The Professional Choice

A companion overview to the popular "Ask Mr. Handyman" radio program airing on Christian Talk Radio, KCRO 660AM Saturdays @ 9:30AM.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Christmas Decoration Safety tips!

This photo is a practical joke but it does point out the need to be extra safe when hanging Christmas decorations. The police forced the homeowner to remove it because it garnered so many calls to the 911 center.

Christmas Decoration Safety



The next few days the weather is going to be quite nice so get out and finish your Christmas decorations. But be safe!

Every year, hospital emergency rooms treat about 12,500 people for injuries related to holiday lights, such as falls, cuts and shocks.

In addition, candles start about 11,600 fires each year, resulting in 150 deaths, 1,200 injuries and $173 million in property loss. Christmas trees are involved in about 300 fires annually, resulting in 10 deaths, 30 injuries and an average of more than $10 million in property loss and damage.

Here are some tips to keep it safe.

Always put candles out! Do not let them burn overnight or out of your sight.

When purchasing an artificial tree, look for a "Fire Resistant." tree.

When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and do not break when bent between your fingers. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.

When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators and heat vents. Heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly so be sure to keep the stand filled with water.

Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets. Always replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs.

Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. Make sure the extension cord is rated for the intended use.

Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.

Turn off all Christmas lights when you go to bed. The lights could short out and start a fire. Be sure you checked the operation of your smoke detector.

Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCIs can be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified electrician.

Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.

Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.

Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

November Maintenance Tasks

November is usually the start of the really chilly weather. Here are some general maintenance tasks that should be accomplished in and around the home this month.

Clean and maintain major appliances
Clean the drip pans of your electric stove, clean behind the stove, dishwasher and washer & dryer. Pull out the refrigerator and clean the coils and drip pan underneath. Wipe down the furnace, water heater and water softener. Clean around the dishwasher strainer and look for debris in the washing arm (spins and squirts water during the wash/rinse cycle)

Keep gutters clean from leaves & debris Water damage is very costly and can make your home very uncomfortable with mold and mildew, not to mention repair headaches. Some folks prefer to use a powered blower to blast debris out of the gutters.

Clean your garbage disposal
Clean and deodorize your in-sink garbage disposal by packing it with ice cubes and 1/2 cup of baking soda; then turn it on. After the grinding noise stops, pour a kettle full of boiling water into the sink.

Change furnace filter
Some furnace filters are washable. Have two on hand. One in use, one cleaned and ready to install. Remove the dirty one and install the clean one. Wash and dry the dirty one for use next month.

Check operation of your sump-pump
Take the top off the sump and remove any debris that may have collected in there. Pour at least 5 gallons of water into the sump, slowly, to ensure pump is operational. Some people like to run a hose into the sump area, turn the water on to a slow rate and allow the pump to operate for about 1/2 an hour or so. Do not leave it unattended though.

Touch-up woodwork Use "Old English Scratch Remover" or matching stain to cover dents and scratches on your woodwork. Keeping up on this task at least once a year will help preserve a well maintained look to the inside of your home. It only takes a few minutes in each room to accomplish.

Turn on your Whole-House humidifier Many homes are blessed with a whole-house humidifier. If you are lucky enough to have one you should turn on the water supply and usually a manual switch near the humidifier. It is usually at the furnace. Change the water pad (filter-looking device) when there are a lot of white crusty mineral deposits on it.
If you do not have a whole-house humidifier you can hang a large towel or sheet in the shower and keep it wet. The water will evaporate and get into the air. Change out the towel or sheet often (maybe once per week) and make sure it does not get moldy.

Cover outside hose bibs (water spigots) Most new homes have the freeze-proof spigots but they can still freeze if the hose is not removed for the wintertime. This time of year ALWAYS remove the hose after each use. If you do not know if your spigots are freeze proof it won’t hurt to cover them. The foam covers only cost a few dollars to purchase and a few minutes to install. Installing one could save you thousands in repair costs and insurance claims.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fall Home Maintenance Time!


