How To Make Your Home More Fire Safe

smoke detector

The underlying need behind every to-do list is to keep the house from burning down.

As winter approaches, fires become more and more of a possibility.  Spending an increased amount of time at home will inevitably heighten the likelihood of one of the kids leaving an oven mitt on the stove, or the overused dryer catching fire, or the dog chewing through an electrical cord

While you may not be able to stop accidents from happening, you can lessen their chances by having your home’s fire prevention up to date.  Here’s how:

CO Monitors

Not every home has these, but they should. Carbon Monoxide is a toxic gas that is both odorless, and colorless.  It is often the harmful byproduct of every day appliances.  Some common sources of this range from open flames, to water heaters, to blocked chimneys.  It is the kind of thing you won’t see coming, so why take that fatal chance?


CO detectors are inexpensive and can be purchased online.  Installing these guys close to the ceiling or close to the floor is important, CO will either rise or fall.

Test Smoke Detectors

Everyone’s number one favorite device to deactivate is this noisy sucker.  We’ve all been there, it’s the middle of the night, and there’s a persistent beeping sound.

While smoke detectors can be agitating, they are life savers.  Check them once every 3 to 6 months to make sure they work properly, and change the battery when it’s dead.

Fire Extinguishers

This is a necessity.  Every floor of your home should have an up-to-date fire extinguisher.  These tools should also correspond to your home’s fire emergency plans.


Make sure all the members of the family who are responsible and enjoy the privilege of riding in the front seat (aka anyone over the age of twelve, with self-control, and strong enough arms), know where the fire extinguishers are, and how they operate.

Fire Hazards

Here are a list of the most common fire risks around your home to check up on…

  • Kitchens – Appliances like stoves, pressure cooker, grills, etc. need a 3 ft radius of space between them and another object. This may mean rearranging the placement of some shelves or hooks, but better safe than sorry.
  • Clothes Dryer – Dryers create tons of lint. We all know about cleaning out the lint catcher after each load, but what about the dryer cabinet?  This is a sneakier aspect to your machine, and it’s something that needs to be maintained.
  • Sawdust – If you have your own personal handyman (or woman) in your home, it’s likely that there is also a corresponding stack of sawdust somewhere in your garage. Cleaning up after projects is very necessary, especially in the case of wood.  Saw dust is flammable and burns quickly, so it’s better not to take the chance.
  • Loose Outlets – If there is an outlet in your house where the cord falls out easily, you have a problem. These outlets generate a lot of heat and overtime can start fires.  Re-securing outlets when they become loose will keep your home safe.

Having a Fire Safety and Evacuation plan for your home is paramount.

  • Know all the exits, windows and doors.
  • Make sure the smaller individuals are matched up with a buddy and that they know your address and how to call 911.
  • Have a meeting point (like a coffee shop or friends home) to regroup at.

For assistance making your home more fire safe – give us a call! 866-FIX-MY-HOME.

5 Best Gutter Cleaning Tools You Need For 2017

gutter cleaning tools
Try this gutter cleaning robot

The remnants of summer are packed into your gutter.  Probably leaves, shingle particles, and some runaway baseballs or tree branches.

The rainy season is here, and if your gutters are already occupied, you’re likely beginning to experience water damage to your home’s caulk, windows, and wood.

If you’re not one for using your hands to clean out the gutters, check out this top 5 list of the best gutter cleaning tools you need to get the job done in 2017…

  1. Pressure Washer Attachment Turn your pressure washer into a gutter cleaning pro.  Need a pressure washer too? The AR Blue Clean AR390SS is a great choice that won’t break the bank.
  2. Gutter Cleaning Robot – The Roomba is not the only one of its kind.  While it may not quite be AI, these inventions are a fun, hands-free way to clean out your gutter.  Loosen your gutters and drain them into a sack with this helpful bot.
  3. Gutter Cleaning Water Wand Do you have a multiple story home?  Scaling the side of your home on extension ladders can be a terrifying feat.  Gaining altitude while wielding a hose can be even scarier.  Clean your gutters from the safety of the ground with this wand hose extension.
  4. Gutter Guards When there are trees all around your home, there is also likely leaves and debris all around your gutters. If you live in a lush area, there are extra steps you can take to avoid clogged gutters.  Gutter guards are like drain catchers, filtering out larger chunks of debris while letting water flow through.
  5. Extension Ladder Are you trying to save money by cleaning gutters the old fashioned way – with your hands and a hose? It is possible, but only if you have the assistance of a sturdy, reliable extension ladder.  These ladders are the bare minimum for your gutter cleaning.

