Best 12 Indoor Hanging Plants for Your Home

Room Densely Filled with Plants
© Travel_Master / Adobe Stock

Hanging plants add vertical interest to a room, dress up high ceilings and dull corners, and make it easy to fit a little more greenery into a small space. Green isn’t all you’ll get, though. Many of the trailing plants that look good in baskets offer striking colors and forms, and a few will reward you with flowers, too.

Even if you don’t have the greenest thumb, there are plenty of hanging plants that can thrive in your home.

Easy-to-Grow Favorites

Some highly adaptable species are happy in most light conditions and will forgive watering mistakes.

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Spider Plants
© misspin / Adobe Stock

Named for its long, leg-like leaves and dangling offshoots, the spider plant is one of the easiest house plants to care for, so it’s great for beginners. All it really needs is moderate, indirect light and well-drained soil that doesn’t get soggy.

In fact, it prefers to dry out between watering, so it’s a good choice if remembering to water your plants isn’t your forte. As a plus, it’s one of the best species for improving indoor air quality.

In spring, mature spider plants can produce small, white flowers and shoots known as spiderettes. These, combined with the plant’s boisterous growth pattern, makes it an attractive solo planting. Want more spider plants? Just root the spiderettes in soil or water.

Heartleaf Philodendron (hederaceum var. oxycardium)

Heartleaf Philodendron Leaf
Photo Credit: Kenpei

This plant earned its name, which means “love tree” in Greek, from the heart-shaped form of its shiny, dark green leaves. It’s an easy house plant to care for, tolerating most light conditions and the occasional missed watering. That said, it grows best in bright shade with damp soil in summer and dry surface soil between watering in winter.

Unfortunately, eating the leaves can cause nausea and vomiting, so you’ll need to keep the plant away from children and pets.

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

Pothos
© Emily / Adobe Stock

This is another of the few house plants that will thrive nearly anywhere you put it, producing a cascade of green-and-white variegated leaves. It’s adaptable to a wide range of light conditions and temperatures, and needs watering only once every week to 10 days. Its combination of durability and beauty is why it’s often found in offices, trailing along shelves and filing cabinets.

While it dislikes bright, direct light, low light conditions can make it lose its variegation. If eaten, the leaves can make kids and pets ill, so keep your pothos out of their reach.

Chain of Hearts (Ceropegia woodii)

Ceropegia Woodii Potted Plant
© manhattan_art / Adobe Stock

The slender trailing stems of this plant are graced with pairs of thick, succulent-like, heart-shaped leaves every 3 inches or so. The well-spaced foliage gives the plant a light and airy look. A popular house plant in the 1970s, chain of hearts in a macrame hanger will add a little extra authenticity to a retro-style home.

Let the soil dry between watering and water less in winter when the plant is dormant.

Timeless Classics

These elegant plants will never go out of style.

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’)

Boston Ferns
© patarapong / Adobe Stock

A classic house plant that looks good in every style of home, the Boston fern is perennially popular for its lush growth and stately appearance.

While not extremely demanding, the plant does need sufficient humidity, moist soil, and dappled sunlight. When the air is too dry, this fern develops yellow leaves. Dry soil can kill it. Misting once or twice a week or placing the fern in a tray of pebbles and water can help.

On the plus side, its love of moisture makes it the perfect bathroom plant. Like the spider plant, the Boston fern is highly effective at removing toxins from the air.

English Ivy (Hedera helix)

English Ivy
© Ruth P. Peterkin / Adobe Stock

It’s a staple of the traditional English cottage garden, but ivy is equally at home indoors in a hanging basket. If you’re going for an English countryside ambiance in your home, this plant can help.

Bright light is critical for healthy ivy, and poor lighting will leave it sickly and prone to pest infestation, while making variegated cultivars lose their white patches. Ivy also needs fertilizer monthly in spring and summer.

Shamrock Plant (Oxalis spp.)

Oxalis Triangularis in Sunlight
© Peera / Adobe Stock

Oxalis regnelli’s triangular green leaves provide a verdant backdrop for the delicate white flowers it produces throughout the cooler months. Looking for a little more color? Try false shamrock (Oxalis triangularis), which has purple leaves and pale pink flowers.

Oxalis is ideal if you’re short on space because it rarely grows higher than 6 inches. As a woodland plant, it prefers partial sunlight, cooler temperatures, and loose, sandy soil. Let the top 2 inches of soil dry before you water and then water from the bottom to avoid damaging the plant’s thin stems.

Unlike most plants, Oxalis goes dormant in summer rather than winter, so it needs less watering and light, and cooler temperatures during this time.

Petunias (Petunia spp.)

Multiflora Petunias
Photo Credit: Eamon Curry

With their compact growth and relatively small blossoms, Multiflora and Milliflora petunias bring a burst of color to a space without taking it over. You can find them in white, red, purple, yellow, and variegated varieties.

