You’ve decided it’s time to replace your windows (or you are building a house and need to order new windows.) Deciding which windows to purchase can be an overwhelming process. I’m here to help.

Do You Need New Windows? Things to Consider Before You Buy

Do I Need New Windows?

Recently, I found myself on the path to purchase new windows for the Saving Etta Project and found the options to be numerous and confusing. There are many things to consider when purchasing new windows. Today, I want to discuss them all with you. Before we begin, I have to warn you, I’m a bit of a window snob. To me, nothing is more beautiful than original true divided light window. (Of course, beautiful window trim and pediments help too.)

Do I Need New Windows/

But, in today’s quest to be more energy efficient and save money on the electric bill, I completely understand the need for new windows. Many of my neighbors have replaced their windows with retrofit vinyl windows for energy efficiency and for ease of use. I used to think I could spot an inexpensive replacement window a mile away (okay, maybe not that far, but definitely from across the street.) But, my eyes have been opened to the options for replacement windows that look beautiful and stylish.

Personally, I have installed Ply Gem windows in my own home, and have been very happy with how they look and operate. Therefore, when Ply Gem reached out to me about being a sponsor for the Saving Etta project, I was familiar with their windows and knew they produce quality windows with attention to detail.

The icing on the cake with Ply Gem is their larger philanthropic campaign, the Home for Good project started in 2016 to help raise awareness of the critical need for affordable houseing. In addition to building new homes across the country, the project also helps homeowners stay in their existing homes by providing much needed repairs and renovations to houses in disrepair. Locally, Ply Gem worked with the Habitat for Humanity’s Neighborhood Revitalization program to identify local homeowners who were in need of exterior renovations and repairs. Not only does Ply Gem manufacture top quality windows and many other exterior products, but they give back to communities in need. (You can read more about the Home for Good Project I volunteered with here.) Which is why I agreed to bring Ply Gem on as a Saving Etta sponsor.

Regardless of the brand you choose for your new windows, it’s helpful to know some of the terminology and what to consider when it’s time to buy.

Replacement (retrofit windows) vs. New Construction Windows (full frame windows)

For simplicity, replacement windows are typically installed inside existing window frames. The trim, siding, and window frame are not disturbed during installation (making it a quicker and cheaper way to replace an existing window.) On the flip side, new construction windows are installed directly into a rough opening and secured to the exterior of the house walls. New construction windows have a nail fin frame for securing the window to the outside of the window opening. After installation, the window trim and siding is installed over the nail fin.

If you have old windows, you can purchase either retrofit replacement windows or new construction windows. (However, the amount of work needed to install new construction may cost you more money in labor because the house trim, interior window casing, and frame has to be removed first.)

Do I Need New Windows - Construction Windows vs. Replacement Window

As you can see from the photos above, if you purchase quality windows, you may not be able to tell the difference between new construction or replacement windows. (I’ll show you how to choose better looking replacement windows in a few.)

Cheap vs. Quality Windows:

You’ve heard the saying, “you get what you pay for”, right? If you purchase cheap windows, you may have to replace them in the near future. Quality starts by choosing a window manufacturer that has been making windows for decades. For example, Ply Gem has been making windows for over 70 years!

What I dislike about cheap replacement windows:

  1. Wider window stiles (the vertical frames of the window sashes.) – A wider stile means you may have less glass area translating to less natural light in your house.
  2. Flat grilles inbetween the glass. – Okay, I know they are easy to clean, but they lose the beautiful dimension of true divided light grilles.
  3. Cheap construction. – Some cheap windows have sloppy construction (for example: thick caulked seams on the corners.) Poor quality construction can result in a leak of the gas between the panes as they age. A leak shows up when you experience a permanently fogged window. Other signs of a cheap window, are ones that fail to operate after a few years of use.

Is there an alternative to cheap replacement windows?

YES! You can purchase more attractive and better constructed replacement windows. You also have additional options:

  1. Keep your old windows and install storm windows to improve energy efficiency.
  2. Purchase quality replacement windows like Ply Gem’s 2000 Double Hung, Premium, and Pro Replacement Windows with a wider variety of grilles to choose from.
  3. Purchase a quality new construction window, and consider installing it yourself to offset the cost of higher quality windows and the additional labor.

