The Professional Choice

A companion overview to the popular "Ask Mr. Handyman" radio program airing on Christian Talk Radio, KCRO 660AM Saturdays @ 9:30AM.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Baby Proof Your Home

I have a Baby on the Way. How Can I Baby Proof my Home?

So you have a baby on the way, congratulations! The first step in baby proofing your home is to look at the environment from the point of view your baby will have once it starts crawling. By crawling around your home on your hands and knees, you can see the world from a baby’s-eye view, which will present dangers you hadn’t seen before. As your child starts to walk, you of course will need to reevaluate your child proofing measures.

Tips for Baby Proofing your Home

Key things to look for:

  • What’s within the baby’s reach? Are there small objects on or close to the floor that the baby could choke on? Place unsafe objects higher up or put them away for a period of time.
  • Are the sharp edges on furniture such as coffee tables or end tables covered up?
  • Do you have large, top heavy furniture? As babys start to crawl they begin pulling themselves up on furniture. Making sure dresser and cabinet drawers stay shut and bolting certain pieces of furniture to the wall can ensure the safety of your baby.

Home repairs to prepare for your baby:

  • Place outlet covers on electrical outlets.
  • Install safety gates in doorways of unsafe rooms and stairwells. Remember to buy safety gates that bolt to the wall for use at the top of stairs. They are much more secure than pressure gates.
  • Prevent pinched fingers by using doorstops and door holders on doors and their hinges.
  • Install windows that are double hung and can be opened from the top.
  • Check existing smoke detectors and install a fire extinguisher, especially in the kitchen.
  • Install childproof locks on all lower cabinets and drawers.

Mr. Handyman can help make your home a safer place for your entire family, while helping you to prepare for your newest arrival! Whether it’s painting the nursery or assembling a new crib, we will have the job completed on time and done right, so you can feel prepared for your family’s new addition. We provide both minor and major home repairs you can depend on to be correct when we walk out the door. Don't trust the process of baby proofing your home to just anyone, request services from America's most trusted handyman.  Call today 402-502-5212.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cleaning Secrets!

            Wipe Rain X on shower doors and tile to keep soap scum from sticking.
Armor All will clean hard water deposits off of plastic items like dish drainers and room humidifiers.
Use a moistened dishwashing glove to wipe over furniture to remove pet hair and then rinse the glove to remove.
If you have a hard time keeping focused on cleaning - set your oven timer for 30 minutes and clean straight until it goes off and see how much you get done.
A used dryer sheet works great to dust black or espresso colored furniture – it helps repel dust for a longer period of time.
The product Bar Keeper’s Friend will clean porcelain kitchen sinks as well as remove the scratches off of your white dishes.
Clean your bathtub using a mixture of one part vinegar and one part dish soap.  Spray on your bathtub and leave it for one hour … rinse and wipe clean.  Your tub will sparkle and shine without scrubbing.
If you have problems with fruit flies use a small glass bowl, ½ a cup of wine and a couple of small pieces of fruit, cover with plastic wrap. Poke a couple of holes in the plastic wrap and leave the bowl out for a couple of days… fruit flies will be caught and your problem solved.
Danish oil finish can be used to cover scratches on most furniture and wood trim. It comes in different colors so you can match the color of the wood. It is as simple as wipe on and wipe off.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Prepare in Times of Disaster

The hurricane and storm on the east coast offers us in the midwest no comfort except thankfulness that it did not happen here. It does remind us what we could experience here in the form of natural disasters, flooding, tornadoes and blizzards. Preparing for an evacuation should be done prior to the emergency so when it comes the family can continue to thrive after the emergency.

Ready in 10 Minutes Kit.

If a disaster was eminent, such as flooding, a chemical leak or a tornado bearing down on your community and you only had 10 minutes to evacuate, what would you do? It is vitally important to have a plan and an evacuation kit that is ready to go at any moment.
Ready in 10 evacuation plan must include a way to instantly locate and safeguard the vital information, documents and keepsakes that you’ll need to have access to after the emergency has passed. To start the plan you need to know:

• Who will be going with you, of course your immediate family and pets but others may be considered.
• Where you will go for the different disasters that may take place
• Where you will stay for both short term and long term stays. It may be a while before you can return or you may not have a home to return to.
• How will each of you get there?

