12 Simple Home Repairs to Lift You Out of Winter’s Funk

Article By Jeanne Huber

Accomplishments — even little ones — go a long way toward a sunny outlook. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy, quick home repair chores you can do when you’re mired in the thick of winter. For max efficiency, make a to-do list ahead of time and shop for all the tools and supplies in one trip. On your work days, put the basics in a caddy and carry it from room to room, checking off completed tasks as you speed through them.

What to Look (and Listen) For
In each room, look around and take stock of what needs fixing or improving. Focus on small, quick-hit changes, not major redos. Here are some likely suspects:

1. Sagging towel rack or wobbly toilet tissue holder. Unscrew the fixture and look for the culprit. It’s probably a wimpy, push-in type plastic drywall anchor. Pull that out (or just poke it through the wall) and replace it with something more substantial. Toggle bolts are strongest, and threaded types such as E-Z Ancor are easy to install.

2. Squeaky door hinges. Eliminate squeaks by squirting a puff of powdered graphite ($2.50 for a 3-gram tube) alongside the pin where the hinge turns. If the door sticks, plane off a bit of the wood, then touch up the paint so the surgery isn’t noticeable.

3. Creaky floor boards. They’ll shush if you fasten them down better. Anti-squeak repair kits, such as Squeeeeek No More ($23), feature specially designed screws that are easy to conceal. A low-cost alternative: Dust a little talcum powder into the seam where floorboards meet — the talcum acts as a lubricant to quiet boards that rub against each other.

4. Rusty shutoff valves. Check under sinks and behind toilets for the shutoff valves on your water supply lines. These little-used valves may slowly rust in place over time, and might not work when you need them most. Keep them operating by putting a little machine oil or WD-40 on the handle shafts. Twist the handles back and forth to work the oil into the threads. If they won’t budge, give the oil a couple of hours to penetrate, and try again.

5. Blistered paint on shower ceilings. This area gets a lot of heat and moisture that stresses paint finishes. Scrape off old paint and recoat, using a high-quality exterior-grade paint. Also, be sure everyone uses the bathroom vent when showering to help get rid of excess moisture.

6. Loose handles or hinges on furniture, cabinets, and doors. You can probably fix these with a few quick turns of a screwdriver. But if a screw just spins in place, try making the hole fit the screw better by stuffing in a toothpick coated with glue, or switching to a larger screw.

Safety Items
You know those routine safety checks you keep meaning to do but never have the time? Now’s the time.

7. Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. If you don’t like waking up to the annoying chirp of smoke detector batteries as they wear down, do what many fire departments recommend and simply replace all of them at the same time once a year.

8. Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets. You’re supposed to test them once a month, but who does? Now’s a great time. You’ll find them around potentially wet areas — building codes specify GFCI outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, and for outdoor receptacles. Make sure the device trips and resets correctly. If you find a faulty outlet, replace it or get an electrician to do it for $75 to $100.

Another good project is to replace your GFCIs with the latest generation of protected outlets that test themselves, such as Levitron’s SmartlockPro Self-Test GFCI ($28). You won’t have to manually test ever again!

9. Exhaust filter for the kitchen stove. By washing it to remove grease, you’ll increase the efficiency of your exhaust vent; plus, if a kitchen stovetop fire breaks out, this will help keep the flames from spreading.

10. Clothes dryer vent. Pull the dryer out from the wall, disconnect the vent pipe, and vacuum lint out of the pipe and the place where it connects to the machine. Also, wipe lint off your exterior dryer vent so the flap opens and closes easily. (You’ll need to go outside for that, but it’s quick.) Remember that vents clogged with old dryer lint are a leading cause of house fires.

11. Drain hoses. Inspect your clothes washer, dishwasher, and icemaker. If you see any cracks or drips, replace the hose so you don’t come home to a flood one day.

12. Electrical cords. Replace any that are brittle, cracked, or have damaged plugs. If you’re using extension cords, see if you can eliminate them — for example, by replacing that too-short lamp cord with one that’s longer. If you don’t feel up to rewiring the lamp yourself, drop it off at a repair shop as you head out to shop for your repair materials. It might not be ready by the end of the day. But, hey, one half-done repair that you can’t check off is no big deal, right?

