All types of information on do-it-yourself home and auto repair. Occasional entries about everything else under the sun and maybe even the sun.
|Posted on May 19, 2013 at 4:10 PM||comments (0)|
Homeowners should take the time every year to perform a visual check for roof leaks. Performing inspections twice a year, and after any heavy storms, can help ensure that your roof is in good condition. The best times for regular inspections is in the early spring and late fall before heavy rain or snow is expected. You do not need to climb a ladder or walk on your roof to check for leaks.
Walk around the outside of your home at a distance that allows you to view the maximum roof area. Look for any loose or deteriorating shingles. Shingles that are lifting or curling upwards are an indication of a potential leak. If you notice shingles missing, or discover any on the ground, contact a roofing contractor for repair before more damage occurs.
Look at any roof vents and openings. Flashing or sealants used around ventilation may wear out over time. If you notice flashing or sealant pulling away from pipes, the area will require repair work.
Familiarize yourself with signs of ice dams. Dams do not always form immediate leaks; the damage builds over time as the roof sheathing deteriorates. Preventing ice dams from forming will reduce leakage and extend the life of your roof.
Check for roof leaks in any accessible attic areas. Use a strong flashlight to inspect the underside of the roof. If any insulation is damp or moldy, pull it back gently to determine where the moisture is entering the attic. Use gloves with any fiberglass insulating materials.
It is important to understand that the leak is often not where you see the water. Water from a leak will travel downwards along the roof. You may need to inspect the area upwards and at an angle to determine the actual source of the leak. A visual sign of water stains on ceilings or walls is another indication that a roof leak is present. Stains on ceilings and walls may also not be located directly under the leak source.
Skylights and chimneys
While skylights add beauty to your home, they are often a source of leaks. Sealants used around the lights can deteriorate. This type of leak may also travel down between the roof and ceiling before it becomes noticeable. Chimneys may develop leaks where they meet the exterior sections of the wall or roof of your home. Professional assistance is best when trying to locate the source of a chimney leak.
Your personal safety is more important than the condition of your roof. Do not climb ladders or attempt to walk on your roof unless you are very familiar with the safety steps involved. Ladders falls and slippery roof surfaces can lead to serious injuries. Getting a professional opinion of the durability of your roof is the best option if you have doubts.
|Posted on May 5, 2013 at 4:15 PM||comments (0)|
This is a super easy and inexpensive greenhouse for getting seedlings started. The seed starting pods make the process even easier. You also do not need to purchase the complete seed starting kits that come with mini-greenhouse holders. The mini holders are normally about one to two feet long and three or so inches in depth.
I purchased this three-shelf unit at Big Lots for $20, at the beginning of the season. A few weeks later, it was 20% off. The three-shelf unit is large enough for most gardeners and it does not take up a great deal of space. Four-shelf and walk-in models are available. I choose this size as I set up the greenhouse indoors first. It was easy to transport outside later. It will also work for holding small plants indoors to lengthen the growing season.
The assembly is easy. The poles just slide into holders, no tools needs. I did use some twist ties to secure the shelves. While they do wrap over the poles they vibrated a little. I also secured the greenhouse with a bungee cord once it was outside. High winds in Ohio would knock it over quickly.
The first year I tried these, I purchased the full kit that came with a plastic container. The lid for the container never fit correctly but the pods worked very well. You can purchase a set of the replacement pods for around $3. Holders for the pods are easy to come by. The mini-muffin or cupcake containers available in most grocery store bakeries provide a perfect fit. It is a good excuse to eat the cupcakes, too. Empty egg cartons, extra large will also work.
On one side of the pod, there is a small depression in the center. This is where you should place a seed. Slowly add water to the pod. It will expand to about four times its original height. It should expand over to cover the seed. If it does not, gently press around the outside of the top to cover the seed.
You can tell when to add water to the seed by the color changes. Dark brown has enough water. As it turns lighter brown, it needs water. The added bonus of using a bakery container or egg carton is the ability to mark the type of seed on near the side of the pod. Roma tomatoes, regular tomatoes and bell peppers look similar when they first sprout. Cucumber and zucchini can also be difficult to tell apart in the early stages.
|Posted on April 8, 2013 at 5:50 PM||comments (0)|
DIY disaster: Installing your own wood flooring
Newer wood flooring materials often just neatly snap together. The project sounds simple. Measure your floor, buy the wood and install it. Unfortunately, installing your own wood flooring can quickly become a DIY disaster.
