3 Dangers Lurking In Your Basement

3 Dangers Lurking In Your Basement

  • How To

Many homeowners are choosing to convert their basements into living areas to take advantage of every bit of space in their home. While this is a great way to get the most out of your basement, specific dangers could cause health risks if not resolved. Even if you don’t plan to use your basement for anything more than storage or utility space, these hazards can spread to others areas of your home and pose a risk to you and your family. Here are 3 basement dangers that you should be aware of.

#1 Poor Ventilation

Have you ever noticed a stale air smell in your basement? If so, then you probably don’t have adequate ventilation in your basement. A lack of ventilation is a problem because stuffy air can trigger respiratory problems and asthma attacks in those vulnerable. Properly ventilating your basement as essential especially if you plan to use it as a bedroom or recreational room. Install plenty of basement hopper windows and make sure that you open them frequently for air even when it is chilly outdoors.

#2 Carbon Monoxide

Gas furnaces are often located in basements. Without proper maintenance and care, they can release carbon monoxide (CO) into the air. Known as the silent killer, this deadly gas is invisible and odorless. Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, vomiting, and confusion. It can eventually lead to death.  Make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector in the basement, as well as other areas of your home. If your CO detector goes off and no one is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, open all of the windows for ventilation and leave the house. Call emergency services for help and do not re-enter the home until you are told to do so by emergency personnel.

#3 Mold

Basements can provide a suitable environment for mold to grow due to their dampness. These can trigger respiratory and other health problems, including coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and eyes. It can even cause trouble breathing and chest tightness in those people with allergies or asthma. To reduce the likelihood of mold growth, replace basement windows that are leaky or damaged. Window replacement will help prevent mold growth when windows are damaged. You can also try controlling basement humidity with a dehumidifier.

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How To Plant A Space-Savvy Indoor Windowsill Garden

How To Plant A Space-Savvy Indoor Windowsill Garden

  • How To

It is possible to enjoy a garden all year long even in the tiniest spaces. Here is a guide to planting an indoor windowsill garden.

If you live in the city, you might think that it is impossible to have a garden. However, you can enjoy a space-savvy windowsill garden all year round. Save yourself a trip to the farmer’s market every week by growing your indoor vegetable or herb garden.

Choose A Location

Window sills that have southern or eastern exposure are prime locations for a kitchen garden. If you have a southern or eastern facing window behind your kitchen sink, that would be an ideal location. Choose a window that will get at least six hours of sunlight per day.

You might consider installing a garden window, which is ideal for indoor windowsill gardens. A garden window is a smaller version of a bay window. It is usually located right above the kitchen sink. A garden window protrudes out about 18-inches from the exterior wall of your home. It creates the perfect nook for a garden.

Once you have a space for your windowsill garden, decide what kind of garden you want. You have a couple of choices.

Decide What Kind Of Garden You Want

You can grow both vegetables and herbs indoors as long as you get started off the right way.

Herb Garden

To grow an indoor herb garden, you’ll need to select a windowsill that offers at least six hours of light per day. The more light you have, the more flavorful your herbs. Temperature is another critical factor when it comes to indoor herb gardens. Make sure your indoor temperatures stay around 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Choose the right containers for your herbs. If you select a bowl too small, the herbs won’t do well. Select containers that are at least 4-inches deep. Next, you’ll want to add the herbs. You can either purchase an indoor herb garden kit to get started. Or, you can buy seeds or cut branches from existing herb plants. After you have the herbs, add soil and then fertilize once per month or so while you wait for the herbs to grow.

Vegetable Garden

With about six hours of sunlight and the right soil, you can grow a beautiful indoor vegetable garden. Purchase specially designed indoor potting soil and pots with drainage holes. Fill up the jars with soil and add your vegetables. For vegetables, you’ll need 8 to 10 hours of sunlight a day and 4 to 6 hours for fruits. Some of the best vegetables and fruits to grow indoors include:

  • Spinach – This vegetable does well year-round. Just make sure to choose a container with good drainage.
  • Strawberries – These can also grow year-round. They do need plenty of sunlight.
  • Radishes – Radishes do very well indoors. They don’t need a lot of light either. Just make sure you choose a good-sized container to accommodate the growing bulb.
  • Scallions – These types of onions are great for beginning gardeners as they are very easy to grow.

For more ideas and tips for your home, visit our blog. If you are interested in installing a garden window in your Maine, Massachusetts or New Hampshire home, give us a call for a free in-home estimate.