If you like this last option, consider a new construction window with simulated divided light windows like Ply Gem’s Mira windows (shown below in the SDL styles.)

Plygem Mira grill options

This is a close up view of the Mira Window grille with the 7/8″ Simulated Divided Light grilles.

Do I Need New Windows?

Things to consider when adding a new window:

With all these things to consider, you may find the decision making overwhelming.

Trust me, I know the feeling! The day I realized I couldn’t save Etta’s old windows, my head was swimming with options.

Before you ask why I couldn’t keep them, there were many factors pointing to replacing the original windows:

  1. They were in rough shape and some of the panes had been replaced with plexiglass.
  2. They had lead paint and there were many layers of paint to strip before I could repaint.
  3. They did not have window weights. (They were never built with any. Which meant if you opened the window you had to put a stick underneath to hold it open.)
  4. The last factor was related to the noise level. Etta is on a busy street with a bus route. Traffic noise during rush hour and an occasional rumbling bus going by are everyday occurrences.

As a quality builder, I knew it was best to replace those old windows with new energy efficient, and sound dampening windows. Once I decided between new construction and replacement windows, there were a few other things to consider.

Things you need to consider when ordering new windows:

  1. Are there any building codes to address?
    1. Does the window meet egress standards for a bedroom?
    2. Is the window in a location that requires tempered glass?
    3. How far is the window from the ground? (Does it need to have a safety stop?)
    4. Do you need a permit to replace your windows?
  2. How will the window open?
    1. Double hung
    2. Single hung
    3. Non-opening
    4. Casement opening
  3. Do you need a privacy window?
    1. Frosted
    2. Textured
    3. Integrated blinds
  4. Do you want screens for your window?
  5. Will the style match the rest of your windows or style of the house?

Now that you’ve learned some of the basic terms and considerations, you are ready to seek out a place to order windows. Besides window installation companies, you can get help ordering windows from a general contractor, home improvement store, a building supply warehouse, or from the manufacturer. Be sure to discuss your specific window needs and desires. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. And be wary of any company that takes your money without showing you a sample of the style window you are ordering.

Coming up next week: How to Install a New Window.

Disclosure: This post is a sponsored post for Ply Gem. It was written as part of their sponsorship of the Saving Etta project. I was not told what to write. All words and opinions are my own. I am very particular about the brands I work with, and only partner with companies that provide quality materials and/or services. 

If you liked this post, you’ll definitely appreciate this article on How to Choose a New Roof:

How is Drywall Made and What is Purple Drywall?How is Drywall Made and What is Purple Drywall?

Watching how drywall is made may sound akin to watching paint dry, but let me tell you that couldn’t be further from the truth! It is a very cool process to observe! Plus, I’m about to rock your world by sharing how Purple drywall can change your home for the better. Last month I had the honor of touring one of the National Gypsum manufacturing plants to learn about Purple drywall and how drywall is manufactured. After the experience, I have a whole new appreciation for drywall.

This is a sponsored post for Ask For Purple, a National Gypsum line of products. 

How is Drywall Made and What is Purple Drywall?

I never thought about how drywall is manufactured, and I bet you never did either. But, now that I know, it’s one of the coolest things I’ve watched being made. Drywall starts with a natural product called gypsum.

How is Drywall Made and What is Purple Drywall?

Some gypsum is harvested from quarries, but a large portion is actually a by product from coal burning power plants. Instead of the by product being discarded, National Gypsum uses it in drywall. This is just one way National Gypsum thinks green. They have been using recycled paper for their products since the 1960’s! And there is one more way National Gypsum is working to protect the planet. National Gypsum has developed Purple drywall that is moisture, mold, and mildew resistant. This means less water and mold damage in homes keeping construction debris from landfills. In addition, within the line of Purple drywall products, are sheets that stand up to abuse and impact. This means any home that installs Purple drywall products may never have to replace the drywall. You’ll definitely want to read more about this revolutionary product further down the page. But, first, back to how drywall is made.

How is Drywall Made and What is Purple Drywall?

