Home Sweet Home Magazine - Sept 2021

S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 1

Beautify Your Home with Natural Materials Page 4

‘Smart’ Home Guide New Technologies to Enhance Your Life and Your Space Page 9

YOUR OFFICIAL END-OF-SUMMER HOME CHECKLIST Gardening | Page 12 Home Repairs | Page 16 Winterizing Your Home | Page 19

AgentName@Domain.com 123 456 7890 AgentName.HomeMag.me

courtesy of: Agent Name

Dear Homeowners, Over the next few months, temperatures will start to fall, and you’ll likely be spending more time indoors. It’s the best time of year to give your home some extra love and protect it against potentially damaging elements. In this issue of Home Sweet Home Magazine, you’ll find a complete guide to preparing your home for the winter months ahead — including articles on what to do in your garden as fall approaches, how to fix damaged or worn-out features of your home, and how to winterize your home’s major systems. And since you’ll likely be spending more time indoors, check out a list of new “smart” home technologies designed to make your life easier and more entertaining. Plus, learn creative ways to store and identify all of the power cords floating around your home. Even though the weather is getting cooler, the real estate market is still in full swing. I am always happy to work with any referrals you send my way. I can help them prepare their homes for sale and use marketing strategies to get the most money possible on their biggest investment.

I look forward to reconnecting with you soon and hope you enjoy the last days of summer!

Best wishes,

Agent Name ABC Brokerage

123 456 7890 AgentName@Domain.com AgentName.HomeMag.me 51 Pine Street Atlantic Beach, FL 32233



04 09

Festive Fall Décor You Can Make Yourself Take a cue from nature this fall and get creative; invite the cornucopia of the season’s vibrant bounty indoors with these DIY home decorating projects. Smart Products to Enhance Your Home Explore some of the cutting-edge technologies you can install in and around your home to simplify your life and make the time you spend at home more enjoyable.


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Prep Your Garden Before you pack up your gardening tools for the season, take the time to prepare for next year. Tackle Common House Repairs When problems arise, it’s best to address them before they become unmanageable. Winterize Your Home Now is the time to move certain home maintenance items to the top of your list.


UsingNature to InspireYour Space Autumn is the season of harvest. Its rich, warm hues of orange, red and golden yellows are the ultimate sign of transformation. Take a cue from nature this fall and get creative; invite the cornucopia of the season’s vibrant bounty indoors by trying your hand at one or several of these DIY home décor projects.

Crafting with Cones You can purchase cones for crafting, but North America is populated with a wide variety of cone-bearing trees and plants. So why not enjoy the cool weather and take a nature walk to collect your supplies straight from the source!

How to Clean and Prepare Pine Cones

It’s best to wash pine cones before using; doing so removes sap that may aggravate pine allergies. A thorough cleaning will also ensure your new décor is bug free!

Fill your sink with warm water and add ½ to 1 cup white vinegar.


Option 2 – Love this idea but prefer a more dramatic aesthetic? Try this quick alternative. Gather your cones. Pour an ample amount of multi- purpose glue into a bowl. Add your choice of glitter andmix well. Dip each cone into the mixture, using a turningmotion to coat all sides. (This can be messy, so you may want to wear a pair of form-fitting latex gloves.) Place the cones on a sheet of wax paper and allow them to dry completely. Create your place cards. When complete, simply wedge your place cards between the top prongs of each cone. There’s no need for adhesive of any kind; the cone prongs will keep the cards securely in place.

Option 1 – Purchase acrylic paint in your chosen color(s). Place each pine cone on a paper plate or a cutting board covered with aluminum foil to protect your work surface. Use a paint brush to apply the paint to the tip of each cone prong. You will need a thick application of paint, so you may need to apply multiple coats. Leave the cones to dry overnight. Create place cards using stock paper: these can be as simple or as fancy as you want. Try writing guests’ names in calligraphy, or use a metallic pen if you desire a more sophisticated look.

Let soak for a half hour. Rinse the cones in cool, fresh water, then lay them in a single layer on 2-3 layers of newspaper. Leave them to dry for 3-4 days. You can tell they are dry when the cones have fully opened.

Pine Cone Place Card Holders

Whether you’re planning a special event like a fall wedding or thinking ahead to Thanksgiving, try making either (or both) of these simple pine cone place card holders to add a touch of natural elegance to your dining table!


