DIY Frequently Asked Questions


What is a good tool to begin building my collection of tools for a woodshop?

A table saw or a bandsaw might be the most useful tool you can have in your woodshop and should be your first major purchase. We recommend a drill press as the second major purchase.

I need to drill a precise hole and can’t risk damaging the workpiece. What drill should I use?

The hand drill with a brad point bit is the tool to use when precision counts. Since a hand drill is turned manually, it can be stopped easily and precisely.

Is there a special receptacle I should install outside?

Yes, we have a special box with a cover designed to protect. In addition, the receptacle should also have ground-fault circuit-interrupt protection.

Do I need a special door jamb to hang a bifold door?

You can use a standard door jamb, if you wish, and mount the track on the face of the jamb. A better option may be to use a jamb specially designed for a bifold jamb. This jamb has the bifold door track hardware hidden in the jamb so it’s not exposed.

Should I apply the deck stripper by spraying it on or with a roller?

If It’s a windy day, they you should use a roller to control overspray. However, if it’s a calm day with no wind, they you can probably apply it faster by spraying it on.

What is kickback?

Kickback usually occurs when the workpiece pinches the blade of the saw. In stationary power tools, the result can be that the workpiece suddenly lurches back toward the user. Power tools should come with an anti-kickback device that helps control this potentially dangerous situation.

What type of level should I buy?

A 9-inch torpedo level is good for hanging pictures and other small household tasks. A complete home toolbox will also include two-foot or longer carpenter’s level for larger projects like checking walls, bookshelves and fence posts.

What’s the difference between shoe molding and quarter-round?

Quarter-round molding is a full quarter circle and the sides are the same length. Shoe molding, on the other hand, does not have an even length on both sides.

What is the best type of gutter cover to install?

There are many different types that perform well, and others that don’t perform well at all. Eventually, debris will get into the gutter. So the best type of gutter cover is probably one that can easily be removed for periodic removal of debris.

How do I know if my level is accurate?

To check it, place it on a level surface, then flip it over. Both readings should be identical.

Do you have a light switch that I can use to replace one in my house?

Yes, but is it a single pole or is it a three-way switch. A three-way switch is one that is used when a light is controlled by more than one switch.

What is the advantage of PVC molding?

It is rot-proof and easy to handle.

What is the difference between a band saw and a scroll saw?

The band saw blade makes a continuous loop and cuts by spinning in a circle. It can handle thick pieces of material, up to 6” thick. A scroll saw can only handle thinner pieces and uses a small blade that moves up and down.

I’m adding an interior wall and I want to make sure the studs will be plumb. What’s the best way to do this?

You can layout the top plate of the wall (generally with studs spaced 16” on center) and then use a plumb bob to plumb down to layout the corresponding bottom plate. Then you can begin installing the studs.

What type of switches will I need to turn a light on from two different locations?

You will need a three-way switch at each location. A three-way switch will have three terminal screws on it–two brass colored screws and one that is black (or dark in color).

I want to put molding around a curved window in my house. Can I get molding that is curved?

You might want to try a cellular PVC molding that is flexible enough to be run around curved openings, like your windows.

How do I wire a lamp switch?

With lamp wiring, there is a ribbed side and a smooth side. Unscrew the light switch. Strip and twist your wire. The ribbed side will go to the brass side of the light terminal. The smooth side will go to the silver side. Wrap around the terminals and tighten it down.

What type of switches will I need to turn a light on from three different locations?

Two of the locations will use a three-way switch and the other location will need a four-way switch.

How wide of a molding should I buy for my home?

It all depends on personal preference. As a rule, wider moldings make a room look smaller. You may want to avoid wide moldings unless you have large rooms. If you want wide moldings, you can make your own profile by combining several different styles together.

What’s the difference between transparent, semi-transparent and solid stains?

The difference lies in the amount of pigment in each. Transparent stains, although they appear clear, have some pigment in them for UV protection. Semi-transparent stains have more pigment, but still allow some of the wood grain to show through. Solid stains are basically like paint. They hide most of the wood’s character, but they offer the best protection from moisture and UV rays.

Does it matter what kind of blade I buy for my bandsaw?

There are different types of blades for different types of cuts, but here are a few blades that will give you versatility. A 1/4” wide blade is a good, all-purpose blade. A 4-tpi 1/4” size is good for quick curved cuts, or try a 6-tpi 1/4” blade for slower speeds and smoother cuts. The 1/2” hook-tooth blade is best for long straight cuts. For joinery or tight cuts, use a 1/8”, 14-tpi blade.

How long of a tape measure should I buy?

A 12-foot-long tape is handy for most household work, but I recommend a 25-foot one because it can also be used for carpentry, plumbing, and other major projects.

How do I connect a wire to the terminal on my light switch?

Bend a stripped wire 180 degrees by bending it over the tip of needle nose pliers. Wrap the wire clockwise around the screw so that it will stay in place as you tighten the screw. Don’t over tighten and make sure there is no insulation under the terminal.

I’ve heard you should let molding sit a couple of days before installing. Why?

It is advisable to climatize your moldings by letting them sit for 48 hours in the room where they will be installed. Wood moldings, and even MDF and manufactured products, can absorb moisture from many sources, including the places where they are stored. If they’re not allowed to dry out to the climate of the room, they will shrink after they’re installed, resulting in gaps at the joints.

I’ve noticed that some outlets have a T-shaped neutral slot. What does this do?

It identifies the outlet as a 20-amp grounded receptacle and it should be used only on 20 amp circuits.

What does it mean to cope a joint?

To cope a joint means to shape the end of the molding so it fits the profile of the adjoining piece of molding, which can be cut at a 90-degree angle and butted flush into the corner.

I want to build my deck out of wood that is naturally weather-resistant. What should I use?

Use either red cedar, white cedar or redwood. All of these are proven to be both decay and insect-resistant.

I want a hand saw for all-around use. What do you recommend?

A seven or eight point crosscut would be a good choice.

Does it matter what kind of blade I buy for my scroll saw?

There are different types of blades for different types of materials and cuts. Blades with larger numbers (7, 10, 12) are best for cutting thick materials. Blades with smaller numbers (0000, 00, 2) are best for cutting thin materials.

How many nails should I purchase?

You will need about 2-1/2 lbs. of roofing nails for each square of shingles.

What do the teeth per inch numbers mean on sawblades?

The numbers indicate the number of points per inch on a saw blade.

What is a transformer?

It’s a device that changes the voltage. In most home usage, it reduces the voltage for use on low-voltage equipment, such as thermostats, doorbells and low-voltage outdoor lighting.

What is the difference between the door sill and the threshold?

The door sill is part of the frame structure of the door and sits under the door jamb. The threshold sits on top of the sill and performs the duty of making the door weathertight.

I think my flush valve is leaking, is there a way to fix this without removing the tank from the bowl?

Maybe. Start by checking the flapper, which is the rubber and plastic assembly piece that is attached to the chain. When the tank lever is pressed, the flapper is raised to let water flush from the tank into the bowl. Sometimes the flapper doesn’t seat properly and needs to be adjusted. Oftentimes, the flapper can be replaced without replacing the entire flush valve.

Are more teeth per inch better when buying a crosscut hand saw?

Fewer teeth work more quickly, but provide a coarser cut with rough edges. Saws with more teeth work more slowly, but provide a finer cut.

Are there other options besides brick trim for trimming the doorway of my home?

There are a variety of other trim options that can add a lot of detail to the entranceway. Options include caps or headers over the door, pilasters, plinths, sidelights and transoms. Also, many of the types of trim, such as crown molding and cove molding, that are used inside can be used outside as well.

What are some features to look for on a good planer?

Convenient features on a planer include a dust hood to collect dust, reversible knives that are often inexpensive and disposable, infeed rollers to grab stock and help feed it through the machine and preset depth stops to make it easier to set to a desired thickness.

What type of handsaw blade should I use to cut paneling?

Use an 11-point blade—with a fine cut—so that the wood will not splinter when it is cut.

What tool should I use to strip the plastic sheathing off wire?

A combination wire stripper tool has openings that fit different sizes of wire. When a wire is put into the correct one and pulled it will remove the covering without damaging the wire.

What are some advantages of polyurethane moldings over wood moldings?

Different products from different manufacturers will vary, so check manufacturer’s material for claims of product performance. Generally, polyurethane will not swell or shrink, will not rot, will not split when nailed, is lightweight and easy to install, and does not need sanding before painting.

Do I need to use glue on wood joints when using pocket screws?

While most manufacturers of pocket screw joinery kits say you don’t have to, it certainly can’t hurt.

What type of nail should I use?

Use hot-dipped galvanized roofing nails, either 11- or 12- gauge with a 3/8” diameter head. Or, follow the shingle manufacturer’s recommendation for the type of nail you should use.

Does the number of points on a blade also apply to hacksaws?

Yes the higher the number of points, the finer the cut.

Is there a tool for removing the outer sheathing on cables such as Romex?

A utility knife will work, but an inexpensive a cable ripper is designed for the task and will not damage the wires inside.

What are some attachments besides drill bits I can use on my drill press?

You can use rotary rasps, sanding attachments and even a rotary planer for small pieces.

I want to cut some lightweight sheet metal, which hacksaw blade should I use?

Use a fine cut blade. On heavier metals, such as steel pipe, a coarser cut blade will be more efficient.

I need to run some wire through my wall. Do you have any suggestions?

Instead of trying to feed the wire through, use a fish tape. This tool is a small wire on a real that is easier to feed through. Once you have fed it through the wall, attach the wire and pull the tape back through.

What kind of wood do I need for a stair tread?

You can buy hardwood pieces especially made as stair treads if you plan on having the stair parts exposed and finished nicely. If the stair will be covered with carpet or in a place such as in a basement, you can use 2x10s or 2x12s. Make sure you use the correct width your stair requires, according to the rise and run calculations.

What type of joinery method is best for mitered corners?

When gluing miters using biscuits, you need a way to clamp the joint until the glue dries. While there are a variety of miter clamps available, the pocket hole joinery method doesn’t require screws, and it’s a very solid joint.

Can I just lay down the new shingles over the old ones?

You can put asphalt shingles over an existing roof. However, if there is more than three layers of old roofing on the structure, they must be removed completely before applying new shingles.

Can hacksaws cut other materials besides metal?

Yes, the fine teeth of a hacksaw can cut other materials too tough for wood saws, such as bricks.

I think there is a short in a wire running to one of my rooms. Is there some way to test it to find out?

A continuity tester will let you know if there is a short. It is a tool that includes a battery so that it can supply a low-voltage current to devices and wires to see if there is a complete circuit.