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Guide to Growing Houseplants in the Winter

Guide to Growing Houseplants in the Winter

  • How To

Houseplants can improve your life in many ways. Winter is the perfect time to enjoy vibrant, beautiful indoor plants. They can help fill the inside of your home with life and color. Plus, your holiday visitors will undoubtedly enjoy your gorgeous amaryllis, holiday cactus, and poinsettia plants.

It can be difficult to keep plants happy in the winter. They’ll need a little extra TLC to stay gorgeous and vibrant throughout the coldest season of the year. Plants only require three things to keep healthy—sunlight, moisture, and the right drainage. Here are some tips to enjoy big beautiful blooms all season long.

Avoid Placing Plants Near Drafty Windows

Plants don’t do very well with temperature extremes. Therefore, keep them away from areas that are too chilly. Position sun-loving plants near a window. But, avoid windows that are leaking. If any of your windows are drafty, you might want to consider replacing them. Your plants will be healthier plus you’ll save on energy costs too.

Consider Replacing Your Kitchen Window With A Garden Window

Garden windows are a great way to grow plants all year-round especially in climates that have extreme windows. Garden windows protrude outward and provide space and light for your houseplants. Because garden windows bring a vast amount of light into your home, they are great for small or dark kitchens. With a garden window, you can continue growing fresh herbs for your holiday meals. Growing herbs when the ground is covered in snow outside is a joy.

Maintain A Steady Temperature In Your Home

Although the ideal temperature varies by species, most plants need a daytime temperature of about 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have trouble maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home during the windows, check your windows and doors for leaks. Either repair or replace drafty windows and doors.

Don’t Overwater

Your plants won’t need as much water in the winter as they did during the warm months. So, resist the urge to overwater them. Otherwise, you’ll likely flood them with too much water. How do you know if they have enough water? Simply, poke your finger below the soil about 2-inches or so. If the roots are dry, then it is okay to water the plant. Also, make sure that you choose a planter with drainage holes as this prevents the roots from sitting in excess water, which can cause rot.

Don’t Worry About Fertilizer

You don’t need to fertilize your plants much if at all during the winter. The reason is because growth is naturally at its slowest. Wait until the spring when your plants start growing again to resume with feeding.

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Preventing Window Boxes from Causing Home Damage

Preventing Window Boxes from Causing Home Damage

  • How To

Spring is on the horizon and we are already dreaming of brightly colored flowers whimsically framing the windows of our home. Early Spring is a great time of year to boost your curb appeal with a well-executed window box! Not only will you be adding character to your home, you’ll also be helping the environment. Here are some ways to ensure that your window box only adds beauty, not damage, to your home.

Examine the Box – Check your window boxes for damage every year to prevent damage to your home.

  • Leave 1/2 to 1 inch of space between the backside of the box and the wall of your home by mounting it on shelf brackets. This allows plenty of air circulation in the event that your wall does get wet.
  • Make sure your window box has proper drainage. Improper drainage can cause your window box to rot faster.
  • Wooden boxes may last for several years, but they will eventually rot. If you notice that your window box has boards that are separating or wood that feels soft to the touch it is time to replace your box.
  • Check around the edges of the box for staining or cracked paint on the side of your home. This could indicate long-standing moisture and is a sign that your window box is causing damage.
  • Tighten, repair, or replace your hanging hardware as needed.

You can find instructions to build your own wooden window box on the DIY Network.

The Plants

Most window box gardeners prefer a mixture of plants with varying sizes that contrast with the background of their home. The most common choices are

  • Pansies
  • Petunias
  • Sweet Alyssum
  • Impatiens
  • Ivy
  • Geraniums
  • Miniature Roses

Remember, the key to healthy plants is to know the conditions your window boxes will be exposed to & choose your plants accordingly. Make sure you know the amount of sun and moisture your window box will receive before you purchase your plants.

Are you ready to get planting? Check out An Extraordinary Day for a full tutorial on planting a window box from a Master Gardener.