The great thing about gourd crafting is that it requires no artistic expertise. Gourd crafting is fast, easy and fun for all ages — which makes it the perfect family activity. Designs can be as simple or elaborate as you wish, limited only by your imagination! Step 1: Select Gourds Suitable for Crafting Gourds grown this summer won’t be ready for crafting by fall because they can take up to six months to dry. Only gourds that are completely dry are suitable for crafting. Plan an outing to your local gourd farm or farmer’s market to purchase gourds that are dried and ready to use. You can tell a gourd is dry simply by giving it a good shake. If the seeds inside make a rattling noise or the pulp thuds against the inner walls of the gourd, you know it’s good and dry. Step 2: Clean and Prepare the Gourds If your gourds are covered in dried soil and dust, they will need to be cleaned thoroughly before you can begin crafting. First, soak the gourds in a solution of 10 parts warm water and 1 part bleach for approximately 15 minutes. Then, use a kitchen scrub brush to gently remove dirt.

glittery gold or silver or use two colors to create an eye-catching contrast! Allow the painted cones to dry for at least 24 hours.

Pine Cone Centerpiece This quick and easy centerpiece is extremely versatile. Purchase spray paints in your choice of color(s) or simply check your garage or storage shed to see what you have on hand. Choose a decorative glass bowl large enough for a centerpiece. (A footed trifle bowl is perfect for this!)

Step 2: Complete Your Centerpiece

Arrange the painted cones in your bowl. You can also add nuts and dried berries for additional color and depth, creating a more varied display. Gourd Crafting Gourds are the common name for cucurbit fruits with a hard outer shell. They grow in a wide range of colors, and numerous varieties feature highly textured shells with bumps, ridges and stripes. Naturally decorative, gourds easily add character to any centerpiece.

Step 1: Spray Paint Your Pine Cones

This should be done outside or in a room that is well-ventilated to avoid inhaling paint fumes. Lay layers of newspaper down and place the pine cones on top. Paint the cones, making sure to cover each one completely. Choose a

Place the gourd on a stable surface. Use a marker to create a


cutting line. Use a sharp kitchen knife or hand saw to cut an opening in the gourd so you can remove the insides. It’s common for some pulp to stick to the interior walls of the shell. Simply remove it by scraping the sides of the shell with a serrated utensil. Gently sand the edges of any visible openings using a medium (100-150 grit) sandpaper. If you’re prone to allergies, you may want to wear a mask or perform this step outdoors.

Gourd and Pumpkin Centerpiece

When constructing a centerpiece, it’s important to choose a base that matches the shape of your table. For instance, if your table is rectangular, you want to choose a centerpiece base that echoes this shape, such as a rectangular dish or basket. Create a lovely centerpiece and a great conversation starter by artfully arranging an assortment of small gourds, mini pumpkins and dried fall leaves. Complete the look by placing the centerpiece on a runner trimmed in fall colors. If your table is round, try using a brass or ceramic charger plate as the base for your gourd and pumpkin centerpiece. Trade the runner for placemats in seasonal colors.

Votive Candle Holders Option 1 – Carve an opening in the top of your mini pumpkins or gourds and insert votive candles. Option 2 – Center a dried fall leaf on the front of a glass votive candle holder. Secure it by wrapping twine around the votive and tying the ends in a knot or bow.

Gourd Vases

Many gourds are naturally shaped like vases. So, use them! Cut approximately two inches off the top (or neck) of the gourd. Remember to clean and prepare the gourd as described above before adding water and cut flowers.


Polyurethane also provides protection from damaging UV rays. Step 5: Find the Optimal Place to Hang Your New Birdhouse Choose a spot within easy viewing distance of a window in your favorite room or your porch swing.

Purple Martin Birdhouse Many varieties of birds enjoy gourd birdhouses. Interestingly, all bird species have clear size and even hanging height preferences for their homes. Step 1: Choose the Correct Type of Gourd Birdhouse gourd is a generic term for all gourds suitable for use as a birdhouse. The pear-shaped kettle gourd, ranging from six inches to one foot in diameter, is the favorite choice for birdhouses. When choosing a kettle gourd for a Purple Martin birdhouse, select one that is 9-10 inches in diameter.

diameter. Next, use a ⅜” drill bit to drill four ventilation and drainage holes in the bottom of the gourd. Finally, use a ¼“ drill bit to drill a hole on either side of the gourd’s top. Insert a length of rawhide or leather through the holes and tie a firm knot at the top to form the hanging strap. Hang the birdhouse between 12-20 feet from the ground.

Preserving Your Gourd Crafts

If you plan to keep your gourd projects short term and create new designs each season, you can simply clean them as described above, and they should last approximately two weeks. If you want to keep and reuse your artwork, you’ll need to preserve the gourds. For indoor projects, simply apply an acrylic-based varnish. Protect outdoor projects by applying 2-3 layers of a high-quality exterior gloss varnish. If your outdoor craft is painted, be sure to use a sealer with a UV protectant to prevent fading.