I’m going to be carpeting my stair, but have to replace a few of the rises. What kind of board should I use?

A common board to use for this is a 1×8 #2 or #3 pine. You may need to cut it down to size.

I want a basic lathe. What size should I buy?

A 36” or 40” lathe is big enough to make stairway balusters and most legs for chairs and other furniture

If there is a short in the line, where should I look for it?

Search for loose taped wire; also look for worn fabric insulation on old wires and check any terminals have multiple wires since one of the wires may have slipped off.

How high should the handrail be?

Always check with local codes. Generally, it’s between 30” and 34” from a line measured across the nosing faces of the tread.

My toilet is constantly running causing ripples in the bowl. What’s wrong?

Either the float on the fill valve is stuck or it is set too high, causing water to overflow from the tank into the bowl through the overflow tube. Check the float on the fill valve to make sure it isn’t getting stuck on anything. Next, check for mineral build-up on the body of the fill valve, which may be causing the float to stick. This can be removed with steel wool or fine grit sandpaper.

Is there a good time to paint outside?

Always check the paint can for specific recommendations. But for general guidelines, you want the paint to dry evenly, so try to paint in the shade and when the temperature is between 60 degrees and below 90 degrees. Also, avoid windy days because they might make the paint dry too quickly or blow debris onto your wet paint.

How do I fix a leak in my gutter?

For some types of guttering, there are repair tapes that quickly and easily patch holes. Or, you can patch it using cement and a patch of the same material as the gutter. For larger holes, you may want to replace the entire section of gutter.

How big of an access hole should I drill in my birdhouse?

It varies depending on what type of bird you’re trying to attract, but a good average size is
1½-inch diameter.

How do I test a switch to see if it is working?

Use a continuity tester. First, shut of the electricity going to the switch and remove it. Touch the tester leads to both of the switch’s terminals. If the switch is working properly, the tester will light up when the switch is on and go out when the switch is turned off.

Why is a vapor barrier important?

A vapor barrier prevents condensation. Condensation occurs when warm air from the inside of the house meets the cold air on the exterior of the house during the winter. The vapor barrier prevents condensation that results from those differing temperatures. Otherwise, condensation builds up in the wall cavity and causes wood to rot and allows mold and mildew to grow over time.

How much of a slope should my gutters have?

Allow a fall of about 1-1/4” for each 20’ of guttering.

Are staples interchangeable with different staplers?

No the brand of staples should match the brand of stapler.

What is the easiest way to test an outlet?

Use a receptacle analyzer. Leave the power on, but make sure nothing is plugged into any outlet on the circuit, and turn off all switches on the circuit. Now, plug the analyzer into the outlet.  A series of lights will tell you if the outlet is wired correctly and working.

Is there a type of insulation that won’t irritate my skin?

Cellulose insulation is made of shredded waste paper. It generally doesn’t cause irritation. Also, you can try encapsulated insulation.

Is there a way I can test my exterior paint to see if it contains lead?

Yes. There are several do-it-yourself test kits that are approved by the EPA. Go to for a listing of test kits that have been approved. Approved test kits generally come with verification cards, while many non-approved test kits don’t.

What else should I consider when buying staples?

The thickness of the material to be attached and the hardness of the wood. In hardwood, a ¼ inch penetration is sufficient, but softwood requires up to 3/8” penetration.

Which color of wire nut do I need?

Check the package, it will tell you what size and how many wires each color of nut will hold.

Isn’t a vapor barrier and housewrap the same thing?

No. A vapor barrier prevents moisture from passing through and helps prevent it from getting inside the walls. It should be used on the inside of the house. Housewrap allows moisture that may be inside the wall cavity to escape. It should be used on the outside of the house.

What type of wood should I use to build my birdhouse?

Use a naturally weather resistant wood such as cedar or redwood.

The staples I am using do not go far enough into the wood, what do you recommend?

Your stapler does not have enough power to drive the staple into the hard surface. If you can, use a shorter staple or you will have to use a more powerful tool.

How do I use a wire nut?

Strip off about ½ inch of insulation from the wires you want to connect. Hold these wires next to each other and twist clockwise. Screw on the wire connector using only your hand strength. Make sure not bare wire is exposed.

What does the R-value on insulation mean?

R refers to resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the effectiveness of the insulation. The R-value depends on the type of material, its thickness and density.

Can I use a staple gun to install molding and trim?

Some staple guns handle round-crown as well as regular staples, while electric staple guns can handle brads for molding and trim work.

The squirrels keep chewing through the wood around the access hole in my birdhouse. How do I prevent this?

Add a second piece of wood over the access hole before drilling the hole. This will double the thickness around the hole, which will help keep predators out.

What type of scraper should I use to remove the peeling paint on my exterior wood siding?

If you have a lot of scraping to do, opt for a larger one with a carbide blade. While these cost more, they will last longer and do a better job.

My sump pump runs constantly, do I need to buy a new one?

It could just be a bad switch that is easy to replace.

Do you have something I can use to insulate and repair cords and wire with?

You can use heat-shrink tubing. It’s designed to fit something half its size in diameter.

Can I stack insulation to get a higher R-value?

Yes. For example, two R-19 batts can be stacked on each other to create R-38 insulation. You also can add loose-fill insulation on top of a bottom layer of batts.

When sweating copper, should I use propane gas in the blue cylinder or and propylene gas in the yellow cylinder?

Either one will work. The difference is that propylene in the yellow cylinder burns hotter. It has a flame temperature of 3,600 degrees F opposed to 3,450 degrees F for propane. A hotter flame means it can heat the pipe faster so it is ready to solder sooner. The higher temperature can also overcome the effects of a small amount of water left in the line, which is common in plumbing retrofits. The negative of propylene is the cost: about three times that of propane.

How do I know the correct size of sump pump to install?

If this is a replacement, and the previous one served well for a number of years, you can simply install the same size. If the old one seemed to run too often, you may want to get a slightly larger pump so it doesn’t have to work so hard. If this is for a new installation, 1/3 horsepower will normally handle occasional water flow, while a ½ horsepower will be needed if there is daily water flow.

My door is rubbing the frame at the top, what do you recommend?

You can shave off the top with a block plane, which is often the right tool, when you need to trim wood but not enough to use a saw. Block planes come in a variety of sizes to fit the job.

Do I need special tape for wiring?

Yes, you should use electrical tape.

I already have some loose-fill insulation in my attic. How do I know if I need more?

Generally, if you have less than 9” of insulation on the attic floor, it needs more.

I just refinished my basement and I want to ensure that it doesn’t flood. Do you have any advice?

You can buy a sump pump that has a battery back up. There are also high-water alarms.

I need to plane a piece of plywood. What type of plane should I use?

When using a plane on plywood, be sure to use a double-edged disposable blade. The adhesive in plywood will quickly dull a regular cutting iron.

Can insulation reduce sound?

Yes. Insulation can be a sound barrier for a quieter interior of the home. It can be used to prevent sound transmission through exterior and interior walls. Check the labeling on the product, as some manufacturers have products with better sound insulation qualities.

If I’m soldering a copper pipe fitting onto an existing water line, do I have to remove all the water from the pipe first?

Yes. You must first remove all existing water in the line before soldering. Water cools the pipe, which doesn’t allow it to heat up to the proper soldering temperature. A propylene torch can help with this because it burns hotter. The best measure to take is to remove all water from the pipe before soldering. Stuff a ball of white bread (Wonder Bread works great) into the pipe to stop water. Then, after you soldering the fitting and turn the water back on, purge the line of the bread through the nearest exterior hose bib. Plumbers have used this trick for years.

What drilling bits do you recommend for general use?

For drilling smaller holes in a variety of materials, choose a high-speed steel twist bit. These can drill holes from about 1/16 inch to ½ inch in wood, soft metal and other materials.

Should my door swing into or out of the room?

Generally, exterior doors should swing into the building, while interior doors should swing into the room. Doors that swing out into traffic areas can be dangerous.

What is a check valve?

A check valve keeps water from returning to the sump pit or crawl space after the pump shuts off.

How do I attach insulation between floor joists?

Insulation must be installed with the vapor barrier facing up. This means the paper flanges cannot be used. Use insulation supports (thin metal rods) to support the insulation. You can also attach a string in a lace pattern across the bottom of the joists.

What type of pliers should I buy for general use?

10-inch set of adjustable pliers may look big, but they are a good choice for general all around use.

What does gauge mean?

Wires have size numbers that express their diameter. These are even numbers from 0 to 18, and smaller numbers indicate larger diameters that can carry more power.

What is a pressure assist toilet?

It is a type of flush mechanism that uses both water and compressed air to flush the toilet, which helps eliminate clogs by flushing waster further than a gravity fed system.

I’ve heard I need to open a shut-off valve (either a ball or a gate valve) before soldering it to a copper pipe. Why?

By opening the valve it prevents the washer inside the valve from getting damaged by excessive heat when soldering.

I need to drill a 1-inch hole in a piece of wood. What bit do I need?

For drilling medium sized holes in wood, a spade bit is a good choice. Common sizes range from ¼ inch to 1½-inch. They can also be used on chipboards and floorboards.

Is there any advantage of a metal leaf rake over a plastic leaf rake?

A metal rake usually has more spring and is better suited for large areas. It is easier to clean around flowerbeds, shrubs and bushes and does not rake up essential thatch in a lawn.

I have a problem with the plumbing in my house making groaning and honking sounds. What causes this?

It could be that you have lost your “air cushion.” To get it back, turn the water supply off at the main valve. Turn on all the faucets around your home. Then turn on the main valve again and shut off each faucet. This should take care of the problem.

I need a pair of pliers that I can use in tight quarters.

Use a pair of needle nose pliers, which are good for this task as well as gripping small items, precision work, cutting wire, bending wire to wrap a terminal. The jaws and cutting blades meet evenly. If you hold them up to the light, you should not be able to see any diagonal chinks of light coming though.

I am putting a couple of more outlets in my garage can I use 14-guage wire?

While 14-guage wire is the minimum for most houses wiring, it can only be used for 15-amp circuits. Number 12-gauge wire is recommended for general home use. There is often a chart on boxes of wire that will show you recommend gauges for specific applications.

Why do I need vents in my attic?

Venting protects against moisture buildup in the attic and framing materials and helps keep the home cooler. In the summer, a tremendous amount of heat can build up in the attic, which can make the air conditioning system work much harder than it needs to. Venting keeps the attic cooler because it allows that hot air a place to escape. In the winter, vapor occurs when the warm air inside the house meets the cool air outside and condenses into water droplets. Ventilation keeps this moisture from rotting insulation and framing materials.

How do I clean up engine oil or grease from my driveway?

Use a driveway cleaner formulated especially for that purpose.