The ready in 10 plan should also include a checklist of vital items to escape with:

• Medical records and medications for each person
• Insurance and deed information
• Wallet, purse, cell phone, chargers, keys, contact information for others
• Vital information documents, birth certificates, marriage license etc.
• Toiletries and a change of clothes for a couple of days
• Food and water necessities for the trip out
• Battery powered radio, flashlight.
• Keepsakes or treasured items
• Financial documents

A person or family can never fully prepare for a disaster but being able to pick up their lives after the emergency is the second most important task behind surviving it in the first place. Taking time to prepare your evacuation plan prior to any emergency situation may save your life and make it much easier as a survivor.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fall Maintenance Tasks

Fall Maintenance tasks

October is usually the start of chilly weather and it appears to be 3 weeks early. Here are some general maintenance tasks that should be accomplished in and around the home this month.

Clean and maintain major appliances
Clean the drip pans of your electric stove, clean behind the stove, dishwasher and washer & dryer. Pull out the refrigerator and clean the coils and drip pan underneath. Wipe down the furnace, water heater and water softener. Clean around the dishwasher strainer and look for debris in the washing arm (spins and squirts water during the wash/rinse cycle)

Keep gutters clean from leaves & debris Once the leaves fall, keep the gutters clean. Water damage is very costly and can make your home very uncomfortable with mold and mildew, not to mention repair headaches. Some folks prefer to use a powered blower to blast debris out of the gutters.

Clean your garbage disposal
Clean and deodorize your in-sink garbage disposal by packing it with ice cubes and 1/2 cup of baking soda; then turn it on. After the grinding noise stops, pour a kettle full of boiling water into the sink.

Change furnace filter
Some furnace filters are washable. Have two on hand. One in use, one cleaned and ready to install. Remove the dirty one and install the clean one. Wash and dry the dirty one for use next month.

Check operation of your sump-pump
Take the top off the sump and remove any debris that may have collected in there. Pour at least 5 gallons of water into the sump, slowly, to ensure pump is operational. Some people like to run a hose into the sump area, turn the water on to a slow rate and allow the pump to operate for about 1/2 an hour or so. Do not leave it unattended though.

Touch-up woodwork Use "Old English Scratch Remover" or matching stain to cover dents and scratches on your woodwork. Keeping up on this task at least once a year will help preserve a well maintained look to the inside of your home. It only takes a few minutes in each room to accomplish.

Turn on your Whole-House humidifier Many homes are blessed with a whole-house humidifier. If you are lucky enough to have one you should turn on the water supply and usually a manual switch near the humidifier. It is usually at the furnace. Change the water pad (filter-looking device) when there are a lot of white crusty mineral deposits on it.
If you do not have a whole-house humidifier you can hang a large towel or sheet in the shower and keep it wet. The water will evaporate and get into the air. Change out the towel or sheet often (maybe once per week) and make sure it does not get moldy.

Cover outside hose bibs (water spigots) Most new homes have the freeze-proof spigots but they can still freeze if the hose is not removed for the wintertime. This time of year ALWAYS remove the hose after each use. If you do not know if your spigots are freeze proof it won’t hurt to cover them. The foam covers only cost a few dollars to purchase and a few minutes to install. Installing one could save you thousands in repair costs and insurance claims.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cool Evenings Invite Unwanted Guests

Fall will soon be upon us. The cooler nights provide incentive for critters such as mice and other rodents to seek your nice warm living space for their comfort. Mice are equal opportunity intruders. They don’t care if your home is a 20-room mansion or a one-room shack, they’ll move right on in. In the fall, all a mouse is looking for is some food and warmth -- and to a mouse any house is better than freezing outside. If you think mice might be targeting your home, here are some ideas for seeing if they are already inside, how to get rid of them, and how you can keep them from getting in. Oh, and one little reminder....where there is one there may be dozens!

Figuring out if you have mice

Mice aren’t smart enough to know not to attract attention to themselves, so mice will make noise and leave their marks around the house. If you listen at night, you can often hear them rustling around in your walls or ceilings.
You see small holes gnawed in bread bags or cereals and the inevitable mouse droppings left behind in drawers or even on counter tops.
If you’re not sure you have mice in your home, put some talcum powder or flour near where your think they might be and leave it for a few days (and nights). If you’ve got mice, you’ll see tiny mouse footprints tracking through the flour.

How do you get rid of your mice?

Start by getting rid of any potential food sources for mice, Clean up any spills or crumbs in cupboards and put your dry food in glass or metal containers.
Seal openings from the outside that might allow more mice to get in.
Your next step is putting out some traps to catch your uninvited guests. Old-fashioned spring traps work well and they’re inexpensive.
Place your traps along the walls where the mice move (since mice are almost blind they tend to stay close to walls). Some people suggest putting out your traps for a couple of days unset and without any bait in them, so the mice will get used to them.
Bait your traps with peanut butter or chocolate (cheese only works in the cartoons) and check them regularly.
Give the traps a couple of days and if they don’t capture any mice, relocate them to a different area.
If you just want to catch your mice to remove them, there are a number of different live traps available as well. Just remember if you do decide to use live traps, you need to check them often (at least daily), or the trapped mice will end up dying slowly in the traps. Also make sure you release your captured mice ¼ mile away from your home or they could be back inside before you are.

