Blog Posts by This Old House Magazine

  • 3 Things You Need to Know About Air Conditioning

    AC Know-HowAC Know-HowAh, the sweet relief of a cool, dry house after a hot, sweaty afternoon of yard work. Like any mechanical system, AC needs a little TLC to run smoothly, including many tasks you can tackle on your own. We asked This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey to share his know-how for central air and window units.

    SEE ALL: Everything You Need to Know About Air Conditioning




    1. You've got to change the filter
    Dirty filters kill your AC's efficiency, so install a new one every month during the cooling season for central and window units (or clean them if you've got the washable type). Look for the filter's minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV, which ranges from 1 to 12 for home AC units; the higher the number, the better filtration it provides (and the more energy needed to pull air through it, so balance air-quality concerns with energy costs).

    2. It would serve you well to fix air leaks
    Ducts can lose up to 30 percent of airflow through leaks, and window AC units

    Read More »from 3 Things You Need to Know About Air Conditioning
  • Must-Have Tools for Every Skill Level

    Father's day weekend is upon us! Is YOUR dad covered when it comes to must-have tools? Check his inventory against our must-have lists for the beginner, semi-skilled, and experienced DIYer-dad. Just remember that no experienced DIYer's kit is complete unless it contains the tools from the beginner and semi-skilled collections!
    Tool ListTool List
    See the full list here!

    Beginner Skill Level: You can fix almost anything with some basic hand tools.
    Screwdriver SetScrewdriver Set
    1. Screwdriver Set. We recommend this set from Stanley Tools

    2. Tape Measure. We recommend this model from Stanley Tools
    Tool BoxTool Box
    3. Toolbox. We recommend this model from Ace Hardware

    4. Hammer. We recommend this smooth-faced claw model from Plumb

    5. Duct Tape. We recommend this kind from Gorilla Glue

    6. Flashlight. We recommend this model from Snap-On

    7. Set of Pliers. We recommend this set from Channel Lock

    8. Utility Knife. We recommend this model from Stanley Tools
    Putty KnifePutty Knife
    9. Putty Knife. We recommend this model from Hyde Tools

    10. Handsaw. We recommend this model from

    Read More »from Must-Have Tools for Every Skill Level
  • 5 DIY Curb Appeal Before and Afters

    When it comes to our homes, there eventually comes a time when we all need to invest in a face-lift. Whether it was simply a fresh coat of paint, or an entire external revamp, you all showed us that there's a lot of hard work, dedication, and pride that comes with being the best-looking house on the block. Here is a look at the top picks for curb-appeal remodels in our fifth-annual Reader Remodel Contest, chosen by the editors at This Old House.

    See ALL our favorite curb appeal before and afters from the 2012 Reader Remodel contest at ThisOldHouse.com!

    1. Before: The Winner! A Colorful Queen Anne Restoration
    The WinnerThe Winner
    Who: Diana K.
    Where: Bloomington, IL

    She wanted to preserve this 1894 Queen Anne house, for which demolition was imminent. In order to do that, she purchased and moved the house to a vacant double lot in 2004.

    After: The Winner! A Colorful Queen Anne Restoration
    The WinnerThe Winner
    She and her family successfully restored the house to its 1894 appearance, and we have created an authentic landscape

    Read More »from 5 DIY Curb Appeal Before and Afters
  • Best Ways to Beat the Heat This Summer

    beat the heat this summerbeat the heat this summerNo, it's not your imagination-it definitely is getting hotter. The eight warmest years on record occurred over the past decade. And it's only going to get more brutal; all sources say that Summer 2012 is going to be a real scorcher. But staying cool this summer doesn't necessarily mean you have to pay a fortune to keep the air-conditioning running day and night. Here are a few tweaks-most costing less than $25 to complete-that will keep you comfortable and cut the typical $1,000 cooling bill by as much as half. What's needed to get the temperature to drop? Only a little time and a few changes in your routine. Keep reading to learn more.


    SEE ALL: Top 10 Ways to Beat the Heat

    Tip 1: Install a Programmable Thermostat

    A programmable thermostat lets you preset temperatures for different times of the day, so air-conditioning is working only when you are home. The least expensive thermostat models ($30) let you set four cycles that, unless manually overridden, repeat every day.

    Read More »from Best Ways to Beat the Heat This Summer
  • Disasters that Can Hit Your House While You're on Vacation (and How You Can Avoid Them)

    Vacation DisastersVacation DisastersA summer getaway is supposed to be a time for rest and relaxation. But if your heart is on vacation while your head is worrying about home, you won't get much out of your time off. That's why we've brought you this handy guide of some bad things that can befall your house when you leave it alone. Don't fret-we also share with you expert advice on how to avoid these pitfalls. That way, you can take off worry-free, and know that there will still be a house standing when you pull back into the drive. -Jeanne Baron, thisoldhouse.com

    SEE ALL: Top 10 Disasters That Can Hit Your House While You're on Vacation

    House Fires. One of summer's many lightning storms can start a fire, and with no one to call 911 it can take out a whole house. The best defense, says TOH general contractor Tom Silva, is lightning rods. "This is not by any means a homeowner job," he warns. "You need a pro to install them." Any highly placed metal protrusion on your house should be grounded, in fact, including weather

    Read More »from Disasters that Can Hit Your House While You're on Vacation (and How You Can Avoid Them)
  • Get Your Grill Ready for Barbecue Season

    Memorial Day BarbecueMemorial Day Barbecue

    Nothing announces the arrival of summer like firing up the grill. Unfortunately, nothing sours a summer party faster than a grill that won't light, smokes too much, or cooks unevenly.