The rock you see above is gypsum rock. When crushed it turns into a powder. The powder is mixed with water, starch and …

How is Drywall Made and What is Purple Drywall?

… tiny fiberglass fibers to improve the strength of the core. In the old days, horse hair was used as a strengthener in plaster and other products.

How is Drywall Made and What is Purple Drywall?

This slurry is pumped out onto a giant conveyor belt where it is sandwiched between two sheets. During the tour, we were handed a fresh cup of slurry as it was pumped out onto the drywall paper. As we walked along the super long conveyor belt, the slurry heated up and solidified within two minutes. (If you’ve ever used plaster of paris, it hardens through a similar chemical reaction.) Once the gypsum is hardened enough, the sheets are flipped over (wall side up to prevent damage) as they head into the heated dryers to fully dry for about 45 minutes.

After the sheets dry and harden, they continue on a series of conveyors until they are eventually cut to final size and banded together with a second sheet of drywall. The finished sheets are stacked up until the stack is complete. Several forklifts run a non-stop choreographed dance back and forth picking up the stacks of drywall and delivering them for storage or shipping. It was a sight to see!

I didn’t take any videos and photos inside the plant, but you can view this How It’s Made video showing the manufacturing process for making drywall.

In the video, you get a feel for the magnitude of the equipment, but I bet you didn’t realize the plant is a mile long! The most incredible thing about the plant tour is how few people work at one time. Less than 15 people work on the floor at a time! Remember when I said the plant was a mile long? The size of the plant and the number of people working in it seems disproportionate. It was impressive to watch the entire process.

What’s with that Purple Drywall?

How is Drywall Made and What is Purple Drywall?

I’m sure you’ve noticed that stack of purple drywall at your local home improvement store. In the past, I looked at it, then reached for the less expensive sheets thinking they were the same. Boy was I wrong! After learning about the difference between Purple XP® drywall and regular, I will be choosing Purple from now on. Why?

In one picture, this is why:

How is Drywall Made and What is Purple Drywall?

Those black spots on the floor, ceiling, and drywall are black mold. If it was just on the linoleum, it could be cleaned. Once mold grows in drywall the only remedy is to remove and trash it. I don’t even want to think about how many tons of drywall waste goes into the landfill because it got wet or grew mold.

There is a solution to the problem: Purple XP® drywall products! They are moisture, mold, and mildew resistant. It makes sense to spend a few extra dollars to insure your walls will last longer and won’t secretly harbor allergens or harmful mold.

How is Drywall Made and What is Purple Drywall?

Did you know regular drywall begins growing mold and mildew within 24 hours of water exposure. The Purple drywall will resist moisture and prevent mold growth. I really wish I had known about Purple drywall when we had our kitchen leak. Had I learned about Purple drywall before that experience I would have insisted on Purple for the new drywall installed in the kitchen and laundry room.

Luckily we learn from our mistakes and I’ll be ordering a fair amount of Purple drywall for Etta (in full disclosure, National Gypsum will supply a portion of the drywall for my project as a Saving Etta sponsor.)

How is Drywall Made and What is Purple Drywall?

Moisture, mold, and mildew-resistance only scratches the surface (pun intended). What if I told you there was a drywall that resists dings, scratches, and daily abuse?

How is Drywall Made and What is Purple Drywall?

What you see above is the Hi-Abuse XP® drywall after being put to the test on a wire abrasion machine. The same machine dug deep into the traditional drywall. Amazing, right! This is a game changer for those of us living with little wall destroying monsters (I mean lovable children.)

For those larger wall destroying monsters (think teenagers, college students, and frat houses), there’s a drywall for them too! Wall-punching party animals meet Hi-Impact XP®!

The Hi-Impact XP drywall has webbing integrated into the drywall sheets that holds firm against just about anything. This is a game changer for many locations. Think about gyms, ski lodges, garages, and more. Any space that gets daily abuse can benefit from this wall board.

How is Drywall Made and What is Purple Drywall?

The folks at National Gypsum showed us a test where they released a 150 lb. dead weight against the Hi-Impact XP. The drywall cracked, but the weighted hammer could not break through. Anyone who has patched holes in drywall can tell you it’s a lot easier to repair a dent in drywall than a hole.