What is the benefit of a storm door?

Storm doors provide extra security and provide another layer of protection against weather. They also can stop drafts through door openings.

What is a supply valve?

This is valve is under the sink or beside the toilet and shuts off the water to the faucet or toilet.

What are the advantages of locking pliers?

They can turn many parts that no other tool can and they are especially suited for clamping onto small parts and gripping pipefittings. You can also use them when a nut or bolt head strips.  But be careful because you and deform some parts if you over tighten them.

How is UF electric wire different from regular Romax cable?

If you lay cable underground, it must be UF (underground feed) cable, which has each individual wire insulated and has plastic wound around the insulated wire for weather and sunlight protection. Romax has a paper product around the wires.

Why do I need both soffit vents and a ridge vent?

A properly balanced vent system consists of two types of vents. Intake vents are placed along the soffit to allow fresh air into the attic. Exhaust vents are installed in the upper third of the roof to allow attic air to escape. With a properly vented system, the air in the attic should completely change every six minutes.

What are voltage testers?

It’s an inexpensive tool that tests for live current. It can save your life. To use a voltage tester, simply plug its leads into a receptacle, or, if the cover plate is off, touch them to the screw terminals of the device. If current is present, the tester will light.

Can I use a cup plunger to unclog my toilet?

It may work, but a forced ball plunger is designed to make more of a seal around the bottom of the toilet to remove the clog.

I’m drilling in some wood, where I will probably hit some hidden nails. What bit should I use?

A spade bit is a good choice, because they are relatively inexpensive and you can resharpen them with a file.

What is the difference between PVC and CPVC plastic pipe?

CPVC can be used on hot and cold lines, while PVC is for cold water only. PVC is usually used as a drainpipe.

What type of wire should I use for a 220-volt outlet?

The best choice is one is a three-wire cable with a ground. Also, make sure it’s rated for the amperage you need.

Do I have enough vents in my attic?

You should have one square foot of vent area for every 150 square feet of attic floor space. The vent manufacturer will list the vent area on the package as the FVA (free vent area). The vent area must also be split between high and low vents. If a vapor barrier is present, then the requirement changes to one square foot for every 300 square feet. Shingle manufacturers require that attics have adequate ventilation; otherwise their product warranty may be voided.

What’s the difference between the different types of patio doors I can buy?

Patio doors with aluminum frames are the least expensive, but also the least durable and least energy efficient. Vinyl is mid-range for both price and quality. Wood is the best.

Can the fittings be removed after they have been glued?

No. They are permanently joined and cannot be taken apart.

What type of drill do you recommend for do-it-yourself projects?

Most consumers use a 3/8-inch model that reverses, has variable speed and has a keyless chuck. You should get one that draws at least 3.5 amps.

I am running an underground cable in my lawn, what should I use to connect the wires?

You can use waterproof wire nuts if you do not have a waterproof box.

What is the best type of vent system for my house?

Most builders agree that a ridge vent system is the most effective as well as the most cost-effective.

What type of drill bit should I use for cutting a large hole for a new door lock?

For larger holes use a hole saw. They range in size from about 1 inch to 4 inches. They have a pilot bit and a saw-toothed circular rim.

How do I take care of my pruning tools?

Simply keep them clean and wipe them down with light oil. Oil their pivot points and blades with 3-in-1 oil and sharpen them if need be. Also remove any rust with Naval Jelly.

What do the letters “K,” “L” and “M” on copper tubing mean?

Type K is the heaviest. Type L is medium weight and used most often for waterlines in homes. Type M is thinner and is used underground or for light domestic water lines if local codes allow.

If I buy a cordless drill, what volt-model should I buy?

A 12-volt model will handle the needs of most D-I-Yers. For bigger projects a 14-volt or higher model are a good choice. For lighter duty, a 9.6-volt model should be sufficient. For extended use, you should get two battery packs.

Do you have an extension cord for my window air conditioner?

Yes, you need to use a major appliance cord. A regular extension cord doesn’t have heavy enough wire to safely conduct the necessary current.

How can I keep my insulation in the attic from spilling over onto the soffit vent?

Use a baffle in each rafter cavity that contains a soffit vent.

How do I pick the right paint brush material?

There are two types: synthetic and natural bristle.
Natural bristle brushes are used with stains and varnishes.
Synthetics are good for any kind of paint.

How do I create a bend or a turn in conduit?

You can use a connection fitting, much the same way you would use a plumbing fitting, or you can bend the conduit with a conduit bender.

How should I cut plastic pipe?

Any fine tooth saw will work, but make sure you remove any burs.

What drill bits do you recommend for general use?

For drilling smaller holes in a variety of materials, choose a high-speed steel twist bit. These can drill holes from about 1/16 inch to ½ inch in wood, soft metal and other materials.

What is the difference between an extension cord rated for outdoor use and a standard one?

The outer coating of the insulation is weather and sunlight resistant.

What’s an auger bit used for in drilling?

It primarily used for cutting deep holes in all types of wood.

Do I need to turn the water off to my outdoor spigots during the winter?

It’s a good idea to keep them from freezing, especially if you don’t have a frost-free sillcock supplying water to your outdoor spigots.

Can I install my own replacement windows?

Installing replacement windows is a task that most do-it-yourselfers can handle.

What is the difference between soft copper tubing and hard copper tubing?

Hard copper is rigid line used throughout the house. Soft copper is used where flexibility is needed, such as faucet supply lines.

I need to drill a 1-inch hole in a piece of wood. What bit do I need?

For drilling medium sized holes in wood, a spade bit is a good choice. Common sizes range from ¼ inch to 1 ½ inch. They can also be used on chipboards and floorboards.

What is BX cable?

This is a trade name for an armored cable that wraps the wires in a flexible metal sheathing.

How do I insulate the top and side of my garage door?

Aluminum and vinyl weather stripping is available for this. There is also a weather strip made specifically for garage door bottoms.

Do I need a special kind of fitting for outdoor conduit?

Use a fitting with covers and gaskets, made especially for outdoor use.

What is a compression fitting?

This type of fitting squeezes a brass or plastic ring around copper or plastic tubing.

I’m drilling in some wood, where I will probably hit some hidden nails. What bit should I use?

A spade bit is a good choice, because they are relatively inexpensive and you can resharpen them with a file.

How large of a cord should I use when wiring an appliance?

Use cords with 16-guage wire for appliances pulling less than 15 amps and 12-guage wire for appliances pulling up to 20 amps?

How do I know what is the best type of weather stripping to use?

It depends on what you want to seal. Make sure the type you choose can withstand the friction, weather, temperature changes and wear and tear of the location. If it is intended to seal a door or window, make sure it will seal it well while still allowing it to open freely.

The pull-out spray nozzle in my new faucet won’t retract back into the faucet, what’s causing this?

Perhaps the weight that retracts the spray hose fell off or is caught on something underneath the sink.

Can I drill a hole in concrete?

Yes a high-speed masonry bit is used on concrete, concrete block, cinder block, brick and stone.

How do I measure for my replacement window?

Remember that windows that are custom built can’t be returned, so measure carefully. To measure the width, raise the lower sash and measure the jamb-to-jamb width in three places: near the top of the window, at the middle and close to the bottom. To measure the height, measure from the head jamb to the sloped sill to just past where it meets the inside window stool. Don’t assume all windows are the same size. Draw a sketch of your house and measure each window separately.

What is a flare fitting?

A connector is slipped over the end of a copper tube, which is then flared out using a special tool. The fitting can then be screwed into another fitting.

What type of drill bit should I use for cutting a large hole for a new door lock?

For larger holes use a hole saw. They range in size from about 1 inch to 4 inches. They have a pilot bit and a saw-toothed circular rim.

What is Underwriters Laboratories?

It is a non-profit organization that tests and approves electrical products. Look for “UL” labels of approval to help ensure appliances are safe.

Where should I look for air leaks around the house?

Look around door and window frames, electrical and gas service outlets, outdoor water faucets, air conditioners, vents and fans and where dryer vents pass through walls.

Can I drill a hole in concrete?

Yes a high-speed masonry bit is used on concrete, concrete block, cinder block, brick and stone.

What do the colors of the plastic insulation mean on wires?

They are designed to indicate their use, but be careful, because they are not always hooked correctly. Hot wires, those carrying current at full voltage, are usually black, red or white with black marks. Neutral wires are usually with or gray. Ground wires are usually either green or bare copper.

How do I get foam insulation off my hands?

Before it cures, use an acetone or fingernail polish remover. If the foam cures, a solvent won’t do any good. The insulation won’t harm your skin and will fall off in a couple of days. Or, you can try a pumice soap and warm water. However, always read caution statements on the back of the can and use gloves to avoid contact with skin.

Can I bury electrical cable directly under the ground without conduit?

Always check local codes. But generally, UF cable (underground feeder and branch-circuit cable) may be buried without conduit. It is rated for dry, damp, wet or corrosive locations. Do not embed it in concrete. NM (or nonmetallic-sheathed cable) should not be buried due to damage from moisture.

What is the difference between latex and vinyl patching cement?

One difference is in the way they are mixed. Vinyl mixes use a cement-like powder activated by adding water. Latex cement has a powder mixed with a polymer liquid. No water is added.

What is the proper way to join galvanized to copper pipe?

You should use a dielectric union. This will prevent electrolysis from occurring, which deteriorates the copper tubing.

How do I choose a cordless power drill?

For occasional around-the-house chores, a lightweight 9.6V model is a cost-effective choice.  It will drive about 50 screws between charges. For light remodeling projects, a 12.0V model will drive about 150 screws. For heavy duty jobs such as drilling in metal or major remodeling, consider a 14.0V drill. An 18.0V model is usually only needed by professionals requiring high torque.

Is it okay to use an extension cord with a fuse on it rather than a surge protector for my computer?

No, a surge protector has components that trip before a spike in electricity damages your electronic equipment.

Can I use expanding foam to insulate walls?

We don’t recommend it. Expanding foam products are created to fill small cracks and voids and require ventilation to cure. Larger gaps may require special techniques to cure properly. Also, you shouldn’t use expanding foam behind tub surrounds.

What is the difference between a square-cut and an angle-cut paint brush?

Straight-cut paint brushes are traditional and have been used for centuries. While both provide good coverage, angled paint brushes cover a bigger surface area in one stroke. They also allow you to cut in on corners to provide a smoother, cleaner edge.

What is a saber saw?

It’s a portable jigsaw that can perform many tasks, such as cutting curves and holes. However, it can’t handle heavy jobs. Some models have orbital blade action for a more aggressive cut. Another feature some people like is blower that keeps the cutting line visible and sawdust free.

