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Wednesday, September 18 — Thursday, September 19, 2013

MINNESOTA VALLEY FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT A special project of the St. Peter Herald, Le Center Leader and Le Sueur News-Herald


3 Is your home ready for cold weather! 5 A little maintenance now ensures trouble-free winter 6 How to improve indoor air quality as winter approaches 7 How to increase storage in tight spaces 8 Home improvement projects you may want to skip


9 Home improvement: Project that are perfect for fall 10 Creating a lighting scheme that works for the kitchen 11 Is your house ready for fall and winter? 11 Prep work important before painting 12 The basics of kitchen cabinet refacing 13 Easy bathroom renovations 14 Winterizing 101: How to prepare your yard for winter


15 How to invite more natural light into your home 16 Autumn makes a great time to clear clutter 17 Tips for unclogging drains

Publisher Stephanie Hill Managing Editor Suzanne Rook Media Consultants Kathleen Davies, Sherry Wilmes, Stephanie Hill Advertising Design Kelly Kubista, Jenine Kubista, Naomi Kissling, Paul Ristau, Keeley Krebsbach, Nikkie Gilmore, Mary Jo Blanchard Cover Design Keeley Krebsbach Minnesota Valley Fall Home Improvement is distributed to subscribers and readers of St. Peter Herald, Le Center Leader and Le Sueur News-Herald at no additional charge. All rights reserved. ©2013 All Advertising contained herein is the responsibility of the advertiser.

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Wednesday, September 18 — Thursday, September 19, 2013



Is your home ready for cold weather?


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Small leaks may not seem like

After an unseasonably hot end to August, area residents are sure to welcome the cooler fall weather when air conditioning units can be turned off and the windows can be opened. But it won’t be long until that cool, comfortable weather turns cold and the windows need to be shut for the winter months. Making sure the windows and doors in your home are sealed is key to ensuring drafts aren’t coming through, but it’s also important for your checkbook. “It’s amazing how much you can save on energy costs by making sure windows and doors are sealed properly,” said Ron Boelter, owner of Ron Boelter Win-

save at least 10 percent on an energy bill and in some cases that number is up to 30-40 percent.” Old windows and doors, especially on older homes, may not have the best seals and Boelter said that in some cases it is just wood against wood. Applying plastic over the windows is a quick fix, but the best results without changing the appearance of the home mean hiring a contractor replace the windows, he said. “Window replacements in older homes are a lot less invasive than people may realize,” Boelter said. “The new windows are custom made to fit the original openings, so the framework doesn’t need to be adjusted.”

together can result in major air loss. According to energystar. gov, in typical homes, common air leaks together can add up to as much air loss as having a window open. When checking for weak spots around windows and doors, the first step can be done through simple checks. Placing your hand around the seal is an obvious way to feel for drafts, but you can also use a lit match to see if it flickers or blows out. The most advanced way to check for leaks is by using infrared cameras to point out exactly where the cold air is entering the home. Simple do-it-yourself fixes can help with costly air leaks. Products that help with leaks “Having everything sealed can a big deal, but adding them all

Rose, of St. Peter’s Ace Hardware, discusses products to winterize a home with Tom. (St. Peter Herald file photo)

include weatherstripping around duce leaks and prevent rodents approaches, leaves begin to drop moveable components (windows from entering. their leaves and that can cause and doors), caulk to seal gaps and Checking the exterior of the buildup in the gutters. cracks, and door sweeps to re- home is just as important. As fall See COLD Page 4

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Wednesday, September 18 — Thursday, September 19, 2013




Installing steel siding is one of many ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency. (CJ Siewert/Le Sueur News-Herald)

COLD: Prevent build up in gutters From Page 3

vent ice dams from building up in the winter.” Ice dams can result from not enough ventilation and poor insulation in the roof. A simple fix can be to add insulation in the attic and make sure it has the proper ventilation. A new product that is avail-

buildup in the gutters. “Probably the most important products we sell at this time of year are gutter helmets,” said Dale Brenke, president of Schmidt Siding & Window in Mankato. “That helps keep leaves out and can pre-

able to help prevent ice dams and icicles is a hidden, self-regulating heat cable. The heating cable is placed in the gutters and down the extensions so that no water can freeze over. Another area of concern to check regularly is the founda-


See COLD Page 5

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Wednesday, September 18 — Thursday, September 19, 2013



A little maintenance now ensures trouble-free winter


As the leaves begin to turn and fall, Mother Nature is reminding us that now is the time to start preparing your home for winter. With temperatures beginning to dip, your home may require a little maintenance to keep it in the best working order through the cold months ahead. Here are a few tips: Furnace inspection Stock up on furnace filters and change them monthly. Consider switching out your thermostat for a more accurate and energy efficient pro-

grammable thermostat. If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly and when water appears, close them. Remove all flammable material from the area surrounding your furnace. Have furnace inspected and ducts cleaned. Check the exterior, doors and windows Inspect exterior for cracks and exposed entry points around pipes; seal them. Check, and if needed replace, weather stripping around doors. Cover window wells with plastic shields to keep

water, snow & pests out. Switch out screens for storms. If windows are excessively drafty consider replacement windows, it will save you both money and comfort! Inspect roof, gutters and downspouts Consider adding extra insulation to the attic as it will prevent warm air from penetrating the roof and causing ice dams. Check flashing to ensure water cannot enter the home. Replace worn shingles or tiles. Clean out the gutters and downspouts to clear away debris. Consider installing extensions on the downspouts to