Jeanne Huber is the author of 10 books about home improvement. She writes a weekly column about home care for the Washington Post.

Make your gardens beautiful and SAFE!

Take a good look at your gardens! Make them safe and beautiful.

Gardens create décor for our homes, sources for food, places for entertainment, rest and relaxation, sports and games and a playground for children and pets. They can add a lot to our property values and the quality of our lives. But most importantly, they must be safe. We need to keep hazardous chemicals properly stored, sharp or dangerous materials out of harm’s way, and areas easy and safe to walk through. Less obvious, though, is the danger that can be posed by the very plants that make our gardens beautiful and useful. Since some plants can be poisonous to children and pets, it is important to be aware of these. I have listed some common outdoor and indoor plants below.

When you get rid of weeds in your garden, make sure you don’t get rid of Rover as well. Keep in mind that landscaping aids that make your plants healthy can make your pets sick. The following landscaping staples can harm your pets:

Cocoa mulch: Contains theobromine, the chemical in chocolate that poisons dogs.
Fertilizers and herbicides: Can irritate pet skin, pads, tongues, and gums.
Compost: Ingesting coffee grinds and onions in compost piles can make pets ill.


Aconitum (Monkshood)
Aloe (some are irritants)
Alocasia (Elephant ears)
Alstroemaeria (can cause dermatitis)
Amarylis belladona (Naked Lady)
Anemone (Windflower)
Asclepias (Milkweed)
Cestrum nocturnum (Night Jessamine)
Convallaria (Lilly of the Valley)
Duranta (berries)
Euphorbia (white milky sap)
Gelseminm (Carolina Jessamine)
Heliotrope (Cherry Pie plant)
Ligustrum (Privet)
Nerium oleander
Potato (green skin + raw shoots)
Rhododendron and Azalea (leaves)
Rhubarb (leaves)
Ricinus (Castor bean)
Robinia (Locust trees)
Solanum jasminoides (Potato vine)
Schinas (CA pepper tree- dermatitis)
Taxus (Yews)


Amaryllis (bulbs)
Caladium (juice can cause swelling of mucous membranes)
Christmas Poinsettia (Euphorbia)
Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia)
Diffenbachia (Dumb Cane)
Ivy (can cause dermatitis)
Olea (unprocessed olives are inedible)
Solanum pseudpseudocapsicum (Christmas Cherry)





Interesting Connecticut Weather Facts

Average winter snowfall in the Northwest Hills is 50 inches
Average winter snowfall along the coast is 30-35 inches
The odds of a damaging earthquake in Connecticut are 1 in 20 each year
Connecticut averages 1-2 earthquakes a year

January averages 3.5 inches of liquid precipitation; 12.3 inches of snowfall
-14th-Daylight increasing by 1.5 minutes each day
-16th-Record high this date 62o F in 1995; record low -8oF in 1994
-24th-Daylight increasing by 2 minutes each day
January 20-25 is the traditional January thaw

February averages 3.2 inches of liquid precipitation; 11.3 inches of snowfall
Blizzard of 1978 brought 2 feet of snow
-10th-gaining about 2.5 minutes of sunlight per day
-16th lowest temperature ever recorded in Connecticut (-37oF) in Norfolk, 1943

March averages 4.2 inches of liquid precipitation; 9.3 inches of snowfall
-11th-Blizzard of 1888 yields 40+ inches of snow
83.1 inches in 1994, is the most snowfall since record keeping began in 1905
-19th-Blizzard leaves 9-22 inches of snow, making March 1956 the snowiest March on record

April averages 4 inches of precipitation
-10th-Last snowfall of the 1996 season establishes new snowfall record of 115.2 inches surpassing old record set in 1993-1994, by more than 20 inches.
-18th-Average last frost along coast and in Central Valley

May averages 3.4 inches of precipitation
-9th-Average last frost in Northwest Hills

June averages 3.4 inches of precipitation
-19th-Record high temperature was 95°
-28th-Record low temperature for day, 40oF, set 1995
3 tornadoes touch down: Chester, Hadlyme, and Killingworth, 1998
Hurricane season begins and runs through November 30th
8 inches of hail covered the ground in East Canaan, 1954
July Beach Scene