What does O.D. and I.D. mean?

This refers to the diameter of a pipe. Some pipes are measured base on their outside diameter, or O.D. Others are measured by their interior diameter, or I.D.

How do I select the right drill bit?

High speed steel is good for general purpose. Other metals such as titanium reduce friction and last longer. Cobalt is a good option for drilling in hard metals.

What’s the best way to insulate around the air conditioner?

There is a special type of air conditioner weather strip. It consists of a rectangular polyfoam that press-fits between the top frame or lower sash and upper pane. It seals off the air spaces between the window and the air conditioner.

How close to the copper fitting do you need to hold the flame to get bring it up to soldering temperature?

The inner blue cone within the flame is the hottest part of the flame and should always touch the copper. When the copper starts to turn iridescent in color and gets a shiny appearance, gently touch the tip of the solder to the joint. I should melt and run into the joint.

Can I bury conduit?

Use plastic conduit if you want to bury a conduit to carry an electrical line. Make sure the joints are waterproof.

Is one thick coat of blacktop sealer just as good if not better than two thin coats?

No. In fact, two thin coats are always better. Thick coats lead to problems such as tracking, cracking and discoloration.

Can I attach metal fittings and plastic fittings?

Yes, there are transition fittings that make this possible.

My doorbell doesn’t work; do you know what’s wrong with it?

There are three components to the doorbell, the button, the transformer and the bell itself. First, look for any loose wires throughout the system. If all the wires are connected, test the doorbell button by removing it and touching the two wires together. If this makes the doorbell work, you have a bad button that it easily replaced.

I bought a new faucet with a built-in pull out spray nozzle, and now I have an extra hole in my sink where the pull-out spray used to be.

You can use this hole for a variety of handy accessories, such as a soap dispenser or for the dispenser of an under-sink water filtration system.

What should I look for when buying a saber saw?

Look to see if the mechanism for adjusting the base plate is sturdy. On less expensive models these are weak and will eventually wobble making it difficult to cut accurately. Look for a model that draws 3 amps and has variable speed.

Do you measure the diameter of hard copper and the same as soft copper?

No, you measure hard coppers with I.D. (inside diameter). You measure soft coppers by their O.D. (outside diameters).

What types of power sanders are there?

The four most common are belt sanders, finish sanders, orbital sanders and random orbital sander.

I’ve bypassed the doorbell button, and the doorbell still did not work. What’s the most likely problem?

Check the transformer. You will have to find it. It might be in the attic, but it can be anywhere, you just need to trace the wire. If it makes a humming sound when the button is pushed, your problem is probably the chime. If it doesn’t make a sound, I would change the transformer to see if that’s the problem.

What is the “work triangle?”

This is a concept used for designing the most efficient kitchen. The National Kitchen and Bath Association says it is an imaginary straight line drawn from the center of the sink to the center of the cooktop to the center of the refrigerator and back to the sink.

How do I clean up engine oil or grease from my driveway?

Use a driveway cleaner formulated especially for that purpose.

How do you measure galvanized pipe?

You measure it by the I.D. (inside diameter)

Which type of sander do you recommend?

For the homeowner, I suggest a random orbit sander because it balances the two main functions of a sander. It removes stock quickly and still provides a quality finish.

I have a water pipe in an unheated garage, how can I protect it from freezing?

Wrap the pipe with a heat tape, which comes in different lengths.

How big should the work triangle be?

Each leg of the triangle should be between 4 and 9 feet long, with the total of length not more than 26 feet.

How do I seal connections I make with plastic conduit?

Use PVC cement found in the plumbing department.

How do you measure black pipe?

Using I.D. (inside diameter)

Isn’t a belt sander the best choice for removing a lot of material?

Yes, they work quickly, but I don’t recommend them for do-it-yourselfers because you have to be very careful. One mistake can ruin the piece you are working on.

I am installing a ceiling fan; do I need a special electrical box?

Yes, special saddle boxes are designed for hanging heavy fixtures—up to about 50 pounds. Since a ceiling fan moves, these boxes are good for about a 35-pound ceiling fan.

How much space should I leave for a walkway when planning a kitchen?

The general rule is to leave at least 42” between the front edge of the counter top to the nearest table or island.

What type of furnace filter should I buy?

Both the type of filter you choose, as well as how frequently you change it, depends on several factors, which include: if you have pets, if you have allergies, how clean your furnace ducts are, if you smoke indoors and the amount of dust present. If these are factors, then you probably need a filter with a higher performance rating.

My saber saw blades seem to dull quickly. What should I use?

That’s common, but make sure you are using the right blade for the material you are cutting—wood, tile or metal.

What’s the purpose of sealing an asphalt driveway?

Sealing the driveway protects the asphalt from sun, moisture and grease that can damage the asphalt underneath.

Is ½” CPVC and ½” PVC the same size?

No. CPVC is measured by O.D., which makes its sizing similar to hard copper. PVC is measured by I.D., which makes its sizing similar to iron pipe.

What are the advantages of a finish sander?

Rather than orbiting, it moves the sandpaper back and forth and should be used where it is absolutely necessary that the sandpaper move in a single direction. These often use square sheets of sandpaper, which also makes it easier to get into corners.

Is replacing my thermostat an easy project?

Yes, simply remove the old thermostat from the wall. Next, disconnect each one and mark it so you can keep track of where it was connected. Attach the new thermostat to the wall and attach the old wires.

How much room do I need for an eating table?

Allow 36” between the nearest obstruction and an eating table, so there is room to pull a chair away from the table.

Will any lock fit my door?

Most locks come in two sizes: 2-3/8” or 2-3/4” backset. This is how far the center of the hole is away from the edge of the door. You need to know this distance or purchase a lock that has an adjustable backset.

What is the difference between an orbital sander and a random orbital sander?

An orbital sander moves only in a circular motion, while the random orbital sander also moves back and forth. As a result of the two separate motions, it leaves less of a swirl pattern on the wood.

I want to run a new wire to install some additional outlets. Do I have to run these wires through the wall?

You can use surface wire channels that allow you to run the wire on the outside of the wall and still maintain an attractive appearance.

How much countertop space should I have beside the sink?

Experts recommend having 36” on either side of the sink, with 24” as the bare minimum.

Which type of sander do you recommend?

For the homeowner, I suggest a random orbit sander because it balances the two main functions of a sander. It removes stock quickly and still provides a quality finish.

What is an LB fitting?

LB stands for line box. It is often used at the point where you will begin pulling wire through the conduit. However, it is not a junction box and should not contain wire connections.

How do I repair a crack in my basement?

You can use hydraulic cement to stop active leaks in the basement that are larger than 1/4”. Form the mixture into a ball-shape, press it into the crack and hold until it hardens, usually less than five minutes.

Do I need a deadbolt?

These locks provide more security as the deadbolt latch is larger and protrudes farther into the door frame. It can also be keyed on both sides for additional security.

I have accidentally gouged some wood with my random orbital sander.

It’s best to put the sander onto the surface before you start it. In addition, when using an orbital sander, don’t press down too hard on the tool. Let its weight do the work.

How much countertop space should I have beside the refrigerator?

Experts recommend having 18”, with 15” as the bare minimum. This should be located on the latch side.

Do you have multiple door locks that require only one key?

Some locks come in pairs that use the same key.

How much countertop space should I have beside the range?

Experts recommend having 24”, with a bare minimum of 15”.

What type of paint is best for my project?

Price matters. The more expensive it is, the better performance you will get. You want to understand the types of binders and solids in your paint because they affect the coverage.

Less expensive paints may only cover up to 200-feet, but more expensive ones will go further with fewer coats.

I need to repair a loose railing that is anchored in cement.

To repair the hole in the cement where the anchor is, use a special anchoring cement that is quick setting and is stronger than concrete.

Can locks be rekeyed so that more than one uses the same key?

Locksmiths can also re-key existing or new locks to the same key. However, they have to be the same brand and use the same key blank.

What all-around circular saw do you recommend?

A 7¼ inch is the most popular size. It lets you cut to a depth of 2½ inches and to cut through a 2x piece of lumber even when the blade is set to 45 degrees.

When my house was built, they did not install a doorbell. Is there an easy way to solve this?

Yes, there are wireless door chimes that are fairly easy to install.

Do I need countertop space beside the built-in oven?

Yes, and experts recommend you have 18”, with a bare minimum of 15”.

Can you have a garbage disposal if you have a septic system?

Yes, in fact, many manufacturers make models specifically for homes with septic systems.

There is a wide range of prices of padlocks. What is the advantage of the more expensive ones?

They are heavier, more durable, and will provide greater security.

How do you recognize a quality circular saw?

Look for amperage and types of bearings—top quality saws pull 12 or 13 amps and run on ball bearings. Lower quality saws use roller or sleeve bearings and are rated about 9 or 10 amps. While plastic housings are not a sign of inferior quality, make sure the saw has extruded or cast metal base plates. Stamped metal plates can warp.

I don’t have a dishwasher and hadn’t planned on getting one, so why should I include it in my plan?

Even if you don’t plan to have a dishwasher, you may want to include a 24” base cabinet beside the sink. You can always use the cabinet space. More importantly, if you decide to sell the house and make the kitchen more appealing to the buyer, you can remove the 24” cabinet and insert a dishwasher without reconfiguring the entire kitchen.

What is the difference between annual, perennial weeds and biennial weeds?

Annual weeds, such as crabgrass, germinate from seeds each spring. After maturing, they drop seeds before dying. These are the seeds that germinate the following year. Perennial weeds, such as dandelions, do not die at the end of growing season. They may lay dormant in the winter, but will become noticeable in the spring. There are also biennial weeds, such as thistle, which grow vegetation in the first year and then flower and die the second year.

How do I clean my wood floor?

Use a quality, solvent-based wood floor and cleaner and wax. Do not use water.

What type of padlock holds up best in the weather?

While brass padlocks will hold up better in the weather than standard ones, most people are happier with the plastic weatherproof casing. Obviously, the brass ones provide a decorative option.

What is a worm drive circular saw?

Unlike standard circular saws, these have the motor mounted parallel to the saw blade. In addition, they usually have a larger motor. These features provide for more powerful and stronger tools that are preferred by pros looking for heavy-duty, long-term use.

What is SPF wood?

SPF stands for Spruce-Pine-Fir. An SPF wood can be either of these species, which share similar characteristics, including high strength, lightweight and durability. They can be used for a variety of purposes, such as home building, trusses or home projects.

What is the difference between two paints?

Different types of paint with have different amounts of solids and resins in it. Some even come with warranties from 15 years to a lifetime.

My garbage disposal smells bad. What can I do?

