Top 10 tips for a toasty winter home -

Top 10 tips for a toasty winter home -

As the weather starts to turn cooler, you should start thinking about preparing your home for another winter. Here are our top 10 tips for a toasty winter home.

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Seal up all of your windows with weatherstripping and caulk. Add storm windows or plastic sheeting for an additional layer of protection from the cold.

Weatherproof your exposed pipes and faucets. Disconnect hoses and empty out fountains and other water features that won’t be running during the winter.

Take care of gutter and roof repairs while you still can work outdoors. These repairs will be hard to do in the winter and, when icing and snow start, can cause serious problems and costly damage.

Use means to prevent insects from coming inside. Clean and spray the exterior of your home and seal up entry points where they can get in.

Weatherstrip your doors. See if you can see or feel areas where there are gaps to allow air in and out. Replace or add more weatherstripping. If the seal at the threshold isn’t good enough, replace it. You can add a door sweep for just a few dollars to seal up the bottom a little tighter.

Cozy up your floors by adding rugs to them, especially wood and tile floors.

Reverse the direction in which your ceiling fans move. In the summer, you want the air blowing down into the center of the room. But in the winter, you want to push the warm air that collects at the ceiling back down the sides of the walls to the floor to recirculate it.

Seal up other airflow gaps around utility entry points, attic/crawl space trap doors, electrical outlets and switch plates and other places like this.

Seal up air leaks in heating ducts. Leaky duct work can heat areas that don’t need heating and leaves living spaces cooler than they should or could be. Use mastic to seal ducts, and add batt insulation to them if they are not insulated. Seal plenums, too.

Now you get to enjoy the cooler weather and the upcoming holidays without worrying about spending extra money on wasted energy!

Homemade baskets

Baskets are great places to store things. A basket easily can be made from lots of different materials: a plastic jug, a cardboard box or even scraps of wire mesh. As a former "country girl," I know how to make a basket from hardware cloth and cage clips in just a few minutes. It’s easy to do and completely customizable, too. Whatever basket you choose can also be hung on a wall or on a piece of pegboard. Then you’ll also free up some valuable shelf space.

Add extra shelving

Standard shelving is perfect for storage in a crowded garage or workshop. But it can be made even better with the addition of some auxiliary storage. Just attach short sections of different sizes of PVC pipe to the side of the shelving. The easiest way to do this is with cable ties, but glue and/or screws also will work. It’s the perfect place to hang garden tools and lots of other home repair tools, like shovels, screwdrivers and other shop goodies.

Super hints

It’s the time of year when we are having wood delivered and stacked for our fireplaces. Make sure your woodpile is at least a few feet away from your house and off the ground. This prevents critters and insects from nesting and moving into your home!

A towel bar, installed in a small bathroom, can pull double duty if placed in just the right spot. Use it to hold a towel and a roll of toilet paper. Just choose one that will make it easy to reload with TP when you run out. It won’t take up any floor space, either, and one installation will take care of two hangers!

Lever door handles are much easier to operate than the classic round door knobs. You can push down on them with your elbow, with your arms full of grocery bags, and open the door. It’s also great for those with physical challenges, like arthritis.

Q. We installed a shade cloth over our patio and are spending a lot more time out there. I want to put in an outdoor electrical outlet so we can have a fan, radio or something else electrical out there. Does it need to be a GFCI outlet?

A. Yes! Most city and county codes require it, but even if they don’t, it’s a smart thing to do. It’s not that much more difficult to install, and could save your life!

Q. When my uncle passed away, I inherited a lot of his books. I looked forward to getting them home to put them into my bookshelves, but they had a real musty smell. I’m not sure if they were stored in a wet basement or what. How can I get rid of this smell before putting the books out?

Top 10 tips for a toasty winter home -

A. Set the books out in the sun to help dry and air them out. Leave them out for a whole day but not overnight, as they may collect dew. If any of them still smell bad after that, place them in a box with cornmeal scattered in and around them. This also will help dry them.

Reader tips

Our house has wooden framework around the windows. They are energy efficient, but still made of wood. I painted the trim a new color this spring and took some advice from my dad. He said to paint the wood and go over the glass just a tiny bit. He said this little bit of extra paint over the joint of the wood and glass would seal it a little more. I’ll try anything!

We have several storage shelves in our garage. They are the ones you buy and put together. I added heavy-duty wheels to them. I now can move them around when I need to clean behind them. It also allows me to store additional items behind or on the sides of these shelves. It was a great idea, and I wanted to share it with others. Thanks for the opportunity and for all of the super advice and tips.

When we decided to wallpaper the kitchen and breakfast room, we made it a family affair. With two daughters, we did it in record time and even had a little fun, too. When soaking the wallpaper, we used a couple of ice chests, filled with a little water. This worked better than store-bought pans, as these don’t tip over and can hold several pieces at once. Maybe you have a better way, but this worked well for us and saved us a lot of time.

In an effort to help my wife keep the boys’ laundry under control, I bought some metal trash cans — you know, the old galvanized type. I wanted to put them on wheels, and found some roller plant stands that would fit them perfectly. Then I used screws to attach the plant stands to the bottom of the cans. The boys each have a can with their name on it. They can just roll it to the laundry room on laundry day, and the clean clothes go back into the can, so they can roll them back to their rooms and put their clothes away. Everybody’s happy with this plan.

After cleaning out my closet, I ended up with several plastic shoe-storage boxes. Then I started to organize the bathroom cabinet. I used the plastic shoe boxes to separate and store toiletries, travel items and medicines. I labeled each one and stacked them in the cabinet. Now it’s easy to get to just what I need. Even my husband can find stuff on his own now!


Turn an ordinary kitchen faucet into a more versatile, colorful, water-saving, movable water feature with the new Bubble-Stream. The Bubble-Stream fits most kitchen faucets and saves water with a built-in restrictor. It won’t interfere with the water pressure. In fact, it can give you even more pressure than you are used to. It also swivels to allow you to spray the water just where you need it, and you can switch from an aerated flow to a non-aerated stream, depending upon what you are washing or filling. It’s easy to install and even comes in a variety of colorful choices. It’s available at home centers like Home Depot, and at a variety of other outlets.

We found a new, innovative tape that has worked pretty well for us on a couple of repairs. Stretch & Seal is a self-fusing silicone tape that has no adhesive, and bonds only to itself when stretched and wrapped around a surface. It easily conforms to almost any shape and surface to create a permanent, watertight seal in a wide range of temperatures. It’s great for pipes and other hard-to-seal areas, and it even comes in a few different colors. You can remove it later if you need to. Made by Nashua, you can find out more by visiting

Write to Kelly Carrell in care of the Daily Herald, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006 or visit online at

2014, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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