July averages 3.1 inches of precipitation
-3rd-Tornado hits the Waterbury/Wolcott line, 1996
-9th-Tornado hits Monroe, 1996
-10th-Tornado outbreak in Litchfield and New Haven Counties; Town of Hamden hit the hardest, 1989
-15th-2-3 inch hailstones fall on Bozrah, Franklin, and Lebanon, 1799
-15th-Highest temperature ever recorded in Connecticut 106oF in Danbury, 1995
-22nd-Second highest temperature ever recorded in Connecticut 105F in Waterbury, 1926
July’s consistent heat makes it the most thunderstorm prone month
July 1994 was hottest on record; average temperature of 77.1oF was 3.4oF above normal

August averages 4 inches of precipitation
-18th-Hurricane Diane 1955
-31st-Hurricane Carol 1954
Connecticut’s “Tornado Alley” is through Litchfield and Hartford counties, with 21 twisters passing through since 1960
September Leaf

September averages 4 inches of precipitation
-10th-Peak of the hurricane season
-11th-Hurricane Edna, 1954, causes widespread damage
-14th-Hurricane Donna, 1960 kills three, causes large crop losses
-14th-Great Atlantic Hurricane, 1944, causes $100 million in damages
-21st- Great New England Hurricane, 1938
September ranks second, to October, in clear days, averaging 8.6

October averages 3.5 inches of precipitation
-3rd-Windsor Locks hit by tornado 1979
-6th-Average first frost in Northwest Hills
-10th-Average first frost in Central Valley
-19th-Average first frost along the coast
October ranks first in clear days, averaging 9.1

November averages 4 inches of liquid precipitation; 2 inches of snowfall
-12th-first snowfalls often around this time
-26th- 1898,heaviest 2-day snowstorm on record in New Haven and New London
-30th-Hurricane season ends
December Snow Flake

December averages 4.2 inches of liquid precipitation; 10.4 inches of snowfall
45.3 inches of snow in December 1945, make it the snowiest month ever in Connecticut

(Information provided by the CT DEP)

NANCY BUDD ~ Top Realtor in Connecticut ~ (203) 984-8922

William Raveis Real Estate



When is it time to replace your oil or natural gas furnace?

By installing a new home furnace or heating system you’ll improve your home’s value



A good article from Petro Home Services:

As one of the most important investments and pieces of equipment in your home, it pays to keep track of just how efficiently and effectively your warm air oil or natural gas furnace is running. You need to know when to replace it before it costs you more in repairs than a new purchase or if it becomes unsafe. A comfortable and healthy home environment requires an energy-efficient and safe heating system. One that heats the home without using large amounts of energy and that doesn’t endanger the indoor air quality.

How do you know when it’s time to consider getting a new furnace?
If your oil or natural gas furnace is 12 years old or younger, and has been properly maintained, you shouldn’t need to worry about replacing your unit just yet. Instead, you should spend some time and money to improve the energy-efficiency in other areas of your home and ensure that you perform regular, proper maintenance of your furnace to keep it lasting longer.

Is it time for a new furnace?

“Warning Signs” of a failing furnace.
It is important to be aware of some warning signs from your oil or natural gas furnace that indicate it may need replacing. It is especially important not to wait until it’s too late. A cold, snowy winter night with a failing or faltering furnace is not the time to assess your heating system. It pays to be prepared and information is the key to making a wise decision. Below are some “warning signs” that it may be time to consider replacing your furnace. Of course, not all of them may apply to your particular equipment but you may use them as a general rule of thumb to gauge just how much life left you have in your furnace:*

1. How old is your furnace?
A good place to start is to compare your oil or natural gas furnace age to the national average. The average life expectancy of furnaces in homes today is between 16 and 20 years. If your furnace is close to this age or older, you should begin shopping. Shopping for a replacement furnace in an emergency does not allow time for you to make your best decision. Most people prefer to replace their furnace as a planned home improvement rather than a panic replacement when your furnace is faltering or has already failed.The typical lifespan of a warm air furnace will vary based on its operating environment, that’s why it’s important to have the system serviced regularly by a qualified technician. They will be able to properly assess the condition of the furnace and make any recommendations.

