5 Ways to Lower Your Air Conditioning & Energy Bills


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According to the U.S. Department of Energy, air conditioning accounts for about six percent of all the electricity manufactured in the U.S. and costs American homeowners a collective $29 billion a year. On an individual level, running your central air conditioning can cost an average of $3.84 a day, which is more than $115 a month. With energy costs rising, it makes sense to take steps to make sure your A/C unit is operating at maximum efficiency. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a lot of extra money to keep your air conditioner humming along. In addition to getting a regular A/C tune-up, you can install a smart thermostat and take steps to keep the inside of your home from warming up too much during the hottest part of the day. With a little extra diligence, you can keep your energy costs low without sacrificing comfort. Here are five ways to ensure your A/C unit is running as efficiently as possible. 

1. Turn Your Thermostat Up

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Perhaps the easiest and cheapest thing you can do to maximize the efficiency of your air conditioner is to simply turn your thermostat up. If you can be comfortable at a higher temperature, you won’t have to spend as much money to cool your home. Even the best A/C units can’t make up for the monetary gain that simply turning up your thermostat can bring. 

If you haven’t already, you should consider updating to a digital or smart thermostat. A digital thermostat can be programmed so that you only run your central air when you’re at home and active. That way, you don’t waste money cooling your home while you aren’t there. 

A smart thermostat allows you to control the temperature of your home remotely, so you can adjust your thermostat if you’re going to be returning home, for example. Some of today’s smart thermostats will even monitor your family’s activity, learn your patterns and program themselves accordingly. 

2. Maintain Your A/C Properly

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Regular A/C maintenance is one of the best things you can do to improve your HVAC efficiency and prevent breakdowns. A yearly HVAC tune-up can keep your system functioning properly and identify issues before they arise so you can avoid unexpected HVAC failures. While you can perform some maintenance tasks, such as changing your HVAC filter on your own, other tasks, such as inspecting and cleaning your home A/C compressor, should be left to the professionals.  

Schedule yearly A/C maintenance early in the spring so you can be ready for hot weather and avoid the rush of last-minute calls from procrastinators or those with HVAC breakdowns. Ensure your maintenance technician knows how to maintain your particular A/C unit and cleans the indoor drain line while working on your unit. American Home Shield members receive access to discounted A/C system tune-ups or one free tune-up annually with a ShieldPlatinum home service plan.  

3. Close Your Curtains 

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Natural light is wonderful, but the rays of sunlight streaming through your windows can raise the interior temperature of your home and force your A/C unit to work harder. You can ease the burden on your unit and lower your cooling costs simply by closing your curtains and blinds, at least during the hottest part of the day. 

Not an option? This might take a few years to make a difference, but you could install a few shrubs and trees to naturally shade your home. Or you could install low-emissivity (or Low-E) windows. These windows have a reflective coating that keeps heat out while letting light in. Whatever type of windows you have, make sure the seals are tight and re-caulk if necessary to keep cool air from escaping (or your money could be going out the window!) 

4. Insulate Your Ductwork 

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If your HVAC’s ductwork runs through a non-air-conditioned space, then all that freshly cooled air could be warming up on its way to your vents. Insulate your ductwork to keep the cool air your HVAC produces cooler as it travels through your home’s ventilation system. 

Got leaky ductwork? Seal up leaks with a UL 181-rated duct-sealing tape. You may also want to have your ductwork inspected during your next HVAC maintenance visit.

5. Use Appliances Wisely 

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Some appliances, like your oven and clothes dryer, can heat up the inside of your house and increase your cooling costs. To minimize the impact of heat-generating appliances on your energy bills, avoid using your oven or clothes dryer during the hottest part of the day. For maximum energy efficiency, use them at night when it will be easiest for your unit to keep your home cool. 

While you’re at it, make sure you don’t have any lamps or other heat-generating appliances near your thermostat. Lamps and appliances that warm up the air around your thermostat can throw off its measurement of indoor air temperatures, making your A/C unit work harder because it thinks the inside of your home is warmer than it actually is. 

