The Fun Part of Waterproofing the Basement – Decorating It

stock-photo-3164773-executive-home-bar-and-entertainment-roomYou finally got your basement waterproofed.  It’s dry, looks good and smells even better.  Now it can be used as an actual living, working, and storage space.   This is where the fun starts; it’s time to decorate.

Basements can be a decorating challenge because they’re usually used for a variety of different functions (i.e. workshop, crafts, kid’s play area, storage, media room, workout equipment, laundry, meditation).  Some of these uses are utilitarian and straightforward, while others are more esoteric and personal. 

Here are some decorating ideas to make your spaces functional and uniquely your own.

Use the walls

Too often walls are used only to hang pictures on or put furniture against; there are other uses for them.  Think about using your storage needs as a decorating opportunity.  Depending on the function of the room consider using bookcases, cubbies, lockers, storage units or shelving.  Add corresponding baskets or plastic totes and you have a functional as well as decorative feature. 

Exercise room – metal shelves for weights, workout DVDs, fitness balls/mats and clear plastic totes for smaller items.  Kid’s play room – shelving (sturdy and secured to the wall) painted in primary colors for books, games, baskets and colored totes for toys.  Media room – bookcases for DVDs, electronic equipment and baskets for remotes.

Consider the ceiling

People don’t consider the ceiling when they’re thinking of decorating.  But, the basement can be different – like the walls, the ceiling can be used for decoration and function.  If you have overhead space there are some creative ways to use it.

Kid’s play room – string a net from the ceiling between 2 corners and use it to store balls.  Workshop – save garage space by hang bikes or golf bags along the wall, out of the way, with ceiling hooks.  Storage room – that Christmas tree doesn’t have to take up valuable self or floor space; some overhead hanging units can hold up to 250 lbs. 

Remember the stairs

The space under the stairs is usually left to spiders and bugs.  There are many pre-made cubbies, shelves and bookcases that fit under standard basement steps or you can get built-in shelves or cabinetry. 

Getting to decorate after your basement has been waterproofed is exciting, and there are a lot of good ideas you can use.  Just keep in mind that simple and uncluttered never goes out of style.  Cluttered and disorganized will make even an Architectural Digest room look bad.

Nicole Abbott is a professional writer who’s had over 200 articles published.  She’s a business consultant and former psycho-therapist with over 20 years of experience in mental health, business and addiction.  She’s a coach, lecturer, trainer and facilitator.  She has conducted over 200 workshops, trainings, presentations, seminars and college classes. 

Make Your Basement Safe for Storage

pioneer (9)It’s the unusual, and lucky, person who doesn’t want more storage space. Even people who are ruthless about clutter need a place for their “must keep” items.  Thank goodness for basements.  When used properly a basement can be a great place to safely store a variety of objects for a long time. 

Unfortunately, in most households basement storage just happens, there’s no organization to it.  Items are tossed into unsuitable boxes and bags, then “temporarily” put in corners, on shelves and in cabinets — where they stay for years. 

People often unintentionally damage or ruin their things, sometimes important keepsakes and valuables.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  A little bit of knowledge and planning can go a long way toward making sure your possessions are protected.  Here are some things to consider when making your basement safe for storage.

  • Every house and basement has bugs, so it’s smart to plan for them.  What kind do you have?  Are they the kind who do damage and need to be exterminated (carpenter ants, termites)?  Or are they the kind to create deterrents for (spiders — sealed bags and boxes, or moths — balls or cedar chips)?
  • Think about plastic or wire shelves instead of wood.  Wood shelves absorb moisture and can damage items stored on them. 
  • Get a dehumidifier, it’ll help control dampness and odors.
  • Go through your belongings and decide what storage containers and packing materials are appropriate for them.  Grandma’s quilt (damp) and your mother’s good china (breakage) need something different.
  • People often store tools, iron or steel possessions in the basement thinking it’s safe.  They don’t think about rust until they unpack Uncle Joe’s vintage train set and see that it’ll need major, expensive repairs to get it back to the condition it was in when first packed.  Consider a light coating of machine oil every few years for protection. 
  • Furniture can easily get ruined in a basement.  Moisture, odors and bugs can damage it fast and beyond repair.  Consider using unbleached drop cloths or old color fast sheets to drape over it.  Store it at least 3 inches from the wall and elevated on non-wood pallets, bricks or blocks to prevent moisture damage. 