COLD: Make sure to seal up windows From Page 4 tion. Along with the air seeping through, rodents can find their way through the smallest cracks and a simple do-it-yourself fix is to use expansion foam to plug up

those areas. “As people prepare for the fall and winter, I would suggest simple things such as making sure the gutter downspouts are connected and flowing away from the house,” Brenke said. “Also

make sure to seal up windows with caulk.” Reach reporter CJ Siewert at 507-931-8576 or follow him on

WEATHERIZATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM The Weatherization Assistance Program is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Energy and enables income-qualifies households to permanently reduce their energy bills by helping to make their homes more energy efficient while protecting the health and safety of family members. Services may include: • Energy audits to evaluate potential weatherization work • Exterior wall and attic insulation • Air infiltration and bypass sealing • Testing, repair or replacement of homeowner mechanical systems • Participant education How to apply for assistance: • Households must apply for Weatherization through a joint Energy Assistance/ Weatherization application at <a href=”/southernminn.local/tncms/admin/action/”> commerce/energy/consumers/Weatherization-Assistance/</a> • Eligibility includes households (homeowners or renters) at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines and priority is given to households with elderly or disabled family members, children 18 years of age or under, high energy consumption and family members receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) within the last 12 months. Source:

direct fall rains and melting snow away from the home. Service weather-specific equipment Winterize mowers and lawn tractors and tune-up snow blowers. Replace worn rakes and snow shovels. Clean, dry and store summer gardening equipment. Sharpen ice choppers and buy bags of icemelt / sand, better safe than sorry! Check foundations Rake away all debris and edible vegetation from the foundation. Seal up entry points to keep small animals from crawling under

the house. Tuckpoint or seal foundation cracks, mice can slip through space as thin as a dime. Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation. Secure crawlspace entrances. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors Change smoke detector batteries when daylight savings ends. Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and / or water heater. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work. Buy a fire extinguisher or replace an extinguisher older than 10 years. Prevent plumbing freezes

Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency. Drain all garden hoses. Insulate exposed plumbing pipes. Drain air conditioner pipes and, if your AC has a water shut-off valve, turn it off. If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, set to at least 55 degrees. Erin DeBlieck is advertising/marketing manager at St. Peter Lumber.



Wednesday, September 18 — Thursday, September 19, 2013

How to improve indoor air quality as winter approaches With fall soon to give way to winter, many people will soon be spending more time indoors. Winter weather can be harsh, and it can be difficult for fresh air to make its way into a home once the warmer temperatures of summer and fall give way to the cold days of winter. Poor indoor air quality can cause multiple problems. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, poor indoor air quality can increase a person’s risk of developing pneumonia, and it also may aggravate existing respiratory conditions such as asthma. The EPA also notes that long-term exposure to indoor air pollution can increase a person’s risk for heart disease, respiratory diseases and even cancer. Because indoor air pollution can be so devastating, many homeowners look for ways to improve their indoor air quality, especially before the arrival of winter, when residents of the home figure to spend such a significant amount of time indoors. Fortunately, homeowners can take many Mopping can remove pollutants the vacuum cleaner might have left behind. steps to do just that. Clean with soap and water. introduce toxins and irritants Purchase an air filtration Soap and hot water can still into a home. Avoid such system. Air filtration systems clean a home effectively, and cleaners and solvents when vary significantly in size, cost this age-old combination might cleaning a home. If stains prove and function. Some systems be the healthiest way to clean as too stubborn for soap and are designed to remove specific well. Many household cleaning water, be sure to open windows pollutants, and may not be products contain potentially when using potentially harmful effective at removing additional harmful ingredients that can cleaners indoors. indoor air pollutants. Larger

models tend to be most effective at filtering pollutants like dust, but such units are more expensive than smaller units. If your home is especially dusty, then a large filtering system may prove a worthy investment. Open windows and doors when possible. Introducing outdoor air into a home is a great way to improve indoor air quality. Of course, opening windows and doors might not be feasible in the middle of winter. But take advantage of any such opportunities when they present themselves. For example, after cooking a big meal, open the kitchen exhaust fan to allow fresh air into the home. Such fans are not large enough to cause a significant temperature drop in the home, but they can directly remove contaminants from inside the home, like those that might be emitted from gas stoves. Insist guests and residents remove their shoes. Chemicals can find their way into a home in a variety of ways, and you and your fellow residents or guests may be tracking them into your home on your shoes. Keep a doormat inside all entryways, and insist guests and residents remove their shoes before entering your home. This reduces the amount of potential pollutants brought into your home and also makes cleaning the home that much easier.

Did you know? Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that forms from the natural decay of uranium found in many soils. Colorless and odorless, radon can significantly increase a person’s risk of lung cancer. Smokers who live in homes with high radon levels are especially susceptible to lung cancer. Radon can enter a home by moving up through the soil beneath a home and finding its way through cracks and holes

in the foundation. Many people may feel homes with basements are especially susceptible to radon, but radon can enter a home whether the home has a basement or not. Granite countertops may emit radon, but not always at levels that cause cancer. Countertops can be tested for radon emissions, and such testing is inexpensive and quick.

