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After performing more than 10,000 home inspections, I’ve come to the realization that two of the most important contractors in the home are an electrician and a plumber.

The problems I generally see are in the more rural areas, where codes are lax or not enforced at all.

If an electrician makes a mistake, the results are usually immediate, resulting in blown fuses, tripped breakers or house fires.

If a plumber makes an error, outside of a leaky pipe or a supply line, the error may take a lifetime for you to discover. What I’m talking about, in general, are viruses and bacteria that exit the waste system.

Click HERE for the full article from The Seattle Times

Dear Heloise: I have a perfectly good GARBAGE DISPOSAL, which I use faithfully! However, my question is, How long do I let it run?

People have told me to wait until it stops “churning,” but it seems to me that it keeps on making a noise. I’m always afraid I won’t get all the garbage churned up — help! — Barbara in New Braunfels, Tex.

Click HERE for the answer from The Washington Post

We’ve addressed the importance of indoor air quality a number of times here at the Mastercraft blog. Outdoor air quality, however, is just as important and something you can easily affect.

Given that it’s the fall season, many of you will be raking leaves this weekend. We at the Mastercraft Editorial Command Center are here to remind you to not burn your leaves. Burning leaves is often illegal in many communities and there are great reason why.

Why leaf burning is bad…

  • It’s a fire hazard. People who burn leaves often do it in their backyards, where flaming leaf embers get picked up by the wind and can be easily transferred to a nearby roof, starting a fire.
  • Open leaf burning produces hydrocarbons and particulate matter which often end up in your lungs. These are toxic and carcinogenic compounds.
  • The pollutants released from leaf burning that end up in your lungs don’t just enter, they stay there. Studies have shown that these pollutants can stay in the deepest parts of your lungs for a number of years.
  • The carbon monoxide and harmful smoke can trigger severe asthma attacks.
  • Do not put leaves in a wood burning stove.

What to do instead…

  • Many communities have separate waste disposal services for compost-type products, including leaves. Some require you to bag the leaves up, others just ask that you rake them into the street for pickup.
  • Compost. Compost. Compost. When composting, be sure to occasionally turn over the compost heap in order to speed up the process.
  • Turn the leaves into mulch by shredding them and spreading them around a garden.

Happy autumn everyone!

Last month, we delved into the age old question: What do I do with my window air conditioner during the winter months?

Okay, so maybe it’s not age old. We’re doubting it was something Confucius ever asked. But, still, it was something we needed to address. Lucky for you, dear reader, Mastercraft isn’t the business of philosophy–unless you mean zen and the art of furnace maintenance. We’re pretty good at that.

Anyhow, we hope we helped you out with your window AC unit. But what about our friends with central air conditioners? What do they do to winterize their units? Central air conditioning units aren’t exactly considered ‘mobile’ now, are they? Well, fear not…….

How to prepare you central air conditioner for winter

  1. First of all, winterizing your outside central air units doesn’t take much. These things are built to withstand the elements. The manufacturers know that these machines will be sitting outside year round–two feet of snow or not. If you choose not to do anything, you’ll probably be okay. But, as we say, better safe than sorry. So here’s what we recommend.
  2. Find the master power switch for your unit and turn it off. There’s no point in keeping it on if the a/c is going to be off for the next several months.
  3. Clean the outside of the unit. If you choose to cover your unit during the winter months, give the unit a good, light brushing beforehand.
  4. Cover the unit. AC covers typically cost under $30 and are easy to find.
  5. Clear any snow or ice that builds up on top of your unit. Any unnecessary strain to your expensive unit should be avoided.
  6. Fire up that furnace and stay warm!

Q: I finally talked my husband into redecorating our bathroom. The white tile floor and fixtures are fairly new, so we’re not changing them. By keeping our white plumbing fixtures, we can paint the walls any color we want. Also, with the money saved, we would like to install some really nice bathroom accessories. Can you please suggest a few “hot accessories” that will be practical and look nice in our bathroom? — Jenni, New York state

Click HERE for the answer at The Republic

If you have neglected your heating and cooling system for a few years, are you able to regain that lost efficiency by getting back on a regular service schedule, or is that efficiency lost forever?

There are a number of variables that would determine whether your system would return to its original stated efficiency.

There is always going to be wear and corrosion just from the age and use of the equipment, but if there’s no major damage caused by neglect, then a good, thorough inspection and cleaning can help restore a system to its original efficiency.

Click HERE for the full article from Newsday

Choosing a wall color can be one of the most challenging aspects of a room makeover. Because the light in your room changes throughout the day, and the same color of paint on different walls can look like an entirely different color, you should experiment with different shades of the same color.

For my powder room, dark gray walls will have accents of fuscia and a framed oval mirror. It’s serene and calm with a few color punches.

I’ll be creating a custom frame for an oval mirror I found, as well as a small fuscia ottoman to place by the window. The rich gray provides a crisp, clean contrast to the white wood trim, oval sink and toilet. Neutrals, including grays, come in many subtle shades. It’s worth your time and money to purchase test containers to know what the paint will look like on your walls.

Click HERE for full article from the Indianapolis Star