Welcome to Sparkle Magic, your source for finding leaders in the home service industries.

We understand how important it is to find the right companies to work with to provide the services you need for your home. By sharing company reviews, tips, and information we hope to help you hire the businesses that best suit your needs. One this site we discuss carpet cleaners, landscapers, electricians, HVAC technicians, window tinting professionals, glass repair services and many more services you may need around your home. Save time and money by hiring the right contractor the first time and you have a go to source for life.

Spring Cleaning 101: Time-Saving Cleaning Tips that Every Homeowner Needs to Know

spring cleaningWinter is finally on its way out, and spring is just around the corner. The beginning of spring evokes images of chirping birds, blossoming trees, and people spending more time outdoors. But there’s also one event associated with the spring that perhaps not everyone looks forward to – spring cleaning.

The prospect of spring cleaning can feel overwhelming. All of a sudden, it’s time to tackle all of the chores that you’ve put off doing since… maybe even last spring. But you know that it’s something that needs to be done. Fortunately, if you focus on just putting one foot in front of the other and attacking the larger tasks first, your spring cleaning will be complete in no time – meaning more time to spend outdoors appreciating the sunshine and mild weather.

Here are some time-saving spring cleaning tips to kick-start your seasonal housecleaning:

Organize Your Closet

Now is the perfect time to go through all of the clothes, accessories, and shoes in your closet and pull out anything you hardly – or never – wore over the past year. If you know you have some clothes that you could live without, consider donating them to a local thrift store or charity.

After you’ve sorted out unused and rarely worn clothes from your closet, reorganize your clothes based on how you determine what to wear in the morning. Do you usually look for clothes based on their color? Or do you look for an outfit based on what you’ll be doing that day? You can organize the clothes in your closet according to dark colors and light colors, you could segment it by function – for example: dressy clothes on the left, office wear in the middle, and casual weekend attire on the right.

Rearrange Furniture

If you’re itching for a new look for your home to go along with the change in season, consider rearranging your furniture. Moving around coffee tables and sofas into a new layout will make your living room feel fresh and new. But more importantly, it will give you an opportunity to vacuum and sweep in areas that have long been hidden under the furniture.

Deep Clean Tiles & Grout

Hopefully you already give your bathroom a good once-a-week cleaning, but when was the last time you dedicated your efforts toward deep-cleaning the tiles and grout? Giving the tiles a thorough cleaning doesn’t require expensive chemicals. Simply mix a solution of baking soda and water, and use a cloth to wipe down the tiles and in between each tile.

Clean Ceiling Fans & Air Conditioner Vents

Sooner or later, it’ll be time to run your ceiling fans and turn on the AC. Before that time comes, make sure that your fans and air vents are clean and dust-free to ensure clean air quality inside your home. A cloth and a vacuum with an attachment work well to clean up fan blades and the vents, but could create a bit of a mess if your ceiling fans are more than just a little dusty. If you’re worried about getting dust all over your furniture and carpeting, use a pillowcase to easily wipe each blade. Then throw it into the washing machine!

Bonus Tip: Stain Removal

Stain removal is an ongoing task – not one that can simply be taken care of once every spring. If you spill something that you think may cause a stain or odor, quickly blot up the liquid first – carefully so as not to rub the liquid deeper into fabric – and then use cold water to flush the fabric. Don’t use hot water, as this will set the stain and make it more difficult to lift. If there is an odor, use a solution of equal parts vinegar and water, then rinse.

There’s no wonder why people fear spring cleaning — it can be a lot to handle, especially when you’d rather be doing other things. If you need a little help around the house with cleaning, or if you want someone else to do your spring cleaning altogether, there’s no shame in hiring a maid service. The Maid Crew in Richmond, VA is a great local maid service that offers both recurring services and one-time cleanings — perfect to get the job done right in time for the spring.

