How to Fix Your Toilet

A homeowner’s life is filled with mini hazards that pop up at a moment’s notice. Our appliances make life easier, but they are subject to malfunction. A broken toilet interrupts your day and can cause serious water damage, which emphasizes the importance of timely repairs. The following tips to fix your toilet will help you get your water system and your home life flowing properly again.

If these repairs are beyond your capabilities, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber.

Problem: there’s water around the base of the toilet

A leaking toilet can have you dealing with the perils of a water damage emergency in no time. If there’s water around the base of your toilet, that’s a telltale sign that the leak has sprung from the wax ring seal. You’ll have to remove your toilet to replace it.

How to Fix a Leaking Toilet

  1. Use a wrench to disconnect the water supply from the shutoff valve. Drain the tank until all water is removed from the bowl.
  2. Disconnect the water supply valve from the toilet tank. Using a screwdriver and wrench, remove the caps on the base of the toilet and the hex bolts beneath them.
  3. Grab the toilet by the bottom and lift it from the ground. Set it aside on material that will prevent damage to your bathroom floor, like a towel or blanket.
  4. Remove the old wax gasket from the flange and install a new one on it by centering it on the flange and pressing it down into place.
  5. Reinstall the toilet by placing it on the bolt holes, keeping it level as you go. Use your weight to press down on the toilet bowl before putting the bolts back in. This helps to compress the new gasket. Caulk around the base of the toilet if needed.
  6. Reconnect the water supply to the shutoff valve and open it before giving your new toilet a test flush. If there are no leaks, you’re done!


Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: photovs


Problem: the toilet won’t stop running

Another common issue homeowners face is a running toilet. The constant sound of running water coming from your bathroom isn’t just annoying; it wastes water and can cause spikes in your utility bills. A running toilet is typically due either to a faulty flapper or the water level being too high in the tank, causing overflow.

How to Fix a Running Toilet

  • The most common cause of a running toilet is that the flapper chain is caught on something. To check for this issue, take the top off the tank to see if the chain is too taught. If so, see if you can release it, after which the flapper should fall into place and stop the run.
  • If the flapper or the chain are compromised, they’ll need to be replaced. But no sweat, that’s easy! Start by shutting off the water supply and drain the tank by pulling up on the flapper chain. Remove the flapper by unhooking it or removing the ring that holds it in place. Pick up a new matching flapper at your local hardware store and reverse the process to install it and reconnect the chain. If this doesn’t solve your running toilet problem, it may be a larger issue, such as the flush valve.

Problem: the toilet isn’t flushing correctly

If your toilet isn’t flushing correctly, there’s likely something wrong with the flush handle or the water level, or it could be a clogging issue.

How to Fix Flushing Issues

  • Tighten the flush handle if it’s loose and see if that solves the problem. When you do, make sure the flush lever is working properly. If there’s too much slack in your lift chain, it won’t trigger a proper flush. Make sure it’s not too loose, but not so tight that it can’t flush properly either.

Problem: the toilet has started wobbling

Sometimes homeowners will suddenly notice their toilet feels uneven or is rocking slightly. This is usually because the flange that connects to the drainpipe is sitting higher than the floor.

How to Fix a Wobbly Toilet

  • The best fix is to wedge shims under the base of the toilet and caulk the area to solidify it.

For more tips on home maintenance, read the following blog post about controlling mold:

How to Prevent and Deal with Mold


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7 Tips for Cleaning Your Appliances

Your appliances help your home run like a well-oiled machine. But without the proper cleaning and maintenance, they can make your life more complicated. When thinking about the most helpful cleaning tips around the house, we often center our efforts on open, high-foot-traffic areas. However, spending some time cleaning your appliances will have your home feeling fresher than ever.

7 Tips for Cleaning Your Appliances

1. Cleaning Your Refrigerator

Your refrigerator is the lifeblood of your food supply. A clean refrigerator equates to fresher food and a healthier household. Start by clearing the shelves and bins so you can access the tough-to-reach spots and corners. Wipe everything down with soap and warm water or try an equal-parts mixture of vinegar and water as a cleaning solution. This is also a good time to reorganize your refrigerator to cut down on food waste.

