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Solved! What to Do About Woodpecker Damage

Fix woodpecker damage to trees, siding, and shingles—and keep it from happening again—with these proven repair and prevention techniques.

What to Do About Woodpecker Damage

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Q: Woodpeckers recently swooped in on my property and did a number on my cedar tree, siding, and roof. How do I plug up the holes they’ve left behind, and is there a way to prevent them from returning and creating more?

A: If you plug up the holes left by woodpeckers on outdoor structures without first ridding your property of what is attracting them, the winged backyard pests are liable to return to peck at the same or nearby sites. Therefore, repair always should start with eradicating the insects that woodpeckers feed on. After you’ve followed strategies to first get rid of potential food sources, use the methods below to effectively repair woodpecker damage in trees, siding, and roof shingles as well as prevent future attacks.

Eliminate insect infestations. Investigate and remove any of the following insects from outdoor structures to reduce the likelihood of woodpecker damage from birds drilling for food on your property.

Carpenter ants commonly burrow into moist, decaying, or dead areas of trees or exterior siding and roofing on wooden houses to create nests. If you have a carpenter ant infestation, locate the entrance to the ant nest—typically a small hole or series of holes in trees or siding accompanied by nearby ant trails or sawdust piles. Fill the nest entrance with a dust insecticide containing carbaryl or pyrethroids to kill the nest along with the egg-laying queen. If you can’t locate the nest entrance, or if ants are seen on roof shingles or other areas where it is difficult to locate the nest entrance, set bait stations near the ant trail, which contain poison that ants will carry back to their nest.

Carpenter bees bore small holes in moist or rotting wood that then turn at a 90-degree angle into lengthy corridors with chambers where they deposit eggs. If you have a carpenter bee infestation, you’re most likely to spot their one to two-inch-deep burrowing holes on the underside of siding, eaves, or soffits of a wooden house. Once you locate a hole, eliminate the infestation by hanging a carpenter bee trap directly over the hole or filling it (along with any accessible chambers of the burrowed corridor) with residual dust insecticide, preferably one with a curved applicator to easily reach the chambers.

Termites can be spotted via discarded wings, termite droppings, hollow spots in the woodwork or foundation (which can be found out by tapping the area with a screwdriver), nests in dry wood, or subterranean mud tunnels. If you suspect a termite infestation, call in a certified pest professional to eliminate it through soil treatments like Termidor, bait and monitoring systems, or physical termite barriers.

What to Do About Woodpecker Damage on Cedar Shingles

Photo: istockphoto.com

Repair the damage. Plugging up holes left by woodpeckers in the following outdoor structures can prevent further woodpecker damage to your property.

Trees with woodpecker damage primarily confined to areas of dead wood are often salvageable. Start by spraying a solution of one to two teaspoons of liquid dish soap and one cup of warm water into tree holes to flush out pathogens from the woodpecker’s beak, then rinse the holes out with water from a garden hose. You can dry small tree holes in open air, but larger holes should temporarily be nailed shut with a window screen or piece of hardware cloth to prevent additional woodpeckers from doing more damage to the area. Tape any dislodged living bark back to its original position on the tree with duct tape. Remove the tape and window screen or hardware cloth once the tree has healed completely.

Note: More severe conditions like girdling, a ring of woodpecker damage around the full circumference of the trunk, may require the help of an arborist to prevent tree death.

Siding holes can be filled with epoxy putty, a two-part adhesive of epoxy resin and hardening putty. On a warm day, mix the two materials with a putty knife, then spread the mix over holes in the siding until the opening is completely covered. Use the putty knife to scrape away the excess, then air-dry and sand the putty before painting the patched area to match the rest of your siding.

Roof shingles with cracks or holes can be filled with wood putty, then painted to match the rest of the shingles as a stopgap measure to prevent further shingle damage. However, replacing the damaged shingles or even the roof itself (if the woodpecker damage is extensive enough) is generally more effective than patching up a structurally compromised shingle. New shingles are free from the visual traces of former pecking sites that make woodpeckers more likely to return.

Prevent future attacks. A variety of woodpecker deterrents are available to keep woodpeckers away from outdoor structures after you have repaired them. For starters, protect trees by mounting bird-repellent tape to tree trunks or hanging old mirrors from limbs: Their shiny, reflective surface will scare off nearby woodpeckers. You can also opt to hang DIY wind chimes or plastic owls or hawks from tree limbs or siding or eaves of the home to frighten encroaching woodpeckers. Finally, if you have a dead tree in the yard, consider hanging a suet feeder (a wire cage with high-calorie bird food) from it to lure the birds to the dead wood and thus preserve living trees.

 

Easy DIYs for Your Best-Ever Backyard

All of the Outdoor Design and DIY Tips from BobVila.com
With fair weather having arrived finally, it’s time to turn your home improvement efforts to the backyard and your deck, porch, or patio—the parts of the home built specifically to enjoy the extra hours of sunlight. Guided by these practical pointers and inspiring ideas, you can introduce beauty, comfort, and utility to your backyard and outdoor living areas, making them as inviting and enjoyable as your home interiors.


Bob Vila Radio: 4 Landscaping Projects That Pay You Back

Your landscape may be demanding, but it can give back too, if you guide it.

True—maintaining your landscape isn’t necessarily cheap. Fortunately, there are plenty of clever little ways to save money along the way.

Money-Saving Landscaping Projects

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Listen to BOB VILA ON MONEY-SAVING LANDSCAPING PROJECTS or read below:

1. Compost your waste That saves you from having to buy fertilizer. Composting may even save you on garbage pickup. After all, if your county charges for pickup by the bag, then everything you toss into the compost heap, not into the regular trash, indirectly goes to your bottom line.

2. Strategically plant trees Site deciduous trees on the east, west, and northwest sides of your home to foster shade and reduce the need for summertime AC. Meanwhile, on the north side, plant evergreen trees to serve as a buffer against cold winds in the winter.

