Solid vs. Hollow: A Quick Primer on Door Types

Door TypesWe’ve talked before about how new doors can do wonders for your home’s curb appeal and give the interior a more modern look. But there’s more to consider besides color and style. You’ll want to know about the different door types and which one is best-suited for your needs.

Hollow Door Types: Interior Use Only

The first rule of door shopping is to reserve hollow doors for interior use only. While these door types aren’t technically hollow (they have a fiberboard honeycomb structure inside to prevent warping), they’re still lightweight. This means an intruder could easily break them in with a blunt object – something we all need to avoid.

Hollow core doors are inexpensive, lightweight and easy to install, but they do have a few drawbacks. For one, sound can travel easily through a hollow door. If soundproofing is of special concern in your home, you’ll want to choose solid doors (which we’ll get to in a moment). Also, if you haven’t found the perfect finish and plan to do some refurbishing work, you may want to reconsider hollow doors. The surface of a hollow door is only about one eighth of an inch thick. This doesn’t account for much, if any sanding.

So what are hollow doors good for? Many homeowners prefer to opt for this low-cost alternative for utility rooms, laundry rooms, closets, basements and other areas where soundproofing and aesthetics aren’t as important. Depending on the size of your home, you could save hundreds of dollars!

Splurge on Solid Wood Doors

One cursory peek at door prices at your local home improvement store will tell you that solid wood doors can be significantly more expensive than other options. But there are several reasons why solid wood doors might be a valuable investment for your home.

First, solid wood doors are attractive, and they’re sturdy. They’re weighted well and give your home an elevated feel. Solid wood doors are also durable and can withstand years of heavy use. Among the various door types, they provide the most insulation, making them excellent for your energy bill. These insulating capabilities extend beyond energy to sound – with solid wood doors, you likely won’t need additional soundproofing (unless you happen to have a full-time musician in your midst). And if you plan to sell soon, solid wood doors could help you name a higher asking price.

Solid Core Doors: The Perfect Compromise

With solid core doors, hollow core doors and solid wood doors meet in the middle to create yet another option that might just help you experience the best of both worlds. Only moderately more expensive than hollow core doors, solid core doors have the potential to provide just as much soundproofing as the solid wood variety. They have a solid fiberboard core, which gives them more weight and sturdiness, as well as a surface that allows for some finishing work.

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Finally: The Best Way to Clean Windows

Window CleaningEver thought you did a great job washing your windows, only to return to streaky glass once everything is dry? Most of us can attest to just how annoying those streaks are. That’s why we researched the best way to clean windows once and for all. Here’s how to get a clear, sparkling finish each and every time.

Get the Right Equipment

One thing you’ll need to invest in for this project is a small squeegee, preferably with a long, detachable handle. You should be able to find a high-quality squeegee for right around $20 at your local hardware store, with higher-end models costing up to about $40 and more basic models available for as low as $5. We recommend a squeegee with a durable rubber blade for the best results.

Here’s the complete equipment list. All these items are inexpensive and readily available at just about any big box or hardware store:

  • Squeegee, as mentioned above, with extra blades just in case
  • A five-gallon plastic bucket
  • Dishwashing liquid, like Dawn or similar
  • Scrubber or sponge
  • Lint-free rags or towels

Get Prepped

Fill your five-gallon plastic bucket with two gallons of cool water and a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid. That’s all there is to it!

Get Started with the Best Way to Clean Windows

Step 1

Dip your scrubber or sponge in the bucket of solution and be sure to wring out the excess water. Scrub the glass all the way to the edge and be sure not to skip an inch. You’ll want to use different angles and really get in there. This helps get rid of the patterns of dust and dirt that rain and wind can cause. Once you feel as though you’re done scrubbing, it’s time to grab that squeegee.

Step 2

Start by cleaning a narrow strip of glass vertically on one side (think a one- or two-inch strip closest to the frame on one side). To do this, tilt the squeegee so that only a corner comes in contact with the glass, then drag downward. Repeat on the other side. This will help ensure you get the soap solution off every bit of the glass.

Step 3

Next, drag the squeegee across the top of the glass horizontally. You’ll need to make sure you keep the top of the squeegee in contact with the top edge of the window.

Step 4

This next part is super important: be sure to wipe the rubber blade of the squeegee on a lint-free cloth or towel after every pass across the window. While it might just be the most tedious part of washing windows, if you don’t wipe the blade, you risk moving the dirt and debris around and creating those infamous streaks we mentioned earlier.

