Armed with a little know how – you can make your pool season trouble free!
1. Evaluate the Task at Hand
Always check for leaks at the start of the season—all you need is a bucket. Just fill it three-fourths of the way full and mark the water line inside, place it in the pool, mark the line on the outside and let it float for a couple days. If the water goes down the same amount inside and out, it is from evaporation, but if it goes down more on the outside, there is a leak and you’ll need to call a pro.
2. Keep It Clean
- Skim Debris – If you have trees, bushes or other plants nearby, the wind can blow debris into the pool. To keep it clean, increase the water circulation and use fewer chemicals, and use a skimmer to scoop out the debris out on a weekly basis.
- Vacuum Frequently – Not all debris floats on top, so to get the hard-to-reach debris, you should vacuum the pool on a weekly basis for about half an hour. You can always buy an automated vacuum that runs on a schedule, so you don’t have to worry about it.
- Filter and Pump – To keep water clean and save energy, run the pump daily for every 10 degrees (e.g., if it’s 80 degrees outside, run the pool pump for eight hours). Keep water healthy and clear by cleaning the filter every other week. Simply empty the filter bag or remove the filter and hose it down. If the pump is unusually loud, leaking or doesn’t hold pressure, it’s time to call a professional. If you have a home warranty with pool coverage, you’ll also save time and energy not having to find a qualified service professional yourself.
3. Get an A in Chemical Chemistry
Test water levels weekly with a home pool water test kit to make sure chemicals are balanced and safe. Optimal chemical levels vary depending on the season and weather conditions, but the pool’s pH levels should fall between 7.2 and 7.8 consistently for the cleanest water. This will also help protect your pool equipment. Water becomes more acidic with lower pH levels, which can cause costly damage to your pump, filter and anything else that it comes in contact with.
Shipping containers have long been found to have a myriad of uses, from storage to houses. Who knew a shipping container would make a terrific pool!!
One Canadian couple is making a splash transforming shipping containers into backyard swimming pools. (We always knew those shipping containers were universal!)
Paul and Denise Rathnam launched Modpools earlier this year and the idea has taken off, with orders mostly coming from the hottest locales in North America, particularly California, Nevada, Texas and Florida.
“The traditional pool is a symbol of excess and waste. This is a little more modern, more modest. We’re repurposing something rather than recycling. This pool can be resold, and you can take it with you if you move,” Paul Rathnam told Vancouver Sun.
It’s an interesting concept, for sure, and the design, once installed, looks pretty slick. It’s as if your backyard was always destined to house a shipping container.
The standard size Modpool is eight feet wide by 20 feet long, and just over five feet deep. It also comes with a clear, acrylic window on one side, which is actually a pretty spiffy design element. Customers can opt to add another acrylic window on the other side for a see-through look if they want one.
In Canada, after delivery, a Modpool will cost you $35,000 plus tax, which could be a cheaper alternative for families planning on installing an in-ground swimming hole.
Not only will these DIY’s boost your home’s value, but you get to enjoy them too.
The satisfaction of creating something productive is powerful!
Your house is likely to be the biggest investment you make in your entire life. Whether you’re planning to sell it or you’re there for the long haul, it is important to take care of your investment. As any real estate agent will tell you, the first thing people notice about your home is the exterior. You need strong curb appeal to make a good first impression.
With that in mind, here are six simple DIY projects to help boost your home’s value:
Invest in Your Landscaping
Landscaping is often regarded as one of the top three ways to add value to your home in terms of return on investment. HomeGain.com conducted a survey of 2,000 brokers in 2007. The results indicated you could possibly quadruple an investment of $400-$500 on well-planned landscaping.
That said, just throwing a couple hundred dollars at plants is not a good approach. Instead, focus on creating a healthy, vibrant lawn. Fill in dead or sparse areas, fertilize, and clean up edges along your sidewalk, pathways and gardens. Trim overgrown bushes and shrubberies and cut down tangled tree branches. Plant flowers and plants to brighten up your landscape—just be sure to plant perennials that will come back year after year, not annuals that will die within a year and never return. Also, look for plants that are native to your region or are drought-tolerant. They need less water and maintenance, saving you money in the long run.
Upgrade Your Front Door
Your front door is the entryway to your home and it sets the tone for the rest of the house. Make a good impression by ensuring your home’s entry point (including the area directly surrounding the door) is attractive and eye-catching.
The first thing to consider here is whether to replace your existing door or not. If the door you have is good quality and a style you like, you can save some money by just freshening it up a bit. Refinish the wood or paint it for a pop of color; clean and polish the hardware or replace it with something that will add more of an accent; and replace the hinges if they are worn. If you decide to replace the door, look for a well-insulated, energy-efficient, secure door; this is not something you want to cut corners on by going with a cheap alternative.
Illuminate With Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor/exterior lighting adds value to your home in three important ways. First, it helps keep you and your family safe. It’s important to be able to see where you are going to avoid a fall. Second, it adds a layer of security. Keeping your property well-lit is a good way to deter a would-be thief from targeting your home. Third, it enhances the aesthetics of your property. Show off your beautiful home and well-maintained landscape.
