Mold vs Mildew: Tips and Tricks on How to Prevent These Unwanted Fungi

Mold vs Mildew: Tips and Tricks on How to Prevent These Unwanted Fungi

When it comes to home repairs, few things are worse than mold. Mold and mildew, a specific type of mold, are similar in many ways. They smell bad, look ugly and can create long-term damage to a home. If a homeowner comes across mold or mildew, they should take immediate action to clean it and prevent it from spreading.

In this article, we hope to explain the differences between the two fungi, how to prevent them and how to remove them when they’re found.

What Is The Difference Between Mildew And Mold?

There are several differences between mildew and mold. These differences can help a homeowner better identify and treat whichever fungus is causing problems in their home. Here are some of the differences between mildew and mold.

Looks

Mildew comes in two forms. Powdery mildew and downy mildew. Powdery mildew looks exactly as the name suggests. It’s a powdery substance that rests on top of a given object. Downy mildew will look like a stain that’s usually yellow in color. Unlike mold, mildew grows in a flat pattern making it easier to predict which direction it will grow.

Mold comes in one of two forms. Mold looks either fuzzy or slimy. It comes in a variety of colors including blue, green, yellow, brown, gray, black and white. Mold will attach to anything that it touches and spreads from place to place making it difficult to remove.

Problems Caused

Mildew usually damages plants and crops but it can still cause damage to wood, fabric and other materials. Mildew causes breathing complications and headaches like mold but it’s usually the smell that bothers people the most.

Mold can cause a variety of problems depending on the strain of mold. Health problems like respiratory diseases, allergies, headaches, joint pain, and fatigue, are common when mold is present in a house. Mold can also compromise the integrity of a structure because of how it spreads. Since mold does not grow in a flat pattern like mildew, it will grow in all directions in, around and through most objects at the same time. Mold’s fast growing nature makes it more damaging than mildew.

What Causes Mildew And Mold?

Both mildew and mold require the right conditions to grow. So what are those conditions? Mildew and mold thrive in moist, humid areas that receive little sunlight. It also helps if there is little air circulation as moving air keeps mold spores from settling on anything. So any place that is not properly ventilated, dark or prone to links is highly susceptible to mildew and mold.

How To Prevent Mildew And Mold?

Knowing what causes mildew and mold to grow can help a homeowner prevent it from growingin the first place. Look for any and all places in the house where mold or mildew are likely to grow. Bathrooms, basements, attics, and crawlspaces are all common areas where mildew and mold appear because these areas are usually warm, see a lot of moisture, get a little sunlight and little circulation.

Preventing mold in these areas is a matter of finding the sources for these conditions and combating them as much as possible. Adding fans or ventilation to an airtight area will help prevent spores from landing there. Making sure there are no leaks creating a moist, humid environment will prevent a space from becoming an ideal growing environment.

A homeowner should look at spaces that are ideal for mildew and mold and ask themselves, “How can I make this place worse for fungus?”

How To Remove Mildew And Mold?

Mold removal and mildew removal take similar steps.

First, turn off the air conditioning or heater and seal off the vents in the area with mold. Second, put on a respirator and turn on a small fan to create circulation. Third, use either bleach water solution or another cleaner meant for fungus and scrub the affected area.

Make sure to scrub beyond the affected area to get any spores that have spread but haven’t grown to the point of visibility. It’s important to wear gloves and clothes that you can throw away. Spores are likely to have landed on your clothes and keeping them will just spread the spores farther.

Conclusion

Mildew and mold can create a variety of problems from health issues to structural damage to unpleasant smells. In order to avoid these problems, one must know how to recognize what causes mildew and mold, what they can do to prevent fungi from setting in and what to do if prevention methods fail. Mildew and mold are preventable but if they appear in spite of your best efforts, they can still be removed before excessive damage happens.

The Kitchen Unclogging Guide: How to Unclog Your Sink and Dishwasher

The Kitchen Unclogging Guide: How to Unclog Your Sink and Dishwasher

Everyone knows how to unclog a toilet but how many people know how to unclog a sink or how to unclog a dishwasher? Both the kitchen sink and the dishwasher get clogged from time to time. Whether it’s food waste, hair or something else, pipes eventually get clogged, resulting in a clogged sink or dishwasher.