    Don't get caught with your tongs down! Before the season really heats up, give your barbecue an annual checkup. Follow our how-to advice to get your grill up to snuff for the big Memorial Day cookout.

    SEE EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR GRILL AT THISOLDHOUSE.COM


    Deep-Clean Your Cooker

    A charred coating on a grate doesn't add flavor, it's just dirt, says Barry "C.B." Martin, Char-Broil's CGO-that's chief grilling officer. Any shiny black flakes on the underside of the hood are unlikely to be chipping paint; they're burned-on residue, a fire risk. Here, Martin's step-by-step for gunk removal.

    The Interior: Dry-scrub crud from grates, burners, and inside surfaces with a nonscratch sponge or a nylon brush. You can even use an emery cloth or a wire brush on uncoated steel or

    Read More »from Get Your Grill Ready for Barbecue Season
  • 3 Surprising Ways Your House is Making You Fat

    11 Ways Your House is Making You Fat11 Ways Your House is Making You FatDid you know that your weight gain might be less about your willpower and more about how you've decorated your home? Factors like the colors of your walls, how you store your food, or whether your bedroom is comfortable enough can all contribute to your eating habits and stress levels. Read on to learn about the dozen ways your home could be tricking you into chowing down and gaining weight.

    SEE ALL: 11 Ways Your House is Making You Fat at thisoldhouse.com

    1. You Painted The Dining Room Red

    According to the Pantone Color Institute, the color red increases blood pressure, heart rate, and appetite. Yellow increases energy, happiness, and-you guessed it-appetite. If any of the rooms in your house are painted in the warm colors of red, orange, or yellow-especially the kitchen or dining room-you are subliminally urging yourself to eat more.

    On the other hand, the color blue has been shown to be an appetite suppressant. Because blue rarely occurs as food in nature (more often

    Read More »from 3 Surprising Ways Your House is Making You Fat
  • 5 Outdoor Furniture Pieces to Build and Enjoy All Summer

    Lounging on the patio, deck, or in the yard will be even more satisfying if you've built the furniture! See these 5 great projects from ThisOldHouse.com!

    1. Classic Westport Chair
    Westport ChairWestport Chair
    You know the Adirondack chair. What you may not have known is that the ubiquitous lawn lounger is based on an earlier design like this one-less refined, more rustic-called the Westport chair.

    Thomas Lee was bent on comfort when he built the original, back in 1903, and the hallmarks of that vision remain. A deeply pitched seat and slanted back practically demand that you recline, and gratuitously wide arms easily host a good read and a cool drink, not to mention a lazy limb.
    See how to build it!

    See also: 28 Easy Summer Weekend Projects

    2. Adirondack Chair
    Adirondack ChairAdirondack Chair
    Anyone who's ever sat in the low-slung seat of an Adirondack chair and sunk into the curve of the fanned back knows there's no cushion-free seat like it. The beauty of the Adirondack chair--which takes its name from the New York mountain camps that

    Read More »from 5 Outdoor Furniture Pieces to Build and Enjoy All Summer
  • Colorful Living Room Ideas

    Who said you have to keep things neutral? Your living room isn't Switzerland-there's no need to play it safe. If you like it loud, don't be shy about turning it up. That's right, go ahead and hoist a flag in your favorite hue, no matter how bright. And a coat of paint is the quickest route to a bright space. Pick the color that floats your boat the most, whether it's marigold, pomegranate, cobalt, or emerald. Sound hard to pull off? Take a look at this gallery to see some of our favorite vibrant gathering spaces, which might just inspire you to take your own living room from comatose to colorful.

    By: Penelope Wood



    Lucky StripesLucky Stripes
    Lucky Stripes


    If you love bright colors but can't narrow it down to one, try painting your wall with stripes of all of your favorite hues.

    See More of Our Favorite Colorful Living Rooms


    Also See: Add a Pop of Color With Wainscot Stripes







    So ShockingSo Shocking
    So Shocking


    Love pink? Don't be shy about it: paint your gathering space in your best and brightest.

    See More of Our Favorite Colorful

    Read More »from Colorful Living Room Ideas
  • 5 Spring Weekend Yard and Garden Upgrades

    Take advantage of the warmer weather and spruce up your outdoor space!

    1. Build a Pyramid Trellis
    Pyramid TrellisPyramid Trellis
    Whether you call it a pyramid, an obelisk, or a tuteur trellis, this distinctive garden structure is a hallmark of cottage style. Trellises have a long history of supporting climbing and vining plants, and the tapered, freestanding version shown here remains a fixture of many an English garden, where it gives clematis and other flowering climbers a sturdy platform and a chance at sun. But we wouldn't fault you for using a trellis in a purely decorative way, either. See step-by-step how to build one!

    Related: Flowers that Climb

    2. Lay a Stepping-Stone Path
    Stepping Stone PathStepping Stone Path
    A pathway made of stone pavers is a great way to save your lawn from being trampled and compacted by foot traffic. And it certainly is an easy, one-day project for most DIYers. The hardest parts of the process are the labor of mixing the wet stone dust that serves as the pavers' base and then lifting and moving the stones. See

    Read More »from 5 Spring Weekend Yard and Garden Upgrades

Pagination

(373 Stories)