The best season

I like the cooler days and cooler nights.  While it’s sad to say goodbye to summer, fall in North Carolina is beautiful.  The trees begin to turn color and drop their leaves; ushering in a mild winter (a yankee perspective). 

A new homeowner recently asked me about preparing for the winter months.  I reflected on my experiences and researched for additional ideas.  These are some items that I came up with:


-Change furnace filters and test furnace.

-Check weatherstripping and door bottoms for air leaks. This has year round benefits.

-Install programmable thermostat(s) and set times for most efficient use.

-Fireplace. If gas, test gas logs and make sure there are fresh batteries for the igniter if applicable. If wood burning, clean out ash and make sure damper is functioning. Not a bad time to clean the chimney. Close the damper if non-gas to prevent heat escape.

-Check water heater temperature. Most are set at 140 degrees by default. You may want to lower it.

-Reverse ceiling fans. Down for summer, up for winter. Helps circulate air.

-Close off rooms that are not used and shut the vents.


-Remove garden hose from outdoor faucet and drain the hose. If the valve is not frost free, shut off water on the inside and drain the valve.

-Install storm doors.

-Clean gutters after all leaves have fallen from trees.

-Drain sprinkler system.

-Store garden tools and cover and store outdoor furniture.

-Consider a deck treatment if it needs it. Winter can be hard on exposed wood.

-Address fall landscaping needs such as pruning, mulching, and leaf removal.

-Purchase snow shovel and bag of sand. If you buy driveway ice melter, be sure it’s safe for your driveway.


-Purchase extra gas for grill. Can cook on this if the electric stove is not working. Optionally, can use camping stove or Sterno/alcohol fondue pot for emergency cooking.

-Extra flashlights and batteries.

-Down blankets or thick comforters to stay warm in bed or lounging.

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

Albert Camus


Thermofoil cabinet repairs

Thermofoil – What is it?

As the name might imply, this is not a metal product. This is a type of finish that is applied to cabinetry, usually over a fiberboard base. It’s a thin vinyl material with an adhesive back that is introduced into vacuum and “fuses” it onto the substrate.

Pros and cons:

It is relatively inexpensive compared to other options, it looks good, and is easily maintained with soap and water. It does have some cons. It does not hold up well to heat, and from my experience (and others), it delaminates. Some of what I’ve read implies a 10 year life. In my opinion, this negates cost savings.

Delamination is apparent if the vinyl itself begins to peel away from the substrate. It may crack, it may not. It may bubble, it may not. Also, heat from cooking or an appliance can cause this as well. Generally speaking, it seems to just happen in random areas. Often what is peeling will continue to peel, and may peel from contact or attempted repairs.

Thermofoil cabinet repair options:

  • Repair by gluing. Thermofoil does not stick well with many glues such as wood glue. Many repairs have been made with contact cement. This is a solvent adhesive that is applied to both surfaces, allowed to dry, and then assembled. The challenge is keeping the sides separated long enough to allow each side to dry. The glue seems to dissolve the Thermofoil some, and while it does seem to hold, the finish is not as smooth (lumpy/bumpy).I’ve not read or experienced any repair longevity tests to comment on or even suggest warranting this type of repair.The other factor to consider here is the cost. While contact adhesive is inexpensive, the repairs are labor intensive. Cleaning the areas to be glued often releasing more of the Thermofoil, making an even larger repair necessary. As a “do-it-yourself” repair, a small bottle of contact adhesive, some time, and patience, may be worth a consideration as a budget solution.
  • Replace cabinet and door faces. With consideration of the time spent gluing, unknown longevity, and cosmetic issues with the repair, this may be a better choice. Be aware, this would only correct cabinet and door faces. Also, if replaced with Thermofoil, the risk is still there for peeling.
  • Cabinet replacement. While this may be the most expensive option, this would lend itself well to a kitchen or bath remodel/makeover/upgrade.




The dog days

Who doesn’t like summer?  Long, hot days.  Picnics.  Grilling out.  Vacation!  There’s plenty of fun for everyone.  It’s really hard to think about work when it’s so nice out.  As the day heats up, it’s even harder to get motivated for doing any work outside.  

One way to handle this is to work outside earlier in the morning.  The evening temperature drops, and the ground cools.  By early morning, it may be in the low 70’s…but not for long.  Early risers are rewarded by some of the best weather (in my opinion) in North Carolina. 

Depending on where you live, it may not be a great choice to mow the lawn at 6AM.  That’s OK, save that for last.  You can still get out there and work in the garden, sweep the deck, paint, stain, or dozens of other tasks that won’t bother the neighbors.  By 9AM, it’s still cooler, and you can finish up with the lawn if you have to.

Here’s a list of some of those outdoor summer maintenance ideas:

  • Clean the air conditioner and areas surrounding it
  • Inspect the deck or porch for repair needs
  • Clean the outdoor grill
  • Inspect the house for siding and trim damage
  • Clean the gutters
  • Check the outdoor faucets or sill cocks for leaks

“Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.”

Helen Keller



An early spring

When it comes to spring, what comes to mind?  Longer days?  Warmer temperatures?  Flowers?  Yes, of course!  How about cleaning?  I see more and more homes with beautiful garages that have become extended attic storage space.  Sadly, it’s all on the garage floor, leaving no room to park a car.

There are numerous way to organize the garage.  I always start with the cleaning part.  Get rid of things you don’t want or don’t need.  Having troubles with letting that go?  Maybe someone who really needs it can make good use of it.  Just sayin’.  

Once that’s done, consider some of the many options for wall or ceiling storage.  It’s truly amazing what a heavy duty set of shelves and a ceiling “loft system” can provide in storage.  As a bonus, you’ll have room to protect the cars from the elements and possible crime.

If the garage is already organized, move on to the attic, crawlspace, sheds, or even closets.  Your house may not be as small as you think!  

Here’s a list of some items to get you thinking about your spring “to-do” list:

  • Make sure lawn and garden equipment is ready to go
  • Check outdoor faucets for operation
  • Inspect deck for need of maintenance or coating
  • Review landscaping needs
  • Clean gutters and windows 

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!'”

Robin Williams



Baby, it’s cold outside

Winter is a great season for interior home maintenance. It’s a good time to clean out and organize closets.  If you’re adventurous, why not go after the attic while it’s not 100+ degrees up there.  If you have items to donate, try to get those in before the end of December to use for taxes.  

Maybe you’re not into organizing, or maybe that’s already done.  How about some interior painting?  If whole-house is overwhelming, just start with a single room.  A new color can dramatically change the look of your home.  

Here’s a list to get you thinking about some of those items to add to your “to-do” list:


  • Reverse ceiling fan direction
  • Check the furnace filter(s)
  • Install a programmable thermostat
  • Make sure garden hoses are drained and stored inside
  • Check for door and window drafts
  • Make sure the crawlspace vents are closed
  • Pick up a bag of ice melter for the sidewalk and driveway 

“One of the best gifts you can give to an animal is a donation of a blanket to your local animal shelter during the winter months.”

Carrie Ann Inaba