Measure twice and cut once is a familiar expression and important to remember. Even when you write measurements down the numbers can be transposed. Trying to remember the length you just measured is an invitaion to disaster. While construction projects normally allow for a certain amount of waste, the cost of the material prohibits major mistakes. Once you have cut a piece of wood, you cannot stretch it to fit.
Wood flooring is an expensive material. You do not want to purchase an excessive amount and you do not want to run short. While most flooring materials are readily available at your local store, if the store is out of stock you may be in for a long wait.
Disasters also occur from being just slightly off in measurements. The minor 1/8 inch you accidentally cut will stand out like a sore thumb on your finished floor. If you cut pieces a bit short, several times you will end up with a sea of visible gaps.
Is the subfloor floor of your home level? You may think so. Unfortunately, unless you are sure you could end up with a floor that gets progressively worse. The sub floor in your home adds to the stability of the wood floor you install. Without the proper support, your new floor may bow or sink.
Particleboard does not make a good subfloor. Moisture causes deterioration. The new wood floor you want to install is also affect by moisture and temperature. The wood needs to adjust to the room temperature before it is installed. Expansion or contraction after installation will ruin the appearance.
You may be familiar with interior doors that swell in humid conditions. Humidity has the same affect on your floor. Wood floors are also known to creek or squeak when you walk on them. A professional will avoid these issues during installation.
Other DIY disasters
The instructions for installing the flooring are readily available, but do you have the correct tools? Using the wrong tools makes the job difficult and time consuming. Your personal safety is a major consideration. DIY installation also means that you will be the one dealing with a messy job. When you look at all the areas a simple job can go wrong, it makes sense to consider a professional.
|Posted on March 23, 2013 at 6:05 PM||comments (0)|
When you are considering having new windows installed in your home, you probably have many questions. You will be comparing costs, benefits and styles of replacement windows. You also want to know how long it will take to install new windows. The time will depend on ordering your windows, the number of windows and any complex window changes.
The first part of the process will be ordering your windows. If you are purchasing specialty replacements, you may have an installation delay. Your contractor should make you aware of the expected ordering period. Once your windows are ready, you can schedule the installation.
How many windows are you replacing?
Most homeowners want to be present when work is done on their home. If you need to arrange time off, you want to know approximately how long the project will take. The main consideration is the number of windows being replaced in your home. Additional time may be required for windows above the first story or old windows that are difficult to remove.
Most contractors have large enough work crews that the average size home can be completed in one day. If your home is larger, two days could be required. As a rough estimate, allow about 45 minutes per window, per two-man crew. Allow one hour if the current windows are very old and difficult to remove. The time allotted should include all finish work and clean up.
If you are making changes to your windows styles, converting to larger, smaller or bay style, the project will take additional time. You need to allow more time for changes to your home’s framing. Large windowpanes or assemblies also require additional time for handling and alignment.
Time of year
Normally, you can have replacement windows installed at any time of year. Problems can arise if you live in an area prone to heavy storm seasons. Otherwise, most installation companies will work no matter what the weather. While you may not want your home exposed to the elements during rain or freezing temperatures, most companies will only have one or two crews working at a time. This means only one or two windows will be in process with rooms exposed.
Professional installers can complete window installations much more quickly than a do-it-yourself homeowner can. When you get window estimates, ask the contractor for an installation time estimate as well. While forces beyond the contractor’s control can cause a delay, you should receive a reasonably accurate estimate.
|Posted on March 9, 2013 at 5:35 PM||comments (0)|
Pine tar is sometimes used as an ingredient in soaps and shampoos. While it has beneficial uses, getting pine tree tar in your hair or on your skin is a nuisance. The sap is sticky and can harden quickly. Fortunately, you can remove the mess quickly without damaging your hair or skin.
Removing Pine Tar From Your Hair
If you get pinesap or tar in you hair, you do not need to cut the tar out. There are several easy and gentle ways to remove the sticky mess. Trying peanut butter is a good first choice. Simply take a small amount of peanut butter and apply it to the tar. This will work on both hair and scalp areas. Gently massage the peanut butter into the sap. The tar should begin to dissolve. Once the sap is loosened, gently comb it out. Remove any remaining residue with warm water and mild shampoo.
Olive oil also works for removing sap from your scalp and hair. The difference with using olive oil is that it can leave you hair oily after treatment. However, it is an excellent hair conditioner so it provides a dual benefit. Apply a small amount of oil to the tar covered area and gently massage it in. Once the pinesap has dissolved, wash the sap and oil from your hair.
Removing Pine Tar on Your Skin
You can use peanut butter or olive oil to remove the sap from you skin. Vegetable or corn oil will also dissolve the tar without harming your skin. Gently rub your choice of treatment into the tar and rinse after the tar has dissolved. Good skin moisturizers can also be used in the same way.
Rubbing alcohol or pumice-based hand cleaners also will remove sap but may be too drying or abrasive for sensitive skin. If any stains remain from the sap, mix baking soda, olive oil and some orange peel into a cream. Gently massage the stain with the mixture until it disappears.
|Posted on March 3, 2013 at 4:05 PM||comments (0)|
Fire clean up and restoration is not an easy process. Even what seemed to be a containable oil fire on my kitchen stove ended up turning into hours of repair work. The hood vent for the stove melted. Oil from the pan splattered and destroyed a large section of floor tile. The oily smoke covered the kitchen and dining room, even working its way along the kitchen ceiling. All of the spices and the timer near the stove also turned in to an unrecognizable mess.
The first step in the clean up was removing all of the damaged items, except for the floor tile. The tile was left for last, to be completed after painting. I removed the remains of the hood and capped off the electric.
I had just repainted the house in September, except for the kitchen. The kitchen has an old and ugly drop ceiling, with 4’ fluorescent tube lights, that needed to be replaced. I was waiting until I could afford a new light fixture. Afford it or not, it was time to gut the kitchen.
After the removal of all damaged items, came some serious scrubbing work. Because the walls were textured, there was no way that all of the smoke could be cleaned. I tried several different cleaning techniques, liquid Joy dish soap, baking soda, TSP - free, and spray solutions. The dish soap did work the best but everything required two scrubbing sessions. I used old rags; even bleaching them afterwards did not remove the oily black stains.
The wall behind the hood required some repair work where the paint itself had burned.
I purchased a new Braun hood for around $40 through Amazon. It arrived quickly. I did have to move the electrical wiring to fit the hood correctly. I also found that while the vent opening on my house was the correct size, the interior was not. The inside reduced to 7 inches in length 1 inch up. I had to modify the flap inside the hood to allow it to open and close.
I removed the old drop ceiling and the old light fixtures. I repaired the holes left behind with mud and then began the process of priming and painting. I found a new light fixture at Home Depot for under $40, installing it was the easiest part of the project.
Next came the removal of the damage floor tile. I had a carton left over from the original installation so I did not have to purchase any new tile. I did decide to buy some floor levelling compound. Some of the floor areas were just not even.
Repainting the dining room was the second stage of the repair work. The living room ceiling only required minimal scrubbing and some touch up paint. Costs did run close to $150 for the hood, light fixture, paint and replacement of the timer, spice rack and spices.
I decided to repaint the cabinets after this picture was taken so the entire kitchen has a fresh, new look.
Warning: The last pictures show burn damage to my hand. No flame or oil made contact, just the intense heat from moving the pan from the burner.
Two days after fire
As it began to heal
|Posted on January 23, 2013 at 4:25 PM||comments (0)|
A well-maintained furnace will provide better heating efficiency. It will last longer without major repairs. Owners can perform simple maintenance themselves. There are also key areas to look for before calling for professional repair.
An oil furnace does not have many user serviceable elements. The important maintenance that owners can do is to keep the unit clean. Oil burning devices produce soot. Excess soot is the root of many furnace malfunctions. Before attempting any maintenance work, turn the power to the furnace off.
Oil burner and flame
When burning correctly, the flame on an oil furnace is bright yellow in color. Blue is the correct color for natural gas flames. The flames along the burner should burn evenly. If the flame is not even, the burner may be dirty from soot build up. The burner can be cleaned with a vacuum.
Blower and motor
If the blower is belt driven, check the belt for frays and cracks. The belt should not be too loose or too tight. The blower must also be in balance. If you notice the blower appears to wobble, call a technician for service. Rapid on and off cycling of the furnace is an indication of a dirty blower.
A vacuum will remove soot from the blower, use caution not to damage any fins. Both the burner and blower require regular cleaning to reduce soot build up. Cleaning at the beginning and middle of the season is the recommended minimum.
Chimney and stack
Look at the smoke coming from the exhaust chimney. Grey is the correct color for the smoke. Black smoke indicates the oil is not burning completely and fuel is wasted. White smoke indicates too much air in the mixture. Clean away any soot build up on the stack area.
Common problems to look for
If your furnace is not operating correctly, you can check several items. First, make sure that there is fuel oil in the tank. The fuel line must be clear. If the unit has a filter or strainer, check and clean it. The shutoff valve between the filter and tank must be closed before removing the filter or strainer. Replace the gaskets at the same time to prevent leaks.