These clogs lead to dirt collecting in the kitchen sink, dirty dishes staying dirty and nasty smells in the kitchen and bathroom that won’t go away until the clog is fixed. In this article, we’ll explain how to unclog a kitchen sink as well as how to unclog a dishwasher so you won’t have to deal with clogs anymore.

How to Unclog A Sink

For those who want to know how to unclog a sink, know that there are many ways to unclog a sink. We’ll explain three methods to unclog your sink, but know there are other methods as well. Also, keep in mind that the process for how to unclog a kitchen sink and how to unclog a bathroom sink are similar, but slightly different. While there are many ways to unclog a sink, the end goal in both cases is to help the sink drain to let water through freely by clearing out the clogged water and fixing the clog.

The Plunger Method

This method is pretty straightforward and it’s one of the tried and true ways to unclog a sink. Sometimes a simple plunger can unclog your sink. The pressure created by the airtight plunger seal makes the clog in the pipe move back and forth until it’s been shredded enough to go through the pipes eliminating the blockage.

You could use the regular toilet plunger on your sink but that’d require a sink scrubbing with bleach (particularly if it’s your kitchen sink). The second option is to purchase a small, inexpensive sink plunger used exclusively for clogged sinks.

Vinegar and Baking Soda Method

This method is a bit more complicated. First, you have to remove the liquid gathering at the bottom of the sink. You can put the dirty water in a bucket or some other container. Continue removing the dirty water until you’re able you access the drain.

Once you can access the drain, pour one cup of baking soda into the drain. You may need to grab a spoon or something to push it down into the sink. After you pour the baking soda, pour a cup of vinegar into the sink and then cover the drain opening with a sink stopper so the baking soda and vinegar cannot come back out. The vinegar and baking soda create a chemical reaction which is strong enough to break most clogs without damaging your pipes like many industrial cleaners.

The Snake Method

This method will take some work depending on where the clog is located. For this method, you’ll need a cable auger, also known as a snake. A snake is a metal cable with a hook-like device at the end that you can feed into a pipe. You may also need some basic plumbing tools.

The idea behind this method is to feed the snake into the pipe so the hooked end of the snake can attach to whatever is clogging the pipe and either tear it apart or remove it upon retrieval. Since clogs can happen anywhere, you may need to remove certain pipes under the sink in order to reach the clog. Use the bucket to collect leaking water and a wrench to remove pipes as you go.

The Disposal Suction Method

If you are trying to figure out how to unclog a kitchen sink drain that has a disposal, there is a quick and slick method you’ll want to try in order to eliminate the clog. If you notice that both sides of your sink are filling up with water, simply clog up the sink drain on the side without the disposal (pushing down the plug firmly to ensure a tight seal), and turn on the disposal while running hot water down the disposal sink drain. The disposal will act as a vacuum, cleaning out the clog in the pipes on its own. This method of fixing a clogged kitchen sink is one of the most simple, yet often overlooked ways to clear out your pipes. Try it and see if it fixes your clog.

How to Unclog A Dishwasher

Dishwashers drain their hot water at the end of the wash cycle. Although it’s common to see trace amounts of hot water at the bottom of the dishwasher when a cycle has finished, seeing a layer of hot water or cold water covering the drain is not normal. Here are some tips to help unclog a dishwasher.

Check The Sink

Dishwashers usually run through your sink’s disposal. If your disposal or sink are clogged then your dishwasher will not drain properly. Make sure to check to see if the sink is clogged before doing anything too complicated with the dishwasher.

Check The Drain

If you remove the lower rack you can then access the dishwasher drain. Look to see if there are any clogs in that drain. If you see anything, remove it and see if that fixes the problem. If it looks clean, check the drain hose attached to the drain to see if there’s anything clogging the hose. Check the hose by sending high-pressure water through the hose to see if it backs up or not.

Conclusion

Clogged sinks and toilets are common household problems. The best way to avoid them in the first place is to avoid putting anything aside from water down your pipes. Whether it’s hair or large chunks of food waste, put your garbage in the trash and not in the sink. Make sure to scrape off your plates before putting them in the dishwasher too. If necessary, you can purchase drain grates which will prevent this stuff from falling into your sink as well.