3. Build a trellis Placed over sunny windows and planted with climbing, flowering vines, trellises provide dappled shade all summer, helping keep the home interior cooler than it otherwise would be. In the winter, vine foliage withers away to allow for solar heat gain.

4. Use plenty of mulch Doing so cuts down on the need for watering, which saves you both money and time. But mulch costs money, right? Not always. Check if your city gives away the mulched remains of fallen trees.  If not, create your own mulch—in a pinch, it’s as easy as running a lawn mower over a pile of leaves.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!


Buyer’s Guide: Mattresses

Time to replace your mattress? We've broken down the best options on the market for your sleeping habits.

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How to Choose a Mattress

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While the average mattress has a life span of seven to 10 years, most homeowners don’t consider replacing the sleeping necessity until it sags, causes back aches, or brings on restless nights of tossing and turning. Fortunately, most mattress woes can be solved by purchasing a new mattress that is specifically designed to improve your comfort and quality of sleep. Read on to learn which mattresses best address common nighttime complaints, so that you know how to choose a mattress that meets your unique needs and preferences.

HOW TO CHOOSE A MATTRESS

Before hitting the mattress store, consider these tips on how to choose a mattress that’s perfectly suited for you.

Know the lingo. In a mattress store, signage and tags often contain industry terms that apply to specific mattress types. It’s important to understand the lingo before shopping, so that you don’t wind up with a mattress that doesn’t fit your needs. For starters, the four major types of mattresses are distinguishable by the support system it’s named for: innerspring mattresses use steel springs, memory foam uses body-contouring polyurethane foam, latex uses a latex foam support system, and air uses an air chamber.

• The term “coils” refers to the springs of an innerspring mattress. Coils are available in multiple varieties: Bonnell and Offset (hourglass-shaped coils), Marshall (coils wrapped in fabric pockets), and Continuous (single length of wire shaped into multiple rows of coils).

• Traditional memory foam mattresses are sold alongside air cool mattresses (which dissipate heat to cool the pad) and gel memory foam mattresses (which are infused with gel for improved air circulation).

• Latex mattresses are described as natural (made from rubber tree serum), synthetic (made from petroleum), or blended latex, which is a combination of natural and synthetic latex.

How to Choose a Mattress - A Buyer's Guide

Photo: istockphoto.com

Budget accordingly. A new mattress can set you back anywhere from $100 to upwards of $4,000, depending on the type and size of mattress you choose. Innerspring mattresses are the most affordable option with an average cost of $940, while memory foam and latex varieties average $1,370 and $1,600, respectively. At the upper end of the scale are air mattresses, which cost $2,180 on average.

Avoid allergens. If you’re sensitive to latex, wool, dust, or other substances, avoid mattresses that increase your risk of exposure to the allergen. For example, traditional innerspring mattresses with pillow tops—or padding stitched atop the mattress—encourage dust mites. If you suffer from dust allergies, opt for a latex or memory foam mattress instead. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to blacklist all mattresses of a certain type to avoid an allergen. For instance, even though the Pure Green mattress listed below is made of natural latex, it’s topped with a wool cover that allows latex-allergy sufferers to avoid direct contact with the material.

Test thoroughly. Give every mattress the Goldilocks test before you purchase it. Lie down on the mattress in your normal sleeping position, whether it’s on your back, side, or stomach. Change positions several times, noting if the mattress feels too firm, too soft, or just right for your needs. Also take note of any aches, pains, pressure, or skin reactions. This test run will help you pinpoint the mattress type, brand, and model with the firmness, comfort, and support level you need for a restful night’s sleep.

Comply with the warranty. The typical mattress warranty lasts between 10 to 25 years, and it only covers manufacturing defects—not normal wear and tear. Moreover, most mattress warranties offer prorated coverage over the life of the warranty, meaning that you derive fewer benefits as your mattress ages. Understand that an improper frame or poor mattress condition (i.e. staining) can void the warranty in some cases. To prevent cosmetic damage and maximize the life of your warranty, use a mattress cover from day one.

 

TOP THREE PICKS FOR BETTER SLEEP

Now that you understand basic shopping considerations, read on to find the best mattress for your particular needs.

If your mattress is sagging or worn before its time…

You need a more durable mattress that can better support your weight and movement. Minor body impressions in a mattress are expected with normal use, but sags exceeding two inches in height signal that your mattress has passed its prime. Innerspring mattresses with soft cushions are more prone to sagging because their support springs easily compress. Latex or memory foam mattresses with firm cushions can better withstand weight and absorb motion, making them more likely to retain their shape over time.

Best Type of Mattress: Latex
The high density of latex makes it the best type of mattress for sleepers with above-average heights or builds, as well as individuals who frequently shift positions while sleeping. After being subjected to weight or movement, latex quickly reverts to its original shape, which minimizes mattress sagging and wear over time. Additionally, many modern latex mattresses offer motion isolation, meaning they can absorb movement in a localized spot without significantly compressing the mattress or disturbing surrounding areas. This explains why natural latex foam mattresses last for a minimum of ten years, but often last 20 years or longer.

Top Pick: Pure Green Natural Latex firm mattress ($719 to $1,699)
The Pure Green Natural Latex firm mattress, which has a natural latex foam base layer and a quilted wool surface, is the best option for sleepers seeking a durable, eco-friendly product with a long lifespan. Rated 4 star by Consumer Reports’ reviewers, the sturdy mattress can adequately support sleepers 6’2″ and 220 pounds or beyond, as well as side and stomach sleepers of all builds. Available at Sleep On Latex.

How to Choose a Mattress - Pure Green Natural Latex Firm Mattress

Photo: sleeponlatex.com

 

If your mattress is causing back pain…

Consider swapping it for a medium-firm mattress that relieves pressure on the spine. Overly firm mattresses force the natural curves of the spine into a flat alignment, which pushes up against sensitive pressure points on the spine and causes pain. Similarly, overly soft mattresses force the lower back to sink out of alignment with the rest of the body. Both memory foam and innerspring mattresses help relieve back pain by providing a moderate level of firmness while still accommodating the natural curvature of your back.