Many Reasons for Installing Replacement Windows

window replacementWhether you are planning on selling your house in the near future or you are staying put, home improvements resulting in an increased home value are always a good investment. Some home improvement projects do more than others as far as increasing a home’s value. Replacement windows and upgrades to kitchen and bathrooms often give the best return for each dollar spent.

Most people intuitively understand that an updated kitchen with attractive cabinets, clean, solid counter tops, and a sparkling new sink and appliances will increase the value and desirability of a property. The same is true for remodeling a bathroom: the value of function and aesthetics in this room is fairly obvious.

The value of replacement windows can be a bit harder to see, but the effect of upgrading windows can be just as advantageous as kitchen and bath remodels for improved comfort and home value. In fact, a kitchen or bath remodeling job is often not complete without also installing replacement windows in these rooms as well.

Some older homes still have single pane windows. No matter what part of the country you live in, single pane windows are worth replacing. In cold climates, replacement with double paned windows in the entire house can reduce heating costs by up to 25 percent. Higher quality windows, when installed properly, can boost this number up to 50 percent. This replacement windows company in Grand Rapids for example offers quality service and installation along with their products, meaning better energy efficiency and more savings.

The quality of the new windows matters significantly when it comes to how much energy they save. The energy star rating of the window is more important than the price tag, and some window companies produce reasonable quality double pane replacements for as little as one hundred and eighty-nine dollars.

The value of replacing windows does not stop with home energy savings. When windows are more efficient, your household’s entire carbon footprint is reduced, because when you use less energy, you contribute to less pollution. A low-carbon footprint home is increasingly a sought-after characteristic for home buyers. This is another way replacing your home’s windows can add value to your property.

replacement windowsNoise reduction is another benefit of upgrading windows. Traffic and neighborhood noise can be virtually blocked out in some cases by windows with double or triple panes. Lower noise levels inside a home result in lower stress for the people living there. A quiet, peaceful home interior, especially in a noisy urban setting, can be an attractive selling point.

Adding glare-resistant coatings to replacement windows is another simple way of making a home more comfortable, attractive, and valuable. Window coatings not only reduce glare on the inside and outside of the house, they also reduce ultra-violet radiation which fades out carpeting, furniture, and art works. Color tinted coatings let you add an aesthetic dimension to your windows, while also improving glare, energy savings, and safety.

The total cost of installing replacement windows varies greatly depending on several factors. If the house is single story, replacing the windows will be significantly easier and less expensive. Of course, the size and total number of windows is the main driver of cost. The type of siding on the home, interior trim work style, and landscaping around the home are the other factors affecting replacement cost.

When replacing windows in a home, replacing all of them at the same time is more efficient and inexpensive than doing them one by one. The cost of the replacement windows themselves often goes down when you buy a larger number at the same time. Labor costs are also lower on a per window basis if the crew is installing multiple windows at the same house. Having matching windows also improves the appearance and value of a home.

DIY Tips For Refrigerator Repair

Refrigerator repair can be costly at times. If you’re like me, then you probably ended up on this page to fix the solution for yourself and save a little money. The topic in discussion today is all about how to renew your refrigerator back to working order. There are many problems that may occur but I am here to bring some insight on the ones that won’t involve looking for an appliance repair specialist around the Huntsville AL area. I do want to say right off that I am not a professional, so if something goes wrong when you try and fix it yourself please don’t point the finger back to me. If something does go wrong there are many repair guys across the Madison, Hampton Cove, and Owens Cross Roads area that are willing to help out (Mr. Appliance for instance, just to name a reliable one).

refrigerator repair guyOk, now to the good stuff! One of the most common problems that fridges face is a rattling or buzzing noise that can drive anyone crazy. There are three places that this noise could be coming from. There is the condenser motor fan, the compressor, or the evaporator fan. If you open the freezer and the noise doesn’t get louder than that leaves the evaporator fan out of the problem, being that is located within the freezer. Now it’s time to pull the fridge out and check the back for the compressor and the condenser fan. Search online to find your brands pictures and once you have identified them listen close to see who the culprit is. If it’s your compressor your SOL because you will most likely be better off getting a new fridge unless you want to call a refrigerator repair company and see what they think. If it’s your condenser motor fan then it’s an easy fix. Just unplug your fridge, unscrew the fan motor, release any wires, then install the new fan. Easy as Pie. If the problem is your evaporator fan then there is a very similar process to change out the old evaporator fan motor.