Break out the mop. Vacuum cleaners can be effective at picking up pollutants inside a home, but they also can leave things behind. When a vacuum cleaner seems to be leaving some dust behind, take out the mop and, with just a little water, address the areas where dust is still lingering. Water should be enough to do the trick, and, unlike some cleaning products, water won’t be introducing any additional harmful pollutants into the home. Smoke outside. Smoking inside a home is inviting trouble,

especially during those times of year when the windows cannot be opened. Secondhand smoke is a significant source of indoor air pollution, as cigarette smoke is known to contain more than 4,000 chemicals. Smoking indoors, whether an area is well- or poorly-ventilated, can be dangerous to smokers. Exposure to secondhand smoke puts adults and children alike at risk of several diseases, including asthma and cancer. If you or your fellow residents or visitors must smoke, do so outdoors.

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Wednesday, September 18 — Thursday, September 19, 2013



How to increase storage in tight spaces Cozy, quaint homes attract many home buyers and renters. Be it a cottage-style house or a studio apartment, smaller living spaces often involve getting creative with storage. People live in a smaller homes for a variety of reasons. Some choose to live in a smaller home so they can be right in the thicks of things in a city or urban center. Others scale back on living space in an effort to save money. But storage space in small quarters is often at a premium, and thinking creatively is a necessity to keep the home tidy and items out of view. Rainy or chilly days are the perfect times to tackle indoor organization projects. When the outdoors isn’t beckoning, you can devote all of your attention to addressing storage issues in your home. To begin, take inventory of what you have, going through your possessions and determining what can stay and what can go. Part with anything you haven’t used in quite some time. The next step is to sort items and get organized. Then you can find a place for everything. For example, if you have a dozen bath towels but only one sauce pot, you will need to find more room for linens than kitchen cookware. You may need to borrow space from one area of the home to give to another area. The following are some additional tips to increase space in an otherwise cramped home.

Add shelves. Increase cabinet and closet space by adding shelves into them. This may double or even triple the amount of usable space, especially if you customize the shelving to fit storage containers you use to store everything from shoes to craft items. Opt for dual-purpose furniture. Benches with lids that lift up and sofas that convert into guest beds are just a few of the many ways you can keep a small home neat and increase storage space. An ottoman is a great place to store extra blankets and linens, while a trunk or crate with a sturdy top can be used in lieu of a traditional coffee table to keep books or board games. Think vertically. When floor space is at a premium, you may need to look up for storage. Frequently used pots and pans can be hung from a decorative rack in your kitchen. Use magnets on jars to store a spice rack on the wall near the stove. Racks above cabinets or on doors can be used to store everything from shoes to jewelry to toiletries. Shelving in children’s rooms can store lesser used toys away from the floor. Empty walls are valuable real estate in a small home, and tall bookshelves can house a number of different things. Take advantage of oddly shaped crevices. If you have space under a staircase or a spot by a dormer or in an attic eave,

use the space to store items. You may need to get creative, such as adding a door and small closet into the staircase, but such spaces make practical storage areas and add character to a home. Use see-through storage containers. Many people find that plastic storage bins are neater and more stackable than boxes. See-through bins enable you to quickly find items so that you are not searching around the house for lost items and creating a bigger mess along the way. Clear storage containers work in the refrigerator, too. You can more easily spot leftovers, and uniform stacking containers free up more room for bulkier items. Make use of space beneath your bed. There likely is ample room to store more things than just dust bunnies beneath your bed. A bed frame with built-in drawers is the perfect place to keep bed linens and out-ofseason clothes. Beds can be raised on blocks to create more space underneath for storing rolling plastic containers and even seldom-used suitcases. Opt for an armoire. Armoires are not exclusive to bedrooms. Armoires can be used in dining spaces or in dens to store items out of sight. An armoire can be used when retrofitted with a

pull-out shelf as a laptop desk, storing all office items behind closed doors when not needed. Improve storage in the bathroom. Try to choose a vanity that has under-the-sink storage so you will have a place to store some toiletries. Home improvement centers sell cabinets and etageres that can be placed above the toilet tank as a storage space for bathroom items. In the shower, hang a second tension-loaded shower

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curtain rod on the inside of the shower enclosure that can be used to hold bags of kids bath toys and other toiletries, keeping them off the tub ledges.

When you think creatively, you can maximize storage space even in a small home.

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Wednesday, September 18 — Thursday, September 19, 2013

Home improvement projects you may want to skip Upon buying a home, new homeowners understandably want to start making adjustments so the home is a more accurate reflection of who they are. Many of these adjustments are minor, but even minor changes here and there can give a home a whole new feel. While there are many ways a person can turn a home into their own unique oasis, some home improvement projects may not be worth the effort, especially when homeowners decide to sell. Some projects may prove a little too personal, making them less attractive to prospective buyers down the road. Though it’s within every homeowner’s right to make adjustments to their homes (as long as those adjustments are in adherence to local laws), the following projects might come back to haunt homeowners down the road.

home office might be a good idea, avoid making an exclusive home office room during your renovation. HOME THEATER Few homeowners would scoff at installing a home theater in their homes, but the impression of home theaters as a luxury only the super wealthy can afford might turn prospective buyers away from

your home. Potential buyers may be impressed by a fully functioning home theater complete with surround sound, lighting, a big screen, and all the other fixings synonymous with home theaters, but when they go home to discuss their options, they may feel the home theater is a luxury they can live without and opt for a more affordable home without a theater instead.