Consider which of these aspects are important to you. If safety is your goal, focus on pathways, entryways and steps. If you are more concerned with security, perimeter lighting set on timers and motion-activated flood lights are your best bet. If you want to add curb appeal, light up your trees, unique landscape elements, and water features.
The second thing to consider is what type of lighting to go with. Solar is great because you don’t need wiring and don’t have to pay for power. LED lights produce a bright, crisp light and are energy-efficient. Halogen lighting, though affordable, is being phased out for the most part. Consider replacing existing halogen bulbs with LED replacements (also called LED retrofitting).
Discover the Magic of Pressure Washing
You see your home every day, so you might not notice as it slowly gets dirty and the colors and features become dusty and dim. Just spending an afternoon with the power washer can dramatically add some pop and resuscitate your curb appeal.
First and foremost, read the instructions and specifications of the pressure washer you purchased or rented. Check the water flow in gallons per minute in addition to the PSI, and get one with different pressure settings if possible. Confirm it is okay to use on all the areas you are planning to wash to ensure nothing will be damaged. You’ll probably be okay on things like sidewalks and driveways, but double check that your siding and windows can withstand the pressure. Turn off power to electrical outlets and fixtures and cover them. You may also want to cover plants and flowers if they are close to your house or the area you’ll be cleaning. You’ll likely want to use detergent (only use detergent that is specifically made for pressure washers) for the grimier parts of the job.
Create a Beautiful, Functional Space With a Fire Pit
Adding a fire pit is a cheap, simple way to help get the most out of your outdoor space by breaking it up into different areas. Fire pits consistently poll well among potential homebuyers (especially younger ones), and came in first in expected popularity of design elements, according to the Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey. One of the great things about taking on this project is that it can be as simple or as grand as you like. You could DIY a very basic one for as little as $150, or you could go all out and include a gas line (with professional help) and a fancy fixture if you have a bigger budget at your disposal. If you are not as handy, you can get a kit with everything you need and step-by-step instructions. However, building your own fire pit is not overly complicated and will allow you to completely customize it to fit your personal taste.
Upgrade Your Home’s Technology
These days, homebuyers want the latest technology. It’s easy to understand why when you look at all the amazing things technology can do for your household. Having these advanced features can be what sets your home apart from similar ones on the market.
You can install smart locks for added safety and convenience. You’ll never have to stumble around trying to get your keys out of your pocket while carrying groceries again, thanks to Bluetooth technology that will pick up on your phone approaching—and you’ll never stress again wondering if you forgot to lock the door when you rushed out. Smart sprinklers can save time and money. The sprinkler system can adjust based on weather patterns and temperature so you’ll save money by not wasting water.
These are all projects that offer a good return on your investment and can be done without a professional, saving you around 40-60 percent of what you might be charged. Plus, these projects can be wrapped up within a couple days, meaning you could conquer them over the course of a weekend or two. Get out there and start building some sweat equity the smart way!
Summertime….and the living is easy! If you know how to prep for it!
Our friends at HomeAdvisor 5 important steps for prepping your home for summer.
While summertime is perfect for outdoor gatherings with friends and family, it can also be a dangerous, and inefficient, time for your home. That’s why it’s important to have a preparation strategy in place before the hotter months arrive. These quick tips will help you prep your home for summer, and ensure it stays safe and inviting all summer long.
Schedule an Air Conditioning (AC) Inspection
Suffering through the hottest summer months with no AC isn’t fun, especially if you’re playing host to friends or family. Having an AC professional look at your unit before summer officially arrives will address any potential problems before they become major headaches. You can also DIY some preliminary maintenance. Clearing saplings, grass and other underbrush away from your unit will improve airflow and help prevent clogs. Replacing the air filters in your home’s HVAC will also help your AC function at its peak efficiency.
Look for Insulation Leaks and Inefficiencies
Poor insulation will allow cooled air to escape, resulting in a hot home and enormous energy bills. Fortunately, spotting faulty insulation isn’t difficult. Begin by looking for deterioration around your doors and windows. Caulk, door sweeps and weather stripping should address the majority of your door- and window-related leaks. It’s also a good idea to have a professional perform an energy audit. Pros will be able to identify hard-to-spot inefficiencies in other parts of your home and HVAC system.
Prep for Pests
It wouldn’t be summer without pests. And in addition to being an annoyance, some pests can actually damage your home and even present health problems. Spraying insect barriers around the exterior of your home is a good beginning, but it’s also important to prep the interior of your home. Sealing all food sources and potential entry points like window frames and doors is an important part of finalizing your pest proofing.
P.S. Be sure to read any warnings or instructions that come with pesticides. Improper applications can threaten the safety of your home, especially if you have pets or small children.
