Spring 2014 St. Joseph area
Home improvement guide Inside, find tips and information about: Bedrooms Cleaning Gardening and landscaping Home safety Patios and porches Staying cool Water savings Window treatments
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2 SPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE | April 2014
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SPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE | April 2014 3
Bedrooms 6 | Cleaning 8 | Gardening and landscaping 10 | Guttering and roofing 12 Home safety 14 | Paint trends 16 | Porches and patios 18 | Staying cool 20 | Water savings 22 Window treatments 24
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Spring home checklist ❏Clean and unclog gutters and downspouts. Make any needed repairs. ❏Inspect roof for leaks and loose shingles. ❏Inspect and clean chimney.
❏Clean away any leaves or other debris around the yard. ❏Clean pools and spas and prepare for use. ❏Give outdoor furniture a good cleaning.
❏Make sure grill is ready for ❏Check foundation for cracks. Make needed repairs. the season. ❏Make sure water is draining away from home. Landscape as needed.
❏Clean planters, pots and hanging baskets and prepare for use.
❏Inspect brickwork, stucco and siding. Make repairs as necessary.
❏Prepare flower beds for planting.
❏Repair cracks in sidewalks and driveway. ❏Check trees and shrubs for damage. Trim/remove as needed. ❏Check decks and patios for damage. ❏Power-wash concrete. ❏Weather-proof windows and doors. ❏Clean windows and repair screens. ❏Check outdoor faucets for any winter damage and turn on water. ❏Check lawn mowers and other power tools to make sure they work.
❏Inventory garden tools and make sure all are in good condition. ❏Clean out garage/shed. ❏Check attic and basement for dampness and mold. ❏Give home a general cleaning.
❏Get air conditioner serviced. ❏Install any window AC units. ❏Clean ceiling fans. ❏Clean out refrigerator and freezer. ❏Check pantry for expired items. ❏Clean/replace bedding. ❏Clean curtains and blinds.
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Spring home improvement Guide | April 2014 5
Create a calming bedroom oasis
By BROOKE WILSON
St. Joseph News-Press
he kitchen and living room are for hosting parties, entertaining guests and communing with family. But at the end of a long day, the best place to curl up and relax is a cozy bedroom
retreat. Unfortunately, most homeowners put all their energy into making their living spaces look nice while neglecting the place where they often spend most of their time. Mary Carol Garrity, interior designer and founder of Nell Hill’s stores in Atchison, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., says bedrooms usually become cluttered and messy because they’re behind closed doors when guests are over. Decluttering and organizing the room immediately makes it feel more restful. “If you think about it, our bedrooms are really important to our moods. It’s the last thing you see at the end of the day when you go to bed and the first thing you see when you wake up. Waking up in a lovely, organized environment just helps with the day,” she says. A person’s preferred style depends on his or her personality, but most bedrooms tend to be painted in muted tones like gray, cream, pale blue, pale green, brown, navy or tan. Ms. Garrity says white shades also are becoming popular again, as they provide a clean, crisp backdrop for a number of accent colors. Try to avoid bright, loud colors like yellow or orange, since they convey energy and activity instead of restfulness. Interior and landscape designer John Brock says a bedroom’s set-
up is as important as its appearance if you want a good night’s sleep. “If a person is searching for a new home or building a new home, I would suggest ensuring that the bedroom is located in a quiet area of the home, away from a busy street that may be outside the window or too close to their neighbor’s home. If a person is looking for ways to soundproof a bedroom in their existing home, upgrade your windows or make sure the room is properly insulated,” he says. Many homeowners hotly debate whether or not bedrooms should contain a television. While it all boils down to personal preference, Mr. Brock says he prefers to not have the distraction of a TV when he’s going to sleep. Try to eliminate other distracting lights from computers, chargers or alarm clocks, and use dim lighting at night if you like to read in bed. “Lower-light lamps on at night create a calm environment. Dark curtains that can block out light in the morning are great if you are a person who wants to sleep in. Also, a consistent noise source is key for a good night’s sleep for many. A fan or white noise machine are great for those people who may need it,” he says. Some people might be tempted to save a little money by buying inexpensive pillows or bedding for their bedrooms, but both Ms. Garrity and Mr. Brock say this is a mistake. Invest in the nicest bedding you can afford so you never feel uncomfortable in your own home. “Great mattresses and good-quality sheets really do make a difference. ... If you’re traveling a lot and staying in hotel beds that are more comfortable than your own, you need to go shopping,” Ms. Garrity says.