There are garbage disposer cleaners that will eliminate this smell, or a home remedy is to grind up citrus peels in the disposer, which will also eliminate the smell.

What features make a padlock stronger?

The high-security padlocks often have cases that provide a collar around most of the shackle. That makes it harder to get bolt cutters on them.

What can I cut with a circular saw?

With the proper blade, it can cut wood, metal, plastic, fiberglass cement block, slate and brick.

Should I use a special type of fastener for wood I’ll be using outside?

For exterior wood applications, I recommend a corrosion-resistant fastener, such as stainless steel or hot-dipped galvanized steel.

My run of cabinets is going to end with just a little space to spare between the last cabinet and the wall. What do I do about that space?

You can buy a narrow filler to fill in that gap. The wood is stained and finished to match the other cabinets you will be buying.

How do I figure out how much carpet I need?

Multiply the room’s length in feet by its width, and then divide by 9 to get square yardage. Then, add 10 percent to that figure to account for odd shapes in the room.

I need to attach my grill to my deck to deter it from being stolen. What do you recommend?

Aircraft cable is a good alternative. You can swage both ends and use it with a padlock. It’s more attractive than a heavy chain, and it can be used on many things—such as outdoor furniture.

What are other features that I should look for on a circular saw?

How easy it is to see where the blade is cutting, is it easy to change the blade, will it cut bevels, can you use a vacuum attachment and can you attach a rib fence guide.

How do I maintain my redwood deck?

Redwood is stronger than other woods, so you can let it weather naturally and it is less likely to warp or split. It will weather to a natural gray color. To enhance the color of the wood and provide additional protection, use a finish that has a water repellent, a mildewcide and UV protection.

I don’t want to completely replace all of my cabinets, but would like to give them a facelift. What are my options?

You can try refacing the cabinets by replacing the front of the cabinet with new doors and facings. Or, you can apply a new finish or paint to the existing doors and facings.

What is a gunlock and how does it work?

A gunlock fits over the trigger to prevent the firing of the gun. A good gun lock will cover the trigger completely and have a quality, pin-tumbler locking mechanism.

I need to make an accurate cut with a circular saw, but it’s difficult to keep straight.

You can get more accurate cuts by using a guide or fence that help you stay on the right path.

What is kiln dried lumber?

Kiln drying is sending lumber through an oven to drive the moisture out of the wood. The alternative is air drying, which means the lumber is stacked outside until the moisture evaporates from the wood. Lumber used in homes must be dried before it is used. Otherwise, it will shrink and cause problems in the structure.

I have an old house and am not sure if the walls are square. How do I check for this?

Use the 3-4-5 method. Measure along one wall for three feet (or a multiple of three—the bigger the better). Mark this point. Next, measure along the other wall from the same corner four feet (or the same multiple) and mark the spot. Then measure diagonally from mark to mark. If the diagonal is five feet (or the same multiple), the corner is square. If not, it is out of square.

How do I care for my laminate floor?

A laminate floor can be vacuumed of cleaned with a damp mop.

What is the difference between a single-cylinder and a double-cylinder deadbolt?

A single-cylinder is key operated from the outside while a double cylinder is key operated on both sides. They both have their advantages.

What type of blade should I use when I am cutting wood?

When cutting across the grain, a crosscut blade has a series of evenly spaced, medium-sized teeth that are bent alternately from the left to the right. When cutting along the wood grain, a rip blade also has teeth bent to the left and right, but its teeth are on the top of the blade, not on the inside. They are like chisels that scoop out the wood as the saw moves along the grain.

What chemical is used to treat pressure treated wood?

Previously, pressure treated wood was treated with a chemical called CCA preservative, which was banned for residential uses in the U.S. at the end of 2003. ACQ (alkaline copper quaternary) is replacing CCA in most of the country (where Southern Pine is used) except the far west, where CA (copper azole) is more common (Hem-Fir and SPF are the most common species treated).

How do I clean my wood cabinets?

Check the manufacturer material for cleaning recommendations. Generally, do not use oily polishes, detergents or glass cleaners on wood finishes. For high gloss finishes, never use a wax finish. Use a good furniture brand polish, and if there is a soiled area, use a damp cloth and mild dish soap. Rinse the area with a damp cloth and dry with a clean cloth.

I need a tool box that will hold a basic set of tools… nothing too fancy. What type should I buy?

Tool boxes come in a variety of sizes and configurations. However, it sounds like you just need a basic plastic tool box to store a few tools and some fasteners. I would recommend a 19” model with one lift-out tray.

Is there a product that makes installing a strikeplate easier?

Yes, there is an adjustable strikeplate

Do I need to buy both a crosscut and rip blade?

For general use, you can buy a combination blade that incorporates the features of both rip and crosscut blades.

What do I look for in a quality cabinet?

There are many construction factors that go into a quality cabinet. One good way to judge the quality of a cabinet is to look at the drawer construction. Better drawers will have solid-wood boxes with dovetail joint construction. The slide hardware will be invisible, full-extension, under-mounted ball-bearing guides.

What are the differences in paint gloss types?

Semi-gloss and higher are more durable and can be lightly scrubbed down if the walls get dirty. For large areas of wall, such as a hallway, flat or satin-based paint will better hide surface problem areas.

What is an under-mount sink?

It’s a type of sink that mounts underneath the counter. It’s common in kitchens with solid surface counters.

How do I seal unglazed or natural tile.

There is a specially made sealer that you can apply with a brush or roller after the tile is installed.

What can I do to add security to my door?

Consider installing a stronger strikeplate—these are larger and have much longer screws.

What’s the advantage of a carbide-tipped circular saw blade?

The cutting edges are made from extra-hard carbide steel that will last up to 20 times longer and are good for cutting materials of different hardnesses.

Why is it called a 2×4 if it is really on 1-1/2”x3-1/2”?

The piece of wood started out 2”x4”, but the process of drying and planning made it smaller. How much it shrinks depends on whether the lumber has been left green (undried) or has been dried.

Do I need a special blade to cut plywood with my circular saw?

Yes, a plywood blade has small teeth that provide a clean cut and reduces splintering.

Why is this 2×4 so much more expensive than these other 2x4s?

The quality is very different between the two. One is a Stud grade piece of lumber and the other is Utility grade. The Utility grade is much lower quality and shouldn’t be used for construction in load bearing walls.

Are there any advantages to a laminate countertop?

A laminate countertop is inexpensive and resists stains. They are also very easy to install.

When do I apply a pre-emergent herbicide?

These are applied in late winter or early spring before seeds begin to germinate.

What is the nitrogen needed for?

It’s the “up.” It promotes plant growth and greening, thus providing more foliage, color and density.

Can I use my circular saw to cut masonry?

Use an abrasive wheel looks like a thin grinding wheel. It can also be used to cut fiberglass and light metal.

I’m going to add a wall in one of the rooms of my house, what grade of board should I use.

If the wall won’t be carrying any weight above it, you can use a light framing 2×4. The other option is a stud, which can be used for load bearing walls.

Won’t a wood countertop be unsanitary?

Actually, wood is one of the more sanitary types of countertops. It has properties that resist bacteria build-up.

Are folding steel or plastic sawhorses as durable as homemade wooden ones?

Depending on the construction of the homemade ones, they are probably more durable and can be conveniently folded and stored out of the way.

My dimmer switch feels warm. Is that safe?

It is normal for a dimmer to get warm during operation, and they have a built-in heat sink for that very reason. Always be sure the load on the switch does not exceed its rating.

What does the phosphorous do?

This is the “down” number. It stimulates cell building and root growth, and is particularly beneficial in helping seedlings, flowers and vegetables to develop

How often do I need to reseal my granite countertop?

Check the product you use to seal it. You’ll need to reseal the countertop every five years, but some products may need to be reapplied every two years.

What does the potassium do?

It assists plants in forming starches and proteins, thus promoting plant hardiness, disease resistance and a tolerance to drought and cold. It’s the “all-around” number.

What factors are important when choosing a reciprocating saw?

Generally, the higher the amp the more cutting power. They range in size from about 4 amps to 11 amps. Other features include cordless options, orbital action that cuts more aggressively, adjustable shoe to change the depth of the cut and variable speeds.

Are there differences in the types of treated lumber I can buy?

The difference you need to be concerned about is what kind of use it’s qualified for. The grade stamp will indicate whether it is rated for Ground Contact, Above Ground Use or Below Ground Use.

Can I place hot dishes directly on stone countertops?

No. Even a stone like granite can crack from a strong heat source. Use trivets or mats under hot pans or dishes.

When do I apply a post-emergent herbicide?

These are used on weeds that are actively growing, and should be applied in mid spring. Another excellent time is in early fall.

When my tool belt is loaded with tools and fasteners it becomes too heavy to wear all day. I need all of my tools handy, but is there anything that can help?

Strapping a pair of suspenders to your work belt can relieve some of the strain on your back by allowing your shoulders to carry some of the weight.

I want to make a pegboard to hang tools in my workshop, what kind of wood do I need?

Use a perforated board. If you are planning to hang heavy items, I suggest a 1/4” panel.

What is a good all-around, multi-purpose fertilizer?

A 12-12-12 helps promote growth and is good for all vegetables, flowers, fruit and nut trees, shade trees, evergreens and shrubs. A 1-1-1 ratio (10-10-10,15-15-15, 20-20-20, etc.) is widely used at the time of lawn establishment, but established lawns generally respond better to fertilizer ratios high in nitrogen. Two of the more common complete fertilizers used by homeowners for flowers and vegetables are 10-10-10 and 5-10-10. A high phosphorus fertilizer such as 6-18-6 is often recommended for vegetables when transplants are set out.

Is it dangerous to cut treated wood?

You can cut treated wood safely if you follow a few safety precautions. First, wear a mask to prevent inhaling the dust and use gloves to prevent splinters. Also wear eye protection to protect from particles flying into your eye. Then, dispose of the dust in the trash; do not burn scraps or sawdust. Always cut in a well-ventilated area. Thoroughly wash hands and face before eating or smoking to avoid accidental ingestion of the dust.

Can I place hot dishes directly on my solid surface countertop?

No. A strong, localized heat source can scorch or crack a solid surface countertop. Use trivets or mats under hot pans or dishes.

What are micronutrients?

These are nutrients, such as sulfur and iron, that plants need in tiny amounts. Generally, micronutrient deficiencies are not common because organic matter and most soils and fertilizers contain sufficient amounts.

My saber saw blades seem to dull quickly, is this normal?

That’s common, but make sure you are using the right blade for the material you are cutting—wood, tile or metal.

Are long pieces of lumber that are made by gluing boards together as strong as solid pieces of timer?

