All posts by Dan

Reworked Stone Fireplace and New Mantel

Our Customer asked us to cut down the stone fireplace and install a Mantel.  The stone fireplace was from the floor to the ceiling and was starting to lean out from the wall at the ceiling.  We added additional support to the fireplace in the basement because the floor had sagged from the weight.  The additional support did help bring the fireplace back into place but it was still pulling away from the wall at the top.  We took down some of the stone at the top and then fabricated a new Mantel.  Not only did this modification help with the weight issue, but the fireplace is much more attractive and functional.

Improve Home Safety

Burglaries happen every single day in the United States. Home safety is important. There are things you can do to deter and prevent burglaries in your home and make it safer. Prevention is the best medicine. Prevent burglaries from occurring in your home by installing a home alarm system and much more. Keep reading for more home safety tips.

  • When you leave your home for more than a day at a time, prevent burglaries by planning ahead. Increase your home safety by stopping your mail via your local post office or ask your neighbor to collect your mail for you. If you have newspapers thrown in your yard, ask a neighbor to collect those too. If you have a home alarm system be sure to set it. If you have a home safe be sure to put all of your valuables in it and lock it too. Make sure it is a large safe, or most burglars will simply take the safe without taking time to try to open it and risk setting off the home alarm.
  • Leave a light on a timer. They are affordable and worth the investment in an effort to prevent burglaries and increase home safety. Motion-sensor lights on the outside of your home serve the same purpose. Lots of light deters burglars and creates a home safety environment.

EPA Lead Certified

EPA Lead Safe Certification Logo


Home Solutions Handyman is lead paint certified! We are fully trained and certified to handle any potential lead paint hazard while working in your home. With one call we can take care of all of your home repair and improvement needs and relieve your concerns about lead-based paint!

New EPA Lead Certification Rule
As of April 22, 2010 the EPA requires individuals conducting lead-based paint activities (abatement, inspection, and risk assessment) in target housing and child-occupied facilities to be trained and certified. All remodeling and repairs done in homes where lead-based paint may be present must now be done by a certified handyman or contractor.

lead paint on a window

Are you concerned about lead paint and how it might affect you?
Lead from chipping or peeling paint can mix with dust and soil in and around the home making it available for young children to ingest during normal hand-to-mouth play. In addition to chipping and peeling lead paint being a hazard, a freshly remodeled home can also be a danger. During the remodeling process, lead dust and lead chips can mix with dust and soil from scraping and sanding old, painted surfaces.

Lead paint in home building was not regulated until 1978, so most houses built before 1978 contain some lead-based paint. The older the house the greater the risk is for having lead contamination. Lead-based paint is not dangerous if it is handled properly.

What can you do to help protect your family?
There are other things you can do to protect your family every day.

  • Regularly clean floors, window sills, and other surfaces
  • Regularly wash children’s hands, bottles, pacifiers, and toys
  • Make sure children eat a healthy, nutritious diet consistent with the USDA’s dietary guidelines that helps protect children from the effects of lead
  • Wipe off shoes before entering house

How can lead contamination be prevented during a home repair or improvement project?

1. Contain the work area. The area should be contained so that dust and debris do not escape from that area. Warning signs should be put up and heavy-duty plastic and tape should be used as appropriate to:

  • Cover the floors and any furniture that cannot be moved
  • Seal off doors and heating and cooling system vents

These actions will help prevent dust or debris from getting outside the work area.

2. Minimize dust. There is no way to eliminate dust, but some methods make less dust than others. For example, using water to mist areas before sanding or scraping; scoring paint before separating components; and prying and pulling apart components instead of breaking them are techniques that generate less dust than alternatives. Some methods generate large amounts of lead-contaminated dust and should not be used:

  • Open flame burning or torching
  • Sanding, grinding, planing, needle gunning, or blasting with power tools and equipment not equipped with a shroud and HEPA vacuum attachment
  • Using a heat gun at temperatures greater than 1100°F

3. Clean up thoroughly. The work area should be cleaned up daily to keep it as clean as possible. When all the work is done, the area should be cleaned up using special cleaning methods before taking down any plastic that isolates the work area from the rest of the home. The special cleaning methods should include:

  • Using a HEPA vacuum to clean up dust and debris on all surfaces
  • Wet mopping with plenty of rinse water

When the final cleaning is done, look around. There should be no dust, paint chips, or debris in the work area. If you see any dust, paint chips, or debris, the area should be re-cleaned.

