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Renovation & Design

Baking soda and vinegar will make washing machine sparkle

Question: Do you have a homemade solution for cleaning a front-loading washing machine? Betty

Answer: It is a good idea to check the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning the machine. My favourite solution is to pour half cup of baking soda along with four-cups of white vinegar into the machine. Run the machine with a load of towels. Washing soda as a substitute for baking soda will leave you with an even better finish, but it is sometimes difficult to find in stores.

Question: What can I do to reduce the frizz and static of my hair during winter months? Thank you, Louise

Answer: Using a piece of aluminum foil, smooth your hair. You can also use a fabric softener sheet in the same manner. Extra tip: If your fabrics are clinging to you, swipe them with a wire hanger.

Question: Is a ceiling fan meant to cool or heat a room? When purchasing a fan what should I look for in terms of blade length?

Answer: A good quality ceiling fan can cool a room, eight degrees or more, not by lowering the temperature of the room, but by making the room feel cooler. In the same way, when a fan is reversed the room will feel warmer because as the air is distributed, hot air rises.

Fan blades should be between 52 and 42 inches. The larger the room, the longer the blades should be.

Feedback worth noting

Re: Make boxed pancakes taste homemade

I never use boxed pancakes because I have a super easy recipe used by my whole family. I love fluffy pancakes and have three tips. Don’t over stir the batter when mixing, and let the batter sit for a few minutes so the baking powder starts working. Try not to disturb the batter too much when scooping it out onto your preheated griddle.

Jean’s Fluffy Pancakes

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (or a combination of white and whole wheat)

3 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3 tbsp. sugar

1 egg

1 1/4 cups milk

3 tbsp. melted butter or vegetable oil

1/4 tsp. vanilla

Stir flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together. Beat egg thoroughly, add milk. Make a well in the centre of dry ingredients; slowly add the egg-milk mixture. Add melted butter and vanilla. Stir quickly until ingredients are just mixed and batter is still lumpy in appearance. Drop by one quarter cup onto the hot griddle. Cook until pancakes are filled with bubbles and under surface is golden brown. Flip and brown bottom.

We usually cook a double batch, so we have some for freezing and toasting. My grandkids enjoyed these as smaller (silver dollar) pancakes made by their parents. An easy start to toddler breakfast on busy mornings. — Jean

Bring on the Holiday Decorating!

I use zip ties or clothes pins to hang Christmas lights outside. They are cheap, easy to use and don’t leave marks. — Elmer

I utilize garden tomato cages decorated with mini-Christmas lights. I turn them upside down so that they look like mini trees. I have them, why not use them to line my entire driveway? — Marge

Use old Christmas decorations and secure them to an old sweater, to create your entry into an ugly Christmas sweater competition. — Louise

Use pieces of cheap orange, black and red construction paper to decorate your white fridge to look like a snowman. — Louise

In the bathroom, pile three rolls of towel paper, one on top of the other. Place a toque on the top roll. Glue eyes, and an orange nose onto the top roll, to look like a snowman. Cut out black circles for the buttons and the mouth, glue them to the rolls. Use pipe cleaner for the arms. — Louise

Tie one red ribbon, the length of your door, and one ribbon around the width of the door to intersect in the middle. Add a giant bow in the middle to look like a wrapped gift. This inexpensive and easy trick makes a really, big showstopper. — Adam

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Have a great suggestion or tip? Email reenanerbas@outlook.com

Reena Nerbas
December 3

Renovation & Design

The gift of flowers

Colleen Zacharias
December 3

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Renovation & Design

The gift of flowers

Colleen Zacharias
December 3

Renovation & Design

Baking soda and vinegar will make washing machine sparkle

Question: Do you have a homemade solution for cleaning a front-loading washing machine? Betty

Answer: It is a good idea to check the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning the machine. My favourite solution is to pour half cup of baking soda along with four-cups of white vinegar into the machine. Run the machine with a load of towels. Washing soda as a substitute for baking soda will leave you with an even better finish, but it is sometimes difficult to find in stores.