2. Are your energy bills going up?
Rising energy costs are not the only reason for high bills. Furnaces often lose their efficiency as they age, especially if they have not been properly maintained. As a result your oil or natural gas furnace may run longer to provide the same amount of heat. This will cause your energy bills to go up. And, all of the money you pay your energy utility companies every month could be used to help you pay for a new, much more energy-efficient and energy saving furnace.

3. Have you had any furnace repairs in the last 2 years?
Furnaces are like cars. As they age, you can replace one part only need another part replaced or repaired next year. It doesn’t take long to spend $500 just to keep an old oil or natural gas furnace running. Furnaces incur the most breakdowns in the last 2 years of their lives. Another repair sign is whether you had to wait to get parts replaced. As a furnace ages, it gets harder to source replacement parts. Waiting that can be really cold on a below zero night.

4. Does your thermostat keep you comfortable?
Do you feel that some rooms are too cold while others are too hot? Or are you always trying to adjust your thermostat to make your home more comfortable? This is a sign that your furnace lacks the ability to properly distribute the air to keep you comfortable in your home.

5. If you have a natural gas furnace, is your burner flame yellow instead of blue?
All heating systems run the risk of carbon monoxide emissions. However, owners of older chimney-vented oil-fired furnaces don’t necessarily face the same safety concerns posed by natural gas and propane, since oil-fired boilers and forced-air furnaces tend to be much less likely to produce carbon monoxide. Because they were built like tanks and require regular annual maintenance and cleaning by a qualified service technician, many of these units hum along safely and reliably for decades. If you do have a natural gas or propane furnace, a yellow or flickering flame may be a sign that poisonous carbon monoxide could be created by your furnace. Other possible signs of carbon monoxide are:

Streaks of soot around furnace
Absence of an upward draft in your chimney
Excess moisture found on windows, walls, or other cold surfaces
Excessive rusting on flue pipes, other pipe connections, or appliance jacks
Small amounts of water leaking from the base of the chimney, vent, or flue pipe
Rust on the portion of the vent pipe visible from the outside
Always be mindful and monitor your furnace for any of the signs noted above and always make sure to have carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home, particularly close to your furnace room.

6. How have you and your family been feeling?
Furnaces as they age run the risk of developing cracks in the heat exchanger inside your furnace. Carbon monoxide, if present, could leak into your home undetected. Signs of this may be frequent headaches, a burning feeling in nose or eyes, nausea, disorientation, flu-like symptoms. Should you experience any of these, air out your house, open a window to the furnace room and immediately call a service technician. Cracks in the heat exchanger can occur undetected which is why no one advises waiting until they occur.

7. Is your furnace making strange noises?
Old furnaces often start to make some strange noises as they get toward the end of their life. Have you heard any banging, popping, rattling, or squealing noises coming from your furnace? Another noise is when you hear the furnace blower running excessively. Does your blower turn on and off frequently or does it blow cold air sometimes? If so, this is a sign that your furnace may need to be replaced.

8. Is your house dry or dusty?
Old furnaces often lack the ability to moisturize and clean the air in your home. Your house air may feel stuffy or stale. Does anyone in your family suffer from allergies to airborne dust, mold, pollen, viruses or dander? Or does anyone suffer from dry nose, dry throat, or dry skin? Other signs may be frequent dust accumulation, static shocks, drooping plants, furniture cracking and musical instruments that do not stay in tune. These may seem like trivial and somewhat silly observations but all suggest that your old furnace is not capable of providing you with the comfort you and your family may want and need. Poor indoor air quality may also not be associated with on old furnace, poor ventilation and other reasons can cause it, too. Please contact us to have one of our service technicians assess your situation as we may have other air quality services and solutions for you.

If any of these “warning signs” apply to you, it might be time to consider the purchase of a new furnace.

