Clean Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Organized

470_2806556Your house may look clean, but these common organizing mistakes can make it hard to maintain order. Professional organizers share their top pet peeves and how to solve them.

The Mistake: Confusing “Clean” and “Organized”
“Having piles neatly lined up on the counter doesn’t mean you’re organized,” says professional organizer Linda Rothschild. If you find your flat surfaces filling with clutter, it’s time to designate a spot for everything coming into your home. Once you get the hang of it, the piles will disappear.

The Mistake: Keeping Counters Too Clear
Once you’ve cleared off what doesn’t belong on the kitchen counter, don’t forget to leave room for things you use every day. If you make daily smoothies, make a spot for the blender. It’s easier to keep the surfaces clean and organized if you have what you need at hand and everything has a designated spot.

The Mistake: A Full Refrigerator
“A big, messy focal point is a refrigerator tacked with magnets and reminders and notes and letters and photos and wedding invitations and art projects and shopping lists,” says professional organizer Jeni Aron. “Instead, keep one clipboard on your kitchen wall with all of the reminders and lists you need. When the clipboard is full, that’s your maximum number of papers you can keep.”

The Mistake: Disorganized Kitchen Shelving
Glass-front cabinets or open shelving can look messy if dishes are piled at random. “The solution? Add fabric or contact paper inside the glass cabinets. A better solution: Setting up a way to keep dishes organized,” says professional organizer Alejandra Costello.

The Mistake: Stuffing Kitchen Cabinets
Getting organized means making good decisions about what to keep and what to let go of, starting on the inside of the cabinets,” says professional organizer Linda Rothschild. Take everything out and take stock. If you’re not using it, let it go.

The Mistake: A Non-Functional Entryway
An entryway offers a home’s first impression, but it’s often covered with coats, backbacks, shoes and more. The solution? “Rearrange the coat closet in the entryway where kids can hang things,” offers professional organizer Alejandra Costello. “Or put a basket by the door to toss shoes inside. If the shoes can just make it inside, it can make a huge difference.”

The Mistake: Choosing Closet Form Over Daily Function
We all dream of a chic walk-in closet, but think about what you really use before devoting tons of space to baubles and high heels. “Things you wear on a regular basis need to be accessible,” says professional organizer Linda Rothschild. “If you go running everyday, those shoes should be in the front,” she says. Wear boots to work? Keep those out and stow away heels. Being realistic about your real-life closet needs makes it easier to keep the space neat.

The Mistake: Out-of-Order Containers
Throwing your stuff in a box or drawer doesn’t make it organized. “Every drawer, cabinet and shelf is a container, but consider taking it a step further by using additional containers within those storage areas to organize your things even more. Use bins, baskets, cups, tin cans, stackable bins and dividers to help keep your items better contained and visually appealing,” says professional organizer Vanessa Hayes.

The Mistake: Shopping First, Organizing Second
“The biggest mistake I see is that people think buying a bunch of organizing products will solve their clutter nightmares, but it usually just adds to the frustration,” says professional organizer Vanessa Hayes. “Instead, you need to edit your stuff first, then decide on products to help you organize what’s left.” That way, you’ll buy only what you need.

The Mistake: Skipping Labels
“Bins are fine, but they need to be space-efficient, properly labeled and specific,” says professional organizer Nancy Heller. “Leave a little extra space, but don’t throw a mismatched glove in there because there’s room. A label helps you halt and say, ‘oh, this doesn’t go here.’”

The Mistake: Too Many Toys
“For families with kids, many fall victim to every room becoming a toy room and the entire home becoming toy-centric,” says professional organizer Vanessa Hayes. “You’d be amazed at how much cleaner your home will look if you limit the toys you have, and keep them in only 1-2 places in your home.”

The Mistake: Not Corralling Cords
“This bothers me like crazy,” says professional organizer Alejandra Costello. “Wires on the wall or floor are a complete eyesore. Make your own backing with black foam board, or whatever you have. Or, actually detangle the wires and use a cord organizer to line them around the furniture.” Boom: A neat entertainment center, desk or nightstand.

