Now, I am no pet expert, but I do have a pet … specifically a dog. We have owned dogs my entire life. They are wonderful animals and when I think back on all the dogs we had in our family, I just smile. Our first dog was Star, a white German Shepherd who was big, smart, protective and beautiful. [Read more...]
Although I’m not an art collector, guests to my home love looking at what’s hanging on the walls. Call it the Manfredini Wall of Fame.
Right by our main staircase, my wife and I have hung every conceivable family photo in a patchwork of frames that just keeps growing. We have photos of our four children at various ages, of course, along with photos of ourselves—including those back when I had a full head of hair and a few less pounds. Aunts and uncles look out on everyone, along with grandparents from both sides. And there in the center is the World War I Italian Calvary photo of my great-grandfather Luigi, circled with all of his medals from the war. The family gallery really has become a focal point in our home and everyone rushes to check out the new additions since their last visit. [Read more...]
With just a few days left for your holiday shopping, I have three gift ideas for the handy person in your life. These are great for contractors and DIYers. From all of us at HouseSmarts, we hope you and your family have a wonderful and blessed New Year.
This morning on The Today Show with my girls Kathie Lee and Hoda we answered viewer questions in another segment of Ask Lou. There is only so much time on TV when it comes to giving advice so here is more information on what we talked about.
Replacing a Light Fixture
Whenever you are working with electricity you need to have a healthy respect for the potential harm that may occur. Always turn off the breaker to the fixture you are going to be working on. Use an electrical tester to confirm that the power is off. Then remove the screws that are holding the fixture in place. We showed wall scones that are usually held in place by one center nut or two screws. Once those are off you gently pull the fixture out from the wall. You will see two wires, again typically a white wire and a colored wire. The white is the neutral and the colored wire is the hot. Unscrew the wire nuts that are twisted to keep the wires together and then the fixture will be free. Your new fixture will also have two wires and those will get attached with the wire nuts to the wires coming out of the electrical box. The white to the white and the colored wire to the colored wire. Then carefully place the new fixture back on the wall and attach it. Turn the breaker back on and then test the light. This is general information and in no way a definitive step by step – only a general look at what it takes. Again, if this sounds like too much then please hire a licensed qualified electrician to do the work.
Cleaning Your Dryer Vent
This is something that needs to be done at least twice a year. The build up of lint in a dryer can cause a fire. Unplug the dryer and then remove the hose from the back of the unit. Use a flexible brush and vacuum to remove all the lint from behind the machine and in the hose itself. You also need to clear the lint from the vent that is on the outside of the house. Try and reach as far into the vent pipe as possible. Before you reattach everything consider a safety device called Lint Alert. This plugs into the receptacle and then you plug the dryer into it. There is a sensor you place in the vent pipe and if the airflow gets reduced an alarm will sound to remind you to clean it all out.
Getting More Power Out of Your Shower
90% of the time the reason your shower is not strong enough is because the shower head has so much calcium build up that the water just won’t flow through it. You can either take yours down and soak it in a good cleaner like CLR or Lime-A-Way or replace the shower head all together. The trick is to use some painter’s tape around the head and shower arm before you grab it with a pair of slip joint pliers. Also when you put the shower head back on make sure you use some thread tape so it won’t leak after it’s screwed it back on.
Fixing a Burn Mark in Your Carpeting
This is a fix that really works and it starts with a product called Tear Mender. This is like a sewing machine in a bottle and it works on any porous material like denim, cotton and even carpet threads. Cut some threads from an area you will not see. Apply some Tear Mender to the damaged area and then carefully place the loose threads. In a few minutes it will bond. Run your hand over the area to even it out and you will not see the damage again!
Now is the time to eliminate the drafts in your home before the temperatures drop too low. Windows and doors are the areas of greatest heat loss in our homes. Applying some caulking to the exterior of the window frames and using window film kits can, and will, make your home more comfortable and lower your energy costs this winter. [Read more...]
In today’s day and age, we are all trying to make our everyday living simpler. For most of us the place to start is at home. Here are some of my favorite “latest and greatest” products to make your home smarter, more efficient and easier to manage. [Read more...]
We think that bugs are an issue in the spring and summer months but they like to hang around well past the first frost. At our house, we are overflowing with tomatoes from our bountiful plants (my wife makes a mean bruschetta, yum) but along with me loving the tomatoes, so do the fruit flies. While you can find all kinds of home remedies online, the tried and true for us has been the Terro Fruit Fly Trap. Now, I have nothing to do with this company, but their products do work. Their trap looks like a little apple. You squirt the sweet juice inside and the flies go in for a swim and never come out. It takes about a week but it will solve your issue. As for the rest of your home, you can treat nooks and crannies with Raid Maxx Bug Barrier. This non-odor spray will help control all sorts of bugs, from roaches to ants, and it can be used inside or out. Thank you for watching our show! If you have any suggestions as to what you would like us to cover just send me an email at email@example.com and if you have a question about our home just shoot me an email as well. I will get back to you as quickly as I can.
Well, summer is coming to an end and it is such a bummer. However, if you have children who are still in school, like we do, September can be a wonderful month. Don’t get me wrong – I loved spending time with our kids this summer but it’s time for them to go back to school. That also means you will be starting to notice a lot of the wear and tear your home received over the last three months. It can be overwhelming when you look at all the patching, painting and repairs that need to be completed. Don’t worry! It will all get done. The best thing to do is make a list and figure out what you want to tackle first. Then, chip away at that list over the next three weekends. As for all that painting that needs to be done, you can make pretty quick work of that project using one of the many paint-and-primers-in-one that are on the market now – especially if you are going to re-coat in the same color. You should still wash the walls down with a damp rag and mild cleaner like Spic-and-Span or Pine-Sol. Then, you can apply the new coating. One of our sponsors here on HouseSmarts, and a company I have worked with for the last 11 years is Ace Hardware. They have developed a paint-and-primer-in-one called Clark and Kensington. I have used the paint on several projects and it is top-notch stuff, both in application and color. Have a great fall and thank you for watching HouseSmarts!
Do you know when people call the plumber to replace their sump pump? AFTER it fails in a rain storm and the basement floods! Do you know when people buy back up generators? AFTER the power goes out and they end up paying top dollar! My point is, keeping your home maintained and doing those projects when you absolutely don’t need them done saves you both headaches and dollars. Let’s talk about leaf protection for your gutters. While this is what’s on our minds in the fall, the best time to solve this problem is now during the summer months. You will get a better deal, have more time to get the job done and not have to wait so long to get the job completed.
There are a lot of choices, both professionally installed and do-it-yourself types. Here are a few to consider: