I Regret Ignoring My Mom’s Advice After Buying My First House

I Regret Ignoring My Mom’s Advice After Buying My First House

About a year ago, my husband and I moved into the first home we purchased together: a classic Chicago duplex down on the city’s north side. Both coming from our respective modest one-bedroom apartments, we were overjoyed at the prospect of investing in a space with two floors, an office, and even a guest room for hosting visitors. While my partner was relishing the thrill of owning his first finished basement, I was champing at the bit to start decorating our blank canvas.

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The thing about big blank canvases is there are countless opportunities for design. Even after combining our belongings and mapping out our furniture (yes, I had massive posters of our condo’s layout printed so I could map out where I wanted our furniture to go… and I highly recommend doing this!) there were still dozens of blank walls, empty corners, and misplaced stacks of artifacts with no place to call home. 

As many new homeowners do upon kicking off the homebuying process, I also embarked upon my journey to furnish our new abode. Soon enough, pieces were arriving at our doorstep: a retro-inspired Joybird sectional here, a sale-priced and sturdy Pottery Barn dresser there, and a slew of Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist and IKEA finds in between. While my mother listened as I complained about my search for the perfect platform bed, she offered me a crucial piece of advice. Sarah, you should live in your home for a bit to figure out what you actually need.

Stubborn fool that I am, I probably said something along the lines of, “Sorry, Cath, but I actually already know everything there is to know about our new home’s needs, and also everything else, ever.” Reader, I’m here to formally concede: I was wrong. In the time since we moved in October 2021, my partner and I got engaged, planned a whole dang wedding, reassessed our actual household needs, created a wedding registry, and received a generous bounty of those registry items. In a way, it’s like we moved in all over again, all while learning to cohabitate and cultivating new routines that make sense for our family.

Among the many things I wish I’d done differently during our move, my impatience with setting up our home’s furniture and design is my greatest regret. Now that I have a better understanding of my partner’s routines and personal style, the ways we enjoy spending our time at home and the many supplies we’ve acquired to sustain our daily lives, I’m realizing that much of the furniture I’d hastily purchased no longer serves us — perhaps never served us — and we’re back at the drawing board.  

Currently, I have a few smaller pieces of gently-used furniture that I’m trying to repurpose or rehome. In particular, I’m angry with myself for spending money on coordinating area rugs for our kitchen and living room that I bought impulsively simply because I wanted the space to feel complete. In reality, the rugs collect dirt easily and don’t match the aesthetic we’ve developed, and I’m on the hunt for a new rug. Again.

There’s a component of my impulsive furnishing that stings worse than the squandered cost: the environmental impact. All of the shipments and packing materials we’ve processed with furnishing our home, coupled with the influx of wedding registry gifts has been, frankly, irresponsible. Further, buying quick-fix furniture from big box stores that you self-assemble (often poorly), only to discard after a few years is unacceptable. After living through the intersection of wedding planning and homeownership, I have a newfound awareness of my household’s extensive daily contributions to creating waste, and I vow not to repeat this same mistake. 

Looking to the new year, my husband and I are approaching consumption intentionally, considering the source, quality, and carbon footprint of our material decisions. While I can’t turn back time and undo what I felt at the time was correct, I’m approaching the next phase of our homeownership with a reduce, reuse, recycle mentality — and atoning for my regret. 

Ask Danny | Ep. 23: Dripping Faucets and Draining a Water Heater

Ask Danny | Ep. 23: Dripping Faucets and Draining a Water Heater

This week, Artie McGowan, master plumber and owner of Colony Plumbing in Mobile, Ala., is back! He’s providing answers to more common plumbing problems, like dripping faucets, long waits for hot water and more.  

He’s a long-time friend of mine who’s also done hundreds of jobs for my construction company. 

Old bath tub faucet with water dripping
Often, it’s easier to replace a dripping tub faucet than it is to repair it. (pastorscott, Getty Images Signature)

Dripping Faucets

What should you do if water pours from a shower-tub combo’s faucet while the shower is on and water drips from the shower head when it’s off? 

Artie: If it’s a tub spout, the best thing to do is replace it. Some have repair kits, but it’s usually not worth it. 

Unscrew the spout, take it to Home Depot, and they’ll have a replacement for it that will more than likely match it very easily.

With older faucets that have a third handle in the middle, you’ll need to take the stem assembly out and put a backup seal on it as well as a new washer. This can get complicated, so I’d suggest calling a plumber.

Also, call a plumber if you have a newer single-lever valve that has a push button under the handle instead of a spout to divert the water. 

Watch: How to Repair a Leaky Faucet

Water faucet with water running
If your water takes a long time to heat up, it’s time to invest in a hybrid recirculating valve. (aristotoo, Getty Images Signature)

Long Waits for Hot Water

What’s the best way to address long wait times for hot water to reach the faucet?

Artie: If you have a tank water heater, you can install a hybrid recirculating valve on the top. Once you do that, install take a transfer valve on the faucet plumbing. This pushes the hot water gently into the cold side — that way you don’t have to run a separate recirculation line. 

This gives you hot water much more quickly in bathrooms that are farther away from the water heater. 

The other way, of course, is to install a recirculation line, but the problem with that is you have to find a way to snake it through the house. 

Tankless water heaters nowadays have a recirculating pump already installed. If you don’t want to go tankless, you can invest in a hybrid hot water heater. 

Read: How to Get Hot Water Faster

If your water meter lacks a flow indicator, write down the numbers that appear on the meter followed by the number on the hand of the large rotary dial. Check the meter again after an hour and write down any changes in the numbers or dials. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Finding a Water Leak

What is the best way to diagnose a leak around or in your home?

Artie: I suggest turning off all the appliances that use water in your home and checking the meter. Most newer meters have a tattletale dial on them, so you can see if any water is being used when everything is turned off.  

Older meters will have a triangle that turns. With the newer digital ones that you can read with the satellite, you need to close the lid and open it again. On the right, you’ll see a tattle tale number that will let you know if you’re losing any amount of water.

If after you’ve done this and you see the meter is moving, turn off the valve to the water heater. This kills half the water to the house. If the meter is still moving, then you know the problem is on the cold side and the problem could be in the yard or underneath the foundation.

If it did stop moving after you turned off the water heater, then the problem is on the hot side, and you know where to look. 

Read: How to Check a Water Meter to Find Plumbing Leaks

Residential water heater and circuit breaker box
Electric water heaters take longer to recover after all the hot water has been used. (JulNichols, Getty Images Signature)

Electric vs. Gas Water Heaters

If you have a choice between an electric water heater and a gas one, which would you choose? 

Artie: If gas is available, I’ll always go with gas. It recovers quicker, it’s cheaper to run and it’s much more efficient. 

Electric takes longer to recover and heat up. You can wait a half hour, 45 minutes for the tank to heat back up. And if you have a large family on a 50-gallon tank, you could be waiting two hours on hot water. 

Read: Comparing Gas and Electric Water Heaters

Draining your water heater once a year removes sediment from the tank that can cause it to work harder and cost more to use. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Draining a Water Heater

Why is it important to drain your water heater at least every couple of years?

Artie: Believe it or not, most people do nothing to their water heaters. 

When high-velocity water is being used (pressurized water to push debris out of pipes to prevent blockage), all that crust builds up and drops to the bottom of the heater. 

Even if there’s a swifter in the bottom that pushes it around to get it out of the system, it cakes up down there. And then, you’ll start to lose the efficiency of your heat.

Imagine putting a thick layer of insulation on the bottom of your tank, and the tank has to heat through that to get through the water. This is why you should drain your water heater at least every two years.

Watch: How to Drain a Water Heater

Further Reading

Ask a Question! (Podcast)

Ask a question and we could answer it on the “Today’s Homeowner Podcast!” We also may use it on our nationally syndicated radio broadcast or on todayshomeowner.com.

Neoclassical Interior With Multifunctional Spaces & Incredible Style

Neoclassical Interior With Multifunctional Spaces & Incredible Style

Smooth expanses of white marble and fashion-forward furniture design give this neoclassical home interior its incredible style. Visualised by Young Just Vision, this luxurious home offers large and light-filled living spaces that each have a unique twist. Open doorways and dynamic divides give this residence a wonderful open flow, which feels like an invitation to wander, explore, and socialise. Multifunctional rooms avoid labels, and instead offer flexible spaces in which to coexist without boundaries or limits. There is also a plethora of luxurious bedroom design inspiration from four extraordinary decor schemes, which include an enormous master suite with its own TV lounge, dressing room, and workspace.

Recommended Reading:  3 Ultra-Modern Takes on Neoclassical Interior Inspiration

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You Know Your Zodiac Sign — But Do You Know Your Life Path Number?

You Know Your Zodiac Sign — But Do You Know Your Life Path Number?