2. How to Clean Your Microwave

One simple cleaning hack can have your microwave looking brand new. Fill a microwave-safe bowl or container with water and heat it up until it starts to boil. Turn off the microwave and let the heated water sit for at least five minutes, then safely remove it. By heating up the water, the food particles caked on the walls of your microwave will be much easier to wipe away. To eliminate germs, disinfect your microwave’s handle and buttons.

3. Espresso Machine / Coffee Maker

If your coffee maker is kaput, your whole morning routine gets thrown off. Whether you use a stovetop coffee maker, French press, espresso machine, or a good old coffee pot, performing regular maintenance will decrease bacteria and mold growth. Periodically separate the removable parts of your coffee maker and wash them thoroughly with warm soap and water. If you have a coffee press, run the parts through the dishwasher occasionally to prevent buildup in the mesh.


Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: kirstyokeeffe


4. Dishwasher Cleaning Tips

If your dishwasher isn’t clean, your dishes won’t be either. Get it in pristine condition with a few simple cleaning tips. After cleaning all food scraps and gunk from the drain, wipe down the gaskets with warm soapy water. Though there are a variety of dishwasher cleaning products available, you can give your appliance a thorough deep cleaning with vinegar and baking soda. Fill a dishwasher safe container with one to two cups of vinegar and place it in the top rack. Run a cycle without dishwasher detergent nor other dishes. Once the cycle is complete, sprinkle roughly a cup of baking soda along the bottom rack and run another cycle.

5. How to Clean Your Stove Top

No matter how tidy you are as you cook your stove top will collect debris and buildup from splattering oil, butter, and food particles. Throw on some rubber gloves and get ready to give it some elbow grease. Soaking food buildup with warm water will break it down and make cleanup easier. Use a hard plastic scraper to get your stove top totally clean. If your burners are removable, remove them and soak them in water to get them sparkling clean.

6. Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Seeing stains in your freshly washed loads of laundry? It’s time to give your washing machine some TLC. Fortunately, your washing machine can do most of the cleaning work itself. Add a little vinegar to the drum and run a cycle on your machine’s hottest setting. Many newer models come with self-cleaning features and higher energy efficiency ratings to save water on each load.

7. Dryer Cleaning Tips

Don’t forget about your dryer, too! Dryer maintenance is largely a matter of cleaning out the lint traps regularly (after each use) and vacuuming the mesh. Without proper maintenance, your dryer can get clogged, leaving your washed clothes damp. And if enough dryer lint builds up, it could start a fire.

For more helpful cleaning tips, read our blog post on commonly missed cleaning spots throughout your home:

6 Commonly Missed Cleaning Spots


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7 Tips for Sustainable Living at Home

There’s always room for improvement in a household’s quest to go green. From how you use your appliances to the way you consume and dispose of food, every lifestyle choice you make at home presents an opportunity to be more eco-friendly. Adopting more sustainable practices has obvious environmental benefits and helps to improve quality of life, but it can also increase your home value and in some cases may generate extra cash.

7 Tips for Sustainable Living at Home

1. Create a Sustainable Kitchen

The kitchen is responsible for a decent portion of your home’s energy output. Choosing energy-efficient appliances can help to improve your household’s sustainability by using less energy. Reusable materials go a long way in the kitchen as well. Even seemingly small changes like switching from single use to reusable grocery bags and eliminating paper towels can make an impact. Using natural cleaning products will keep your kitchen cleaner longer while improving your home’s air quality, and being mindful about water usage can save on utility bills.

2. Plant an Herb Garden

To further improve your home’s sustainability, consider planting an herb garden. This helps to cut down on repeatedly buying spices and seasonings at the grocery store while cultivating a natural ambience in your home. (And they’re fun to cook with, too!) Do indoor plants need sunlight? Of course, so be sure to position your indoor garden in an area where your plants have direct access. Once you’ve picked out a spot, decide which herbs you’d like to grow. Some of the most common herbs are easy to grow and will pair well with whatever’s on the menu—basil, thyme, cilantro, parsley, oregano, etc.

3. Tips for a More Energy Efficient Home

The first step in becoming more energy efficient at home is understanding your energy output. Once you understand your household’s habits, you can identify which cutbacks will help you chart a more sustainable path forward. Energy-efficient lightbulbs can help you save on utility bills. Because they use less energy that standard lightbulbs, they typically last longer as well. Make sure your home is properly insulated and your windows’ caulking and weatherstripping is in good condition. Air leaks and poor insulation waste energy and will cause spikes in your utility bills.


Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: Nattakorn Maneerat


4. Reduce Waste at Home

Every household produces some sort of waste, but it’s how that waste is treated that makes all the difference for the environment. Clean your recycling to make it easier to process and do your best to only buy what you plan to eat. Start a compost bin for extra food scraps or consider other agricultural solutions for disposing of it. Consider buying items like shampoo, conditioner, moisturizers, and the like in bulk to cut down on packaging waste. Reusable glass containers or jars will help you portion out meals and provide a useful way to store bulk items like rice and beans.

5. Use Solar Energy

Yes, making the switch to solar energy comes with significant upfront costs. But an investment in solar is not just an investment in the health of the planet, it can increase your home value as well. The energy savings you’ll generate in the long-term will depend on your household’s level of consumption and the power generated by your solar panels. And if you’re generating more power than you’re consuming, you may be able to sell the surplus energy back to the grid. For more information on solar-based incentives and tax breaks by state, visit DSIRE (Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency®).


A worker installs a solar panel on the rooftop of a sustainable home as the sun sets behind him.

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: ArtistGNDphotography


6. Sustainable Gardening Best Practices

Even for the green thumbs, there’s opportunity to go greener at home. A garden is only as healthy as its soil. Mulching is vital to soil health and helps to reduce weed growth. Animal manure also has the power to enrich garden soil, both as a fertilizer and conditioner. Organic weed killers made with natural ingredients will maintain your garden’s health while keeping unwanted weeds at bay. Apply this same organic mindset to dealing with slugs as well. Certain types of slug bait may possess certain chemicals that do more harm than good, especially if you have farm animals on your property like chickens or goats.

7. Sustainable Laundry Room Tips

Before you begin your next cycle in the laundry room, consider some methods of reducing energy. Because the heating of water is responsible for a majority of the energy generated by doing laundry, using cold water can help you save on energy costs. Cold water is also gentler on clothing. Clean the dryer vent and filter regularly to keep it unclogged and running efficiently. Consider hang-drying when possible, and in warmer months, air dry your clothes to save a dryer cycle.

For more information on sustainable living, helpful advice on home upgrades, plus tips on DIY home projects and more, visit the Living section of our blog.

Windermere Blog – Living


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Preparing Your Garage for an Electric Vehicle

Many have made the switch from gas-powered to electric vehicles (EVs). They help to make a household more sustainable by reducing its carbon footprint, cut down on gas costs, and present a variety of technological solutions for modern home life. With more EVs being produced by a greater number of auto manufacturers than ever before, their driving range is constantly improving; most models can travel hundreds of miles with a full charge. As a homeowner, there’s a specific to-do list you’ll want to complete before welcoming an EV into your home.

Preparing Your Garage for an Electric Vehicle

By giving your garage a simple makeover, you’ll be set up for success as an electric vehicle owner. An EV is nothing without a charged battery, so your home charging station should take precedence when reorganizing the space. As EVs continue to grow in popularity, more remote charging stations are popping up across the country. However, it is advised not to rely solely on remote charging. Having a charging station at home is simply more convenient and will ensure that your vehicle is never far from the power it needs.


Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: 24-K Production


Setting Up a Charging Station

To charge your vehicle, you’ll need the proper electrical setup. You’ll have two options: either a 120- or 240-volt amp outlet.

Though 240-volt outlets are more expensive and require a more involved installation process that includes applying for and obtaining a permit, they charge faster than 120-volt outlets. 240-volt outlets also put added strain on a property’s electrical supply, so you may need to hook up a new service line to accommodate for the added voltage.

It is common for garages to already have a 120-volt outlet installed, so no additional installation work may be needed if you decide to go that route. Electrical installation is usually outside the realm of DIY home projects, so be sure to talk to a local licensed electrician for advice.

  • Follow manufacturer instructions for installing your EV charger. In general, it’s preferable to have the charger three to four feet off the ground and no more than four feet from the outlet.
  • Cold temperatures can adversely affect charging times, so it’s important to properly insulate your garage. Insulate as necessary before purchasing your EV so everything is squared away by the time your vehicle arrives.
  • Keep the charging station easily accessible by clearing out any other items or clutter in the area.