Keeping your A/C unit in good working order can maximize its efficiency and keep your energy costs down, so you can focus on staying cool all season long. 

Get more HVAC and air conditioner tips and advice from the experts: 

>  All You Need to Know About HVAC Replacement Costs  

What’s the Difference Between Air Conditioning Insurance vs. A/C Home Warranty Coverage  

What You Need to Know About Recharging Your Home’s A/C Unit  

How Long do HVAC Systems Last?  

Signs It’s Time to Get a New Air Conditioner  

Tips for Buying a New A/C Unit  

HVAC Red Flags to Look Out For  

HVAC Maintenance 101: Changing Your Filter   

Know When It’s Time to Replace Your Air Conditioner  

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

Backyard Tips: Yearly Planting Calendar


Want a beautiful garden that stays healthy and looks great all year? Use this calendar to know what to plant and when.

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Backyard Tips: Yearly Planting Calendar

Spring has only just begun, but it’s never too early to garden. If you live in a warm region, you can garden all year round, but even if you live in a cold, northerly climate, you can get a jumpstart on a lush, healthy garden by planning now. Read on for tips to create the garden of your dreams.

Find Your Hardiness Zones and Frost Dates

Wondering how you can tell when to plant flowers, veggies, fruits, and herbs outdoors? Use the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to find out which plants are most likely to do well in your local climate. As you can see from the map, the warmer the region, the higher the zone number. Hardiness zones are based on the average minimum temperatures in that region. 

Frost dates, or the most likely dates of the first and last frosts of the winter season, are based on hardiness zones. In zones 5a and 5b, for example, the last frost usually happens in the first two weeks of April, while the first frost will most likely occur in the last two weeks of October. You should start planting your garden after the last frost and expect the season to end with the first frost.

Choose the Right Plants

You can use hardiness zones to choose plants that will thrive in your climate. If you live in a zone with minimum temperatures below freezing, choose frost-hardy perennials that will survive cold winter temperatures to come back strong in the spring. If you live in a tropical or subtropical region, you should still pay attention to the plant’s hardiness rating. Some plants thrive in a warm climate, but others require periods of cold weather to thrive, and some seeds, like lavender, germinate best if exposed to cold.

Calculate Planting Dates

Calculate your planting dates based on when you hope to put seeds, seedlings, and young plants in the soil. Some vegetables, herbs, and flowers do best when started indoors, and you’ll need to do this about six weeks before your outdoor planting date. 

For many vegetables, flowers, and herbs, you can schedule your planting dates so they’re after the last frost, but keep in mind that different kinds of plants will need different outdoor planting dates, and build out your planting calendar accordingly. For example, peas, carrots, and some lettuces like colder weather and will need to be planted outdoors early in the season, perhaps even before the last frost. Because cool-weather vegetables and greens tend to mature relatively quickly, you may be able to get a bumper crop by sowing them anew in the late summer. 

Other plants, like corn, tomatoes, and cantaloupe like warm weather and should be planted a few weeks after the last frost when the soil has warmed up. Decide what you’re going to plant this spring well in advance and check seed packets, plant labels, or the internet to determine the best time of year to plant each specific variety. Weather isn’t the only consideration — some vegetables, like pumpkins, take a long time to grow, so you should make sure that you plant them while there are still plenty of days left in the planting season for them to mature. 

If you live in a zone with minimum temperatures above freezing, you can enjoy two growing seasons. Plant vegetables and herbs in the spring for a summer crop and again in the fall for a winter crop. Choose tropical flowers, shrubs, and trees for landscaping.

Start Seeds Indoors

Many vegetables, flowers, and fruits can be sown directly into the ground from seed, but others will do best if started indoors and transplanted outside. Start seeds for tomatoes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, eggplant, cauliflower, cabbage, peppers, lettuce, watermelon, swiss chard, and pumpkins indoors six to eight weeks before your planned outdoor planting date. Some plants, especially peppers and tomatoes, are difficult to grow from seed, so you may want to buy seedlings instead. Check seed packets to determine which seeds can be sown directly into the soil and which should be started indoors.