These flowers love full sun, warmth, and well-drained soil that’s kept slightly moist, but take care not to overwater them. They’ll tolerate light shade, but they’ll bloom less and might get spindly.

Avoid Grandiflora petunias, which are better suited to the garden. Multiflora and Milliflora types don’t ramble as much as Grandiflower, but will still flow beautifully over the edge of a hanging basket.

Appealing Attention-Getters

Just one of these plants will bring new personality to the whole room.

String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

String of Pearls in DIY Twine Hanging Pot
© Maria / Adobe Stock

If you have a taste for the unusual, this plant is for you. An eye-catching trailing succulent, it gets its name from its long, thin stems and spherical green foliage that resemble pearls on a necklace. Thanks to its unique looks and undemanding nature, it’s recently been gaining popularity with interior decor enthusiasts.

It thrives in bright sunlight and prefers well-drained soil that’s left to dry between watering.

Burro’s Tail (Sedum morganianum)

Burro's Tail
© irissca / Adobe Stock

Although not hairy as the name implies, this succulent does produce long, draping stems with close-set, lobe-shaped leaves that give them a bushy appearance. Its light grey-green or blue-green tone adds another layer of interest.

Burro’s tail needs plenty of bright sunshine and well-drained, gritty soil that’s kept evenly moist. It will tolerate underwatering, but overwatering can kill it. The leaves fall off easily when brushed against, so while it’s not ideal for high-traffic areas, it’s fine when kept up out of the way in a hanging basket.

Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila)

Creeping Fig
© winlyrung / Adobe Stock

This clingy vine can be found with green or variegated green-and-white leaves. Its lush, exuberantly spreading growth pattern gives it a somewhat messy look, but it’s easy to train on wire or twine or prune frequently if you want to keep it under control.

It appreciates bright, filtered sunlight and moist soil, so water it when the top of the soil feels dry.

White Jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum)

White Jasmine
© GCapture / Adobe Stock

The very mention of this plant’s name evokes the magic of its heady fragrance and abundant white blossoms. Even a small plant can fill a room with unforgettable perfume. While most flowering plants don’t bloom well indoors, jasmine is the exception, so make sure you love the scent before you buy this plant.

It needs at least some bright, direct sun and soil that’s slightly moist at all times. It’s fine with summer heat, but should be moved to a cool part of the house in winter.

While most of the best hanging plants are fairly low maintenance, paying attention to the needs and growth habits of each will help you find the ones that will flourish in your home.

If you’re just getting started with house plants, try a laid-back species such as the spider plant, heartleaf philodendron or pothos, which will forgive a beginner’s mistakes.

To give your home an inviting, yet elegant touch, you can’t go wrong with the Boston fern or English Ivy.

For a striking specimen plant that can act as a conversation piece all by itself, string of pearls and white jasmine are good choices.

Posted on Categories Interior

The Beginner’s Guide to Sidewalks

Home Walkways Leading to and Around House
© Harry HU / Adobe Stock

One of your home’s most important exterior features is its network of sidewalks. These are important not only for getting from point A to B, they are also a major aesthetic and safety consideration. Your sidewalk must be maintained to prevent accidents and can become damaged by both weather and plant life.

The following is an overview of different types of walkways, as well as simple tips for maintaining or choosing materials for a new or replacement walkway.

Sidewalk Types

Split Walkway with One Path Leading to House Entrance
© Ursula Page / Adobe Stock

There are three different classes in which a walk may be placed, based on its location and amount of traffic. Depending upon the class, a sidewalk may need to be wide or require sturdier materials in order to keep up with safety and municipal codes.

Primary Walkways

These are the most commonly seen walkways. Not only are the sidewalks along your street a primary walkway, but so is the walk leading up to your front door. As a general rule, these walks should be wide enough for two people.

In some cases, a heavily-traveled walk (such as one leading from your kitchen to a detached garage) will classify as a primary walkway.

Due to the high amount of usage on primary walkways, you should limit them to large, sturdy materials. This not only prevents them from shifting over time, but can also make it easier to remove snow and weeds. It will also lessen the amount of dirt being tracked into your home.

Concrete slabs and brick are the two most popular materials used for primary walks, although large, close-fitting flagstones (usually embedded in concrete) are also commonly seen in upscale neighborhoods.

Recommended width: minimum of four feet.

Secondary Walkways

Most commonly located on the side of a house, secondary walkways may accommodate either one to two people at once and often branch off of primary or other secondary walks. They can be made of various materials, although the function of the walkway will play a role in which materials are acceptable.

For example, a walkway leading to your garden shed may be packed gravel and only one person wide. A secondary walk leading to the back of your garage or along the side of the house functions much like a primary walkway. They’ll need to be of much firmer materials, as you are more likely to use these all year and need to keep them clear in winter.

Recommended width:

  • to accommodate one person and a wheeled object such as a wheelbarrow or trash can: two and one-half to four feet.
  • for fast travel: one and one-half to two and one-half feet.