Think you need a few furnace? Don’t despair. It may end up helping you save!
It’s a fact that a new furnace for your home is one of the more substantial costs involved in home ownership. But, it should also be seen as a long-term investment. All of the latest furnaces are much more energy-efficient than those installed even 20 years ago. So, while it may seem like a short-term larger expense, a new, more energy-efficient home heating system will more than likely save you money in the longer-term by lowering your annual energy costs.

NANCY BUDD  (203) 984-8922

Want to buy a lighthouse?

Would you be interested in buying a house with panoramic views of Long Island Sound, moderately priced, solidly built, in a private location and, oh, for sale by the owner?

Well, the federal government is listing the Peck Ledge Lighthouse in Norwalk and Stratford Shoal Lighthouse for sale, according to a press release by the United States General Services Administration.

“Lighthouses are an important part of our maritime history in New England and throughout the nation. GSA is looking for passionate and capable new owners to help us ensure that these architectural treasures will be preserved without burdening taxpayers,” said Robert Zarnetske, GSA regional administrator for New England.

And don’t worry about someone else snapping them up. The Penfield Reef Lighthouse in Fairfield has been for sale off and on since 2007.

It might sound romantic to live in a lighthouse, but making one liveable is going to be an expensive proposition. And then there’s the issue of getting there. A driveway is obviously not an option.

Peck Ledge Light, established in 1906, stands at the northeast end of the Norwalk Islands about 1.5 nautical miles from the coast of Connecticut, according to the official listing on the U.S. General Services Administration website. There is no dock. It stands in seven feet of water and is accessible only by boat.

And the Stratford Shoal Light is so far from the shore that there has been debate on whether it belongs to New York or Connecticut.

Connecticut is home to 20 historic lighthouses, most built between 1800 and 1920. Some, like New Haven’s Five Mile Point Lighthouse, are owned by municipalities. Two are in private hands, including the Stamford Harbor Ledge Light.

The GSA will first seek an interested party — buyer isn’t the right word since the property would be conveyed for as little as $1 — at public agencies or nonprofits.

Although it’s a challenging task, people have bought lighthouses and turned them into seasonal homes, said Jeff Gales, executive director of the U.S. Lighthouse Society. “There are probably 10 or 15 a year that are deemed excess by the Coast Guard and sold through the GSA process,” Gales said. “But the Lighthouse Preservation Act requires that they first be offered to an entity that will maintain public access.”

The lighthouse at Stratford Shoal, in the middle of Long Island Sound off of the coast of Stratford. It is also callled Middle Ground Light.

A Holiday Tradition

IMG_5909In our house we know what we are eating on December 25th, every year it is the same. It is a welcome tradition and one that leaves us full of both food and the reassurance that family traditions are very special. Everyone is gathered together and we are all looking forward to our delicious Christmas dinner.  If they are not with us, we know our siblings and their families are enjoying a very similar meal in other parts of the country. Our meal consists of: Nana’s jello salad, roast beef, a vegetable (green beans with almonds is a favorite), a green salad, and a special desert, usually a yule log. As an appetizer we always have shrimp cocktail and I have stated the tradition of oriental meatballs (just to jazz it up a bit…and they are delicious!). Whatever your holiday traditions are, enjoy this time with your family and friends. May this holiday season be one filled with joy. Cheers!


Holidays are…a wonderful time to sell a house?

Article from the Wilton Daily Voice

Holidays are…a wonderful tome to sell your house!

By, Nancy Budd


WILTON, Conn. — It’s the most wonderful time of the year … to sell a house??

The holidays can be a great time to sell if you have flexibility and are prepared. Before you hold off listing your home until next year, consider the benefits of listing your home for sale during the holidays.

The amount of listings on the market drop, which means less competition for your home. With less competition you could potentially sell your house faster and for a higher price. The home buyers are generally very motivated during the holiday season.

Although there will be fewer buyers looking at homes this time of year, the buyers who do look are more serious about closing. There are some buyers who purposely choose to purchase a home before the new year to receive a tax write off.

Home buyers who close before the end of the year could be eligible for tax credits, such as a deduction for home mortgage interest, real estate taxes, and PMI premiums. Buyers looking during November and December are typically more serious about the house hunt. They might include families relocating for job changes, first-timers ready to leap during a slow market, and those who’ve recently sold a home and need a new place to live.