If you want to grow a productive garden this year, you need to develop a planting calendar based on your region’s climate and the plants you hope to cultivate. Do your research to determine which vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers you want to grow in your garden this year. Don’t procrastinate, because before you know it, it’ll be time to start planting.

Spring Cleaning? Here are the Best Closet Organization Systems


We all know what it’s like to be afraid to open our closets for fear of everything falling out. Closets can be one of the hardest parts of a home to keep organized and looking good. Check out the best closet organizers and see which one will work best for your home. 

Closets provide most of the storage space in the modern home, whether it’s for clothes, shoes, and accessories in the bedroom or food and spices in the pantry. A well-organized closet looks good and can save you valuable time. Sometimes we just need a little help to get the closet of our dreams—and keep it that way. 

But what is the best wardrobe closet organizer for your organizing style and household? Closet organizers vary widely in cost, size, and materials, so it really just depends on your budget and preference. Here we’ll cover some of the best closet organization systems for bedroom closets, along with general closet organization ideas. Let’s get organized! 

Best Budget Closet Organizer Systems 

When it comes to simple, affordable closet organization systems, you can’t go wrong with ClosetMaid. ClosetMaid has been making closet systems since 1965. Their systems work great, whether you’re looking for a walk-in closet organizer, a closet organizer with drawers, or something simpler like small closet organizer accessories. The best thing about ClosetMaid storage solutions is that their systems can be modified, expanded, or reconfigured as your needs change.   

The adjustable ClosetMaid 16” Organizer and Drawer Kit, made of laminated wood, is a sturdy storage solution that includes three shelves and support kits, two drawers, and three clothes rods. The ClosetMaid Fixed Mount Closet Organizer, made of vinyl-coated steel, offers less flexibility in terms of modification but is more affordable and comes with a shoe rack. These types of racks are great for organizing shoes in a closet. If you’re sharing a closet or are simply a shoe lover, you could also consider purchasing a few more standalone shoe racks to make sure every pair has its place. 

Rubbermaid also makes affordable closet organizers, and they’re available from popular retailers like Walmart and Amazon. With a range of options, quick installation, and easy reconfiguration, Rubbermaid closet systems will give you the space you need in your bedroom, pantry, laundry room, or other storage areas. 

Best Custom Closet Organization Systems 

As with most things, you can spend as much on a closet organization system as you want—the options are almost endless. Custom closet systems are an excellent option for an oddly shaped or corner closet as well as small closets. 

If you’re looking for a system that’s perfectly tailored to your needs and constructed out of the highest-quality materials, a custom closet organizer from a manufacturer like Closet Factory might be for you. Closet Factory designs custom systems for reach-in and walk-in closets, and each custom closet begins with a complimentary design consultation. Other great custom closet system designers include California Closets, which designs high-end custom closets, and Easy Closet, which will give you a free closet design consultation over the phone. These companies also create storage systems for pantries, home libraries, laundry rooms, and garages. Get more garage storage ideas here

Best Closet System for Kids 

Small closet organizers make sense for smaller clothes, right? But how do you organize a small closet? The Little Seeds Grow with Me Closet System, available at Wayfair, Target, and Amazon, is perfect for kids because it can be adjusted to meet their changing needs as they grow and get more involved in their fashion choices. The Grow with Me Closet System features a shoe rack, three shelves, four cubbies, one drawer, and adjustable garment rods for all your kid’s wardrobe storage needs. Rods are placed at child-friendly heights, so your kids can stay in control of what they wear. 

Best Modular Closet System 

Modular Closets offers mix-and-match systems that maximize flexibility without the high price tag of fully customized closet options. Use their online tool to get a free closet design based on your closet measurements, or shop their pre-configured options. 