However, Mr. Brock suggests jersey cotton sheets if you want comfort at a reasonable price, since this type of bedding is becoming more common. Besides the bed, try to incorporate other pieces of furniture in the room as the space allows. Some people like to create a reading nook with a comfy chair and ottoman in a corner or a padded window seat. Instead of tiny matching nightstands, Ms. Garrity suggests using larger items like a writing desk on one side and a dresser on the other. This creates a more balanced look, especially with king-size beds. Brooke Wilson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPWilson.
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Time for a spring cleaning he winter snow has melted away and you’ve found yourself with a messed up lawn and a house cramped with stuff from being inside for so long. It’s time to get to work. Outside, dead branches and rose bush ends need to be cleared out to make way for new growth and to avoid having them blow around.
It’s for common problems that Archer Lawn Care in St. Joseph often is called to help clean up. “Come spring, there are leaves that had fallen over the wintertime that hadn’t been cleaned up since last fall,” Janet Graves of Archer Lawn Care says. Of course, grass preparation is needed. “We cut back any ornamental grasses (like Feather Redgrass or Fountaingrass) that were left over the winter for winter interest,” Ms. Graves says. “We try to cut all those back before they green up. Otherwise, the green comes up in
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there and you end up cutting the new blades of grass.” The good thing about this past winter was the snow provided nice insulation for grass and plants, as opposed to cold air constantly blowing on and destroying them. “We had good snow and that’s a good insulating blanket for any landscape planning or trees or anything that were out. You wouldn’t have to worry about a lot of ground heating, especially for something that was newly planted,” she says. If any shrubs have come out of the soil during a freeze-thaw cycle, be sure to replant them before their roots dry out. If you live in a busy neighborhood or by the side of the road, it’s best to clean up the roadside litter before it starts gathering in your yard or hurting someone else. “If more people would keep their trash and properly dispose of it, or, better yet, recycle it, we would
reduce the amount of litter we need to pick up in the first place,” says Stacy Armstrong, coordinator for MoDOT’s No MOre Trash! program aimed at stopping litter. Inside, it’s time to clean up a little now that you don’t have to worry about constant stains from road salt and ice melter. Cleaning the floors and the outside and inside of the windows, taking out the spring clothes and putting away the sweaters and big heavy blankets — those are the usual rites of spring. Be sure to take a look at your furnace and humidifiers. Cynthia Ewer, author of “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Organized,” says to make sure to take a look at your furnace and air conditioners to be sure the filters have been changed in them, as they are meant to be traded out for new ones every three months. Arrange for an inspection of your cooling
system early. “Don’t wait for the first hot day. Air conditioning firms will give better service when they’re not busy,” she says. Spring also is a good time to have your air ducts professionally cleaned to get rid of allergens in the system. In spring, people are always looking for garage sales, so if you have enough stuff to necessitate, or at least be part of a group sale, do it. And make sure it’s priced cheap. “A garage sale is the best way to get rid of stuff without it ending up filling a landfill,” local garage sale enthusiast Sheila Tuttle says. “Just remember that so you don’t price things like you’re still holding on to dear life for them. You’re trying to get rid of them.” Andrew Gaug can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPGaug.
