Top Stories

  • Take Care of Ducts Now for Greener, Cheaper Winter Heat

    Updated: Sun, Sep 14, 2014

    How can you prepare for a healthier, energy-efficient, and money-saving winter? Take care of your HVAC ductwork by cleaning, repairing, and insulating it as necessary. Proper attention to the air duct system is an easy, inexpensive step toward improved air quality and more efficient heating. Why not take care of this task now, before winter's cold sets in? Clean Routine vacuuming or dusting of your HVAC registers is important, but cleaning further inside the ductwork is not necessary on a regular basis. However, there are certain circumstances that warrant cleaning the interior of your ducts ASAP -- for your health's sake. If you see mold growing inside your HVAC ducts, it is essential to clean the system to avoid allergies,

  • Why Brutalist Architecture is Hated and Loved

    Updated: Sun, Sep 14, 2014

    While it may sound off-putting or even a little scary, Brutalism is actually a distinctive type of architecture and a very interesting phenomenon. Brutalism was a controversial architectural movement in the middle of the 20th century. It led to the construction of some dramatic-appearing yet functional buildings, many of which are still in use as of the present day. What is Brutalism? Brutalism is a style of architecture that descended from the Modernist movement. It was fashionable from the 1950s to the end of the 1970s and is now enjoying a resurgence in popularity in some circles.

  • 203K Home Buyer Loan: What Is It and Who's Eligible

    Updated: Thu, Sep 11, 2014

    The 203K is a home-ownership loan program originated by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which is a division of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This type of FHA-guaranteed mortgage loan can allow you to either buy a home that's in poor shape and fix it up, or refinance and repair your current home. The loan comes in two types: 1. A regular 203K is suitable for homes that require structural repair. You will receive an amount equal to the property's as-is value plus the cost of repair OR 110 percent of the estimated value of the home after repairs. 2. A streamlined 203K is faster to process and is more easily obtainable these days. It applies to fixer-uppers that need only non-structural repairs.

  • Create Easy Eco-Friendly Décor Accents with Fall Fruit

    Updated: Wed, Sep 10, 2014

    With the change of season, you're probably looking for a few home decor touches that say "Autumn." You'd like them to be seasonal, eco-friendly, easy to make, and, most of all, charming and welcoming … just like your house. Decorating with fall fruits is not only eye-catching and fun, the green part is that when you're done with them, you can repurpose the fruit as part of a healthy meal. Fruit Bowl Fill a pretty bowl with a pleasing array of fall fruit in various shapes, colors, and sizes. Put it on display in your living room or foyer. Choose fruit that will stay good for a week or so (how about rich red pomegranates?) or change it out frequently.

  • 10 Popular Roofing Styles: Which is the Best for You?

    Updated: Wed, Sep 10, 2014

    Besides performing the essential function of protecting human beings from sun, rain, hail, and snow, roofs come in various shapes that add architectural interest to the buildings they cover. Factors to consider when choosing a roof are local climate, cost to build and maintain, and the style of your home as a whole. If you are actively planning to build a house -- or just daydreaming about your future residence -- it's fascinating to learn about different roofing styles and decide which one you like best. 1. Flat A flat roof is the simplest kind to build. It takes the least amount of roofing material but needs to be carefully waterproofed, because it doesn't drain well.

  • Recycled Content Tile: Choose the Eco-Friendly Option

    Updated: Tue, Sep 9, 2014

    Whether it's used for flooring, backsplashes, or countertops, tile is beautiful, durable, and fire resistant. Easy to maintain using biodegradable cleansers, it's also hypoallergenic and environmentally friendly. It doesn't off-gas dangerous VOCs, absorb pollutants, or harbor allergens. If a part is damaged, you won’t need an expensive replacement for your entire tiled area. Recycled content tile, a relative newcomer to the home improvement scene, goes conventional tile one better by offering all its traditional advantages together with an even more impressive green scorecard.

  • Why Not Plant Vegetables this Fall?

    Updated: Sun, Sep 7, 2014

    As your late summer vegetable harvest winds down, why not celebrate a great home gardening season by … planting some more!! “What?” you may ask. “The leaves on the trees are starting to change color already and we’re getting out scarves and sweaters. Why plant anything now?” Well, no matter how generous Mother Nature was in supplying you with homegrown produce over the past weeks, it soon will be used up, given away, or preserved for the coming winter. Imagine having a new stock of fresh, delicious, healthful veggies to enjoy as the weather turns nippy. What Are the Advantages of Fall Planting? Planting in the autumn means you’ll be able to extend the season when you can pick the freshest imaginable vegetables.