Keeping mice out of your house
Take a walk around the outside of your house and look for any openings from outside (no matter how small you think they are). Check electrical or gas pipe entrances, outdoor water taps and air conditioner connections. A mouse can get through an opening as small as a person’s baby fingernail, so even a tiny gap is an open invitation to a mouse.
Seal any openings you find with expanding foam insulation, caulking, metal screening or small piece of sheet metal cut to fit. Steel wool can also do a good job since mice don’t like to chew on metal, but it will rust and deteriorate and need to be replaced after a few years.
Make sure your soffits are tightly fastened. An opening in a soffit will allow mice to get into your attic and then right down into your home.
Locate compost or woodpiles well away from your house and build supports or use old pallets to get wood up off the ground. Mice could nest in them during the summer and move right on inside when the weather gets cold. It’s also a good idea to keep bird feeders well away for your house so seeds lying on the ground won’t attract mice.
Clean up any spilled grass or plant seeds in your garage and store your trash in a metal container.
Finally, clean up any pet food bowls so the mice won’t be attracted to a midnight buffet of pet food.

A couple of final thoughts

Mice are more than just an aggravation; they can actually be dangerous. They carry infectious diseases that can be harmful to humans, so if mice have gotten into food in your home, don’t take any chances, just throw it away.Stay safe by wearing gloves when handling mice or traps and always wash your hands after handling anything that might have had contact with mice.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Is Your A/C Working Overtime?

You want your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, right? Is that so hard to ask? With these extremely hot, record temperatures this year our energy use will be extremely high as well. One of the biggest contributors to poor energy efficiency is leaky windows.

Windows show many signs of wear and tear that can help you decide if you’re in need of window installation or repair. Those signs are:

• Moisture on window panes (wintertime sign)

• Chipped/faded window exteriors

• Difficulty opening/closing windows

• Signs of soft, spongy wood

If you have wood windows it is very important to perform annual maintenance to keep them operating and sealing properly. They deteriorate quickly if not maintained well. Windows are very expensive to replace so keeping up on the maintenance will save your pocketbook over the life of your mortgage.

Cool air escaping through worn-out , missing or mal-aligned weather-stripping is possibly a potential source of a constantly-running A/C unit. Keep your energy bill lower by keeping up on the maintenance and upkeep. Weather-stripping is relatively inexpensive compared to the added monthly cost of cooling the outdoors through your windows.

If you have to replace your old worn-out windows remember cheaper is only cheaper up-front. The better quality windows will give you added energy savings over time which will be the best cost-effective option throughout the years. Replacing worn-out windows have shown to save anywhere from 7 to 15% on your energy bills. That’s both heating and cooling savings.  They may pay for themselves in energy savings over the years and will certainly make your home more comfortable while residing there.

Remember spend hundreds now in maintenance or thousands later in repairs.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Deck Replacement? Many Options!

One of the first questions your professional handyman will ask as part of the deck-designing process is: What type of material do you want to use? Your first thought might be wood, but composite lumber also has its benefits. Never heard of composite lumber? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both decking materials to help you choose what will work best for your particular deck design.


Cedar and pressure-treated woods are your options in this area. Cedar, with its deep red, looks the most natural and proves rot resistant. It also doesn’t absorb moisture. The same holds true for pressure-treated woods, but they come in a wide range of grades. If you do opt for pressure-treated wood, choose the higher grades, which often are kiln-dried before and after being pressure treated.

Composite Lumber

This material most often features a composition of recycled plastic and bamboo fibers, wood chips or sawdust. It also resists rotting and warping due to moisture. Some common brands are AZEK, TimberTech and Trex.


Pressure-treated wood costs the least with cedar costing about 3 times more. Composite lumber costs the most.


Cedar requires pressure washing and resealing every one to two years, but no matter how well you maintain cedar, it will fade. It also requires somewhat delicate use, as cedar is a soft wood that gets easily dinged. Pressure-treated wood, on the other hand, cleans easily and holds up well to abuse. Again, opt for the higher-grade pressure-treated woods for the best results. Composite decking requires the least amount of maintenance, as it can be cleaned with a regular hose and sprayer.


A cedar deck will last 15 to 20 years, with decks built close to the ground or in the shade lasting on the lower side of that range. Certain pressure-treated decking products come with a limited lifetime warranty, and composite lumber decking products typically offer a limited 20-year warranty.