Fall Home Maintenance Time is here!

Fall is here…..Already!  Winter is knocking at the door.  Is your home prepared for the harsh winter weather?  Consider the long-term cost of neglecting the pre-winter home maintenance and you’ll see what a bargain we offer with our Preferred Client Home Maintenance Program.

Each year our professional service technicians perform thousands of dollars’ worth of repairs on customer’s homes that could have been avoided through regular maintenance.  A house does not come with an Owner’s Manual and most homeowners do not know what needs to be done or they fail to remember to get it done.   Our motto “Spend $100’s now in maintenance or $1000’s later in repairs” says it all.  Most costly home repairs could have been avoided with regular maintenance.

Today’s busy families are finding it difficult to keep up with their careers, children’s activities and everyday chores, let alone home maintenance.  For most, it’s easier to put off but it could have very expensive consequences if neglected too long.   

We have sadly watched as some of our most valued customer’s homes deteriorate before our eyes just due to the lack of regularly scheduled maintenance.   We had been asked to perform specific tasks and projects but had not performed an inspection and made recommendations for action.  Now we have a specific program to do just that.  We are offering a discounted rate to complete the maintenance for you on a regular basis.  We have created a program that will place the scheduling and completion of the seasonal maintenance on our lap so we can better serve you and better help you save $thousands$ on repairs throughout the time you spend in your home.

BENEFITS OF THE PROGRAM

 

·         Peace of Mind - Mr Handyman initiates the call to schedule your semiannual appointments in season for preventative and corrective maintenance tasks.

·         Maintains Home Value - Halting any deterioration of your home will maintain the value of your home.

·         Improved Quality of Life A well maintained home is more energy efficient, less likely to have mold & mildew build up and  less chance to cause illnesses for its inhabitants.

·         Reduced Cost of Home Repairs Maintaining is less costly than repairing.  Spend $100’s now in maintenance or $1000’s later in repairs.  You will also enjoy special discounts and programs throughout the year.

·         Maintenance Checklist At the time of sale you will have a detailed accounting of the maintenance records of your home, a potential great selling point

 

To learn more about our new program or to sign up please give our office a call at 402-502-5212.  We would be happy to get started this season for you.  Read our reviews on Angie’s List, BBB and Home Advisor.  We have a great amount of testimonials listed at Systino (askmrhandyman.blogspot.com - right hand top).

 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Burglaries on the rise!


Beware; some prominent neighborhoods have recently been hit.

At least twice a week Mr Handyman gets a call from a panicked homeowner that has just recently been a victim of a break-in and is in need to have their door fixed or replaced.   The volume of calls has increased over the past few months.  Maybe it’s an indicator of the amount of crime going on in our city.

A recent internet article discussed three ways to help prevent a robbery at your home.  The information was old at best and showed a lack of research on the part of the author.  He stated by installing a deadbolt lock in addition to the handle lock it would stop a potential break-in.   That is simply not the case.  In almost every case where we respond to a door repair from a break-in a deadbolt lock had been installed and failed just as easily as the single locking device.  It’s not the locking devices that fail but rather the door frame fails, allowing easy access.

If you open up your front door and look at the door frame you will see the small amount of wood between the strike hole (where the locking plunger enters when locked) and the interior of your home. There is about ¾ to 1 inch of soft, pine wood.  It is easily broken out with a swift kick or two.

Many homeowners in nicer, west Omaha neighborhoods have an alarm system installed in their home thinking it will stop a criminal from breaking into their home.  Some believe the yard sign alone acts like a deterrent, that a burglar may pass over a particular home with an alarm company logo out front but will it actually stop the determined criminal from breaking in?  He may need his "fix" and needs to peddle your wares to get it. 