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Springtime Maintenance Checklist

Springtime Maintenance Checklist

  • Home Value
  • How To

The warm weather is on its way! Are you prepared? Springtime is a great time to perform yearly maintenance on your home. Here is your Springtime Maintenance Checklist:

Maintenance Checklist for the Exterior of your Home

  • Reseal old or cracked caulking around windows and doors
  • Replace damaged screens
  • Seal off chimney vents
  • Replace weather stripping around windows and doors
  • Inspect roof for broken or missing shingles
  • Clean out your gutters and downspouts.
  • Seal off any exterior accesses that animals could nest in
  • Replace cracked garden hoses
  • Power wash concrete, pavers, or siding if needed


Maintenance Checklist for the Interior of your Home

  • Review & repair your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems before the heat of summer
  • Clean or replace your air filters
  • Clean windows, ceiling fans, dryer vents and fireplaces
  • Check your windows for drafts and air leaks
  • Change the direction of your ceiling fan
  • Make sure your home alarm, smoke/fire alarm, fire extinguisher, and carbon monoxide alarms are working properly
  • Check for leaky faucets, clogged drains or sweaty pipes

Will you be doing any other maintenance on your home this Spring? Let us know!

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5 Ways to Lower Your Utilities in an Old Home

5 Ways to Lower Your Utilities in an Old Home

  • Energy Efficient Windows
  • Home Value
  • How To
  • Replacement Windows

If you own an older home, there is a good chance you are spending too much on utilities. This is especially true if your home is more than 30 years old and was built before energy efficient codes were in effect. Drafty windows, air leaks, and inefficient HVAC systems can all increase your electric bill. Luckily, there are many small ways that you can improve your energy usage in your home.

Seal Air Leaks

Whether it is hot or cold outside, the air that seeps through the cracks and gaps around your windows, door, and plumbing can account for up to 25 percent of your electric bill! Fill in these cracks using caulking or weatherstripping.

To learn how to check your home for air leakage click here.

Check Your HVAC

Sealing your ductwork can reduce air leakage by 15 percent and make a big difference on your heating bill! In fact, the cost of an HVAC tune-up and sealed ductwork will only take one heating season to pay for itself.

Natural gas-powered systems should be serviced every 2-3 years. Oil-fired furnaces should have a tune-up every year

If your home is still too cold and inefficient you may need to replace your furnace. The average life span for a gas or oil-fired unit is between 15 and 20 years.

Last but not least, program your thermostat for even more energy savings.

Add Insulation

Adding insulation is extremely important if your home is more than 25 years old. Adding insulation to your attic, crawl spaces, ceilings, and basement can lead to major savings on your utilities.

Check Your Fireplace

A damaged fireplace damper can account to a shocking amount of air leakage. Hire a chimney sweep to give your chimney a good cleaning and to lubricate and check the damper. When your fireplace isn’t being used you can seal the flue completely using a balloonlike plug called a Draftstopper.

Switch To Energy Star Certified

A whopping 20 percent of your electric bill is spent powering up your appliances. Switching to an energy efficient refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washing system, and windows can really help you save on your electric bill.

Learn more about the importance of energy efficient windows here.

Check Energy Star’s website for any available rebates here.

Browse our selection of energy star certified windows here.

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Three Simple Tests to Check Your Windows for Air Leaks

Three Simple Tests to Check Your Windows for Air Leaks

  • Energy Efficient Windows
  • How To

It’s time to start preparing our homes for the coming winter season, and that means checking for air leaks in your home windows. This simple chore can boost the energy-efficiency of your home, lower your energy bills and keep your family warm and cozy this winter.

1. Visual Test

The most simple way to check for air leaks in your windows is by simply looking at them. When you are outside of your home, do you notice old caulking that has started to leave gaps between the window and your home’s siding? Does the hard putty holding the individual panes of glass in those old windows look damaged? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, your home is vulnerable to water damage and heat loss.

2. Smoke Test

The “Smoke Test” is another easy test that ensures you eyes haven’t missed anything. The only materials that you need for this is a candle or incense stick and a way to light it. Follow these steps to complete the Smoke Test in your home:

  • Close all of the windows and doors in your home
  • Shut off all combustion appliances (furnace, water heater, etc.)
  • Turn on the kitchen and bathroom exhaust vents
  • Hold a lit candle or incense stick close to the spaces around the edges of your windows
  • Look for changes in the smoke

If there is an air leak, the smoke will waiver in the direction the air leak is pushing it. If the smoke remains undisturbed then there are probably no air leaks in that specific area.

3. Infrared Thermometer

This is a quick test that will show you what areas of your home are wasting energy. An infrared thermometer can measure the ambient air temperatures around your window. If it is cold outside and you are experiencing air leaks the thermometer will register a colder temperature.

4. Give Window Source A Call

If you don’t have time to perform these tests, or if you find air leaks in your home, just give us a call. Our experts will quickly identify the problem and give you the solution that works for your specific home. We want to make sure you are saving on your electricity bill and keeping your family cozy this season!

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