How is Drywall Made and What is Purple Drywall?

Finally, I’m super amped (another pun intended) to introduce you to SoundBreak XP! This is the drywall I wish they had when I lived in an old Philadelphia apartment building where I could hear every word spoken in the next apartment. In the summer I used to go nuts listening to the whomp, whomp, whomp sounds of an unbalanced ceiling fan in the next room as I tried to fall asleep. To everyone who ever wanted to reach through a wall and strangle your neighbor, I introduce to you SoundBreak XP®:

How is Drywall Made and What is Purple Drywall?

See those two layers? There is a viscoelastic membrane that separates the two and does an amazing job at blocking noise.

How is Drywall Made and What is Purple Drywall?

For those of you that are near tears right now because you don’t want to replace your drywall, dry those eyes. Here’s your hero:

SoundBreak XP Retrofit® is designed to be added on top of your existing walls. At only 5/16″ thick, it’s easy to secure to your existing drywall (after removing switch and outlet covers) and reduce noise immediately. I would have invested in this product for certain back in my apartment dwelling days.

I hope you learned more about Purple drywall and have the information to make informed choices during your next remodel or if you are investing in a new house. By the way, should you need help figuring out how much drywall you’ll need for that project, the AskForPURPLE site has a Material calculator to help you figure out how much drywall you need.

How is Drywall Made and What is Purple Drywall?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for National Gypsum and Ask for Purple. I was compensated for my time and travel. I was not told what to say, all opinions are my own. As always I only work with brands that I would use myself.

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How is Drywall Made and What is Purple Drywall?

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How to Patch Holes in Drywall

Saving Etta exterior color decisionsExterior Paint Color Scheme at Saving Etta

Things are moving along on the house. I know I owe you another Saving Etta chapter. Please know it’s on my to do list. The past two weeks have been absolutely insane. My electrician, plumber, and HVAC contractors have been putting in lots of hours in the 95 F degree heat to get everything installed and ready for the rough in inspection. I’ve spent numerous hours up and down the ladders helping my electrician with marking light locations and nailing nail plates. As things progress, I am forced to make decisions quickly. Right now it’s time to get the siding up on the house — which means it will be time to choose the exterior color paint scheme for Etta. I can’t believe she will be beautiful again soon.

I’m extremely excited to be working with Magnolia Paint by KILZ as a Saving Etta sponsor. I had the opportunity to meet Chip & Joanna Gaines and try their new paint line last February in Waco, Texas. While there, I fell in love with the Magnolia chalk style paint. It’s thick, smooth, and has great coverage. I can’t wait to use it again on a small project (when I have more free time.)

At the Magnolia Home paint event, I enjoyed talking to one of the KILZ chemical scientists about my favorite interior wall paints and what I look for in a quality paint. I was pleased to find out that the Magnolia Paint Interior Paint offers the same Low-VOC, thick stain coverage, and durability I demand in paint. I’ve been itching to really put these paints to the test, and now I can because I have a whole house interior to paint!

Truth be told, the exterior house colors were ones I’ve been thinking about for a long time. But, I wanted to share with you some of the Photoshop sketches I created for the house so you can let me know your favorites.

I am very partial to the simple white house with a light blue door. Although this is my favorite combo, there is a real rivalry between NC State (Red & White colors) and University of North Carolina (Carolina Blue & White) in our area. In other words, this color scheme would appeal to a UNC fan, but an NC State fan would never be caught dead owning a house with a light blue door. So, I’m leaning toward some other color schemes:

I have always wanted to use orange as a front door color. I love fall colors and this Work Worn Wood paint color has me dreaming of fall again (especially since it’s been in the mid-90’s all week.) Of course, I also like the color because of the orange leaves in the photo. So, I’m wondering if an orange door would still look fabulous in the winter and summer. What do you think?

Navy has had a huge resurgence in home design. I’ve seen some amazing houses painted a dark navy with white trim. This is a color combination I wanted to try for Etta, but ultimately my realtor talked me out of it. She likes the color combo, but said the dark colors fade faster. Ultimately I’m trying to provide a low maintenance house for whoever buys Etta, so I chose to stick with light colored siding and reverse the palette by painting the front door navy. What are your thoughts on this combo?