Basements are funny places — they hold our cherished memories alongside our junk.  It’s worth the time to safeguard the valuable and useful.  After all, what will your kids put in their basements if you don’t preserve anything to give them?

Nicole Abbott is a professional writer who’s had over 200 articles published.  She’s a business consultant and former psycho-therapist with over 20 years of experience in mental health, business and addiction.  She’s a coach, lecturer, trainer and facilitator.  She has conducted over 200 workshops, trainings, presentations, seminars and college classes. 

Organizing One Room At A Time

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Researches have found for many years now that having a clean home is not only “good” for you, it is good for your health as well.  A clean home seems to reflect the state of some  homeowners health, and even  the EPA – The United States Environmental Protection Agency-believes that the indoor air quality of some homes can be up to five times more polluted than the outdoors. Pollen, dust, mold ,and cleaning chemicals that are found in the home are a constant worry for many families, especially when they have small children or children with respiratory problems. 

To inspire you to get organized and therefore having a cleaner home, follow the links below.

Reduce interruptions before you start organizing

Some of you wake up with good intentions to organize your home. However, by the end of the day you feel dismayed because you could not follow through on those good intentions.

In many cases, it’s interruptions that keep you from accomplishing your organizing goals. The key is to reduce as many interruptions as possible before you start.

If you want to succeed, especially if you’ve taken off work, don’t tell anyone you’re home for the day. If people know you’re available, they are more likely to interrupt you.

Tell your family members who will be home, the set hours you plan to organize. Request they not interrupt you during that time.

If you have young children, ask your spouse, grandma or a friend to care for them during your organizing time. Your family will benefit from your home being more organized. Plus, organizing can also give your relationship a boost. This is a big incentive for a spouse to find something fun to do with the kids.

Peter Bregman’s quote, “The best way to avoid interruptions is to turn them off,” is spot on. Turn off your phone and shut down your computer before you get started. You need quiet time to make decisions regarding your possessions and to process the emotions that often surface.

The Pros Reveal Their Personal Organizing Secrets

The term organizing tends to conjure images of color-coded labels, exhaustive filing systems, or strict, Kondo-style minimalism. But the truth is, even the houses of professional organizers aren’t always pristine. “One of the things we get asked most often is whether our own homes actually stay organized or whether our kids destroy them in a split second,” says Clea Shearer, who co-owns organizing company the Home Edit with Joanna Teplin. “Our answer is always the same: Of course our kids destroy it, but if you put simple systems in place, you can get it back to perfection in about ten minutes.” Here, Shearer, Teplin, and another industry pro, Marissa Hagmeyer, a cofounder of organizing service NEAT Method, share the secrets that make organizing a habit, not a chore.

They don’t buy a zillion bins
Yes, vessels are your friends, but don’t think a shopping spree at the Container Store will solve all your problems. Buying the wrong boxes can just add to your clutter. “Most home organization mistakes begin when bins, baskets, and other organizers are purchased before the actual organizing has been completed,” says Hagmeyer. Edit first, and then choose storage strategically. “You must know exactly what you have before the purchasing begins.”

Organizing Your Home Just Got Easier

If you’re like me, there has most likely been a time where you have been attempting to improve and organize your home, only to be met with frustration due to lack of space or a tight budget. It’s an inevitable outcome when there is just so much space within a house to hold all the necessities, hey, even fun and entertaining things, that we have accumulated over the years.

One thing I have been noticing in the homes of my friends who manage their space particularly well have been nifty sliding shelves in their cabinets. Nearly everyone has seen or knows someone with sliding shelves. Often times they’re referred to as rolling shelves, slide out trays, pull out shelves, extending shelves, and the list goes on. But regardless of what you call them, there is no doubt that sliding shelves are an organizational blessing to any home space.

With simple installation, sliding shelves can be the instant and unexpected tool that will have you saying, “Who knew I had all this space?” Shelves That Slide are the number one- Tucson trusted pull out shelf company that is here to answer all of your home organization needs.


