Thursday, February 9, 2017

Valentine's Day and Home Improvement, our argument for the romance of it all!

Valentine’s Day ideas for the Home:

Home is where the heart is. Below are some home improvement projects to upgrade your castle and set the mood

Baltimore, Maryland- For many of us at EFynch, Valentine’s day is more than just trying to impress someone. The Holiday is about the mutual enjoyment of spending time with that person. We spend most of our time together in our homes so why now take the opportunity to work together and improve it?

Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to splurge and add a few accessories around your home that will add to the year-round ambience. Talk to your partner about this- instead of buying each other a small gift- maybe a “gift for the house” could be a great addition? Maybe the Valentine’s night can last a little longer with the right upgrades!

Below are some ideas which we think are relatively easy and add to home comfort.


For many, sound is one of the ultimate ways to stir up emotions. Whether you want to reminisce about a past vacation or create that ultimate comfort zone- music instantly transforms the mood of any room. The key is quality of the sound, not volume.

For single rooms we recommend a quality music player such as the Bose Wave Radio System. This does not require tough installations and as easy to install as an alarm clock (because that is what it “technically” is).

There are other options around but with the Bose system you can purchase auxiliary equipment like a charger for your smart phone, etc.

You can even pick a decent used system on Ebay for $150 because they typically retail for well over $400!


Is there anything more inviting than the glow of a dimly lit room filled with candles? But candles are a pain and dangerous. Try installing dimmers or purchase a mood changing LED light bulb which can change variation of color!


** Just in case you decide to stick with old fashion candles- consider a Smart Smoke Detector like the Nest, which can sense the difference between steam and smoke, be programmed as a night lite, give different levels of warnings depending on the threat and (of course) notify you of an alarm via smartphone!


Shower Head:

Have fun with this one. What says “love” more than a successful trip to the local hardware store!!!!!

But in seriousness, spend some time in the plumbing section and look at the various shower heads. Share your preferences and pick one out that suits both your desires. Rush home, install, feel the sense of accomplishment then enjoy!

$25 to $80 is a good range.


Pick up firewood, upgrade the accessories and get the home fires burning!

Better yet- find a few logs and split the wood yourself.

Fireplace accessories we like include:

Best Made Co. Axe Starting $180
Saddleback Leather Log Carrier $179
Or hand made wrought Iron Tools- many options.

Upgrade your drink:

A nice bottle of wine or a good bottle of Bourbon- pick out something you both like and get a great set of glasses or old school tumblers!

Other ideas:

Fondue Set: under $100
New Area Rug or Cowhide Rug from Ikea $160
Cast Iron Pan for cooking French Chicken in a Pot (google it!!)
Dewalt 20V MAX XR High Torque 3/4” Impact Wrench (. . . okay, we tried!!)

We were not paid for any of these listing- which is why we did not include links. This is meant to just spur ideas- but have fun with it. If you and your Partner decided to “share” the gift- half the fun could be picking something out.

If you have any further ideas be sure to share them on our EFynch Community Forum- found here!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Clearing Your Home's Sidewalk and the truth on Rock Salt.


Does Salt really hurt?

By EFynch, homeowner advice

Baltimore, MD- Does salt really hurt the concrete around your home?

The short answer, yes. The old fashioned rock salt is cheap and plentiful but in most cases can damage your concrete driveway, patio and sidewalk. Concrete is porous and when salt is applied it can be absorbed, freezes, etc.- causing flaking and cracking. If the concrete was done properly, the chances of this happening are reduced however in our estimation (based on gut feelings and not facts), 90% of the concrete that we see may be subject to salt degradation!

There are also cases where too much salt can be applied to correctly cured concrete so therefore no sidewalk is immune- we recommend avoiding rock salt in any case where concrete (or pets) are present.

As an alternative, you want to find a product which contains Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium Chloride or (the more expensive) Glycols as the main ingredient. There are several “hybrids” that may contain a mixture of all these materials with some Sodium (salt). They are effective at lower temperatures, reduce the risk of concrete flaking and help reduce the cost vs. pure Calcium Chloride. We recommend testing these hybrid products before broadly applying to concrete areas.

Finally, if you really want to test the limits and choose an environmentally friendly option try: Sugar Beet Juice, Vodka, Vinegar/ water.

Of course don’t forget,  sand or kitty litter don’t melt ice but provide traction and are worth considering. It’s what they do in snowier climates and it works just fine!

SIDE NOTE- A common misconception is that Rock Salt can hurt your asphalt driveway. This is NOT TRUE. Asphalt is okay with Rock Salt and there is now evidence to suggest it will shorten the life. Keep the driveway sealed and there should be no problems. In fact, salt can help your driveway because one major factor in most crack and pot hole growth is ice expanding inside the crack.

Thank you for checking us out. We are and would love it if you sign up here for regular updates like this (we never sell your information to 3rd parties).

EFynch is a Baltimore based home improvement community which provides information and references for Maryland and Washington D.C. Homeowners, Handymen, Plumbers, Electrician, Roofer, Landscapers, Painters, etc. We are here to help you collect information and bids, not sell your contact info. We are for the little man and believe in buying local.


NOTICE- Legal Disclaimer. The information provided above is for discussion purposes only. EFynch recommends you consult with the original installer of any material on your property prior to taking any action which was discussed or inferred in this blog post. EFynch take no liability of damage which may occur to your property as a result of actions which you have personally taken due to the information provided here. EFynch does not actually provide any physical work to be performed on your property and therefore we always insist you discuss these topics with a local and licensed pro.