But no matter how careful you are, clogs are bound to happen. Thankfully, there are multiple ways to fix these clogs. Hopefully, now you feel you know how to unclog a sink or how to unclog a dishwasher and you feel more prepared to fix any clogs as they that should appear.

How and When to Skim Coat Your Walls

How and When to Skim Coat Your Walls

Over time, the walls in a house see some major wear and tear. They get re-painted, wallpapered, stripped, hammered, and scraped. No matter what happened to your walls, every once in awhile, it’s a good idea to skim coat your walls. Skim coating a wall is a process in which one smooths out damaged drywall making the overall wall better. Skim coating a wall yourself is relatively easy to do and significantly cheaper than paying someone else to do it. Below are some tips on how to skim coat a wall quickly and efficiently.

Preparation

Depending on the amount of space you wish to have skim coated, paying a professional can cost up to several thousand dollars but if you do it yourself you can reduce the cost to a couple hundred dollars. Here’s a list of materials you’ll need as well as price estimates:

  • Plastic Drop Cloth – $8.00
  • Painters tape – $7.00
  • Disposable Respirator – $12.00
  • Gloves – $5.00
  • Shoe Covers – $5.00
  • Joint Compound – $15.00
  • Paint Tray – $3.00
  • Roller Cover – $10.00
  • Roller Handle – $10.00
  • Putty Knife – $10.00
  • Trowel – $5.00
  • Spray Bottle – $3.00
  • Fine Sanding Pad – $6.00
  • Microfiber Cloth – $10.00
  • Drill – $100.00
  • Drill Mixing Attachment – $12.00

Before you learn how to skim coat your walls, you need to first prepare the wall. The best way to do this is to use a primer to quickly seal the wall from further damage. It’s important not to merely spot prime but do the whole wall. Part of the reason you skim coat is to give the whole wall a nice, even finish. In order to do that, the whole wall should be properly primed. Also, don’t forget to lay down a plastic floor cover to protect your floors from the primer as well as the skim coat materials.

In addition to preparing the wall, you’re going to have to prepare the joint compound material that you’ll be using to skim coat with. Usually, when you buy a bucket of joint compound, it’s too thick to use for skim coating. Mixing in some water into the compound using a drill and a mixing attachment should do just the trick. Many recommend that you divide the joint compound into two separate buckets to make the job of mixing easier on your drill.

How To Skim Coat Your Walls

Now that your wall, room and joint compound are prepped and ready to go it’s time to skim coat.

First, use the roller and roller cover to apply a good layer of joint compound to the wall. You’ll want no more than ⅛ inch of compound on the wall. Make sure to only work with smaller segments of the wall. Don’t work on a section of wall any larger than 4 feet by 4 feet or you’ll run the risk of the the joint compound drying up before you finish. Try to coat the wall evenly but don’t worry too much whether or not you get it perfect the first time.

Second, use the trowel to wipe the area smooth. This might require a few passes to get a uniform coating on the wall segment.

Third, repeat steps one and two once or twice until perfect uniformity has been achieved. Use water and the spray bottle if a section is starting to dry and you need to moisten it up some. The sanding pad can be used to smooth out the final areas that you just can’t get perfect using the trowel. After everything is done, go over the wall with a microfiber towel to assure that you have removed every last piece of dust.

Conclusion

Although it may take a while to get used to, skim coating isn’t that difficult. With proper preparation you can avoid damaging the room with all the mess and save a lot of money by doing it yourself. Try it out and enjoy the improvements you’ve made to your own walls.

Getting Ready for Spring: How to Dewinterize Your Home

Getting Ready for Spring: How to Dewinterize Your Home

Winterizing a home is a process where one basically prepares a house to lay dormant for the cold season. Many cottages, cabins and summer homes get winterized every year.

Spring is upon us and now it’s time to dewinterize the house to prepare it for the warmer weather. Here are a couple tips to help dewinterize the house.

Pipes

The main way in which houses get winterized is by preparing water pipes. Owners turn off the water in the house, empty the pipes and add traps to their sinks, faucets and drains.

There are some basics to dewinterizing water pipes. Here are some tips for homeowners to help best prepare winterized pipes for warm weather.