Keeping Your Basement Dry This Summer

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Our home basement is finished, and have no leaks.  But, even though there are no visible leaks we still have a humidifier in the basement to keep the humidity low.  The air seems cleaner, and the water collected every day reminds us that having a humidifier in the basement is a good thing. Keeping your basement dry and your humidifier working can ensure that your family will enjoy a dry basement where the children can play, and you will have no worries about the accumulation of mold or the humidity levels.

For more about tips to keep your basement dry, follow the links below.

To prevent rot and mold behind your home’s brick walls, make sure the weep holes are not blocked

I live in a brick townhouse. In the back, there is a patio door leading to a concrete deck. The patio door sits on top of some brickwork. I’m trying to make sure the patio door is all sealed up, keeping out any and all moisture. I’ve noticed what seem to be round weep holes along the very bottom of the brickwork. I would like to plug them with some mortar to keep the moisture level down. Will this do any harm? What purpose do the weep holes serve?— Todd J., Newport News, Va.

Whatever you do, do not fill those weep holes. They’re an integral part of the drainage system to keep water from building up behind the brick. If allowed to contact any untreated lumber, this water will cause serious wood rot, mold and, eventually, structural problems with your home.

Allow me to explain the dynamics of brick walls, brick veneer and rain, and you’ll be able to do a fantastic job of protecting everything behind the brick.

Brick walls leak water. They have always leaked water. Builders and masons from hundreds of years ago knew this and developed a set of best practices to ensure that their brick buildings did not fall apart.

Sadly, for years, lots of this information was handed down by word of mouth. To add insult to injury, not all brick masons today are required to learn all the history about brick construction. If they had a better understanding of what’s going on, they’d be able to do a better job of preventing water infiltration.

Drain in slab floor might be salvageable without breaking concrete

Q. Our house has concrete slab floors, no basement or crawl. Our air conditioner and water softener used to drain to an opening in the floor in the utility closet, but the drain is stopped up. I was told I would have to break the concrete floor to fix the drain and am hoping you might be able to give me some ideas to fix this without taking out the floor.

A. A stopped-up drain can often be cleaned using a plumber’s snake. The drainpipe may have a simple 90-degree bend or there may be a P-trap under the floor if the drain is connected to a sanitary sewer system. It takes a little more shoving and turning if there is a P-trap. If there is a blockage in the pipe, the plumber’s snake will either break up the blockage or push it past the bends in the drainpipe and into the main sewer or drain line. When you remove the plumber’s snake there may be debris attached to the snake, so have a waste can or newspapers handy to clean the snake.

I strongly recommend using rubber gloves and eye protection. In older homes with cast-iron drains, the drainpipe may have collapsed and can no longer be used. If this happens you can use a lift pump to drain the condensate from the air conditioner. The pump has a small reservoir and a float switch that comes on when the reservoir is full. The pump can be drained to a washing machine drain, a sink in the laundry or directly to the yard.

7 Signs You Need a Dehumidifier

If you have a home that seems to have a dampness problem, it might be time to look for a dehumidifier. When excess moisture is detected in your home, first you should figure out the cause, then take steps to remedy the problem. Here, we’ll look at seven signs that indicate you might need a dehumidifier.

1. Mold spots on the ceiling or corners

If you notice mold anywhere in your house, it is generally a sign of excess humidity and time to get the best dehumidifier you can find. Bathrooms can’t air out steam and excess humidity, making them prime areas for mold to grow. It can grow on walls, ceilings, or around toilets and showers. For mold to affect your breathing you don’t even have to see it — it just has to be in your house. Try running the fan in your bathroom after each shower and work on keeping your ventilation system clean.

Small mold patches are a problem because they can quickly spread. They usually appear in clusters of small black spots but can also be gray brown or green in color. Mycotoxins, which come from toxic molds, can actually cause respiratory problems, inflammation, and mental impairment.