Step 5

Continue to work down the window horizontally, overlapping the previous stroke. As you work your way down, you’ll probably notice excess water accumulating near the bottom of the glass. Taking time to remove these drips is another key step in preventing streaks. Take a clean lint-free cloth or towel and run it along any areas that appear to have water droplets.

And repeat, repeat, repeat till all your windows are shining! If you have to break out the ladder to reach upper stories, we recommend using a ladder stabilizer, and better yet, requesting the help of a friend or family member.

You can use this method to clean the inside of your windows, too. You’ll just need to take a few extra precautions to avoid getting water and cleaning solution everywhere. Try laying down a tarp under any window you happen to be working under.

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8 Ways to Allergy-Proof Your Home This Spring

Some of us are in the throes of it and some of us are just starting to experience the first twinges. For many, spring means allergy season and dealing with irritating symptoms for weeks on end. Today, we’ll let you in on our best tips for creating an allergy-proof home during pollen season and well beyond.

1. Find out what you’re allergic to

Don’t take a stab in the dark when it comes to allergies! For red, itchy eyes, sneezing, shortness of breath and other symptoms, you’ll need to consult with your physician about testing and treatment options. Not only can finding out exactly what you’re allergic to help you save significantly on medication and health care costs, it’ll let you know precisely where to start when it comes to making a more allergy-proof space for your family.

2. Allergy-proof your mattress

Dust and dust mites are a leading allergen for many individuals all year long. Dust and its mites are more likely to gather and multiply in and around your mattress, bedding and bed itself than almost anywhere else in your home. That’s because a dust mite’s favorite food happens to be skin flakes. As humans, we’re constantly shedding and regenerating microscopic skin cells.

3. Consider taking up your carpet

Carpet can harbor all sorts of allergens, including dust, pet dander and pollen. Even steam cleaning won’t always eradicate the problem, and debris can re-accumulate quickly. If you have severe allergies, you may want to consider replacing all the carpet in your home with hardwood floors. If you’d like to work your way through the house one room at a time, we recommend starting with the bedroom so you’ll be able to breathe more easily at night right away. While it’s a big project, your nose and lungs will thank you.

4. Instate a “no shoes” policy

Shoes are a surprisingly big culprit when it comes to bringing allergens into the home. Just think: one stroll around the park, followed by a stroll through your living room and you’re really playing into that whole “keep your enemies closer” thing. Even worse if you tend to spend a lot of time on the floor. To keep most of the bad stuff out of your house, place two mats, one just outside and one just inside each main entrance to your home. This way, no one has any excuse not to wipe their feet. You can also place a rack or a cubby system beside each entrance for footwear storage. Then, and most importantly, be firm on a no-shoes-in-the-house rule.

5. Make a habit of cleaning on a weekly basis

It turns out that the age-old adage, “A clean home is a happy home,” is true. Clean conditions are proven to help keep common allergens at bay, and using all-natural cleaning products can improve air quality even more. The main tasks you’ll want to focus on are keeping all floors (carpet, hardwood, tile, linoleum and rugs) swept and clean, as well as all surfaces that tend to collect dust wiped down. It also helps to cut down on clutter. Think of it this way: the more stuff you have, the more places for dust, mites, dander and pollen to settle.

6. Lower the humidity in your home and change your filters

Most allergens thrive in warm, humid conditions. Eliminating humidity can go a long way toward eliminating allergens in your home. In fact, the dryer, the better. You’ll likely need to install a household-wide dehumidifier or buy several freestanding units for your home. It’s best to keep the humidity level at between 30 and 50 percent. You should also change out your HVAC system’s filters monthly and keep your windows closed on particularly humid days.

7. Rethink your pet care strategies

If someone in your home has a severe pet allergy, you may sadly have to rethink having pets altogether. (Don’t worry, you can always volunteer at your local animal shelter!) If the allergy is mild to moderate, you can keep your furry friends around with a few adjustments. First, you’ll want to keep pets out of your home’s bedrooms as much as possible. You’ll also need to vacuum more often than if you had a pet-free home. Think every other day. Even better is to install hardwood floors. Lastly, keep pets off all furniture and bathe and brush them weekly to minimize dander.