Lumber that is glued or laminated together is tested by the manufacturer to ensure it will withstand a certain load. If you know what your load requirements are and buy a piece rated to withstand that load, then you can be sure the laminated lumber you buy is as strong as a single piece of timber. In fact, a laminated piece, especially in longer lengths, may be easier to find. Also, thick timbers are more difficult to dry properly, while laminated pieces are made from all kiln-dried material.

I want a countertop that has a sink molded in with no seams to caulk or get dirty.

The solid surface countertop has this type of sink and is very easy to keep clean.

How should I finish plywood that I’ve used on the outside of my house?

The best recommendation is to prime and paint it. Be sure to paint the edges that are exposed as well. Or, you can finish it with a semi-transparent or opaque stain.

What are special purpose fertilizers?

Some fertilizers are designed for certain uses or types of plants such as citrus food, rose food or azalea food. For example, the azalea fertilizer has been specifically formulated to acidify the planting medium. Packaging of other fertilizers for specific types of plants is often based more on marketing then reliable research. Pick the least expensive product that supplies the correct amount of needed nutrients.

Is there a small power saw that is good for lighter work?

Yes, there are 3½ inch saws that are designed for trim work. However, they are also good for people who don’t want to handle a large saw. They can be used to cut everything from lattice to a 2×4.

What type of lumber should I use for a garage door header?

A garage door has a predictable load and span, and constructing one out of stock dimension lumber can be difficult. Try a laminated stock intended for use as a garage door header.

How do I clean a solid surface countertop?

Clean up is easy. Use soap and water.

How do I set finishing nails?

Use a nail set to sink the nail head into the molding. Then you can fill the hole with a spackling compound, sand it smooth and paint it.

What are the advantages of a synthetic fertilizer?

They’re faster acting than organic, making them a good choice for aiding plants in severe distress from nutrient deficiencies. These fertilizers, which come as dry, granular pellets or water-soluble products, also provide even, consistent feeding.

How big of a nail do I need for the plywood I bought?

The size of the nail is determined by the thickness of the panel and how it will be used. Generally, common or box nails may be used. For finish work, you may want to use casing nails instead of finish nails if you need a heavier nail.

What are the advantages of the granular pellets?

They are usually less expensive than their organic counterparts. They can be applied by simply spreading them around plants or using a spreader to apply them to a lawn.

I need a hex key wrench, but I don’t know the size?

Since they are not expensive, I would recommend an 18-piece all-purpose hex key wrench set.

Can I buy more paneling that matches this piece I already have in my house?

If the design is a standard pattern, it has a number and is easy to reorder. We’ll check the WWPA’s “Standard Product Pattern” booklet.

What type of utility knife should I buy for general household use?

You probably should get a model with a retractable blade, especially if there are children present in the home.

What are time-released granular pellets?

These controlled-release fertilizers provide consistent feeding for three to nine months depending on the product. The fertilizer granules are coated with a permeable substance. With each watering, a bit of fertilizer diffuses through the coating and into the soil. Advantages include the need for fewer applications and less of a chance of burning the plant. However, they do not provide as quick a boost and they cost more.

Do I need to worry about what size straight-slot screwdriver to buy?

A screwdriver is most effective when the width of the head of the driver matches the width of the slot in the head of the screw. If you are going to buy just one of each, I recommend a number two Phillips head and a quarter-inch flat blade. However, I recommend that you get at least two sizes of each. In fact, you should really have a complete set of screwdrivers in your workshop to match the variety of jobs that occur around the house.

How much is a board foot?

A board foot is a basic unit of measurement for lumber equal to 144 cubic inches. To calculate board feet, multiply the length in inches by width in inches by thickness and divide by 144 inches. For example, if you have a 1” thick board that is 96” long and 6” wide, then the calculation would be  96 x 6 x 1=576. When you divide 576 by 144 you get 4.

I need to cut the carpet out of a room that I am remodeling. Is there a special type of utility knife designed for this?

Yes. A carpet knife is what you need. Its angled design allows you to access hard-to-reach places where a regular utility might not be able to reach.

Is it better to glue or nail paneling?

Either way is effective. For the best installation, I recommend a combination of both glue and nails.

What are the advantages of water-soluble fertilizers?

These dry or liquid concentrates must be diluted in water before application. They are applied with a hose-end sprayer or a watering can. They are relatively expensive, but they are easy to apply and provide even feeding. They are easy to use, especially on container plants. There is no risk of burning a plant as long as you follow label directions for dilution, and the nutrients, in solution, are available to plant roots immediately. They are less practical than the solids for large-scale use because of their greater cost and because they must be reapplied more often (their nutrients in solution leach through the root zone more rapidly).

Do I need more than one Phillips head screwdriver?

Two sizes will handle most screws.

What does 5/4 mean?

Most boards are sold using the quarter (1/4) system, where four 1/4” increments make up an inch. Therefore “4/4 rough” equals 1” thick, 5/4 equals 1-1/4” thick, 8/4 equals 2” thick, etc.

What utility knife do you recommend for cutting asphalt roofing shingles?

A fixed blade utility knife with a large hook replacement blade is your best bet.

What does it mean when a furnace filter is “electrostatically charged?”

This is when the media of the filter uses static electricity to attract and capture small airborne particles, which both positively and negatively charged.

I’ve balanced the blade, but my ceiling fan continues to wobble on the high setting. How can I fix it?

The fan is probably wobbling because the electrical box that it’s attached to isn’t secured tightly to the house’s framing members. You need to take the fan down and re-install it after securing the electrical box to a 2-by-4 brace fastened securely to the ceiling joists.

How can I remove the molding from my wall without damaging either the drywall or the molding?

A pry bar is more efficient than a claw hammer, and its smooth base keeps it from damaging the wall.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of organic fertilizers?

The word “organic” simply means that the nutrients contained in the product are derived from a once-living organism. Most are high in just one of the three major nutrients and low in the other two. Their major advantage is adding bulk to the soil. Except for manure, the organics generally release their nutrients over a fairly long period. However, the potential drawback is that they may not release enough of their principal nutrient at a time to give a plant what it needs for best growth. Because they depend on soil organisms to break them down, most organic fertilizers are effective only when the soil is moist and warm.

I’ve been told that using a pair of pliers on the shank of the screwdriver can help loosen fasteners that are stuck. Is this true?

No. Pliers are prone to slip, even on square shank screwdrivers. It is OK to use a wrench, but only on square-shank screwdrivers.

I need some pine boards for a woodworking project. What moisture content is a typical board and how is it dried?

Most quality domestic lumber is kiln dried to a moisture content of 6 percent to 8 percent.

When should I apply fertilizers to plants and trees?

Don’t apply liquid fertilizer at the same time you plant. Some root hairs will break, and the fertilizer will burn them. Wait 2 to 3 weeks after planting before you fertilize. In general, apply fertilizers to plants at the beginning of the growing season. For deciduous trees fertilize when leaves appear; and for evergreens, when it turns cold. Shrubs do not require much fertilizing.

Should I use snips to cut wire?

No. Snips are only designed to cut sheet metal. When cutting wire, always use wire cutters.

My ceiling fan is reversible. What setting should I use in the summer and what one should I use in the winter?

Use the down draft setting in the summer, and the updraft setting in the winter.

There is dripping along some of my pipes. Does this indicate a leak?

Not necessarily. Warm, moist air condenses when it strikes cold pipes. To prevent this condensation, wrap the pipes in insulation.

What type of nails should I use with redwood?

Use top quality, hot-dipped galvanized, aluminum alloy or stainless steel fasteners. These will not rust, corrode or discolor the wood or lose their holding power by rusting away.

Can I spray my fruit trees from the ground?

Yes, a hose-end tree sprayer will do the job, but will often end up applying the chemical to other surrounding plants and the lawn. Consider using a ladder and a regular hose-end sprayer or pump sprayer.

What size adjustable wrench should I buy for general use?

When it comes to gripping, bigger is generally better. If you are going to get just one I recommend a larger one: either 10-inch or 14-inch.

Do I need to stain or paint my cedar fence?

Cedar is naturally resistant to decay and when it weathers, it will turn a soft silver gray and even black in some areas. To protect its color and protect from mildew, use a penetrating stain. You can use a transparent stain, a semi-transparent stain or an opaque stain.

Can I sharpen the blades of my snips using a file or sharpening stone?

Generally no. Most do-it-yourselfers don’t have the type of sharpening device needed to sharpen the blades of snips. It’s probably best to purchase a new pair and properly maintain the blades.

Do you have a grass and weed killer that can be safely used around a flowerbed?

There are many brands, but they will all harm flowers. You can try to shield the plants from overspray, but the best way is to simply pull the weeds.

I need a hex key wrench, but I don’t know the size.

Since they are not expensive, an 18-piece all-purpose hex key wrench set is recommended.

What kind of nails should I use for my deck?

Use non-corrosive nails, such as stainless steel or hot-dipped galvanized. Ring- or spiral-shanked nails provide better holding capacity.

Why do snips come in right- and left-handed models?

The different types of snips are used to make cuts in different directions.

I’m getting ready to finish the drywall I just installed. What type of drywall taping knives will I need?

You will need several different sizes corresponding to the different coats that are required for a smooth finish. For the first taping course, you will probably need a 5” or 6” knife, followed with an 8” or 10” knife for applying the second and third coats.

Do I still need to paint or treat my treated wood?

No wood is so naturally resistant to the weather as to make it maintanance-free. You should use protective finishes like water repellents to avoid damage from water and sunlight. You can also stain and paint treated wood.

How do I cut composite decking?

Use the same tools you would use for a wood deck. It cuts, drills and nails just like wood. You will want to use a carbide blade on your saw.

Besides a miter joint, is there another type of joint that I can use to make a wooden frame?

Yes. You can also use a butt joint with pocket screws or with biscuits.

What does the toilet vent pipe do?

It is a pipe that runs from the toilet drain to the outside, usually to the roof. This prevents air lock in the drain line.

When do I apply a pre-emergent herbicide?

This is applied in late winter or early spring before seeds begin to germinate.

I think my kitchen drains are partially clogged, because the sink drains slowly. What do you recommend?

First, try using a plunger. Second, try using a liquid drain opener, but use caution and read directions. Third, you can remove the trap. Be careful if you have used a liquid drain opener because there may be some in the trap. Fourth, if the clog is beyond the trap, we have drain augers that extend from about 15 feet to about 50 feet.

What other materials do I need for building my fence?

In addition to the lumber, you’ll need non-corrosive nails, a post-hole digger or auger, a shovel, a level, a roll or mason’s twine, a hammer and tape measure. You’ll also need some cement for securing the posts in the hole.

I need to cut a lot of 2x material for a project I’m working on. What type of square should I use?