Another Fairly common problem that affects the freezer is the excess buildup of frost around the inside. 9 times out of 10 this is the result of a leaking gasket around the door. One easy way to test if there is a leak is to take a high powered light and put it inside facing towards the outside. Shut the door then turn all the lights out in the kitchen and see if you can see any lights around the door. If so you need a new gasket. Appliance repair companies usually have the parts you need to get this done.

I hope these tips have been helpful for you folks. Remember if you find yourself in need professional refrigerator repair service around the Northern Alabama location, then get with the guys at Mr. Appliance. They have fixed many of my DIY mishaps.

How Best to Start your Spring Cleaning

spring cleaning suppliesThe holidays are over and its time to get a start on the new year. Im not normally one for big resolutions or big new goals just because it’s a new year but I did want to keep making progress in the areas I was behind on. For one, I had been meaning to do a through cleaning of the house this fall but never got around to it. I had even planned on taking a few days off just for this purpose. Cleaning your house for a week straight sounds even better than a vacation right? While this is a huge exaggeration, I do find myself much more at peace when I have a clean home, and im not just talking about sweeping under the rug and stuffing junk into the closets or under the bed.

Cleaning New Years Resolution

So if I had to say I have a New Years Resolution this year it is to an extensive cleaning my home before the Spring even starts so I can take a much needed vacation then instead of feeling like I need to catch up on chores. I remembered how nice it was last year when I had the carpets and rugs professionally cleaned before having some guests over last year so this was at the top of my list. Green Dog Chem-Dry of Virginia Beach came through once again this time and I felt like they accomplished half of my resolution for me as my home looked much cleaner and smelled better too. I highly recommend Chem-Dry if there is one near you as they are a franchise. It gave me more motivation to start the hands on work I needed to do myself, like organize and get piles of things ready to take and donate to my local salvation army.

One Step at a Time

My secret to cleaning is to be organized and have a small task written down every day. I then make sure to physically check it off and never let myself postpone it until the next day. This way it never becomes overwhelming like most resolutions can be. Of course hiring a little help like the way I had a carpet cleaning service come to my home never hurts either. You can find some more cleaning tips for your home here. My home still has a long way to go, for example today I am scrubbing all the floor boards, tomorrow am cleaning out the refrigerator and am scrubbing the bathrooms the day after that so wish me luck!

Getting the Most Value in Replacement Windows

my new windows in philadelphiaWhether its sooner or later, there will come a time when your windows need to be replaced. It may often be because it has started to deteriorate or it is not operating as efficiently as it did before. Whatever the reason, it is important to get the most value in replacement windows, particularly if you live in Philadelphia like me or another northern city with a cold winter season. This way, you know you are making a worthwhile investment. A replacement window is only as valuable as the comfort and durability it brings to your home. That said; there are factors you have to consider on order to make the right choice: Contractor, Product, and Price.

The Importance of Finding the Right Window Contractor for the Job

In finding the right contractor, you could ask people you know or you could research through the internet for company reviews. Another thing you may want to do is take a list of your choices and get in touch with them. Ask them everything you need to know and request for a presentation regarding the products they sell. This is what RBAWindowsPhiladelphia.com was able to do. They actually visited my home and went over every option I might want for my home and explained each and every benefit of the Renewal by Andersen brand windows they sell and install. At this point, try to prevent company representatives from advertising promotions. The basis for company selection should be their products and services, not fancy deals and promos. With this in mind its not a bad idea to take advantage of a seasonal offering if it makes sense for your purchase needs.

