If you enjoy the occasional fire in your wood-burning fireplace or you heat rooms in your home with a woodstove, there are a few crucial safety tips you should follow before you build your first fire this winter. Fireplaces and chimneys are involved in over 40% of home-heating fires, so take precautions before you strike up a fire to ensure your home and family are safe.
- Clean the chimney – Hire a chimney sweep to clean your chimney before winter to remove soot and debris that have built up in the chimney.
- Assess the chimney for damage and problems – Carefully inspect your chimney for loose bricks, missing mortar and cracks. Check the chimney liner for cracking and deterioration. Have a professional make any necessary repairs.
- Inspect the chimney cap – Your chimney should be covered with a cap fitted with wire-mesh sides. The cap keeps debris, rain, squirrels, birds and other critters from entering the chimney. If your cap is missing, replace it. If it is damaged, repair or replace it.
- Select the right wood – When burning a fire in your fireplace, it is best to burn dense and seasoned hardwoods such as oak that has been split and stored in a dry place. Burning green and soft woods such as pine produces more creosote which builds up in the chimney. (Creosote is a flammable by-product of combustion.)
- Stick with small fires – Build and burn small fires. They produce less smoke and therefore less creosote buildup in the chimney. Also keep in mind, fires that are too big or too hot can crack your chimney. This damage can be expensive to repair.
- Use kindling – When you’re trying to get your fire started, use kindling. It is very dangerous to use flammable liquids to start your fire.
- Protect against embers – It is not uncommon for embers to shoot out of the fireplace. Prevent this from happening by using a mesh metal screen or glass fireplace doors. If you have a woodstove close and secure the door.
Following these tips every winter will help prevent a fireplace accident from happening and keep your family and home safe.
You don’t have to own a money tree or take a month off work to spruce up your home and add some curb appeal. With a little imagination and creativity and a willingness to have fun, these DIY projects will give your home an inviting look and maybe even boost your property value.
- Give the front door a fresh look. With a fresh coat of paint, your home will make a statement to the passers-by on the street. Bright red or a bold hue of blue will give classic Colonial and Cape Cod homes, as well as other styles, a striking look. Likewise, a good cleaning and a fresh coat of varnish will give natural wooden doors an elegant look.
- Remodel your porch. Adding a new porch or remodeling the one you have is like giving your home a facelift. A small porch will accentuate the entry while a full-length porch or wrap-around porch will transform the look of your home and add outdoor living space.
- Enhance your walkways. Be adventurous and try something other than traditional gray concrete walkways. There are all kinds of interesting pavers and stepping stones available at home improvement stores and landscaping centers. Build a walkway with bricks or paving stones and add a touch of enchantment and charm to your home.
- Add a little life. Dress up your walkways, porch and entry with flowers and plants. Simple touches such as hanging flower baskets or ferns on the front porch, window boxes, potted plants on the steps, or a Japanese maple along the sidewalk can make the most ordinary home stand out in any neighborhood.
- Add accent lighting. There are a variety of lighting fixtures that will dramatize your home from dusk to dawn, including solar power lighting. Add carriage lamps by the garage, decorative lighting on the covered front porch or landscape lighting along the driveway and walkways. You’ll give your home curb appeal from the dark street and increase safety.
By tackling just one or all of these curb appeal enhances, you’ll make your home stand out in the neighborhood and deliver a welcoming look to all who enter.
Is your garage a piled mess of items you need to store but don’t have a designated space for them? Do you wish you could one day park the car in the garage again? If so, it is time to organize your garage. The best way to do this is to clean out the entire garage and install storage cabinets and other accessories to help you stay organized.
Once you clean out the garage, sort items into two piles – the items you want to keep and the items you no longer need. Now determine if the things you are getting rid of can be recycled, donated or just thrown away. Next take a look at your “keep” pile. Assess how much storage space you’ll need and what types of storage accessories will best accommodate your belongings. Garage storage cabinets are available in a wide variety of choices so it should be easy to find just the right ones to fit in your garage and accommodate all of your belongings. In addition to cabinets, there are other storage accessories available like shelving units, workbenches and counters that provide extra storage space and even work space.
Install storage cabinets and shelves according to your needs. Be sure to consider locking cabinets for items that you need to keep out of reach of small children such as power tools or harmful chemicals like pesticides. Remember to give the kids some storage space, too. Floor cabinets and shelves at the bottom of the shelving unit are easy-to-access for children allowing them to have a place to story outdoor toys, skateboards and soccer balls. Do you need a workbench for small home repair projects or a lighted counter space for hobbies? Consider all the reasons you’ll use your garage and install all the proper garage furniture and storage accessories.
Once cabinets, shelving units and other storage accessories are installed, store all your belongings in their designated spaces. Each time you use a particular item, return it to the place you got it from. This will help keep the garage floor clear and leave room for you to park the family car.
The House Plan Shop hopes you’ll have a tidy garage in no time. For more information about getting organized, check out our home organization blogs.
Looking for a way to improve your home? The experts at The House Plan Shop recommend building a detached garage. Whether you’ve been thinking about building a detached garage for a while or the idea is new to you, it is important to keep in mind that such an addition to your property will improve the overall function of your home and prove to be valuable. Not only does a garage provide sheltered parking and protection for the family cars, but also it can offer storage space for seasonal items or serve as a workshop or hobby area. Review the list below and find out a few reasons why building a garage will improve your home:
- The primary function of a garage is to store and protect automobiles. An enclosed structure such as a garage can protect the family cars from the elements preventing hail or sun damage. It will also protect your vehicles from falling tree limbs and other debris during thunderstorms. And who wants to scrape frost, ice and sleet of their windows every morning before work throughout the winter months? Don’t forget to consider auto protection from a safety stand point. When your car is parked safely in a locked garage, there is less chance of auto theft or property damage than when it is parked on the driveway on in the street.
- Sometimes, building a garage adds a special workspace in the form of a workshop or a hobby room you might not have space for in your attached garage or in your home. Some garage plans include special spaces like a workshop or craft room in addition to parking bays giving the garage another function in addition to auto storage. Other times, an entire garage can serve as a workshop or a place for hobbies and wood crafts. Garage plans with loft space sometimes allow for the upper level to be finished a usable space such as a home office or sewing room.
- Many people build detached garages to add extra storage space to their homes. In the instance of a 3-car garage, perhaps just two bays are used for parking. The third bay could be used to stash boxes and attic overflow or for storage of the family bikes, outdoor sporting equipment or even the riding mower and other lawn and garden tools. A garage loft plan might offer attic storage for seasonal items like holiday decorations. Other home owners might build a detached garage plan to store motorized items, like ATVS, motorcycles or a golf cart, that do not fit in their attached garages. Storage possibilities are endless with detached garage floor plans.
- Don’t forget about the added value a new detached garage will contribute to your home. When you add a practical and useful structure, such as a garage, to your backyard, it will increase the value of your home. Should you ever have to sell your house, you’ll see a nice return on your investment.
It is easy to see why adding a garage to your home or property will improve its overall function while satisfying your needs for parking, workspace, storage, and value. Furthermore, detached garages are available in a wide range of sizes and architectural styles, ensuring you find the right one to fit on your property and match your home.