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SPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE | April 2014 9
Gardening and landscaping
Make your yard
By MARSHALL WHITE St. Joseph News-Press
pers, Mann’s and Moffet’s have a new variety that’s supposed to be akin to fire when bitten into. “It’s called the Ghost Pepper and it will be the hottest pepper until someone develops the next latest and greatest pepper for next year,” says Krystin Kleinlein, an herbaceous specialist at Moffet’s. For those who like tomatoes, Moffett’s recommends the new “Sweet Seedless” tomato. “It has more meat, less pulp and no seeds, Mrs. Kleinlein says. Knee Deep in June cultivates its yards with hellebore and pulmonar-
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he folks at Mann’s Lawn and Landscaping, Moffet Nursery and Garden Shop and Knee Deep in June are three of the many local businesses gearing up to help gardeners and homeowners seeking to add variety to their yards and gardens. For those who like hot, hot pep-
“DISTINCTIVE FLOWERS “DISTINCTIVE WITH A DIFFERENCE”
ia. They’re plants for those who want to see blooms in early spring. The pulmonaria generally have pink, purple, lavender and white flowers, but the foliage is nice all year long, and they are good companion plants to go with other varieties, says Bev Hoyt, one of Knee Deep’s owners. Mann’s and Moffet’s say the annual that everyone seems to like is petunias, and there are lots of new colors. Moffet’s “rose man” Charles Anctil says roses are easy to maintain and hearty. He recommends drift roses. But if a drift rose isn’t the right thing, he says there are 55,000 registered rose varieties, and Moffet’s has between 1,500 and 2,000 different ones. “Roses aren’t as hard to take care of as people think,” Mr. Anctil says. Nicole Armendariz, Moffet’s landscape design specialist, recommends two trees — Dragon Eye Pine and Waterlily Magnolia with its white star flowers. The pine tree’s long soft needles have green and yellow stripes, Ms. Armendariz says.
Oaks and maples are still recommended, says Lisa Potter, Mann’s greenhouse manager. A visit to Knee Deep, 16th and Boyd streets, in May will give visitors a chance to see sun-loving iris and shade-loving hostas. Both plants are low-maintenance. After 30 years of hybridizing, the iris Lydia Safen Swiastyn is really getting interesting with its gold and purple colors, says Mitch Jamison, a Knee Deep owner. Moffet’s (located on Missouri Highway 6 east on Frederick Boulevard) will have vessels for container gardens, and Mann’s (located on north U.S. 169 in Andrew County) will have a variety of specialty products for walls and other landscaping projects. Stores all along the Belt Highway will be gearing up in the coming weeks with sales for homeowners looking to start new gardens or landscaping projects. Marshall White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWhite.
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SPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE | April 2014 11
Guttering and roofing
Get your mind in the gutter
A St. Joseph News-Press
ny homeowners who used winter weather as an excuse not to clean last fall’s leaves out of the gutter might have a daunting task ahead. Clogged gutters cause problems when spring rains arrive and send water pouring off the roof. Even worse, piles of rotting debris could provide a haven for mosquitoes and
ants or even pull away from the roof, leading to costly repairs. Home improvement guru Bob Vila stresses the importance of the dull and occasionally dangerous job on his website, bobvila.com. “While it’s a job many of us would love to ignore, gutter cleaning is an important twice-a-year ritual all homeowners need to adopt,” Mr. Vila says. A variety of tools and methods exist to make the job easier − even a gutter-cleaning robot − but the task almost always requires someone to climb up a ladder. For those who fear heights or have gutters high in
12 SPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE | April 2014
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the air, the advice can end with three words: hire a professional. If you’re up to the task, the job quite literally begins at the ground. Before scaling the ladder, try jumping lightly a few times on the bottom rung to make sure your footing is sturdy. It may feel funny, but falling from the top of a ladder you’ve unwittingly set up on a collapsed mole hill is no laughing matter. Once you’re on top of things, tools abound to make the job easier. Items like the Gutter Getter scoop allow you to remove debris without scratching the bottom of your gutters, which could lead to rust and other problems. The Looj gutter-cleaning robot − from the makers of the popular Roomba vacuum − practically does the work for you. Online reviews differ on whether the robot saves time, but at the very least, it allows you to climb down off the ladder and watch safely with your feet on solid ground. After the debris has been removed, use a hose to rinse the gutters toward the downspout. Once that job is complete, consider putting a strainer over the upper end of the downspout to prevent future clogs. Odds are high that in the process of cleaning the gutters, you splattered some muck on your home’s siding. A pressure washer provides the easiest way to clean mud, mold and other debris off vinyl siding. Wikihow.com offers easy tips to help avoid turning a basic job into a major headache. In basic terms, you’ll be fine as long as you spray downward at a 45-degree angle to avoid getting excess water between the sheets of siding. Also, avoid using excessively hot water, as it can cause the siding to warp. Clinton Thomas can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPThomas.