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LUXURY SHOWER Installing a luxury shower, such as a multi-headed steam shower, can add a splash of resort-style luxury to your home, but it likely won’t add much to your sale price. Though costs for such additions can

vary significantly depending on how grand you choose to go, real estate professionals warn that a luxury shower is unlikely to recoup much of its initial cost at resale. If you simply must give your bathroom a more luxurious look but still want to be a responsible homeowner, look for a low-cost addition. That can take some of the sting out of not recouping much of your investment at resale. Fully Furnished Home Office More and more men and women are working from home, and some homeowners might feel that transforming a room in their home into a fully functional home office is a great investment. But some buyers might be turned off by a room that can no longer function as an extra bedroom. The cost of converting a home office into a more traditional bedroom may compel prospective buyers to keep looking or make a lower offer on your home. While a

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SPORTS COMPLEX Sports fans often dream of erecting a backyard basketball court or adding a tennis court to their property. But such projects are among the more expensive additions a homeowner can make to his or her property, costing more than popular projects like kitchen remodels or room additions. What’s more, real estate professionals note that homeowners can expect to recoup little, if any, of the cost of adding a basketball or tennis court to their properties at resale, while more popular projects tend to recoup a substantial amount of a homeowner’s initial investment.

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Wednesday, September 18 — Thursday, September 19, 2013

Home improvement



Projects that are perfect for fall

Home improvement projects can add value to a home and do-ityourselfers know the sweat-equity that goes into such projects can give homeowners a greater sense of pride in their homes. But no two home improvement projects are the same, and homeowners should know that certain projects are best tackled during certain times of the year. Fall is a great season to work on your house, as the weather is often at its most agreeable once the summer heat has gone and before winter weather arrives. The following are a handful of fall-friendly home improvement projects for homeowners looking to improve their homes. ROOF REPAIR Whether you’re repairing or replacing the roof, fall is a great time of year to dust off the ladder and get some work done on your roof for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, fall is ideal for roof work because you won’t have to be up on the roof with the summer heat bearing down on you. This can make the project move along more quickly, which is especially beneficial if you are paying laborers to work on the roof. The fewer hours workers are fixing your roof, the less you will be paying in labor costs. In addition, fixing up the roof in the fall ensures those winter storms, be it rain or snow, won’t find their way into your home via leaks. A leaky roof in winter is hard to fix, as the roof surface could be treacherous in the winter and winter winds can make it

dangerous to be up on the roof at all. Addressing leaks in the fall can prevent damage to your home’s interior, which can mount up if a leaky roof is not addressed until the following spring. WINDOW WORK When the weather outside gets frightful, poorly insulated windows can allow cold air into the home. That often has a trickledown effect on finances, forcing you to turn up the thermostat in an attempt to offset the cold air pouring into the home. Whether you need your windows replaced or simply need to patch up any leaks, a proactive approach to leaky or older windows in the fall can save you from unnecessarily high heating bills come the winter. Addressing leaky windows also makes a home more comfortable for its inhabitants. Fall is the ideal time to address a home’s windows because the temperature outside tends to be pleasant. This means you likely won’t have to make much of an effort to offset the elements, and open windows in the fall won’t make your home’s interior very hot or cold like they might if you were to tackle the project during the summer or winter. Fixing the floors Wood flooring is a hot commodity for many homeowners. But not all flooring can be added to a home at any time of year. That’s because certain types of flooring employ adhesives that need temperatures inside the home to be within a certain range, and that range is often within 70º to 80º F, which

makes fall a great time to install such floors. Colder temperatures can make it difficult for the flooring to dry and bond, which will prove problematic down the road. What’s more, many people entertain friends and family come late fall and into the holiday season, and it can be difficult to do so if you are busy installing new flooring. PAINTING PROJECTS Painting is another home improvement project that seems tailor-made for fall. A fresh coat of paint or a new color scheme around the house can give a home an entirely new look and feel. But paint can be pungent and the aromas may last if it’s applied at a time of year when it can’t dry while the windows are wide open. Paint fumes inside a home can make the home uninhabitable, but painting at a time of year like the fall, when you can keep the windows open during and after the project, can help air the home out. But interior painting isn’t the only painting project homeowners can tackle in the fall. Many exterior paints are temperature-sensitive and need the temperature outside to be above 40º F. Paint that freezes won’t dry properly, and homeowners might be left with a costly and unsightly mistake on their hands. Fall temperatures tend to be amenable to both interior and exterior painting projects, just be sure to check the weather forecast before making your first brush stroke.

Fall is an ideal time of year to tackle home painting projects.

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Wednesday, September 18 — Thursday, September 19, 2013

Creating a lighting scheme that works for the kitchen When designing a kitchen, homeowners typically give substantial consideration to many elements of their dream design, including cabinet and countertop materials and which brand of appliances they most prefer. But few may consider the lighting for the room as thoroughly. Lighting is an important consideration in any room, but most especially in the kitchen, where people tend to gravitate and spend a good portion of their time. The right lighting can have a dramatic effect on the functionality of the kitchen, including how the space feels when you enter it. The right blend of lights can create a vibrant mood in the kitchen, while light can be adjusted according to what needs to get done in the space. Establishing a lighting plan in a kitchen requires a combination of different lights. The main focus should be on three distinct lighting types: task lighting, ambient lighting and accent lighting. a Task Lighting Task light is beneficial anywhere a person will need to perform tasks that require close concentration, such as chopping vegetables. Task lighting shines direct light onto a surface, illuminating it thoroughly,