8. Avoid toxic air fresheners

A lot of plug-in air fresheners, sprays and even candles contain harsh chemicals that can make breathing comfortably more difficult for those with allergies. To clear the air, eliminate any items in your home that are made with synthetic fragrance. For a fresh, natural way to scent your home, mix water and a few drops of essential oils in a spray bottle and spray on absorbent surfaces.

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Your Simple Spring Lawn Care Guide

Spring Lawn Care GuideEveryone wants a lush, green lawn when springtime comes around, and luckily it’s easy to accomplish with some simple care and maintenance. Here’s your spring lawn care guide to help you get the best grass in the neighborhood!

Clean Up Your Yard

Your grass has been lying dormant all winter, so to give it the best environment possible for healthy growth in the spring, you need to do some simple cleanup. That means picking up branches and other fallen debris, raking up any leaves you may have missed last fall, and clearing any thatch that’s accumulated. Wait, what’s thatch? As individual blades of grass die, they fall and form a matted layer on the soil of your yard. If the thatch layer gets thick enough it can cause real problems for the health of your lawn, so it’s important to get rid of it periodically by giving your grass a deep, thorough raking.

Address Bare Spots in Your Lawn

Whether you’re dealing with dog pee spots, heavy traffic areas or insect larvae infestations, you want every square inch of your yard looking its best. This starts with overseeding your lawn, or applying grass seed to the bare spots. Spring isn’t the ideal time to overseed (it’s better to do it in the fall when new grass won’t have to compete with crabgrass and weeds), but if your situation is grim you can still do it.

Before seeding, you’ll need to apply a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. Once you see that the grass has sprouted, wait five weeks, then apply quick-release nitrogen fertilizer for best results.

One thing to remember—in the spring, you have to choose between seeding and weed prevention. Any pre-emergent herbicides you put down will last for around 12 weeks, and they don’t differentiate between weed seed and grass seed (they stop both from germinating). You need to give your newly planted grass at least four mowing cycles before using other types of herbicide, too, to prevent killing the sprouts.

Prevent Weeds

If you don’t have any bare spots and seem to have the opposite problem—things won’t stop growing!—you need to determine your plan of attack. One weed-killing strategy won’t work for all types of weeds, so you need to figure out which ones you’re dealing with.

Annual weeds spread by seed each year. They grow from seeds either deposited by last year’s weed plants or by birds or other foragers who drop them in your yard. Crabgrass, bindweed, purple deadnettle, speedwell, knotweed and yellow oxalis are all examples of annual weeds. These types of weeds are best dealt with using pre-emergent herbicides, which work by halting the seed’s germination before it has a chance to sprout.

Perennial weeds like dandelions, burdock, ground ivy, quackgrass, thistle and ragweed are more difficult to purge from your lawn, because they can sprout either from seed or by their root systems. In other words, if you pull a perennial weed and miss any tiny part, it can and will grow back. Perennial weeds also tend to grow deep taproots, which means that hoeing and tilling don’t work to get rid of them, either. Use a broadleaf herbicide to kill perennial weeds without harming your grass, or you can choose to pull them by hand (just make sure you get the whole weed).

Check Your Mowing Habits

If you usually cut your grass at your mower’s lowest setting so you don’t have to mow so often, you should know this isn’t good for your lawn’s health. So what’s the right height? It can depend on the type of grass you have—cool-season grass should be maintained at a height of 2.5 to 4 inches, while warm-season grass generally fare better with heights of 1 to 3 inches.

It’s easy to get in the habit of mowing your lawn the same way every time, but it’s better to switch things up and run the mower in different patterns each time. Why? If you don’t, you’ll most likely end up with unsightly ruts in your lawn caused by the wheels of your mower.

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7 New Homeowner Tips You Need Right Now

New Homeowner Tips

Owning your first home can be an exciting time, but there’s a lot we wish we’d known going in! Here are seven new homeowner tips that will get you started on the right foot.

1. Save extra money now

You may think that the hard part’s done once you hand over your down payment, but you should still be saving about 1 to 3% of your home’s value per year to cover unexpected repairs. For a $250,000 house that’s between $2,500 and $7,500 a year, or between $208 and $625 a month. That may seem like a lot now, but when your washing machine breaks or your roof gets damaged in a spring storm, you’ll be happy you have the extra cash on hand.