Tertiary Walkways

The smallest and least-used walkways, these can be of any material and are rarely more than paths or one person wide. Unlike the other types of walkway, tertiary walks are primarily for aesthetic purposes and commonly found in gardens or other places where you aren’t likely to be in a rush or carry heavy loads.

One of the unique features of a tertiary path is the ability to use widely-spaced flagstones with baby’s breath or some other aromatic ground cover between. Gravel is another very common material, and in a few instances, such paths are merely held in place by bordering stones with no substructure. Unlike other walkway types, tertiary paths can be uneven or include gently rounded stones.

Recommended width:

  • for fast travel: one and one-half to two and one-half feet.
  • for slow travel: one to one and one-half feet.

Common Sidewalk Materials

Garden Walkway in Front Yard
© jpldesigns / Adobe Stock

Over the centuries, walkways have evolved from sand or dirt paths to a variety of materials. The most common forms of urban roadside walks are concrete and brick, but a larger variety of materials and design methods are used for home walkways and along rural streets. The function of the walk dictates which materials are viable, but aesthetics may also play a role.

Brick

Once used extensively for roads and sidewalks, brick is both aesthetically pleasing and durable. It may be aligned in a wide variety of patterns, and may be separated with mortar or fitted dry. One of the biggest advantages of brick walks is their modular structure, allowing dry-fitted sections to be replaced with ease. They are also excellent conductors for heated walkways.

The biggest disadvantage is how easily weeds can take root between the bricks, including mortared walks which have become cracked over time. Brick walkways are also more slippery than concrete slab in the winter.

Cement and Concrete Slab

In most cases, a rural or urban road will have concrete slab sidewalks. Concrete and cement slabs are very durable and easy to maintain. Unfortunately, paving with these materials is a complex process and requires a longer drying time than other materials. Slabs can also be frustrating to repair.

One of the biggest disadvantages of concrete slabs occurs when a tree root burrows under it, as this can cause the entire slab to shift permanently. An advantage of laying concrete walks is the ability to add inlays or design patterns while the material is still wet.

Flagstone and Flagstone Pavers

Flagstones are any stone which has been cut to have a flat upper side. They come in a variety of sizes and usually carry natural edges, making them difficult to fit together closely. Most flagstone walkways are anchored carefully to avoid shifting, and the gaps filled with gravel, sand, dirt, or other small materials.

While highly attractive, flagstones are less sturdy than brick or concrete and often a poor choice for walkways that may see frequent wheeled traffic such as garbage cans or wheelchairs.

Flagstone pavers are an artificial variation of flagstones which are prefabricated to have smooth sides. More commonly known as patio stones, they are usually used for building patios and porches, and other large fitted-stone floors.

While not as natural-looking as irregular flagstone, they remain attractive and allow for easier wheeled traffic. They are also much easier to work with than concrete while having a similar result.

Gravel and Crushed Stone

Most commonly used as a filler material, gravel makes a good solo material for tertiary walkways. Provided with a border, gravel walks are an attractive accent for gardens and scenic areas. Weeds grow slower than on bare ground, and the gravel acts as a natural filter for water, reducing the risk of puddles or flooding.

There are numerous other forms of crushed stone available, and you should be careful when choosing which you will use for a walk, as many function better as a filler material or base. Sand is one type of stone which functions poorly as a walkway but makes an attractive filler for flagstone.

Others, such as mason’s sand are best suited as a mixing material for mortar or concrete and should be avoided entirely as a filler material.

Precast Concrete

A close relative of brick, precast concrete comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and designs. This allows for mosaic patterns and smoother transitions to other walks. Overall, precast concrete has the same advantages as brick, but is less slippery in winter.

Uncommon Materials

In some rare instances, walkways may be made up of unusual materials. These may or may not be available in your area, and are often better-suited for specific purposes. Some of these include:

  • asphalt
  • baby’s breath (garden paths)
  • mulch, pine needles, or wood chips (garden paths)
  • synthetic running track
  • treated wood

Basic Sidewalk Maintenance

Clearing Snow from Home Walkway
© bildlove / Adobe Stock

Every sidewalk needs some degree of care during the course of the year. From short-term problems such as ice and weeds to long-term threats by tree roots, properly maintaining your walks may not be as straightforward as it first seems. The following are a few simple tips that will help you keep your walks clear and functional without shortening their lifespans.

Tree Roots

Trees and shrubs are a wonderful addition to any home, providing shade, cleaner air, and a home for birds and squirrels. Unfortunately, tree roots grow in every direction and can upheave even concrete slabs over time. Simply cutting the root is dangerous, as they help trees keep balanced in high winds. There are a few ways to work around roots, however:

Bridging

Bridging over a large root is a practical option, if you don’t mind replacing much of your walk. For roadside walks, you will want an elevated slab above the root, and the connecting slabs to gently slope upwards to form a smooth transition.