Learn more by visiting www.epa.gov/lead and downloading the “Renovate Right” Brochure.

Is your contractor BBB Accredited?

We have just finished the accreditation process with the Better Business Bureau. The BBB Code of Business Practices represents sound advertising, selling and customer service practices that enhance customer trust and confidence in business. The Code is built on the BBB Standards for Trust, eight principles that summarize important elements of creating and maintaining trust in business.

This Code also represents standards for business accreditation by BBB. Businesses based in the United States and Canada that meet these standards and complete application procedures will be accredited by BBB.

To be accredited by BBB a business or organization affirms that it meets and will abide by the following standards:

Build Trust
Establish and maintain a positive track record in the marketplace.

Advertise Honestly
Adhere to established standards of advertising and selling.

Tell the Truth
Honestly represent products and services, including clear and adequate disclosures of all material terms.

Be Transparent
Openly identify the nature, location, and ownership of the business, and clearly disclose all policies, guarantees and procedures that bear on a customer’s decision to buy.

Honor Promises
Abide by all written agreements and verbal representations.

Be Responsive
Address marketplace disputes quickly, professionally, and in good faith.

Safeguard Privacy
Protect any data collected against mishandling and fraud, collect personal information only as needed, and respect the preferences of consumers regarding the use of their information.

Embody Integrity
Approach all business dealings, marketplace transactions and commitments with integrity.

Search the Better Business Bureau’s website for Accredited Businesses

Cheap contractors may cost more in the long run

sloppy contractor work

This was some plumbing that we recently repaired.  The customer had a leak in their kitchen ceiling whenever the bathroom upstairs was used.  What was baffling was that the bathroom had been remodeled about five years ago.  We made some initial repairs that we felt would solve the problem.  The commode was loose because the wax ring had lost its seal, and the tub spout line was cracked leaking into the wall.  Those repairs were completed.  The customer called us back saying the leak was still there.  We opened the ceiling of the kitchen to further investigate and found a mortar base under the ceramic tiles in the bathroom.  The ceramic tile was fairly new and a mortar base is not a traditional method for installing tile these days.  It was done many years ago in older homes.  This house was not that old.  Whoever installed the mortar base got carried away and the water lines were encased in the mortar base.  Not being able to do much from underneath, we had to open the bathroom tile floor and break out the mortar base.  We found this plumbing mess encased in the mortar and it was leaking.  The piece of hose on the plastic line is not anywhere near close to a proper installation and would never have passed an inspection.  Having this all encased in the mortar base just made the whole project to repair this quite expensive.  This shoddy work ended up costing the customer several thousand dollars to get repaired properly.

In the current economy it can be very difficult to justify the investment in getting home repairs done properly, but the cost of not getting the work done correctly can be disastrous to your wallet and potentially can cause someone to get hurt or die. Going with a reputable contractor is the best way to insure that the work gets done properly, safely, and up to code. If you are unsure of a contractor, get references and ask for proof of insurance, and Workers Comp. Check on Angie’s List. Any reputable contractor will be more than happy to meet your request for this information. In the City of Cincinnati, a Contractor has to be registered to get a permit, do the work, and get it inspected. If work requires a permit and you don’t get one, you may find yourself having to pay to undo the previous work and pay to have it done again. There is no savings in that. A reputable Contractor will be able to tell you about getting a permit and help you through the process.