My final options are inspired by nature. Painting a front door green is suppose to be good luck (at least that’s what I’ve heard.) Regarding the siding choice, I bought some samples and painted swatches of Locally Sown, Blanched and One Horn White on foam board to see how they look on a larger scale. Blanched was a little creamy for what I wanted.  One Horn White had a hint of a green undertone (it would be pretty, but I wanted something more neutral for the siding with a green door.) Ultimately, I really like Locally Sown. It’s a very light neutral warm gray (almost white) color.

Right I’m leaning toward Locally Sown siding and True White trim colors. Any front door color would look great with these:

These are the options I mocked up. What do you think? Are there any combinations that appealed to you? Any others I should consider?

Disclosure: Magnolia Home Paint by KILZ is a Saving Etta material sponsor. I’m honored to work with them on this project. All words and opinions are my own. I have not been told what to say. As always I am very particular about the sponsors I work with and you will be told if you are reading a post that has been sponsored or in which materials were provided. 

If you liked this post, you’ll love learning about color compliments and choosing paint colors:

How to Choose Color Harmonies | Pretty Handy Girl

How to Choose Color Harmonies



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My Home Paint Colors | Pretty Handy Girl

Paint Colors in My Home

How to Repair Your Dishwasher - Control Panel Replacement

How to Repair a Dishwasher: Control Panel

The holidays are here and your kitchen will surely be getting a work out! Now is NOT the time for your dishwasher to break. Recently we found ourselves with a non-functional dishwasher. The control panel buttons stopped working and nothing I did would start it working again. You may recall that I fixed our grill igniter a few months ago by ordering the parts from Sears Parts Direct. As smoothly as that repair went, I knew exactly where to turn to order parts for our dishwasher. Once again I’ve partnered with Sears Parts Direct to bring you this tutorial for Repairing Your Dishwasher – Replacing the Control Panel.

How to Repair a Dishwasher - Control Panel Replacement

Before we start, let’s talk real quick about how much you think it would cost to hire a repairman to come fix your dishwasher. If the average appliance repair person charges $75 per hour, the initial diagnosis visit fee would be $75. When the repair person diagnoses the issue as the control panel, he or she will have to order the part and come back a second time. Automatically you are in for $150 for the two visits. Now, factor in the cost of the part ($125 – $200 depending on any mark up that may be added.) In the end you are looking at repair costs in the range of $300 or more.

At this point many homeowners will make the decision to buy a new dishwasher instead of paying $300. But, what if I told you that you can repair your own dishwasher for only the cost of the part?  You are probably excited to hear that, and are ready to get fixin’.

Diagnosing the Problem:

To diagnose the problem, visit the Sears Parts Direct Repair Center and answer a few questions about your dishwasher problems. You can also view these 5 Easy Dishwasher repairs to see if the symptoms match your problem. You may end up with a few suggested fixes, but hopefully you can narrow down the issue with some logic. For our dishwasher, I knew it was likely a control panel problem since the buttons had been acting up a few weeks before it stopped working all together.

To order the part for your dishwasher, locate the model number. (Hint: It’s usually located inside the door.) If you have any problems locating the model number, Sears Parts Direct has some recommendations. Write down the model number and head over to Sears Parts Direct to order your part.

How to Repair a Dishwasher

After entering the model number, you’ll get a list of parts for your dishwasher. Locate the control panel and order it. The panel will usually arrive in a week. Hopefully you can suffer through hand washing dishes for a few days. (Don’t complain too much, I suffered through it for 4 months when we were without a kitchen.)

How to Replace Your Dishwasher Control Panel:

Preparation: Hooray, you have the part in hand. Now send the spouse away with the kids and tell them you need complete concentration for 2 hours while you repair your dishwasher! (Truth: It’s going to take you less than 10 minutes! So enjoy the rest of your hour and 50 minutes by binge watching Grace & Frankie on Netflix.)


How to Repair a Dishwasher


Always start by turning off the circuit breaker for your dishwasher.

How to Repair a Dishwasher

Open your dishwasher and locate the torx screws securing the door panel.