Step 2: Clean and Dry the Gourd

Step 4: Paint Your Birdhouse

Follow the directions for cleaning the exterior of gourds outlined above. Allow to dry completely.

Select a paint color that suits your style, and try to choose a non-toxic blend. If you prefer the natural look, apply 3-4 coats of clear polyurethane spray. This simple finish is an excellent choice for highlighting the gourd’s natural color and inherent texture.

Step 3: Drill

Using a hole saw, begin drilling a crescent-shaped entrance hole just above the gourd’s center. The entrance hole should be 2 ⅛” in


The COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to spend more time at home as a major portion of the workforce made a rapid transition to working remotely. Students and educators had to quickly adapt to virtual learning. At the same time, restaurants, movie theaters and other public places that had been social mainstays for generations closed, resulting in homeowners reevaluating their living spaces and searching out the latest technological innovations to maximize their indoor and outdoor living spaces.

This article explores some of the cutting-edge technologies you can install in and around your home to simplify your life and make the time you spend at home more enjoyable.

Portable Movie Projectors

operated with a 5-hour run time. The leaders in video-on-demand streaming services, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, are preloaded on the Cinemood, along with YouTube and Ameba TV. Ready to watch a movie? Simply turn Cinemood on, choose your movie and start watching. Traveling with the kids or simply need some age-appropriate entertainment? Cinemood has you covered with its extensive assortment of preloaded Disney

projectors. Every projector that made the list weighed less than five pounds. The heaviest, the BenQ GS2 Wireless Mini Portable Projector, weighs 3.52 pounds. The lightest, the Magnasonic LED Pocket Pico Mini Projector, weighs a mere 4.5 ounces. The Cinemood Portable Mini Projector earned GearHungry’s “Best Overall” distinction due in large part to its quick, user-friendly setup. No plugin is needed, as the projector is entirely battery

Portable movie projectors have become all the rage as more people turn to home movie nights on Netflix over traditional movie theater viewing. These projectors can be used indoors or in the great outdoors, anywhere you can find a surface that can act as a screen. This new generation of home movie projectors is truly portable. The experts at GearHungry recently reviewed and ranked their top nine picks for portable


6 InnovativeWays toDeclutterPowerCords Love the convenience of smart home technologies and your personal mobile devices but find yourself constantly stumbling over power cords or frantically searching for the right charger? While modern technology has given us the freedom to multitask and be entertained upon the go, ironically, it has made us dependent on a variety of USB and other types of charging cords, adapters and power cords. As we all know, small charging cords are easy to misplace, while large power cords are bulky, often leading to a tangled, clutteredmess. Check out these easy DIY hacks to keep track of your charging cords and identify which power cord connects to which device. 1. Break out the label maker! If you own a label maker, use it to create professional-looking labels for your power cords. With the name of each device printed clearly and attached to the corresponding cord, you eliminate the guesswork of which cord connects to which device. 2. Don’t have a label maker? No problem! Organize and recycle by reusing plastic bread clips as labels. Use a permanent marker to write the name of the corresponding device on the front and back of each clip. You can take your organization efforts one step further by simply continuing to save bread clips and then assigning each type of device a particular color. For example, you can label

glass. Consumers choose from a wide selection of custom frames to match their décor. The frame serves the utilitarian function of holding the TV and mirror together, while adding an additional accent to the room. Smart Air Conditioner and Heat Controller The tado Smart Air Conditioner and Heater Controller uses advanced geofencing technology, which allows you to set the unit so it automatically turns the air or heat on when you enter your home and turns the system off when you leave. The tado control unit is compatible withmost heating and cooling systems and is easy to install. The tado system’s Smart Schedule lets you set your preferred temperatures in time blocks during the day and night, allowing you to customize your home’s temperature to sync with your personal routine. Because tado factors current weather conditions into its settings,

content, which includes a selection of 40 Disney e-books, 25 safety videos and of course, loads of cartoons. Portable mini projectors are priced to meet every budget, ranging from a low of just under $40 to a high of $600, with a number of options in the $100-$170 range.