The Mistake: Scattered Collections
When styling bookshelves, small pieces look more dramatic (and less cluttered) when grouped with like items. “Collections of vases showcase what you love, versus having one on the coffee table and two on the end table. It doesn’t look cohesive,” says professional organizer Nancy Heller.

The Mistake: Packed Bookshelves
Displaying only books you love leaves breathing room and space for decorative accessories. “I always go for balance. I’m fond of telling people when your bookshelf is 80 percent full, it’s really full,” says professional organizer Nancy Heller.

The Mistake: Letting Laundry Linger
When the laundry room is downstairs, piles of un-folded clothes can accumulate. “It’s all about just doing it right away,” says professional organizer Alejandra Costello. “Don’t do laundry unless you have enough time to finish it. When you’re ready to fold it, take it out of the dryer and put it away right then.”

The Mistake: Packed-Full Rooms
“Too many chairs, couches, tables and decorative items can quickly make a room look cluttered and feel closed-in,” says professional organizer Vanessa Hayes. “Selecting just a few pieces can open up a space and make it feel more relaxing and peaceful.”

The Mistake: Getting Used to Clutter
“Clutter actually becomes invisible,” says professional organizer Linda Rothschild. “When things are in piles, they become like wallpaper. Things get dumped and they get ignored.” Devote a few minutes a day to ditching the piles one by one – you’ll be amazed how much different your space will feel.

The Mistake: Too Much Stuff
“People love staying in hotels because it’s such an escape. You can have that in your home, you just have to have less stuff,” says professional organizer Kendra Stanley.

The Mistake: Stuffing Small Spaces
“Be realistic about the space you have and how you use it,” says professional organizer Nancy Heller. “If you are in a small home, you really have to be realistic about how much you can really have there without it being cluttered and overwhelming.” Opt for hidden storage under the bed or stairs, but know when to minimize your stuff, too.

The Mistake: Waiting Until Tomorrow
Staying organized is easy if you do something every day. “It’s continuous maintenance. For every hour we spend organizing we save 3-4 hours,” says professional organizer Nancy Heller. “Spend 5 minutes tidying up your junk drawer…just 20 minutes here, 10 minutes there will make all the difference.”

To read the article as published shine.yahoo.com, please click here.

Precautions for When Leaving Your Home Alone

Summer is traditionally the vacation season, and with college students heading back to campus earlier and earlier, family travel is often in the equation around this time. So if you will be leaving your home “alone” for a few days or a couple of weeks, it’s a good idea to take some precautions.

Enlist the help of friends and neighbors

The sure way to avoid vacation-related worry is to arrange for a house sitter, particularly if you’re planning to be away for an extended period of time. If that’s not an option, have a trusted friend, neighbor or family member visit periodically to check the house, water the plants and bring in the mail. If it’s a good neighbor, ask if he or she will park a car in your driveway, if yours will be otherwise empty. And don’t forget to hire a neighborhood kid to mow the lawn and trim the hedges, as an unkempt lawn is a sure sign of an unoccupied home.

Remember, water can be the enemy

If a pipe leaks or bursts while you’re gone, the resulting damage could be devastating. Shutting off the main valve is the best protection, but if you can’t do that, at least consider shutting off the valves to the most common sources for water damage — dishwashers, ice makers and washing machines to name a few.

Check the weather report, too. If a storm is on the way, ensure your gutters are free of blockage and reinforce any areas that could allow water in. If your basement is prone to flooding, test that your sump pump is working as it should.

Be security smart

There are plenty of simple ways to keep your home safe and sound while away, including:

  • Notify the post office to stop mail delivery to your address for the duration of your trip.
  • Place electronic timers in various rooms and set them to activate/deactivate lights on a staggered schedule.
  • If you have a pool, padlock the surrounding gate or install a retractable cover.
  • Consider motion detector lights for the front and back of your property.
  • If you have an alarm system, make sure it’s turned on and that you’ve told the alarm company the dates you’ll be away.

Before you’re set leave, put together a checklist of all the security measures you plan to make. This list will help you stay on task in the hectic days and hours before you leave. After all, the last thing anyone wants is to go on vacation with the lingering thought, “Did I remember to lock the back door?” Plan ahead and you’ll find it’s easy to stay on the safe side without stressing.

