Archive for the 'Miscellaneous' Category

Apr 11 2011

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8 Super Spring Cleaning Tips – The House Plan Shop

Cleaning SuppliesIf you keep up with house cleaning chores, the thought of spring cleaning doesn’t have to be so scary. If you perform the daily and weekly touch-ups, spring cleaning is limited to just the extras – the cleaning tasks that only need to be done once a year.

 

1.    Clean the Carpet – In some cases, it is necessary to have your carpet professionally cleaned every 12-18 months to keep up a new carpet’s warranty. If that’s not the case, do it yourself. Rent or buy a professional-style deep carpet cleaner designed for home use. Many leave carpets and rugs dry within about an hour which means you won’t have to inconvenience your family.

2.    Clean under furniture and behind appliances – First enlist someone to help you move big pieces of furniture and pull kitchen appliances away from the wall. Sweep and vacuum the floor under each item and use the vacuum hose to clean under and behind appliances.

3.    Wash windows – Save this chore for a cloudy day. If it is too sunny, the cleaning solution will dry quickly on the glass leaving streaks. Wash inside and out. Have a system. Wipe with vertical strokes inside and horizontal strokes outside. If you do end up with streaks, you’ll know what side of the window needs a little more attention.

4.    Wash door frames, walls and baseboards – These surfaces are easy to overlook on a daily basis, but they deserve a little attention once a year. Just mix a squirt of dishwashing soap with a bucket of warm water and wipe with a sponge. Tough scuff marks, fingerprints and even crayons can be wiped away with the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

5.    Clean sliding glass door tracks – Begin by sweeping or vacuuming the track to remove the large pieces of debris. Scrub the tracks with a toothbrush and soapy water. Wipe clean with a wet sponge.

6.    Clean window treatments – If your curtains can be laundered, take them down and throw them in the washing machine. Be sure to follow the label directions for cleaning. For other windows treatments that cannot be washed, go over them thoroughly with the upholstery attachment on the vacuum.

7.    Dust ceiling fans, light fixtures and light bulbs –  Use a lint-free cloth to dust the glass fixtures and bulbs you can reach. For ceiling fans and other light fixtures that are out of your reach, visit the local home improvement stores. There all many types of tools available to help you reach things that would ordinarily require a ladder.

8.    Clean furniture – Use the upholstery vacuum attachment to clean fabric covered sofas and chairs. Restore smooth leather with the appropriate upholstery cleaner and conditioner. Polish wooden furniture pieces including dining room chairs, the coffee table and end tables.

 

Using these tips as your spring cleaning guide, you’ll be well on your way to a clean and fresh home.  

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Feb 23 2011

Profile Image of Curtis Cadenhead

The House Plan Shop: 6 Reasons to Use a Safe at Home

Home SafesMany people use a home safe to protect valuables from burglars. With home burglaries, burglars generally break into a home and leave within minutes taking all the items that are easily accessible like money, purses, jewelry, small electronics, wallets, guns, and anything else that is easy to “grab and go.” Many of the most commonly stolen items would be inaccessible to burglars if they were securely stored away in a home safe. But other than keeping your valuables safe from criminals, there are a number of other reasons to keep your things locked away in a home safe.

 

Below is a list of other good reasons to use a home safe:

 

1.    Safes are a great place to store prescription medications, especially when they are purchased in large quantities such as a three-month supply.

2.    They are a great place to store valuables and keep them out of the reach of children.

3.    Home safes provide a secure place to store important documents such as passports, health records, insurance policies, bank account information, etc.

4.    Some home safes are large enough to store guns allowing you to have access to your firearms without compromising the safety of the occupants of the home.

5.    Safes can protect important documents and valuables from fire and flooding.

6.    Wall safes offer reliable storage that can be hidden completely out of site.

 

Today’s home safes are available in a variety of models offering convenient entry systems that do not require keys. They come in a range of sizes allowing you to select the one that is right for your needs. With a home safe, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your valuables are securely stored in an easy-to-access place. Think of a home safe as a more convenient safe deposit box because you have 24-hour access.

 

Don’t let a potential burglary at your home become a crime of opportunity. Burglars usually take only the items that are left out in the open and easy to carry. Home safes help prevent “in-and-out” burglaries and deliver an all-purpose, secure containment solution for all your important belongings and documents.

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Feb 02 2011

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The House Plan Shop – 6 Tips to Save Time and Money on Laundry

Filed under Miscellaneous

Washer and Dryer  Plan 025H-0151Nobody loves to do laundry, but we all have to do it. The House Plan Shop recommends these six laundering tips for your next load saving you time and money. We’ve even include a few tips to help keep laundry chores a little more earth-friendly.

 

1.    Clip coupons – It is easy to find discounts on laundry detergent, stain removers and dryer sheets in the weekly coupon circulars. Check out the website of your favorite detergent company for online coupons.

2.    Stop over-laundering – Your clothes only need to be cleaned when they look, feel or smell dirty. Get double use out of your clothes before you wash them. Air out barely worn garments on a hanger and then return them to your closet for another wear.

3.    Measure detergent – Most laundry detergent companies have begun using highly-concentrated formulas for regular and high-efficiency detergents so you may need less detergent than you are used to using. Read the label and carefully measure the detergent for your next load of clothes. Not only does using too much detergent per load waste money, but all the extra detergent leaves a residue on your clothes and washing machine.

