Posts filed under ‘Home Maintenance’

Our First Snow Thrower

Hello this is Jeff, Kim’s hubby. This is my first post on this site. I wanted to share with you the purchase of our first snow thrower (or snow blower as we like to call it). The first couple of years in our house we did it the hard way with a shovel and it would take me a good 45-60 minutes of nonstop shoveling to get the driveway done. We avoided a snow thrower because of the cost and the fact that we didn’t know how to use it! But I was tired of the hassle of shoveling and thought a snow thrower might make things more fun.

I did some research and found that they had electric snow throwers that were less expensive than gas. We’ve also got an electric lawn mower and weed trimmer but they’re not Greenworks brand. I saw good reviews for the Greenworks brand and the price was relatively cheap compared to others. The one I bought was the Greenworks 26032 20-Inch 12 Amp Electric Snow Thrower.

I also purchased a 50 foot cold weather extension cord because this version you have to plug in. Amazon shipped it for free and it arrived a few days later. I opened it up and put the thing together in about 20 minutes. There was not much assembly to do.

A few weeks later we had our first snowfall and it was about 2-3 inches I’d say. It was time to test the snow thrower out! It took a little time to get used to how to adjust the chute and get the snow blowing in the direction I wanted. But once I did I felt like it worked great! I think that my chute wasn’t tight enough because I would adjust it and the force of the snow caused it to shoot more up than out. I need to tighten next time.

My biggest gripe was probably getting used to moving the extension cord all around. I haven’t quite got the hang of that yet, but I’m sure it’s one of those things I’ll get used to. It took me probably 30-40 minutes to do the driveway this time, but I chalk that up to being a first time user and trying to figure things out.

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December 27, 2011 at 1:24 am 1 comment

Mouse in the house

Just the other day, Jeff discovered a mouse in our basement! It was a big surprise to us because we’ve lived in this house for two years and never have seen a mouse in here. Jeff went to the basement before work to get his shoes, and there was a mouse sitting in our finished half of the basement on Jeff’s “breakdancing floor.” We were able to get up close to the mouse and it did not run away. I figured it must not be doing so good since it wasn’t running away from us. We didn’t have time to do anything with the mouse since we had to leave for work right away. When we came home, the mouse was not there! I was worried, who knows where it went and what it might be chewing up? Later that same night I told Jeff to go in the basement again and see if the mouse was there. Jeff went downstairs and the mouse was back on the “breakdancing floor” and this time it was dead! My only guess for why it died is the bug spray. We spray bug spray once or twice a year in our basement to kill the spiders down there, so maybe it could kill a tiny mouse too. The mouse was so small and kind of cute! I am not scared of mice but I am scared of bugs. It’s kind of funny because mice are a lot bigger than bugs and can do more damage! I guess they just remind me of all the cute pet hamsters my family had when I was growing up.

Hopefully we do not see any more mice in the basement. Jeff and I bought a couple traps just in case. We got the “no kill” type that just trap the mouse and you can release it outside. We’ll see if it works. I haven’t seen any more mice since that one day though.

mouse trap

I am still curious to know how the mouse got inside. Since they are so small, they can fit into very tiny holes that we would never notice!

August 10, 2011 at 12:13 pm 2 comments

Sump Pump Busted!

Just this past Friday I was standing in the kitchen when I heard an odd sound in the basement.  It sounded to me like water was spraying out from the sump pump.  I know the normal sound of the sump pump running and this definitely sounded different.  I was so scared at what might have happened that I didn’t want to go downstairs to check!  I asked Jeff later to look in the basement to see if there was water on the floor, but he said it was fine.

Tuesday I was off from work and so was Jeff, as he was taking a much needed day off after the fest that he had planned for months was now over.  Again I was in the kitchen and heard the water spraying sound!  I asked Jeff to run down and check again and he said yep, water was spraying out of the top of the sump pump and the floor in the laundry area was all wet!  Great.  I suppose it had been doing that at least since Friday, but Friday we didn’t see any water on the floor so we didn’t think much of it.  Then we were not home most of the weekend or in the basement at all.  Luckily it hasn’t been raining much, so the sump pump probably wasn’t running a lot. Also there is a drain near the sump pump, so most of the water had made it’s way there but the floor was pretty dirty as a result.

