At Home / DIY

Maintenance Tips: Air Duct Cleaning

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How often do you need to clean your ductwork? Recommendations vary, so individual circumstances and preferences should dictate the timing of this task.

Every day we bring dirt and dust particles inside our homes from the great outdoors. We also generate dirt and dust indoors, depending on our daily activities. As the particles become airborne, they get drawn into our HVAC systems. (Our children may even drop toys, socks, or balls into them as well). As this continues over time, particles build up along the inner walls of the ductwork. Imagine what your furniture or floors would look like if you never dusted them. Cleaning up the accumulation of dirt, dust and debris inside your ductwork is common sense and part of good housekeeping.

DIY Medicine Cabinet

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Sometimes it is the materials that inspire the project. Here Rachael Ranney, host of {Re}habitat, finds the perfect use for a long-cherished wooden picture frame.

Part of the charm and allure of DIY design is that you can rely on your own creativity and intuition to transform items you already own into unique décor and furniture for your home. These pieces are the ones that truly reflect your personal style, and you can usually save a little cash by constructing them yourself at home versus buying everything prebuilt.

Installing Track Lighting in Your Home

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Follow our step-by-step guide and successfully install track lighting.

Installing track lighting in your home can really spruce up a room and give it new ambiance. Join our host, Jeff Wilson, as he demonstrates how to easily install new track lighting to brighten up your home.

When Zero Is Positive: Two Projects Achieve Net Zero Certification Through the Living Building Challenge

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The International Living Future Institute unveiled its Net Zero Energy Building Certification program in October 2011. In April 2012, the ILFI announced that it had awarded its first two certifications under the program.

Meeting any set of sustainable building standards is a challenge, but to reach net zero status – supplying 100% of a building’s energy needs through on-site renewable sources – is surely the Holy Grail of green design. The Living Building Challenge, a third-party certification program offered through the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), has recently launched the Net Zero Energy Building Certification option, and two projects have already attained certification. This program is not just another set of checklists, however. Following the poetic analogy of a flower, the ILFI uses the dandelion as a logo and emphasizes beauty, collaboration, and curative properties, giving back to the community and paying it forward.

Maintenance Tips: Automatic Sprinkler Systems

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Maintaining your sprinkler system will conserve water and save money. This article will show you how to use an irrigation system to more efficiently water your lawn, garden, or landscaping.

Similar to any other product installed in your home, an automatic sprinkler system needs to be properly maintained. An automatic sprinkler system that is not properly maintained will waste water and be a detriment to the upkeep of your lawn and landscaping. Protecting your investments with regularly scheduled maintenance will ensure that your automatic sprinkler system operates efficiently throughout the year.

Maintenance Tips: Central Air Conditioner

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Perform a few simple maintenance tasks, schedule professional HVAC service on a yearly basis, and enjoy efficient performance and trouble-free operation of your central air conditioner throughout its expected lifespan (and maybe longer).

Invented after the turn of the 20th century but not mass-produced for homes until after World War II, the air conditioner has increased our comfort and modified the landscape from coast to coast. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 2009 American Housing Survey (AHS), 75% of owner-occupied housing in the United States has a central air conditioning unit. The average life expectancy of these air conditioning units is 10–15 years, according to the Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components, prepared in 2007 by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Neglecting your unit will result in a shortened lifetime, costly repairs, and higher energy costs due to inefficient operation. Maintain your unit and you will extend its lifetime and keep repair and energy costs low while ensuring your comfort on those hot summer days.

Stair Safety

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One of the most common worries among parents is that their children will fall on the stairs. In addition to installing gates and other protective devices, addressing any issues with the structure of the stairs themselves – especially the flooring around the stairway – can prevent injury.

A study published in March 2012 in the medical journal Pediatrics found that an estimated 932,000 children under the age of five were taken to hospitals for injuries received while falling down stairs between 1999 and 2008. In the subgroup of babies age one year or less, 25% were being carried by an adult at the time of the fall. As a homeowner, you should be aware of certain things to ensure that the stairs in your home are safe for you and your family.

DIY Vintage Crate Storage

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Learn how to utilize the unique small spaces in your home using a collection of vintage crates, sewing drawers, and shipping boxes creatively repurposed into a funky shelving unit. Rachael Ranney, host of Buildipedia’s {Re}habitat, takes you step by step through this super easy project, a perfect way to add storage and style to your home on the cheap.

The bathroom – most often the smallest room in the house, and home to perhaps the greatest variety of stuff – is the first challenge that I have decided to tackle while settling into my new home.

4 Easy Cleaning Projects for Your Bathroom

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Just a little time spent cleaning those oft-forgotten corners can really make a difference in a room’s appearance. Home improvement writer Jakob Barry shares his tips for making your bathroom gleam, with spring cleaning ideas that are quick and sustainable.

Even when bathrooms are cleaned regularly, they seem to lose their shine in areas that aren’t part of the standard upkeep. For example, you may scrub the toilet and the sink and wash the floor once a week, but what about spots that are a little more out of the way, like shower walls or the bathroom ceiling?

Maintenance Tips: Refrigerators

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By performing a few simple maintenance tasks, you can keep your refrigerator functioning efficiently throughout its expected lifespan – and maybe even longer.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) 2009 American Housing Survey (AHS), most homes today have some type of refrigerator. These are available in a variety of sizes, styles, and types, big enough for a family of six or small enough for a single person. Whatever type you may have, one thing is certain: your must maintain your refrigerator. According to the Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components, prepared in 2007 by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the average life expectancy of a standard refrigerator is 13 years. Keep it clean, perform simple maintenance tasks, and you’ll help your refrigerator to operate longer than expected.

Living with Solar Energy

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Installing solar panels is becoming more feasible as various financial incentives become available. Jeff Wilson breaks it down into hard numbers to give an idea of what’s really involved with "going solar."

When my family decided to streamline our energy use at home, we first tackled our efficiency problems with a Deep Energy Retrofit. This effort included air-sealing and insulating the building envelope and replacing all of the windows and doors. Once we had our house sealed up tight, we added an Energy Recovery Ventilator to keep indoor air fresh while keeping the energy we use to heat and cool that air inside the house, where it belongs. Only after we completely exhausted energy efficiency measures did we decide to have a 4-kW photovoltaic solar array installed.

DIY Brick Bread Oven

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A backyard oven not only bakes good bread, it creates ambiance and provides a focal point for your outdoor entertaining area.

Sometimes you start a DIY project that defies any real explanation. It usually starts small – for example, I love really good bread. Not the soft, doughy, white bread you buy at the supermarket, but the crusty, pain au levain that a real French bakery would produce. Since very few bakeries do that right, I got into baking bread. Simple enough.

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