TVs as Functional Art

A major selling point for purchasing a projector is to help you maximize space if you are pressed for room. Others simply do not like having a large TV as a major focal point in their home. The Samsung Mirror TV offers homeowners the option of having a large screen, wall-mounted TV that doubles as a mirror and is bordered by a custom-made frame. This illusion is created by an ultra-slim television with a dielectric mirror — which is simply a mirror made up of thin layers of


Smart Communications: The Amazon Echo Show Second Generation The Amazon Echo Show Second Generation includes a 10-inch screen that allows you to make audio calls to and between Echo devices located in various rooms of your home while taking advantage of the HD video functionality the system offers. If you tell the kids it’s lights out but they don’t listen right away, Echo Show Second Generation allows you to turn them off remotely. The Amazon Echo Show Second Generation requires wi-fi. The system is compatible with Alexa and offers additional features, including music streaming and scheduling capability to keep you, your family and your home organized and running smoothly. Over the last year, our homes have taken on a new significance, serving not only as our resting place but for many, also functioning as our primary workplace, virtual school and the center of our social lives. By embracing all the modern conveniences new advancements in technology make possible, we can equip our homes to help us live healthier lives and offer our family and friends comfort, as well as cutting-edge communications and entertainment.

it uses less air conditioning on cooler days and less heat when the temperatures are unseasonably warm. The Air Comfort Skill feature provides you with a reading that rates the air quality inside your home and suggests ways to improve conditions so you breathe in healthier air. This tool also grades the quality of outdoor air, warning you when temperatures and humidity levels are high and when there is a risk of exposure to common allergens and other air pollutants. The tado controller runs onWi-Fi and is compatible with IOS and Android phones and Alexa. Sleep in Comfort: Temperature- Controlled Sheets Outlast sheets use cooling technology developed by NASA engineers to keep your body temperature constant throughout the night. Tiny capsules within the sheets absorb the heat when your temperature rises and then release it when you feel cold. Unlike wicking technology, which is reactionary, working to pull moisture away from your body once you have started to sweat, Outlast technology works proactively to prevent your body from overheating in the first place.

all monitor cords with pink clips, all printer cords with blue clips and so on. Soon, you will be able to recognize which cord goes with which device on sight! 3. Tired of searching through your bag or glove compartment desperately trying to lay your hands on the right USB cord or charger? Destress and declutter by putting an old sunglass case to use! These containers are just the right size for storing your cords, keeping them tangle free andmaking them easier to find! 4. Use binder clips! Keep your cords neatly folded and organized by affixing a label to the top of each clip and attaching another label to the cord. This solution keeps your cords clearly marked and tangle free. 5. Try the ties that bind! There is a wide assortment of materials you can use for bundling smaller cords and cables, from recycled twist ties to ponytail holders and rubber bands. Consider purchasing Velcro wraps for items you use frequently, such as cell phone charging and laptop power cords. These are an inexpensive and convenient option, since Velcro is adjustable. 6. Have a lot of cords to organize for the whole family? Try using an over-the-door shoe organizer! Use the pockets of the organizer to categorize your cords. You can label the pockets for reference if you like. This solution enables you to safely store and separate numerous cords in one convenient space.



As the summer sun dips over the horizon a bit earlier each evening, the distinctive signs of fall readily approach. But before you pack up your garden tools for winter, take advantage of the current season to clean up your garden and prepare for spring, which will be here again before you know it.

Deadheading Early fall is the perfect time to clean up your plants. Cutting off dead branches and removing spent blooms redirects the plants’ energy to targeted spots while they prepare for the colder weather ahead. However, for some plants, it’s best to wait until later in the fall. If cut back too soon, they may start to regrow rather than harden up against winter protection. Don’t prune plants like azaleas, rhododendrons and forsythia, for example, that begin developing buds in the fall that bloom in the spring.

Look for the highest five-leaf grouping and trim directly above that spot. This often results in one more bloom before the end of the season.

However, you can remove dead wood from any plant any time of year. Late summer is a good time to thin out your deciduous and evergreen trees. It’s also the ideal time to trim back the rose bushes.


Create Animal Habitats

Also think about pollinators during your fall plant selection process. Select native plants known to draw in bees, butterflies, and birds. These animals spread seeds, enjoy the nectar, and pollinate nearby food and other plants, enhancing your garden and flower harvest.

Divide and Conquer Fall and spring are the best times to divide plants. Daylilies can be divided once the blooms fade. Simply drive a sharp-edged spade into the grouping and work a clump away. Alternately, dig out the entire group and cut away sections, making sure to leave a good root system for each division. Hostas are another plant that divide well in the late summer. A hearty hosta may have 70 or more “eyes.” Leaving them in groups of at least 12 can provide at least five new plants to share or plant elsewhere. Plus, it gives the original plant more vigor to grow. Sometimes, you’re looking to drive animals away from your yard, like pesky insects or munching deer. Other times, you may want to provide a haven from bitter weather. Providing habitat for wildlife in your yard is as easy as cleaning and filling bird feeders and sweeping out bird, butterfly and bat houses. If you have space away from your home, stack larger branches in a messy pile, especially those you’ve gathered while deadheading. Small animals will use the pile to take up residence for the winter.

