• Home Improvement & Remodeling

Home Improvement & Remodeling

How to Prevent and Handle a Fire

While a fire may seem like something that will never happen to you or your family, it is critical to know what to do if one does. Being knowledgeable on both preventing and on handling a fire could be the difference between life and death.

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Homeownership is rewarding, but, like any part of life, it comes with certain risks.

No one ever thinks that they will have a fire in their home. However, we're here...

Avoid Damage by Preparing Your Home for Winter

It’s very important to prepare your home for winter. Otherwise, you could run into some costly problems down the road.

For example, you need to take care of the exterior faucets on your home in order to avoid water damage. First, go inside your home and disconnect the water line. Then, go outside and disconnect any hoses. Open up the faucet valves to relieve any pressure from water left in the pipe. Once that is done, go back inside and finish draining the pipe.


Is Your Home Prepared for the Minnesota Winter?

With fall in full swing, today we’d like to ask you one simple question: is your home ready for the winter months? There are a few things you can do to the exterior of your home now to winterize it and avoid costly problems in the future:

1. Trim back your trees and bushes. If there are branches up against the exterior of your home, cut them back. In our climate, the high winds that we experience can cause those branches to freeze and scrape...

Avoid Costly Water Problems in the Twin Cities

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We all know the phrase, “Spring showers bring May flowers.” Today, we’re focusing on avoiding costly water problems by getting your Twin Cities home ready for the spring. Here are some common mistakes we come across in the surrounding community, that could easily be avoided if you know about them ahead of time.

  1. There is not a strong enough drain-away from the home into the yard....

How to Protect Your Twin Cities Home from Winter Damage

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Winter weather is a double-edged sword. Snow provides opportunities for us to enjoy ourselves, but it can also cause problems in and around our homes.

Ice dams are sheets of ice that form on the roof due to heat loss from the inside of your home. If left untreated, they can cause water to back up under the roof shingles. This water can then enter your home through your ceiling or exterior wall cavity and cause some serious problems for you down the road.

What is the best way to prevent an ice dam from forming? Well, the best way is to see if there is an ice buildup on the outside of the home. If there is ice buildup around gutters and there are icicles forming, it might be an indication that there is heat loss which is melting snow and causing water to run. Preventative maintenance is necessary to ensure that you have no major problems with ice dams. All you need to do is strap on some boots and walk around your home from time to time.

If you aren't sure whether you have...

Home Repair Programs for North Minneapolis Tornado Victims

Minneapolis has received a $750,000 grant for North Side tornado repairs from Minnesota's Housing Board.

The money is to be dispensed in interest-free loans of up to $30,000 repayable when the house sells. The 30-year interest-free loans will be available for households earning less than 115 percent of area median income.

In other closely related new, an arrangement has been worked out for Minneapolis homeowners with tornado damage to access loans from a separate $1 million Quick Start fund that was awarded to the city by the state. So far, only five North Side homes have received Quick Start money, for a total of about $150,000.

Source: Star Tribune


Anoka County Home Weatherization Program Expands

157 residents were going to receive weatherization assistance from the Anoka County Community Action Program. Now, thanks to $1.6 million in federal stimulus money, the program will be available to nearly 300 more. Additionally, workers will be able to look more closely at more clients' energy use than they've been able to in the past. This will enable them to find more solutions to bring a home's utility costs down.

Anoka County's allocation is part of $131 million in stimulus weatherization aid being distributed throughout the state. The federal money allows ACCAP to triple its client load and raises the average allocation per home from $3,000 to $6,500.

The program is available to county residents who qualify for federal home heating aid. The cutoff is about 200% of federal poverty guidelines, or $44,100 a year for a family of four. Those with the highest energy consumption generally get first priority because unusually high energy bills signal that something in the home is malfunctioning. After that, seniors have priority, then disabled residents.

"Before they have the work they're turning to us saying they don't know where else to turn," said Donna Mattson, ACCAP's housing services director. "They're having trouble with their bills; this allows them to put more money toward other bills. Their furnace is dying or has gone, and they're just in a panic."

