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Home Holiday Prep: Little Fixes

old faucet

The holidays are coming up, and if you’re entertaining your friends and family, you’ll want your home to be in its best shape possible. At P.J. Fitzpatrick, we can help you do that. We’ll be posting a “Home Holiday Prep” blog each week for six weeks, and each one will focus on how to make an area of your home look great for your upcoming party or gathering.

If you’re expecting company and you’re down to the wire, you may not have time to make any big fixes to your home. However, you can always take a few minutes and make some little fixes. There are plenty of things you can easily do yourself to update several elements or areas of your home:

Old Faucets

If your faucets are old and outdated, they can bring down the appeal of your entire kitchen or bathroom. Luckily, a simple faucet update is all you need to breathe some fresh air into the room, and it’s something you can do yourself. Simply turn off your water and disconnect the water supply lines. Then, disconnect the faucet’s lift rod and remove the nuts. Remove the p-trap and after that, disconnect the drain from the sink and follow the instructions for installing the new faucet.

Peeling Wallpaper

If there’s an area of peeling wallpaper in your home that you just keep putting off, don’t put it off any longer. Fixing peeling wallpaper is quick and easy – all you need is a small brush and some wallpaper paste. Peel back the wallpaper and brush adhesive on with your small brush. Then, place the wallpaper back on the wall and smooth it over with a damp sponge.

Stained Bathtub

If you’re planning on hosting guests for several days, you don’t want them bathing or showering in a stained bathtub. To remove tub stains, combine equal amounts of cream of tartar and baking soda. Add lemon juice until it forms a thick paste, then rub it into the stained area with a soft cloth. Wait 30-40 minutes, then rinse clean. Your tub should look clean and refreshed.

Cabinet Updates

A full cabinet refinish may not be in your budget, but there are ways you can update them to bring them back to life. Most times, a good oil-based wood cleaner and new hardware can do the trick, but if they need more help than that, try painting them. It may take a little time, but paint is a fun and affordable way to give your cabinets a face lift.

Dull Front Door

No one wants to see a dull front door when they come to your home, so spruce it up a little. Give it a fresh coat of paint or stain, swap out your door knob, try out a new door color, add a wreath, or install some stylish wall-mounted lights. Your entryway is what impresses your guests first, so make it one you want them to see.

Clogged Gutters

During the fall and winter, leaves, debris, ice, and more can get caught in your Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania gutters and cause them to clog. This leads to water backup and eventually, water damage to your home. Avoid the nuisance of cleaning your gutters (and the cost of fixing water damage) with a Gutter Cap System. This system not only protects your gutters, but it guarantees consistent water flow.

Drywall Holes

Whether it’s a hole from a screw or nail or something a little bigger, fixing a drywall hole is easier than you think. If it’s small, simply clean the area and use a putty knife to press spackle into the hole. Let it dry, then sand it down with fine sandpaper until it’s smooth. For a larger hole, cut a square around the hole and remove the damaged drywall. Cut a scrap piece of drywall the same size as the square and a piece of wood to brace the scrap from behind. Place the wood behind the wall and attach the drywall to it using three screws, then place some drywall tape around the seams. Slather on some spackle with a putty knife and once it’s dry, sand it down with fine sandpaper.

Next week’s segment: Bathrooms

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This Week’s “Disney on Ice” Winner


Each week, we’re choosing one entry from our “enter to win” contest to win tickets for Disney on Ice. We’re happy to announce this week’s winners:

Bernard and Mary Lou Yemc, from Wilmington, Delaware! The Yemcs will be getting four passes to see Disney on Ice. Congratulations from P.J. Fitzpatrick!

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Home Holiday Prep: Thanksgiving Decor

The holidays are coming up, and if you’re entertaining your friends and family, you’ll want your home to be in its best shape possible. At P.J. Fitzpatrick, we can help you do that. We’ll be posting a “Home Holiday Prep” blog each week for six weeks, and each one will focus on how to make an area of your home look great for your upcoming party or gathering.

If your home is already in great shape (or you simply can’t make the renovations you want), the next thing to consider is your Thanksgiving decor. Everyone loves a warm welcome, and little touches like centerpieces, mantle garnishes, and wall decorations can fill your home with festive cheer.

Here are some ideas from our Delaware home improvement company:


When you think “centerpiece,” you probably think “dinner party,” but the truth is, centerpieces can be a a great decoration for your kitchen or dining room table any time of the year. When it comes to Thanksgiving, you can mix and match an array of decorative pieces to get a beautiful centerpiece arrangement.