To read the original article, please click here.

Making Your Private Property More Private

As the seasons change and the temperatures go up, dinner on the deck or a cocktail on the patio can offer welcomed rest and relaxation — unless you’re sipping that drink under the watchful eyes of others or the sounds of busy traffic or noisy neighbors.

Short of building a stone wall and moat, there are steps you can take to make your outdoor space more relaxing. Of course, before starting any sort of construction or planting project, you’ll want to check with your local municipality and homeowners association. Many cities — and even neighborhoods — have restrictions on height, setback from the street, appearance or materials that can be used in establishing privacy screens.

Walls and fences

Building a wall or fence is, perhaps, the most obvious way to add privacy to your yard.

Wood fences are the fastest and cheapest to erect; in fact, you can buy prefabricated sections of wood fencing from home improvement stores and build a fence yourself in a few days. Open lattice can be used to break up the mass of a wood fence.

If you like the look of wood but don’t want to worry about rot or upkeep, vinyl may be a good option. Vinyl fencing resists discoloring and is available in a wide range of styles and colors.

Stone and brick can be used to create attractive, long-lasting barriers — or, if you overdo it, they can take on a prisonlike air. If you’re drawn to stone or brick, you might consider creating a shorter retaining wall that can be paired with screens or greenery.

In many parts of the country, cinder blocks are the material of choice for property walls. Concrete tends to look stark. Consider using paint or decorative ironwork to add interest, or soften the look with vines or other plantings.

Hedges

A wall of lush evergreens can separate your home from the neighboring properties.

Even novice gardeners and landscapers can plant evergreens to create a living, year-round privacy screen. Planting trees or shrubs in a zig-zag — rather than straight — line will allow the plants better access to sun and will create a fuller visual effect.

Boxwood, yew, arborvitae, juniper, laurel and holly are among the nation’s most popular hedge plants. You’ll want to talk to knowledgeable landscape experts to learn which plants do best in your soil and weather conditions. Also be honest about how much pruning you’re willing to do: Some plants require considerably more upkeep than others.

Screens and roofs

A vine-covered pergola-style roof can add privacy as well as visual interest.

A lattice or louvered wood panel, ornamental iron or well-placed stained glass partitions can help create cozy spaces within a yard. Most homeowners prefer to anchor screens into the ground so they don’t fall victim to the occasional wind gusts. Semi-transparent structures won’t offer complete privacy, but can blur sightlines and add visual interest to a landscape.

Fabric panels or drapes are an easy, inexpensive way to make a porch or patio area more intimate. Similarly, adding an awning or pergola-style roof covered with vines can help create a space that’s secluded from nosy neighbors.

Water

Water features, such as a gurgling fountain, can help mask the sounds of unwanted noise from neighbors and traffic.

Water features range from off-the-shelf tabletop versions that cost less than $100 to expansive, custom waterfalls that can run upward of $20,000. Be aware that if your water feature rushes over too many tiers or if the waterfall is too high, you may be creating a noise that’s louder and more distracting than the one you’re trying to cover up.

To read the original article as published on Zillowblog.com, please click here.

Is Your Home Turning Heads?

Curb appeal with flairCurb appeal is your first and best chance to generate interest in your home and perhaps a quick sale. Whether you are selling your home or not, see tips below for creating curb appeal.

Add Flair
You don’t have to spend a lot to enhance your home’s exterior. Simple updates – like a planter of flowers – can have a big impact.

Stay Grounded
When updating the front yard, it’s important to make sure all the elements tie together: the walkway and driveway and plants and trees around the house.

orange front doorFocus on Front Door
It welcomes visitors, sets the mood of the home and the tone for what’s inside. Your front door deserves some love.

Get Inspired
Manicured trees and shrubs, warm lighting fixtures and fresh paint trim are some features that add outstanding curb appeal.

 

To read the complete articles as published on zillow.com, please click on the links above.

Create a Successful Container Garden

Container-Garden-c31b6d-e1400519170675When she’s not sharing her knowledge of container gardening as a guide on About.com or photographing New England gardens for a forthcoming book from Timber Press, you’re likely to find Kerry Michaels tending to the nearly 100 potted plants that surround her home in coastal Maine. “No matter how hectic life can be,” she muses, “I get such enormous pleasure from these pots!” Here, Michaels offers six tips to boost your own container gardening know-how.