A determined burglar does not fear the alarm company yard sign.  He knows with one swift kick on the door he and his band of thieves can rummage through your home, gather up their bounty, load up their stolen vehicle and be gone before the police are able to respond.  The average police response time nationwide is seven minutes.  That’s once the police have been notified, after the alarm company has gone through their call procedures.  Realistically, more than 10 minutes may pass before the black and white vehicle pulls up.

The best defense is to keep them from gaining entry in the first place.  The door frame fails because the small amount of soft wood just cannot take the force applied in the kick-in.  It’s relatively easy for someone to kick-in with enough force to bust through it. 

Mr Handyman sells and installs a door protection system that reinforces the door frame, the door hinge side and the handle area that will stop the easy access into your home.  If they want in, make them work for it, let it take all sorts of time, let it make all sorts of noise to alert your neighbors.  Most likely they will move on to another home.  It is inexpensive and would be a great addition to your home security system.  Call and ask for Dan at 402-502-5212 for more information.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

VIEW YOUR HOME AS AN ASSET…though it can be a liability.


 In the American culture we pay for things we don’t want to do ourselves or pay for someone else’s expertise.   Here are a few examples:

We pay a doctor to evaluate and treat us and our loved ones.  We pay an accountant to complete our taxes, prepare our books or keep payroll.  We pay the HVAC, Electrician, Plumber or other tradesman to repair fixtures or appliances in our homes, and we pay an investment company, stockbroker or financial planner to help us decide where to sock away our earnings for the best return.

For many Americans their home is one of the largest investments they will make.  Though you may not view it as an asset which will provide you a return, neglect it and you may have to pony up some cash to sell it; a pickle many have been in the past few years.

So far this season we have found numerous points of deterioration on some of our customer’s homes.  In several cases if we had not been at the home already it is most likely the damage would have been overlooked and progressed into an even costlier repair.  In the long run, the money you spend today on the maintenance and upkeep of your home will prevent you from spending thousands more if it were to be neglected. 

There are no construction companies that offer a Home Maintenance Program to the degree that Mr. Handyman does.  We systematically inspect and perform numerous tasks that are often neglected by the homeowner.  The neglect is rarely willful; it’s just a matter of skill level and free time. 

While the performance of the maintenance tasks is the key to the program I feel the most important, yet virtually unrealized benefit is this:  Twice a year you will have a professional set of eyes inspecting and looking at the condition of your home.

Here are the basics of our Annual Maintenance Program:

·         Peace of Mind Twice each year, in the spring and in the fall Mr. Handyman initiates the call to schedule your appointment.

·         Maintains Home Value We inspect and perform routine maintenance tasks specifically for your home. Catching and stopping any deterioration will maintain the value of your home.

·         Reduced Cost of Home Repairs Maintaining is less costly than repairing.  Spend $100’s now in maintenance or $1000’s later in repairs. 

·         Maintenance Checklist At the time of sale you will have a detailed accounting of the maintenance records of your home, a potential great selling point

 To learn more about our program or to sign up please give our office a call at 402-502-5212.  We would be happy to get started this season for you.  Sign up this spring and allow Mr Handyman to become your financial "protector" for your home.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Omaha Water 7th Worst in US!

Omaha' tap water ranked 7th worst in a study conducted by The Environmental Working Group.  Read more about it by clicking here http://www.examiner.com/article/omaha-drinking-water-listed-as-7th-worst-u-s.
 
Some of the water Metropolitan Utilities District filters and treats for use in your tap water comes from the Missouri River and some of it comes out of wells dug in Sarpy County and Western Omaha.
 
The Environmental Working Group found 42 of the 142 contaminates they tested for in Omaha's water.  One-half of the 42 were above health guidelines and 4 were above the safe limit established by the EPA.
 
If this study has you thinking about your options to provide safe and clean drinking water to your family, you are not alone.  Many people go through cases of bottled drinking water each year but there are consequences to buying the bottles too.  Do you really know the quality of the water you are purchasing?  Were the cases out in the sun too long during shipping?  Are there contaminates related to the thin plastic bottles?  What is the impact to the environment and landfills with so many used, depleted bottles?
 