Whether they’re real or fake, pumpkins are great for holding things. Carve out one and have it hold a bouquet of flowers, wheat, a candle, succulent plants, or any other decorative item you want. You can also place small pumpkins on pedestals (of varying heights) or fill a large glass vase or bowl with them. Or, try painting pumpkins of several sizes with gold or silver paint for a pop of color.


Berries are great as a main focus or as an addition. Fill a large glass bowl with water, cranberries, and floating tea lights or place sprigs of craft berries in a tall, thin vase. You can also use berry sprigs to surround candles or pumpkins in a wooden box or incorporate them in your flowers.


Most people think of candles when they think of centerpieces, and crafting your own can be pretty easy. For Thanksgiving, line pillar candles in a rustic box or on a wooden plate and finish with fake leaves or berries. You can also cut out the tops of apples or pumpkins and drop tea lights in for a different twist. Or, wrap several bottles in burlap and finish with ribbon and candlesticks.


Pinecones not only give your centerpiece a homey feel, but they also smell wonderful (as long as you buy the scented variety). Place pinecones in a rustic box, in a glass bowl, or fill up a tall vase and garnish with leaves or berries. You can even paint the edges of your pinecones with gold, orange, or silver paint for a nice glimmer.

Mantle Garnishes

Think of your fireplace mantle as one big centerpiece for your living room or family room. Try arranging pumpkins in several sizes, wrapping bundles of wheat in cinnamon sticks, filling glass holders with corn kernels and votives, or simply line your mantle with an array of holiday flowers. You can even finish off the look by incorporating craft leaves or berries and for an extra dose of Thanksgiving, hang a banner across the front.

Wall Decor

Add some fall to your walls by collecting large, dried leaves and framing them in wooden frames. You can also create your own pinecone or berry wreath or create your own word art using wood blocks or scrapbook paper. Or, try a temporary wall decal with the words “Happy Thanksgiving” or “Give Thanks.”

For a few front porch or walkway ideas, check out our Exterior segment.

*Photo courtesy of: sortra.com

Next week’s segment: Little Fixes

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Home Holiday Prep: Windows & Doors

holiday doors

The holidays are coming up, and if you’re entertaining your friends and family, you’ll want your home to be in its best shape possible. At P.J. Fitzpatrick, we can help you do that. We’ll be posting a “Home Holiday Prep” blog each week for six weeks, and each one will focus on how to make an area of your home look great for your upcoming party or gathering.

While windows and doors may not seem like a big part of your home, they can actually add aesthetic appeal as well as improve your home’s efficiency. Make your doors and windows the best they’ve ever been – just in time for the holidays.


If you’ve been wanting to replace your home’s windows, now is the perfect time to do it. Whether your windows are old and drafty or it’s simply time for a change, we offer a variety of styles and materials to help you achieve your goal.

With today’s state-of-the-art window brands, you can help seal out drafts and noise while saving money on your energy bills. And with unique styles like bow, bay, round top, or specialty shapes like octagonal, circular, and more, you can effortlessly transform the look of your home for all of your friends and family to see. Talk to our Maryland window specialists to find out which ones are the right fit for you.


In some homes, doors go pretty unnoticed, but they can actually add a nice element of design to your home. They can also improve security and reduce noise to make your home safer and quieter. If you’re in the market for new doors, let our experts help. We offer a variety of door materials like wood, steel, fiberglass, and more – all of which can incorporate decorative glass or paneling to give your doors a unique look.

In addition to interior and exterior doors, we also offer “Family-Safe” garage doors that can improve insulation and add a classic or modern touch to the exterior of your home. For more information about any of our doors, give us a call.

Next week’s segment: Thanksgiving Decor

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Home Holiday Prep: Exterior

The holidays are coming up, and if you’re entertaining your friends and family, you’ll want your home to be in its best shape possible. At P.J. Fitzpatrick, we can help you do that. We’ll be posting a “Home Holiday Prep” blog each week for the next six weeks, and each one will focus on how to make an area of your home look great for your upcoming party or gathering.

The outside of your home is the first thing your guests will see this holiday, so you’ll want to make a good impression. If your home’s exterior is drab, worn, damaged, or faded, our experts can help give it some new life.


The siding on your home has two purposes: it gives your home character and it also protects its structure from natural elements like sun, wind, rain, hail, debris, and more. Keeping your home’s siding in good shape is something we highly recommend, and whether you’re in need of a siding repair, replacement, or tips on how to clean it, our Delaware siding experts can help. We carry the best siding products in the industry and can have your home looking as good as new in no time.