Best Type of Mattress: Memory Foam
Memory foam mattresses strike the best balance between comfort and support to reduce pains for backache sufferers. Made primarily of polyurethane, the multi-layered foam mattresses leverage temperature-sensing capabilities to conform to the unique curvature of your back when you lie down, but revert to their original shape when you get up. The custom contouring and firmness supports the arch of your back to improve comfort and reduce pain on pressure points of the spine. Modern memory foam mattresses also adjust to shifts in movement so that you maintain an ergonomic sleeping pose throughout the night.

Top Pick: The Casper ($550 to $1,150)
The Casper, a 10-inch-thick memory foam mattress, puts back pain to bed with a four-layer foam construction topped with open-celled hypoallergenic latex, which keeps you cool and comfortable all night. The budget-friendly bed-in-a-box received 4.3 out of 5 stars from Amazon shoppers, who praised its comfort, ease of setup, and hassle-free 100-day return policy. Available at Amazon.

How to Choose a Mattress - The Casper

Photo: amazon.com

 

If your partner can sleep but you can’t…

Opt for a mattress that can be adjusted to accommodate personal sleep preferences. Conventional innerspring mattresses limit couples to a single setting for mattress firmness, comfort, or support—which may be right for your partner but cause you sleepless nights. Air mattresses, memory foam mattresses, and dual-chamber water mattresses are better options for couples, since they adjust to needs of each partner without disrupting the sleep of the other.

Best Type of Mattress: Air Mattress
Consisting of air chambers covered with upholstery, air mattresses have made a comeback as a permanent sleeping option for couples, thanks to their cutting-edge technology and customizability. Today’s dual-chamber adjustable air mattresses feature independently functioning halves that enable each sleeper to individually set the firmness, comfort, and support level for their half of the bed. Air mattresses are also less prone to sagging than their innerspring counterparts since there are no springs inside; instead, you’ll find air chambers that can be inflated with an easy-to-use air hose.

Top Pick: The Sleep Number c2 Air Mattress ($499.99 to $1,499.99)
The Sleep Number c2 air mattress affords more restful nights to couples, since each partner can apply preferred settings for comfort, firmness, and support to his or her half of the bed. Optional adjustable mattress bases and SleepIQ sleep tracking technology allow for further customization of the 4.2-star rated mattress, which earned one of the top spots in Consumer Reports’ “Best Mattresses in 2016” ranking. What’s more, the mattress is covered in woven fabric and topped with comfortable quilting foam. Available at Sleep Number.

How to Choose a Mattress - The Sleep Number c2 Air Mattress

Photo: sleepnumber.com


Bob Vila Radio: 3 Simple Solutions for Sagging Gutters

Besides being an eyesore, sagging gutters put your home at risk, as runaway stormwater plays a role in everything from pest problems to structural issues. Here's what to do if your drainage system isn't holding up its end of the bargain.

Sagging gutters: Sort of a good-news-bad-news situation. The bad news is that they’re a common headache for homeowners. The good news? Fixing the issue often takes nothing more than a little readjustment.

Sagging Gutters

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Listen to BOB VILA ON SAGGING GUTTERS or read below:

A note of caution: If you’re going to be standing on a ladder, don’t attempt any work until you’ve recruited (or hired) a helper. Handling unwieldy gutter sections on your own can be awkward and potentially dangerous.

Here’s what to know…

One: If your gutters are made of metal—and if the metal in the sagging section appears to be torn or bent—replacing the entire section may be the quickest and most cost-effective solution, given the complexity of the repair options.

Two: If the problem stems from a failure in the screws or stirrups holding the sagging gutter in place—and if tightening and/or relocating the hardware doesn’t do the trick—use a pry bar or locking pliers to remove the screws and stirrup before installing replacements.

Three: If a screw has loosened due to its screw hole being stripped, remove the screw temporarily. Next, insert a small wooden shim, along with a little epoxy. Finally, drive the screw into the hole and through the fascia board, into a rafter end.

Along the way, remember that in order to operate as designed, gutters must slope slightly toward downspouts. So while you certainly don’t want your gutters to sag outward, you don’t want them to be perfectly horizontal either.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!


Video: The Smartest Garden Hacks

Keep out pests, reduce your water usage, and grow plants without an ounce of soil. You'll find tricks to accomplish all of these gardening miracles right here.

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Take one trip to your local home center and you’ll find solutions for just about any gardening problem. The convenience of these buys is undeniable—but the cost to stock up on all of the latest tools, technologies, and insecticides can be prohibitive. The secret to a great garden, as many green thumbs already know, is ingenuity—not store-bought products. Take a look at some of the best and cheapest tricks for a great garden—then check out even more zero-dollar hacks.

For more gardening advice, consider:

25 Plants for Your Easiest Garden Ever

10 Flowers That Attract Bees to Your Garden

These Popular Plants Might Actually Be Bad for Your Garden


All You Need to Know About Retaining Walls

With this primer and a willingness to get your hands dirty, you can incorporate a retaining wall into your landscaping—and, with it, both visual interest and necessary support for a sloped yard.

All You Need to Know About Retaining Walls

Photo: istockphoto.com

Does your yard contain slopes, dips, and inclines? Then you likely have a retaining wall somewhere on your property. Used everywhere from highway construction to landscaping, retaining walls hold back earth that would otherwise erode or collapse. Homeowners often rely on retaining walls to keep soil steady in elevated yard features, but they can also use the manmade structures when planting tiered gardens on a sloped area of yard, controlling erosion on an incline, or creating an elevated sitting spot. If you’re thinking about constructing a retaining wall, here’s all you need to know about the supportive structures.

THE BASICS OF RETAINING WALLS

Retaining walls have a wide variety of uses around the yard, all of which involve keeping earth from spilling off a steep slope. They’re indispensable in the creation of sunken patios, walkout basements, and any other hardscape with an abrupt separation of ground elevation. You’ll also find retaining walls in parks and public gardens, where they act as retainers for plants, statues, and decorative landscaping elements.