Order Fall Bulbs They are called fall bulbs, but that’s only because they are planted in the fall. These flowers will bless you in the spring. Most bulbs need to go in the ground shortly before the freeze hits. You’re monitoring for a time when the ground temperature is consistently cool but not yet frozen. Order your bulbs in advance and store them in a cool place until you’re ready to plant them. Common fall bulbs include crocus, daffodil, tulips, iris and hyacinth.

Continue to Plant In addition to bulbs, there are a plethora of other plantings calling for attention in late summer. Create a plan for your trees, shrubs and perennials so they are in the ground and ready for next season. Evergreens can go in the soil during the late summer and early fall so they can get an established root system before the first freeze. Deciduous trees can be planted throughout the late summer and into mid-fall. Avoid planting slow- rooting varieties until spring. If they don’t have time to get established, the cold will kill them off.


Add Mulch There are myriad varieties of mulch, from compost to

have around. For example, send branches through a chipper or rely on grass clippings or hay. Just be sure the mulch is weed-free, or you could be planting a problem to deal with next year.

Stain or Paint Wood Fences and Raised Beds Wood is an inexpensive and accessible material for the garden. It’s also very environmentally friendly compared to synthetic materials. But, it takes abuse from the weather and will decay or rot if not protected. Before winter weather rolls in, replace any damaged boards along fence lines and garden beds. Prep your surface as necessary and then stain or paint the surfaces. For vegetable beds, look for all-natural stains and paints so you don’t have to worry about chemicals transferring to your food. newspaper to bark chips. Mulch helps hold moisture in the soil. This is important during the late summer heat but is also a huge aid for newly planted perennials and other plants. Mulch also adds nutrients to the soil as it breaks down, essentially feeding the plants throughout the season. There’s no reason to spend a bunch of money on mulch. You can simply use what you

Prepare for Winter Water Runoff

make sure it’s effectively diverting to the street. If not, clear the line, or you’ll be asking for flooding problems when the precipitation hits. This is also the perfect time to set up your rain barrels if you don’t already have them. Simply create a flat, level base using a few paver stones on leveled ground. Purchase a diverter online or from a local home improvement store. Follow the directions that come with it, which typically involve cutting out a portion of the home’s downspout to install the diverter. Then, run the hose to the rain barrel and let the collection begin. If you already have a rain storage system, use any collected water in your yard and garden now since a new supply will be on its way soon.

Head outside while the weather is still above freezing to make sure rainwater is draining away from your home. This means following the natural path of water everywhere on your property. If you’ve seen a stream running down the driveway, now is the time to give it a new path. For areas that pool water, create drainage. Also make sure the water that runs off your roof is diverted away from the house so it doesn’t cause problems with the foundation and basement. If you have a sump pump, do your maintenance now to protect your lower level from flooding. Outside, follow the French drain from the backyard to the street. If you haven’t had rain in awhile, run water from a hose to


Start or Feed Your Compost Bin

If you don’t have a compost bin, you can easily order one or buy from a local outlet.

Avoid adding any leaves infected with black spot, mildew, or other diseases that can contaminate the compost. Only add organic matter, meaning anything that comes from a plant. Avoid meat, “compostable bags” that truly only breakdown in a commercial facility, and dairy products, fats and oils. However, you can add fire ashes from clean burns (meaning untreated wood). Also toss in pinecones, vegetable peels, unbleached toilet paper rolls and paper bags, coffee filters and grounds, undyed paper, and even corks.

However, composting is a natural occurrence, so all you really need is a loose pile. If you want to contain it a bit, build a basic box with plenty of airflow using 1 x 1 or 2 x 4 lumber. The thing to remember about compost is that it will work most efficiently with heat, air, and water. Place your compost in a sunny spot and stir it regularly for the best results.

While you’re cleaning out summer plants from the vegetable garden, add those valuable nutrients to the compost bin. Toss in the end-of- the-season grass clippings and some of the smaller twigs and branches from deadheading and pruning existing plants. While compost breaks down most effectively in hot weather, it will continue to decompose over winter, providing compost for spring plantings. Plant a Garden In spring and early summer, planting a garden is all the chatter, but fall gardening is just as rewarding. In fact, in most areas, you can plant the same cool weather crops you started with in the spring. Plant carrots, certain types of lettuce and other greens like spinach, peas, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. These plants will be ready for harvest later in the fall. If temperatures drop, be sure to mulch the plants to protect the roots from freezing. You can also plant crops that will grow over winter for spring harvest, including onions, garlic, shallots, scallions, asparagus, and turnips. Just be sure to mark their location so you remember where they are when you begin planting in spring.



