Weekly home and garden rail, with tips on preventing termite damage, find design inspiration online, how to add a tile backsplash, and more.
How To: Prevent termite damage
As Americans head outside to tend to their lawns and repair their houses, it's just as important to consider what might be happening out of sight, deep inside the home.
Termites, which are found in every state except Alaska, live in colonies that eat continuously. These wood-destroying pests eat homes from the inside out, making their presence difficult to detect.
Termites annually cause more than $5 billion in damage, and the destruction termites cause is not normally covered by homeowners insurance, leaving owners to pay an average of $3,000 in out-of-pocket costs for repairs, according to Terminix.
"In most cases, it's easy to tell when a house is in need of repair. Either the paint is chipping or the roof is leaking. But that's not usually the case with termite activity," says Paul Curtis, a Terminix entomologist. "Because termites are often active in the least visible areas of a home, it can be difficult for the homeowner to tell whether they have a termite problem or not."
Usually, homeowners will only be able to tell they have a termite infestation during swarm season. That's when winged, reproductive termites leave their colonies and establish new ones.
A swarm can be identified by the large number of flying termites and by the discarded wings they often leave near doors and windows.
Although eliminating termites requires the help of a trained professional, homeowners can take the following proactive steps to make their homes less inviting to these wood-destroying pests:
1. Fix the roof or plumbing leaks. The moisture from these allows termites to survive above ground.
2. Clean and repair gutters. Gutters that do not drain properly can allow water to accumulate near the foundation.
3. Eliminate wood-to-soil contact. Any wood that simultaneously touches the soil and the home can provide termites with direct access to the structure.
4. Keep mulch or soil from being piled against the home's siding. Soil or mulch allowed to pile up against the home can hide termite activity.
5. Avoid storing items in the crawlspace. Pieces of scrap lumber, boxes or even books can serve as a food source for termites.
6. Maintain adequate ventilation in crawlspaces. Termites prefer moist conditions. Eliminating moisture can help make the environment less suitable to them.
7. Use a mesh screen on all windows, doors and ventilation openings. Screening will help prevent winged termites from entering the home.
8. Schedule an annual inspection with a trained professional. Prompt treatment and regular inspections can save thousands of dollars in damage repair.
Decorating Tip: Find inspiration online
Looking for home décor inspiration? Here are a few online resources to get your creative juices flowing:
- Apartment Therapy, www.apartmenttherapy.com: House tours, decorating tips and great photos.
- GetDecorating.com, getdecorating.com: Browse thousands of images of real rooms.
- A Punch of Color, apunchofcolor.blogspot.com: This blogger shares beautiful pictures of what inspires her décor-wise.
Home-Selling Tip: Pick a pro
If you’re using a professional home inspector to evaluate your home, be sure the person you use is insured and licensed or certified (if your state requires), or at least belongs to a professional organization such as NACHI, ASHI or NIBI.
Did You Know …
Annual U.S. spending on home improvement is expected to reach $130 million next year. -- Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies
Home Improvements: Add a tile backsplash
A new backsplash can transform a tired kitchen in just a few hours. Here’s how:
1. Measure your wall space to determine the best fit for your tile. Use a straight edge to draw reference lines to help you align the tile as you work.
2. Apply wall tile adhesive to a small area. Don't try to work too far ahead or your adhesive may dry.
3. Ensuring that your tile is straight, firmly press it into place.
4. Mix grout in an appropriate bucket and apply to tile surface using a sweeping pattern on a 45 degree angle to tile joints.
5. After allowing a few minutes for drying, fill a clean bucket with water and sponge the surface grout off the tile. Repeat until the tile surface is visibly clean. After the grout is fully dry, wipe it down once more with a dry cloth then apply a grout sealant if desired.
Garden Guide: Summer lawn-care help
If your lawn is parched, try these tips for keeping it green.
- Raise your mower deck height at least one setting. Taller grass shoots provide better shade for the soil beneath. Plus, they require less water and have longer roots that can better absorb more water.
- Limit mowing as much as possible to reduce stress to the grass.
- Water in the early morning, when there’s less wind and less sunlight.
- Avoid wasting water by using a timer or an automatic shutoff for sprinklers.
- Remember to adhere to local or state watering restrictions.
-- Consumer Reports
Backyard Buddies: How to help injured birds
If you find an injured bird, follow these steps:
1. Get a towel to handle the bird.
2. Gently put the bird in a cardboard box or large paper bag. Put the bird in a warm, quiet place. Do not offer first aid. Do not offer food or water.
3. Get the bird to a veterinarian or an authorized wildlife rehabilitator (call your state wildlife agency for a referral).
-- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
GateHouse News Service