Best Systems for Walk-In Closets  

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Walk-in closets are amazing, but they’re not so great if they’re not well-organized. To organize a walk-in closet, it helps to have zones: one or two areas for hanging clothes, drawers for folded clothes, shelves for baskets with small items like scarves or hats, and a shoe rack. If you have a small walk-in closet, there are small closet tips on how to make the most of your space. Here are a few walk-in closet organizers that can help: 

  • The Container Store’s Elfa Décor 10’ His & Hers Closet Wall is one of the best closet organizers for people sharing closet space. This system doesn’t come cheap, but it really has it all: multiple shelves, two drawer systems, four areas for hanging clothes, a shoe rack, and a gliding tie and belt rack. 
  • The Rebrilliant Queenborough 72” Closet System is 72 inches wide and combines adjustable shelves and garment rods into a walk-in closet organization system that will give you a sturdy place to store your whole wardrobe.  
  • Looking for something a bit more affordable? Rebrilliant also offers a free-standing closet organizer starter kit, available on Wayfair, with seven shelves and one garment rod. This organizer is made out of bamboo and can create a lovely focal point for your closet. 

Closet organizer systems can help you turn the chaos of your closet into a neat, orderly space where your clothes, shoes, and accessories are easy to find. You have plenty of other things to worry about; you don’t need to be digging around in your closet, searching for your favorite belt or that one pair of shoes that matches your outfit. Eliminate clutter and hectic, stress-filled mornings with a well-organized closet and spend your energy on more important things like cooking a new recipe, entertaining friends, or just plain relaxing. 

Start on your journey to decluttering the rest of your home by checking out more decor ideas as well as home office organization and garage organization solutions. While you’re at it, be sure to look into an American Home Shield® home warranty to keep your home appliances and systems protected from the unexpected.

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

Attention Texas Homeowners: New Homestead Exemption Law Now In Effect


One of the easiest ways homeowners can lower their property tax bill is to file a homestead exemption. Homestead exemptions reduce the appraised value of your home and, as a result, lower your property taxes. 

If you purchased a home in 2021, it’s now time to file your homestead exemption – more details below.

Plan to purchase in the future? Thanks to a new law that took effect January 1, 2022, Texas homeowners may now file for a homestead exemption in the same year they purchase their primary residence, instead of the following year – as was the case in the past.

To apply for a homestead exemption, contact your county appraisal district.

The Application for Residential Homestead Exemption is available here

A list of county appraisal district addresses and phone numbers is available here.

If you have any questions regarding residential real estate, Ebby Halliday Realtors is ready to serve you. To learn more, visit Ebby.com and connect with one of our experienced agents today! 

This information is brought to you by Texas Premier Title, a member of the Ebby Halliday Companies. In addition to three legacy brokerage brands, the Ebby Halliday Companies includes mortgage, title and insurance services. Simply put, we offer one “door” to everything you need to buy a home in Texas and Oklahoma. This complete offering ensures our clients the easiest and most secure real estate experience possible. 

BIG TEX + BIG SAVINGS


2021 State Fair of Texas | Friday, September 24, 2021 – Sunday, October 17, 2021

Y’all, it’s fall – which to North Texans means pumpkin spice everything, football and the return of The State Fair of Texas! The time-honored tradition kicks off in all its Lone Star glory on Friday, September 24. 

Big Tex + Big Savings = Texas-Sized Fun. We’ve rounded up a comprehensive list of discount opportunities so you can save on admission (which could mean more corn dogs!). Check out the list below to see the many ways Fair Fans can save BIG this year!

STATE FAIR SAVINGS

BIG TEX INSIDER PROMO CODES – Sign up to become a Big Tex Insider and receive exclusive State Fair ticket and merchandise discounts and promo codes straight to your email inbox. Each Monday during the Fair, a special promo code will be released that provides Big Tex Insiders special access to $10 tickets good for Tuesdays and Thursdays.

SEASON PASSES – Trying to get the full State Fair experience can be quite hard to do in one day. With the season pass, however, you can enjoy a full 24 days of admission as well as VIP benefits for just $50.

GROUP TICKETS – Enjoy fun times at the fair with all of your friends or coworkers! When purchased in advance, groups of 25 or more can attend the State Fair for as little as $16 per person. Don’t forget to preload Midway game cards and food and ride coupons to any group ticket order. For assistance in purchasing group tickets, call in advance, 214-565-2979. 

HOMETOWN HEROES

MILITARY APPRECIATION DAY IS EVERY DAY – All active military, retired military, and veterans save $5 off on weekdays and $7 off on weekends when they present valid documentation of military service at the gate or online. Spouses of service men and women with a valid Military Spouse ID and accompanying children under the age of 18 also receive discounted admission. For information on how to obtain your Military ID Card before your visit to the Fair, contact your military branch or go to www.cac.mil.

FIRST RESPONDERS DAY IS EVERY DAY – All first responders can save $5 off on weekdays and $7 off on weekends when they present a valid badge or ID card from their department or organization at the gate or online, plus up to three discounted admission tickets for their family members. 

ANY-DAY DISCOUNTS

KROGER – Get $3 off premium one-day admission or $5 off season passes when you buy tickets in advance from your local Kroger. Purchases can be made at the checkout counter or service desk until October 17, 2021.

MCDONALD’S – Discount coupons can be found at any participating McDonald’s locations in the North Texas area. Present these coupons at the fair gates to save $5 off general admission tickets on weekdays and $7 off on weekends. One coupon per person. McDonald’s discounts may not be combined with any other offers. 

AFTER 5 P.M. – No matter your age, all adults pay child’s prices at the State Fair of Texas after 5 p.m. SAVE up to $7 on adult tickets when you arrive after 5 p.m. any day of the week.

DISCOUNTS OF THE DAY

FRIDAY | SEPTEMBER 24

NORTH TEXAS FOOD BANK OPENING DAY – On opening day, bring two jars of peanut butter for the North Texas Food Bank and enjoy a discounted admission price of $10 at the gate. 

TUESDAYS | SEPTEMBER 28 & OCTOBER 5 & 12

THRILLING TUESDAYS – Most rides are offered at a reduced price on Tuesdays.

DR PEPPER VALUE DAYS – Dr Pepper Value Days are every Tuesday and Thursday and $10 tickets can only be purchased online. Only Big Tex Insiders receive the promotion code for this exclusive savings so be sure to sign up now at BigTex.com/Insider

WEDNESDAYS | SEPTEMBER 29 & OCTOBER 6 & 13

NORTH TEXAS FOOD BANK, FEED THE NEED WEDNESDAYS – By bringing five canned food items, fairgoers will receive admission for only $5. All canned donations go to the North Texas Food Bank, which helps feed members of the community. $5 admission tickets can only be purchased at the gate on Wednesdays with a canned-food donation.  

THURSDAYS | SEPTEMBER 30 & OCTOBER 7 & 14

THRIFTY THURSDAY FOOD SPECIALS – Thursdays are the best day of the week for foodies, thrifty families, or anyone who can’t get enough fair food! Featured items include State Fair classics like corn dogs, cotton candy and funnel cakes. Participating food vendors also offer one of their signature menu items at a reduced price, ranging from mini versions to regular-size items.

DR PEPPER VALUE DAYS – Dr Pepper Value Days are every Tuesday and Thursday and $10 tickets can only be purchased online. Only Big Tex Insiders receive the promotion code for this exclusive savings so be sure to sign up now at BigTex.com/Insider.

SENIOR DAYS – Every Thursday, anyone age 60 and older gets into the Fair for only $5. $5 admission tickets can only be purchased at the gate on Thursdays. Seniors must present ID to receive the discount.

For more information on this year’s State Fair of Texas, visit bigtex.com. All discounts for the State Fair of Texas will be posted to BigTex.com/discounts.