When choosing a decking material, keep in mind the upfront costs as well as the long-term maintenance costs. Overall, spending more upfront may be the best long-term investment.

One final thought, if you strive to use only eco-friendly products in your life, a composite lumber will best suit your style. Most composite materials are made from recycled products.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Water Your Foundation?

Most homeowners know that in extreme conditions of excessive moisture (usually in the form of rain) there may be some movement of their foundation, concrete sidewalks and driveways. The hydrolic pressure posed by expanding soils will easily move a house and all of its contents a few inches over time. The same holds true of extreme conditions of dryness, such as the current drought conditions throughout most of the country. The moisture in the soil receeds and causes the home to move in the opposite directions.

Ground movement due to the drought has caused concrete roadways to buckle and water-mains to burst.

A recent caller described her brick chimney as pulling away from the house but upon further analysis it was determined that her home was settling away from the well-supported chimney. Other homeowners are calling about doors not shutting properly, cracks in the drywall near their windows and doors and cracks in their foundations.

To help prevent the excessive movement of your home, water near the foundation in these extreme dry conditions. If you notice a 1/2 inch crack, or wider, in the dirt in or around your foundation, or between the dirt and the foundation, your house is subject to settling issues. With cracks that wide, too much watering at one time will lead to moisture in the basement so it must be done gradually over a period of a few days to a few weeks. One of the best methods is to use "soaker" hoses and keep them a foot or two away from the foundation while in use. Start out with watering about 1/2 hour a couple times a day to longer periods if a change in the width of the cracks is not noticable.

Foundation repairs are very costly. Repairs to the cracks in the walls, ceilings and adjustment of doors and windows can be costly as well. Spending some time and a few extra dollars on your water bill may be all it takes to keep your home from settling in these extreme weather conditions.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What? No Air-Conditioning?

If you do not have air-conditioning or if you lost yours due to failure here are a few tips to stay cool in your home.

1. Pare down the amount of clothing you wear in your home. Cottons, linens or nylons do not hold the heat.

2. Take a short 5-10 minute COLD shower whenever you feel too hot. Right before you crawl into bed is a great time to cool down. Make sure to get your hair wet.

3. Keep hydrated. Your bodys own temperature regulator is most efficient when fully hydrated. Water and tea are the best choices

4. Use fans. If the outside temperature is less than the inside, use a fan to move the cooler air inside. Run the fan all night. Open cabinet doors, crack the garage door etc. Cool down everything possible. Blow the fan on a frozen water bottle or milk jug if needed for direct cooling.

5. Keep the shades closed on the West and South sides of your home. Any direct sunlight that gets in is heating the surface it hits.

6. Turn off the lights. Replace incandescent bulbs with the compact flouresenct ones that run cooler.

7. Turn off heat producing appliances. Run the dishwasher, washer, dryer etc at night when it it cooler. Grill out.

8. Hide the therometer. Dwelling on the "number" may keep you miserable.

9. On the real hot days go to the pool or take in a movie.

Hot & Muggy Weather Tips

With this terrible muggy weather we have had numerous customers ask Mr. Handyman what can be done to make their homes more comfortable. Here are some tips to keep your home cool during this hot and steamy summer.

If it feels warm and muggy in your home and the Air conditioning system seems to remain on throughout the day it is time to take some action.

1. Have the air-conditioning unit serviced. You may have condenser coils that need cleaned (possibly cottonwood debris clogging the unit?). The system may need a charge of Freon or the evaporator coil may need checked. The service man can look for other reasons the A/C unit is getting a workout this summer (duct work that can be directed to pull more warm air from the upstairs to be cooled).  The first step is to have a professional look over your cooling system and make recommendations.   If you need a recommendation please call our office.

2. Check the attic. You may not have enough insulation in the attic to keep the cool air in the home. The standards for the amount of insulation have changed in the last decade. If your home is 10 years or older you may not have the recommended amount of insulation in your attic. A value of R39 is recommended which is about 19 inches of the blown-in type.  Adding insulation will pay for itself with the cost savings over a few years so it is a great long-term investment.  Also the attic may not be vented properly trapping the hot air and allowing that hot air seep down into the living space. My mother-in-law saves over $60/month because we added insulation in her attic.

3. Doors and windows may be leaking that cool air and allowing the warm muggy air into the home. Inspect and evaluate all windows and doors for signs the weather-stripping is not doing its job.  Replace all that are suspect. Weather-stripping is inexpensive compared to higher utility bills and it could save you every month.