How to Repair a Dishwasher

Remove the screws using a torx head screwdriver. Place the screws in a cup or bowl to prevent from losing them. (Yes, I started a timer to show you how long this repair will actually take.)

How to Repair a Dishwasher

For simplicity, you may be able to remove only the control panel and set it on a stool while keeping all the parts wired.

Remove the door latch wiring by lifting it off one side at a time.

How to Repair a Dishwasher

Use a flathead screwdriver to gently release the electronic control board.

How to Repair a Dishwasher

Lift the control board off the control panel.

How to Repair a Dishwasher

Gently disconnect the control board from the control panel by sliding off the ribbon wiring.

How to Repair a Dishwasher

You might need to wiggle it back and forth a few time to release.

How to Repair a Dishwasher

Check for any other parts that need to be removed from the control panel (like the handle) and remove them.

How to Repair a Dishwasher

Set the new control panel in place of the old panel on the stool.

How to Repair a Dishwasher

Work in the reverse order of the parts removed. Add the handle onto the new control panel.

How to Repair a Dishwasher

Attach the ribbon wiring from the new control panel to the electronic control board.

How to Repair a Dishwasher

Press the control board into place in the new control panel.

How to Repair a Dishwasher

Reset the door latch wiring in place.

How to Repair a Dishwasher

Set the new control panel onto the door.

How to Repair a Dishwasher

Drive the torx screws in place to secure the new control panel. And, BADABOOM, you are done! Let’s check that timer please: 8 minutes and 37 seconds!

How to Repair a Dishwasher

Go ahead and turn the power back on for your dishwasher.

How to Repair a Dishwasher

Check the buttons to see if it works. YES! We have a working dishwasher again.

How to Repair a Dishwasher

Didn’t that take a lot less time than you originally thought? Plus you are richer because you didn’t have to pay a repair person or replace your dishwasher! What are you going to do with that money you saved? Why not go ahead and buy yourself that present you really want.

Now that your dishwasher is working, did you know there is a right way to load your dishwasher? Or that there are items you should NEVER wash in your dishwasher?

If you haven’t already, you really need to check out to find that part to fix all your broken appliances and more! Follow Sears Parts Direct on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube to see a variety of repair articles and videos.

How to Repair a Dishwasher

I’m ready for the holiday baking rush now that our dishwasher is working, how about you? I’m also feeling relieved knowing that when my Mom visits for Christmas, she won’t feel guilty about our broken dishwasher and try to wash all our dishes by hand. Moms will always be moms, won’t they?!

Have a Happy Holiday y’all! I’m off to clean the baseboards around our dishwasher. I’m so embarrassed to see dirt and dog hair in that photo above. Ack!

Save your friends $$$ on dishwasher repairs by pinning this image:

How to Repair a Dishwasher

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Sears Parts Direct. I was not told what to write. All opinions are my own. I was compensated for my time and efforts to create this tutorial. I am very particular about the brands I represent. Because I value your trust, you will always be notified when you are reading a sponsored post on

Is Your House Making You Sick? Top Tips to Improve Air Quality

Is Your House Making You Sick? Top Tips to Improve Air Quality

Top Tips for Improving Your Indoor Air Quality

Have you ever asked yourself if those persistent cold and allergy symptoms could be caused by your house? Sick houses and the horror stories of chronic health symptoms are all over the news. If you’ve ever wondered if your house is making you sick, today I’ll be addressing some of the top reasons a house may be unhealthy. Plus, I’ll share some simple ways to improve your indoor air quality to help keep you and your family healthy. As someone who has lived through a mold infestation, and suffers from allergy symptoms, I can attest that having clean indoor air is important to maintaining good health.

Don’t let this topic stress you out, I have 19 Tips for Improving Your Indoor Air Quality. And because Broan believes as strongly as I do about helping you have a healthy home, they have sponsored this article.

1. Control Dust: Dust and vacuum regularly. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to prevent dirt from blowing back into the air. Vacuuming regularly is the key to controlling allergy and asthma triggers (especially dust mites and pet dander.)

10 Places You Probably Forgot to Dust | Pretty Handy Girl

Use damp rags or microfiber cloths to trap dust. Feather dusters will just move particles around. You might be surprised by the 10 places you probably forget to dust!