Retaining walls are often constructed with concrete, stone, or bricks. But, if you’re looking to undertake a do-it-yourself job, retaining wall blocks (available at most home improvement stores) are your best bet. These blocks cost between $1.25 and $4 per block, depending on their size and texture, and they feature locking flanges that attach each row of blocks together. A small retaining wall less than three feet in height will cost an average of $5 to $8 per square foot, if you build it yourself. Larger retaining walls, which are not DIY-friendly, are pricier due to the labor costs involved. A natural stone or brick retaining wall laid by a mason can cost upwards of $20 per square foot, and a poured concrete retaining wall will set you back $13 to $18 per square foot. The contractor may also charge more for labor and materials if he has to pour a deep frost footing (explained below) or remove tree roots that are in the way of the footing.

If you’re planning to build a retaining wall, check with your local building authority beforehand. Retaining walls can alter water flow and affect your neighbors, so you may need to obtain either a zoning permit or a building permit. Local building codes and ordinances vary between communities, so don’t skip this step. You’ll also want to call DigSafe (811) to have representatives from local utility companies come out and check whether any buried electrical lines will be in the way.

 

All You Need to Know About Retaining Walls

Photo: istockphoto.com

CONSTRUCTING A RETAINING WALL

If you’re planning to construct a retaining wall, consider the following factors regarding support, foundation, backfill, and drainage.

Support
When building a retaining wall, landscapers often slope them slightly toward the earth they’re containing. This design, known as “step-back construction,” creates a sturdy wall structure that pushes back against the lateral pressure of the soil behind it. Step-back walls can be built by anyone with a strong back and basic construction knowledge, as long as they have blocks designed for retaining wall assembly.

Some types of retaining walls require additional structural support to keep them from toppling over. This includes vertical walls that don’t slope toward the contained earth, as well as walls higher than three feet. Depending on the height of the wall and the pressure of the earth behind it, the extra supports could be in the form of buried footings, steel reinforcement, cantilevered design, or tie-backs that extend deep into the earth behind the wall and connect to buried anchors called “dead men.” You could also add extra strength with a “gravity wall,” which is so wide that its weight serves as a buttress against the pressure of the soil behind it. This type of wall isn’t common, however, because it requires an extensive amount of stone or concrete for construction.

Foundation
A trench filled with gravel provides a suitable foundation base for a short, step-back retaining wall with three-five courses (each layer of blocks is called a “course”). A buried structural footing is usually required for larger retaining walls. To create this, a landscaper pours concrete below frost level (the depth to which the ground will freeze during the winter). Footings poured too shallow are prone to shifting and moving if moisture in the soil freezes and heaves. Since frost levels vary from one region to the next, contact your local building authority to determine the details before building a large retaining wall.

Backfill
The space directly behind a newly constructed retaining wall should be filled with gravel or sand—not dirt. Dirt absorbs water and swells when saturated, which will put unwanted pressure on the back of the wall. Meanwhile, gravel and sand don’t swell or retain water, so the wall will be subjected to less pressure. This decreases the risk of cracks and damage.

Drainage Details
Stackable retaining block walls with gravel or sand backfills don’t typically have drainage issues, since water seeps down through the backfill and drains out between the individual blocks. But if you have a solid retaining wall, such as a concrete basement wall, provisions must be made to drain away the water (or it might collect behind the wall and cause cracking). Many landscapers choose to install drainage tile, which carries groundwater to outlets where it can drain away harmlessly.

 

All You Need to Know About Retaining Walls

Photo: istockphoto.com

TIPS FOR DIY RETAINING BLOCK WALLS

When building a retaining wall, follow this advice for better construction and solid support.

• Choose material you can work with easily. If you don’t have experience in structural support, wall blocks are your best bet. They’re also widely available at most home centers.
• To keep the bottom row of blocks from pushing outward, bury the lowest section of a retaining wall. The general rule of thumb is to bury about one-eighth of the height of the wall. For example, if your wall will be three feet (36 inches) tall, the first course of blocks should start five inches below soil level. The gravel base should start three inches below this.
• For best results, make sure the first course of blocks is perfectly level. If it’s unbalanced, your entire finished wall will also be off-kilter.

 

Easy DIYs for Your Best-Ever Backyard

All of the Outdoor Design and DIY Tips from BobVila.com
With fair weather having arrived finally, it’s time to turn your home improvement efforts to the backyard and your deck, porch, or patio—the parts of the home built specifically to enjoy the extra hours of sunlight. Guided by these practical pointers and inspiring ideas, you can introduce beauty, comfort, and utility to your backyard and outdoor living areas, making them as inviting and enjoyable as your home interiors.


Official Rules: Bob Vila’s 3rd Annual $3,000+ Kitchen Appliance Giveaway

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Bob Vila’s 3rd Annual $3,000+ Kitchen Appliance Giveaway (the “Sweepstakes”) is sponsored by Vila Media, LLC, Post Office Box 835, West Barnstable, MA 02668 (“Sponsor”). The Sweepstakes consists of four (4) random drawings; one (1) Winner per random drawing and one (1) prize package awarded per random drawing.

The Sweepstakes and entry period begins at 12:00 p.m. EST on August 31, 2017 and runs through September 30, 2017 (the “Sweepstakes Period”). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. MAKING A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. ODDS OF WINNING WILL DEPEND ON THE TOTAL NUMBER OF ENTRIES RECEIVED. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. AFFIDAVIT OF ELIGIBILITY AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY FORM MAY BE REQUIRED.

Open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia who are age 18 or older. Void in all other geographic locations. Employees of Sponsor and its respective parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and promotion agencies and any other entity involved in the development or administration of this Sweepstakes, and their immediate family members or household members are not eligible to participate in or win the Sweepstakes. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any person who fails to meet the eligibility requirements or any person it determines, in its sole discretion, to be sufficiently connected with the Sweepstakes such that such person’s participation could create the appearance of impropriety. Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means are void, and Sponsor expressly reserves the right to disqualify any entries that it believes in good faith are generated by an automated program or via scripts. Entries that are determined, in the sole discretion of the Sponsor to constitute advertisements, commercial messages, or “spam” will be disqualified and deleted. Void where prohibited by law. All applicable federal, state and local laws apply. No purchase is necessary to participate in the Sweepstakes.