We called a plumbing company we’ve used before but they were all booked up Tuesday and could not come out.  Luckily they referred us to Cornerstone Plumbing and they were able to come out Tuesday afternoon.  Mike from Cornerstone Plumbing discovered that the check valve had broken off and the clamps were busted.  So basically there was a gap between the two pipes where the check valve used to be, which you can see in the photo below.

sump pump

Thankfully this problem with our sump pump just required the installation of a new check valve which ended up costing us $118. Our sump pump is now fixed and back to normal. Experienced home owners always tell you to be prepared for the unexpected because you never know when something may break in your home! Having a savings fund for home improvement and repairs is a good idea.

May 26, 2010 at 12:40 pm 1 comment

Dryer problem solved

When Jeff and I moved into this home, we had to buy a washer and dryer because the previous owners did not leave theirs.  After doing some research we decided to purchase a Kenmore 600 washer and a Kenmore 800 dryer.

The washer works well but the dryer never seemed to work properly.  For some reason, the dryer would always take two hours (or sometimes a little longer) to dry a normal size load of laundry!  No matter what settings we chose or what we were drying, it would always take two hours.  From my experience, a clothes dryer shouldn’t take more than one hour.

We lived with the dryer problem for a while and tried to look up some solutions online.  I read somewhere that the dryer lint hose gets clogged with lint over time and that could cause it to take longer to dry clothes.  I knew that wasn’t the problem because they gave us a new hose when the dryer was put in.  I also read that the vent on the outside of your house that connects with the hose can also get clogged with lint.  I thought that might be it.  Jeff and I were outside doing some spring cleaning when Jeff went to check the vent.  This is what he found:
lint block
Wow!  I can’t believe that much lint was clogged in the vent!  Who knows how long that outside vent was clogged like that.  It had to be like that when the previous owners lived in our home but they didn’t do anything about it.
Besides causing our dryer to work extra hard, I think it was a fire hazard as well.  You can see that the air could barely pass through.  We got it all cleaned out and the next load of laundry we did was dry in only 45 minutes!  That is less than half the time it was taking before we cleaned out the outside vent!  I was thinking we would have to pay someone to come out and look at the dryer, but I am really glad we figured it our ourselves and saved money that we would have given to a repair man.  Below you can see our newly cleaned vent.
outside vent

April 15, 2010 at 7:59 pm 4 comments

Spring Cleaning

It’s that time of year – spring cleaning time!  Since this is me and Jeff’s first year in a house, we don’t have a prepared spring cleaning list yet, but I am working on one that we can use each year.  So far we’ve started off this spring by cleaning up the yard.  We did a lot of leaf raking in the fall, but still had some leaves around to get rid of.  We picked up sticks, pulled some weeds, and spent some time cleaning out the plant beds in the front of the house.  That included cutting dead parts off the plants, raking out leaves and old mulch, and trimming a few plants.  At this point I don’t really know a thing about plants or gardening so I hope I didn’t mess anything up out there!  Here is how the plant bed on the right side of our house looks now after the clean up.  You can see all the perennials coming up.

plant bed

Another thing many people will do as part of their spring cleaning is to clean out the garage.  All that we currently have in the garage besides the lawnmower (and our cars) is the snow shovel, rake, broom, and lawn and leaf bags.  Jeff was brave enough to go in and sweep all of the old webs out of there, so now it’s not so creepy!  I don’t plan on keeping much more in the garage than we have in there now, so we probably won’t ever have much to clean up in there.

Next on my list is the indoor spring cleaning.  This should involve tasks that don’t need to be done very frequently (like every week or every month) but still are important to do regularly.  So far I plan to do the following:

  • clean ceiling fans (now is a great time to do this so you won’t have lots of dust flying around when you start using them again.  I recommend Swiffer extendable dusters)
  • clean outside of cabinets
  • clean windows
  • clean window blinds and wash curtains
  • wash off outside screen doors
  • vacuum refrigerator coils
  • wash all blankets and comforters

I’m sure there will be more that I think of!  What is on your spring cleaning list?