10 Places You Probably Forget to Dust
2. Mop It Up. Have you ever mopped your kitchen or bathroom right after vacuuming? If you have, you can attest to the amount of dirt left behind that the vacuum didn’t get. It’s best to mop your hard surface floors after vacuuming to get any remaining dirt.

3. Stop Dirt in their Tracks. Speaking of dirt, if you put floor mats by each exterior door, you should be able to cut down on excess dirt and mud in your home. If you detest the utilitarian rubber mats, you can stencil a plain inexpensive mat using this tutorial. To save time on floor cleaning, encourage your family members to go shoeless in the house. You may even be surprised if your guests automatically remove their shoes when they see your’s lined up by the door.

4. Change your Filters. When was the last time you changed your air filter? An air filter is important for trapping dust, germs and allergens. But, it also keeps your furnace and A/C running efficiently. House heating and cooling filters should be changed at least every three months. If you have allergy sufferers in your house, try changing them more frequently. As a busy mom, I know it’s hard to remember to change your air filters, here are some tips for remembering to changer filters.

5. Green Clean. I’ve convinced you to up your cleaning game, but before you start spraying that store bought cleanser or spray, check the label! Do you recognize the ingredients? Is one of them “fragrance”? Most fragrances added to cleaners are made from chemicals that don’t have to be divulged because they are “trade secrets.” You have a right to know what you are spraying in your house, so boycott store bought cleaners and make your own cleaners.

10 DIY Frugal Cleaners | Pretty Handy Girl

6. Go Odor Free. Similar to cleansers with chemicals, Store bought fragrances, air fresheners and perfumes can contribute to chemical pollution in your home. Although they are pretty, petroleum based wax candles can also contribute to unhealthy air. Instead opt for chemical-free room fresheners. Boil water with natural ingredients like lemon, orange, cinnamon, vanilla, etc. Make your own DIY Room Spray with natural ingredients. If you like a scented room, use essential oils in a diffuser or rub a drop on a light bulb.

DIY Scented Room Spray | Pretty Handy Girl

7. Look for Low-VOC products.

Speaking of chemicals, I know you’ve heard of VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) but do you know where they lurk? VOC’s are found in many household products:

  • paints, stains and varnishes
  • solvents
  • cleaning and disinfecting products
  • room sprays and other manufactured air fresheners
  • personal care products and cosmetics
  • pesticides
  • permanent markers
  • glues and adhesives
  • building materials and furnishings (composite wood products that use glues)
  • textiles
  • carpets
  • vinyl
  • sealing caulks
  • dry-cleaned clothing
  • and more

Consider using Low or Zero-VOC paints.  Ask about chemical treatments (like fire retardants, stain guards, or mold inhibitors) on household purchases like bedding, carpets, building materials, etc. Research and educate yourself about where VOC’s are found and look for alternatives.

8. Aerosol. Although ozone depleting aerosols have been eliminated since the 70’s, today’s aerosols contain VOCs and other harmful chemicals like hydrocarbons and compressed gasses. In fact, aerosol sprays can contain VOCs that contribute to  ground level ozone pollution that has a direct correlation to increased asthma cases. Choose non-aerosol products or use aerosols sparingly. If you need to spray an aerosol can, open windows or use aerosols in a ventilated space.

9. Fresh Air. Energy efficient homes are built air tight, which can translate to great energy savings, but sometimes it means your home doesn’t get enough fresh air. On a nice day, open the windows. Let that stale air out.

If you are still struggling to achieve healthy indoor air, you might want to consider a whole house fresh air system from Broan.

10. Exhaust Humidity. Always run the bathroom exhaust fan during and after a shower. An exhaust fan is instrumental in deterring mold from growing in your bathroom or on your towels. If your exhaust fan is old, noisy, or leaves windows and mirror fogged, you are due for a new one. Today’s exhaust fans from Broan will surprise you with their quiet fans; humidity and moisture sensors; ability play music via an internal bluetooth speaker and a variety of styles including decorative dual purpose exhaust fan and light fixtures. Regardless of how new your bath ventilation fan is, remember to clean the cover regularly.