and it can be turned off when it is not needed. Task lighting is generally placed above counters and islands where one will be slicing vegetables and preparing food. There may be lighting over the sink to illuminate dirty dishes. If a kitchen has a desk area, lighting above the desk will make that area more functional. Many task lighting designs include lights under cabinetry to shine down onto counters and eliminate shadowed recesses. Under-cabinet lighting is a relatively inexpensive add-on for existing kitchens. Homeowners can add lighting afterward to focus more light onto countertops. Ambient Lighting Ambient lighting is another name for all-over lighting that fills a room. During the day, ambient light may stream in from windows and skylights. However, at night, ambient lighting is created by different light fixtures in a room. In the kitchen, overhead fixtures are a popular choice for ambient lighting. A blend of hanging pendant lamps, chandeliers and recessed lighting can create the amount of light needed. Homeowners should pay special attention to the bulbs and fixtures they choose, as not all produce the same amount of light. Those

concerned about energy efficiency also must give mind to whether the bulbs will use a lot of energy or last a long time. Compact fluorescent bulbs as well as LED lighting are long-lasting and do not use as much energy as incandescent bulbs. Indirect ambient lighting softens shadows in a room, creating a warm, inviting glow. It is an important layer of light that is often overlooked in the kitchen. Setting ambient lighting on a dimmer enables homeowners to cast a mood that is desired when the kitchen isn’t being used for prep work.

Under-cabinet task lighting sheds light on areas where cooks do their prep work.

Accent Lighting If there are key elements around the kitchen that a person would like to highlight, such as a china set, accent lighting can do the trick. Spotlights can be used to show off collectibles, while a subtle strip of lighting can illuminate a wall of artwork. Many people like to install accent lighting inside of cabinetry to create dramatic focal points. Some homeowners may want to incorporate decorative lighting

in their kitchens. This is the use of ornate chandeliers, hanging pendants and other eye-catching fixtures. Decorative lighting should Visit Our Retail Divisionto be considered in proportion the size of the kitchen. Therefore, smaller kitchens will have smaller fixtures and vice versa. Decorative lighting may be the most expensive type of kitchen lighting, so some homeowners prefer to plan ahead for the inclusion of decorative accents


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Wednesday, September 18 — Thursday, September 19, 2013


Is your house ready for fall — and winter? By MARY ANNE WOELFEL

Fall has (almost) fallen, but is your house ready? Though it may be a little too soon to fire up the snow blower there are many important steps you can take to get your house ready for when the chilly temperatures arrive and Old Man Winter finally finds us in his icy grip. Watch for leaks or water penetration As the days get shorter, it’s a good time to check the grade around the perimeter of your home to make sure that rain water cannot flow toward the house. A little landscaping can go a long way to prevent seepage into your home’s basement. Another maintenance item to check off your To Do list should be to take at good look at the insulation around your soffit vents to prevent ice dams. You want to avoid ice dams by all possible means by being pro-active. In the winter, when a large amount of snow accumulates on a roof, heat loss from insufficient insulation and poor attic ventilation can melt the snow from the underside. As the water reaches the roof edge, where it’s colder, it forms a dam. The dammed water backs up under the roofing and leaks into your home. The best way to prevent thawing from the underside is to maintain a cold roof. And of course, the best way to maintain a cold roof is to ensure proper insulation and attic ventilation. Give your house a check up Even the most well-constructed and sturdy homes could use a little tune up in the fall. Take the time to around walk around the exterior of your house and check for any cracked caulking or broken seals. Now is the best time to caulk/seal/ weatherstrip around windows and doors to prevent leaking or water damage. After the exterior of the house is in good shape, it never hurts to give your house a nice rinse down. Power washing the exterior of your home will get rid of summer dust and dirt and add a few years to the longevity of your paint job. Fall is also a great time to check all of

your outdoor light fixtures to make sure the bulbs are all in good working order. Trim your trees and Woelfel shrubs Before your trees lose their leaves, trim them to avoid the potential of long branches damaging your siding and causing other unnecessary headaches. Trim back any tree branches or shrubs that may be touching your home and may create an excellent path for bugs to enter your home. These branches can also damage the exterior as the wind brushes the branches back and forth against your house. Before you climb down or fall off the ladder, remove any dead branches that could snap off in a wind storm and damage your roof or any other part of your home. Test your furnace Though the day when you’ll need to turn on your furnace may seem like a long way off, but you will soon be running your furnace instead of your air conditioner on a consistent basis, so you should check to make sure it is working


Color for every room in your home.

properly. Install a new furnace filter for increased efficiency. If you encounter a problem, it will much easier to schedule an HVAC contractor to come look at your system now, before they are swamped with those who wait until that first cold day hits. Other ideas: • Bring in your outdoor furniture. • Winterize your yard tools. • Replace the grates on your grill. • Insulate your unfinished basement — especially around the rim joist. • Clean your dryer vent before it is too cold to work outside. • Last chance for pre-winter lawn fertilizer. • Final chance for exterior paint touch ups and/or staining the deck. • Install some heavy drapes on your windows to stop drafts. Well, at least that’s what they did in the old days. Mary Anne Woelfel is a co-owner of Woelfel Building Construction in Le Center.