You may enter any given Drawing one (1) time per household per day by visiting the BOB VILA website at http://www.bobvila.com and submitting your name and email address using the online “Bob Vila’s 3rd Annual $3,000+ Kitchen Appliance Giveaway” submission form. Each entry submitted in response to a Drawing and in accordance with the Official Rules will constitute an official entry. Duplicate entries submitted through either method within one day will be deemed void. If you do not have internet access, alternative means of entry for each Drawing is available by faxing your name, address and phone number to the Sponsor at 508-437-8486 during the Sweepstakes Period. One (1) alternate entry per household per day. Any additional entries submitted via fax within one day will be deemed void. Entries received after the end of the Sweepstakes Period will be deemed void. Normal time, toll, connection and usage rates, if any, charged by your Internet service provider will apply. All entries become the property of the Sponsor. By entering any Drawing during the Sweepstakes, you will be agreeing that any information collected in connection with the Sweepstakes may be used by Sponsor in accordance with Vila Media, LLC’s Privacy Policy, a current copy of which can be found here. By participating, all entrants agree to abide by these Official Rules.

At the end of the Sweepstakes Period, employees or representatives of Sponsor will hold four (4) Drawings in which four (4) potential winners (“Winner”) shall be selected from all eligible entries to receive the prize designated for the respective Drawing. A limit of one (1) prize package and one (1) Winner for each Drawing. Each winning entry will be chosen at random. The number of eligible entries received during the Sweepstakes Period determines the odds of winning for the Drawings. The Sweepstakes will be conducted under the supervision of the Sponsor. If the Winner is determined to be ineligible, forfeits or does not claim the prize, the prize will be re-awarded, in Sponsor’s sole discretion based on a subsequent drawing from the pool of eligible entries. Other restrictions may apply. Decisions of the Sponsor are final and binding with respect to all matters related to the Sweepstakes. All prizes (or in the event of a lost, misdirected, or otherwise unavailable prize, a prize of equivalent value) will be awarded. In no event shall the Sponsor be obligated to award more prizes than the number of prizes stated in these Official Rules. Winners shall be responsible and liable for all federal, state and local taxes on the value of their prize. Must be 18 or older to win.

To receive a complete list of winners or a copy of the Official Rules, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Prize Fulfillment, Vila Media, LLC, PO Box 835 Barnstable, MA 02668. Specify winner’s list or rules on your request. The Winner will be notified by email, or in the case of alternate entry, by phone; Sponsor reserves the right to determine the method of notification. The Winner must claim their respective prize within twenty-four (24) hours after the date of notification of their prize. A Winner’s failure to respond to the prize notification within the specified twenty-four (24) hours will be considered such Winner’s forfeiture of the prize and an alternate Winner may be selected from the pool of eligible entries. If an entrant is found to be ineligible, an alternate Winner may also be selected from the pool of eligible entries. Sponsor reserves the right to ship prizes directly to the mailing address (as applicable) provided by Winners during their entry to the Drawings. Prizes will be shipped via regular ground mail up to four (4) weeks after the official Winner is declared for each drawing.

The prizes for the Drawings held shall be from Cuisinart. The Winners will choose one from the following prize packages during the Sweepstakes Period: Prize Pack One, Date Night Dinners, $836.84: 1 (one) Electric Wine Opener (model no. CWO-25) valuing $29.95, 1 (one) 2lb Convection Bread Maker (model no. CBK-200) valuing $149, 1 (one) X-Cold Cocktail Set (model no. CTG-00-XCS) valuing $99.99, 1 (one) Fruit Scoop (model no. ICE-31) valuing $99.95, 1 (one) 14 Piece Set (model no. 77-14N) valuing $199, 1 (one) Air Fryer Toaster Oven (model no. TOA-60) valuing $199, 1 (one) Electric Fondue Pot (model no. CFO-3SS) valuing $59.95; Prize Pack Two, Home Movie Night, $757.70: 1 (one) Kettle Style Popcorn Maker (model no. CPM-2500) valuing $199, 1 (one) Electric Wine Opener (model no. CWO-25) valuing $29.95, 1 (one) Electric Fondue Pot (model no. CFO-3SS) valuing $59.95, 1 (one) Fruit Scoop (model no. ICE-31) valuing $99.95, 1 (one) Snow Cone Maker (model no. SCM-10) valuing $69.95, 1 (one) Cotton Candy Maker (model no. CCM-10) valuing $49.95, 1 (one) Double Belgian Waffle Maker (model no. WAF-F20) valuing $99.95, 1 (one) Drink Maker (model no. CDM-100G) valuing $149; Prize Pack Three, The Breakfast Connoisseur, $846.80: 1 (one) PurePrecision 8 Cup Pour-Over Coffee Brewer (model no. CPO-850) valuing $199, 1 (one) Hurricane COMPACT Juicing Blender (model no. CPB-380) valuing $99.95, 1 (one) Tazzaccino Milk Frother (model no. FR-10) valuing $99.95, 1 (one) Programmable Espresso Maker (model no. EM-200) valuing $199, 1 (one) Egg Central (model no. CEC-10) valuing $39.95, 1 (one) Breakfast Express Belgian Waffle & Omelet Maker (model no. WAF-B50) valuing $129, 1 (one) 4 Slice Toaster (model no. CPT-640) valuing $79.95; Prize Pack Four: New Family Starter Pack, $815.85: 1 (one) Baby Portable UV Sterilizer (model no. CPS-100) valuing $24.95, 1 (one) Baby Food Storage Containers (model no. BFM-STOR) valuing $14.95, 1 (one) Baby Food Maker & Bottle Warmer (model no. BFM-1000) valuing $129, 1 (one) 12 Cup Programmable Thermal Coffeemaker (model no. DCC-3400) valuing $129, 1 (one) PrepExpress Slicer, Shredder and Spiralizer (model no. SSL-100) valuing $69.95, 1 (one) Precision Master 5.5-Quart Stand Mixer (model no. SM-50) valuing $249, 1 (one) Air Fryer Toaster Oven (model no. TOA-60) valuing $199; Prize Pack Five, Better Baker Cooking Kit, $801.87; 2lb Convection Bread Maker (model no. CBK-200) valuing $149, Precision Master 5.5-Quart Stand Mixer (model no. SM-50) valuing $249, Power Advantage PLUS 9 Speed Hand Mixer With Storage Case (model no. HM-90S) valuing $79.95, Cooking Torch (model no. CTG-00-TOR) valuing $29.99, 6 Piece Bakeware Set (model no. AMB-6) valuing $49.95, Hurricane 2.25 Peak HP Blender (model no. CBT-1500) valuing $199, Flour Sifter (model no. CTG-00-SIF) valuing $14.99, Cupcake Carrier (model no. CTG-00-CCC) valuing $29.99; Prize Pack Six, The At-Home Drink Master, $826.84: Electric Wine Opener (model no. CWO-25) valuing $29.95, Hurricane COMPACT Juicing Blender (model no. CPB-380) valuing $99.95, Drink Maker (model no. CDM-100G) valuing $149, Automatic Cold Brew Coffeemaker (model no. DCB-10) valuing $99.95, Programmable Espresso Maker (EM-200) valuing $199, Juice Extractor (model no. CJE-1000) valuing $149, X-Cold Cocktail Set (model no. CTG-00-XCS) valuing $99.99; Prize Pack Seven, The Health Conscious Cook, $876.75: PrepExpress Slicer, Shredder and Spiralizer (model no. SSL-100) valuing $69.95, Juice Extractor (model no. CJE-1000) valuing $149, Fruit Scoop (model no. ICE-31) valuing $99.95, Egg Central (model no. CEC-10) valuing $39.95, Food Dehydrator (model no. DHR-20) valuing $69.95, CookFresh Digital Glass Steamer (model no. STM-1000) valuing $149, Electric Pressure Cooker (model no. CPC-600) valuing $99.95, PurePrecision 8 Cup Pour-Over Coffee Brewer (model no. CPO-850) valuing $199; Prize Pack Eight, Tasty Tea Time, $836.80: PerfecTemp Cordless Electric Kettle (model no. CPK-17) valuing $99.95, Aura 2 Quart Enamel Teakettle (model no. CTK-EOS17W) valuing $29.95, 2lb Convection Bread Maker (model no. CBK-200) valuing $149, Fruit Scoop (model no. ICE-31) valuing $99.95, Programmable Espresso Maker (EM-200) valuing $199, PurePrecision 8 Cup Pour-Over Coffee Brewer (model no. CPO-850) valuing $199, Electric Fondue Pot (model no. CFO-3SS) valuing $59.95.

No transfer, substitution or cash redemption will be awarded in lieu of Prize. Limit one prize package per entrant. Prizes shall be delivered within 30 days after the winner is verified. An entrant or winner may be disqualified from the Sweepstakes, and his or her entry may be deleted, if he or she fails to comply with each provision of these Official Rules, as determined in the sole discretion of the Sponsor. Participation in the Sweepstakes is at entrant’s own risk. The total approximate retail value of all prizes to be awarded in this Sweepstakes is approximately $3,200. Income and all other federal, state and local taxes (if any) are the sole responsibility of each Winner.

Sponsor shall not be liable for (1) failed, returned or misdirected notifications based on inaccurate information provided by the winner on the Drawings entry forms, (2) entries and responses to winner notifications which are lost, late, incomplete, illegible, unintelligible, postage-due, misdirected, damaged or otherwise not received by the intended recipient in whole or in part or for computer or technical error of any kind, (3) any electronic miscommunications or failures, technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmissions which may limit an entrant’s ability to participate in part or wholly in the Sweepstakes, (4) any technical malfunctions of the telephone network, computer on-line system, computer equipment, software, program malfunctions or other failures, delayed computer transactions or network connections that are human, mechanical or technical in nature, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from downloading any part of this Sweepstakes or (5) any warranty of fitness or merchantability of any prize or the function or operation thereof, which shall be the sole responsibility of the manufacturer of the prize. Sponsor does not make any, and hereby disclaims any and all, representations or warranties of any kind regarding any prize. Unless prohibited by applicable law, your entry constitutes your permission to use your name, photograph, likeness, voice, address (city and state) and testimonials in all media, in perpetuity, in any manner Sponsor deems appropriate for publicity purposes without any further compensation to such entrant.

By entering or accepting a prize in the Sweepstakes, the Winner agrees to be bound by these Official Rules and to conform to all federal, state and local laws and regulations. When applicable, the Winner may be required to execute and return to Sponsor within three (3) business days an Affidavit of Eligibility, a Liability and Publicity Release and relevant tax form W-9s to be eligible for the prize or an alternate winner may be selected. Winner may be required to furnish proof of identity, address and birth date in order to receive a prize. By entering, an entrant agrees to indemnify, release and hold harmless Sponsor, and each of their respective parents, subsidiaries and affiliated entities, directors, officers, employees, attorneys, agents, licensees and representatives (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from any damage, injury, death, loss, claim, action, demand, or other liability (collectively, “Claims”) that may arise from their acceptance, possession and/or use of any prize (or any part thereof) or their participation in the Sweepstakes, or from any misuse or malfunction of any prize awarded (or any part thereof), regardless of whether such Claims, or knowledge of the facts constituting such Claims, exist at the time of entry or arise at any time thereafter. Released Parties are not responsible or liable to any entrant or to any Winner or any person claiming through such Winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action, regulation, order or request by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action, regulations, order or request proves to be invalid), equipment failure, threatened terrorist acts, terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond the Released Parties’ sole control.