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SPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE | April 2014 13
Home safe home
By JESSICA SHUMAKER
C St. Joseph News-Press
ommon sense isn’t always so common. That’s why when it comes to safety in the home, local retailers recommend the basics are covered to keep your family safe. Menards General Manager Kevin Harrison says families can do everything from make sure they’ve got
working smoke detectors to installing home security systems to meet that aim. “They’re common sense, but people tend to forget about them,” he says. He says that often people will remove batteries from smoke detectors, for example, because the noise of a beeping alarm may be annoying. “It’s common sense, but then (if taken for granted) it doesn’t do you any good,” he says. One common area of concern with home safety is fire. According to the National Fire Protection Associa-
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tion, or NFPA, American fire departments responded to an average of more than 360,000 home structure fires per year between 2007 and 2011. Those accounted for roughly 2,500 civilian deaths, more than 13,000 civilian injuries and $7.2 billion in property damage per year. Mr. Harrison says smoke detectors can cost as little as about $6 and as much as $44, depending on the model. They need replacing every 10 years, and batteries should be checked periodically throughout the year, according to the NFPA. Other similar items to think about include carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers and escape ladders, Mr. Harrison says. “People don’t think, what if I have to get out of my second-story house?” he says. “Am I going to jump out?” Families with children have additional safety needs. Greg Eagleburger, senior general manager of Westlake Ace Hardware, says some key points of safety for them include using outlet safety plugs and door latches to keep them out of cabinets where they may be storing cleaners with chemicals that would be harmful to children. As weather begins to heat up, grilling and pool safety begin to become important aspects of safety around the home, too. According to the NFPA, those grilling with propane and charcoal grills should only use their grills outside and should take care to place them well away from their home, deck railings or eaves and overhanging branches. They’re encouraged to keep their grills clean and well maintained and also to keep small children and pets at least three feet away from the grill. Mr. Eagleburger says those using a gas grill for the first time in awhile should be sure to inspect it to make sure the burner connectors are all in place and haven’t been jostled. The NFPA says that gas tank hoses should be checked for leaks before first use of the year. When it comes to pool safety, Mr. Eagleburger says owners can use fencing to help keep unauthorized users out. He says one of the biggest things pool owners should do is to be observant. “The biggest thing is to keep an eye on it,” he says. “If there’s a pool, it’s probably going to attract kids.” Jessica Shumaker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPShumaker.
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Paint doesn’t have to be boring or bold
St. Joseph News-Press
ust like pieces of your wardrobe, certain paint colors can be popular, too. But if you’re like most homeowners, you don’t have the time or money to change out your wall color every year. It’s important to stick with the classics that tend to remain neutral as you change out furniture and
décor. The good news is that the top trends in paint colors and techniques in 2014 could be considered timeless. “Most people go two ways, super boring or super bold,” says Katrina Minter, a St. Joseph artist and freelance designer. “There’s not a lot of in between. And that’s where people can get stuck.” Ms. Minter says a hot pink accent wall may not work, but a subdued pink all over can. The end result should be complementary and pleasing to the eye without taking away from the room.