Another option is to purchase jugs and bottles and have them refilled at many locations throughout the Omaha area.  Most grocery stores and health food stores have a water station to fill your own jugs.  It is usually less costly than buying cases of the bottled water and less impact to the environment.
 
By far the best option is to have a water filtering and conditioning system installed in your own home.  It would be the most cost effective and least impact to the environment than the other two options.  A water softener would allow you to use 1/4 of the normal amount of soap and detergents as you do with the hard tap water from MUD.  Your skin and hair would feel soft and clean when you exit the shower with no residue of soap remaining to give you the itches.
 
For your drinking water the best choice is a Reverse Osmosis system, usually installed under the kitchen sink or in the basement.  It uses the water line pressure to force water through a very effective filter which removes 99% of most contaminates and hard minerals.  The filters usually last a year or so before you need to have them replaced.


The best local source for both of these installed units is Futuramic's Clean Water Center. They sell and service most water conditioning systems like the water softeners and reverse osmosis systems.  They can rent the systems out for a low monthly cost and provide service each year to ensure the units are working at their top quality.  They've been in Omaha since 1969 and do they ever know about water!  They even have fresh, filtered water on tap so you can refill your own jugs.
 
There are so many other reasons to get a softener and RO unit installed in your home.  Talk to the folks at Futuramic's, they'll test your water and give you all of the great data and information you need.  You can reach them at 402.453.5730

Monday, January 27, 2014

Save On Home Ownership Costs!

Each season Mr Handyman is asked to complete repairs on some of our best customer’s homes.  Many times these repairs could have been avoided and even eliminated if the maintenance had been completed the season before.  It does not take long for minor neglect in the maintenance to turn in to a huge repair issue.  I know I may sound like a broken record to many of you that read this monthly column but the savings is so significant you should at least try it.

Here are just a few examples where the neglect of the maintenance has cost the homeowner in a huge way:
Case #1 Neglected Windows
In June 2012, a long-standing customer of Mr Handyman had us out to clean his gutters.  While there we advised him about some rot starting around a lower section of a large bank of windows.  It was estimated at the time it would cost approximately $450 to cut out the rotted wood and perform the maintenance on the rest of the window area.  The minor repair would extend the life of the windows for another 10 years or so. 

In the fall of 2013 this customer called and asked that we complete the $450 job but it had gotten a so much worse.  After inspecting the bank of windows with almost a year and a half of further deterioration it was determined the windows needed to be replaced at a cost of $3850.  

Maintenance $450       Repair $3850       Neglect cost $3400

Case #2 Pressboard Siding
In April of 1012 Mr Handyman was at a customer’s home repairing a few missing shingles.  While on the roof we noticed some minor wood rot where the chimney chase meets the roof line.  We quoted this homeowner $328 to cut out the small amount of rot, replace it with like material and cover it with a trim board.  This customer stated she needed to discuss it with her husband and would be calling us back. 

She called us back but not until the spring of 2013 and stated there was water leaking into the living room near the chimney.  It was determined that the rotted siding had gotten so bad that a hole the size of a cell phone was allowing rainwater into the home and down to the living room ceiling.  The total cost for the siding and ceiling repairs was $1785, which was not enough to meet her insurance deductible.
Maintenance $328      Repair $1785      Neglect Cost $1457               

These are just two of the many, many examples of repair costs that could have been avoided with routine maintenance.  If budget and costs keep you from having the maintenance completed where will you find the funds for the eventual repairs?  In most cases I think people forget about the maintenance or simply do not have the time or expertise to get it done. 

Sign-up to our annual maintenance program to ensure it gets done.  Gain some peace of mind.  Our motto is “Spend hundred$ now in maintenance or Thou$and$ later in repairs.”  Call 402-502-5212 for details.