1. Water properly

“It still surprises me how much water a good-sized container needs to get to the roots of a plant,” says Michaels. Don’t just wet the top of the soil, she advises. Rather, continue until you see water dripping out from the holes at the bottom of the pot.

2. Supplement nutrients

“There are no nutrients in most potting soils, and even those that have some will need to be supplemented throughout the growing season,” Michaels says. If your potting soil doesn’t have any (check the bag), then augment with slow-release fertilizer every couple of weeks. Be sure to follow the directions closely, whether you choose to use diluted liquid fertilizer or granular fertilizer.

3. Pay attention to pot size

Pots that are too small can be a problem for container gardeners, Michaels reports. “Small pots mean less soil, and less soil means that there isn’t much margin for error when watering, because the pots dry out so fast,” she says.

4. Add some holes

If your pot is skimpy on drainage, don’t be afraid to make a few extra holes in the bottom. You can either use a drill with a special bit for ceramic pots (because these pots can crack, always wear safety goggles and make sure the pot and bit do not overheat), a regular bit for plastic pots, or an awl or nail and hammer for metal pots. “Sometimes my pots look like Swiss cheese, because I put so many holes in them,” Michaels says. “The more drainage, the better.”

5. Skip the gravel

“It’s a myth that stones or shells at the bottom of a container help keep your plants from getting waterlogged,” Michaels reveals. To keep soil from escaping the bottom of your pot, place window screening, a coffee filter or a paper towel over the holes of your container before adding soil.

6. Elevate pots

“When containers are set flat on nonporous surfaces, drainage can be affected,” says Michaels. “And on a deck, the constant moisture can damage the wood. Air circulation below pots is beneficial to both the plants and your deck.” She suggests using commercially made pot feet, like Potrisers or Pot Pads. Depending on the weight of your containers, you might also consider teacups, shot glasses or small terra-cotta pots to elevate them.

To read the article as published on zillow.com, please click here.

Wonderful Walkway Designs

Walkway10From gravel to brick, bluestone to concrete, these gorgeous garden paths will take you where you want to go with your landscaping.

Stepping Stones
Large stones laid over grass form a casual, comfortable walkway leading through this yard to the garage. Even for beginning DIYers, making a stepping-stone walkway like this is an easy weekend project.

Brick
Brick allows for many design options. This path is laid in a running bond pattern with a contrasting border, but basket-weave, herringbone, and stacked bond patterns are also excellent choices for a brick walkway.

Pallet Wood
Recycled pallet wood makes a rustic complement to this short garden walk between drive and yard. The spaces between boards allow vining plants to creep underfoot.

Bark Mulch
Bark mulch is an affordable and DIY-friendly walkway material. This path, edged in round river stone, winds casually through a tulip-lined garden for a natural and unaffected look.

Bluestone
Bluestone walkways have a classic and tidy appearance. Many pattern and color choices exist (in fact, some bluestone isn’t even blue). In this yard, the stone’s natural character gives earnest charm to the entryway.

Thyme
The thyme growing between these stepping stones adds a heady fragrance to strolls along this lush, low-maintenance garden path.

Stamped Concrete
Concrete has so much more to offer now than it did in the past. These days, it can be colored and textured to look like many other types of stone or paving materials. This stamped concrete design has an undeniable warmth lacking in traditional ?oated concrete.

To read the complete article as published on bobvilla.com, please click here.