2. Focus on one project at a time

Owning your first home can be a bit overwhelming, especially when it comes to tackling everything you want to do to make it truly your own. Rather than taking on too much at once, make a list of priorities and work on them one at a time. This way you can really think about which projects need to be taken care of right now and which ones can wait. Start with any repairs that can head off bigger problems down the road, such as replacing old windows that risk water intrusion. Aesthetic improvements can wait until you have the budget set aside for them.

3. Make sure you’re properly insured

Most mortgage lenders require you to carry insurance that covers the entire cost of your home in case of total loss, but just because you have this doesn’t mean you’re as covered as you could be. Depending on where your home is, you may need to think about things like flood insurance (because homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flood damage), and it’s always a good idea to carry adequate life insurance coverage so your family doesn’t lose the home if you die unexpectedly. If you have any questions about how much insurance coverage you need, seek out a local insurance agent who’s familiar with your area to get personalized advice.

4. Know what’s in your walls before you hammer a nail

You’re excited to start making your new house into a home, but before you start hanging your art collection, you need to have a good idea of what’s in your walls. It’s not just empty space—in fact, there’s a complex network of different systems that keeps your home running smoothly just behind your drywall (or plaster, or what have you). Besides structural components like wall studs, there are things like air ducts, electrical conduits and water lines that, if punctured, would lead you to have a really bad day. You can use a stud finder (invest in one that also detects metal) to locate any wiring or pipes before you start decorating.

5. Keep your furnace in top shape

Maintaining your furnace is one of the most important steps you can take as a new homeowner. As it turns out, it’s also pretty easy to extend the life of a furnace with a couple of steps. First, make a point of replacing your air filters regularly. These should be changed out every 1 to 3 months depending on the amount of dust and other airborne pollutants you deal with in your area. This will keep your system working efficiently, extending the life of your furnace and improving overall air quality in your home, which is especially important if you suffer from allergies.

Second, most furnace manufacturers recommend having a furnace tune-up performed every year. This will help catch any problems with the system early, so you’re not surprised by the furnace breaking down on the coldest night of the year.

6. Know where your main water shutoff valve is

If you ever find yourself with a broken faucet or cracked pipe that’s gushing water, the fastest way to stop the flow is to turn off your home’s main water valve. The thing is, most homeowners don’t even know where that valve is. Don’t be like them—get to know your home’s main water shutoff valve, where it is and how to turn it off in an emergency.

7. Study up on your drain traps

Notice a strange sewage smell around your new house? It could be coming from an empty drain trap. Every sink and floor drain comes equipped with a drain trap (that U-shaped bit of pipe that comes straight down from the drain opening). The drain trap is designed to hold water, creating a seal that keeps sewer gas from coming up into your house. If you don’t use a sink or drain very often, this water seal can evaporate and let sewer gas through the pipe. Luckily the solution is simple—just pour about a gallon of water down the drain to refill the trap and the smell should disappear.

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6 Remodel Ideas for an Easy-to-Clean Bathroom

Bathroom Remodel Ideas

Nobody likes a germy bathroom, and luckily you don’t have to put up with one if you remodel with the right materials. Here are six of our favorite bathroom remodel ideas that will help you keep a clean and shiny bathroom with a lot less scrubbing.

1. Go Groutless

One of the most notorious materials for collecting mold, mildew and other nasties is grout, so why not get rid of it where you can? When you’re remodeling, consider larger tiles with narrow grout lines. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when your hours of laborious scrubbing shrink to minutes.

If you want to say goodbye to grout for good, you can opt for glass or stone veneer surfaces instead of tile. They come in large sheets that are cut to size, so for most areas you can use one sheet with no grout lines at all! These are more expensive, but the tradeoff could be worth it to eliminate this pesky chore and maintain a cleaner bathroom overall.

2. Get a Great Exhaust Fan

Bacteria loves moist places, and if your exhaust fan is underpowered (or you just don’t have one), your bathroom becomes the perfect breeding ground. To determine which kind of fan you’ll need, you need to understand how they’re rated. Look on the box for the amount of cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air each fan moves—if your bathroom is 50 square feet, you’ll want one that’s rated at 50 CFM. If it’s 100 square feet, you’ll want a 100 CFM model. For especially large bathrooms, you may need two fans placed strategically in different areas. From there you’ll have many other options, too, from lights and heaters to motion sensors.

Apart from reducing mold and bacteria growth in your bathroom, a new exhaust fan will also help reduce other signs of excess moisture like cracking paint, peeling wallpaper and warped cabinets.