If your asphalt roof has been significantly damaged or is more than 25 years old, you may want to consider replacing it. A new roof installation will not only improve the protection and integrity of your home, but it can also give you a chance to change the way your home looks. These days, roofing shingles come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and materials, and each one can give your home a new aesthetic style. Talk to our roofing specialists to find out which would be best for you.


While your guests probably won’t pay much attention to your gutters, clearing them of leaves and debris is important. Too much gutter clutter can lead to clogs, which can lead to water backup and eventually, leaks and water damage. Let us give your gutters a good cleaning before your guests arrive and they’ll be one less thing you have to worry about.

Exterior Decorations

Prepping your home for the holidays doesn’t have to be entirely about home improvement. We’re equally as excited to offer some exterior decoration ideas:

  • Colorful front door wreaths
  • Front porch hay bales
  • Candles lining stairs and/or walkway
  • Dried corn stalks
  • Garland around the front door frame
  • Festive flower pots
  • Decorative outdoor pillows
  • Hanging lanterns

Next week’s segment: Windows & Doors

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8 Fun Facts About Homes and Living

thatched roof

At P.J. Fitzpatrick, we love learning new things about homes and the way people live (or used to live) in them. We came across a few fun facts that we wanted to share:

Cats and Dogs

The phrase “It’s raining cats and dogs” has several different origin theories. One is that when houses used to have thatched roofs, pets and other small animals (squirrels, groundhogs, etc.) used to nestle into the straw for warmth. When it would rain, however, the straw would become slippery and the animals would slide out, creating the illusion that it was literally raining cats and dogs.

Clay Tiles

Clay tiles have been used by nearly every civilization as a roofing material, but the idea can actually be traced back to as far as 10,000 B.C. to those in China and the Middle East.

Red Front Doors

A red front door has been a symbol for many different things. In early American tradition, a red door meant “welcome.” Similarly, in the Chinese Feng Shui philosophy, a red door is known to create a welcoming energy. In Scotland, homeowners paint their front doors red when they’ve paid off their mortgage, and in Biblical times, a red door symbolized protection from the Angel of Death.


Many people believe that metal roofs are more likely to be struck by lightning, but that’s not true. Although metal does conduct electricity, it doesn’t actually draw lightning. Instead, lightning will search for the highest object in the area.


The term “housewarming party” comes from the literal tradition that used to occur before electricity. Every time a person built or bought a new home, guests would bring firewood as gifts and light fires in the home’s fireplaces. This not only “christened” the house, but was said to ward off evil spirits.

Home Sweet Home

The majority of homeowners tend to stay in their homes for around six years before moving.


When straw was used to cover slate and stone floors in order to keep them cold, homeowners had to find a way to keep the straw inside when the front door was opened. To do so, they built a wooden floorboard in the doorway in order to “thresh” (or separate) the straw from the outside. This became known as a threshold.

Easter Island

The people of Easter Island have a word, “tingo,” which means to slowly take all of your neighbor’s possessions by borrowing one at a time and never giving them back.

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4 Easy Ways to Update Your Home

If you want to make some renovations to your home, but you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry – there are still plenty of things you can do to make your home better. Here are a few our home improvement company recommends:

Attic Insulation

Whether you’re in need of insulation or don’t have enough, a well-insulated the attic can be a lot of help. If you are living in an older home (built before 1980), then your attic likely needs some attention, and having the proper amount of insulation could save you up to 10 percent in energy costs.


Replacing those old single pane glass windows with double pane glass that has low-e coating can help you save you up to $500 per year. At P.J. Fitzpatrick, we offer replacement windows in Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware that are have double pane glass. More glass means more insulation, which puts less pressure on your heating and the cooling system and helps keep your home comfortable.

Heating and Cooling System

Replacing an old HVAC system that boasts only 60 percent efficiency with a system that boasts 90-95 percent efficiency can save you up to $5,000 over a five-year period. It’s also a great selling point, if you’re thinking of putting your home on the market.


If there’s something in your home you’ve been putting off fixing, now is the time to do it. Whether it’s broken siding, a dripping faucet, a drafty window, drafty entry or garage doors, or another issue, making the repair will not only solve a problem, but will give you peace of mind.

Make these simple updates and you can save money in the long run. In the meantime, call up P.J. Fitzpatrick for any home renovation-related issues.

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What If Your Windows Were Power Sources?