Special thanks to Ebby Halliday Companies Core Services Team for providing the research for this post.

Photo credits: Kevin Brown/State Fair of Texas

How to Paint Concrete Floors and Patios


If you have some dreary concrete spaces on your front porch or backyard patio, it’s easy to spiff them up with a coat of paint, stain, or fun stencils. Just follow these steps to liven up concrete stairs, porches, patios, pathways, and much more. You’ll be amazed at how much it can freshen up your outdoor spaces! 

1. Prepare and Clean the Concrete

Prep the concrete by giving the area a thorough sweep or use a leaf blower to remove any surface debris. Then use a pressure washer to remove any stubborn moss or dirt.  

2. Remove Any Grease or Oil

Use a concrete cleaner and degreaser to remove any grease and oil from the concrete surface. For acid staining, use a special concrete clean and etch product to prep the area. Also, coatings of any kind should be removed before applying any other products.  

3. Patch Any Cracks or Uneven Surfaces 

Use special concrete caulk sealant to patch any small cracks. Allow this to dry for at least 24 hours before applying any other products. Once dry, use a scrub brush to remove any extra caulk residue from the concrete prior to applying additional products.   

4. Wait for a Period of Dry Weather

Make sure the concrete is completely dry for at least 24 hours prior to applying any primer, stain, or paint. Try to time the application to a period when you may have 3-4 days of sunny or dry weather to complete the entire project.   

5. Apply Concrete Paint Primer

Before applying concrete paint primer or any paint, you will want to use painter’s tape to protect any surfaces that you don’t want painted. Then you will apply a bonding primer before you apply concrete paint. This will ensure a smooth application and a more durable finish.  

6. Choose the Right Paint or Stain 

Be sure to use masonry paint or concrete stain when painting or staining concrete. Some paint brands offer a stain and sealant in one for optimal convenience. 

Pro tip: Masonry paint is sometimes called elastomeric paint or elastomeric wall coating. 

For application, masonry paint is often thicker than regular paint and can be applied with a high-capacity roller or brush. Be sure to use a thicker roller. If you use one that’s too smooth, it won’t get in all of the nooks of the concrete. No matter how well you cleaned the concrete prior to painting, dirt and debris can still get stuck on your paint roller. To avoid that, you can also use a paint sprayer for this project. You can use this same process with a decorative stencil as well. 

7. Apply a Second Coat 

Wait at least 12 hours for the paint to dry before you apply a second coat. Be sure to add a slip-resistant additive for pathways, steps, and highly trafficked areas. 

8. Allow to Dry and Then Apply Sealant 

If the paint you selected isn’t a stain and sealant in one, you will need to apply a sealant once the paint is dry. Allow the second coat of paint to dry for another 24 hours before applying sealant. The sealant will add durability to your paint or stain and help prevent fading. 

9. Allow to Completely Dry 

Before using the concrete space, allow the area to dry fully for at least 24 hours, but ideally 48 hours to be safe.

This is a DIY process that can take several days, but it’s not really that difficult and is well worth the effort for the payoff of a refreshed outdoor space that will be enjoyed for years to come. 

DIY tips are for informational purposes only. Please be sure to take the appropriate safety precautions and ensure your project complies with any applicable federal, state, or local laws and regulations.

10 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Summer


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Warmer weather is here, which means it’s time for backyard barbeques, evenings spent on the patio, gardening, and playing catch with the kids. Break out the home maintenance checklist. We’re here to help you get your home ready for summer with these tips. 

1. Get Your A/C Tuned Up

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While there are some great DIY projects on this list, getting an A/C tune-up isn’t one of them. You should call in a professional for this task. Just as you need to get your furnace tuned up every fall, you need to get your A/C tuned up before temperatures spike in the summer.  An A/C tune-up includes inspecting and cleaning components and connections inside your A/C, and it’s important because the technician should be able to tell whether your A/C will need repairs soon. With regular tune-ups, you can help avoid unexpected breakdowns and A/C issues. If your home warranty doesn’t cover your A/C system, check out an American Home Shield® home service plan today. 