3. Vinyl Wall Coverings

Trading in your bathroom wall coverings for a vinyl alternative will also make your cleaning routine faster and easier. Vinyl has traditionally carried a stigma of low quality or utility over aesthetics, so we understand if you’ve been hesitant to make the switch in the past. New vinyl wall coverings come in a wide variety of textures, colors and patterns that feel rich to the touch and wipe down easily with little more than a damp cloth. It’s also fairly inexpensive compared to other options like tile, glass or stone. With so many benefits, vinyl warrants a serious look if you want a bathroom that’s easy to clean.

4. A One-Piece Toilet

Cleaning deep down in the cracks and crevices of your toilet is hard work, arguably the worst task you have when it comes to keeping a clean bathroom. You can scratch this task from your routine by replacing your current model with a one-piece toilet. They’re exactly what you’d think – one piece of smooth porcelain with no cracks or crannies for bacteria to hide. You can even find models that hug the wall, eliminating that hard-to-clean space between the back of the toilet and the wall.

5. Open Up Your Space

To make cleaning as easy as possible, it’s best to clear your space and get everything possible off the floor. This is where wall-mounted sinks and toilets, as well as soaking tubs with minimal footprints, come in handy. These features not only make small bathrooms feel more spacious, they’ll also go a long way in keeping you off your hands and knees. No more straining to reach those dark corners!

6. No-Touch Faucets

No longer just for public restrooms, no-touch faucets are becoming popular in health-conscious bathroom remodels. Not having to touch your bathroom faucet limits the spread of bacteria and makes for much easier cleaning. Pair this feature with a wall-mounted faucet and you have an upscale sink with maximum counter space and no corners to clean.

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10 Barbecue Safety Tips That’ll Save Your Eyebrows

Barbecue Safety TipsGrilling out is the quintessential summer pastime, up there with baseball and slip n’ slide. Outdoor grills have become a common appliance (61 percent of households own a gas grill and 41 percent have a charcoal grill), so it’s not surprising that we tend to take our safety for granted when we use them.

When you think about it, though, grills can be dangerous—in fact, gas and charcoal grills cause over nine thousand home fires per year. The good news is, mishaps like these are easy to avoid if you follow a few simple barbecue safety tips!

1. Keep the grill away from your house

This may seem like it goes without saying, but seriously, keep your grill away from the house. At least 10 feet is a must, but even more if you can. The last thing you want is a gust of wind blowing stray embers at your siding or up into the gutters. Also, be aware of pergolas, trees or other things above your grill, and move it so you’re cooking out in the open.

2. Keep your grill stable

You’ll also want to make sure that your grill is placed on a level, hard and stable surface before you start. Place the grill where you think it should be, then test to see if it’s likely to wobble or tip. If it does, find another place for it. Don’t rely on homemade shims under the feet of your grill table to level it, and don’t grill on soft surfaces like the lawn.

3. Work with a clean grill

One of the biggest causes of grill fires is excess grease build-up on the cooking surface or underneath the grates. Before you start the festivities, take a few minutes to give your grill a deep cleaning. For cast iron or stainless steel grates, mix up a paste of equal parts baking soda and water, coat the grates with the paste and let it set for about 20 minutes. Afterward, scrub with a grill brush and you’re set. You can also apply a thin coat of vegetable oil to cast iron grates to fend off rust.

For ceramic grates you can use the same paste, but avoid using a metal grill brush as this can lead to scratches and chips in the surface. It’s better to use a gentler scrubbing method like a grill sponge when you’re dealing with ceramic.

4. Check for leaks in the gas line

Mix a solution of water and dish soap (about equal parts of each) and rub it on the hoses and connecting points of the grill. Turn on the gas, and if you see large bubbles starting to form, this is a sure sign of a gas leak. Replace every damaged connection or hose before you start cooking.

5. Don’t turn on the gas with the grill cover closed

It’s easy to overlook this, but turning the gas on with the grill cover closed is dangerous because it causes gas to collect in a small area. Try to light your grill then and you could end up with a fireball. Save your facial hair instead by only turning on the gas with the grill cover up.

6. Use lighter fluid correctly

People tend to use lighter fluid a little too liberally with their charcoal grills. To use it most effectively, lightly saturate the coals (less is better) and give it a few minutes to soak in so any excess gas can have a chance to dissipate. From there, light the coals and only add more fluid if the coals are difficult to light. Don’t add lighter fluid once the fire is going, and don’t ever use other flammable liquids like kerosene to start your charcoal grill.

7. Expect a fire

It always pays to plan for the worst case scenario, including any grilling disasters you may run into. You should have a large supply of baking soda on hand to smother a grease fire, as well as a fire extinguisher for things that get really out of hand. Don’t try to put water on a grill fire—this will cause splattering which could lead to injury.

8. Don’t overcrowd the cooking surface

Flare-ups are common whenever you’re cooking meat on a grill—the fat will render out and drip into the fire, and that’s fine. The important thing is to leave enough space so you can move whatever you’re cooking out of the fire to another spot on the grill. This will help keep your burgers from burning and minimize flare-ups so you don’t have to bring out the fire extinguisher.

9. Wear appropriate clothing

Treat grilling the same way you’d cook indoors—no loose sleeves, long hair tied back. These things don’t mix well with open flames, so keep them well away from the grill and save yourself a surprise trip to the emergency room.

10. Clean up ashes the right way

Once you’re done grilling with charcoal, you’ll want to give the ashes plenty of time to cool down before you clean up. Since ashes can remain hot enough to start a fire for hours after they’re not actively burning, make sure you put ashes in a non-combustible container before you dispose of them, and never put them directly in a trashcan.

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Opening Your Pool for Summer: A Definitive Checklist

Opening your pool for summerOpening the pool for summer can certainly seem like a daunting task. After all, you just never know what you might find under that cover, and it’s easy to let your imagination run wild. But we promise it’s not so bad! We’re here to give you a quick refresher course and break down the process into manageable chunks. All you’ll need is a friend to help you, start-up chemicals and a list of items you should have on hand from your pool’s previous season:

  • Skimmer net
  • Soft broom
  • Pool cover pump
  • Start-up chemical kit
  • Skimmer
  • Garden hose
  • Pool brush
  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • Pool shock
  • Test strips

Get your start-up chemicals ready

Most pools will need their chemical makeup adjusted after being dormant all winter, so a trip to your local pool supply store is probably in order. You can buy a start-up kit for about $30 that contains everything you need, including algaecide, water clarifier, chlorine, pH increaser, pH decreaser, metal sequestrant, alkalinity increaser and calcium hardness increaser. Depending on your pool’s size and unique chemical composition, you may need to go back for an extra dose of one or more of the above.

Clean off your pool cover

Chances are, your pool cover is holding standing water, leaves and other debris. This is where your pool cover pump and soft broom will come in handy. Use the pump to siphon off any standing water and carefully push the debris off the surface with the soft broom. This way you won’t risk it accidentally falling into your pool water.

Take off your cover, clean it and store it

Stand on one side of the pool and have your friend stand on the other. Together, lift the cover off carefully, inspecting as you go for any damage. If it still seems like it’s in good condition, you’ll want to rinse it off with a hose, lay it flat and allow it to dry. Once dry, you and your helper can fold the cover back on itself like an accordion and place it in a sealable container for safe storage.

Skim the pool water

Grab your net and skim any leaves, twigs or debris off the water’s surface. This way it won’t get caught in your pool’s filtration system and clog it, and your pool will be easier to brush and vacuum later.

Time to de-winterize

When you closed your pool for the winter, you should have installed winterizing plugs to keep water out while the temperatures were freezing. Walk around the pool and remove each plug. Bubbles should form as water flows back into the pipes.

Place your ladders

Now is the time to reinstall all of your ladders, slides, diving boards and railings. You may also need to re-lubricate bolts and hinges on your diving board.

Top off your water

The water level of your pool probably naturally went down over the course of winter due to the evaporation process. You’ll need to add a little water from your garden hose before you balance the chemicals. We recommend using a hose filter to keep minerals, metals and other contaminants out of the water.

Set up your filter

Use thread seal tape to reinstall the drain plugs in your pump and filter. You’ll also need to lubricate the O-rings with a pool gasket lubricant to protect them. If you see any cracks in O-rings, they’ll need replaced right away. (Luckily, they’re only $5 to $20!)

You’ll then open the return side valves, flip your circuit breaker and turn on the pump. Check that water flows through and then switch your multiport valve to the filter setting.

Balance the water

Metal levels in your pool may have increased over the course of the winter, and as mentioned above, using your garden hose may have made metal levels even higher. You’ll want to add a metal sequestrant to the water and then proceed to test and balance your pool’s chemicals. Go about adjusting alkalinity first, then pH and calcium hardness.

