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Home Improvement Blog: A Toolbox of Ideas

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Patio Sliding Door All Fogged Up

Foggy Sliding Patio Door

What do you do with a large patio door that the sliding doors are all fogged up?  Over the years, the insides of the glass panes have become so cloudy that you can’t see through them!  It’s embarrassing to have your friend and family over.  Quite frankly, it looks like you didn’t clean your patio doors for years!

House Siding Ideas [Customer Project]

House Siding Before Picture

The transformation of your home’s curb appeal can be a daunting decision.  What color and style of siding best suits my home?  Should you change the color or just update the siding?  These homeowners had all those same questions and more.

Metal Sculpture Honors Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live.  They bring folks together to build homes, communities and lots of hope.  As part of this mission, and a great way to generate income to support the mission, Habitat for Humanity has a number of ReStore stores.  It’s where the public can go to purchase affordable home improvement items in addition to lighting, sinks, cabinets, windows, doors, appliances and flooring at a fraction of retail cost.

Build a Deck Off of the Back of Your Home (customer project)

Before Deck on Back of House

Building a deck off of the back of your home gives you the great advantage of additional outdoor living space and entertaining space.  A deck is a great place to grill for the family, have a 4th of July gathering or simply read a book.

10 Summer Home Maintenance Tips

Summer home maintenance

Summer is a great time to catch up on some home maintenance – in between going to the beach and have great cookouts that is.  The weather is more conducive to working with our hands, tools and water (for cleaning).  If you can make the time and put in the effort, maintaining your home can save you big money in the long run.  Catching issues early, through home inspections and maintenance, generally costs much less than discovering it when it needs professional attention or worse emergency repair.  To get you started, we have compiled 10 tips to help you on your way to maintaining your home this summer.

  1. Analyze your deck.  Check for rotting or split wood and nails that may have popped up.  Replace any wood that is unsafe and hammer down any popped nails.  Also check to make sure your wooden deck has a good seal.  This can be done by sprinkling water on your deck.  If the water beads up, then you have a good seal.  If the water soaks in, you should apply a good sealant to help preserve the life of your deck.

  2. Check your detectors.  Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are life savers but only if they are functioning properly.  It is so disheartening to hear on the news about fires and carbon monoxide poisoning where the detectors were not in working condition.  Take a few minutes and change the batteries and test your detectors working condition – it could save your family’s life.

  3. Keep it clean.  No doubt the children and adults in your home will be going in and out a lot more during the summer months.  Save on carpet cleaning bills, along with possible staining by doubling up on your door mats.  Keep an outdoor mat at the threshold of your door for everyone to wipe their feet and a soft carpet one on the inside for double assurance.

  4. Maintain your refrigerator.  Did you know that the refrigerator uses more power than any other appliance in the home?  Keeping your refrigerator running at peak performance will help keep it as efficient as possible.  Make sure your refrigerator door seals are tight.  Test them by closing the door over either a piece of paper or a dollar bill, half in and half out.  If you can pull the paper or dollar bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment or the seal may need replaced.  Also, make sure to clean/vacuum the refrigerator coils every other month.

  5. Sharpen your mower blade.  A key to a great looking and healthy looking lawn is cutting it with a sharp blade.  Most manufacturers do recommend that you actually replace the blades yearly if you use your mower frequently, but getting it sharpened can be as effective.  A sharpened blade not only helps the mower to perform better, it also reduces your need to water your lawn.  A lawn cut with a sharp blade requires less watering than a lawn cut with a dull blade.

  6. Clean your gutters.  Take advantage of the dry warmer weather to clear your gutters of any debris of leaves, needles, twigs, etc.  Clean out your gutter with either gloved hands or a garden trowel and then run the garden hose through the gutter to ensure there are no leaks and that the water is flowing away from the basement, foundation or crawl space.  Please use extreme caution when on a ladder.  If you are unsure of yourself, hiring a professional is a great answer.

  7. Inspect driveways and walkways.  You’re outside more often as it is, so take a moment to look down and inspect for cracks and holes in your driveway and walkways.  If you find any, remedy them quickly to help prevent accidental slips, trips or falls.  Doing so will also help prevent larger repairs and/or resurfacing.  See weeds growing up in the cracks?  Resist the urge to pull them.  Instead, cut them down and either pour hot boiling water or spray chemical weed killer over the remaining plant.  This will kill the root system so they won’t return.

  8. Clean out your water heater.  Sediment builds up in your water heater tank. Use the spigot near the bottom of the heater to drain it. Once the tank empties, turn the water valve back on to flush the tank with clean, fresh water. Be sure not to turn the power back on to the tank until it’s full of water. By doing so, you'll prolong its life and reduce your electric bill.  Always refer to your owner’s manual for proper instructions on your unit.

  9. Clean your dryer vent.  Not all lint is caught in the lint trap; some makes its way into the dryer vent. A clear vent will save you money by reducing the time your dryer has to run. A plugged vent not only wastes money, but could also cause a house fire.  Once you have disassembled your hose from the dryer, use a shop or house vacuum to reach inside the back of the dryer and vent tubing to remove the lint. After vacuuming out any lint residue, you should hook your dryer back up and run it on “air fluff” for 10 minutes.

  10. Inspect your roof.  Your roof protects you and your family when it comes to enduring the elements—driving rains, sweltering sun rays, high winds and relentless hail. Inspect your roof for these visual warning signs including cracked caulk or rust spots on flashing, shingles that are buckling, curling, or blistering, and worn areas around chimneys, pipes and skylights.  Always exercise extreme caution in conducting a physical inspection, roofing professionals should be considered for both your safety and peace of mind.

None of these tips are “hard” to do.  The hardest thing will be finding the time in your busy summer schedule to complete your home maintenance tasks, but the payoff is well worth it.


Top 10 Questions for Choosing the Right Contractor

Don't roll the dice with your contractor

You have now narrowed down your selection of contractors and are ready to proceed with choosing one.  You work hard for your money, so choosing the right contractor for your project is important and will require some time and effort on your part.

How to Find the Right Contractor for Your Home Improvement Project

Finding a Contractor can be confusing

The decision has been made.  You are going to move forward with a home remodeling project.  Now for the big hurdle, finding the right contractor to work with and complete the project with quality and assurance.  Here are some places to start looking for a good remodeler . . .

A Two Story Sunroom, A Customer's Story

Before Sunroom

Blog Notes:  This is the story of an amazing two story sunroom built to enjoy the views of Lake Erie.  It should be noted that this project won 1st place 2013 COTY Award.  The following is an account as told by the customer.

3 Fall Lighting Ideas for Your Sunroom

Inside Fall resized 600

Fall is a wonderful time to spend in your sunroom and with the days becoming shorter, a great time to have fun with lighting.  Taking in the essence of the fall season, there are fun and creative ways to play with the mood lighting in your sunroom.  Higher levels of lighting generally produce a more stimulating environment with more activity, whereas lower levels tend to create an atmosphere of relaxation, intimacy, and restfulness.  Here are 3 unique lighting ideas to create the perfect mood in your sunroom.


Bee Barn Sponsored by Joyce Factory Direct at Berea Fairgrounds

Joyce Factory Direct Bee Barn

Honeybees are vitally important to almost everything we consume.  The Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds’ have taken important steps in raising public awareness about honeybees and dedicated a barn on the fairgrounds to them called the Bee Barn.  Joyce Factory Direct is proud to be the sponsor of the Bee Barn, building a sunroom enclosure around the bee observation wall for public viewing of the activity of the honeybees.


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