Energy Conservation for Ohioans (ECO-Link) Program

There’s never been a better time to make your home more energy efficient! The ECO-Link Program is providing reduced rate financing for homeowners making “whole home” and energy efficient improvements to their homes. The Department of Energy statistics show that people weatherizing their homes with energy efficient products save between 10-30% on standard utility bills.

Find out more about the ECO-Link Program at the ohio.gov website and contact us today for your handyman needs!

Source: ohio.gov

Winter Weather Roof Damage

Winter Weather Causes Roof Damage

We have been getting a lot of calls lately regarding ice dams, roof leaks, and excessive icicles. We are experiencing our greatest snow fall since 1914. The large amount of snow on our roofs is causing issues that we normally don’t see in this area. A lot of what is happening is just the nature of the beast. The snow melts at the roof, runs down the roof, and has nowhere to go because the gutters are frozen solid with ice. The water is running over the gutters and forming icicles, or finding its way back under the shingles and leaking into the house.

These problems can be caused by many factors. Clogged gutters, roof damage, and insufficient insulation are some causes. If your gutters have not been cleaned in several years, be sure to get them cleaned when the snow and ice is melted before the Spring rains start. If you have roof damage from the Ivan wind event from several years ago, you need to get that repaired this year. Insufficient insulation in your attic can cause too much heat to escape from your house and melt snow at the roof under the snow pack. The water that melts this way has no place to go but into your house by backing up under the shingles.

Check with their insurance company to see if ice dams are covered in your home owners insurance policy.

There isn’t really much that can be done until all the snow and ice melts. Once it is melted, give us a call and we can help determine any corrective action you might need to help prevent these issues in the future.

Be careful of the large icicles. If they fall off the roof, they can cause an injury. I’ve seen some icicles around town that are 8 to 10 feet long. Those will be pretty heavy and will hurt someone if they fall on them.

Porch Rebuild

This porch was re-built because the deck was rotting, the steps were in very bad shape, the structure was inadequate, and the concrete outside the steps was rough and uneven. The handrail on the steps is close together to accommodate a member of the household that has issues walking. Now she can hold onto both handrails going up and down the stairs.

Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audits

You can easily conduct a home energy audit yourself. With a simple but diligent walk-through, you can spot many problems in any type of house. When auditing your home, keep a checklist of areas you have inspected and problems you found. This list will help you prioritize your energy efficiency upgrades.

Locate Air Leaks
Check for indoor air leaks, such as gaps along the baseboard or edge of the flooring and at junctures of the walls and ceiling. Check to see if air can flow through these places:

  • Electrical outlets
  • Switch plates
  • Window frames
  • Baseboards
  • Weather stripping around doors
  • Fireplace dampers
  • Attic hatches
  • Wall- or window-mounted air conditioners

Radon Testing

Radon is a colorless, odorless, soil gas that can seep into homes through small spaces and openings, such as cracks, concrete, floor drains, sump pump openings, wall/floor joints in basements, and pores in walls. Radon can also enter a home through well water.

According the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Radon is a cancer-causing natural radioactive gas that you can’t see, smell or taste. Its presence in your home can pose a danger to your family’s health. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America and claims about 20,000 lives annually. Some areas in the U.S. have a much higher concentration of Radon than others. The EPA estimates that nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. has an elevated level of Radon.

A simple and inexpensive test done by a professional home inspector can determine if Radon is a problem in your home.

Visit Home Team Inspection to learn more!

Do-It-Yourself Closet Organization Tips

If you are like me and don’t have a lot of storage space, you have to get creative with ways to organize closets.  Here are a few tips to help get your closets clutter free and easily accessible.