Taking Care of Your Basement and Your Finances

pioneer (13)Unhappy customers are always more than willing to post a bad comment on a company’s Facebook page, or a bad review someplace else.  They have reason sometimes, but if you are doing a project where signing contracts is involved, doing research about the company and the products you are buying pays off. Those unhappy customers are unhappy for a reason, and although their comments may be exaggerated, maybe there is a grain of truth there. The BBB is an excellent place to check a business credibility, and although you should not inherently trust the BBB, that’s a good place to start. Trust your instincts as well if you believe there is something not quite truthful about the salesperson sales pitch, it is your money after all. Take care of it!

Analyzing basement cracks, shifts

In the last couple of articles we have been discussing what I see and what you see when looking at the same area or item in a house. We have referred to this as “double vision.”

In the past articles, we have spent time looking at the exterior of the house, the property, the garage and attic.

Today, lets go down into the basement and see if we still experience “double vision” here.

I always look forward to going down into the basement because usually it tells me more about the house than any other area. If the basement is finished off into a living space, it is more difficult to observe the systems, but on the other hand it tells us about the past owner’s mentality as it relates to making improvements. Finished basements typically are done by someone other than the original builder, often show semi-professional workmanship and they have shortcomings and issues.

In most cases, however, the basement is unfinished, but often it is full of boxes, tools, exercise equipment and old furnishings. Many people enter this area, grab their forehead and say, “Where do I start?” Well, let me give you a tip on how to get started.

Judge criticizes Green contractor convicted of bilking elderly Copley couple

A judge blasted a Green man convicted of white-collar crime after he attempted to hide his face from a newspaper photographer during his sentencing hearing on Wednesday.

“You’re a convicted felon,” Summit County Common Pleas Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands reminded Allan Vertucci, 41, who in January was found guilty by a jury of bilking an elderly Copley Township woman and her now-deceased husband out of $80,000.

Rowlands said Vertucci’s response to a Beacon Journal photographer snapping pictures showed he had no remorse for the couple or their ordeal, which left them bankrupt.

“This is a case devoid of one iota of remorse. I understand Mr. Vertucci maintains his innocence, and that’s his right, but to not even express sadness,” Rowlands said. “Mr. Vertucci is sitting here like he’s angry at the world.”

Rowlands was scheduled to sentence Vertucci on Wednesday. She also would have imposed restitution so the elderly woman could be repaid the money taken from her.

Ways to spot and stop basement water problems

Water damage. Until they’ve experienced it, homeowners tend not to keep it top of mind.

But it’s something everyone should be looking for in the basement of their home – or a home they’re thinking of purchasing.


If left unchecked, water can cause significant damage to the foundation, as well as harmful mold buildup.

As a result, it pays to know the signs that water is infiltrating a basement and how to remediate it.

“There are a few telltale signs I look for when I enter a basement,” said Bob Cunliffe, a basement waterproofing contractor who owns Basement Medics in New Hope, Pa., with his son Ryan. “The first is freshly painted walls.”

“There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with painted walls, but it could be a way to cover up a problem,” he said.

Next, he said he looks for stains on walls or a white powdery substance on block walls called efflorescence. The powder is mineral deposits and a sign that water is pushing its way through the block – or once did.

Lastly, Cunliffe said to be on the lookout for cracking.



References – the Consumer’s Secret Weapon

pioneer (6)In the digital world of Angie’s List, Yelp and Google Reviews, you don’t need to actually call people and check 3 references anymore.  It’s outdated and old school – besides they’re not going to say anything useful anyway.  No contractor would give references for someone who’d say something bad about them.  Right?

Nope, that’s wrong.  Most consumers don’t understand that live references are their secret weapon in the fight to find a good contractor.  While digital reviews are a good place to begin, they’re no substitute for talking to people.  They’re easier, but not better.  Use the following questions as a place to start and modify them to fit your situation.

1. What did the contractor do for you and did you like the outcome?

Be sure to compare the size of your project with the references’ project.  Contractors often overstate their experience.  If your remodel is major it’s important to know if he’s only done small ones. 

2a. Did you make changes and how did he handle them?                                                                2b. Did you have problems and how did he handle them?

Most projects have changes and problems, and the bigger they are the more they have.  Did he handle them in timely manner and with civility? 

3. What was your biggest positive and negative about the experience?

4. What were the crew/subcontractors like?

You want a good fit for your household, personality and project – be sure to ask follow up questions that are important to you.  (Did they show up on time?  How did they treat the kids and pets?  Was there a crew chief, if so what was he like?  How well did they clean up?  Did you feel comfortable leaving them in the house alone?)