4. Reduce the use of "heat-producers." Grill out more instead of turning on the hot stove or oven. Use the burner on the grill when you can.  Boiling water for pasta puts a lot of heat and moisture into the home, which the A/C unit is trying to eliminate. Use the microwave more. Run the dishwasher and dryer at night when the heat load is reduced and when you are relaxing in the family room, away from the heat source.

5. Block the hot sun from coming in. Keep blinds and shades pulled on the South and West sides of the home during the day.  Any direct sunlight that comes into those windows is producing heat on the surface it hits.

If any of these tasks sound daunting to you or if you have any other home maintenance or repair tasks consider calling Mr. Handyman at 402-502-5212.  We are the professional choice.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Musty, Smelly Basement?

This spring Mr. Handyman has received many calls relating to water in the basement. Excessive moisture can be the source of a musty, moldy, smelly basement that can lead to health issues for the occupants. Keeping the basement dry is usually as simple as performing a few maintenance tasks.

1. Keep the gutters clean. Clogged gutters and downspouts lead to overflowing rainwater that gets deposited right next to the foundation and will eventually seep into the basement walls and up through the floor. The downspouts should have an extension at the bottom that directs the rainwater at least 4 ft away from the foundation.

2. Ensure the grade of the dirt up against the foundation allows for a minimum of 6 inch slope downward away from the house. The 6 inch reference is regarding dirt, not landscaping rock or mulch. Rock and mulch sometimes are built up to fill holes next to the foundation and the hole will trap water that will eventually get into the basement.

3. Immediately repair any leaky spigots on the outside of your home. Also, ensure the hose is attached firmly with a new rubber gasket to keep from dripping. Dripping water from a running garden hose seeps into the foundation and will get into the basement.

The health problems mold and mildew can cause are well documented and keeping the basement dry and free of these allergens is an important home maintenance task. Too much moisture against the foundation can also cause excessive settling of your home and lead to cracks in the drywall, doors that do not shut properly and may lead to very expensive repairs.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Seniors, Sell your Home & all the Maintenance & Repairs along with it!

An overwhelming trend in today's society is for a couple to purchase a home and live there well into their retirement years but......... A home is a major expense even if the mortgage had been paid-off many years ago.

If you live on a fixed income, the annual property taxes, maintenance and repairs, utilities, yard and exterior clearing and repairs may put the cost of staying in your home outside of your fixed income. Many choose to purchase the priority items (prescription drugs, health care, and food) and let the home deteriorate. But, the home could become uncomfortable to remain in, needing maintenance, repairs and mobility type modifications.

A 'seasoned' couple (or singles, for that matter) can sell their home and move into a roomy apartment or condo (where maintenance & repairs are tasked to someone else) and live very comfortable, both financially and physically, without any unforeseen major expenditures for home repairs or the annual maintenance costs that keep the house in great shape. On another note, let’s face it, many repairmen, contractors and auto mechanics do not have a great reputation in giving the elderly great value for the services they provide sometimes taking them for a huge sum because of the situation they find themselves in.

Many are choosing to move into senior living centers or into condos in the downtown Omaha area where the shops, nightlife and nostalgia are unparalleled.

Last night, while downtown for the Boys State Soccer Finals, I witnessed many elderly couples walking around downtown catching the nightlife and enjoying life in general.

There are many factors to consider before you make that jump into a senior living center or condo but it makes perfect sense for many. Ask your children or other trusted loved ones to assist you in determining if it makes financial sense for you. It could be the best move you ever made.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Remodeling Rather than Moving

The housing market is improving on the national level but more people in the Omaha area are upgrading what they have rather than sticking their neck out for a larger mortgage.

Omaha is listed at number 26 in 'Remodeling Magazine's' top 100 hottest remodeling markets for 2012. (A fall of 2 places over 2011). The bathroom is still the most requested room in the home people want to upgrade. Here is the trend Mr. Handyman is seeing in remodeling requests.

Custom tile tub and shower surrounds, floors and wainscoting

New cabinets, vanity & granite tops with undermount sink

New kitchen lighting with dimmers (pendants, recessed, accent, under cabinet)

Heated flooring in bathrooms

Vessel sinks

Upgrading the front porch area, new railings, posts for a new curb appeal

Wood or laminate flooring

Adding more space to the deck, covering it and screening it in

With the lower selling prices of homes still on our minds it makes sense to keep what you have and make it what you want.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Humidity in Your Home

To make your home more comfortable to live in during the winter months, homeowners in the Omaha area add moisture into their homes with a humidifier.
The dry heated air is supplemented with moist air to prevent static electricity, keep your skin from cracking and prevents furniture from drying out and cracking.