  • Remodeling: Envision Your Dream Home

    Updated: Sun, Sep 7, 2014

    Just about everyone has a vision of their dream home. Even if you built it yourself or had extensive remodeling done before moving in, after several years in residence you’ve likely come up with ideas about how your living space could be improved. It’s human nature to want to create a “nest” that’s as cozy, attractive, and practical as can be. Clarifying your needs and wants before you hire a professional remodeler helps ensure that the work will be done to your satisfaction. Mentally walk through your house and picture how you'd like it to look and feel. GET STARTED Find Your Personal Style Your personal style will determine the direction your dreams flow in.

  • Transform Your Patio with Paint

    Updated: Thu, Sep 4, 2014

    Is your patio looking tired and dull? Why not give it a lift? Painting an outdoor floor a color you love ... or even adding a DIY brightly patterned “rug” right onto your patio surface ... is a fast and fairly inexpensive fix for a case of the decor doldrums. It’s easy to do, too – just follow these simple patio painting guidelines. Prepare the Area Move your patio table and chairs safely out of the way. Make sure that children and pets will not have access to the patio until the paint job is complete and has had time to dry. Clean first – get rid of dirt, debris, and stains. Remove mold or mildew (concrete, because it is a porous material, is susceptible to moisture and mold).

  • Here’s How to Clean Concrete Floors

    Updated: Wed, Sep 3, 2014

    Strong, long lasting, and easy care, concrete floors have a lot of pluses. And with today’s new elegant finishes, concrete is just as much a flooring option for your living room as for the basement or garage. Be aware that although it is a relatively low maintenance material, concrete does need occasional cleaning to get rid of dirt, stains, and oily patches. Here’s how. It’s Easy to Clean Standard Concrete Floors Standard concrete floors are super easy to clean. When you just need to remove a small amount of dust, you can use a vacuum cleaner. Sweep up large particles of dirt and debris with a sturdy synthetic broom. In either case follow with a high pressure wash down with your garden hose.

  • Garage Door Opener Problems: A Troubleshoot Guide

    Updated: Tue, Sep 2, 2014

    Having trouble with your garage door opener? Now’s the time to take care of any problems. Chances are good that come winter, you do not want to arrive home from work on a cold, dark evening and be stuck outside. Even in a mild climate like Atlanta’s, garage doors that can’t be closed securely will provide would-be intruders with easy access to your home. Troubleshoot the potential malfunction sources to figure out whether you can fix the opener yourself or you need to call in a professional. Even if you do need a pro, it will likely save time and money when you can describe the source of the trouble. Here is a troubleshooting guide to common garage door opener problems. PROBLEM #1: The remote doesn’t work.

  • 8 Amazing Hometalk Ideas to Fancy up Your Fence

    Updated: Mon, Sep 1, 2014

    Fencing plays a starring role in the home decor news these days. You’ll see weathered pickets or rugged fence boards ingeniously repurposed as living room wall art or headboards for the bedroom. But sometimes a fence is just a fence – not something to be recycled, but an actual structure that provides privacy, security, and shade to your yard. There’s no reason for this essential item to be boring, though. Here are 8 fences imaginatively decorated by Hometalk members. Try doing one of these projects yourself to delight the eye and perhaps add curb appeal to your home. 1. Marble-Embellished Fence Here’s a whimsically embellished fence courtesy of Creating Really Awesome Free Things (C.R.A.F.T.).

  • Freeze Produce Now to Enjoy Summer Flavor All Year

    Updated: Sun, Aug 31, 2014

    Nature’s bounty is at its peak as summer winds down. Are you lucky enough to have your own organic garden? It’s likely to be brimming with fresh, luscious fruits and vegetables right around now. In fact, you probably have more homegrown produce on hand than you know what to do with. Besides sharing the wealth with friends and neighbors, you can stock up for winter by freezing some of your stash. Non-gardeners may simply substitute high quality produce from their local farmers’ market or u-pick farm. Why Freeze? Freezing is a fantastic method of storage. It keeps food safe by stopping bacterial growth almost completely.

  • How Much Salt Is Too Much?