Beautify that Ugly Fireplace

ugly fireplaceFireplaces are hotter than ever. The National Association of Home Builders reports that, in 2010, nearly half of new single-family homes completed had a fireplace. And the National Association of Realtors say 40 percent of home buyers value fireplaces enough that they’d be willing to spend more to get a home that has one. To be clear: attractive fireplaces are hot. Outdated, poorly designed fireplaces are not. If your fireplace is more “Ugly Stepsister” than “Cinderella,” consider prettying it up using one of these four do-it-yourself fixes:

1. Paint it

A fresh coat of paint is one of the quickest and cheapest ways to beautify your fireplace. Prep is simple: Begin by using a wire brush to get all the grime off the hearth surface. Apply a stain-blocking primer to the clean fireplace before you paint to help cover soot stains. Most fireplace hearths are made from tile, stone or bricks held together by mortar or grout. It’s likely you’ll need to apply at least two coats of paint to cover these surfaces, especially brick, which tends to be porous. If you plan to paint inside the firebox, you’ll need to invest in a special heat-resistant paint. Choose a color that will blend with the room’s palette and furniture or, if the fireplace shape and design aren’t bad, choose a contrast color that will make your fireplace pop.

2. Go faux

Covering an existing fireplace with natural stone can be both expensive and difficult, requiring masonry skills, structural engineering and specialized tools. So, instead of heavy river rocks, consider faux stone. Yes, it’s hard to forget that hideous plastic-looking brick and stone from your grandparents’ home, but today’s products are oh, so much better. They actually have the same look, feel and durability of real stone – without the high costs or installation challenges. Plus, they typically weigh about 75 percent less than natural stone. Some stone veneers will require demolition of the existing fireplace surround before you prep for installation with a layer or two of building paper, covered by galvanized wire lath. Others, like AirStone, can be applied directly to substrate including brick, ceramic tile, stone, stucco or concrete block. Before investing in any manufactured stone product, make sure it and the adhesive required to install it are safe for use around wood stoves and fireplaces. Check local and state building codes to ensure your project meets requirements.

3. Make over the mantel

Even the most gorgeous fireplace won’t look complete without an appealing, well-proportioned mantel. You can build your own or, if you’d prefer, there are many paint-grade, fully assembled mantels on the market. Readybuilt Products, for example, offers more than 50 mantel styles, from Colonial to contemporary, priced at $350 to $2,500.

Be aware that the National Fire Protection Association’s safety code requires at least six inches between the sides and top of the firebox and any wood that projects up to one and a half inches from the face of the fireplace. Any wood that projects out further than that – a mantel shelf, for example – must be at least 12 inches from the opening. Contact your local building department for specific code requirements in your city and state.

4. Don’t overlook the over-mantel

Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with a fireplace – it’s just not special. With basic do-it-yourself skills, you can give your fireplace visual interest and height by adding an over-mantel, that ornamental structure that extends from your mantel upward. You can build an overmantel using MDF (medium-density fiberboard), and trims ranging from cladding to corbels, depending upon the look you’re after. For the look of an overmantel with even less work, consider installing two or three strips of wallpaper from your mantel to the ceiling; finish the project with a couple strips of wood trim along the sides and crown molding at the top. Traditionally, overmantels were dressed with decorative mirrors.

To read the article as published on Zillow.com, please click here.ugly fireplace

Keeping Your Wood Deck in Peak Condition

A wood deck is certainly a thing of beauty, but only if it is well-maintained from year to year. If your deck is showing signs of weather and wear, some simple maintenance and a fresh coat of stain or sealer could make it look new again.And the job is one that can easily be accomplished by a do-it-yourselfer in a weekend or two.

Before you begin, remove everything from the deck. You’ll want to sweep the entire surface to remove any leaves, twigs, needles or branches, plus debris lodged between boards. Wash the deck thoroughly with a deck detergent (available at most home centers and hardware stores) and follow manufacturer instructions on best use. Make sure the cleaner you use is specified for your type of deck. A stiff bristle broom will come in handy to remove mildew stains, stubborn dirt and grime.

Once the deck is clean and dry, examine the condition of the wood. Are there any boards that are splintered, loose or raised? If so, they will need to be repaired. Does the wood appear to be highly worn? A light sanding will help revive the wood and raise the grain for better stain absorption.

Tools and materials:
Stain/sealer
Rubber gloves
Paintbrush
Roller with extension pole
Goggles
Rags and drop cloth

Directions:

1. Choose a weekend that does not have rain in the forecast, and if possible, avoid applying the stain in direct sunlight. (Always test the stain on a small area and let it dry to make certain the color is the one you want.)