Window Materials

If you already have a design or product type in mind, ask about it during the presentation. If you have yet to decide, there are three common window types that offer the most value: wood, vinyl, and composite. Wood windows are quite expensive but very elegant and luxurious. However, these require more maintenance than others. Vinyl is great for people who want energy-efficient products. It is also a much cheaper option than wood. Composite is either made of fiberglass or a mixture of vinyl and wood pulp. These are efficient in saving energy and are also aesthetically pleasing.

Getting the Right Price

Price is one of the biggest concerns among homeowners nowadays. You have to find the best replacement windows in Philadelphia without hurting your budget. However, when it comes to price, think of the long run energy savings. durability and added value to your home instead of trying to save a few bucks up front. You will be glad you did years down the road when your home is still well insulated and you have lowered energy bills each month.

Finding a Quality Hardwood Floor Refinisher

Just recently, I was contemplating getting my hardwood floor refinished. I’d never gotten it done before, so I had no idea what to expect in terms of the cost or the length of time that my home would be in disarray. I would have asked a local floor refinisher or two, but I had no contacts and wasn’t sure where to start.

I liked my floors a great deal. I’m not sure if they were original to the house or not, but I do know that they spent a good portion of their lives buried under carpeting. Then, maybe ten years ago or thereabouts, the carpeting was removed and the floor was refinished. Now that floor looked a little tired. It was time for another refinishing – or at least a cleaning – and I wanted to do right by those old floorboards.

So I decided to be smart about finding the right refinisher for my venerable floors. And I learned a thing or two during my search, and maybe I can pass a little insight along to you.

By now, it may go without saying that online searches are a great way to go. That’s not because you’ll quickly find a lot of choices – even though you will. It’s because you can easily find information that can help you evaluate your prospective services. I found a few companies that had good reviews, so they made it to the next round.

Next, I decided to see which of my prospective refinishers were National Wood Flooring Association (or NWFA) Certified Professionals; they’re kind of a big deal – a resource for both professionals and people like me who have more questions than answers. If you work with Certified Professional, then you know that you’re getting someone that has taken the time to stay educated about the latest wood refinishing products, services and trends. Most – but not all – of my prospects made the cut.

Next I visited the local webpage for the Better Business Bureau. I wanted to see if my prospects were accredited with the BBB, and if there were any complaints against them. As it turned out, all of my prospective refinishers were accredited and had scored good grades of A- or higher. While I didn’t rule anyone out here, I was sure that all of my prospects were worthy.

One question had been gaining importance with me: Was dustless refinishing an option? My floors weren’t damaged so much as dimmed by everyday wear and tear. I was hoping that the less-involved, less-expensive dustless version would give me the shine I wanted. If so, the process could be done in one day rather than as long as a week. Just in case, I was also hoping to get a refinishing cost per foot – ballpark, at least – for my medium walnut floors.

I ended up talking to three floor refinishers here in Richmond. After spending some time to qualify them, I shouldn’t have been surprised that they were all knowledgeable and very good at what they do. Ultimately, I elected to go with Buff & Coat; more than anything, that reflected the fact that Buff & Coat specialized in the dustless option that was more in line with what I was hoping to spend.

A dustless refinishing won’t keep my floors looking beautiful forever, but it will keep them looking their best until the time when a full refinishing – one that includes sanding, staining, and multiple coats of finish – becomes a more necessary and compelling option. My understanding is that a hardwood floor’s finish ought to last 20 years. So until that day arrives, I’m hoping to get a little more shine out of those handsome old boards.

Carpet Cleaning Methods, Considered

For years, I didn’t know much about cleaning carpets – but that didn’t stop me from doing it. I had a cleaner that sprayed in hot water and detergent, loosened trapped debris with a rotating brush, and then pulled out the now dirty water. That was fine. Any obvious spots and stains were eliminated – at least if I worked on them a little beforehand. I was always amazed – and horrified – at how much dirt and grit the carpet cleaner could pull up.