During the summer months the process should be reversed, we should work to remove moisture from the home. In many cases your air-conditioner will remove enough moisture to keep your home comfortable and safe.

Although too dry of air in the winter can be annoying it is not dangerous. Too high of moisture content in your home can be unsafe and cause excessive mold, mildew, dust mites and is attractive to critters such and termites and cockroaches. It can lead to a "sick building syndrom" inside your home and can eventually lead to death in some circumstances.

The moisture level in your home should range from 35 to 50% with the ideal setting at 45% humidity. You can purchase a hygrometer to keep tabs on this moisture content but it will vary depending on the placement of the device.

Moist air is heavier so it will naturally collect in the basement.

Mr. Handyman has installed several devices that do a wonderful job of removing excessive moisture from the home. One is called E-Z Breathe and the other is called Humidex. Both work by removing the moist air at the basement floor level and replenishing it with dryer air from above. These devices can turn a damp musty basement into a more pleasant living area and restore a healthy moisture level throughout the home.

Today, many people have mysterious health issues they cannot get a handle on. In many cases it can be related to high moisture content in the home which leads to hidden mold and mildew and triggers lung and respitory issues. The first step would be to purchase a hygrometer and keep tabs on the humidity level then take action if it is above 50% humidity.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

10 Improvements that help sell a home

Summer's approaching, people are packing and preparing to move.

Let’s face it: It’s not a seller’s market in real estate. Sellers want to get every possible dollar out of the sale of their home, but given so many are underwater and potentially taking a loss in the process, there is a strong desire to minimize pre-sale investments. For those looking to sell their homes, they’ll need to pull out all the stops, and it starts with simple home improvements.
Remove clutter. Rooms packed with furniture, closets full of stuff, and garages that don’t allow a car inside all contribute to a home appearing small and cramped. Removing clutter and excess d├ęcor helps your home look larger and simplifies the eventual move once the home sells.

  1. Patch nail holes. Filling unsightly nail holes is an easy way to make old drywall look new. Using a spackle knife, fill in each hole with lightweight putty and scrape the excess off the walls. Wait for the putty to dry and sand the spot down until it’s smooth. Then prime and paint

  1. Paint the walls a warm or neutral color. While pink might be your favorite color, it’s not universally celebrated. Stick to colors that will appeal to the largest audience of buyers. A fresh coat of paint will make the house look and smell clean and new.

  1. Restore baseboards and trim. While little things like dinged and scuffed baseboards go overlooked by the average homeowner, they stand out to the increasingly picky consumer. Clean the smudges and scrapes off the baseboards and and paint or stain to renew. Old English works great on stained finishes.
  2. Consider tile flooring. Tile doesn’t hold dirt like carpet, is cool in the summer and is impervious should the kids or pets track water and dirt in.  Tile floors that are lighter in color with a darker grout are most popular right now.
  3. Emphasize lighting. Different lighting options can influence the mood of any room, but there’s no substitute for natural lighting. One way to maximize natural lighting is to hang mirrors opposite of windows. Come nighttime, lights should emphasize decorative pieces in the room.
  4. Update kitchens and bathrooms. Before making major renovations, keep in mind that minor upgrades can go a long way. An easy and inexpensive way to breathe new life into a bathroom or kitchen is to replace old light fixtures, faucets and hardware with modern alternatives. A thorough cleaning, re-grouting as required, and replacement of old and mildewed caulk, will help a tub or shower look fresh and clean.
  5. Install a closet system. Homebuyers want plenty of storage space, and an unorganized, crowded closet won’t appeal to the masses. Anything that isn’t needed should be donated. Once the closet is empty, create a custom storage solution that maximizes space.
  6. Consider window upgrades. Not only will new windows make the home look more enticing, but double pane windows can save the future homeowner 25 percent on heating and cooling bills over old single pane models. Dispose of outdated drapes and bent mini-blinds and let the sunshine in.
  7. Improve the curb appeal. The outside of your home can make a strong first impression, and a well-maintained yard with eye-catching plants and landscaping adds elegance. Consider power washing the siding and deck, while adding a fresh coat of paint to entry doors and trim.

The number one thing home owners can do to ensure their home sells quicker than most to to keep up on the maintenance. Buyers do not want to purchase a home and spend money to accomplish years worth of neglected maintenance.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring is here!  Yeah!  Yeah!

Each spring when homeowners get out to clean up their flower beds and landscaping they should also perform a thorough visual inspection of the exterior of their home. The most costly repairs Mr. Handyman completes for our customers is related to siding and window repairs and replacement due to wood rot. Mostly wood rot starts with some minor areas that appear to be bulging or swollen areas of the siding or wood trim that feel spongy when pressed with your finger or a screwdriver.