April 1, 2010 at 10:40 pm 2 comments

Carpet Cleaning

This past weekend we had our carpets cleaned by Stanley Steemer. We had wanted to get the carpets cleaned because the previous owners of this home had a cat and a dog. Even after all the vacuuming I did, the carpets didn’t seem clean to us. And Jeff would frequently wake up in the morning with a stuffy nose or headache which we figured could have been caused by allergens in the carpet. It’s actually recommended to get your carpets cleaned every one to two years as well, and we don’t know if or when ours were ever cleaned before we moved in! Here is a view of the Stanley Steemer van in our driveway –
stanley steemer

Preparing for Stanley Steemer to come over was a lot of work. We spent Friday night moving everything off of the carpets that we could and putting it in either the basement or the dining room. Saturday before they came we had to finish by moving Cocoa’s cage, hay, and other supplies to the basement. It is good to get your pets out of the way for carpet cleaning because it is loud and plus lots of cleaning chemicals are being used during the process. Stanley Steemer did move all of the furniture in order to clean under it and then just put it back into place with little blocks under, so the wood would not bleed into the wet carpet. If you are planning to get carpets cleaned, be sure to ask the company if they will move the furniture. One company I called said they would only move sofas, love seats, chairs and end tables. If you are getting a bedroom cleaned that doesn’t do you much good!

Stanley Steemer cleaned the carpet in the living room, hallway, guest bedroom, office, and master bedroom. It only took them one hour to do all of that. Our house smelled very clean when they left and I am very happy with the results! It was a pain moving everything out of the rooms but in the end I think it was worth it!

February 23, 2010 at 4:17 pm 1 comment

Snow, Snow Go Away!

Snow used to be fun when you were a kid, right?  Once you become a car owner and a home owner, snow is really a pain!  Take a recent weekend for example.  Jeff and I were out of town and came home to a driveway filled with snow so deep we could barely pull in!  The last thing we want to do when getting home at 9pm on Sunday (after driving over 6 hours) is to go out into the cold and shovel the driveway.  I hate looking like the only lazy person on the street by not clearing off our driveway and side walk right away.  Don’t our neighbors have anything better to do?  A lot of them do have snow blowers though, which makes the task a lot easier.  If you are looking at homes in an area that gets a lot of snow, keep in mind the length of the driveway, steps, walkway, etc.  You will have to deal with the snow somehow, whether you shovel, snow blow, or just hire someone else to do it!  The cheapest option of course is a shovel, you can buy one for $10-$20.  Jeff and I are definitely investing in a snow blower for next winter.  Our driveway is fairly long so I think we’ll get good use out of it. Here’s a pic of our driveway after the recent snowstorm.
snowydriveway

A quick search online shows snow blowers starting at about $400 and up. There are cheaper models available, but in my opinion, you never want to get the cheapest of anything. From experience I know the cheaper ones won’t hold up as long and may only work for a couple inches of snow and no more. My sister, brother and I pitched in one year to get my dad a snow blower for Christmas. It was definitely on the cheaper end and it did not last at all. I don’t think he used it more than a couple times before it broke. Make sure to read reviews before you buy!

If you are planning to hire someone to snow blow or plow your driveway, there are many options. Some companies out there are solely dedicated to snow removal services. If you are looking to hire a bigger company to take care of your driveway, make sure to contact them around early September or October. At the company I work for, we tried to contact snow removal companies in December and nobody would get back to us, because they were already booked! There are many landscape companies that do snow removal in the winter. And, there are always local people or even teens looking to make a few extra bucks, they are probably the least expensive way to go if you need help with snow removal.

Also, there is a new subscription option available on the site.  Besides getting new posts delived to your inbox, you can now subscribe via the RSS reader of your choice.  Just click on the subscription link and go from there!

February 15, 2010 at 1:41 pm Leave a comment


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