One of the best parts of fall is getting rid of the dust and grime accumulated during summer. Equip your home to have a successful, worry-free winter!

Flooding, water build up, wood rot, and other expensive repairs will be a thing of the past when you have clean gutters.

If all this sounds like a lot of work, or you just want someone to take care of your gutter cleaning so you can stay on solid ground, check out our new Clean & Cover Package.

Fall Preparations Homeowners Forget About

Cool air can be a refreshing change after a long, warm summer, but it is also an indication of much colder temperatures to come.

Now is the time to begin readying your house for winter.

Here is a list of preparations that homeowners commonly overlook when winterizing their home:

Keeping Warm

  • Get your furnace or heat pump inspected for carbon monoxide leakage and serviced to make sure it is clean and in good shape.
  • Make sure your fireplace or other heating appliances that burn coal, oil, wood or gas including your chimney and vents are clean and in good repair, too. Not only will this help prevent chimney fires, it also will keep carbon monoxide from seeping into your home.
  • Check all of your doors and windows for cracks and gaps and fill with silicone caulk.
  • Put your ceiling fans in a reverse mode and run the blades clockwise if possible. After you turn on your heat it will create an updraft and push the warm air down. If you have high ceilings this can be really helpful as well as energy saving.
  • Consider putting in easy to install cork floors, or getting a few more area rugs. No one wants to step on cold floors in the winter!

Your Roof and Gutters

  • Inspect your roof for damaged, missing or loose shingles that could leak during snow, rain or sleet storms or from melting snow. This is a great job to hire a handyman to do. They can repair a few shingles and while on the roof check out and repair any breaks in flashing seals around the chimney or vent stacks. If you have a flat or textured roof, make sure to blow off the leaves and pine needles before snow falls, because these can hold moisture.
  • Clean out your gutters. If they are full of debris, this can cause water to back up, damaging roofing, siding and wood trim, as well as causing leaks and ice dams when snow and ice form. Need help? Check out our Clean & Cover Package.

Your Garage

  • With lower temperatures on the way, you want to make room in your garage for your car. Store summer items and other things you won’t readily need that might be taking up space.

Pipes & Ducts

  • Protect your water pipes. A burst water pipe is the last thing you want to have to deal with in the middle of winter.
  • While you are at it, check on your washer and dryer connections, hoses and ducts. Clean them and make repairs if necessary. This could save you from a flood or a fire.

The First Freeze & Snow

  • Have your snow shovel handy and check to make sure that your snow blower is in proper working order.
  • Install low voltage outdoor lighting or motion-activated lighting along walkways, stairs, driveways, fences and other outdoor features to create better illumination and reduce safety risks.

Check a few things off your list each day, or tackle a bunch of them on the weekend. You may want to call a craftsman at Handyman Matters if you want help with any of these fall preparation chores. Take a look at our new Fall Package to help get a few of these checked off.

You can contact Handyman Matters at 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find a location in your area.

The sooner you get your fall prep done, the sooner you can start enjoying the cooler weather, pumpkin pies, and hayrides!

Shampooing Upholstered Furniture

how to shampoo upholstered furnitureIn order to keep it bright and fresh, Upholstery should be vacuumed at least once a week and shampooed at least once a year.

Items You’ll Need

The basic tool for shampooing is a supply of clean white terrycloth toweling. This is absorbent enough to retain cleaning solutions and abrasive enough to remove dirt without damaging delicate fabrics.

Identify The Fabric Type

Do not attempt to shampoo furniture without first identifying what the fabric content is and whether or not it is washable and color fast.