The purpose of home maintenance is to preserve your home for years to come and avoid costly disasters. But sometimes, parts and pieces crumble, crack, or corrode in spite of your best efforts. When these problems arise, it’s best to tackle them before they become unmanageable. Tips for Tackling Your Home Maintenance To-Do List

Crumbling Mortar Brick, stone and tile are natural materials that have been used throughout homes for centuries, from outdoor walkways to natural countertops. But for materials held together withmortar, it’s only a matter of time before you begin to see some crumbling. Amortar breakdownmay also appear as a crack. You may find these issues inside your fireplace, on an outdoor wood-fired oven, in a tile shower or in your tile flooring.

space. A brick trowel and pointing trowel are useful for guidingmortar into the joints without getting it on the face of the bricks. Press the mortar firmly into the crack, and use the proper finishing tool to match the existingmortar joint. Standard examples are raked joint, v-joint, flushed joint and concave joint.

Start by removing the material that is crumbling. Use a hammer and flat chisel to knock out the loose mortar. For larger areas, you might want to use an angle grinder fitted with a masonry blade. The angle grinder is useful to make relief cuts — grooves cut along the center of the decayed area. When using the chisel, direct the break toward the relief cuts. Next, thoroughly clean between the joints. Newmortar won’t stick to old, loose mortar. You can clean out the area using a hand brush, vacuum or compressed air. Now you’re ready to mix the mortar and apply it to the

Crumbling Foundation

If you have a cracked or crumbling foundation, it’s best to get it evaluated by a professional.


siding, run a dental pick or other small sharp object across the surface to add some grooves that match the wood-grain pattern. Use some denatured alcohol to wipe the surface and apply your matching paint. The paint store canmatch an existing sample if you don’t have extra paint around the house. Be sure to use flat paint, since a shinier finish will stand out against the surrounding area. Wood siding will also weather and crack, commonly where nails hold planks in place. For smaller cracks, use an acrylic, latex caulking to fill the gap. For rotting trim around windows and doors, you can replace the boards. However, if it’s part of the window frame, that can become a major project. Instead, chisel out the rotten wood and completely remove all debris. Then, tape off the surrounding area with painter’s tape to protect it. Mix a commercial epoxy and press it into the spaces where the rotten wood used to be. Then smooth the surface and allow it to harden for a day or so. Once dry, sand it down and paint with a matching paint color.

filler and replacement materials will vary.

Groundwater is often the main culprit for foundation issues, so it’s important to identify the source of water issues andmake the necessary repairs. If the deterioration, called spalling, is minor, you can tackle the project yourself. The process is similar to the mortar repair described above. Remove all loose concrete, and thoroughly clean the area. Then, apply a bonding agent and the new concrete. Cracked Concrete In addition to your foundation, concrete can crack and crumble in other areas of your home. On a garage floor, driveway, patio or basement wall, the fix can be resolved with a simple application of concrete caulk or liquid filler. A concrete patch kit is another great solution for many concrete fractures. However, preparation and technique are important for the best results. Again, it’s similar to the process of repairingmortar. Use an angle grinder for very rough edges if necessary, chisel out loose debris, clean the area and apply bonding adhesive. For very large cracks, use a mixture of Portland concrete to fill the gap. Cracked Siding The first step in the process is to identify the type of siding on your home. Each type of siding has a similar repair technique, but the

For example, vinyl siding is very popular. It’s weather resistant and affordable. However, nails and screws, or impact fromdaily activities, can leave you with holes and cracks. For a super quick, albeit unappealing fix, simply cut a section of vinyl siding from extra pieces and slide it over the damaged area. Then, screw it into the damaged plank from the bottom. This will protect the home but leaves an unsightly vertical seam on both sides of the patch. When you can come back around for a proper repair, you can remove the damaged plank and install a new one in its place. Replacing the section of siding is one option if the damage is extensive, but most cracks can be repaired. Start by thoroughly cleaning the area. You’ll then use a Bondo-type putty to fill in the holes. Once the putty hardens, knock off the extra and use a sanding block to make it smooth. If you want to match the texture of the existing

existing siding, run a dental pick or other small sharp object across


Cracked Decking and Fencing

hours, and then scrub it with an abrasive tool. You can also try a paste made frombaking soda and water. A layer of salt followed by a coat of lemon juice may also do the trick. If homemade remedies don’t do the job, move onto commercially- available items, but use common sense and all safety precautions since these chemicals are toxic. If you want to avoid chemicals altogether, you can use a grinder or an abrasive brush to scrape the rust away. Another option is to apply a rust converter to the rust. This doesn’t eliminate the rust but keeps it from corroding further. The home maintenance list is always long, but remember the goal is to keep your structure in good shape to avoid even bigger problems in the future. Tackling the crumbling, cracks and corrosion nowmeans an increase in home value, a more enjoyable space and less time and money spent down the road.