Many homeowners do not realize that what is seen from the exterior of the rotted siding is the just a fraction of the damage that is truly going on with that area. The siding and/or window trim is rotting in that location due to some type of water intrusion behind those locations and will get progressively worse with a few more rain showers. It is less costly to tackle these breaches in the exterior of your home at the first sign of a problem. In discussing the escalation of the damage with homeowners most thought they would have to completely re-side their homes to complete the repairs so they were allowing it to progress and save up for the project at the same time. The best and least costly method for this repair is to replace the rotted components right away and not allow the follow-on damage to occur. In many cases this early detection and repair may net another 10-15 years of life from the siding before complete replacement is needed.

Do not allow the first sign of some rotted or swollen siding or trim fool you into thinking your only option is complete replacement. You typically do not replace your car because it has a flat tire, do you?

The best advice Mr. Handyman can give on this issue is to spend your money wisely on annual maintenance and quickly on the minor repairs and do not allow it to progress into a major project.

Be highly proactive about keeping your home repair costs down. Be more observant and respond quicker to maintenance and minor repairs.  Call Mr. Handyman at the first sign of damage so we can assist you in keeping those repair costs down.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Smell Sewer Gas?

All plumbing fixtures have drain traps – a bend in the drainpipe that is always filled with water. The water stops smelly sewer gases from entering your house. The traps below your sinks are replenished every time you run the water, but in most homes the traps below the basement or laundry room floor drains never are refilled. The water evaporates, and sewer gases start wafting up from the drain.

If you have a basement floor drain you should pour some water down the drain on occasion to refill the trap and prevent the sewer gas from entering your home. Of course, sewer gas smells but it could overcome you and be potentially dangerous. Seldom used bathrooms should have the water run in the sink, shower or bathtub and the toilet flushed atleast once a month to keep the traps full of water. There also is a trap for the washing machine drain pipe. If you have unused hook-ups from moving your laundry room or you rarely use your laundry equipment, keep that trap filled with water or have the pipe capped off.

Evaporation of the water in the drain traps can be as fast as a few days to a few weeks. A few minutes of your time to pour some water down those drains will keep you safe and keep the sewer gas out of your home.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Daylight Savings Time Change

I always dread Daylight Saving Time changes just because it seems to take my body clock three weeks to self correct. This bi-annual event is a great reminder though, to complete a few tasks around the house that should not be overlooked.

Here are tasks that we recommend you perform each changing of the clock.

Daylight Saving Time Home Maintenance Checklist

The experts, the news channels and newspapers have been telling us about this one for many years. Replace the batteries in all of your smoke detectors. I suggest taking it one step further, buy some compressed air (as used to blow off your keyboard) and blow-out the dust accumulated in the smoke detector and the carbon monoxide detectors in your house. Test each to make sure that they are working properly. Every home that has an attached garage, gas stove, furnace or water heater should have a carbon monoxide detector!

Add a couple of drops of light weight oil (preferred: puffs of graphite powder, available at any locksmith or Ace Hardware) to all of your key locks, especially those exposed to the weather. Turn the cylinder a few times to ensure complete coverage in the throat of the lock. It's a good idea to do this to your car locks as well.

If you have an emergency escape window in the basement or an emergency escape ladder from a second story window, open them up and try them out to be sure there are no obstructions and the unit is operating properly. Make good use of the task with the family and practice your escape drill. Follow your escape plan and muster at your meeting place for the full drill.

Check your dryer vent duct work and make sure that it is clean and that there is no lint caught up in it. A laundry room fire is the #2 cause of house fires in this country. It only takes a few minutes to inspect the dryer vent duct work and about 20 minutes to clean it all out.

Performing these four quick homeowner maintenance tasks with each time change will help to keep your house in order and help keep your family safe.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Got bed bugs? Don't panic

Mr. Handyman has received several calls requesting more information about bed bugs from the information presented last week.

It has not become such a wide-spread problem that you should be terribly concerned. There are "pockets" of infestations at UNL and now at UNK.

If you currently do not have bed bugs do not panic. Take these precautions to help keep from getting them.

Purchase some DE (Diatomaceous Earth) and lightly sprinkle the powder along the cracks and crevices on your bedroom floor and along the piping of your mattress.

If you have a student returning from school or from travel abroad empty the contents of their suitcase (or dirty laundry bag if a student) in the garage and place the contents directly in the dryer on a high heat setting.

Let the dryer run for 1/2 hour on high setting.

If you get bed bugs the DE can be effective for a DIY treatment.  Tractor Supply claims a product they sell, Tempo, is very effective as well.