2. Conduct a Home Energy Audit 

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Now is the time to learn more about your home’s energy profile and what you can do to improve its energy efficiency. A home energy audit can tell you whether and where your home is drafty, for example, or if you need more insulation and where to install it. Whether you have it professionally done, or do it yourself, it’s worth it – and your local utility company may offer an incentive for homeowners to have this done.  

3. Install a Smart Thermostat 

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This is a great time to install a smart thermostat so you can keep your home cool while also being more energy efficient. A smart thermostat lets you program your HVAC to cool your home only when you’re in it, so you’ll save a bundle on cooling costs while still staying comfortable on even the hottest days. 

4. Get Ready for Bugs 

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Many species of insects go dormant during winter and early spring due to the colder weather, but they come out again in full force as soon as temperatures rise. Before the bugs come out, get ready for their return. Take steps to keep the bugs away, such as cleaning up piles of leaves or other debris near your house, sealing cracks in doors and windows, and inspecting window screens for holes. If you want to put out pesticides or other repellants, now is the best time to do so.  

5. Check for Water Leaks 

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The summer months bring more than heat – they can also bring storms and flooding. Check your basement for signs of water leaks. Clear out grates or drains near your home so that water is directed away from the foundation. If dirt has settled around your home, or your home is at the bottom of a hill, water will run towards your foundation. Install grates to direct water away. 

6. Clean the Gutters 

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If you only clean your gutters once a year, do it in the spring or early summer, so that they can most effectively direct the rain of summer storms away from your siding and foundation. Ideally, you should clean your gutters twice a year – once in the spring or summer, and again in the fall. 

7. Reseal Your Doors and Windows 

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Now is the time to inspect your doors and windows for missing, cracked, or peeling caulk and reseal them to prevent water leaks and draftiness. If you have wooden window frames, check to see if they need to be repainted. You can also take this opportunity to repaint your front door, if necessary, and wash your windows.  

8. Aerate, Dethatch, and Overseed the Lawn 

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Okay, so this is three things, but they all go together, and they’re all equally important to helping your lawn look its best in the summer months when you most want to use it. Your lawn may not need to be aerated, dethatched, and overseeded every year – if it looks healthy and lush, it’s probably fine, especially if it’s newly installed. But take the time to do it at least every two or three years, so your lawn stays healthy and oxygenated. It will make a big difference!

9. Spruce Up Your Garden Beds 

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This is a great time to weed, mulch, and plant in your vegetable and garden beds, and if you’re looking for summer crafts for kids, there are plenty of gardening tasks they can do. Kids love playing in the dirt, growing things, and helping out. They can help pull weeds, spread mulch and compost, and even plant seeds or seedlings. 

Related Article: Summer Gardening for You and Your Family 

10. Clean Your Patio Furniture

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Soon you’ll want to entertain friends, relatives and neighbors outside, so it’s time to drag the lawn furniture out of the garage or remove the furniture covers, and knock the cobwebs off. Use a power washer or a hose to clean chairs, tables and other pieces of lawn furniture. Don’t forget to wash the cushions! You can also take steps to protect your patio furniture so that it lasts longer. 

Don’t let summer catch you unprepared. Get your home ready for warm weather so you can focus on enjoying yourself and your loved ones.  

DIY tips are for informational purposes only. Please be sure to take the appropriate safety precautions and ensure your project complies with any applicable federal, state, or local laws and regulations.

10 Steps to Drain Water Out of a Washing Machine


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We know how annoying can be when you go to your laundry area to transfer a load of clothes from the washer to the dryer, but water remains in the washer tub even though the cycle has finished. It can be confusing, frustrating and inconvenient when this happens. You can turn on the spin cycle to see if the water will drain, but if that doesn’t help, you’re right back where you started – with a load of soaking laundry and a washer full of water.  