gently scrape away loose pieces. Preparation is the most important step here, so make sure no peeling areas remain. Then, apply a thin layer of wood filler to protect the damaged area. Once dry, sand it down and apply a primer, followed by your house paint.

When it comes to cracks in siding or crumblingmortar, repairs are necessary to protect the surface behind it. An unsealed siding will allow water to damage inside the walls of the home. A cracked fireplace box could allow a spark to ignite the wood backing behind it. But for cracks in decking and fencing boards, it’s a matter of integrity. That means that cracks weaken the boards. This can be dangerous for decking, especially for elevated decks. Nobody wants their deck to collapse beneath them. With this inmind, it’s critical to replace boards with significant cracks. For fencing, cracks often start near a nail and spread across the board. This weakens them, making it easier for pets to escape or unwanted guests to enter the yard. Replace any rotten or heavily cracked boards each year before winter comes around. Cracked Paint The job of paint and stain is to protect the surface, so when the paint is cracked or peeling, it means it’s no longer doing its job. Fortunately, it’s an easy repair, as long as it’s only on small portions of the house. To repair cracked or peeling paint on a wood surface,

Metal Corrosion

Rust and corrosion can’t be reversed. That means it’s crucial to deal with it immediately in order to slow or stop the deterioration. As a homeowner, battling rust might not come to mind at the top of your maintenance list, but it can happen anywhere inside or outside your home. We’re talking about pipes, metal siding or roofingmaterial, tools, buried tanks, furniture, and grills, among other things. For smaller items, like a piece of piping, you can submerge it in white vinegar. Allow it to soak for 12-24



While it’s nearly impossible to predict every catastrophic home maintenance event, keeping up with the major systems in your house is the best way to guard against minor and major issues like broken pipes, flooding, and fires.

As winter approaches, it’s important to protect your home against wind, rain, snow and colder temperatures — and the damage they may cause. Now is the time to move certain home maintenance items to the top of your list.


the fireplace, as well, so give the area a thorough inspection. If you don’t use your fireplace, close the damper and block off drafts from the chimney. HVAC System Grab the vacuum and clean out all the vents and ductwork as far as you can reach with your hose. Also be sure to replace the furnace filter, which needs to be done every one to three months year round. Give your furnace a test run before the cold weather really

settles in. This is easy to do. Just crank up the heat and make sure it kicks on. If you use propane or oil for your heat, make sure to fill up your supply tanks early. Pack Up the AC If your air conditioning unit is separate from your centralized heating/cooling system, it’s time to disconnect it, clean it up, and/or put it in proper storage. Spray off the fan blades and condensing coils and let themdry thoroughly. Also, rinse filters and drain water collection trays. Window units allow for a

If you have a chimney or other venting system for a gas fireplace, wood-burning fireplace or woodstove, now is the time to inspect and clean it. Soot buildup can be a fire hazard. You may also have nests or other wildlife habitats blocking your ventilation. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure there are no cracks or gaps that need repair before you ignite the first flames of the season. This includes crumbling mortar inside


Insulation Weatherstripping is one form of insulation and is a material most homeowners are familiar with because it’s easy to use, yet highly effective. Use strips around any gaps in doors and windows. With a quick trip to the home improvement store, you can also pick up insulation specifically sized for outlets and light switches. These thin sheets of insulation protect against drafts and are quick to install. Also, pick up a water heater blanket. This product is inexpensive, easy to install, and helps your water heater work more efficiently — and cost effectively. Roof Check Roof repairs and replacements are one of the most expensive projects homeowners face. Most newer roofs can be trusted to reliably protect your home. However, as your roof begins to age, you should perform annual inspections. Look for loose, damaged, or missing shingles. Also check the flashing around vents, chimneys, and skylights. This is a common area for leaks but an easy fix if caught early. While you have the ladders out, be sure to give your gutters a good cleaning. Remove all debris, and run water from a hose through the system to ensure your gutters and downspouts are working properly.

significant draft, so it’s best to remove them, but if that isn’t an option, insulate around the outside edges and cover the unit to protect it from the elements.