The elevated slab should have a cement or stone under-structure which leaves enough room for further root growth. Be sure to consult your local code enforcement agency to make sure such repairs are up to code.

Cut-outs

Cut-outs are a viable solution for walks both on your property, and in front, in the event the visible portion of root does not cross the entire width. Using cut brick or laying a new concrete slab, leave a gap of up to one inch around the root filled with dirt, allowing for future growth.

This will reduce the width of the walk at that point, but allows you to make that section level again. Be sure to make sure you will not violate any local codes during your planning phase, especially along municipal roads.

Stepped Bridges

Stepped bridges are good for portions of your property and work well with most materials. Unlike sloped bridges, the central surface may be of the same materials as the walk or even a decorative wooden bridge.

One or two steps at each end connect the bridge to the walkway. This method is impractical for curbed walks or walkways where wheeled traffic is common.

Weeds and Overgrowth

Weeds have the ability to take root in even small cracks, allowing them to sprout in almost any walk, including damaged concrete. The most popular methods of dealing with sidewalk weeds are pulling by hand, applying chemicals, or using an edger. A small amount of cement or mortar can temporarily patch cracks and prevent new growth.

However, there is a third method which is faster, safer, and cheaper than these other methods. Simply take a spray bottle, fill it with water, and add some salt. Spray the weeds, and the high saline content will kill them. Just be careful not to spray too close to any garden plants, as the salt will be absorbed into the ground.

When lining your walkways with shrubs or other tall plants, there is a potential for those plants to encroach on the walkway. Regular pruning helps, but you may also choose to add short retaining walls, which create an attractive barrier to keep the edges of your walk clear. This also prevents the nearby soil from being washed onto your walk during heavy rains.

Winter Care

Snow and ice are both common problems which affect your walkways. It is easy to shovel snow on flat, even surfaces such as brick or concrete, but you will have more difficulty removing it from flagstone or gravel walks. In such cases, melting is the best option.

Salting is a popular method of melting ice and snow, although the salt will erode your walk over time. You will also need to be careful not to put salt too close to your garden, as it will soak into the ground and kill nearby plants.

Finally, pay close attention to whether there is antifreeze in the salt before using it in a home with pets or near woods. Antifreeze is poisonous and can kill pets or wildlife if they consume it.

Posted on Categories Yard

Undermount vs. Drop-in Sinks for Your Kitchen and Bath

Undermount Sink in Kitchen Island
© Kristina / Adobe Stock

More than just a utilitarian fixture, the sink is part of what gives your kitchen its character. How your sink is mounted might seem like a minor detail, but it can affect both the aesthetics and the usability of your kitchen.

Whether an undermount or a drop-in sink is right for you depends on the look you want to create, your countertop material, and your budget.

Undermount Sinks: Upscale and Modern

Undermount Sink With Chinese Print
© Omid / Adobe Stock

An undermount sink is installed with the sink’s top edge below the countertop, so no rim shows above. The result is an unbroken visual flow across the countertop, a modern appearance, and a little extra space.

Streamlined look – An undermount sink offers a clean, minimalist look that’s perfect for contemporary design styles. The visual continuity complements the high-end feel of luxury countertops, such as granite and marble. This effect is even stronger if you choose a sink in the same material as your countertop.

Even some more traditional kitchen styles look better with an undermount sink. An undermount apron sink is right at home in a classic farmhouse kitchen. Because undermount sinks are associated with premium quality and designer forms, they can also give your home’s value a little boost.

Easy to clean – With no rim between the counter and the sink, an undermount sink makes it easy to wipe crumbs straight into the sink. You won’t have to worry about gunk building up along the rim. That said, undermount sinks have a mounting point below the counter where debris can accumulate.

Applying silicone caulk help keep this joint clean, but you’ll need to replace the caulk every few years. There’s also some risk that your countertop edges will become chipped without a sink rim to protect them.

More high quality options – Because undermount sinks are usually designed for high-end kitchens, they’re more often made with high quality material and closer attention to detail. You can find them in copper, granite, fireclay, and other appealing, durable materials more easily than drop-in models.

A little extra space – Without a sink rim, you’ll have a few inches of extra counter space. It might not be much, but it’s handy if you want space at the back of the sink for storing dish soap and brushes. Undermount sinks also typically have a deeper basin than drop-in models, partly to counteract the lack of rim.

A deep basin lets you fill the sink with enough water for washing dishes and other tasks without having the water level so high you’ll splash the countertop.

Higher costs – With the higher quality of undermount sinks comes a higher price. These sinks often cost 50 to 100 percent more than drop-in models. Not only is the sink itself more expensive, but your installation costs will also be higher.

More complicated to install – The first issue with undermount sink installation is the fact that they can’t be installed on laminate or tile countertops. These materials can’t support the weight of the sink. Instead, you’ll need a countertop made of stone, solid surface (acrylic composite) or similarly strong material. Pairing this sink with stainless steel, copper or wood butcher block counters is sometimes possible, but not always.