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The basics of kitchen cabinet refacing

Homeowners who want to give their kitchens a brandnew look without the expense or the hassle of a fullscale renovation often gravitate toward kitchen cabinet refacing. Cabinet refacing is less expensive and more eco-friendly than a full replacement of existing cabinets, and experts estimate refacing costs roughly two-thirds less than a complete cabinet renovation. Refacing involves replacing the doors and drawer fronts of existing cabinets during which the cabinet boxes are veneered to match the wood color chosen for the refacing, while the structure and layout of the cabinets remains unchanged. Essentially the kitchen footprint will remain the same as it was before the refinishing took place. Kitchens are popular rooms in the home and much of the renovation investment made in the kitchen can be recuperated at resale. Homeowners looking to put their homes up for sale soon may find cabinet refacing is beneficial, as it is a relatively quick renovation that can reap big rewards. Homeowners have options when refacing their cabinets. While some projects, such as stripping off old paint and repainting, can be a do-it-yourself project, refacing cabinets may be best left to the professionals. Veneer work, which is often part of cabinet refacing, is not a skill one can learn overnight, and it often requires the hand of

Wednesday, September 18 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Thursday, September 19, 2013

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Cabinet refacing can transform the look of a kitchen, and such a project costs considerably less than a complete cabinet replacement.

a professional carpenter. Many cabinets can be resurfaced successfully. Older cabinets are prime candidates, as they often are more sturdy than newer cabinets. In general, cabinets can be refaced as long as their substructures are sound. In addition to providing a new look for the kitchen, cabinet refacing is an eco-friendly project. By not demolishing existing cabinetry, homeowners are preventing old materials from ending up in landfills while saving trees from being cut down to construct new cabinets. Refacing also

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Wednesday, September 18 — Thursday, September 19, 2013


Easy bathroom renovations Bathroom renovations are second to kitchen renovations on the list of the top remodeling projects to increase home value. The popularity of bathroom renovations and their ability to transform a space has left many homeowners wondering if there are any easy and affordable ways to change the look of their bathrooms. While “easy” is a relative term, there are ways homeowners willing to make certain concessions can keep the work and cost of a bathroom renovation to a minimum. Resurface When possible, covering up what you have in the bathroom is much less expensive and less labor-intensive than tearing out existing fixtures and floors and replacing them anew. Resurfacing can extend to refinishing bathtubs to installing shower liners. Those who have unsightly walls or wallpaper that they’re just not ready to remove may consider using wainscotting to cover a portion of the room or even tiling entire walls. It is important to note that resurfacing and covering up items in the bathroom should

No job too big...

only be reserved for cosmetic fixes. If something needs to be replaced because it is damaged or mildew-covered, then covering it up is only hiding the problem and asking for more work in the long run. Scale back on materials One way to save money on a bathroom renovation project is to choose less expensive materials. For example, you may not need to install travertine or marble flooring in a space where less expensive flooring like vinyl is adequate. Advancements in vinyl flooring have enabled this affordable material to mimic the look of more expensive materials at a fraction of the cost. When redoing tile on walls and shower enclosures, many domestically-produced

tiles rival the looks of more expensive imported alternatives. You may be able to save more by buying tile in bulk and using the remainder in other applications around the house. Paint Do not underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint on any room in the house, including the bathroom. Dark, small spaces can be made to look more expansive with lighter colors. Cavernous bathrooms that look empty may prove more inviting with darker hues. Pick a paint that is designed for bathroom application so that it will inhibit the growth of mold and mildew.

See BATHROOM Page 14

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Winterizing 101

How to prepare your yard for winter

Changing seasons can be tough on a lawn. Always exposed to the elements, lawns can fare especially poorly upon the arrival of winter, a season known for its harsh and unforgiving weather. Even the most perfectly manicured lawn can suffer at the hands of winter weather, causing homeowners to sit idly by and hope spring arrives that much sooner. But as punishing as winter weather can be on a lawn, homeowners are not without recourse. Much like homeowners can take steps to help their lawns survive sizzling

summer heat waves during the warmer months of the year, they also can take steps to help their lawns make it through the often stormy weather synonymous with winter. Don’t procrastinate. Putting off the process of winterizing a lawn can put that lawn in jeopardy. Lawns will turn dormant the closer you get to winter, and they may reject the nutrients found in fertilizer as a result. Those nutrients will prove valuable once spring weather returns, so start the winterization process in early fall so the lawn has sufficient

time to absorb nutrients and strengthen itself for the seasons to come. Treat trouble spots. Summer can be even harder on a lawn than winter, especially for those lawns located in regions where heat waves and drought are common. In such instances, certain spots on the lawn seem to be hit harder than others, and those spots should get special attention when winterizing the lawn. Check the soil’s pH levels before fertilizing or applying any treatments. Such a test will reveal which spots need the most

See WINTER Page 18

BATHROOM: Nominal changes can give space a different look easier and more affordable. Even room more enjoyable and help nominal changes can give the improve a home’s resale value in Update hardware space an entirely different look the process. A new faucet or some new and feel, which can make the cabinet pulls can make the room look new and fresh without breaking the bank. Match finishes throughout the bathroom so everything will be cohesive. When shopping for a new shower head, choose a model that also conserves water. This way you will be making cosmetic and energy-saving renovations at the same time.