Question: What can I do to reduce the frizz and static of my hair during winter months? Thank you, Louise

Answer: Using a piece of aluminum foil, smooth your hair. You can also use a fabric softener sheet in the same manner. Extra tip: If your fabrics are clinging to you, swipe them with a wire hanger.

Question: Is a ceiling fan meant to cool or heat a room? When purchasing a fan what should I look for in terms of blade length?

Answer: A good quality ceiling fan can cool a room, eight degrees or more, not by lowering the temperature of the room, but by making the room feel cooler. In the same way, when a fan is reversed the room will feel warmer because as the air is distributed, hot air rises.

Fan blades should be between 52 and 42 inches. The larger the room, the longer the blades should be.

Feedback worth noting

Re: Make boxed pancakes taste homemade

I never use boxed pancakes because I have a super easy recipe used by my whole family. I love fluffy pancakes and have three tips. Don’t over stir the batter when mixing, and let the batter sit for a few minutes so the baking powder starts working. Try not to disturb the batter too much when scooping it out onto your preheated griddle.

Jean’s Fluffy Pancakes

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (or a combination of white and whole wheat)

3 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3 tbsp. sugar

1 egg

1 1/4 cups milk

3 tbsp. melted butter or vegetable oil

1/4 tsp. vanilla

Stir flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together. Beat egg thoroughly, add milk. Make a well in the centre of dry ingredients; slowly add the egg-milk mixture. Add melted butter and vanilla. Stir quickly until ingredients are just mixed and batter is still lumpy in appearance. Drop by one quarter cup onto the hot griddle. Cook until pancakes are filled with bubbles and under surface is golden brown. Flip and brown bottom.

We usually cook a double batch, so we have some for freezing and toasting. My grandkids enjoyed these as smaller (silver dollar) pancakes made by their parents. An easy start to toddler breakfast on busy mornings. — Jean

Bring on the Holiday Decorating!

I use zip ties or clothes pins to hang Christmas lights outside. They are cheap, easy to use and don’t leave marks. — Elmer

I utilize garden tomato cages decorated with mini-Christmas lights. I turn them upside down so that they look like mini trees. I have them, why not use them to line my entire driveway? — Marge

Use old Christmas decorations and secure them to an old sweater, to create your entry into an ugly Christmas sweater competition. — Louise

Use pieces of cheap orange, black and red construction paper to decorate your white fridge to look like a snowman. — Louise

In the bathroom, pile three rolls of towel paper, one on top of the other. Place a toque on the top roll. Glue eyes, and an orange nose onto the top roll, to look like a snowman. Cut out black circles for the buttons and the mouth, glue them to the rolls. Use pipe cleaner for the arms. — Louise

Tie one red ribbon, the length of your door, and one ribbon around the width of the door to intersect in the middle. Add a giant bow in the middle to look like a wrapped gift. This inexpensive and easy trick makes a really, big showstopper. — Adam

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Have a great suggestion or tip? Email reenanerbas@outlook.com

Reena Nerbas
December 3

Renovation & Design

Lower relative humidity in home to reduce moisture

Questions: I was hoping you would be able to guide me through my current home dilemma. Recently, my husband was looking behind our TV stand, thinking something had been shoved behind it. He noted that the flooring behind the stand was covered in moisture. To give you some perspective, the TV stand sits against an exterior wall of the house. There are no windows on this wall. The moisture appears to only sit near where the floor meets the wall, directly under the TV. We’ve wiped it and dried it as best as we can, but the moisture appears to return. I’m certain it’s linked to the cold weather. I haven’t noticed the issue near any other wall, and the wall on the outside seems unchanged. The inside humidity is sitting around 50 per cent. What could this be caused by and how do I stop it from happening? Thanks, Ash.