2. Using a bristle brush, start by heavily coating the open-end grain of the boards. Then brush two to three boards from one end to the other in long, smooth strokes. To avoid lap marks, make sure that the leading edge remains wet and that wet stain is brushed into wet stain.

3. Apply one coat of stain and wait for it to dry. Remember more stain is not necessarily better. If you over-apply, stain may peel or crack when exposed to moisture, or it may not dry properly. Let the stain dry for at least three days before returning patio furniture to the surface and putting the deck into service.

Seasonal maintenance will continue to keep your wood deck in peak condition. As a general rule of thumb, if your deck repels water, the existing stain or sealer is still performing.

 

To read the original article as published on Zillow.com, please click here.

This Weekend, Install a Pendant Light

pendant lightThe flourescent light came down over the weekend. It was a happy day, although like many “easy fixes” I decide to take on, there was a surprising amount of repair that neededto be done before the light could actually go up. Cue the dramatic music.

The process of installing the new pendant light I had picked out was going to be quite easy after a little of ceiling repair work was finished…

For one thing, the obvious absence of an electrical box meant that I needed to install one to contain the wiring; it’s only right for electrical safety to contain sparks and properly anchor the wires. Fortunately for me, all other wiring has passed previous inspections, and aside from carving out a little round hole for the existing construction box to pop into, new holes needed to be made and no new wires needed to be run, so I called it an easy day.

What you also probably noticed in the ceiling were an abundance of holes (those were left by the florescent fixture’s toggle bolts). Patching those is what has been consuming me all week. If you’ve played with drywall compound before, you’ll appreciate the patience required in watching skim-coated compound dry (not once, but three times in this case, repeatedly sanding and coating the ceiling to perfection).

The paint obviously needed to be touched up too; when I painted the kitchen a few years ago, I had edged around the light and avoided taking it down to do the job well (the whole fixture was actually hidden at that time, only exposed when I removed the kitchen cabinets), but once the compound had been dried and smoothed, I finished off the soffit with a nice coat of flat white ceiling paint.

Ceiling repairs checked off the list, the actual light installation was quite a breeze.

I had stopped into IKEA to pick up my new pendant, an 365+ LUNTA (glass pleated model, not to be confused with the smooth metal model that I accidentally bought first – long story), and was ready to begin the install. I happen to love these pendants (glass, pleated, so pretty, and so affordable at $30 for the whole kit – plus, it’s the smaller version of the pendants I have hung in the adjacent dining room, so the whole first floor of the house would feel a little more cohesive with the new addition in the kitchen).

Step 1: Power OFF. Breaker OFF. If you’re really nervous, turn the main power switch OFF too.

Step 2: Before wiring the light, consider the length of the pendant. My IKEA purchase came with a wire 6-feet long, which I decided to shorten to 10-inches so that the pendant would hang about this far down. With some pendants, you’ll have to actually cut the cord to length and re-strip the wires before you install, but with mine, the excess cord will tuck into a ceiling encasement.

Step 3: Follow your own fixture’s instruction manual. IKEA’s graphic tutorial guided me through matching up the wires that would sit within the ceiling box, and also instructed me how to affix the supporting pieces of the pendant directly to the box. I always use marretts to secure the hardwired connection, and then wrap the connection with black electrical tape to further reinforce.

Step 4: At this point, jump off the countertop or the sink or wherever you’re balancing on your kneepads, and turn the power back ON to that room. Turn on the light switch. Make sure that it works before you finish the install (it’s always a little easier to find out before you complete the install, in my experience). If it works, go turn the power back OFF at the breaker box just to be safe while you finish the install. If it doesn’t, double check your connections and/or consult with an electrician.

Step 5: The IKEA fixture has a nice built-in hook system that distributes the weight of the light over the wire so it’s not pulling straight from the wire in the box. It’s also designed to be capped right off by an encasement that screws right into place, so the hard work has already been done.

What I like best about this encasement is that you can actually leave yourself a little wiggle room in pendant length and hide extra cord inside the encasement easily, so if next week I decide it needs to be lowered 3 inches, it’s an easy update. Like I mentioned in Step 2, if your pendant doesn’t have a substantial encasement, you’ll have to trim your cord to length.