11. Remove Cooking Vapors. Did you know that you should turn on your kitchen range hood a few minutes before you start cooking and leave it on fifteen minutes after you finish? A range hood will reduce cooking odors and remove excess heat and humidity from your home. Make sure you know how to properly clean and maintain your range hood.

12. Dryer Vents. Check that your dryer duct is clear and that it vents properly outside the house. You’ll want to know how to clean your dryer duct to prevent fires and reduce humidity in your house. When cleaning the vent, investigate how long the vent is and where it exhausts. Dryer vents that exhaust into (and across) an unconditioned space can fill with moisture. As enough condensation builds up, it can prevent proper exhaust or worse case cause a leak. The maximum allowable length of a dryer exhaust is 25′ for an electric dryer, but frankly I’d aim for much less to improve your dryer’s efficiency and allow for easier cleaning of your dryer duct. A handyman or general contractor should be able to offer solutions for shortening your dryer exhaust vent if it is too long.

13. Humidity Levels. Keep a gauge of the humidity level in your home. A digital thermometer with humidity gauge (affiliate link) can be purchased for under $10 from Amazon. The optimal healthy range of humidity should be between 30% – 50%. Any level above 50% can contribute to a growing mold and/or dust mite population. Running an air conditioner in the summer will help control humidity. Be forewarned, if you use a window unit, empty the drip pans regularly. If you have a whole house air conditioner, check that the drip line on the unit is clear (dripping water coming out of the tube or hose is a good sign.) As tempting as it is to save energy by not running the heat or air conditioner, forced air units are helpful for filtering the air in your home.

14. Musty Odors. Don’t ignore musty odors or what you might consider a minor leak. Always investigate the source. Slow or small leaks that happen over time can cause major damage in your walls and attic. Black mold and toxic mold could be growing without your knowledge. If you do discover evidence of a leak, call in a contractor to make repairs or a professional to remediate the mold. The best source for a reputable mold remediation company could be as close as a call to your insurance agent or in your Better Business Bureau reviews. If you do hire a specialist to remove mold, get at least three quotes from different companies.  Ask each bidding company about the procedures they use to protect spores from spreading in your home. You may find this additional information on water leaks, mold, and mildew helpful.

15. Test Your Home. ALWAYS have your house tested for asbestos and lead paint, especially before undertaking any renovations. Hiring a contractor to renovate? Demand that they test for asbestos or lead. You can test for lead with these lead paint test swabs (affiliate link). It is unlawful for a seller to sell a house without disclosing the presence of lead or asbestos materials in the home. However, some sellers may not know if the harmful materials are present, or will choose not to disclose the information.

Lead check picket fence paint

16. Test for Radon. When purchasing a house, insist on a radon test. Radon is an odorless gas emitted from natural rock like uranium and granite. Radon exposure can lead to lung cancer.

17. Carbon Monoxide. Install Carbon Monoxide detectors in your home. Install them on each level of your home at or below 5 feet from the ground. CO detectors should be installed close to sleeping areas so an alarm will wake your family. And always install a Carbon Monoxide near the attached garage door. Always test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors at least twice a year and change the batteries every six months. Learn more about carbon monoxide and how you can protect your family in this article.

18. Houseplants. Buy a green plant to help filter your air. Houseplants act as natural air filters (in addition to looking pretty). Do not overwater your plant or you could inadvertently grow mold. If you have pets or children, talk to a local nursery to find plants that aren’t toxic.


19. Smoking. It goes without saying that smoking indoors is extremely harmful to your indoor air quality. Second hand smoke in the home can be damaging to everyone’s health, not just the smoker. It’s important to note that children are especially vulnerable because of their smaller lung capacity.

I hope these Tips for Improving Your Indoor Air Quality help you breathe easier. For more detailed information, the EPA has a list of Frequently Asked Questions about  Indoor Air Quality.

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Is Your House Making You Sick? Top Tips to Improve Air Quality

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Broan. I was not told what to write. All opinions are my own. I was compensated for my time and efforts to create this tutorial. As always, I am very particular about the brands I represent and you will always be notified when you are reading a sponsored post on