But after a while, I started to wonder if my efforts were as effective as I hoped. While my cleaner was able to pull up a lot of junk, I noticed that most of the water I’d sprayed into the carpet was still there when I was finished cleaning. The liquid I was able to pull up was dirty and gross, and I hated the idea that more of it was still in my carpet. So I decided to do a little research, and try to figure out if a pro could do a better job.

The first thing that I discovered is that professionals go about carpet cleaning in a variety of different ways. Within minutes of my home in Joliet, Illinois, I can find carpet cleaners that use carbonation, dry cleaning, and hot water extraction – the method I always used, though I had always incorrectly referred to it as steam cleaning. I decided to read up on the methods a little before calling one of Joliet’s professional carpet cleaners.

I started with hot water extraction. While I was skeptical that their detergents would be much better than the ones I used, I was encouraged to find that many companies claim to pull almost all of the water out of the carpet after cleaning. I was also pleased to see that at least some of them used brushes that were supposed to be gentler than the tough bristles that my inexpensive machine uses.

Next I looked at dry cleaning – something I’d never tried before. This process involves spraying a biodegradable cleaning compound into the carpet; this compound absorbs dirt and grime and is then vacuumed away. I liked the idea that dry cleaning could be completed so quickly – especially given how long my carpet would be damp after one of my attempts to clean. But I was still skeptical about the ability to any vacuum to pull up all of the junk.

Next I looked at the method that uses carbonation to clean. While I knew that some people believe in applying club soda to clothing stains, I didn’t know that carbonation was also used on carpets. With this cleaning method, bubbles rather than soaps or detergents are employed to loosen up the anything trapped in the carpet. After the carbonation has done its work, a relatively conventional hot water extraction method is used to pull up all of the grit and grime.

After reading up on the different methods, I was sure that a professional could remove more liquid – and more grime from my carpet – than I was able to do on my own. I thought it was likely that a professional vacuum would also be much more effective than mine at pulling out debris, so maybe dry cleaning might also work for me. But I liked the idea of cleaning carpets with a minimum of chemicals; if carbonation could do that, I was all for it.

With that in mind, I decided to give a pro a try this time around. It was time to call a carpet cleaner, put those tiny bubbles to work, and take the next step in my research.

Why I Prefer Green Carpet Cleaning

eco friendly carpet cleaningDo you have you carpets and rugs professionally cleaned every so often? I have mine done about every 6 to 8 months and recently I started to become more conscious about the services I was using around my home because of my sons allergies. As a result, my carpet cleaning company of choice was also scrutinized. Unfortunately I found some reasons why I should make a switch when I did my research. But before I go into what made me made the change, im now using Chemdry of Duval in Jacksonville FL because their process is a lot cleaner. They use an organic cleaning solution combined with carbonated hot water.

At first I had always liked my old cleaners, they tried hard, made a noticeable difference in the appearance of my carpets but the techniques they used was outdated in my opinion. First, after reading into the company more I discovered they used some chemicals during the cleaning process I was surprised about. These were things I didn’t wants my children to be exposed to on a daily basis when they run around on the carpets barefoot or lay on them. Ive actually heard of kids who got sick just from unseen chemicals in carpets.

The next thing I noticed (just from observation) was that with the old carpet cleaners my carpets stayed damp sometimes for 3-5 days. During this time I always had to make sure to keep my kids off of them so they wouldn’t track dirt on the damp carpets that had just been cleaned. Looking into this more too, the excess damp time can be the perfect place for bacteria to grow. That’s another reason why Chemdry’s promise of rugs that dry in a matter of hours appealed to me so much. No offense to my old cleaning service but the health of my family is a priority.