5. Was there any trouble with the paper work (contracts, permits, licenses, etc)?

6. Were you happy with the contractor’s level of communication?

Again, look for what you expect and compare it to the reference’s experience.  (Did he give regular updates or only when there was a problem?  Did you hear from the foreman, contractor or office person?  How did he respond to questions and concerns?)

7. Did your job come in on time and according to budget?  If not, why not?

Look for patterns: was he chronically late, did he ask for advances, was he juggling several jobs at once, did he make a lot of excuses for poor work or work not done.

8. Did you get the results he promised and you expected?  If not, why not?

9. Would you hire this person again?  Why?

Just asking for references can separate the good contractors from the bad – say, “I want 3 references and be warned, I will contact them”.  You’ll be amazed at how many won’t follow through.  If the contractor is too disorganized to provide them or can’t find 3 people to vouch for his work you don’t want him for your project.

Unfortunately, there seem to be more incompetent contractors out there than competent ones.  Getting and calling references is a secret weapon you can use to increase the odds that you’ll find the capable one.  You’ll be surprised at what people will tell you.  I once had a man tell me, “I only agreed to be a reference for this guy so I could tell people how crooked he is.”

Nicole Abbott is a professional writer who’s had over 150 articles published.  She’s a business consultant and former psycho-therapist with over 20 years of experience in mental health, business and addiction.  She’s a coach, lecturer, trainer and facilitator.  She has conducted over 200 workshops, trainings, presentations, seminars and college classes.

Home Renovation Projects That Make Sense

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Springtime is for many homeowners the best time to start a new home improvement project.  The kind of home improvement they wish to do is entirely up to the owner of the home regardless whether it makes sense or not.  Budget issues, and the ROI the project brings do not matter if the home owner is set to do a home improvement project for their home.  If you are still wondering whether new windows versus a new garage door matters, read the article below to find more information about what home improvements will give you the best ROI.

Home renovation projects that can pay off in a big way

Spring is a peak time for home buying. And for sellers, it’s all about making their house stand out.

A recent survey from the National Association of Realtors showed that upgrades to the kitchen, bathroom and new wood flooring appeal to potential buyers.

But even cheaper and less time-consuming projects can pay off, often in areas you may least expect — the attic (insulation), the garage door, or even redoing your entry way.

“Some of the projects that have the biggest bang for the buck are these really inexpensive projects,” CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger told “CBS This Morning” Thursday. “These are projects that can really help sell the house.”

These types of renovations can “recoup a lot money” when selling your home.

By comparison, Remodeling Magazine found a new additional bathroom only returns a little more than half of your investment.

The idea of a new pool, Schlesinger said, is a “no-no,” because many people with children do not want to deal with the liability. Sun rooms, she said, are also a bad idea.

Crafty ways to tackle home maintenance projects: Part 2

According to the MI Money Health website, homeowners should set aside at least 3 percent of the value of their home for home maintenance each year. As the cold weather goes away and the spring rains begin to pour, it is a good idea to get outside and do some inspection.

  • Look around the yard for standing water left over from the snow melt.
  • Clean up the yard to make sure no sharp items or other hazards have not been uncovered.
  • Drain your hoses and check for cracks.
  • Take a look up and see if there are cracked or dangerous limbs.
  • Look at the shingles and vents on the roof and check for signs of winter damage.
  • Check your siding and paint for chips and cracks.

You might want to bring out a clip board and take notes or make a to-do list. You may uncover problems now that if not fixed will lead to great expense later.

According to the Healthy Homes Maintenance Checklist found on the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website, maintaining a home that is dry, clean, well-ventilated, free from contaminants, pest-free, safe and well-maintained is a healthy home. Maintaining your home can lead to financial health as well. According to this Michigan State University Extension article, the first step toward financial well-being is to manage your money.

Will a Personal Loan Fund Your Home Repair Project?