Security Measures

An EV charger is a valuable item, which is all the more reason to make sure your garage is protected. If your home is already well equipped from a safety and security standpoint, you’ll want to extend coverage to your garage to protect your new investment. Home security cameras and alarm systems will help to ensure that, at the very least, you’ll be notified of a break-in.

For more information on sustainable living, tips on organizing your home, cleaning hacks, and more, visit the Living section of our blog:

Windermere Blog – Living


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Preparing Your Home for Summer Heat and Wildfires

Summer is the season for spending long days in the yard, taking dips in the pool, and sitting in the shade to beat the heat. In the midst of these sun-filled adventures, though, lies the potential for heat waves, smoke, and wildfires. Every homeowner should be ready for these emergencies as well as the damaging effects they can have on their home. The following information will help you prepare your home for the hottest days of the year.


Preparing Your Home for Summer Heat

As temperatures soar, it’s important to make sure that your methods of cooling your home are as effective as possible. Adding insulation may not be the first thing that comes to mind when prepping your home for the summer heat, but it will help prevent cool air from leaking outside and hot air from entering. If your insulation is out of date, now is the time to make replacements as needed. Windows are another culprit for air leaks, which commonly form between the window frame and the frame of the house. Fill these cracks with caulking between the frame and the exterior siding. If your windows are exposed to prolonged periods of direct sunlight, consider placing an awning or screen shades above the exterior side to provide some relief from the radiating heat.

Air conditioning can be a lifesaver during summer. There are two main options when it comes to air conditioning: either a window unit or central cooling. Window units are the least expensive option and offer portability. It’s important to choose a unit that is the right size for your home or the room you’re trying to cool. One that’s too big will quickly cool your space and then shut off completely. This can increase your energy bills and put unnecessary wear on the unit. An undersized unit simply won’t cool your home and will constantly run to try to reach the target temperature. With central air conditioning, homeowners can expect much higher startup costs. But once installed, central AC provides short- and long-term comfort and adds to your home’s value.

Summer is a good time to check your HVAC unit’s air filters. Turn the unit off before performing any maintenance. If any devices that give off heat are close enough to the thermostat that regulates the AC, they could generate an incorrect reading, which could throw off your air conditioning efficiency. For maximum efficiency, place these devices away from the thermostat.


Preparing Your Home for Wildfires

The first step in preparing your home for wildfires is to have an emergency plan. Make sure everyone in your household is aware of what to do in the event of a wildfire. Pack an emergency kit to bring with you in the event of an evacuation. For homeowners who live outside a fire zone, consider buying an air purifier to protect yourself from smoke.

To give yourself the best chances of keeping wildfires from getting too close to your home, keep all flammable objects away from the house, preferably at least thirty feet. Clear your gutters of debris such as leaves, twigs, sticks, and the like. These materials are tinder for fire. Any flammable vegetation within five feet of the home should be cleared away, and any trees that overhang close to the home should be cut back to a distance of ten feet. Remove any dead plants or vegetation from your yard and keep your lawn short. Install mesh screens over exterior vents to prevent embers from entering your home. 

This may seem like a daunting list, but these preparatory measures are worth it to protect your home and loved ones this wildfire season. Once you’ve taken these steps, you can enjoy your summer days at home knowing you’re prepared.

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The Best Indoor Plants for Every Room

With thousands of plant species, it can be hard to distinguish which plants are best suited for each room in your home, which greatly depends on sunlight exposure and temperature. A simple rule of thumb is to make higher maintenance plants more accessible to you. Some lower maintenance plants can go weeks without watering and require very low levels of sunlight.

Here’s a quick guide on indoor plants and where to place them in your home based on the level of care and management.


The Best Indoor Plants for Every Room

Living room

A monstera, a.k.a. Swiss cheese plant, works well in the living room due to its size and their natural inclination to climb. Providing a monstera with a stake or a trellis will bring about some decorative growth. Another large plant, the fiddle-leaf fig, works well in larger rooms. Fiddle-leaf figs tend to be more top-heavy with their large, floppy leaves. Both of these plants could work well next to a couch or sitting area where there is ample overhead space for the leaves. These large-leaved plants are typically happiest with indirect sunlight. Proper watering can be determined by observing the dryness of the soil. Once the top of the soil is dry to the touch, which is typically once a week for these plants, it’s time to give them a shower. 