Why Won’t My Washing Machine Drain Water? 

There are a few possibilities why your washing machine won’t drain. that might happen. Your washer may have a clogged drain hose or the pump may be broken. A broken lid switch or belt could also be the culprit. It may even be something as simple as the hose being jammed. Whatever the reason, the water will need to be drained from the washing machine before any work or diagnosis can be done. 

What Does the Drain Function on a Washing Machine Do? 

It removes the water from the tub during the spin cycle. The washer pump forces water from the bottom of the machine into the drain hose. The drain hose loops to the top of the machine, and then down to the drain, enabling the tub to fill. When the water reaches the bend in the hose, it goes out of the drain. 

How to Drain Water Out of a Washing Machine 

If you have water in your washer that hasn’t drained, you have a couple of options: 

One is to bail it out, but that can be a time consuming and tedious process. It can also be hard on your back to bend over to reach the bottom of the tub repeatedly. An easier way is to let the drain hose and gravity do the hard work for you. Here are some of the things you’ll need to have on hand for the task: 

  • Bucket
  • Screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Sponge and towels
  • Clamp 

Step 1 – Turn off the power 

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Unplug the washer from the outlet or turn off power at the circuit breaker or fuse box. While not mandatory, it’s also a good idea to turn the hot and cold water connections to the washing machine just to be safe.  

Step 2 – Locate the drain hose at the back of the washer 

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First, look to see if it is bent or kinked, which may be blocking the water flow. If that’s the case, simply straightening the hose may fix the problem. If the hose has no visible bends or kinks, then disconnect it from the drain, unscrewing with a clamp attached if necessary. Be sure to keep the hose higher than the washer tub until you’re ready to empty the water.  

Step 3 – Prepare your bucket and drain hose 

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Get the bucket in place and drop the hose lower than the washer tub into the bucket. If the bucket fills, raise the hose above the washer tub until you can empty the bucket and start to fill it again. If the water doesn’t flow freely, the filter may be blocked, which you’ll need to clear before continuing. 

Step 4 – Check for and remove all clogs in the drain hose 

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Once the water has drained, check the hose for a clogged piece of clothing or a soap blockage. Loosen the clamp that connects the hose to the bottom of the tub and inspect the inside. If you see something clogging the hose or a clog where the hose connects, remove it with your pliers and reconnect the hose. 

Step 5 – Check for deeper clogs in the drain or beyond  

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If the hose is clear, there may be a clog in the drain or beyond, which means you’ll likely need to use a plumber’s snake to clear it.  

Step 6 – Inspect the washer pump 

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Check the washer pump, to see if it has a clog or a broken impeller, belt or a leak. Refer to your manufacturer’s instructions for a diagram of your unit’s pump location and parts. In most cases, you’ll notice an unusual noise when the washer is operating that indicates a bad pump, or leaking may also be a sign. If you have a bad pump, you’ll need to replace it or call a qualified service technician for help. If you replace it yourself, be sure to purchase the same pump model.   

Step 7 – Inspect the washing machine lid switch

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To see if the lid switch is working, depress it by hand. If you don’t hear a click, it may be broken and need replacing.  

Step 8 – Inspect the washing machine for damaged belts 

To see if damaged belts are causing your drain problem, unscrew the access panel and check the main belt and the pump belt. Refer to your manufacturer’s diagram to locate these parts. 

Step 9 – Check to see if your configuration includes a washing machine drain vent 

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A drain vent allows air in which can help prevent a vacuum that could hamper water draining properly from the machine.  If there is a gap around the drain hose where it enters the drain, you may not need a vent. You should have a vent if building codes require one or if your washer is more than four feet from the vent stack for proper draining. 

Step 10 – When in doubt, call a service professional for help 

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If you’ve drained the water from your washer and inspected the hose, pump and lid switch and still can’t pinpoint the problem, you’ll probably need to call a professional plumber or washing machine service technician for help.