If you get to a complete infestation call in the experts and seek the heat treatment.

You can also purchase bed bug insurance which covers the costs of eradicating the little buggers.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite!

They are real, they are a nuisance, they DO BITE, and they are a bugger to get rid of.

There has been some recent news about bed bugs being a problem at the UNL campus in Lincoln.  Students returning for the holidays and spring break could bring these pests into the family home if some precautions are not followed. 

Most folks will revert to the professionals, an exterminator or try to DIY with some chemicals from one of the big-box stores. I have another solution that is very effective and very safe. The ONLY precaution is breathing of the dust when applying. It is Diatomaceous Earth, or DE. It can be purchased at any local health food store and is fairly inexpensive. There is no chemical smell and it is an all-natural "green" product.

Wear a dust mask and apply a ring around your bedposts, in any wall or floor cracks near your bed and dust along the decorative piping at the edges of your mattress. The DE will cut these little critters each time they crawl through the fine powder and they will eventually dry-up and die. You can put it down even with no known bed bug problem.  There are no side effects or safety concerns.

If you have visitors or students returning from Lincoln I would dust all areas where they could unknowingly bring these awful critters into your home. There were huge outbreaks in the Manhattan, Chicago, Denver and Detroit areas as well as other cities recently so any traveler should be cautious.  

When you travel and stay in a hotel I would take some precautions to ensure you do not pick up a hitchhiker. Inspect the bed you will lay your head down on. Keep your suitcase on the countertop or table top and vacuum it when you return. I would put out the DE just to be safe.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Water Trees in Winter

We’ve enjoyed a mild, warmer winter thus far in the Omaha area but it has been very dry with very little snow and rain. There is one very glaring precaution while we have been enjoying such a mild winter….your landscape. Trees and shrubs need water to survive and the climate just has not produced.

To keep your trees and shrubs healthy this winter you will need to supplement the moisture they are not getting naturally. Break out that garden hose and allow a slow stream of water to saturate the ground for several hours in and around your trees and shrubs. The ground is frozen so it will take a long time to soak in. 4-5 hours of a mild trickle to the edges of the drip line should save the trees from winter kill. Maybe try to water 2 trees a day ensuring the whole drip line is saturated.

DO NOT forget to remove the hose from the spigot each night prior to the nightly freeze.

Most of us don’t think about the fact that trees need water during the winter. They drop their leaves and go into an apparent dormant state, so we tend to forget about them. What we don’t realize is that beneath the ground there is still plenty of activity going on. The roots continue to grow throughout the winter and need adequate water to survive.

There are few outward signs of drought stress on deciduous trees during the winter. During months when they have leaves, drought is noticeable because of leaf yellowing, wilting, curling at edges, brown tips, and dropping leaves. During the winter though, there are no leaves to act as drought indicators. Evergreens on the other hand, may turn yellow, red or purple. They also may turn brown at the tips of the needles and the browning may progress through the needle towards the twig.

Often times, drought stress may not kill a tree outright but it will set it up for more serious secondary disease and insect infestations in following years. To insure a good growing season, care must be taken to supplement the water needs of the trees throughout the year.

Trees should be watered to a depth of about twelve inches below the soil surface. The soil should be saturated within the drip line which is the area out to the outer edges of the trees branches. This will ensure that water is dispersed to all of the roots. On evergreens, water should be distributed 3 to 5 feet beyond the drip line on all sides of the tree.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Preventing Home Fires

Dryers: If you have to run the dryer a second or even third time to get clothes fully dry, your dryer vents may need cleaning. While most homeowners clean their lint traps between every load, dryer vents must also be cleaned regularly. It is recommended that dryer vents be cleaned every 1-2 years, depending on the frequency of dryer use and the distance from the back of the dryer to where the vent exits the home. Lint buildup in vents increases the risk of fire and reduces the efficiency of the dryer.

It’s a fact: Thirteen thousand fires start in laundry rooms in the U.S. each year, causing 10 deaths and $97 million in property damage. One-third of these fires arise from lint buildup.

Besides reducing the risk of fire, clean vents allow for efficient drying. Savings estimates range from $.50 to $3.00 a load, depending on the size of the load, the energy efficiency of your dryer and the severity of obstruction in your vents. Reduced wear on the dryer will also extend its life.

In Bennington a dryer caught fire causing a lot of smoke damage to one couples home.  See the related KETV account of their story:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Looking to Sell your home?

National syndicated columnist Liz Pullman Weston's article titled "Speed your home sale with these fast fix-ups" is a must read. Spending limited funds in the right way will make your home selling experience more enjoyable.

Read the article here: