Thursday, October 27, 2011

Kitchen Safety!

With the holidays quickly approaching, more time is spent in the kitchen than any other time of year!  Did you know that fires have a greater chance of starting in your kitchen than anywhere else in your home?  Avoid a recipe for disaster!  Refresh your memory by reading the article below about how to keep your family and kitchen safe.

Safe Cooking Behaviors 
It is a possibility for serious injury or even death to wear loose clothing (especially hanging sleeves), walk away from a cooking pot on the stove, or leave flammable materials, such as potholders or paper towels, around the stove. Whether you are cooking the family holiday dinner or a snack for the children, practicing safe cooking behaviors will help keep you and your family safe.  

 Watch What You Heat
  • The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you're cooking.
  • Stay alert! To prevent cooking fires, you have to be alert. You won't be if you are sleepy, have been drinking alcohol, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy.
 Keep Things That Can Catch Fire and Heat Sources Apart
  • Keep anything that can catch fire - potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels, or curtains - away from your stove top.
  • Keep the stove top, burners, and oven clean.
  • Keep pets off cooking surfaces and nearby counter tops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire if it comes into contact with a gas flame or electric burner.
 What kind of fire is it?  Where is it? 
  • If you have a fire in the oven or the microwave, close the door or keep it closed, and turn off the oven. Don’t open the door! The lack of oxygen will suffocate the flames.
  • If your oven continues to smoke like a fire is still going on in there, call the fire department.
  • If you have a fire in a cooking pan, use an oven mitt to clap on the lid, then move the pan off the burner, and turn off the stove. The lack of oxygen will stop the flames in a pot.
  • If you can’t safely put the lid on a flaming pan or you don’t have a lid for the pan, use your fire extinguisher. Aim at the base of the fire — not the flames.
  • Never use water to put out grease fires! Water repels grease and can spread the fire by splattering the grease. Instead, try one of these methods:
    • If the fire is small, cover the pan with a lid and turn off the burner.
    • Throw lots of baking soda or salt on it. Never use flour, which can explode or make the fire worse.
    • Smother the fire with a wet towel or other large wet cloth.
    • Use a fire extinguisher.
  • Don’t swat at a fire with a towel, apron, or other clothing. You’re likely to fan the flames and spread the fire.
  • If the fire is spreading and you can’t control it, get everyone out of the house and call 911! Make sure everybody in your family knows how to get out of the house safely in case of a fire. Practice your fire escape route.
  Protect Children from Scalds and Burns
  • Young children are at high risk of being burned by hot food and liquids. Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a "kid-free zone" of 3 feet (1 meter) around the stove.
  • Keep young children at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from any place where hot food or drink is being prepared or carried. Keep hot foods and liquids away from table and counter edges.
  • When young children are present, use the stove's back burners whenever possible.
  • Never hold a child while cooking, drinking, or carrying hot foods or liquids.
  • Teach children that hot things burn.
  • When children are old enough, teach them to cook safely. Supervise them closely.

Keep safe and happy cooking!  To order a copy of my book Remodeling Hell CLICK HERE  and then click ORDER NOW. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Care Tips For Stucco Tile

I thought this was a great article to share, especially for those of us in Arizona.  Regular maintenance will prevent the problems that neglect can bring.  Some tips for your stucco-clad house.

  1. Efflorescence shows up on stucco after one of our rare soaking rains or in spots where your sprinkler has sprayed water on your house over and over.  To banish or at least blunt the fuzzy white blight, mix a cleaning solution of one part vinegar to five parts water, and scrub it on with a stiff nylon brush.  Rinse all of the vinegar solution off with water.   Still an eyesore?  Use a power washer to remove dirt, loose paint and all signs of efflorescence from the walls.  Prime with an alkali-resistant sealer like Dunn-Edwards Paints' Eff-Stop, designed to help neutralize the efflorescence.  Then cover with 100 percent acrylic paint. Keep moisture away from your freshly primed and painted stucco.  Move your sprinklers away from the house or you'll find yourself with the same problems! 
  2. Paint your stucco exterior with good brushes.  You'll see professional painters spray painting homes, but that's not a technique for amateurs.  Take the time to tape off windows and trim with painter's tape so you'll be able to paint in straight lines and get less siding paint on the trim and vise versa.  Expect to pay $15 or $20 for a good, 2.5-inch tapered paint brush.  
  3. Use elastomeric caulk, not paint, to fill in small cracks in your stucco walls.  Elastomeric caulk is a better remedy because it has great elasticity, so it will move with cracks if they widen, and it will help prevent water from seeping through the cracks.  Covering an entire wall with elastomeric paint, on the other hand, could make your problem worse.  Elastomeric paint is so watertight that it prevents the walls from "breathing."  So if water does manage to find its way into or behind your walls, it will get trapped there.  That can cause problems like bubbling paint and mold growth.  Use the caulk instead to repair cracks, but touch up the paint using a 100 percent acrylic paint.  
  4. Paint stucco at least every five to seven years to keep your home more waterproof.  Stucco alone is not waterproof, yet so many homeowners never or rarely repaint it.  Use a high acrylic paint to ward off problems from internal water damage.
Saltillo-tile tips

  1. Saltillo tile is thick and clay based, and its less-than-exact character is one of the things that make it authentic and charming.  Those same natural flaws make the tiles a tad uneven though, so don't be surprised if your table and chairs are a bit wobbly when they're placed on them.  Likewise, most manufacturers do not "rectify" the tiles, which means each piece might be off just a hair from the others.  Susan Hoblit, general manager of Tuscon Commercial Carpet Flooring America, says you'll need more grout between tiles than you would with porcelain tiles.  
  2. Seal your porous Saltillo every year to avoid stains from spills, and consider installing it in low traffic areas in your home.  Hoblit, who's company installs tile and not Saltillo steers people away from using Saltillo tiles in kitchens, where most spills and traffic occur.  If your Saltillo patio has a shade cover, seal it with a penetrating sealer.  Keep your sprinklers clear of this tile or you'll be dealing with the same efflorescence that plagues your stucco.
  3. If you're removing Saltillo tile from a large room, consider staying elsewhere until the job is done.  When Saltillo tile breaks, it crumbles, and that creates an awful lot of dust.  Ask your contractor to close off the room with plastic and tape. 
  4. If you love the look of old Mexico but your bare feet can't tolerate a Saltillo-tile patio that's muy caliente, set your tiles upside down.  The undersides of Saltillo tiles are unglazed and courser than the glazed tops, so they feel cooler to the touch.  
  5. And if you love the look but can't bare the thought of maintaining your authentic clay tile, consider using faux Saltillo made from porcelain.  Hoblit notes that Saltillo-look porcelain tiles come in a wider variety of sizes than the real deal - up to 18 by 18 inches - so you can opt for fewer grout lines.  And the porcelain version is level to prevent wobbly furniture, and rectified, so each tile is the same size.  
To purchase your copy of Remodeling Hell click HERE.  

*Article from Rosie Romero via the Arizona Republic

Monday, October 3, 2011

5 BIG Mistakes Do-It-Yourself-Ers Make!

I ran across an interesting article from the Arizona Republic that I thought would make a great blog post.  The topic is 5 BIG mistakes that do-it-yourself-ers make that can cost you in time, money, frustration, quality of end product, and as the article states, "dirty looks from your spouse."  :)

  1. You didn't make a plan!  One of the main reasons do-it-yourself-ers start more jobs than they finish is because they don't realize which materials, how much time, the amount of money, or kind of expertise they really need to finish a job - before they start it.  An example?  You want to turn an unused room into a home theatre.  You think all you need are some comfy chairs, a huge t.v. on the wall, add some DVD's and some speakers and you are good to go.  Did you consider whether or not the room needs sound proofing, or black out drapes, or perhaps path lighting on the floor for people to come and go in the dark?  All are things that could stall a project in progress!
  2. You didn't get a city permit!  Maybe you think a do-it-yourself-er can modify their own house without letting the city know, but that isn't always the case.  If you are adding a room or putting in a hot tub or pool, or maybe adding a structure - like a shed- you need a permit.  Even some plumbing and electrical jobs require permits.  If you're messing with a gas or sewer line, you need a permit.  So before you start digging a big hole, or knocking down walls, call the city and let them know your plans.  You should always get the required permits before beginning because it would be awful if you had to dig up everything you did in order to sell your house later, because it doesn't meet code.
  3. You're doing a job you don't know how to do!  It's okay to admit that you don't know how to do everything.  You aren't knowledgeable about electricity wiring?  That's okay.  Better you call and pay someone that does know what they are doing as opposed to risking a fire or shock because you are too proud to admit it isn't your area of expertise.  
  4. You don't wear safety gear!  You've used your power tools dozens of times without putting on safety goggles or a hard hat and you've never had any problems so you don't need it, right?  Wrong.  The thousands of DIYers that wind up in the emergency room every year after they're injured using their chain saws would disagree with you.  Not to mention since the economy tanked, the number of DIYers visiting the emergency room has sky rocketed because we all need to take care of our own home repairs when possible to save money.  Before you pick up that power tool or even a hammer, make sure the job you are about to do is one you can do safely.  If you aren't sure, hire a pro.  Saving a few bucks, isn't worth a potential hospital visit.  If you are confident that you can do the job yourself, then suit yourself up for it, so if a hammer falls on your head, it won't knock you out!
  5. You don't get around to the small stuff!   That air conditioner that's acting up, could leave your family sweltering in the middle of July and cost you thousands of dollars if you ignore it and don't figure out what is going on before it goes out completely.  That dripping faucet isn't really hurting anybody and can wait, but you could end up with a pricey water bill!  Sure those small projects aren't as much fun as the big ones, but letting them go will make those small problems become big ones before you know it.  Fix them while they cost little time and money, and save your weekends and cash for working on the fun stuff.  
 For more household tips and tricks, order your copy of REMODELING HELL by clicking HERE now! 

Article credit to Rosie Romero