Clean Exhaust Vents Throughout the House

Appliance and exhaust fans work hard to keep the air in your home clean and your appliances working at optimal levels. Before winter settles in, check each vent in your home. This includes the range hood. Remove and clean the grease build-up from filters, and wipe down any noticeable grime. For the refrigerator, wipe out the vents along the bottom. Then, move to the clothes dryer. It’s best to pull the machine out and disconnect the hose. Lint buildup is a major cause of house fires, so ensure the hose is cleaned out from the unit through the vent exiting the outdoor wall. Also, remove the lint trap inside the dryer. It should be emptied after every load of laundry, but once a year or more, be sure to thoroughly clean the screen and vacuum out the area below/behind it where lint can collect. You probably have other exhaust fans in the home, such as those in the bathrooms. Remove and clean the covers. Then, clean out buildup inside the units.


Water Runoff While we’re on the topic, the best time to prevent floods is before the rain and snow hit. If you have a sump-pump, make sure it’s doing its job. Also walk around the outside of the home and check each downspout for proper drainage. Some go underground and lead to a French drain or drain field. Others go into a rain collection barrel. Others are open ended and run directly into the yard or driveway. Whatever the case, make sure there is no water pooling and each drainage type is working effectively.

take the chance. Group like items together, record your garden activity, mark the location of bulbs and underground crops like garlic, and clearly label seeds, bulbs and plant starts. Make sure tools such as lawn mowers, edgers, trimmers, and shovels are clean and dry before storage. It’s also a great time to sharpen edges. Be sure to drain or use up gasoline as needed before storingmachines. Around the outside of the home, it’s time to take care of seasonal toys. Clean and cover patio furniture and grills. Winterize the pool. Also clean and store flower pots, fountains that are not safe for low temperatures, hoses, and lawn decor. If you have a play structure, check the bolts for tightness, and stain if the wood looks unprotected. Remove swings and other accessories that could rust, dry out or crack in the winter. Cover the trampoline to protect the metal frame and springs from snow and rain.

Winterize Wood Surfaces

If you didn’t get to it earlier in the season, make wood protection a priority now. This includes prepping surfaces and applying stain or paint to wood birdhouses, fencing, decking, siding and sheds. Look for loose screws or nails, and replace any boards that are split or rotting. Make sure to include an inspection of steps and handrails.

Clean and Organize Seasonal Supplies

Inmost areas, the gardening season is coming to a close, so protect your tools and organize your supplies for next year. You might think you’ll remember where that seed packet is six months fromnow, but don’t


Prep the Plants Before the temperatures drop, take a look around your yard to see what needs to be done in your garden, lawn and flower beds. Your lawn will benefit from a final dose of fertilizer, and deadheading blooms at the end of the season creates healthier plants in the spring. Speaking of spring, fall is the time to get bulbs into the ground. Daffodils, crocus, tulips, and hyacinth should all be planted so they can display their colors in early spring. If you remove your summer bulbs, you can dig them up now for storage. In the garden, pull all expired plants and put them in the composter. Also, rake up the leaves and add them to the mix. Give the compost pile a final stir since it breaks down at a slower rate in cooler weather.

at the main source and clear the lines to the spigot, leaving it in the open position. Remember those water sources attached to sheds and barns, too. For homes that will be vacant during the winter, clear all lines in the plumbing system and shut the water off at the main. If you have an RV, drain water from the lines and winterize now so you don’t find a nasty surprise in a few months’ time.

For heat, stock up on firewood for stoves and ensure propane tanks are full for heaters. Also, check out your generator. Make sure you have an alternate cooking source. Stock up on enough food for your family for a minimum of three days, and store water that is easily accessible in the event of frozen pipes. If you are on well water, the pumps won’t work when the power is out, so you’ll want water storage to cover your needs, as well. Year round, keep a grab and go bag packed and prepared. In the case of fire, flood or other emergency, it should include critical paperwork and a change of clothes, as well as essential prescriptions. Also, remember to keep an emergency kit in each vehicle. For winter, it should be stocked with food and water, as well as extra blankets.

Winterize Irrigation Systems

Any water-related system you don’t use during the winter should be flushed. Leaving water in the lines during a deep freeze is an invitation for pipe damage. If you have an underground sprinkler system, follow the steps to properly blow out the system and shut down each zone. Remove hoses from outdoor spigots, and place a cover over them. Also, remove the water source from outdoor fountains. For very cold regions, turn the water off

Emergency Preparedness

Be prepared before the power goes out with easy access to flashlights with fresh batteries, candles, and lanterns. If power outages are common in your area, consider installing battery-powered lighting.


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