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“Sometimes even a neutral blue can be bold if you get the right hue,” she says. “Even the ohso-common taupe can look creative in the right context.” According to the websites of many well-known paint companies like Sherman Williams, Behr and Benjamin Moore, paint trends this year are turning to nature. This palette lends itself to very neutral colors for those who like to play it safe but can be turned up a notch with hue for those who live on the edge. Ms. Minter agrees. She suggests that people are starting to really come full circle when it comes to decorating on their own. “A lot of shabby chic elements that are popular right now lend themselves to peaceful, relaxing colors commonly found in nature,” she says. The ocean and seashore, lakeside cottage and full-blown forest looks have a long list of blues, greens, browns and even whites. Another aspect to trending paint colors is the type of applications. While flat, semi-gloss and glossy are one way to do it, homeowners are finding a little sand and multiple applications and texture are fun finishes, too. Nancy Beck saw an idea online and decided to try it. The St. Joseph woman was afraid to do something drastic, so she looked at ways to incorporate the rose color in her bedspread onto the walls of her guest room. She simply painted her walls with the rose paint in a flat finish. Once completely dry, she went back with a 1-inch paintbrush and added swirls around the room in the same rose paint, but with a glossy finish. “I wasn’t sure you would be able to really see the swirls,” she said. “But I was surprised at the beautiful contrast. It looks like a garden.” Jennifer Hall can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPHall.
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SPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE | April 2014 17
Patios and porches
Porches and patios swing into season
By GREG KOZOL
St. Joseph News-Press
or much of winter, porches and patios seemed to exist for no other purpose than to collect snow. Now, with spring in full bloom, an outdoor space can be transformed into an oasis for enjoying sunny spring days and enchanted summer evenings. “Business has definitely picked
up,” says Daniel Horner, store manager at Pier 1 Imports in St. Joseph. “The last couple of weeks have been very busy. We’ve had a lot of people in.” Mr. Horner says outdoor carpets and cushions are a popular way to update the look of a porch or patio. He recommends taking furniture cushions indoors on a regular basis in order to extend their lifespan. “Most of our rugs look like indoor rugs,” he says. “They’re very brightly colored.” Outdoor carpets range in price
18 SPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE | April 2014
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from $40 to $500, depending on the size and other factors. Outdoor sectionals and hanging chairs are popular sales items for customers looking to spruce up an outdoor space, Mr. Horner says. While chairs and rugs have been big sellers for years, outdoor paintings have emerged as a newer trend for decorating porches and patios. Mr. Horner says a photo of a sunset or flowers adds character to an outdoor area, even if the real thing is plainly visible outdoors. “They look like canvass paintings stretched out over a frame, but they’re made for outside,” Mr. Horner says. “I think last year may have been the first that we’ve had for outdoor paintings.” Paintings, furniture and cushions won’t add to the enjoyment of a porch or patio if it’s pouring rain or the direct sun is creating oppressive heat. Don Lorenz, salesman and estimator at the Dillon Company in St. Joseph, says patio covers are a handy way to block the more extreme elements. The coverings are especially useful for some newer homes that don’t have a covered porch as part of the original design. The coverings are installed for $1,500 and up, depending on the size. While that sounds expensive, the shade can reduce the heat by 40 percent in the dog days of summer, helping to add to outdoor enjoyment during the summer months. “They’ve been around for a long time,” Mr. Lorenz says. “They are popular additions for the back of the home to give you some added free space.” Added shade doesn’t mean reduced color on a porch or patio. Geranium and calibrachoa flowers brighten a porch or patio and thrive in shaded areas, says Lisa Potter, greenhouse manager at Mann’s Landscaping and Garden Center. Geraniums also grow well in full sun, she says. Ms. Potter believes the choice of a flower pot shouldn’t be overlooked. “Probably the best thing is to add lots of color with containers and fill them with bright-colored flowers,” she says. For hanging plants, she recommends filling the buckets until water pours out but not to water them every day. “Let them dry out,” she says. “If it’s hot and dry and windy, you water more often.” Greg Kozol can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @gregkozol.
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SPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE | April 2014 19
Summer cooling can take a natural route
By KEN NEWTON
St. Joseph News-Press
he heat of aggressive summers in Northwest Missouri can be tempered in homes by some methods of passive cooling. Not everyone wants the expense and closed-in feeling of air-conditioning. Natural methods of interior cooling, which sufficed for centuries, still suit some lifestyles.