The Released Parties are not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by entrants, printing, electronic or human errors or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes; (2) viruses or technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications or entry information, any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, failures or technical malfunction of any computer online systems, servers, providers, computer equipment, software, email, players or browsers, whether on account of technical problems, traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, or on account of any combination of the foregoing; (3) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (4) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Sweepstakes; (5) technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Sweepstakes or the processing of entries; (6) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant’s participation in the Sweepstakes or receipt or use or misuse of any prize; or (7) late, lost, misdirected, illegible, incomplete or mutilated entries or for theft, destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of entries. These indemnification and release provisions shall survive expiration of the Sweepstakes.

Persons found tampering with, abusing, or otherwise disrupting any aspect of this Sweepstakes, or otherwise attempting to defraud Sponsor, as solely determined by Sponsor, will be disqualified and their entries will be deleted. If disqualified, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the entrant’s eligibility to further participate in this Sweepstakes and future promotions and sweepstakes of Sponsor or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates. Any attempt by an entrant or any other individual to undermine the legitimate operation of this Sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil laws. Should such an attempt be made, sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law.

This Sweepstakes is strictly for promotional and entertainment purposes and may not be used in connection with any form of gambling. In the event this Sweepstakes is challenged by any legal or regulatory authority, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the Sweepstakes, or to disqualify entrants residing in the affected geographic areas. In such event, the Sponsor shall have no liability to any entrants who are disqualified due to such an action. Sponsor reserves the right to modify these Official Rules in any way or at any time. Sponsor reserves the right, in their sole discretion, to cancel or suspend this Sweepstakes should viruses, bugs or other causes beyond their control corrupt the administration, security or proper play of the Sweepstakes. In the event any portion of this Sweepstakes is compromised by any non-authorized human intervention, actions of entrants, or other causes beyond the control of Sponsor which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, corrupt or impair the integrity, administration, security, or operation of this Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to suspend, modify, abbreviate or terminate the Sweepstakes without further obligation. If Sponsor elects to abbreviate the Sweepstakes, Winner(s) will be determined from all eligible entries received for Drawing(s) prior to the action or compromise giving rise to the suspension or termination of this Sweepstakes. In the event of cancellation, abbreviation or suspension, Sponsor shall promptly post a notice on the Sweepstakes entry page to such effect.

This Sweepstakes shall be governed by New York law. By participating in this Sweepstakes entrants agree that New York courts shall have jurisdiction over any dispute or litigation arising from or relating to this Sweepstakes and that venue shall be only in New York City, New York. The failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. If any part of these Official Rules is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unenforceable, that part will be enforced to the maximum extent permitted by law, and the remainder of these Official Rules will remain fully in force.


How To: Remove Bumper Stickers

Try to banish an outdated decal the wrong way and you could damage your vehicle’s finish. So put down that razor blade and employ these safe, simple techniques for ridding your ride of stubborn adhesive.

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How to Remove Bumper Stickers

Photo: flickr.com via Joanna Poe

Whether they represent a sports team, your alma mater, or your favorite political candidate, bumper stickers let you stand out on the road. But when your interests change, or you want to sell the car, you’ve often got a sticky mess to contend with. Given that the colorful decals are designed for durability, removing one from your bumper or trunk requires more than elbow grease. Sharp implements like a razor can gouge chrome and scrape off body paint, so these should be avoided at all costs. Fortunately, you probably already have the best cleaning agents for the job—so read on to find out how to remove bumper stickers with them and give your car a clean slate.

How to Remove Bumper Stickers

Photo: istockphoto.com

Can It with Lube
That handy can of WD-40 (or a similar low-cost lubricant) is great on unwanted bumper stickers. After donning safety glasses, spray the superhero solution over all four edges of the bumper sticker and allow five minutes of dwell time. Then, using your fingers, a credit card, or a rubber spatula, lift up a corner and gradually peel off the bumper sticker, keeping it as flat as possible to minimize residue. If areas stick during the process, spray a small amount of WD-40 to the stubborn portion to loosen it up. What little residue remains once the bumper sticker is removed can be wiped away with a soft cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol. Apply a fresh coat of wax to the bumper with a car-safe buffer pad (such as Chemical Guys Buffing Pads) to restore shine.

How to Remove Bumper Stickers

Photo: istockphoto.com

Beat It with Heat
Set a blow dryer to the low heat setting and aim the nozzle six inches from the bumper sticker. (Heat from a shorter distance can erode paint or even melt plastic bumpers!) Then blast away for about a minute, applying heat as evenly as possible to every inch of the bumper sticker. This should sufficiently loosen the bumper sticker, allowing you to lift a corner with a credit card or a rubber spatula. Once you’ve got your tool under the corner, gradually glide it beneath the paper to remove the bumper sticker. If portions fail to come away during the process, use one hand to apply more heat to the front of the bumper sticker as you peel off the persistent part with your other hand. Wipe away sticker residue with a soft cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol, then follow up by buffing fresh car wax into the bumper with a car-safe buffer pad.

 

How to Remove Bumper Stickers

Photo: istockphoto.com

Vamoose It with Vinegar
Known for performing cleaning miracles around the house, white vinegar also has potent adhesive-removal properties. Saturate a clean paper towel in a small bowl of white vinegar, then place the towel over the bumper for three to five minutes (the wet towel should adhere on its own, though you can hold it in place with your hand if it slips). As the vinegar soaks into the bumper sticker, it will begin to loosen and lift. Then simply pull up one corner with your fingers, a credit card, or a rubber spatula, and patiently peel it off fully. Banish sticker residue with a clean cloth wet with white vinegar or rubbing alcohol, then top the cleaned area with a fresh coat of wax applied with a buffer pad designed for cars.

 

Cleaning Tips for a Spotless Home

All of the Essential Cleaning Advice from BobVila.com
There’s no way around it: Keeping the house clean demands your time, your energy, and even some of your money. Fortunately, this arsenal of cleaning tips can help you finish the housekeeping more quickly—and with fewer commercially sold products.


How To: Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs

If a swarm of these stinky pests has infiltrated your property, apply these techniques—for indoor and outdoor use—to send them packing.