  • Remove Aerators from Drains and Faucets
  • Make Sure All Sinks, Tubs and Toilets Are Off
  • Turn the Power Off if Not Already
  • Slowly Turn On Main Water Supply
  • Let Water Tank Fill Before Restoring Power
  • Slowly Turn On Sinks, Tubs and Toilets
  • Check House For Leaks

It’s suggested that owners turn their water back on slowly. The process should take a minute to do. Most suggest a quarter turn every 5-10 seconds until the water is flowing at full capacity. Any faster than this will shock the pipes and likely damage the seals.

This creates leaks and that’s the last thing a house needs.

Even if proper methods are used to dewinterize pipes, leaks can still occur. That’s why it’s important to inspect the pipes or have someone else inspect them instead.

Inspections

Leaks lead to rot. Rot leads to house damage. House damage leads to extra expenses.

To stop this, it’s important to inspect the home after dewinterizing it. Seals dry out when not constantly wet, causing them to shrivel and shrink. Pipes that haven’t been used are more likely to burst than regularly used ones. Turning the water on slowly will help combat these problems but leaks can still occur.

Homeowners should either make sure to check these leaks themselves or hire an inspector to look for them. Having someone who knows what they’re doing will help avoid future damage to the property.

While checking for leaks, they should also look for foundation cracks and other damage.

Cleaning

Although cleaning the home should be a constant activity, doing so while dewinterizing is extra important. Winterized homes gather dust, bugs and other undesirables, It’s important to get rid of these to make the home feel nice and livable again.

There are great spring cleaning checklists out there to walk homeowners through cleaning and maintenance steps for homecare. Here’s a list of some of the things worth doing.

  • Change the Air Filter
  • Test Carbon Dioxide and Smoke Detectors
  • Check Outside Drainage
  • Clean Gutters

Conclusion

Dewinterizing your home shouldn’t be a difficult process but it needs to get done. It’s important for the long-term life of the home and improperly dewinterizing a home will lead to financial headaches down the road. Do what you can do yourself and trust the experts where your abilities fall short.

The Complete Guide to Homemade Floor Cleaners

The Complete Guide to Homemade Floor Cleaners

Cleaning your floors can seem like such a huge task—after all, they do cover, well, your entire house—it can sometimes be tempting to skip it altogether. But unless you are ok with dust bunnies, dirt, and permanently wearing shoes around the house, cleaning your floors is a necessity.

So how do you tackle this mountain of a chore? Well, when you know what you are doing, you will soon find that it is actually a lot easier than you might have previously assumed. And we are here to help you to know what you are doing. First, some general tips:

  1. Consistency is key. Yes, it is annoying to have to keep cleaning such a large surface area of your house, but the job will be significantly easier if you keep it up. Sweeping and mopping your floors regularly will spread the work out, meaning you end up doing far less at one time, and professional or deep cleans are needed less often.
  2. There are a lot of companies trying to sell you fancy cleaners and their newest clean floor “solutions,” but the reality is that a well crafted homemade floor cleaner will do the job just as well.
  3. Don’t overuse soapy cleaners. Soap can tend to leave a residue behind, and attract dirt build-up. Your regular cleaning can often just be a mop with warm water.
  4. Buy a doormat. Most of the dirt and damage done to your floors comes from the shoes of visitors. Buy a doormat that will allow people to clean their shoes off before entering your house proper.

Maintenance and general care of your floor should, of course, differ according to what kind of floor surface you have. Read on for tips that are specific to each floor type.

Vinyl

  • Hairspray can build up on vinyl floors. You can create a homemade floor cleaner out of a solution of shampoo and water to clean up the residue.
  • Be careful when moving furniture in order to clean harder to reach areas. Dragging furniture can leave scratches on your vinyl flooring.
  • Don’t wax. Your floor should already have a natural shine, and any wax will only do damage, rather than improve that shine.
  • Avoid heady duty floor cleaners. For vinyl flooring, the gentlest possible methods should be used.

Linoleum

  • Linoleum is one of the toughest surfaces, so you can get away with most cleaning methods for it.
  • The best cleaner to use is a homemade floor cleaner—just a simple 50/50 water and white vinegar solution.
  • You can read more tips for heavy linoleum cleaning here.

Laminate

  • The most important thing to remember when cleaning laminate flooring is that too much water will cause the flooring to warp.
  • As a result, the best way to clean it is with a dry, microfiber mop.
  • You can also use a vacuum to suck up dust bunnies and so on.
  • For when you need more than a microfiber mop, you can make a homemade floor cleaner for laminate, by following the recipe here.