As household conveniences go, air-conditioning remains a relatively modern invention. The U.S. Census Bureau cites the presence of central air-conditioning in about 45 percent of American homes in the 1960s. By the 2010 census, the percentage had roughly doubled. The time-honored ways can serve well, and matters of design and routine can mitigate the gathering of heat within a home. Old houses had cupolas and large windows not just for aesthetic pur-
20 SPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE | April 2014
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poses. They provided a means for pushing heat up and away from inhabiting humans and letting air circulate. Heat rose to the upper regions of the cupola, a natural draw if ventilated from the lower areas. Open windows, especially those in position to catch the prevailing breezes, play to naturally occurring patterns of air flow. Keep interior doors open to not impede this process. Along with this, introducing the coolness of night air, it remains important to close the windows as the heat of the day builds. Curtains and blinds, light-colored to reflect the sun’s ray, should be drawn to prevent what is known as “solar gain.” On the outside, awnings, extended eaves or a deep porch can keep the sun from raising the temperature on windows or the sides of the house. Another important exterior component to natural cooling is shade provided by well-placed trees or shrubs. By keeping direct sunlight off the house during the hottest parts of the day, a tree can draw away up to 20 degrees of heat from a home.
Within the house, the avoidance of certain activities also can help. Don’t cook meals in the oven. Don’t use the clothes dryer until the evening hours. Jim Long, proprietor of Long Lighting Center in St. Joseph, says the output of incandescent bulbs can make a difference: a fixture
with five 60-watt bulbs gives off 300 watts of heat. Some cooler options exist, LED lights or fluorescent bulbs, neither technology giving off heat. Though the decisions are not so simple. “One is if the cost of the LED is worth the energy you’re going to save on cooling,” Mr. Long says. “Most fluorescent light is not very good as far as color rendering is concerned. Everything is a tradeoff.” While home insulation is usually thought of with heat conservation in the winter, Brian Steeby of Brian’s Handyman Service in St. Joseph says a good layer of attic protection can be useful. The average high temperature in St. Joseph is 87 in July and 86 in August. Because of that and the often high humidity, Mr. Steeby says the decision to naturally cool a house comes down to personal levels
of comfort. “I’d love to be able to not run my air-conditioning but I think in this climate it’s just tough,” he says. Ken Newton can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPNewton.
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Less splash, more savings Water-conserving bathroom improvements make a big impact on your bill
W St. Joseph News-Press
ater conservation doesn’t only do a lot of good for the environment, it does wonders for your disposable income. By making water-saving improvements in your bathroom, you can
keep a lot of cash, especially if your fixtures haven’t been upgraded in the last 20 years. Studies by the Environmental Protection Agency estimate that toilets are by far the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of an average home’s indoor water consumption. Older, inefficient toilets — largely, those made before 1994 — use anywhere from 3.5 to 6 gallons per flush, making them a major source of wasted water. Toilets made in the last 20 years
22 SPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE | April 2014
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should meet the federal standard of 1.6 gallons per flush, which means you could cut your water bill significantly by installing new toilets. According to the EPA, several models currently on the market use only 1.28 gallons per flush while still providing equal or superior performance, including the WaterSense-certified products available at home improvement stores. By replacing inefficient toilets with WaterSense labeled models, the EPA says that the average family can save $110 per year in water costs and $2,200 over the lifetime of the toilets. Many people shared horror stories about the early generations of “lowflow” toilets, some of which would require multiple flushes to take away the waste. Toilet manufacturers have stepped up over the last few years and made several modifications to their low-flow models, such as wider flapper valves and glazed trapways, which cut down on friction and ease the path for waste to be flushed. “They’ve really improved the design,” says Terry Howard, plumbing professional for the Lowe’s store in St. Joseph. Some toilet-makers have turned to pressure-assisted flush systems, which release pressurized air that forces water into the bowl when flushed and reduces the probability of clogs. Although they get the job done, pressure-assisted toilets tend to be noisier and pricier. Howard says an increasing number of shoppers are opting for dual-flush toilets. These models offer light flushes (often less than 1 gallon per flush) for “No. 1” jobs and full
POLE BARN HOMES
head size, most water-saving showerheads now deliver a normal shower experience while using less water. Before installing a new toilet or shower system, take into consideration the basic parts of your existing plumbing system. Consult with a plumbing professional to see if lowflow fixtures will work as desired in your home.