4.    Use cold water – When it comes to energy use, most of the energy consumed in laundering is used to heat the water. Many leading detergent companies now produce a cold water formula that does not require the use of hot or warm water for washing. Heavily soiled items as well as bedding and clothing used when sick often require hot or warm water for washing, but they can always be rinsed in cold water.

5.    Select a shorter wash cycle – Slightly soiled garments will only require a short wash cycle to get them clean. This uses less energy and water resulting in lower utility bills.

6.    Do not over-dry – Consider air-drying dark colored clothes. This keeps them looking vibrant, preserves elasticity in stretchy clothes and cuts energy costs. When you use the dryer, use automated settings. Today’s machines have sensors that eliminate over-drying, which can cause garments to shrink and cloth fibers to become brittle.

 

From clipping coupons to washing in cold water and air drying your laundry, these helpful laundering tips are sure to help save time, money and energy.

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Jan 10 2011

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The House Plan Shop: Crash-Testing Residential Construction to Improve Strength and Safety

You’ve heard of the crash-test dummies used to test the safety of automobiles. Home insurance companies recently began using this concept to “crash-test” residential construction. The goal is to provide insight, feedback and concrete evidence about home construction that will help devise new disaster-proof construction practices for home building. Home insurance companies can sponsor a test chamber that simulates severe weather conditions and the effect they have on model houses. For example, tests can simulate Mother Nature’s harshest weather conditions by inflicting gale-force winds, torrential rains, hail, fire and debris. The chief engineer for the Institute for Business and Home Safety, Time Reinhold, says “This is an opportunity to create demand for better construction.” The IBHS lab is designed to subject model homes to simulated weather conditions typical of a Category 2 or Category 3 hurricane such as 140 mph winds produced by fans, hail created by freezing water in different size molds, fire produced by blazing embers (burning mulch hurled by fans), open gas lines and burning shrubs and trees, and rain with up to 8” per hour produced by sprinklers.

 

The IBHS’s test facility debuted in October of 2010 with two test homes side-by-side. One was built to typical building codes used in the Midwest. The other one incorporated structural reinforcements and more durable materials. The results were impressive with the reinforced home suffering only cosmetic damage while the standard-code home collapsed in minutes.

 

The results were clear. It is worth investing in reinforced construction when it comes to durability and safety. For more information about cost and additional details, review this “crash-test” article.

 

Source: Crash-Test Homes Show Value of Better Construction, by Clare Kaufman

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Dec 14 2010

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The House Plan Shop: 8 Holiday Road Trip Travel Tips

Holiday Road Trip Travel TipsIf you are like most of us, you are likely to take at least one road trip during the holiday season to visit family or friends. Whether your road trip takes only a couple hours or a couple days on the road, The House Plan Shop believes these travel safety tips will help ensure a successful road trip this holiday season.

 

1.    Give your car a checkup – Before setting out on your road trip, make sure your car is in good working condition. Be sure to get an oil change before you leave and check your antifreeze levels and tire pressure.

2.    Prepare for cold weather – If you are traveling where it will be cold and snowy make sure you have plenty of window washer fluid. Be sure you have ice scrapers in your car as well as other emergency supplies for cold weather such as a thermal blanket, flashlights and even a set of jumper cables.

3.    Plan your route – Map your route of travel. Check traffic websites for detours and construction zones. If your holiday road trip will take more than a day’s travel, make hotel reservations at establishments along your route. Don’t forget to pack your maps and hotel reservation confirmation numbers.

4.    Prepare for kids and pets – If you are traveling with children or pets, road trips can be an adventure. Pack drinks and snacks for the kids as well as entertainment – books, games, a favorite stuffed animal, DVDs, music, etc. As for your pets, don’t forget to pack food and any medications your pets may need.

5.    Know the best time to drive – Traffic and roadway research shows roadways are safest to travel during the day. The most dangerous times to travel are early in the morning and late at night when drivers are more likely to be intoxicated or tired. It is recommended to travel between 7:00 am and 10:00 pm. Depart early and plan to be at your destination or hotel before it gets too late. AND…don’t forget to buckle up!

6.    No alcohol – It is illegal and it is not safe to drink and drive. Research concludes even one alcoholic drink is enough to cause important changes in cognition, which can affect your ability to drive. Just wait until you arrive at your destination and enjoy a holiday drink with friends and family.  

7.    Take breaks – When taking a road trip it is necessary to give your body and mind a break. Pull over in a safe place about every 3 hours for 5-10 minutes to recharge your body,  stretch your legs, give your eyes a quick break. Grab a snack, a soda or even lunch if necessary. If you are traveling with multiple drivers, drive in shifts so no one experiences fatigue.

8.    Wake up or catch up on sleep – Statistics report in 2009 alone over 100,000 car crashes were due to drowsy driving. If you are driving in shifts with another driver, take a nap while the other person is behind the wheel. If not, pull over in a safe well-lit place and take a quick power nap. But perhaps the best idea is plan to check into your hotel early in the evening so you can go to bed early and catch up on sleep for the next day’s drive.

 

The holidays are a wonderful time for everyone. Make sure you and your loved ones enjoy them by staying safe when taking a holiday road trip.

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