Spider or jade plants can be great to have on a desk, and also work well to fill up shelving space. Adding a plant to a bookshelf here and there adds texture and brings a sense of wellness to the space, which is especially important when you’re working long hours from home. You could even swap a bookend for a plant to liven things up. Both of these plants are low maintenance and thrive in partial sun or shade. These plants typically require watering every two weeks, but when in doubt, check the soil to see if it’s dry.



Plants that require low levels of sunlight and enjoy high humidity—like ferns or bamboo—are great for the bathroom. Place them on your shower shelves or on a countertop to give your bathroom a spa-like feel. Because they can absorb water from the shower steam, they can go up to three weeks without a proper watering. Pothos, or Devil’s Ivy, is another great houseplant for the bathroom. They like to grow downward in a draping manner, so you can get creative with a hanging basket display.



Two plants that work well in kitchen spaces, such as on windowsills or in corners, are the Snake Plant and Cast-Iron Plant. The snake plant is known for its resiliency, and its thick leaves can handle the occasional splash from the kitchen sink or accidental bump from pots and pans. The Cat-Iron Plant is one of the toughest houseplants you’ll find. Where another plant may wither and die, the Cast-Iron Plant survives. Both are low maintenance plants can last weeks without watering. No green thumb? Fear not. These plants will keep on keepin’ on through harsh conditions or neglect, and their bright green leaves will help give your kitchen a fresh look and feel.


As the seasons change, your plant care routine will need to adjust to climate conditions. Some plants are known to go dormant in the darker months and require less amounts of water and sunlight. During springtime, fertilization can be done by adding fertilizer to the top of the soil.

Before you bring a new plant home that could end up in the hands (or paws) of a child or pet, do some research to be sure it’s safe for everyone in your household. Organizations such as the APSCA and the National Poison Center offer online sources to research the plants you plan on bringing home.

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How to Handle Water Damage In Your Home

Even if you’ve done all you can to prevent water damage in your home, there’s still a possibility it could occur. During a water damage emergency, it’s important to have a plan in place and be proactive to make sure things don’t go from bad to worse.


How to Handle Water Damage

If your home is in danger of flooding, evacuate the area until it is safe to return. In all other situations, as soon as you notice any water damage, it’s time to act quickly to prevent further damage. Water reaching an electrical source spells danger, so be sure to switch off your circuit breakers to cut the electricity. If your circuit breakers are in the same room as the source of the water damage, it’s best to stay away and call an electrician. Unplug devices from outlets as well to avoid getting shocked. In all situations, wear rubber boots, gloves, and protective gear.

After the electricity has been turned off, the next step is to find the source of the water damage. In the case of a burst pipe or a leaking hot water tank, cut the water supply by switching their shut-off valves. If the water damage has occurred in a small, contained area, you may be able to handle the repair independently. But if the water damage has spread to a large area, it will require a professional.

Moving furniture, household items, and possessions not only helps to protect them, but will also clear the area for when professionals arrive, allowing them to get right to work. If the water continues to flow while the technician is on their way, try to prevent further damage by slowing its spread using buckets, towels, and mops. These items don’t have the salvaging power of a professional’s tools, but anything you can do before they arrive could help to prevent further damage.


Water Damage – Insurance

Contacting your insurance company as soon as possible will help to navigate the situation. Find out what steps they may require you to take in the event of a flooding emergency. It’s helpful to get a claims adjuster to your home quickly to assess the situation and provide estimates on the potential cost of making repairs. Water damage can easily feel overwhelming and chaotic, but it’s important to photograph the incident. Take photos of the source of the damage, where it spread, and the damage it caused—both to the home and any personal items of value. Documenting the incident will inform your claim with your insurance company.

Whether the damage is covered by your insurance depends on the source of the problem and how your policy is arranged. If the damage was a result of an underlying condition that worsened over time, your claim may be denied. If this happens, ask for a detailed explanation to understand the gaps in your policy. This emphasizes the importance of regular home maintenance on the systems that control the water in your home. Even if you run into a costly repair, it’s better to be aware of deficiencies and fix them than to wait and be faced with a full-fledged emergency later on. Take time to review your policy as is and understand what you as the homeowner are ultimately responsible for in the event of an emergency.

For more information on how to get ahead of potential home emergencies, read our guides on preparing for wildfires and winter storms.