The second concern is that professional installation is usually a must for undermount sinks because space for the faucet and knobs needs to be cut into the countertop or wall. If you’re having new countertops put in, a hole for the sink is usually included.

For an undermount sink, the hole must be exactly the right size, so discuss this with your contractor beforehand. This sizing issue also poses a problem if you’re planning to switch from a drop-in sink to an undermount model.

Drop-in Sinks: Varied and Easy to Install

Drop-in Bathroom Sink
© tashka2000 / Adobe Stock

The most common type of sink, drop-in sinks are supported by a rim that rests on the surface of the countertop. Thanks to this design feature, they’re also known as overmount, top mount, and lay-in sinks. This sink design has the advantage of being easy to find in a wide range of styles and simple to install.

Traditional appearance – The drop-in sink is the style we’re most used to seeing, so it fits right in no matter what style of kitchen you have. If you’re designing a vintage kitchen, an overmount enameled cast iron, or porcelain sink will help complete the look. The only downside is that if you do have luxury countertops, you might not want the edges covered by a sink rim.

More style options – The popularity of this sink design means it’s manufactured in a wider range of materials, styles, and colors than undermount models. If you want a cherry red sink to brighten up your kitchen, you’ll have better luck finding one in a drop-in design.

Less expensive – Drop-in sinks are the more budget-friendly option and will typically cut at least $100 off your costs. Installation is simple enough that you can do it yourself if you’re handy with plumbing. If you choose professional installation, a drop-in model will be easier for the installer to work with, meaning you’ll pay less.

Greater versatility – A drop-in sink can be installed in any type of countertop. Most drop-in sinks are designed for a standard-sized hole, but with those that aren’t you still have more flexibility than with an undermount sink. That makes it easier to replace your existing drop-in sink.

Cleaning and maintenance issues – The rim of a drop-in sink is prone to gathering food crumbs and makes it a little harder to clean your countertop. As with undermount models, caulking helps, but caulk can discolor well before it wears out. The sink rim is vulnerable to chipping and can end up looking unsightly.

The choice between an undermount sink and a drop-in model is both a stylistic and a practical one. If you want a kitchen with an ambiance of luxury, an undermount sink is the way to go. Just make sure your countertop material is strong enough to handle one. If your budget is tight or you’re going for a vintage look, a drop-in sink will better suit your needs.

Posted on Categories Interior

Signs of Home Water Damage

Flooded Floor in Home
© michelmond / Adobe Stock

Leaks and moisture buildup can do serious damage to your home before you even realize there’s a problem. The damage doesn’t happen without some warning signs, though. Staying alert for the signs of home water damage helps you catch problems early so you can prevent further damage and protect your family from harmful mold and bacteria.

Where to Look for Water Damage

Man Repairing a Leaking Pipe in Wall
© Monkey Business / Adobe Stock

Knowing where and how water damage is likely to happen makes it easier to keep an eye out for developing problems and spot past problems that have been neglected. Some of the most common sources of water damage are:

  • Leaky pipes in the walls, floors, and under cabinetry
  • Leaky faucets that let water drip down the cabinets
  • Damaged water-using appliances, such as the water heater, refrigerator, washing machine, and dish washer
  • Cracks in the foundation, often caused by poor drainage around the foundation
  • Damage to roofing, such as shingles, flashing, and gutters

Signs to Watch For

Basement Wall Water Damage
© Sheri Swailes / Adobe Stock

The evidence water damage leaves behind isn’t always obvious. It can range from a puddle on the floor to a mysterious musty odor caused by mold growing somewhere you can’t see.

Standing Water

The most obvious sign of a problem is a puddle of water anywhere it shouldn’t be. If it’s near an appliance, fixture or pipe, check there for damage first. That includes appliances and fixtures on the upper floor that could be causing water to leak through the ceiling and onto the floor below.

Remember, though, if the floor is uneven, water can flow and pool somewhere that isn’t immediately near the source.

If the water is coming from a leak in the roof, you can try to pinpoint the damage by inspecting the roof from the attic, but this isn’t always possible. Water can enter one part of the roof, then travel until it finds a weak spot to infiltrate. Having a professional inspect your roof is the most reliable way to start addressing the damage.

Visible Mold Growth

Mold thrives in damp conditions, so any time you find it growing, it means there’s excess moisture coming from somewhere. Household mold usually takes the form of flat blotches of black, grey, brown, orange or green, but a variety of textures and colors are possible.

If you find mold inside a cabinet, on the floor around the sink or toilet or growing in a line on a wall containing a pipe, chances are that fixture or pipe is either leaking or sweating excessively. Mold around the windows suggests a condensation problem, but it’s still worth checking for leaks.

On the other hand, mold growing in the cool, dark corners throughout your home, such as behind furniture, under rugs, and on the undersides of shelves, most likely means your indoor humidity is too high.