The first day of spring is March 20, which means the days are growing longer and summer isn’t too far behind. While many across the country are still battling ice and snow, soon the weather will warm up and thoughts will turn toward outdoor activities. Some people might start planning vacations, but others might want to turn their focus toward their home. If you own a house, chances are there are improvements or additions you’d like to see made. You might be putting them off until you have the money or the time is right, but why not make your dream home repair project a reality this year with the help of apersonal loan?

Personal loans aren’t just for dealing with debt

Although a personal loan can be a great help to those who need to consolidate debt or pay off medical or other emergency expenses, that isn’t the only function it can serve. Although it isn’t necessarily a wise idea to take out a loan for something frivolous or to go on a lavish vacation, you could be saving money by taking care of necessary home repairs now — such as replacing your drafty windows — which could be adding up to unrealized costs, such as higher energy bills. And beyond personal savings, certain home repair projects that upgrade your home to be more energy efficient can not only be a help to the environment but also make your household eligible for certain tax credits.


Is Your Unleveled Driveway Hurting Your Home?

pioneer (1)An unleveled driveway can be harmful to the foundation of your home and basement.  In the winter months, snow left around the foundation of your home can seep into your basement when it melts, and do damage to the walls, foundation and floors of your home.  In the spring time, rain accumulated and left unattended because of an unleveled driveway can easily find its way to the basement, and cause damage there as well.  We know clean gutters help the water flow easily, and hopefully away from the foundation of our homes, but  many of us don’t realize  that an unleveled  driveway can be harmful to our basement as well.

For more information about this topic, follow the links below.

Does your finished basement have seepage? Does water find a way in, and make you wonder if you need foundation repair?

A wet basement can be a homeowner’s nightmare.

From a finished basement that’s soaked to an unfinished basement with persistent leaks or dampness — water is no friend to your home.

If you’ve experienced leaking walls, floors or cracks in your home’s basement, it’s likely you need the help of an experienced basement waterproofing contractor to devise a basement solution.

But you’ll quickly find there are a variety of choices in basement waterproofing repairs or systems designed to tackle the problem, as well as opinions about which one is the most effective.

How’s the water getting in the basement?

If you’re noticing water in your basement, investigating the solution should start outside your home. Make sure all your home’s gutters, downspouts or other drainage systems are working effectively and diverting water away from the home.

The grade of soil around the foundation should encourage water to flow away from exterior walls, not toward them.


Top 5 Costly Home Drainage Mistakes

In a recent study, it was determined that 85% of home repair expenses in the United States come fromwater damage, and in particular, larger cities see higher than average incidences of this. Misguided landscape irrigation and uncontrollable runoff is the primary reason for such water damages. Foundation and structure are at greater danger of being damaged and thus needing foundation repair work done and water damage can also threaten the sidewalk and driveway of a property. Luckily there is a solution, and much of the damage caused by uncontrolled water can be prevented by minor fixes. The following are some of the issues uncontrolled water can cause:

  • Damage to concrete and asphalt
  • Damage to foundation and structure
  • Deterioration of building materials
  • Erosion
  • Insects, spiders, reptiles and rodents
  • Mold growing
  • Wood rot


Basement Waterproofing and Foundation Repair

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Ensuring a dry basement for the enjoyment of your family, for storage, or to simply keep it dry for health issues means being vigilant about the state of your basement walls and  foundation.   To ensure you have a dry basement inspect your home for signs of water after a  storm, and after the cold winter for signs of seepage.  Here are 3 reasons why water find its way to the basement of your home.

  1. Cracks in the foundation of your home can lead water to continually seeped into the basement.  A small crack can  leave you with a big problem if you are not vigilant, and let those cracks become bigger.  Checking the walls, floor and foundation of your home yearly can alert you if you have a problem.
  2. Keeping the gutters clean of debris can help the water move freely, and away from the foundation of your home.
  3. Uneven driveways, or uneven soil can let the water sit around the foundation of your home, and find its way to the basement.  Flat flower beds, or soil slopping away from your foundation should keep water from seeping  into the home.

If you need a free consultation for waterproofing your basement, give us a call,  and we will happy to meet with you.  Check our BBB rating by following the link below.

For more about this topic follow the link below.

What to do with cracked concrete, popping planks and cold garage floors

Frigid weather doesn’t just leave cracks in your skin and emotional well-being. It does a good job of ripping up your flooring, too.