    Updated: Sun, Aug 31, 2014

    Salt is often demonized as a poison that you must eliminate completely from any healthy food plan. However, the truth is more complex. Salt, or sodium chloride by its scientific name, is our primary source of sodium, which is necessary for human functioning. Too much salt can have a serious harmful effect on the body … but so can too little. Most people get too much or not enough salt in their diet. Like Goldilocks with her bowls of porridge, the trick is finding the amount that is “just right.” Too Much If you have, or are at risk for, high blood pressure (hypertension), it is important not to overdo your sodium intake.

  • Roofing Estimates -- It Pays to Know What You Want

    Updated: Thu, Aug 28, 2014

    A roof is a roof, right? Well, yes and no. When you’re looking for an estimate on a roofing job, you’ll save time and get the best value for your money if you know what you want. You’re already one step ahead of the game if you’re thinking about roof repair or replacement now, in plenty of time to get your home ready for the storms of winter. Now prepare yourself even more by clarifying your roofing estimate needs. Repair vs. Replace Choosing whether to fix up your existing roof or invest in a new one can be a tough call. In today’s uncertain economy, the tendency is often to patch up and make do. However, when you’re thinking about roofing, that might not be such a wise idea.

  • Help Wanted: A Trustworthy Plumber in My Area

    Updated: Thu, Aug 28, 2014

    It all started when I noticed a strange smell coming from under the kitchen sink. At first the odor was so slight that I thought it was just my super-sensitive nose acting up. (Yes, I admit it: I am the type who spends several weeks every spring sniffling and snuffling as seasonal allergies afflict my schnoz. I’m also the type who notices lingering cigarette smoke in a room at fifty paces. On the plus side, you don’t need to ask twice – I love to stop and smell the flowers.) The Perfume Over time, as the “perfume” grew in intensity, I took action and emptied the under-sink area. The process reminded me of going to the circus and watching all those clowns climb out of a Volkswagen.

  • Eco-Friendly Electric Fireplaces: How Do They Stack Up?

    Updated: Wed, Aug 27, 2014

    There’s nothing cozier on a crisp fall day than sitting in front of your fireplace, enjoying its warmth and the hypnotizing play of the flames. Add in some good company, your favorite munchies, and maybe a faithful four-legged friend snoozing on the hearth rug, and you’ve got a recipe for total relaxation. If you’re committed to going green, the fireplace in this cozy picture could very well be an electric one. Let’s take a look at 10 reasons why electric fireplaces are an excellent eco-friendly option. 1. Unlike traditional wood-burning versions, electric fireplaces do not give off any toxic greenhouse gases, a no-no as stricter laws on emissions control are passed.

  • Why Roto-Rooter is a Household Word for Drain Cleaning

    Updated: Tue, Aug 26, 2014

    Roto-Rooter has become so synonymous with sewer and drain cleaning in the minds – and speech – of most Americans that many of us are shocked to find this common term is actually a trademark. It refers to both a patented plumbing invention and the corporation that it generated. Here’s the story of their success. A Remarkable History The drain cleaning business was revolutionized in the early part of the 20th century, when Samuel Oscar Blanc came up with a game-changing inspiration. This Des Moines resident’s diverse background included correspondence courses in mechanical and electrical engineering, as well as experience working as a phone lineman and salesman for a power pump company.

  • 13 Awesome Advantages of Aluminum Decks

    Updated: Mon, Aug 25, 2014

    Strong, weather resistant, lightweight, and surprisingly eco-friendly, aluminum has been widely utilized in both commercial and residential construction projects for many years. A relatively new use for this amazing metal is as outdoor decking, where aluminum offers homeowners a whole host of advantages. Here are 13 of them. 1. Strength. Two to three times as strong as the traditional choice for decks – wood, aluminum has the superior strength and rigidity of a structural material. It allows for 36-inch joist spans, with no sagging … even if you place large planters on your deck. 2. Lightness. Once again, aluminum shines, this time in the weight category. Easy-to-handle aluminum is just ¼ to ⅓ as heavy as wood (approxi

  • Organize a Greener Closet Today

    Updated: Sun, Aug 24, 2014

    Organizing is the “in” thing as we all try to make our lives greener and simpler. And the first place we generally look to improve is the state of our closets. No matter how neat – and environmentally aware – you are, there is almost certainly at least one closet in your home that would benefit from a green makeover. How Will Organizing Make Your Closets Greener? Organizing starts with inventory – taking a good clear look at what you have on hand. Go through your closets with an objective eye. Inviting a friend to join you may make this challenging task easier. You are likely to find forgotten-about clothing and accessories that you’ll enjoy reusing -- either wearing as is or creatively transforming.