Sometimes, workers are able to solve problems that had caused a real hazard. In one mobile home, the furnace had been out for a year, but the client had sky-high gas bills because she was paying to run a leaking hot-water heater. She also had been heating the entire place using space heaters.

ACCAP has added 16 full-time auditor and staff positions, and 15 part-time contractor positions to accommodate the extra money and work. The ACCAP's goal is to weatherize 450 qualifying families' homes by...

Minneapolis & Saint Paul Partner Up for Weatherization Assistance Program

There is some economic and evironmental good news in the housing and construction sector. More than $10 billion of federal stimulus funding to retrofit homes, businesses and government buildings to be more energy efficient is starting to hit communities around the country, including Minnesota, Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Building energy retrofits save energy and reduce pollution at the same time they put people to work.

Energy use in buildings accounts for nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Low-cost technologies and certain construction practices can cut energy use in many buildings by up to 30%. That difference could translate into cost savings and implementing the fixes will create jobs.

Cities that receive retrofit funds from the Minnesota Weatherization Assistance Program are spending the money quickly to create jobs. They're also trying to make sure they invest these resources in the best way possible for the best long term benefits.

And Minneapolis and Saint Paul are doing a good job. Our Twin Cities have partnered up to work together and have set a daring goal of retrofitting all the buildings in their city limits within 10 years. The Twin Cities have engaged a partnership of state and local agencies, utilities, industry groups, organized labor and community-based nonprofits to create a comprehensive system to get the work done.

There are other communities throughout Minnesota that have money waiting for home weatherization. Want to know what the requirements are? Want to find out if you qualify? Check out the Minnesota Housing website. ...

Minnesota Weatherization Assistance Program

The Minnesota Weatherization Assistance Program, until this year, was a modest $10 million-a-year operation plugging air leaks in about 3,500 Minnesota homes and apartment units. Both of those numbers are about to increase dramatically.

Minnesota is about to get $52.7 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to weatherize 16,800 homes this year. Once a first two-year phase of the program is done, the state will be eligible for another $65 million in weatherization funding.

Not only will it help families weatherize their homes, it will also help to create jobs for the people who will do the work. The money and demand could create nearly 1,000 jobs. People are already clamoring for weatherization job training. Energy workers are already being hired. Equipment has already been bought. The Minnesota Department of Commerce, which administers the program, has even cranked up its own staffing to make sure the money is used as intended.

Bottom line? Weatherization of thousands of homes is set to start as soon as the funds hit the state.

Homeowners aren't the only ones bracing for improvements. Minnesota government buildings may get up to $54 million to make energy-efficient repairs and upgrades. That's up from $716,000 last year.


New State Law Regarding Carbon Monoxide Detectors

It's September and it’s getting colder outside.  Soon it will be fall, the time to seal up homes for the winter, prepare to start the furnace, and getting ready to use fireplaces.  This is the time of year when many carbon monoxide leaks are found.

On August 1st, a new law went into effect within the state of Minnesota which requires that ever new and existing single family home have a carbon monoxide detector installed within 10 feet of every room used for sleeping.  Multi-family homes and apartment buildings must comply by August 1, 2009.

According to the State Fire Marshall website:
  • Every single family dwelling and every multifamily dwelling unit shall be provided with a minimum of one approved and fully operational carbon monoxide alarm installed within ten (10) feet of each room lawfully used for sleeping purposes.
  • If bedrooms are located on separate floors additional carbon monoxide alarms would be necessary within ten feet of these areas.
  • If bedrooms are located in separate areas (on the same level), additional carbon monoxide alarms would be necessary within ten (10) feet of these areas.
  • In lieu of installing multiple carbon monoxide alarms in the hallway, a separate carbon monoxide could be installed inside each sleeping room.
  • It is important that these devices be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s installations instructions and not be placed in ‘dead’ air pockets such as corners of rooms, at the junction of walls and ceilings or within thirty-six (36) inches of ventilation ducts.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms shall be installed at the height specified in the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms have an effective life-span of 5-7 years. Many manufacturers recommend these devices be replaced at six (6)...