Dirty air filters and clogged blowers are frequently problems areas. Change the filter and clean the blower assembly if either appears dirty. A noisy furnace indicates that the blower belt may be worn out or tightened incorrectly. The motor or blower may be due for lubrication. Motors and blowers often have oil fittings that require lubrication.
The furnace should have a draft regulator located on the stack. This can become clogged with soot and not open and close properly. The flame on an oil burner is adjustable, but this requires professional service.
Keep your oil furnace clean and inspect it regularly for signs of component failure. Catching any problems before they become serious will allow your furnace to provide you with years of heat. If a problem occurs, the best course of action is professional repair.
|Posted on January 14, 2013 at 5:00 PM||comments (0)|
When it comes to your HVAC needs, wall-mounted air conditioners can provide you with cooling at less cost than central air. Understanding various air conditioner types can help you decide what is best for you.
Wall-mounted air conditioning provides cooling to one room or area in your home. These units offer energy savings when you do not need cooling through your entire home. Choosing the right unit is not difficult.
Types of air conditioning systems
Central air conditioning provides cooling for your entire home. These units have a compressor on the outside of your home. Window and wall mounted units are generally self-contained. All of the mechanics are inside the unit itself. Wall mounted units are permanently installed in an exterior wall of your home.
If you do not own your residence, obtain permission from the owner before purchasing a wall mounted unit.
Choosing a unit based on operating voltage
Wall-mounted air conditioners run on 120 to 240 volts. Smaller 120-volt units run on most 15- to 20-amp circuits. Units that draw more than 7.5 amps need a dedicated circuit. This means that no other appliances are on the same circuit. Air conditioners that run on 240 volts must have a dedicated circuit.
If you already have a 240V circuit available, you should not have any problems with the air conditioning installation. If you do not, you are better off choosing a unit that operates on 120V. Electrical upgrades are expensive.
If you are in doubt about the available electrical circuit, consult a professional electrician before you make your decision.
Choosing your air conditioner size
Wall mounted air conditioning is an excellent option for cooling single rooms. They may offer all the cooling you need in moderate climates or allow you to cut your central air use at night. Wall units have capacities that range from 5,500 British Thermal Unit (Btu) to 14,000 Btu.
For a 200 square foot room you should, choose a 6,000 Btu air conditioner. An 8,000 Btu unit will cool a 300 square foot room. Move up to a 10,000 Btu air conditioner if your room is 550 square feet. Also take into account whether or not the room is south or north facing. A south-facing room may need a higher cooling output.
Installing a wall-mounted air conditioner is more complex than a window unit. The exterior wall of your home will need an opening cut. The air conditioner also needs a properly fitted sleeve to support the weight unit.
|Posted on December 28, 2012 at 4:10 PM||comments (0)|
This is an article of mine published on Daily Glow
|Posted on December 28, 2012 at 4:05 PM||comments (0)|
You have options when it comes to air conditioning systems. Wall mounted air conditioning makes an excellent cooling system choice for many reasons. To determine if these units will meet your needs consider your environment, windows and budget when making your decision. You do need to choose the correct size wall mounted air conditioner for the best cooling and efficiency.
If you live in an area that only experiences moderate summer temperatures or occasional days of high heat, a wall unit is an excellent choice. You most likely do not need to cool your entire home for an extended time. Wall units allow you to cool just the area or areas you need when you need cooling.
If you are interested in an alternative to central air conditioning, you may be considering window mounted units. While these work equally well there are some drawbacks. You first consideration is whether you window style allows you to use a window unit. While they can usually fit into any window, the process could be difficult. Wall air conditioners do not need removal at the end of the season. They also normally provide a better seal against the elements.
When it comes to your finances wall units have advantages over central air conditioning systems. The initial purchase price and installation costs are much less. Small, efficient wall air conditioners are normally available for less than $200. If you do not already have a wall opening, an exterior hole will be required. The cost of this work is still less than installing a central air system.
Using an efficient wall system will also cost less on your utility bill. The smaller unit uses less electricity. With less in the way of large components, repair work is less costly. In many cases if the unit fails, you can simply replace it.
Wall units are also a good choice if you need an additional source of air conditioning. You may find that you only need cooling in a bedroom on evenings with moderate temperatures. Extra cooling might be helpful for rooms that do not have adequate air circulation. Newer wall units are attractive and less noticeable than their older counterparts are. You do not need to worry about having an eyesore to provide you with the cooling you desire.