Hardwood

  • Hardwood floor is often expensive, so you want to make sure that you care for it properly.
  • Hardwood is another type of flooring where most of your cleaning will be dry, whether dry mopping or vacuuming.
  • When you do use water, wring out the mop thoroughly and go with the grain of the wood.
  • However, if your floors are lacquered or shellacked, do NOT use water, as it could stain the wood.
  • Buff the floor with a soft cloth when you are done.

Ceramic Tiles

  • A lot of the hard work when you have ceramic tiles comes with regular maintenance—this prevents dirt from sticking around.
  • Washing regularly with water is a great way to do this.
  • Make sure that you take care of your grout, as this is where dirt and age will really show. Seal it after installing your tiles, and reseal about twice a year.

As you can see, whatever kind of floor you have, there are usually plenty of cleaning solutions that require neither too much money, nor excessive amounts of effort. If you keep maintenance as a priority, you will find that the rest of the time your floors seem to take care of themselves—well, almost!

Cleaning Your Washer and Dryer

Cleaning Your Washer and Dryer

Here’s something that few homeowners have really thought about: how often do you clean your washer and your dryer? You would be forgiven for thinking that such a task was unnecessary—surely the clue is in the title, it is a “washer” after all. But the reality is that cleaning the washer and dryer is actually an important task for anyone who owns one.

Why Should Homeowners Worry About Cleaning Their Washers and Dryers?

You might think that cleaning appliances like washers and dryers comes down to nothing but having them look good, but there are actually many different reasons why it is important for homeowners to keep their washers and dryers—and appliances in general—in top condition. First and foremost, it is a safety issue. Things like dryer fires can be easily prevented by cleaning them and the surrounding areas at appropriate intervals.

Second, clean appliances run more efficiently. This makes life easier for you, and saves you money on utility bills in the process. Since this will also extend the life of each appliance, it will also save you money on the cost of replacing or repairing broken machines.

Finally, cleaning your washers and dryers makes them look good, and can improve what might otherwise be an unsightly part of your house. And who doesn’t want a nicer looking home?

How Often Should Washers and Dryers Be Cleaned?

While you can do a light clean of your washer and dryer every month or so, a full deep clean is only needed about once a year. Furthermore, you should replace the hoses that connect your washer to water outlets every three to five years.

How to Clean a Washer and Dryer

Now that we’ve established that every homeowner should know how to clean a washer and dryer, the question becomes, how? Here are a few tips to help you out:

  • For a top loading washer, be wary of dispensers getting clogged up with detergent. You can clean them out with soap and warm water.
  • Fill the empty machine with hot water and one cup of bleach. Leave it for an hour and then run the washer for a full cycle.
  • For a front loading machine, a common problem is a moldy door. Deal with this by using a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water to clean it thoroughly. Get at difficult to reach parts using a toothbrush.
  • For a dryer, make sure that you vacuum out your lint trap every month or so, to remove stubborn lint that sticks around, and check for and repair any tears.
  • Wipe down the inside of your dryer with a rag and a mild detergent or vinegar.
  • The outside of your machines can also be cleaned with most multi-surface cleaners.

If you really want to keep your appliances in the best possible condition, it will take more than a wash every so often—proper maintenance is the best and easiest way to do it. Here are some things that you should be doing in order to maintain your washer and dryer:

  • Always clean out the lint trap after each load of laundry.
  • Leave the washer door open to prevent mildew.
  • Never leave clothes in the washer overnight. Try to remove wet clothes as soon after washing as possible. This will also prevent mold and mildew.
  • Make sure that you are using the recommended amount of detergent, as more than necessary can harm or clog your washer.

You can see more tips and tricks for how to clean your washer and dryer by watching this YouTube video. The key to all of this is proper maintenance. It does not have to be an expensive or laborious addition to your regular cleaning routine, in fact it shouldn’t add much time or money at all—but the payoff will be great for both your house and your wallet. So take a little bit of time to familiarize yourself with your washer and your dryer, give them a good clean, and then commit to keep them in tip top condition for as long as you own them—which, if you do this, will be a very long time indeed.