The idea of windows as a power source is nothing new. In fact, many of the existing technologies use a thin film of photovoltaic (or PV) cells that sits between the layers of glass in a window. The film acts like a solar panel and harvests energy from the sun to use as power.

Up until now, these films have always been noticeable, whether it’s because of their grey shade or because the light passing through them casts colorful shadows. Recently, however, researchers at Michigan State University have found a way to make these films completely transparent. This means that homes and buildings can install solar windows that create electricity without any aesthetic changes.

The discovery is a breakthrough, since transparent cells are nearly impossible. (Transparency means that light passes through the material completely and doesn’t get absorbed, however, absorption is what is necessary to create solar power.) But by using an organic salt to absorb certain wavelengths of light, the Michigan State team were able to produce truly transparent glass.

Their technology, called transparent luminescent solar concentrator (or TLSC), is about 5% efficient (current technologies are around 7% efficient). While 5% doesn’t sound like much, fully solar homes and corporations with several of these windows could see significant savings on their electricity.

One of the main reasons more homes and buildings don’t have solar windows is because of their “ugly” nature. This technology, however, solves that. It may even be able to play a part in consumer devices or gadgets in the future (such as cell phone screens), giving us a variety of ways to take advantage of it.

What do you think? Would you use transparent solar windows in your home?

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Fix Your Roof Leak Before It’s Too Late

moldWater Issues

The functionality of your roof is very important; if your roof isn’t properly doing its job, water could make its way into your home. Whether it’s during a rainstorm or because of melted snow that has accumulated on your roof, water that leaks into your home can soak into your home’s interior structure and weaken it.

It could also lead to mold and mildew development that can cause health issues and further compromise the integrity of your home. Mold and mildew can also significantly deplete the value of your home and can even be expensive to remove. Your roof needs to protect your home and your family, and P.J. Fitzpatrick can help.

Leaks That Can Deceive

A leak in your roof can sometimes be very deceiving. While dripping water might make its presence known by staining your ceilings, leaving water marks on your dry wall, or creating wet spots in your rugs, sometimes the dripping seems to magically stop. This doesn’t mean that your roofing problems have just miraculously disappeared. Instead, broken shingle sediment, leaves, or other debris can sometimes act as a temporary seal for your roof leak. However, this seal isn’t enough to fix your roof. Unless you have it properly repaired, your roof leak will return.

Roof Repair

In order to really know what is going on with your roofing, you should call a roofing specialist like P.J. Fitzpatrick. Our Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania roofing experts will inspect your roof, identify the source of your problem, and fix it quickly so that you know the next time it rains, the inside of your home will stay dry. Our team can repair broken shingles, reseal your roofing, or patch up any imperfections that could hinder your roof’s functionality. Let us fix a minor leak before it becomes a major problem. Give us a call today.

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Why Your Home Needs Proper Attic Ventilation

attic ventilation

You may not pay much attention to your attic, but it’s an important part of your home and can help provide protection – as long as it’s properly ventilated. At P.J. Fitzpatrick, we try to help homeowners understand the importance of attic ventilation and how to go about making sure they have the proper amount.

There are several reasons for attic ventilation (especially for homes in the Northeast). They include:

Mold & Mildew

When your attic is properly ventilated, it can help keep the area dry during episodes of rain, snow, and sleet, when excess moisture is in the air. It can also prevent excess condensation form forming on your attic insulation. A dry attic means one that is less likely to develop mold and mildew, which can not only break down the strength of wood, but can also cause health issues.

Energy Efficiency

Attics can get very hot in the summertime (sometimes up to 140 degrees in our area), and if your attic is hot, it can increase the temperature in the rest of your home. This means you’ll have to use your air conditioner even more in order to keep cool. With proper ventilation, however, your attic can stay cooler in the summer and help keep your home energy efficient. This coolness in the winter also helps to prevent the snow on your roof from melting and forming ice dams in your gutters.

Types of Ventilation

There are two common types of ventilation – passive ventilation and powered ventilation.

Passive ventilation relies on the natural upward movement of warm air. By creating ventilation both at the bottom of the roof and at the top, cool air is free to move into the attic at the bottom and push the warmer air out of the top.

Like passive ventilation, powered ventilation also uses vents at both the bottom of the roof and at the top. However, the top vent uses power (instead of natural movement) to push the warmer air out of the attic.

The type of attic ventilation you need for you home depends on many factors. Give our New Jersey roofing experts a call and we’ll explain in more detail.

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