A speed square is probably your best option. It has a flange on one side that buts up to the edge of the board to allow making square marks. It can also be used as a guide for your circular saw.

When do I apply a post-emergent herbicide?

This is used on weeds that are actively growing, and should be applied in mid spring. Another excellent time is in early fall.

Is a trap necessary under the sink?

You need a trap to shut off odor (sewer gas) from coming into the kitchen and bath area.

How deep should I bury the fence posts?

A good guide is to bury at least 1/3 the total length of the post in the ground. For posts that are on the end or that will support a gate, bury the post an additional 6”.

What are all the markings on my framing square used for?

They consist of rafter tables, which are used to figure lengths and cuts of rafters, and the Essex Board Measure table, which shows board measurements of almost all sizes of boards and timbers.

I don’t have a router and router table. Can I fasten the mirror directly to the back of the frame without recessing it into a rabbit?

Yes, you can use mirror clips fasted to the back of the frame. Just be sure to select the right size clips for the thickness of your mirror.

What diameter trap do I need for my kitchen sink?

These are almost always 1 ½ inches. The 1 ¼ inch traps are for bathroom lavatories.

How strong is vinyl fence?

Farmers use vinyl fence to safely contain cattle and horses. High-quality fences have a better tensile strength than wood.

What square should I use to calculate an existing angle that I want to duplicate?

This is what a sliding bevel T-sqaure is designed for. You don’t have to calculate the angle, using this tool you can just copy and transfer it to the piece you’re working on.

How much ground will lawn fertilizer cover?

Lawn needs are usually based on nitrogen needs and vary from 1 to 6 pounds needed per 1,000 square feet per year. Specific amounts depend on the type of grass. Leaving grass clippings on the lawn usually reduces this number by 1 pound.

What can I use to clean my wood fence?

Use a product designed for the purpose. Ordinary household cleaners may contain bleach, which breaks down the fibers in the wood and can also damage surrounding greenery.

I need to find the exact center of a circle. What’s the best square to use?

A framing square is the proper tool. Place the corner of the square anywhere on the circle’s edge. Then mark where the tongue and the blade intersect the edge of the circle and connect those two marks. Repeat the process at another point on the circle and the point where the two lines intersect is the exact center.

I need to install a new water heater. What type of fitting will I need to connect the unit to my plumbing?

You need a union that is a compression fitting that can be tightened or disconnected later.

In the long run, which is better—chrome drain parts or plastic?

Plastic will usually last much longer than chrome, but you have to be careful because it can be affected by some harsh chemicals in drain cleaners.

Do I need to apply a waterproofer on top of the stain?

No, that won’t give the fence extra protection. The waterproofer must penetrate the wood to work and it can’t do that if there is already a coating on the wood.

How can you check to see if an old square is still accurate?

Simply find a straight edge and make a mark at 90 degrees. Then flip the square over and make another mark next to your first mark. If the two lines are parallel, the square is still square.

I can still see the seams where I patched a hole in the drywall. How do I get rid of it?

It might take several applications to get it right, sanding smooth between each one. Also be sure you are feathering out the seams well beyond the patch, which will help hide the patch and the seams.

I have some bare spots in my lawn. What do you recommend for starting grass growth?

There are lawn patching products that are specifically formulated for these situations. It is a mulch that contains seed and fertilizer. You apply the mulch to the bare spot and keep it watered.

I want to transition from 3/4″ copper pipe to 1/2″ copper pipe. How do I do that?

You need a reducer coupling or elbow (if there is a change in direction) to join the two pieces together.

What kind of finish do you recommend for my redwood fence?

You have several different options. I recommend a product with a water repellent and a mildewcide. There are clear finishes and stains available that protect against water and mildew as well as enhance the look of the wood. You can also paint redwood

I want to fertilize my lawn and prevent crabgrass, but I just spread grass seeding on my lawn. What should I use?

There is a product specially formulated as a pre-emergent that prevents crabgrass but allows grass seed to germinate.

Can I hook a 1-¼ inch drainpipe to a 1 ½ J-bend trap?

Yes, use a reducing slip joint rubber or plastic washer.

Is there a less expensive alternative to buying a solid piece of hardwood?

Depending on how you are using it, you might try a piece of plywood with a hardwood veneer. That is a thin slice of hardwood bonded to a core of composite board, so you can still get the look of hardwood without the cost of a solid piece of wood.

I want to hang some shelves but first I want to make sure I don’t hit any electrical wiring buried in the wall with my anchors. What’s the best way to do this?

By using a stud finder with a built-in AC current detector, you can trace hot wiring behind walls to make sure you drill in the right place.

How long does it take before my plants are ready to be transplanted outdoors?

It depends on when you started your seeds. It’s usually takes about 6 to 8 weeks before plants are hearty enough to be transplanted outside. Just make sure it’s late enough in the spring that there isn’t any chance of frost.

Do you have an ice melter that will not damage concrete or adjoining grass?

Yes, one option is a product that uses a specially formulated corn derivative.

What is a toilet vent?

It is a pipe that runs from the toilet drain to the outside, usually to the roof. This prevents air lock in the drain line.

Why is there so much color variation among different pieces of hardwood?

Hardwood trees take many years to mature and each one develops its own character markings. Sapwood (wood taken from the outer edge of the tree) and heartwood (wood taken closer to the core of the tree) often have color variations. The color of the wood also shows the effects of various minerals the tree may have absorbed as it grew.

What’s the best tool for measuring the inside diameter of a piece of copper pipe?

A pair of dial calipers will do the job, using the inside measurement blades.

How do I determine how much molding to buy?

Measure the length of the area requiring molding. Round off the number to the next full foot. If you determine you need 33’ of molding, you should buy at least 34’. If you are going to be cutting a lot of miter joints, remember that those cuts create waste. Add 10 percent of the total length to the amount you purchase.

What is lawn thatch?

It’s a layer of stems and the crowns of dead grass just above the soil. While clippings decompose quickly, thatch decomposes slowly and if it builds up it creates a problem. Either use a de-thatching machine or a core-aerating machine to fix the problem.

Why does a piece of wood have knots?

Knots mark the spot on a tree where there once was a branch, which has since been encased by the growth of the tree.

How do I join PVC fittings to PVC pipe?

Use a solvent welding glue, which softens the pipe and fittings so they can melt together.

How do I plant grass seed?

Start with top-quality grass seed. Work the soil up a little with a rake. If you are over-seeding consider using a slicing machine. Evenly sowing larger areas by hand is difficult, so use a spreader. Cover the seeds by raking a little soil over them. Fertilize and mulch only if it’s on a hillside. Use very little mulch. Water, water water.

How often should I change my furnace filter?

Normal time periods are one month to three months.

What’s the difference between hardwood and a softwood?

The biological answer is that hardwoods produce seeds with some sort of covering, such as a fruit or a nut. Softwoods produce seeds with no covering—they fall to the ground. Hardwoods tend to be more dense, but the hardness or density of the wood is not the means of classification. (Balsa wood, the lightest of all woods, is considered a hardwood). But in the lumberyard, structural lumber is softwood because it is easy to work with and the least expensive. Hardwood is more expensive and is used mainly as a finishing material.

The handle of my axe is split. Can I replace the handle without buying a new axe, and if so, what type of handle should I replace it with?

Replacing the handle of an axe is quite common. However, you need to replace it with a handle of the same size and quality as the original.

Instead of using a grow lamp, will placing my plants under a regular fluorescent or incandescent lamp work?

It might, depending on the light. But it probably won’t be as effective. Different stages of plant growth require different light spectra. The initial growing stage requires a blue spectrum of light, whereas the later “flowering” stage is usually done with red–orange spectra. Manufacturers of grow light bulbs design them to product a specific light spectrum range and lumen output to create an ideal growing condition for starting plants.

What’s the best way to sand drywall without getting dust all over my house?

A hand sander that can be connected to a shop vacuum is probably your best bet. In addition, be sure to put up plastic sheeting on doorways to seal off the area being sanded from the rest of the house. And don’t forget to close registers and seal off heat returns to keep dust from entering the home’s duct work and HVAC system.

How do I cut vinyl molding?

You can saw and nail vinyl molding just like wood.

What is the advantage of the higher priced air filters for furnaces?

They take out smaller particulates that are circulating in the air.

What’s the best way to sharpen the head of my axe?

With a file, restoring the head to its original shape.

How short should I cut my grass?

About 2” or 3”, but never more than about 1/3 of its length.

Will these higher-quality air filters last longer?

Actually, since they catch more particulates they typically last a shorter amount of time. Always check the manufacture’s recommendations.

What is CDX plywood?

CDX is one of the less expensive plywood you can buy. C and D refer to the grading of the front and back sides. They are rough and not meant for places where appearance matters. The X means it is rated for exterior use. However, it is only meant for limited exterior use. For permanent exterior use, use a panel with an exterior rating.

Should I buy a single- or a double-bit axe?

If you aren’t going to be using it very often, I would recommend a single-bit axe. It does the same job and it’s safer to use than a double-bit axe.

I used a shade-tolerant grass seed in a shady area, but the seeding won’t grow. What’s going on?

Make sure you keep this area well watered, and do not cut it as short as the rest of the lawn. In addition, rake the leaves in the winter. If you still have a problem, you may have to trim the branches on a tree that is blocking the light or cover the area with mulch.

What is the difference between Exterior panels and Exposure 1 panels?

Exterior panels are fully waterproof and made to withstand exposure to the weather for its entire life. Exposure 1 panels have a waterproof bond as well but won’t hold up as well if exposed to the weather for a long period of time. They are designed for construction where a temporary exposure to the weather is necessary.

I’m installing a new deadbolt lock. What is meant by setback?

It’s the distance from the edge of the door to the center of the hole where the deadbolt will be installed. The most common setbacks are 2-3/8″ and 2-3/4”.

Do I need all of those special wrenches? Can’t I just use a standard wrench or a pair of adjustable pliers?

The plumbing fittings these wrenches are designed for are usually difficult to access and the standard wrench or pliers will not fit into those tight spaces. Using the proper tool will save frustration and ensure a proper installation.

How do I rid my lawn of moles?

You must first get rid of the food source—grubs, sod webworms and some beetles. Then you can use either a toxic cartridge that “smokes” their holes or a toxic pellet that you place in the burrows.

What is plumber’s putty?

It is a sealing putty used for a variety of tasks including to seal basket strainers, garbage disposal rims and tub drains.

Is there a plywood I can use for fence panels, instead of buying lots of individual slats?

You can use Siding plywood. It is often used for siding a house.

I need to clamp two pieces of wood together, but I don’t want to mar the surface. What should I do?