The manufacturer often attaches a label, usually sewn to the underside of the cushions or stapled to the frame of the couch or chair, that will say what the fabric is made of and how it should be cleaned.

If there is no label, or if the label does not say how it is to be cleaned, then consult a fabric cleaning chart for help in making an educated guess for selecting a suitable cleaning method.

How To Make Upholstery Shampoo (Cleaning Solution)

Most washable fabrics can be cleaned with a weak solution of warm water and a mild non-alkaline detergent.

You can make the cleaning solution by mixing:

  • 1 tablespoon of white powdered laundry detergent
  • 1 teaspoon of household ammonia or white vinegar into 1 gallon of lukewarm water.

The addition of ammonia or white vinegar can enhance the detergent’s brightening effect.

The detergent based cleaning solutions should be whipped into dry foam and applied with toweling or brushes that are moistened, but not wet.

Create the upholstery cleaning foam by:

  • Pouring a small amount of your liquid detergent mixture into a bucket.
  • Using an ordinary kitchen hand-held egg beater or an electric hand mixer, whip the ingredients into stiff foam.
  • Alternately, you can use an electric blender to create the foam.

There should be little or no liquid at the bottom of the bucket when you are finished whipping.

Test the cleaning solution on an inconspicuous part of the upholstery to make sure that it is compatible with the fabric or with the dyes.

If you don’t want to create your own, we recommend Franklin Upholstery Shampoo or Resolve Multi-fabric.

How To Clean Upholstery (Furniture Like Couches, Chairs & Love Seats)

Begin by removing and vacuuming the loose cushions and pillows, then the chair or couch itself.

DO NOT remove zippered cushion or slip covers for washing separately in the washing machine. Though they are designed for easy removal, these covers should be cleaned in place. If they are washed in the washing machine, they may shrink or stretch out of alignment.

  • Fold a clean white terrycloth towel into a convenient working size and dip it lightly into the foam.
  • Wring out the towel thoroughly until no more moisture can be squeezed out.
  • Wipe one complete panel of the upholstery with firm, parallel strokes – either horizontally or vertically overlapping the strokes slightly.
  • Occasionally dip the towel into the foam to replenish it, each time wringing out the towel.
  • As soon as the working surface of the towel appears dirty, re-fold it to expose a clean section to work with. If the foam begins to dissolve in the bucket, whip it again.
  • Repeat the entire process going over the panel in the opposite direction.
  • Remove the foam by wiping the entire panel with a clean terry towel moistened in fresh water and wrung dry until no more moisture can be squeezed out. Work in parallel strokes to the original direction.
  • Rinse the towel clean and wring it dry every time.

Some napped fabrics such as plush, can also be restored with light vacuuming. Run the upholstery attachment over the fabric in overlapping strokes, working in one direction only.

How To Brush Heavy Soil Out Of Upholstery

Heavily soiled areas such as armrests and the headrest may require the heavier abrasion of a nylon or natural bristle scrub brush to remove gummy deposits of body oils and dust. Whichever tool is used, avoid over-wetting.

  • Immerse a soft bristled nylon scrub brush in boiling water for few seconds to soften the bristles. Blot the brush dry with a clean terrycloth towel.
  • Dip the brush into the foam and shake most of the foam back into the bucket.
  • Using light pressure, scrub the upholstery in a circular pattern working on only one square foot at a time.
  • Repeat the scrubbing on adjacent areas and as you work, overlap the areas slightly.
  • Replenish the brush with foam as necessary and when the bristles begin to stiffen, submerge them in boiling water again.
  • Remove the foam with a clean terrycloth towel moistened in fresh water.

When the fabric has dried completely, run your hand back and forth on the fabric to determine the direction of the nap.

Using a clean dry terrycloth towel, raise the nap by wiping the fabric in the opposite direction that the nap wants to lay.

For best results, you can flatten your hand with your fingers extended and stretch the towel across your palm, holding the ends tight with your free hand. Work in smooth, overlapping strokes until the original appearance of the nap is restored.