Check out this great do-it-yourself video by Jeff Patterson, the Home Repair Tutor.

You can subscribe to his YouTube page here.

Keeping your tile and grout looking brand new

Tile is a durable and beautiful way to upgrade your home. The choices nowadays are endless. Like everything else, however, tile gets dirty. And even dirtier still, are the grout lines between the tiles. Whether it is in the shower or on the kitchen counter or in the entry way floor, tile and grout have to be cleaned regularly or it gets to looking pretty bad.

Grout maintenance can be done by you, the homeowner, or you can hire it out. There are numerous companies out there employing various methods. One of the advantages to hiring one of these companies is they offer to seal the grout after they clean it. This will go a very long way to keeping it looking good for a long time. 

For those of you into the DIY movement, or who are simply watching the pennies there are several methods that will work well. 

First off all, you will need to assemble your supplies: rubber gloves, a bucket, a hard bristle scrub brush, several scrub sponges, and clean cloths for drying.

Next, you'll need to purchase the materials you plan to use that go with the elbow grease you will use. 

Here are several to consider:

  • 1/2 and 1/2 solution of vinegar and water. Spray on and leave for 15 minutes. Scrub, rinse and dry.
  • 3 parts baking soda to 1 part hydrogen peroxide. Mix to make a paste. Apply it and leave on for 30 - 60 minutes. Scrub, rinse and dry.
  • Apply baking soda directly to the grout and then spray on hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice. Let sit for 30 minutes and then scrub, rinse and dry.
  • Combine 1/4 cup OxiClean™ (designed to get your cloths extra clean) to 2 cups of warm water. Leave it on for 15 minutes, scrub and rinse.

Air Conditioning Repair Spring Hill

Summer is just about here.  It's about to get hot and humid. Whether you are a snow bird getting ready to head back north, or a full-time Floridian looking to stay cool all summer, you need to be prepared. It's time to call out your air conditioner guy. 

What to do when you are planning to be out of the house for some time.

  1. Replace or clean the air intake filters inside the house so that air flows easily.
  2. Consider having your air ducts cleaned out at least once a year.
  3. When you leave the house, set your thermostat to cool at 78 - 80 degrees. Keeping your house at a constant temperature level so it does not become too hot will discourage the growth of molds and mildew. 
  4. Place thermal window inserts inside your windows, especially the west facing windows as they will get the hottest afternoon exposure.  These inserts can be purchased online or at most big box home improvement centers.

One more step you can take to secure your home for the summer is to consider hiring a home minder.  Home minders are individuals and companies who will check on your house at regular

If you are a snow bird, or simply taking a summer vacation, there are steps you will want to take to keep your home environment pristine while you are gone. 

  1. The very first thing to do is to call a reputable air conditioning installer or repair service company and set up an appointment to have your HVAC system checked out. For what is usually a reasonable fee, they can check out your unit for wear and tear and perform minor maintenance checks. Where air conditioning is concerned, being proactive is the best choice.  
  2. intervals to make sure all the systems are functioning properly.  They will also notify you right away if something has gone wrong, like a flood or a break in.  

Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

Lower interest rates mean more people are ready to buy.

Are you thinking about putting your home up for sale?

If you are, then you will want to present it at its best

so you can get top dollar for it.

Here are my recommendations:

  1. Declutter - Move stuff out of your house to free up space. I know you love your pottery collection but if it is scattered all over the house and taking over every square inch of space, you need to pack it up and store it for now. Decluttering your house will show it to its best potential; others will be able to picture themselves living there. Consider renting a storage unit for three months and putting any extra furniture, clothes and boxes in it while your house is on the market. 
  2. Make repairs - If this is possible to do, meaning you have the time and the finances to do it, then make repairs on your home. Cracked or dirty tile? Repair it. (See article above on tile and grout.) Broken kitchen cabinet? Fix or replace it. Anything that is visible that can be fixed, should be fixed. 
  3. Clean - Of course you will want to show a clean house. However, this goes beyond just making sure there are no dirty dishes in the sink. Pay attention to the smallest details. Clean the oven. Clean the baseboards. Clean the window blinds. Wash or dryclean the curtains. If you have pets, make sure their bedding is fresh and clean. Make best efforts to deal with pet odors. Even potential buyers with their own pets will not want to encounter pet smells.
  4. Landscape - Apply all three tasks above to the outside of your home. Declutter by trimming back overgrown bushes and removing undergrowth from around trees. Repair fences, stone or brick work, water features and pathways. Clean paths, sidewalks and patio spaces. 
  5. Upgrade - This takes it to the next step. This involves putting a bit more investment into your house to increase its appeal to potential buyers. Items to add or replace in your home could be: new windows, landscaping, new appliances, refacing the kitchen cabinets


In my last post, I wrote about the importance of getting your home ready to sell. I touched on several very important points if you want to be able to command top dollar for your home when you put it on the market. I want to dive a bit deeper into a few of these suggestions. Today, I'm going to talk about landscaping.

What is the first thing people notice about your house? The outside, of course! It is the first thing they see. Are you able to step back and made an honest assessment of the appearance of your house? If you aren't sure, then ask your real estate agent or a friend you know will be honest with you. Ask for details. You will be surprized what the smallest changes can do to make your home more inviting.

First, let's spend a moment talking about the house itself. Few people want to go to the time and expense of repainting their entire house. If the paint on your house is in resonable condition, then check these other items to make sure your house is bringing its A game.