From Page 13

DIY Handling labor yourself instead of hiring workers can reduce the cost of bathroom remodels considerably. It is possible to buy fully assembled bathroom vanities and install them yourself. Even installing a new toilet is relatively easy with the help of a friend. There are a number of ways to make bathroom renovations a bit

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Wednesday, September 18 — Thursday, September 19, 2013

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Wednesday, September 18 — Thursday, September 19, 2013



How to invite more natural light into your home A dark home can be dreary and drain residents’ energy levels rather quickly. Natural light has the power to make a person feel more energized, and it also can buoy spirits. As a result, many homeowners want to increase the amount of natural light in their homes. Increasing natural sunlight in a home reduces reliance on interior lighting. This reduces energy bills and lowers the home’s carbon footprint. Natural light also can help people in a home feel happier and more content. According to the National Institutes of Health, some people experience serious mood changes during the winter months. Dubbed seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, this condition may be effectively treated with light therapy. Exposure to more light can alleviate fatigue, loss of interest and sad or anxious feelings. Homeowners looking to increase the natural light in their homes, be it for medical or aesthetic reasons, can do so in a variety of ways. Keep the drapes open. Opening blinds and curtains as far as they will go allows as much light to shine in without having to do major home New windows may allow more natural light to enter a home. renovations or spend any money at all. Homeowners Take inventory of dark tubes are more low-profile and not abut the roofline, such concerned about privacy can spots. A room may be dark can be put into rooms that do as those obstructed by attic install a window film that allows because it simply does not viewing from the inside only. have a layout conducive to Clean the windows. Dirty brightness. Is a wall blocking On and windows obstruct sunlight light from reaching a portion from entering the home. They of the room? Think about Computers also can make a home appear changing the room’s layout or Plasma, LCD & Desktops Laptops unkempt. Spend a free day even making structural changes LED 32” to 60” Tablets cleaning the windows so that to improve light distribution. they’ll let ample light in. The addition of a small window Install seamless or low- on a south- or west-facing wall profile windows and doors. can greatly improve natural Seamless sliding doors enable light. Using mirrors can also a large amount of light to reflect light where it is needed. E-Z Own also offers enter the home. Such doors Invest in skylights or solar 20% Cash Discounts 90 Day can replace an entire wall to tubes. Both skylights or solar Interest Free Financing 6% Get the things you & 12% Interest Program brighten up a dark area of a tubes enable light to enter a want with Payments Same as Cash Layaway 604 N. Victory Drive, Mankato you can afford home. The more windows and home from above. Skylights are 507-344-1819 doors a home has, the brighter larger and require considerably Fast, Friendly Financing • NO Balloon Payments • NO Credit Checks it will be. more work to install, while solar *With Manager’s Approval. Not good with any other offers. Bring this postcard into the store. Offer expires


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space. The tubular cylinders are installed between the roof and the ceiling and carry light through a reflective tube to the room below. Diffusers on tubular daylighting devices scatter the rays so the light doesn’t cast harsh shadows, and UV filters can help protect furniture from discoloring. Trim shrubs and trees. If trees and bushes are blocking light from entering your home, trim them to enable dappled light to come through. Deciduous trees that will naturally lose their leaves come autumn can be planted on sunny areas of the property. This way in the summer months they will shade the house and keep it cooler, while in winter

more sun will stream in when the leaves are shed. Create a three-season room. Make a spot in the home where sun will be at a premium. A solarium or greenhouse attached to the home can be a warm and sunny spot. Increasing natural light in a home can improve feelings of well-being and also reduce energy consumption during daylight hours.

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Wednesday, September 18 — Thursday, September 19, 2013

Autumn marks a great time to clear clutter C lutter is a concern for many homeowners. Clutter can gradually accumulate, and over time a home can turn from a welcoming respite to a claustrophobic place overwhelmed by items of little or no value. Homeowners who have battled clutter in the past often find that it is most likely to accumulate over the winter, when frigid temperatures outside drive more people indoors. Spending more time indoors means more trash indoors. Newspapers and magazines might be easy to discard when the weather is warm, but a trip outside to discard such items takes less precedence when it must be made in below freezing temperatures. The likelihood that even the cleanliest of homeowners might accumulate some clutter over the winter only highlights the importance of clearing a house of clutter in the fall. While clearing clutter can seem like an arduous task, the following tips can make the project much easier. Clean one room or area at a time. A disorganized approach to getting organized is likely to waste time and may even prove fruitless. Work your way through your home or apartment one room at a time rather than jumping from room to room. Have boxes or crates designated for items you find that belong in other rooms, and place items in the appropriate boxes as you

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clean rather than returning items to the right room as you find them. Once you have finished a room, move on to the next one and try to finish a room on the same day you started. Invest in a paper shredder. Old bills, bank statements, receipts, and other onceimportant papers have a way of accumulating on desks, in drawers and on counters. Such documents often do not need to be held onto, but men and women are hesitant to discard them because they contain personal information. A paper shredder is a great investment for homeowners and apartment dwellers alike and can be the safest way to discard documents with potentially sensitive information. It’s also a friend to anyone attempting to clear clutter. Many shredders can shred multiple pages at a time, making them a quick and safe way to discard documents that have been littering a home long after they were useful. Decide to donate some items. Many unused items lying around your house can likely be donated to a worthy cause, which can help motivate you to clean out your closet of all those extra sweaters and other items you no longer wear. Encourage fellow members of the household to donate as well, and set aside a few boxes for clothes that will be donated and those that will be discarded. Donated items need not be clothes, as many goodwill organizations accept appliances

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and other products as well. Put seasonal items away. Storing seasonal items like patio furniture and swimsuits can help reduce the likelihood that clutter will build up in the months ahead. Pack items from your summer wardrobe together and store them in a suitcase in the back of your closet. This frees up room for your fall and winter clothing and helps you avoid overstuffed drawers. In addition to clothing, store seasonal furniture neatly in the back of your garage or storage shed, pulling out items like snow shovels or snow blowers you may need come the winter. Tackle the hall closet. Hall closets are convenient dropoff spots for items of all shapes, uses and sizes, as the hall closet is not necessarily opened each day and therefore men and women can simply ignore it as it gradually accumulates more and more random items. But hall closets can be valuable storage spaces when used appropriately. Designate a significant amount of time to tackle hallway closets in your home so you can thoroughly reduce the clutter within them and get back to using the closets as the valuable, organized storage units they’re intended to be. Discuss having different purposes for each

closet, such as one devoted to cleaning items, another to coats, and so on. Resolve to keep the floors in each closet

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Once the hallway closets have been cleared, work hard to keep them clean as autumn turns into winter.