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How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs

Photo: istockphoto.com

Homeowners with seed-bearing boxelder trees on their property may be all too familiar with the insects that lay eggs on them and feed on their seed pods. The half-inch long black bugs with red-ridged wings do little damage to gardens, but they can be most unwelcome when they appear in large swarms and give off their distinctive stench. Worse, come autumn, boxelder bugs migrate to the south side of trees and houses in search of warm spaces to overwinter—and should they breach openings on the exterior of your home, you may find them taking up residence inside. If you’re tired of confronting the pests outdoors and in, take charge now with these seven smart strategies for how to get rid of boxelder bugs.

EXTERIOR TREATMENTS

If you spot boxelder bugs in your yard or around the perimeter of the house…

Blast them with water. Small clusters of boxelder bugs are easily broken up with a forceful stream from a garden hose. While this technique won’t kill or reduce their population, it will temporarily discourage the growth of a swarm. Keeping boxelder bugs at a manageable amount can prevent the need for more involved treatment necessitated by larger swarms.

Deploy diatomaceous earth. Banish moderate to large swarms with diatomaceous earth, an organic, talc-like powder comprised of the fossilized remains of microalgae. The food-grade variety (readily available in home and garden centers) is deadly to boxelder bugs yet non-toxic to humans and pets. Donning gloves, safety glasses, and a dust mask, scatter the powder in the manufacturer-recommended amount around the base of boxelder, maple, or ash trees using a manual hand duster or plastic feed scoop. Sprinkle additional powder along the perimeter of your home, focusing on entry points like windowsills and doorjambs. The powder will penetrate the exoskeletons of boxelder bugs to dehydrate and kill them in a few hours. Repeat the treatment if rain removes the powder or new swarms emerge.

Spray residual insecticide. Cracks and crevices on the exterior of your home are a hotbed for boxelder bugs in autumn. Applying a Pyrethrin-based residual insecticide formulated for the perimeter to these crevices will kill boxelder bugs before they migrate indoors to overwinter. Donning gloves and safety glasses, spray the insecticide according to the manufacturer’s instructions to exterior cracks and crevices on siding, windows, doors, eaves, and attic vents. Steer clear of plants and your lawn (which perimeter insecticides can destroy), and keep pets and kids away from newly treated areas. After the insecticide kills off the bugs, siphon them out with a vacuum, then seal up the cracks with caulk to prevent new bugs from entering.

Replace seed-bearing boxelder trees. Since the pests feed on the seedpods of female boxelder trees, removing them and replacing them with non-seed-bearing male trees (or other species) can help you be rid of the bugs permanently. Keep in mind that the more mature the tree, the costlier it will be to remove. Also consider that the benefits of the tree—shade, privacy, and curb appeal—may outweigh the insect nuisance.

 

Photo: istockphoto.com

How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs

INTERIOR TREATMENTS

If boxelder bugs overcome exterior treatments and invade your home…

Vacuum them up. The easiest way to banish a few stray boxelder bugs in the home is to vacuum them up from the floors, wall crevices, or windowsills and doorways where they often lurk. Dispose of collected bugs immediately to eliminate their smelly remains, which can attract other, more destructive insects like Dermestid beetles. Avoid squashing the bugs; this will leave a stain, especially on carpet. Since boxelder bugs don’t reproduce indoors, you needn’t worry about another home invasion if you dispose of those already in the house and then seal any openings.

Trap them. Not all boxelder bugs hang out in plain sight—some prefer to hide in the basement, attic, or near ceilings. To catch these undercover creepers, place a lightweight insect trap in the out-of-the-way areas. The most effective traps use glue or light to lure and then ensnare bugs. Dispose of the traps as soon as possible to keep odors at bay.

Use a homemade weapon. While store-bought insecticides to combat indoor boxelder bug infestations are available, you can avoid their chemicals and cost with a homemade solution made from handy household ingredients. Simply dilute one to two tablespoons of liquid dish soap in water in a spray bottle, then spray directly to indoor bugs to kill them.

 

Easy DIYs for Your Best-Ever Backyard

All of the Outdoor Design and DIY Tips from BobVila.com
With fair weather having arrived finally, it’s time to turn your home improvement efforts to the backyard and your deck, porch, or patio—the parts of the home built specifically to enjoy the extra hours of sunlight. Guided by these practical pointers and inspiring ideas, you can introduce beauty, comfort, and utility to your backyard and outdoor living areas, making them as inviting and enjoyable as your home interiors.


Bob Vila Radio: 3 Hidden Spots That It Pays to Keep Clean

It'd be easy to ignore these out-of-the-way corners of the home. In fact, many people do—despite the fact that even beyond health and aesthetics, there are practical, money-saving reasons to keep each one clean. Keep reading for details.

We all want our homes to be comfortable and inviting. Unfortunately, if you don’t clean often or comprehensively enough, it’s tough for your home to be either of those things.

Places You Are Forgetting To Clean

Photo: istockphoto.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON PLACES YOU’RE FORGETTING TO CLEAN or read below:

Bear in mind that some areas of the home are commonly forgotten, even by those who consider themselves to be diligent housekeepers. Adding these ‘blind spots’ to your routine can help keep your family healthier and your appliances working longer.

First things first: Get inside any HVAC vents you may have in your home. Over time, these grilled registers inevitably collect dust, hair, and dirt—and the longer you ignore the issue, the greater the likelihood of accumulated particles recirculating back into the air you breathe via the heating and cooling system.

Next up: Dive into your closets. Believe it or not, clothing fibers contribute substantially to household dust problems—and dust doesn’t exactly benefit a wardrobe. When you vacuum the rest of the house, make it a point to vacuum the floor in each closet too. Then once or twice a year, remove all closet contents and wipe down shelves and other surfaces with a damp rag.

Finally, the refrigerator—specifically, the refrigerant coils on the back or underside of the unit. Vacuum these coils once a month. Two or three times a year, go a step further and wipe them down with a damp rag. It may not sound like much, but doing so helps maximize the fridge’s lifespan, while minimizing the cost to operate it.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!