  • Use plastic bins or zippered clothing bags – contents are visible, you can label them for easy identification, and they allow for easy stacking on shelves.  Shelving can be easily installed by the House Doctors if you don’t already have shelves in your closet.
  • Stack shoes on a shoe rack to keep them easily accessible and off the floor.  Alternatively, you can get a hanging shoe organizer to put on the back of the closet door.
  • Put things at higher reach that aren’t used often.  For instance;  seasonal clothing, guest linens, baby clothes, etc.
  • Sort clothing by season and color.  Short sleeve, long sleeve, etc.  It doesn’t have to be exact, just enough for you to quickly find that black scoop neck t-shirt when you need it.
Cincinnati Handyman Services - Home Organization Tips
Cincinnati Handyman Services - Home Organization Tips

Creative Door Installation

This door was installed as part of a bathroom remodel in a converted upstairs attic. Because of limited space, we had to fit the door to the odd shaped opening. This door separates the bathroom from a bedroom in the attic. After a shower unit was installed, this was all the space left for the door. The old door was a standard door that was taken apart, milled, and put back together to fit the opening. A rather creative solution to an odd shaped opening.

Bathroom Remodel

This customer wanted to have her outdated bathroom completely updated. She hated the old tile and tub colors. She wanted the tub/shower, vanity, commode, and wall tile removed and new fixtures and wall tile installed. She choose to go with brushed nickel fixtures that give the bathroom a classy look. The old wall tile was removed and replaced. A bathroom remodel is a good investment in a home. You can enjoy the bathroom while living in the house, and then get a better price when it is time to sell your home.

Cincinnati Home Repair New Tile in a Bathroom Remodel

This tile was done in a complete bathroom remodel. The tub/shower tile and the wall tile was all done as part of the bathroom remodel. The added trim tile requested by the customer added a nice touch and really makes the bathroom look good.

Do-It-Yourself Winter Energy Saving Tips

This winter, save money and stay warm. Keep your energy bill and your pollution output low this winter by taking a whole-house approach to heating.

  • During the heating season, keep the draperies and shades on your south facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
  • Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable when home.
  • By resetting your programmable thermostat from 72 degrees to 65 degrees for eight hours a day (for instance, while no one is home or while everyone is tucked in bed) you can cut your heating bill by up to 10 percent.
  • Weatherize your home—caulk and weatherstrip any doors and windows that leak air.
  • Properly maintain and clean heating equipment.
  • Replace furnace filters regularly.
  • Check the insulation in your attic, ceilings, exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawl spaces to see if it meets the levels recommended for your area.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

Cincinnati Home Repair New Outdoor Staircase

We were asked to replace a stair and handrail system on the back porch of this house. The old wood stair unit was angled down causing an unsafe condition and only had a handrail on one side. The customer was a senior and was concerned about safety when using the stairs. We removed the old stair unit, installed a concrete pad for the new stair unit to keep it stable, and installed a new custom built pressure treated stair unit. The handrails on both sides make it much safer to go up and down the stairs. There is an concrete porch under the wood stairs. The new stairs were built over the concrete porch. There was no reason to remove the concrete porch as it was still viable.

Cincinnati Home Repair Fixing a Porch Roof

This porch roof had water damage, as well as evidence of carpenter ant activity in the area just over the post.

Here is the same porch roof with the structural repairs made. The vinyl ceiling covering and aluminum covers are yet to be installed.

Do-It-Yourself Winter Home Protection Tips

Here are some tips for keeping the Winter weather from taking it’s toll on your home.  Checking these items can keep your heating bill down and prevent damage to your home this Winter.

  • Remove your hoses from the outside faucets. If left on the valve will freeze and break in the wall causing a leak to appear in the Spring when you go to use the hose.
  • Check weatherstrip around doors and windows. This can let in a lot of cold air and cost you more for heating. Older homes have older weatherstrip and it can be updated to a newer and better weatherstrip quite simply.
  • Be sure your windows close tightly and latch securely.
  • Installing storm windows on older single pane windows can help conserve energy.
  • If you have plumbing running through a crawl space you need to confirm that the pipes are not freezing. Insulation or heat tape on the pipes can help keep them from freezing.
  • Additional attic or wall insulation can help conserve energy.
  • Watch for ice dams forming on your roof. They can lead to water leaks when the ice/snow begins to melt. The ice dams keep water from flowing into the gutters or off the roof.