“Humidity levels drop significantly in the winter due to the colder, denser air around us,” says Bryan Baeumler. “If you start to notice gaps opening up in your hardwood flooring, baseboard and trim, even cabinets, that’s a good sign your home is too dry. The humidity in your home should be between 35 to 40 per cent. Any lower and everything starts to shrink. Make sure you’re in the sweet spot by monitoring humidity levels, and installing a humidifier and dehumidifier.”

Thankfully, the star of HGTV’s Leave it to Bryan and Canada’s Handyman Challengehas the advice you need to mend your winter wounds. This week, he answers Star readers’ questions on cracked concrete, popping planks and cold garage floors.

Hi, Bryan. We recently looked at a house (for sale) with the garage concrete pad full of gaping, criss-crossing, jagged cracks. The owners had moved everything out of the basement to the garage and would not move things in the garage for a better look. Also, the basement was newly finished and one wall had a double wall. So there was the concrete foundation exterior wall, and then another wall inside — with a space of over a foot between the two walls. The interior wall was the studs and framing and drywall. Why would this be done?



Homeowner’s Insurance Policies: Do You Have Good Coverage For Your Home?

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Have you checked your homeowners’ insurance policy lately? Many homeowners-including myself-believe we have enough coverage to withstand a catastrophe in our homes.  The reality though is far from it.  There are many insurance companies that can sell you flood insurance for your home, but you have to make certain you ask and pay for that type of insurance, or chances are you will have none.  Looking over the coverage your home has, and making changes or adding other types of coverage to your policy may be a good decision to make.

For more about this and other stories, follow the links below.

 Winter damage control: Know your homeowner’s insurance policy

Insurance professionals say it’s important to know what is covered under your homeowner’s policy as snow, ice and subzero temperatures are often linked to winter weather damage.

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller recommends that consumers review their homeowners insurance ahead of time to make sure they are prepared.

“Most standard homeowners insurance policies should cover damage to homes typically caused by winter storms, such as a collapse caused by the weight of ice or snow, or water damage caused by burst pipes or ice jams in gutters and downspouts, which prevent proper drainage of water,” Miller said.

Homeowners policies should also cover damage from fallen trees or tree limbs. Miller suggests that consumers check with their insurer before removing fallen trees, to see if the cost is covered.

Mark Luba, marketing director at Baker’s Waterproofing and Foundation Repair in Bentleyville, said he’s received an increase in the number of calls for this time of year from people living in the southern counties it services.

How to protect your pipes from freezing

It’s a job that’s been the butt of jokes (pun intended), but when the temperatures crash below zero this weekend, no one will be joking around about plumbers.

Freezing temperatures are a water pipe’s nemesis, which is why I always tell my clients: Ice expands, pipes don’t. Every winter some 250,000 families in the United States see at least one room in their home damaged by water pipes freezing and breaking, according to State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.

As freezing water expands, it causes the pressure inside the pipes to increase, often resulting in a pipe break. A pipe will not usually burst at the frozen part, but somewhere between the freeze and the faucet.The ice blockage can cause thousands of pounds of water pressure to build up. Just one pipe burst can unleash gallons of water to run behind walls and ceilings, causing thousands of dollars in damage to your house and personal items. The good news is that many home insurance policies will cover the damage.

The ice dam cometh. Are you ready?

After the winter we had, our motto became: “Ice dams be damned.”

My husband and I spent the summer with a parade of roofers and insulation contractors trying to figure out how to prevent our home from being ringed by icicles again.
We had icicles everywhere: the front, the side, the back. They stretched from 2 inches to two stories tall. One time I got so annoyed at one that I tried to knock it down with a snow shovel. I nearly got speared. Don’t ever try this at home.But the icicles weren’t just a nuisance. They were destroying the house. They were the telltale signs of ice dams, which form during periods of heavy snowfall followed by a stretch of freezing temperatures.

The heat in your house rises and escapes through the attic, and it melts the snow on your roof. When the melted water flows to the edge of your roof, it will refreeze and form icicles. If this keeps happening, your house will probably develop an ice dam. That means water will back up under the shingles and then try to find a way out, usually inside your house.