How Do You Know When to Upgrade Your Heating and Air Conditioning?

No matter how well you service and maintain your heating and air system, it isn’t going to last forever. Each year it will become a little less able to do what it did when it was brand new, and will be a little efficient relative to newer systems. Eventually everyone needs to upgrade to a new heating and air conditioning system. The key question is when should you do it?

I’d been wondering about the system in my home in Wappingers, New York. My heating and air system was old and I figured my utility costs were a little high. But I had no idea if it was the right time to upgrade my system. I’ve talked to some heating and air specialists and now I’ve got a better idea. If you’re considering an upgrade, here are some factors to consider:

How old is your heating and air system?
If your system is more than ten years old, it’s liable to be substantially less efficient than newer systems. At this point, upgrading to a high-efficiency system would likely reduce your energy consumption by about 20 percent. If your system is even older, the difference may be greater than that.

What is the SEER value of your system?
If you want a more definite idea about how your system compares to newer models, you’ll want to know its SEER (or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) value; the higher the SEER value, the more efficient the system. This value also provides a way to compare projected operating costs between more and less efficient systems.

Are you calling the repairman more frequently?
The older your system gets, the more frequently it will need repairs. So the next time you have a service call from a repairman, ask him about the nature of the repair. How long will the repair or new part last? Is the repair indicative of a failing system or just normal wear and tear? My heating and air repairman here in Wappingers was happy to explain things at length, and I suspect yours would be, too.

How does your current energy consumption compare to previous years?
Your heating and air system is likely to use more than half of the energy required by your home. When that system becomes less efficient, you’ll see the effect on your household utility bill. Compare your current bills to older ones to see if your system is becoming less efficient. This will also provide even more insight into how much you could save with a new system.

Upgrading to a newer heating and air conditioning system is a big investment. That investment makes a great deal of sense for some, and less for others. Educate yourself about your system and today’s heating and air options – or get some insight from a local professional. That way, you’ll have a better idea if a heating and air conditioning upgrade makes sense for you.

What You Need to Know Before Installing a Steam Shower

Have you ever wanted to turn your master bathroom into your very own sauna and spa get away? Can you imagine the relaxation of being to relax in your very own steam room after a long, hard day at work? Well don’t just dream it, create it! All you need to begin to create your very own steam room is a shower with a glass enclosure. If you currently only have a tub and shower combination simply invest in installation and glass repair in Winchester VA to upgrade your bathroom instantly. Be sure to keep in mind the following.

Cost

In order to protect from moisture damage and have the proper ventilation, you will need a moisture-sealed glass shower enclosure. Depending on your location and bathroom layout, you should budget between $2,000-$3,000 to install the entire steam shower set-up.

Location

Before building your steam shower you should consider where you want the shower to be located and where the plumbing system is already set-up. Keep in mind you will need the glass shower enclosure to be sealed and built all the way from the floor to the ceiling. This is done to keep moisture from reaching the walls which can cause rotting and water damage.

Materials

Make sure you purchase waterproof paint for the walls as well as waterproof sheetrock. Also, consider added ceramic tile to the walls instead of paint. Its also important to consider your the nearby cabinets as they have paint on them as well. Tile is an excellent water proof design option. If you are not starting from scratch and instead converting an existing shower into a steam shower, take the necessary steps to steam-proof the surrounding areas.

Steam Generator

You are going to need a steam generator device that will be hooked up into your existing plumbing system. Try to install the generator between 20 and 40 feet from the shower itself, ideally in a hall closet or the attic. Keep in mind that the generator needs to be installed near both the water supply and electrical connection as well as a drain.

Consumption

This is one luxury that you don’t have to feel guilty about. You may think that having a steam shower is wasteful, but think again. Steaming is actually a green way to shower. In a standard size glass shower, if you steam for 20 minutes you will only use about 2 gallons of water. As a point of reference, a 10 minute shower uses around 30 gallons of water.