Additional water-saving tips:
flushes (between 1.2 and 1.6 gallons) for solid waste. Homes equipped with dual-flush toilets use an average of only 4.8 gallons per person per day instead of 8 gallons, according to the American Water Works Association. If you really want to save on your water bill, you might want to pick up some low-flow showerheads in addition to the toilets. According to Missouri American Water’s statistics, the average showerhead uses 5 gallons per minute. The EPA recommends you replace it with a model that restricts flow to 2.5 gallons per minute. All WaterSense-labeled products use less than 2 gallons per minute. You could cut the water use in your shower in half with a simple $20 to $50 purchase. The horror stories about low-flow showerheads are drying up as well. Using a range of different design techniques and technologies such as pressure chambers or reduced shower
ALL STEEL BUILDING
• According to Missouri American Water, it is not uncommon to lose more than 100 gallons of water a week to toilet leaks. You can check for leaks by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank. If the color shows up in the bowl after a few minutes, you have a leak that needs to be repaired. • Showers consume less water than baths. According to the EPA, it takes as many as 70 gallons to fill a tub, while a shower demands only 10 to 25 gallons. • On a smaller scale, old faucets also can be a water waster. By retrofitting outdated faucets and aerators with WaterSense-labeled models, the EPA states that the average family saves 700 gallons of water per year, equal to the amount of water needed to take 40 showers. • Many people let the water run while they’re waiting for the shower to warm up. Several conservation websites suggest collecting this cold water in a bucket and using it for gardening. • Don’t let the water from the sink run while you brush your teeth or scrub your hands. Shea Conner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @stjoelivedotcom.
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SPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE | April 2014 23
Options extend beyond grandma’s curtains By KIM NORVELL
W St. Joseph News-Press
indow coverings have followed one trend in the past year: Less is more. What your grandmother may have felt was trendy, such as big floral patterns and thick curtains, is no longer what customers want for their homes. Linda Huffman, owner of Interiors II/The Nesting Place, says in turn she’s seen more sheer and lace-like fabrics, while a local decorator has had more requests for only shades. Janet Alexander, owner of Alexander’s Blind & Drapery Shop, says the bulk of their orders have been of roller screen shades, which look like fabric but are made out of vinyl to allow for light to pour in. The shades come in colors of all kinds and with various percent openness. For example, 1 percent creates more privacy, and 8 percent is a bit more open and translucent. “We’ll use that for energy efficiency and privacy, and then we’ll layer it with fabric,” she says. The roller shades also can be electric with either a remote or a new app, PowerRise, that can be controlled from a smart phone. It can be programmed to open and close at sunrise and sunset, Ms. Alexander says. Ms. Huffman says in addition to roller shades, she has seen the traditional Venetian blinds and Roman shades layered with sheer fabric. The sheers are treated as a stationary object and do not open and close like traditional drapes. Though both designers have had requests for more bold fabric choices, there is still the desire for minimalism. For example, Ms. Alexander says customers will ask for one pleat near
the ring instead of three, which looks less heavy than grandma’s drapery. Ms. Huffman says she gets requests for less “puddling” (extra fabric) at the bottom of drapery near the baseboards. Fabrics too have changed, including unexpected color combinations and patterns. Popular choices include chevron and ikat, in gray and gold or pink and green. Thanks to Pinterest, homeowners also have been asking for different placement of their drapes. Ms. Huffman advises raising the height of the curtain above the top of the window. Even a small increase will make a difference, she says. “Take the window treatments as high up as you can, almost to the crown molding, so your windows look larger and bigger,” she says. “It looks kind of ‘squatty’ without it.” Ms. Alexander advises homeowners looking to change their window coverings to think about how they will use that window in their home. If it’s a
24 SPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE | April 2014
bedroom or bathroom, there needs to be a bit more privacy, but a living room or eating area may want to let in more natural light. It’s also beneficial to tell your designer whether energy efficiency is an important factor. Kim Norvell can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPNorvell.
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