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8 Tips for a More Energy Efficient Home

Whether they are motivated by rising energy costs or a desire to cultivate a more sustainable home, homeowners are constantly searching for ways they can go green, reduce their home’s energy waste, and save money in the process. Here are some simple methods for a more energy-efficient home.


1. Determine Your Energy Output

A natural first step in your energy-efficient journey is to get a gauge of how much energy your home is currently using and where it is being used. Analyze your recent bills to get a picture of your home’s energy consumption and the habits that are tied to that level of usage. From there, you can determine what kinds of cutbacks can be made to save energy. You might also consider hiring a professional energy auditor to fully inspect your home’s energy practices and identify where there’s room for improvement.


2. Laundry Room Best Practices

Adjusting your methods in the laundry room is an easy way to make an impact on your home’s energy output. When it’s sunny, air-dry your clothes to save energy. Most of the energy consumption generated by doing laundry comes from the heating of the water, so use cold water when possible. Wait until you have a full load before running the washer to maximize your laundry room’s efficiency.


3. Install Energy-Efficient Lighting

Replacing incandescent lights with newer, more energy-efficient options is a productive step towards reducing your home’s energy waste. A change of lightbulbs is a relatively cheap solution compared to more expensive energy-saving methods like replacing appliances. Because energy-efficient lightbulbs use less energy than standard bulbs, they commonly last much longer as well.


4. Check Your Windows

Excessive air conditioning and heating are often the culprits behind wasteful energy practices. Weatherstripping and caulking your windows help to regulate the flow of air, keeping your home warmer in the colder months and cooler in the hotter months. Old, drafty windows let in air that can increase your home’s energy usage, regardless of the season. The upfront investment in purchasing new windows will pay off in the long run and will help to reduce energy waste.


5. Check Your HVAC Unit

A fine-tuned HVAC system is critical to making your home as energy efficient as it can be. Maintenance of your HVAC unit periodically to make sure it’s running in tip–top shape and to avoid replacements, which can be quite expensive. The cleaner your HVAC filters, the more efficiently they can run. The filters should be swapped out a maximum of every three months, more often if you use it year-round or if you have pets at home.


6. Insulate Your Home

A well-insulated home can deliver significant savings on heating and cooling costs. Walls and windows are common areas where air can escape, but so are pipes and ducts. Wrapping all these areas in insulation will pave the way for saving energy throughout the house.


7. Turn Down Your Thermostat

Turning down your thermostat is an effective method of reducing energy consumption. Even lowering it by one degree will lower your furnace’s energy output and can make a difference in your home’s overall energy efficiency. Remember to clean your furnace filter often. A clean filter will allow your home’s heating system to run more efficiently and cost-effectively.


8. Set Energy Efficiency Goals

Once you’ve begun to implement some of these strategies to make your home more energy-efficient, you’ll discover new ways to reduce your home’s energy waste while saving money. Set goals for your home’s overall energy output in a given month or set a target number you’d like to see on your next energy bill. Track your home’s progress in energy efficiency and the savings you’ve generated over time to see the difference you’ve made.

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10 Tips for Sustainable Gardening

Spring is calling and the flowers are in bloom. It’s the time of the year that many homeowners start spending more time in the garden. Having a healthy garden is one of the best ways to create a sustainable home and reduce your household’s carbon footprint. Here are some eco-friendly tips that will help to make your garden even more sustainable.


1. Compost Your Waste

Composting, which puts your natural waste to good use, is the cornerstone of any sustainable garden. All grass clippings, dead leaves, plants, flowers, and the like are rich in nutrients. By composting, you provide your garden with a natural fertilizer, free of contaminants. Not only will this provide nourishment, but it will also help to produce healthier and tastier food.


2. Mulching

If having a sustainable garden is your goal, it’s important to treat your soil with care. Mulching enriches the soil and ensures it’s as healthy as can be. Mulch conserves the moisture in your soil, ensuring it won’t dry out. It also reduces weed growth and naturally moderates the temperature of the soil. Mulching can cover either bare soil or freshly planted food and flowers.


3. Garden Design

It’s natural to want to accentuate the beauty of your garden when designing it, but the sustainable gardener will prioritize giving plants what they need. Take into consideration which plants need direct access to sunlight, which need the most space in the garden, and any special requirements a plant may need to inhabit optimal growing conditions.