The holiday market is full of motivated homebuyers. Some buyers simply thrive in the more relaxed environment, with fewer competitors for top properties and more attention from agents. You’ll have fewer showings, but they’ll be a lot more powerful.

Holiday season buyers are typically motivated and financially ready. Please Contact me to learn how to make the selling process as painless as possible any time of year, even during the holidays.

Nancy Budd, who works for William Raveis, is an Exceptional Property Specialist & Accredited Home Staging Professional. Contact her at 203-984-8922 or via email at nancy.budd@raveis.com. Click here to visit her website.
Nancy Budd is proud to support community news & Wilton Daily Voice.

Visit raveis.com to learn more.




By, Nancy Budd (Realtor at William Raveis Real Estate)

WILTON, Conn. — Ready to move? The holidays are a great time to sell!

Hoping for a signed contract in your stocking? Follow my advice on holiday home selling and you could capture the interest of one of these serious buyers.

Staging a property for sale is important whatever the season, but there are some special things to consider during the holidays. You should decorate for the holidays, just remember to keep the clutter in check and keep holiday decorating simple and elegant. For those homeowners in the selling market, it’s important to decorate tastefully and carefully select the right décor to showcase your home.

Of course, not many people would buy a home solely based on holiday décor, but it may actually play a part in their decision making, whether they realize it or not. We tend to gravitate to homes that we can easily imagine living in. When a home evokes an emotional connection or a traditional feel, it grabs our attention.

Showings are crucial to selling your home and during the colder months, the weather can be dreary so it’s important to keep spirits high by creating a pleasant, welcoming atmosphere. Consider playing soft music in the background, keeping all of the lights on in the house, using fragrant candles in the kitchen (mandarin orange, cinnamon, or apple are great holiday scents), keep your home at a cozy temperature, if you have a gas fireplace keep it lit, make sure walkways and driveways are maintained and free of ice.

Curb appeal is extremely critical at all times of the year, the first impression we have of a home is its exterior. We can imagine what it looks like behind the façade, but until we enter the home, we have to rely on our imagination to guide us.

Keep in mind, if a potential buyer is in love with the outside of your home, they will definitely want to see the rest. Forget the Christmas lights covering all of your bushes. A well lit, well maintained front door with elegant planters and a beautiful wreath are a great way to welcome buyers to your home.

Remember, the key to selling your home during the holiday season is to not go overboard. Less is more and a little classic traditional style can go a long way.

Nancy Budd is a Realtor for William Raveis in Wilton. For more information, contact Nancy at 203-984-8922 or at nancy.budd@raveis.com. Visit her website: nancybudd.com.
Nancy Budd is proud to support community news & Wilton Daily Voice.

Visit raveis.com to learn more.


Moving With Your Furry Friends

May is “National Moving Month”. It marks the official beginning of the moving season, a four-month period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when millions of American families relocate. Most of us consider our pets to be members of the family. As a result, every possible measure should be taken to ensure the safety and comfort of all nonhuman family members during the upheaval of a relocation. Moving can be hard on everyone involved: adults, kids, and yes… even your pets! While your pet may not understand exactly what is going on, they can sense the stress that the whole family is experiencing. Add to that the fact that animals are creatures of habit and do not like changes to their usual routine, and you can understand why they become confused. Your pets can also become quite anxious when all of a sudden, they see their human family busily throwing everything around them into boxes. Animals, just like people, can behave rather badly when under stress, so please remember that we need to do all we can to help them feel secure throughout the moving process. Before your moving truck arrives be sure to get your records from the Vetrinarian and ask him or her for a referral to a new vet in the community where you are moving.
Once you have moved try scoping out area dog parks and walking trails that you can enjoy with your pet. Your pet will be king (or queen!) of your new home in no time. IMG_0403

Happy Earth Day Connecticut

HAPPY EARTH DAY. Its our earth, lets protect it!

Are you emptying a home or downsizing? Here is a great service. @bestbuy offers a directory—organized by state—to help you dispose & #recycle#electronics & large #appliances responsibly, and at no charge to you.


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