Funky Odors

Standing water and damp building material are rich breeding grounds for mold, bacteria, and rot. These issues typically happen with porous material, such as wood, drywall, and carpet. Often, the damage is hidden from view inside a wall or under the flooring.

You might not see any problems, but you’ll notice a musty, earthy smell similar to damp leaves in the fall or less commonly, a dirty sock smell. If a sewage line is leaking, you’ll smell sewage.

Cleaning the room, opening the windows, and using air fresheners won’t get rid of these smells permanently because you’re not eliminating the source. To clear the air, you’ll need to stop the leak or condensation issue, then remove or thoroughly clean the damaged material.

Not all mold gives off an odor, though, so a lack of bad smells doesn’t always mean your home is free from water damage.

Damaged Paint and Wall Paper

If a pipe in the wall is leaking or sweating, or condensation is forming due to poor insulation, moisture can build up inside the wall. When that moisture seeps through, it can cause paint and wallpaper to bubble and peel, and leave brownish or yellowish water stains behind.

Wall damage and stains that show up in a straight line, following the line of the pipe behind the wall, are clear signs something is wrong with the pipe.

Dampness, staining, and deterioration on the lower parts of your walls suggest condensation problems caused by poor sub-floor ventilation or leaks due to poor foundation drainage. More rarely, in older brick houses, it happens because the house’s damp-proof course (dampness barrier) has failed.

This kind of home water damage is tricky to diagnose, so contact a certified, experienced water damage specialist if you find signs of it.

Bubbling and peeling wallpaper on walls throughout your home is more likely to come from high indoor humidity.

Sagging Walls and Ceilings

A severe leak can soak part of a ceiling or wall with so much water that the extra weight causes the surface to sag or bulge. This is especially common in ceilings of rooms under chronically overflowing tubs and toilets. It usually affects a small area limited to the size of the leak source, but the damage will grow if neglected. Water damage like this is a safety hazard because the ceiling or wall is a risk for sudden collapse.

Damaged Flooring

Wherever water in your home comes from, gravity will eventually bring it to your floor. Once there, it can seep into the carpeting, wood flooring or even tile, then move on to the subflooring and joists. Because water damage to flooring is so common, it’s a good idea to inspect your floor if you think your home has moisture problems now or has had them in the past.

Some of the signs to look for are:

Stains – Lingering water can leave blotchy dark grey or brown stains on wood floors.

Warping and expansion – Dramatic changes in moisture levels can cause wood floorboards to warp, so they look misshapen, and gaps appear between them. If they absorb enough water, both wood and laminate floorboards can expand and turn up at the edges, leaving a raised seam between each board.

Buckling – Severely waterlogged wood flooring can completely detach from the subflooring and buckle into sharp peaks.  

Bubbling – The top protective layer and photographic layers of laminate flooring are vulnerable to water damage. If the flooring gets too wet, these layers can bubble like damp wallpaper.

Sagging – Wood flooring that’s suffered repeated or long-term water damage can start to rot. It will feel soft and spongy when you step on it, and eventually sag. With any type of flooring material, water can seep into the subflooring and cause sagging.

Cracking – Floor tiles can crack and sink if the subflooring beneath them becomes too badly water damaged to provide support.  

Home water damage is more than just unsightly. Ignore it, and it can spread, eventually rotting the wood structure of your home. The mold and bacteria buildup isn’t great for your health, either.

If you spot signs of water damage in your home, contact a certified water damage specialist. They can diagnose the problem, then offer guidance on how to solve it and repair the damage to prevent any further harm to your home or your health.

Carports vs. Garages

Three Door Garage
© 2tun / Adobe Stock

As one of your most valuable assets, your car deserves some protection. By adding a carport or garage to your property, you’ll shelter your car from the elements, create extra storage space, and boost the value to your home.

There are some differences in how each of these buildings can benefit you, though. Which one you should build depends on how much security and space you need as well as how much you’re willing to invest.

Carports: Simple and Affordable

Residential Carport
© oka / Adobe Stock

A carport is a covered shelter consisting of a roof supported by posts with one wall or none. This simple design makes them cheap and quick to build, but the protection they offer is limited.

Pros

Budget friendly – Because they require less material and construction skill, carports are far cheaper to build than garages. For a basic carport, you’ll need only wooden posts and support beams (rafters), concrete, aluminum or polycarbonate roofing panels, and the hardware to put everything together.

Steel, tile, and shingles are also options for roofing, but they’ll cost you more. Depending on your budget and preferences, you can build right over the ground, lay gravel or pavers, or put in a concrete floor.

If you’re handy with basic construction, you can build the carport yourself to save money on labor. Even if you hire help, you can get a simple, one-car carport built for around $5,000.

Quick to build – With little construction involved, carports are faster to build than garages. Exactly how much time you’ll need depends on the design you want. An experienced builder can have a basic carport up in just one or two days. If you want a wall, a floor or an intricate roofing design, though, your builder might need three or four days. If you don’t want a concrete floor, you won’t have to worry about the weather delaying your project, either.