Answer: Moisture inside a home with no apparent reason is almost certainly caused by condensation of air in the home, when it contacts a surface cold enough to condense. The key to eliminating this issue is to maintain a lower relative humidity in the home, and better air circulation, to prevent this from reoccurring.

Despite answering an inquiry of a similar nature from a reader about a month ago, I felt this issue was so important to understand the mechanism behind the mysterious moisture, that I would address it again. The issue of condensation related moisture is definitely increasing in our homes, due to better tightening of the building enclosure, and greater efforts toward energy efficiency. The more airtight our homes become the more issues related to our indoor environment become prevalent.

To start this discussion, we should first address the scientific principles behind indoor air humidity issues. These basic facts tell us that the higher the amount of dissolved moisture in the air, the less temperature drop is needed for it to condense. This is often described as the dew point, which is the temperature at which water vapour will precipitate out from the air. So, a higher relative humidity (RH) inside the home will require a smaller temperature drop, or higher dew point, to form condensation on a colder surface. Maintaining lower RH in the indoor air will make condensation more infrequent, as much colder surfaces will be required for it to happen.

In our homes our daily routines produce a significant amount of moisture that becomes dissolved in the indoor air. This includes cooking, bathing, drying clothes, breathing, cleaning, and other normal daily activities. In older homes, with minimal insulation, poorly sealed windows and doors, and limited air/vapour barriers, this humid air would leak out to the exterior environment. Also, it would normally be replaced with colder, dryer air, which would leak in through the building enclosure in much the same manner. This replacement air, combined with the exfiltration of the humid air, will lower the indoor moisture content of the air. This will lower the RH in the home, preventing excess moisture issues.

In newer homes, or older homes that have been retrofitted with new windows and doors, increased attic and wall insulation, new furnaces, and other upgrades, the building enclosure no longer lets air in and out easily. Because of this, much more of the moisture produced by the occupants stays in the air, significantly raising the RH. As stated above, a higher RH raises the dewpoint, allowing condensation on a surface that is closer to the normal indoor temperature. For your home, this is the cold exterior wall or floor behind the TV stand. That area may be cooler because that location is letting in some cold air infiltration, or simply because it in contact with the cold outside environment. So, when the warm house air hits the floor or wall in that location, it reaches the dew point and condensation occurs on the cold surfaces. That may be happening in other areas, but the moisture may be easily reabsorbed into the air if there is good circulation. Because your cabinet is near the wall, there is limited air circulation, allowing the condensation to remain until it becomes problematic.

One part of the solution may be to pull the TV stand away from the exterior wall, to allow better airflow between the colder wall and the furniture. This may also warm the surfaces slightly, helping to prevent the condensation. Taking off the baseboard and caulking or blowing foam insulation into any gaps between the floor and wall plate can also help by preventing cold air leakage from outside. But, the main course of action to prevent the problem is to lower the RH in the indoor air. Fifty percent RH is way too high in the heating season, at normal room temperature. You will surely see water vapour on your windows in that situation, as well as other areas. Lowering the RH to a normal range of 30 – 35 percent in winter will significantly reduce the chance of a reoccurrence. This can often be accomplished by extended use of exhaust fans and the kitchen range hood, as long as they are all functioning and vented to the exterior. In more serious situations, installation of a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) with a dehumidistat control will allow you to maintain the lower RH simply be setting it accordingly.

Preventing moisture from accumulating behind your TV stand can be accomplished by lowering the RH in the home, which will improve the indoor air quality, overall. Sealing any drafty areas in the outside wall and moving the cabinet away from the wall will also improve air circulation, aiding quick evaporation and reabsorption of any small amounts of condensation that may occur before it causes damage.

Ari Marantz is the owner of Trained Eye Home Inspection Ltd. and a Registered Home Inspector (RHI)(cahpi.ca). Questions can be emailed to the address below. Ari can be reached at 204-291-5358 or check out his website at trainedeye.ca.

trainedeye@iname.com

Ari Marantz
December 3

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