4. Use Natural Weed Killers

One of the pillars of organic gardening is to reduce the use of chemicals whenever and wherever possible. Homemade recipes involving vinegar and corn gluten meal are effective substitutes for harmful, chemical-based weed killers. Whichever method you choose, it’s important to weed by hand often.


5. Use Water Efficiently

Substantial watering is critical to keeping your garden healthy, but overwatering is a common practice and leads to an unsustainable garden. Research the amount of water your plants and flowers need to make sure you aren’t overwatering. If you live in a rainy climate, rain barrels are a useful tool as their function is to catch and conserve the water from your downspouts.


6. Animal Manure

For a more sustainable garden and even healthier soil, consider adding animal manure. Chicken, sheep, and cow manure are all popular choices. Rich in nutrients, it can be used both as a fertilizer and as a soil conditioner. Make sure the manure you purchase is free of pathogens and ask about the recommended window of time from application to harvest before you begin using it.


7. Go Local

Planting natively is a fast ticket to sustainable gardening. Native plants are innately acclimated to local climate conditions, making them easier to grow and maintain. Native plants often require less water to grow due to their familiarity with the soil and rainfall in your region, which cuts down on your garden’s total water intake.


8. Collect Dried Seeds

Believe it or not, you can save your seeds and sow them next year. Wait until the seed is fully ripe before you collect it. It’s important to gather seeds when the weather is dry and to store them in a dry place. To produce healthy plants in the future, the seed must be completely dry.


9. Control Garden Slugs

Slugs are known to wreak havoc on gardens, eating through leaves and fruit, leaving a trail of destruction. There are many ways of controlling slugs in your gardens, but some may do more harm than good. If you choose to use slug bait, go organic. Many slug baits contain chemicals that are highly toxic to other animals.


10. Replace Your Gas Mower

How else can you reduce your garden’s carbon footprint? Replace your gas mower with a more sustainable alternative. Electric mowers and push mowers are functional and more eco-friendly replacements. For added sustainability, consider replacing your other gas-powered equipment, such as trimmers and leaf blowers.

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How to Prevent Water Damage to Your Home

Water is constantly coursing through your home, flowing in and out of drain pipes, sinks, tubs, and showers. Numerous systems in our homes are dependent upon water, but the minute it runs rampant it begins to cause damage. The consequences of water damage run the gamut, from rotted drywall and mold growth to serious structural issues. The following guide will help you understand what you can do to prevent water damage in your home.


How to Prevent Water Damage


Leaks soften wood, which invites all sorts of unwanted activity from termites, while simultaneously creating a perfect habitat for mold and mildew growth. To prevent leaks, keep your drains healthy by frequently cleaning out your drain strainers and refraining from dumping grease down your drains. Check to make sure none of your drains are leaking and if need be, repair or replace your p-traps. Drips, dark stains around your pipes, and discoloration on your ceilings and walls are all strong indicators that a leak has sprung. If you notice an inexplicable spike in your water bill, this is also a sign of a potential leak. By identifying these signs, you can begin repairs right away and stop the water damage in its tracks.

Gutter drainage

A home with weak gutter drainage is an open invitation for water damage to occur. Cleaning your gutters routinely is the best way to prevent them from clogging, which helps to avoid damage to your siding and foundation. Make sure your downspouts expel the gutter water away from your house parallel to the ground. Take a trip to the hardware store for downspout extensions and elbows to make sure that water won’t build up around your home’s foundation, especially if you live in a rainy climate.

Sump pump

Your sump pump can be your saving grace should a water emergency occur. Sump pumps move excess groundwater away from your home, preventing it from infiltrating your basement or crawl space. They are connected to the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) electrical outlet, which protects it from electrical shorts. There are two ways to test your sump pump. The first is by pouring in enough water to raise the float. If it’s working properly, the pump should activate and begin removing water from its pit. The other method is to unplug the pump’s power and plug it back in. If it does not turn on, it requires repair or replacement.


There are some additional steps you can take to prevent water damage to your home. Inspect your roof to identify any damaged shingles or cracks. While you’re up on the roof, take a look at your chimney. Repair any cracked or broken bricks and consider a chimney cap if you don’t already have one in place.


Water damage can be harmful to your home and your finances. Even the smallest leak can snowball into larger problems if neglected. By following the steps to prevent water damage, you’ll know if your home needs repairs before it’s too late. For more advice on preventing damage to your home, read our guides to wildfire and winter storm prevention.

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