Less bureaucratic hassle – Carports aren’t considered enclosed or livable spaces, so the regulations that apply to them are less strict than for garages. For a small carport, you might not even need a building permit.

Easy to access – A carport lets you come and go freely. You won’t need to open and close the door every time you want to get your car in or out. The open design gives you more space for opening doors and loading the car. You can ride a bike straight in and out, too. Your kids will have a convenient place to drop off their outdoor toys instead of leaving them all over the yard.

Cons

Limited protection – With no walls to stop it, the wind can blow rain, snow, and debris such as leaves and pollen onto your car. Neighborhood animals can get in to leave paw prints and droppings.

Not ideal for storage – A carport gives you no protection from thieves. Anyone can look from the street to see what you’re storing there, then walk right in and take it. Even if you’re not worried about theft, the average carport leaves little room for storage boxes and there are no walls to support shelves and hooks. Whatever you store there is liable to get damp at the very least.

Less attractive – A garage complements the house, so the two look made for each other. A simple carport, on the other hand, stands out more and can look like a half-finished project stuck on as an afterthought. There are ways to improve your carport’s aesthetics, though. A concrete floor and a roof design that matches your home’s roof will give your carport a more polished look.

Garages: Secure and Versatile

Wooden Door Two Car Garage
© marchello74 / Adobe Stock

A garage is a fully enclosed building with doors and windows as the only access points. It provides full protection from the elements and would-be thieves, but requires a fair amount of planning and investment.

Pros

Total protection – Inside a garage, your car will stay completely dry and clean no matter what the weather outside. You won’t need to scrape snow off your car in winter or suffer from baking heat when you get in your car in summer. You can change the oil, rotate the tires, and do other maintenance in comfort any time of year.

If you build an attached garage, you can get your groceries and packages from the car to the house without having to carry them through the rain or snow.

Anything you store in the garage will be hidden from would-be thieves. Even if a thief manages to see what’s in your garage, the locked doors and windows will keep them out.

Great for storage – Security isn’t the only thing that makes a garage an ideal storage spot. The walls provide space for shelving and hooks, and the ceiling can support an overhead storage system. Because garages tend to be larger than carports, they also give you more floorspace for storage boxes and garden equipment. The space is dry and less subject to temperature swings so your stored items won’t suffer damage from heat or moisture.

A more elegant look – Because a garage is easier to match to the house than a carport, it gives your property a more consistent, well designed look. The walls give you more options for landscaping and lighting.

Flexibility – More than a place to park your car and store extra stuff, a garage also expands your living space. You can turn a corner of your garage into a workshop, or a home office, gym or theater. For greater comfort, add heating and cooling by extending your existing HVAC system or installing a ductless system.

Increased home value – A garage is all but guaranteed to raise the selling price of your home. You’ll get back the money you invested in the building and then some. It can also help your house sell faster when the time comes. Many home buyers consider a garage a must-have and won’t look at any house without one.

Cons

More expensive and time-consuming – To build a garage, you’ll need material for the foundation, walls, doors, and windows, wiring, and lighting. That alone greatly increases the cost compared to a carport.

If you’re not able to do the construction work yourself, you’ll need to pay for skilled labor, which is more expensive than hiring a handyman to put in some posts with a roof. The total will run you around $20,000. Timing matters, too, because you’ll need dry, warm weather to allow the concrete foundation to set.

More complex building requirements – There’s a lot more bureaucracy to wade through for a garage than for a carport. In most areas, a garage requires a building permit, which takes time to get.

Once you have the permit, you might need a land survey conducted by a licensed surveyor before you lay the foundation. During construction, the framing, sheathing, and electrical system need to pass inspection. After all that comes a final inspection.

Requirements for passing these inspections vary by region, but you’ll most likely need fire-rated walls and ceilings, a drainage system, lighting, and smoke and CO detectors. If you’re planning on using your garage as a living space, regulations are even stricter.

If all you need is a low-cost way to keep your car relatively dry and shelter your garden equipment, a carport will do the job. If your goal is to keep your car as clean as possible or you need a secure storage space, a garage is a better bet. While a garage takes a bigger investment of time and money, you’ll be rewarded with a space that can do a lot more than protect your car.

Posted on Categories Yard

Pink Mold: Is it Dangerous? And How to Get Rid of It.

Close Up of Pink Mold
© sinhyu / Adobe Stock

While not all mold is a serious threat, mold in your home is never a good thing. If you’ve noticed a pinkish fungus growing anywhere in your house, your health could be at risk. It’s important to get rid of the mold as soon as possible, but you’ll need more than soap and water to do the job.

How Pink Mold Forms

Serratia Marcescens in Petri Dish
© sinhyu / Adobe Stock

The term “pink mold” covers several types of slimy stuff you might find growing in the damp, dark corners of your home. One of the most common is Serratia marcescens (S. marcescens), which looks like mold, but is actually bacteria.