  • Rust gutters or downspouts? Paint them.
  • Damaged or chipped trim and/or shutters? Repair and paint. 
  • Front door? Consider a fresh coat of paint. Think about changing the color of the front door to make the house more eyecatching.  If you're not sure what color to choose, look at the color coded cards put out by the paint manufacturers to see what they have formulated to go together. Try Benjamin Moore paints or Behr paints.
  • Where is the garbage can? Put it out of sight.

On to the landscaping itself.  A good way to approach this is to thing of your yard as rooms. There is the front room (the front yard), the family room/kitchen (the back yard) and the side yards. Needless to say, the front yard is the most important and this is where you will get the most bang for your buck. 

What covers the largest area of your front yard? Most homes have lawn. You want to get your lawn looking the best you can. Weed it, aerate it, fertilize it, whatever it takes to get it looking green and good. 

Next, are the base plantings. Think of the lawn as your flooring and these plants as the furniture. This would include trees, hedges, beds or plant groupings. Prune trees and large shrubs so they enhance the view of the house. Trim hedges. Weed and mulch around all plantings. 

Now think about the finishing touches to your yard. This would be like accessorizing your living room with lamps, art work and pillows. Here are some tips for doing this:

  • House numbers: replace old ones with new, larger numbers in a shiny metal or black so they really stand out. 
  • Place a bench or a couple wicker chairs on the porch if there is room.
  • Group some pots of varying sizes near the front door. Plant with colorful hostas or seasonal flowers.
  • Install a colorful welcome mat.

For the backyard, you will want to begin the same way. What is the base layer of your backyard. Have a pool surrounded by cement? No problem. Repair and clean any surfaces. Repair or replace your outdoor furniture. Sometimes, colorful new cushions are all it takes. Install pots of colorful flowers. Buy a new cover for the barbecue. Basically, anything you did for the front yard applies to the backyard. Make the space appealing and welcoming so people will want to be there. 

Window Replacement

My focus as of late has been all about getting your house ready to put on the market. You want it to look your best. However, there are several upgrades to your home that are long-lasting upgrades that will be worth every penny (and sometimes more due to increased energy efficiency). These items are generally big ticket items but you will get a full return on your money and they will enhance your quality of life while you remain in the home. Do the following to increase the value and quality of your home:

  • Put on a new roof.
  • Remodel the kitchen.
  • Remodel the bathrooms.
  • Replace the windows.

Today I specifically want to address replacing windows. This is always a good idea if the windows are warped, broken, ugly metal, just ugly, non-functioning, ugly as get the idea. There are exceptions to this. If your house has historical merit and the existing windows can be repaired, it is worth it to do so, especially if your home is located in a prestigious area or in an area that is seeing renewal or gentrification. That said, let's talk more about getting those old windows replaced.

First of all, understand that I'm not talking about the glass window panes. When I say 'window replacement', I mean the entire window, frame and all. There are two ways this can be done:

  1. Overlay: In this method, a new window unit--usually vinyl--is installed over the old window frame. The opening will now be just slightly smaller but this is usually not significant.
  2. Complete: The entire window, frame and all is removed leaving a raw opening in the side of the house. A complete unit is installed in the old space. This is often necessary when windows of odd sizes are being replaced or a window opening is being resized. Also, must be redone when there is water or termite damage in the house and repairs must be made in the location of the window opening. 

You will want to consult with a contractor and get bids and recommendations for the type of work you will need for your particular dwelling.

Next, you will need to purchase the windows. You can purchase off the shelf at a big box hardward store if you have standard size windows and no specific size requirements. There is usually a limited selection but if white vinyl suits you and suits the job you need done, then this can be the way to go. 

Your other option, and in my opinion, your best option when replacing windows on a whole house, is to order custom made. Even if most or all of your windows are similar and pretty much standard size, each window will be made to exactly fit the opening for which it is intended. Houses shift and settle with age and window openings are hardly ever exactly square. Your windows are just going to fit better and be more energy efficient if they are premeasured.

There are other advantages to ordering custom made windows, namely, CHOICE. You can choose everything about your new windows: the type of frame, the material of the frame, how many panes of glass, where the handles go, the type of glass...and on and on. The choices offered by window manufacturers today are nothing short of staggering. 

Consider this: Let's say you've owned your house for 25 years. The kids are grown and you no longer need a 4000 sq. ft. home with 4 bedrooms. You want to downsize.

Your neighborhood has always been a solid one, however, in recent years, new and younger families have started to buy in the area. They are expecting these larger homes to have more and better upgrades. 

Let's also say that your house looks pretty good. Nice yard, strong fence, roof replaced five years ago; you've kept it up. You know, however, you need to do a few things to bring it up and make it competitive. The house has the old fashioned aluminum windows. Some of the windows have never worked well, like the window in the bathroom. It's too small and located too low on the wall. This would be the time to upgrade. 

Taking your budget into account, here are two ways to approach this:

  • Modest Budget: purchase the highest rated energy efficient windows you can afford and go for a clean, uniform look throughout the house.
  • Higher Budget: Do all of the above but also consider purchasing windows for the front of the house to coordinate with the front door. For example, if the door is wood, purchase windows with a wood finish that will match the wood finish on the front door.  Don't be afraid to up color and the quality because this is the first thing everyone sees about your home. Some eyecatching color schemes for front doors and windows are a dark red or teal painted door and black window frames. Or a white or black door with red shutters and white or black window frames. 

There are numerous ways to approach this, as you can tell, but always keep in mind that you have a budget you want to stick to and you will get your money back out of the investment. Good luck!