Brush and vacuum

Now it’s time to buckle down and brush. This part can be tedious, but your pool and your pool guests will thank you. Vacuum the bottom of the pool thoroughly to pick up sediment and algae, then brush the sides to get at any other areas that are looking a little green. Once your pool is clean, it’ll easily adapt to the chemicals and chlorine shock you’ll add next.

Shock the water

To eliminate any bacteria and algae spores that may have formed over the winter season, you’ll need to reach breakpoint chlorination. To achieve breakpoint chlorination, you’ll need to double shock your pool by adding two pounds of chlorine shock per 10,000 gallons of water. Be sure to wear safety goggles and chemical-resistant gloves, and avoid pouring shock directly into your filter. Instead, slowly walk around the perimeter of the pool as you pour in the shock.

Run the filter for 24 hours

We wish we could tell you to jump right in, but unfortunately, it’s better for your health and your pool to wait. You’ll want to allow your filtration system to run for at least 24 hours to mix up the shock and chemicals and eliminate any straggling algae and debris.

Call National Property Inspections Today to Schedule Your Inspection!

Wondering if your pool is up to snuff? Call National Property Inspections! Our inspectors can assess your pool’s systems and help determine if they’re in great working order. Call today to book your appointment.

June 2018: Summertime

Ask The Inspector

Opening Your Pool for Summer: A Definitive Checklist

Opening your pool for the summer can certainly seem like a daunting task, but we promise it’s not so bad! We’re here to give you a quick refresher course and break the process into manageable chunks. Learn More

10 Barbeque Tips That’ll Save Your Eyebrows

Grilling out is the quintessential summer pastime, up there with baseball and slip n’ slide. But because it involves fire, it can also be dangerous. Avoid mishaps by following a few simple barbeque safety tips. Learn More

Expert Advice

6 Remodel Ideas for an Easy-to-Clean Bathroom

Nobody likes a germy bathroom, and luckily you don’t have to put up with one if you remodel with the right materials. Here are six remodeling ideas that will help you keep a clean and sparkly bathroom. Learn More

7 New Homeowner Tips You Need Right Now

Owning your first home can be an exciting time, but there’s a lot we wish we’d known coming in. Here are seven new homeowner tips that will get you started on the right foot. Learn More

Snapshots From The Field

No matter how many homes our inspectors assess over the years, they’re always finding new and interesting finds in the field. The following equipment was found in the attic of a house built in 1955.

So what is it, exactly?

This is a relay box, likely used for an early radiant heating system. Radiant ceiling heat first became popular in the mid-1950s and continued to be favored well into the 1970s. Relay boxes were placed in walls, floors and ceilings to “see” or “sense” objects, including people and furniture, and then slowly transfer heat to them. The air in the room would then slowly get warmer due to the objects giving off heat. The sensation a radiant heating system provided is comparable to being gently warmed by the sun.

The concept of radiant heat slowly fell out of favor over time due to the rising cost of electricity. The systems could also be difficult to access since they were always located among insulation behind walls, ceilings and floors.

Modern radiant heating systems are still available today. Just keep in mind that the installation process is quite involved and that it’s better to build a new construction with radiant heat than it is to replace an existing system with it.

Maintenance Matters

Your Simple Spring Lawn Care Guide

Everyone wants a lush, green lawn when springtime comes around, and fortunately, it’s easy to accomplish. Read on to discover the lawn care guide you need to follow to have the best grass in the neighborhood. Learn More

8 Ways to Allergy-Proof Your Home This Spring

For many, spring and early summer means allergy season and dealing with irritating symptoms for weeks on end. Luckily, you can create a more allergy-proof home during pollen season and beyond by making a few minor adjustments. Learn More

Finally: The Best Way to Clean Windows

Ever thought you did a great job washing your windows, only to return to streaky glass once everything is dry? Say goodbye to stripes and get a perfectly clean finish every time with this easy method. Learn More

Solid vs. Hollow: A Quick Primer on Door Types

There’s more to buying new doors than choosing the best color and style. You’ll also want to know about the different door types and which one is best-suited for your home’s needs. Learn More

Monthly Trivia Question

Q: How far away from your home should you keep your gas grill when in use?

Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbucks gift card. Submit your answer to find out if you’ve won.