Step 6: Install the shade. Don’t accidentally drop and shatter it in the sink (just something I always imagine happening). Turn the power back ON (you can leave it on this time).

YOU’RE DONE!!! What’s next? Rejoice. If your pendant is over the kitchen sink, maybe follow that urge to hand wash your dishes more often. And consider adding a dimmer switch to make your new pendant act a little moody – it’s always a nice touch.

To read the original article, please click here.

Consider These Upgrades When Re-roofing Your Home

re-roofingRe-roofing your home is not the most glamorous of home improvements. You’ll note that HGTV shows rarely even mention the roof. Unlike decks, kitchens, and baths, the roof is not really something you’d invite your friends over to admire. But re-roofing does present some appealing opportunities for the homeowner who wants to reduce maintenance and unnecessary expenses for years to come. Here are five roof upgrades to consider when you are about to re-roof your home.

1. Install an airtight chimney cap
Unlike masonry and metal chimney caps that are designed to keep rain and (if screened) birds and other critters out of your chimney, airtight caps are about saving energy.

When your fireplace is not in use, warm air from inside your home is literally gushing out the chimney when the weather is cold. The damper in your firebox does little to stop it because it is not airtight.

Ask your roofer about installing an airtight chimney cap while the roof is being worked on. These units are spring-activated. To open the chimney cap, you just tug on a steel cable that’s attached to a bracket inside your fireplace. Pull it shut after your fire is completely out. An airtight cap has the added benefit of keeping animals from nesting inside your chimney.

2. Install eave flashing
If you’ve ever experienced damage from an ice dam, you might want to invest a little extra when re-roofing to install eave flashing. These peel-and-stick bituminous membranes are applied prior to shingling to a depth that is 2 feet inside the exterior wall plane (three feet on low-pitched roofs). The membranes self-seal around roofing fasteners, forming a watertight seal over the eaves, which are the portion of the roof most susceptible to ice dams. Bituminous eave flashing may also be specified for other vulnerable roof areas, such as over valleys and around skylights and dormers.

3. Improve roof ventilation
Attics become like furnaces in summer if they are not well ventilated. That heat buildup radiates to the rooms directly below the attic, making them uncomfortable. To keep the attic—and your home—cooler, be sure your roofing contractor installs ridge vents across the top of your roof. Barely noticeable from the street, ridge vents allow air movement beneath the ridge cap shingles. For ventilation to be effective, soffit vents located under the eaves draw cooler air into the attic as hot air is being expelled. Gable vents, which are located near the roof peak of exterior walls, may also be needed to ensure adequate airflow. A cooler attic means your home will be more comfortable during the summer without your having to spend a fortune on air conditioning.

4. Choose an energy-efficient shingle
The recommendation for a cooler roof used to be to select light-colored or white shingles. This option, however, wasn’t always aesthetically appealing to homeowners. Today’s new reflective shingles come in assorted colors, from popular slate to wood tones. The granules not only reflect the sun’s radiation but also quickly reemit much of the heat that is absorbed. Depending on your climate and your home’s construction, a cool roof can save between 7 and 15 percent of your cooling costs.

leafguard-gutter3

5. Install low-maintenance gutters
While you’re having your home reroofed, it’s also a good time to scrap your old gutters and install new ones—especially if your existing gutters are misaligned or unsightly. Gutter systems with built-in curved hoods, such as those from Englert LeafGuard, are designed to be maintenance-free. The patented design works on the scientific principle of water adhesion, allowing rainwater to travel down and around its curved hood and into the gutter while deflecting leaves. This prevents clogs and unsightly staining on gutters and siding due to gutter overflow. It also means you can forget about the messy and hazardous chore of climbing a ladder to clean your gutters. The one-piece, seamless LeafGuard Brand gutters are generously sized for the heaviest of downpours, and homeowners like the clean architectural way they define the roof eaves. They even come in a variety of colors, allowing you to choose a tone that will complement your trim, roofing, and siding. Use LeafGuard’s design tool to get a preview of how the gutters will look with your new roof.

With all these improvements, maybe a new roof is worth celebrating.

To read the article as published on homes.yahoo.com, please click here.

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