Ranging from pink to pinkish-orange or orange, it most often forms on damp bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room surfaces where it can feed on the fat and phosphorus in soap scum. Shower tile grout and the water lines going to the sink and toilet are among its favorite spots, but it also likes toilet bowls and sinks. In particularly damp bathrooms, it can even show up on the wall and floors, and in the cabinets.

Aureobasidium pullulans (A. pullulans) is another common pink mold. This fungus starts off light pink, white or yellow and ages to brown to black with a gray edge. Like S. marcescens, it favors bathrooms, but it grows more often on organic material such as houseplants, damp wood window frames, and linseed-oil paint.

The third pink mold, Fusarium, is the least likely to grow in homes. When it does, it usually appears first on houseplants, then moves to the wallpaper or carpet.

Risks to Your Health

Symbol of Health
© 9dreamstudio / Adobe Stock

While no type of pink mold poses an immediate, serious threat to your health the way black mold does, pink molds can still harm you. Mold in your house can lead to respiratory and urinary tract infections, gastrointestinal trouble, and even heart problems. People with respiratory conditions such as asthma, as well as elderly people, children, and pets are at an even higher risk of mold-related health problems.

For healthy people, S. marcescens is largely harmless. While it can cause infections of the eye, respiratory tract, and urinary tract, these infections usually happen in hospital settings to those already in poor health.

That said, there’s still some risk the S. marcescens growing in your shower at home will find its way into broken skin and leave you with an infected wound. S. marcescens has also been known to grow on contact lenses and cause eye infections that way. If you wear contacts, don’t store them in a room with pink mold and take steps to get rid of all pink mold in your house immediately.

A. pullulans is more likely to cause a problem when you’re exposed to it over the long term. It often develops in humidifiers and then circulates around the house, so it can float around for weeks before anyone notices. Exposure to this mold can lead to hypersensitivity pneumonitis, also known as “humidifier lung,” which causes a cough, difficulty breathing, and fever. 

If you have a healthy immune system, fusarium is unlikely to harm you unless it gets into your food. There is some risk of nail and eye infection, though, and in people with severely compromised immune systems, in can cause a life-threatening infection.

Getting Rid of Pink Mold

Hand Carrying a Bucket of Cleaning Products
© Africa Studio / Adobe Stock

If you’re healthy and have only a small patch of pink mold to deal with in an easily accessible area, you can do the removal job yourself. Other times, it’s better to call a professional, such as when:

  • You have a respiratory condition such as asthma,
  • The mold covers an area larger than 3 sq. ft.,
  • The mold is in your heating and ventilation (HVAC) ducts,
  • The mold appeared after a sewage leak.

In any of these cases, contact a licensed mold remediation specialist. Getting rid of mold in your HVAC ducts requires determining the cause of the mold, so you’ll also need to consult an HVAC professional.

If you decide to remove the mold yourself, wear gloves, goggles, and an N-95 particulate respirator mask to prevent the skin, eye, and lung irritation mold can cause. Soap and water alone won’t kill mold, but many common household cleaners do. You can get rid of pink mold in three basic steps.

Vacuum first – Vacuum up as much of the mold as you can with a vacuum cleaner fit with a HEPA filter. This cuts down on the amount of spores that will end up in the air while you’re cleaning.

Choose your cleaner – Bleach solution is effective for killing nearly all types of mold. Use 1.5 cups of bleach in 1 gallon of water (around 1 part bleach to 10 parts water). Other options for killing mold are 1 cup of borax (sodium borate) in 1 gallon of water, undiluted vinegar, or 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. Use these cleaners separately to avoid dangerous chemical reactions.

Remove the mold – Pour your chosen cleaner into a spray bottle and spray it liberally onto the mold growth. If you don’t have a bottle, pour the solution into a bucket and apply it with a sponge, cleaning cloth or scrub brush. Let it sit for at least an hour. Then use a sponge or brush to gently scrub the surface clean. Finally, wipe the surface down with pure water.

While biocides for mold are available, they’re not recommended for indoor home use. Biocides powerful enough to kill mold spores can also harm your health if you use them in an enclosed area.

For a healthier way to prevent mold from coming back, spray a light coating of vinegar on the surface you want to protect and let it dry. Repeat this every month or two. Washing down your shower and tile floors with vinegar can also help. Do a patch test first, though, to ensure the vinegar won’t cause discoloration.

Finding pink mold in your house isn’t an emergency, but it’s also not something you want to ignore. Exposure to mold can leave you with lung and skin irritation, and it’s even more dangerous for anyone with a respiratory condition or weakened immune system.

If the mold hasn’t spread far, you can get rid of it quickly with bleach, borax or hydrogen peroxide. For major mold problems, though, leave the cleaning to a mold remediation specialist. 

Posted on Categories Interior