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Wednesday, September 18 — Thursday, September 19, 2013



Tips for unclogging drains Clogged drains can be a nuisance. And if left untreated, that minor nuisance can turn into an expensive repair. A number of different things can cause drains to clog. Food particles, hair, grease, soap residue, oil, and even a foreign object lodged in the drain can each cause a drain to clog. Before you have to call a plumber, there are steps to take that may get water flowing once more. Bubbles galore Baking soda has many uses in the home. This versatile product can be used dislodge items in drains. It is better to try baking soda when clogs are minor and water drainage is sluggish rather than waiting for the clog to get so bad that water is impenetrable. When baking soda and common household vinegar are mixed together, they form a new chemical called carbonic acid. This acid immediately begins to degrade

into carbon dioxide gas, which produces foam and bubbles in the process. This bubbling action can upset the source of a clog in a pipe and dislodge particles that may be causing the water backup. Keep your face away from the drain as the smell of vinegar mixing with the baking soda may be unpleasant. Baking soda also can be mixed with salt and boiling water to break down grease that may be clogging drains. Repeatedly washing this mixture down drains can gently scour pipes and keep water moving steadily. Plunge ahead If a clog is especially stubborn, you may need to use a plunger. A plunger works by forcing the energy you push on the plunger into the surrounding water, which then applies pressure against the clog. Repeatedly forcing water against a clog can move it along until it frees up the drain. Plunging can be messy, so wear old clothes

when plunging. Make sure the head of the plunger is filled with water; otherwise, your work will be for naught. You may want to keep a separate plunger handy for sink work so you are not transferring bacteria and waste from a toilet plunger into the sink, especially in the kitchen.

obstacle back up out of the drain. While there are snakes of various lengths, sometimes a small one that makes it just to the bend of the elbow trap can be sufficient. A snake is essentially a flexible piece of wire that is inserted in the pipe. It may have a coarse or wound end to ensnare a clog.

Pop and fizz Colas are loaded with phosphoric acid, which is more acidic than lemon juice and is also corrosive. This acid will fizz in the drain and break through any greasy, stubborn residue. It’s even effective at dissolving calcium deposits, which may be a byproduct of hard water.

Call a plumber Unless you feel confident taking pipes apart to check for and clear out clogs and then reassembling everything, you may need to call a plumber if the clog will not relent. It may be lower in the system than at house level, especially if there are clogs in multiple sinks or appliances in the home. Multiple clogged drains may be indicative of a more serious problem. Many clogs can be alleviated with simple household items. Serious clogs may require the expertise of a plumber.

Snake it Some clogs are more stubborn and require some extra elbow grease to fix. A pipe snake can push hair and other debris through the pipes until water can run free. They also can be used to pull the

t s e v r a




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WINTER: Don’t walk on a frozen lawn From Page 13 attention, and treating trouble spots now will make spring lawn care that much easier. Aerate the property. Aerating can help a lawn recover after a long summer and help it survive the potentially harsh months that lie ahead. Aerating, which involves puncturing the soil or removing cores of soil from the ground, can restore a lawn to health by improving its drainage and allowing more water and air to reach the roots of the grass. Aerating also makes it easier for nutrients to penetrate the soil, which encourages a healthier lawn over the long haul. Aerators can be purchased or rented, but homeowners uncomfortable with the process may want to enlist a professional to tackle the job. Parents of small children who spend lots of time in the yard may need to aerate their lawn more than most, as heavy lawn traffic compresses the soil, a potentially harmful process that can be reversed via aeration. Take steps to strengthen the

Removing debris, including dead leaves, from a lawn before the arrival of winter weather can help prevent suffocation.

roots. Aerating promotes stronger roots, but homeowners might also want to find a winterizing product with potassium and phosphorous, both of which can strengthen roots. Different types of lawns will respond differently to certain winterizers, so discuss your options with a lawn care professional who can help

you find the right fit for your property. Remove debris from the lawn. Debris left on a lawn over the winter can prove very harmful. Piles of debris left scattered around a lawn can suffocate the blades of grass, leading to longterm damage and a potentially unsightly lawn come the spring. In addition, piles of debris might make good homes for organisms that can damage the lawn. As fall moves into winter, periodically remove all debris, including leaves and branches fallen from trees. Make the lawn off-limits once the temperatures dip below freezing. A lawn should be offlimits once the ground freezes. Stepping on grass that has frozen will leave noticeable footprints, and walking on frozen grass can kill the turf. When winter arrives, people should avoid using the lawn as a shortcut into and out of your home and stick to driveways and sidewalks instead.

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Wednesday, September 18 — Thursday, September 19, 2013



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Wednesday, September 18 — Thursday, September 19, 2013

Celebrating 130 Years 220 South Third Street • Telephone 931-3310 • St. Peter

Fall Home Improvement 2013  
Fall Home Improvement 2013