I’m a stereotypical Leo. (For anyone reading this who knows me, cue the “Yeah, we can tell” in 3… 2… 1…) I think it’s the perfect explanation of who I am — a little vain, confident, outgoing, and always loving to be the center of attention. According to numerology, I’m also a life path number 6, which means I’m loving, comforting, and responsible. So basically I’m the best of everything. (There’s that Leo coming out again.)

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You may know your zodiac sign already, but learning your life path number can enlighten you to a unique second aspect to your personality. Here’s how to find it and what it means.

How to Find Your Life Path Number

Your life path number will be a number from 0 to 9, 11, 22, or 33. All you need to determine yours is your birthday. You add each number together by month, day, and year, removing all zeros and reducing each number down to a single digit. We’ll use my birthday, August 13, as an example.

1983 = 1+9+8+3 = 21. Reduce that number to single digits: 2+1 = 3.

Then add all the numbers together, and reduce that down to a single digit.

So my life path number is 6.

What Your Life Path Number Means

Once you’ve calculated out your life path number, use this handy list to see what it means about you.

People with this life path number are leaders. They’re pioneers and want to be first and the best at what they do. Their need to achieve makes them motivated and determined, but leads to irritation when things aren’t done, and intolerance of those who aren’t as action-oriented.

Life path twos are focused on peace, learning, and cooperation. They attempt to see everything from every angle in order to better empathize with and understand others. They’re loyal to a fault and enjoy being in relationships. Twos can also struggle with this, though — they can sometimes be too accommodating and oversensitive.

Threes are playful, independent, and creative. They’re most likely involved in the arts in some way or have a public-facing career. They’re optimistic, generous, and charismatic, making friends easily. That being said, they’re not always the most responsible people, can struggle with money, and tend to procrastinate.

People with a four life path are generally down-to-earth and hard workers. Fours are very realistic, and approach most things with practicality and logic. They are loyal friends that you can depend on in a crunch. Fours can also be unnecessarily blunt, rigid, and overly cautious, though, which can cause them to miss out on things that require quick reaction.

Adventurous fives look for the excitement in life; they are always on the go and seeking variety. They live in the now and approach the world with curiosity rather than trepidation. But because of their desire to always be doing something new, they can have a difficult time maintaining relationships because they can feel trapped. Fives also run the risk of getting bored easily when they need to stay put for a while.

Life path sixes (yours truly!) are loving, comforting, and responsible. They enjoy taking care of other people, even if it’s something as simple as buying them a surprise gift. However, they also have a tendency to be overly critical of those who don’t reciprocate the same level of giving, and can sometimes meddle in things they shouldn’t involve themselves with.

Sevens are the loners of the life path bunch. They prefer being in nature instead of being stuck inside. Sevens are introspective and do a lot of thinking and investigating to discover the truth about things around them. Being alone and so inward, though, can cause them to be lonely and to struggle in relationships.

People with a life path eight do well in business and politics, thanks to natural leadership qualities. They handle money well and tend to make a lot of it. Like fours, they work hard — but that can bloom into being a workaholic for eights. This life path number also wants to be in control of their own decisions and their own destiny, which can make them a little rigid when trying to compromise.

Compassion and generosity are the defining characteristics of nines. They are often humanitarians and do a lot of philanthropic work. Nines are also incredibly empathetic, which leads to a lot of the giving they do. On the flip side, that means they sometimes have problems with money. Nines are also prone to having difficult relationships with one or both of their parents.

The Master Numbers: 11, 22, and 33

These three life path numbers are quite rare. If you have one, it generally means that you have a better understanding of the world than most, you are better at sharing knowledge (which for you, is expansive), and you’re more spiritual than many others.

5 Pesky Corners You Never Want to Organize (and How to Actually Do It)

5 Pesky Corners You Never Want to Organize (and How to Actually Do It)

Alexandra Frost is a Cincinnati-based freelance journalist, content marketing writer, copywriter, and editor focusing on health and wellness, parenting, real estate, business, education, and lifestyle. Away from the keyboard, Alex is also mom to her four sons under age 7, who keep things chaotic, fun, and interesting. For over a decade she has been helping publications and companies connect with readers and bring high-quality information and research to them in a relatable voice. She has been published in the Washington Post,
Huffington Post, Glamour, Shape, Today’s Parent, Reader’s Digest, Parents, Women’s Health, and Insider. Alex has a Master of Arts in Teaching, and a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications/Journalism, both from
Miami University. She has also taught high school for 10 years, specializing in media education.