rodding arm giving access to the length of drain between the intercepting trap and the sewer.

A blockage in the intercepting trap indicated when all the drain inspection chambers are flooded. It can usually be cleared quite easily by plunging. To do this, screw a drain plunger (a 4in or 100mm diameter rubber disc) onto the end of a drain rod. Screw on one or two other rods as necessary and lower the plunger into the flooded manhole. Feel for the half-channel at its base and move the plunger along until you reach the inlet of the intercepting trap. Plunge down sharply three or four times and, unless you are very unlucky. there will be a gurgle and the water level in the manhole will quickly fall.

Very occasionally, there may be a blockage between the intercepting trap and the sewer, and the point must be made that this length of drain is the householder’s responsibility, even though much of it may lie under the public highway. To clear such a blockage the stoneware cap must be the inlet to the rodding arm (this can be done with the drain rods but it isn’t the easiest of jobs) and the rods passed down the rodding arm towards the sewer.

Intercepting traps are also subject to a kind of partial blockage that may go unnoticed for weeks or even months. An increase in pressure on the sewer side of the trap — due to a surge of storm water, for instance — may push the stopper out of the rodding arm. It will fall into the trap below and cause an almost immediate stoppage.

However this will not be noticed because sewage will now be able to escape down the open rodding arm to the sewer. The householder usually becomes aware of a partial blockage of this kind as a result of an unpleasant smell, caused by the decomposition of the sewage in the base of the manhole.

The remedy is, of course. to remove the stopper and to replace it. Where the trouble recurs it is best to discard the stopper and to lightly cement a glass or slate disc in its place. In the very unusual event of a stoppage between the intercepting trap and the sewer, this disc can be broken with a crowbar and replaced after the drain has been cleared.

After any drain clearance the manhole walls should be washed down with a hot soda solution and a garden hose should be used to flush the drain through thoroughly.

Roof rainwater gutters may become obstructed by leaves or other objects_ An overflowing gutter isn’t an instant catastrophe but, if neglected, it will cause dampness to the house walls. An inspection, removal of debris and a hose down of gutters should be a routine part of every householder’s preparations for winter.

Dealing with stains

Filed Under: Bathroom, Cleaning, Do it yourself, Home repair    by: ITC

A problem with taps and baths is staining just below the taps. This tends to be at its worst in hard water areas and, so far, nobody has come up with a really effective way of removing these stains once they’ve formed. As always, prevention is better than cure, so you should make sure that the staining doesn’t build up in the first place.

Dripping taps and shower roses should be repaired as soon as possible, and if they’re old enough to introduce the additional problem of rust staining you should consider having them replaced.

You can work to minimize the build-up of stains by wiping out the bath immediately after use and cleaning it regularly with a proprietary cleaner. However, if the bath surface has got to the point where even the most thorough cleaning cannot help, then you’ll have to think about giving it a facelift.

Bath enamel – a hard-wearing version of ordinary enamel paint was originally used for covering up badly stained enameled surfaces.

However, over the years this has acquired an unfortunate reputation for failure not only is it unable to withstand the sort of treatment it gets in a bath, but also extreme care is required during both preparation and application in order to produce acceptable and lasting results. It is still available. but usually only in white. and it is worth considering only if you want to touch up the scratched surface of a cooker, fridge or washing machine.

For baths and other bathroom fittings. a recent development has proved to be a better option. This is an epoxy resin coating that will provide a very hard, heat-resistant and chemical-resistant finish on most of the non-porous surfaces to be found in the bathroom. It comes in a number of different colors that will match the coloring of modern bathroom fittings with the excepts of white. It cannot be used on plastics or surfaces that have already been painted.

The only possible disadvantage is that can sometimes work out a bit expensive, though it will obviously be considerably cheaper than buying a new bathroom suite.