Inspect Your Roof
Summer is mostly known for its beautiful weather, but it can also be a time of severe thunderstorms or worse. This makes having a sturdy roof very important, especially during inclement summertime weather. Begin your inspection by looking for loose shingles, faulty flashing or other clear signs of damage. Your attic can also be home to leaks, rot and other problems not obvious from the outside of your home. Examining your attic insulation, walls and rafters for signs of moisture will help you prevent water damage and structural deterioration. If you notice signs of damage, it’s best to call a pro. Roof repair can be extensive and are rarely DIY-appropriate.
Reinvigorate Your Outdoor Spaces
Wintertime can take a toll on the appearance of your yard, patio and other outdoor living areas. Removing downed tree limbs, replanting dead flowers and power washing your patio and decking are simple ways to jumpstart your home’s summertime exterior. Your grill can also accumulate gunk during the colder months. Be sure to clean its interior and exterior before your first BBQ. Updating your tired outdoor furniture will also improve the looks and comfort of your entertainment areas. Wrap-around sofas, comfy loveseats and luxurious hammocks are ideal additions to any outdoor space. You can perfect your entertainment areas with colorful throw pillows, planters, hanging candles and outdoor lighting.
Source: CB Blue Matter
Ahhhhh, the sweet smells of summer BBQ! Nothing beats grilling and chilling!
There’s nothing better than the flavor and presentation of food cooked on a grill. The slightly smoky flavor and ease of preparation makes grilling one of the top cooking methods any time of the year. Even when there is a chill in the air, stepping outside to grill a meal is quick and easy.
Now that summer is around the corner, many of us are dining al fresco, and that often includes a grilled dish. Almost any food can be grilled, from steak to Portobello mushrooms, and occasionally a food that you wouldn’t imagine, such as thickly cut Greek cheese (Halloumi), which grills perfectly.
For those who don’t have access to an outdoor grill, I’ve had success with cast-iron indoor grilling pans. Indoor grilling pans, which can be found in any cookware store, add a depth of flavor similar to outdoor gas grilling. I own two square ones that fit over a burner and can accommodate two servings of protein or four pieces of fresh corn or sliced eggplant.
Here are some of my tips to make the most of your grilling.
What to Grill
Most important, you need to know which foods are best grilled. Any cut of meat or chicken is ideal for grilling.
For dark-meat chicken, I recommend cooking it first in the oven to get it about three quarters done and then finishing it on the grill to avoid overly dark or blackened skin. Chicken breasts cook quickly about three minutes per side. I recommend you pound the chicken to an even thickness to assure perfect doneness.
Fish is best if you choose steak fish (such as tuna, salmon, swordfish or shark) or whole fish (such as snapper or bass). Shellfish, including shrimp, scallops, clams and lobster, are wonderful on the grill and can be served room temperature or as part of a salad. I tend to avoid thin fish fillets for grilling as they are too delicate for the high heat and difficult to move off the grill.
All kinds of grilled vegetables are wonderful. My personal favorites are asparagus, mushrooms, onions, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, cauliflower, unripe tomatoes and corn. Consider buying a grill basket for smaller veggies to avoid them falling into the grill. For the vegetarians among us, both tofu and tempeh are delicious in their grilled form, especially paired with a flavorful marinade.
Get the Grill Ready
To prepare the grill, heat is of utmost importance for a guaranteed non-stick surface. If your food is not ready to turn easily, simply leave it another minute to ensure the proper sear. If you are grilling something with little to no marinade, be sure to spray the grill lightly with vegetable cooking spray or brush lightly with olive oil.
My favorite element in grilling is the marinade. A marinade can be as simple as vinaigrette with a few fresh herbs mixed in, and sauces such as salsas, pestos and reserved boiled marinades add a ton of flavor to just about any grilled food.
Because there’s no sauce or fat in the pan, and most grilled foods cook fairly quickly, a marinade not only tenderizes, but adds flavor. I usually marinate dishes for at least two hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator, depending on what you’re preparing.
I recommend reserving the leftover marinade and bringing it to a boil in a small saucepan for four or five minutes, to kill any bacteria, along with a little red wine, if desired, and you have an amazing sauce to drizzle over your grilled dish.
There’s the Rub
Fish is one exception where the marinade can actually cook the fish, so don’t marinate fish and shellfish for more than an hour. This is where a spice rub can be the perfect flavor enhancer. I often use spice rubs for tuna, salmon or shrimp.
Simply toast a few of your favorite spices, such as cumin, mustard seeds, peppercorns and coriander. Grind them in a coffee or spice grinder, coat the fish lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle the spices and a pinch of sea salt. You’ve now elevated your fish to another level.
I love the taste of grilled bread and often serve it lightly brushed with extra virgin olive oil and rubbed with a cut clove of garlic, as you might enjoy in Tuscany. Grill the bread for three or four minutes on each side and serve with chopped tomatoes, olives and mushrooms, or, serve it plain, with a few shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano. I often make hummus or a spread, such as a white bean puree, to serve guests while they are having a chilled glass of wine.