If you’re using a C-Clamp, you can simply put two pieces of scrap wood on both sides of the work piece so that any marring of the surface will be to the scrap pieces and not the finish piece.

I have roaches in a basement room. What do you recommend?

There are both room foggers and roach bait.

How do I keep plywood from splintering or chipping when I cut it?

First of all, you’ll want to use a blade designed for cutting plywood, usually with small teeth. If you are using a handheld circular saw, place the good face, the face you want to be seen, downward. If you are using a table saw, place the good face upward. This way, the only splintering occurs on the unseen face.

I need to clamp a piece of laminate trim to my counter tops. What clamp should I use?

A three-way edging clamp is designed for this purpose because it can apply pressure to three sides of a surface.

Do you have anything that can clear an outside area of flying insects?

There are electric insect foggers and for smaller areas there are outdoor foggers that come in an aerosol can.

How do I remove the seat?

Use a seat wrench, which has several sizes of square and hex ends.

What type of saw blade should I use to cut plywood?

You can buy a plywood blade, specially designed with teeth to cut plywood.

I am installing some door casing and want to make sure the miters are tight. What’s the best way to do this?

By installing biscuits (with a biscuit jointer) to glue the miters together and then using a corner clamp to hold the two pieces firmly in place until the glue dries. After the glue dries, the casing can be installed as a single unit.

What will I need to cut a hole for a doorknob?

You’ll need a hole saw sized for the door handle you are installing and a space bit to bore the hole for the dead latch. The most common size hole for the handle is 2-1/8” diameter, and the most common hole size for the deadlatch is 1” in diameter.

Can I use an ordinary hacksaw to cut copper pipe?

Yes, but it doesnít do as good a job as a tube cutter, which makes a cleaner cut at a 90-degree angle.

What is the purpose of pipe joint compound or tape?

They reduce friction in assembly and provide a watertight seal.

What type of plywood should I use as a subfloor for the floor I’m installing?

Use plywood designed to be used as a subfloor. This kind is lightly sanded on one side and doesn’t have gaps or voids in the inner layers, making it sturdy enough to resist dents and punctures.

Wasps have built a nest on our patio. How can I get rid of them?

There are sprays that have a range of 20’ so that you can stand far away and still be effective. Some sprays leave a foam so that returning pests will also be killed.

Which is better for sealing—Teflon™ tape or thread joint compound?

They do the same job, but Teflon™ tape is easier to work with and makes a cleaner joint.

I need a vise for general use on household projects. What type should I buy?

A standard bench vise will probably suit your needs. It is designed for light-duty applications and will handle a variety of tasks. All you need is a workbench or table to bolt it to.

Can I use a copper tube cutter to cut PVC pipe?

While there are separate cutting wheels available for plastic pipe, such as PVC, you would probably be better off buying a PVC cutter.

What do you recommend for eliminating mice in the house?

There are a variety of traps or you can use pellets that you can place in the area.

Do I use the same type of glue for both PVC and CPVC?

No, CPVC requires a special solvent cement that is different from cement used for other types of plastic pipe.

What is the advantage of using glulam beams?

Glulam beams can span long distances and they are much stronger than dimensional lumber. Glulam can also be engineered to meet specific construction requirements. They can also be left exposed as an architectural effect.

I want a vise that I can take with me to use on different job sites. What do you recommend?

A clamp vise is an excellent choice. You can clamp it to most tabletops or even sawhorses and take it with you wherever you need it.

What is lock bumping?

Lock bumping is a lock picking technique for opening a pin tumbler lock using a specially-crafted bump key. One bump key will work for all locks of the same type.

How can I keep rabbits out of my garden?

There is a galvanized fence that is 28” high.

How do I join fittings to plastic pipe?

Use a solvent welding glue, which softens the pipe and fittings so they can melt together.

Are their any special instructions for storing glulams on the jobsite?

Sunlight can discolor beams, so wrap them in an opaque covering, and keep them off the ground to prevent contact with moisture. In some cases, beams may be wrapped individually. Where appearance is important, you can unwrap beams after installation to avoid damage.

When do I apply insect controls?

These can be applied anytime there is a problem. However, a preventative application for surface insects should be made in late spring. The best time to attack insects below the surface are in late July and early August. This application should include watering the lawn before and after the application to ensure the insecticide gets down to the root zones where the grubs are active.

Do you recommend a plastic pipe cleaners and primers?

These are applied to a pipe and fitting, before applying the solvent weld glue to ensure a strong bond. Their use is always a good idea, especially if it’s for a water supply line or the connection is going to be somewhere that will be difficult to get to in the future.

How can I tell how much span the I-Joist will handle?

Use a span table for rated I-Joists.

How do insecticides work?

There are basically two types: systemic and non-systemic. The systemic is absorbed by the plant and makes it poisonous. The non-systemic provides a coating on the outside of the plant.

How do I solder copper tubing?

Clean the inside of the fitting, clean the outside of the tubing, apply acid flux, heat the fitting and apply the solder.

Is OSB stronger than plywood?

They are actually mostly interchangeable. Both are manufactured to the same performance standards.

I need a tool box that will hold a basic set of tools … nothing too fancy. What type should I buy?

Tool boxes come in a variety of sizes and configurations. However, it sounds like you just need a basic plastic tool box to store a few tools and some fasteners. I would recommend a 19” model with one lift-out tray.

I have bugs damaging my plants, what insecticide should I use?

It’s difficult to tell unless you can identify the bug. There are books we can look through and many insects are illustrated on the bottles of insecticide.

What kind of solder do I use on a water line?

Health codes require lead-free solder.

What is the benefit of using an engineered product over solid timber?

Engineered lumber may be available in longer lengths and is more uniform than solid timber; it doesn’t have knots, warping or cupping. Since it is engineered, it is designed for certain loads and stresses. It also uses less wood fiber than solid timber and makes better use of our resources.

Are folding steel or plastic sawhorses as durable as homemade wooden ones?

Depending on the construction of the homemade ones, they are probably more durable and can be conveniently folded and stored out of the way.

My faucet is leaking and I think it is due to my hard water. What do you recommend?

Instead of buying a new valve stem, try to ream the faucet seat with a seat reamer to remove any calcium deposits that may have formed from your hard water.

I need to re-pot my houseplants. What soil should I use?

You need a good potting soil that allows for air movement, moisture retention and will not shrink away from the sides of the pot. Look for one that contains vermiculite, perlite and sphagnum peat.

What does the flux do?

It cleans the surface prior to soldering. It prevents the oxidation of the metal. And it allows the solder to flow freely.

When my tool belt is loaded with tools and fasteners it becomes too heavy to wear all day. I need all of my tools handy, but is there anything that can help?

Strapping a pair of suspenders to your work belt can relieve some of the strain on your back by allowing your shoulders to carry some of the weight.

I live in an apartment and don’t have room for a workbench or saw horses, but I still need a work surface to do projects from time to time. What do you recommend?

A folding workbench is ideal for general household projects, especially when you don’t have much work or storage space. Folding sawhorses can also be conveniently stored away and don’t take up much space.

How deep of a hole should I dig for fence posts?

Put line posts at least 24” into the ground. Gate and corner posts will carry more stress, so they should be at least 30” into the ground.

What does vermiculite do for the soil?

It lightens and loosens heavy soil for root aeration. It guards against soil compaction.

What can I use to keep outdoor faucets from freezing?

Install a frost-free lawn faucet that is angled down to drain. For existing faucets, you can use an insulating cover.

Will OSB expand and contract like plywood?

OSB has a tendency to expand and contract, although manufacturers have come out with better resins that have made them more and more stable. When installing OSB as a subflooring or roof decking, space the panels 1/4” apart.

How can I tell if my deck boards need replaced before I refinish it?

If there are signs on rotting and you can poke a hole through the wood with a screwdriver, you’ll want to replace those boards with new ones of the same size and material.

Why should I use mulch in my beds?

It retains moisture in the soil, reduces the growth of weeds, protects ground temperature, prevents erosion, attracts earthworms, enriches the soil and adds to the beauty of the planting.

What should I use to fasten the subfloor I just bought?

Use a construction adhesive to glue it to the joists, then use 8d common nails.

I want to hide the nail head in some molding that I am installing.

Use a nail set to sink the nail head into the molding. Then you can fill the hole with a spackling compound, sand it smooth and paint it.

What type of caulk should I use on trim before painting?

Use siliconized acrylic latex caulk. It tends to be more flexible and has better adhesion. This will prevent cracks later on.

How do I determine how many shingles I need?

Measure the length and width of each area of the roof. For each area of the roof, multiply the length times the width. Divide the total square footage by 100 and purchase that many squares of shingles. Add 10 percent additional for cutting, waste, the starter course and for future repairs.

What tools make up a basic gardening set?

A basic gardening tool set would include a spading fork, a garden hoe, a watering can, a round-ended shovel, a bow-head garden rake and a pair of garden shears.

When and how do I apply mulch?

Summer is the best time. Applying in the spring slows the soil’s ability to warm naturally. Coarse mulches should be applied 3” to 4” deep, and fine mulches 1” to 2” deep. It should be wet thoroughly after application. One cubic foot of coarse mulch should cover about 3 to 4 square feet of space.

I have heat tape on my water line. What type of pipe wrap should I use over the heat tape?

Use fiberglass. Don’t use foam wrap, because the heat could melt it.

I’m installing subfloor and want to be sure the joists and subfloor are protected against moisture.

Besides making sure you take care of any drainage problems, provide adequate ventilation to the basement and use a ground cover vapor retarder in the crawl space.

How can I remove the molding from my wall without damaging either the drywall or the molding?

A pry bar is more efficient than a claw hammer, and its smooth base keeps it from damaging the wall.

What is a ground fault (circuit) interrupter?

An electrical device that shuts off the power in case of a short.

What is the difference between a standard sheet of plastic and a landscape fabric?

A landscape fabric lets water through while preventing weeds from growing. While plastic will stop weeds, it does not allow moisture penetration. Cutting small holes for your plants in weed block prevents weeds from growing in the bed, but still allows your plants to get moisture. A sheet of plastic could be used if you are trying to keep anything from growing in an area, such as under a deck.

I want to tear down an old shed in the backyard. What should I use?

A wrecking bar or crow bar, which comes in different lengths, would be a useful tool.

What do numbers on electrical cable mean?

They refer to the number and types of wire inside the cable. For example, 14-2 means the cable has two 14-gauge wires inside. 12-3 G means the cable has three 12-gauge wires plus a bare ground wire.

Is there anything I need to do to winterize a young tree in my yard?

Some people recommend that you use a wrap to help prevent damage from a frost.

What type of liquid drain cleaner do you recommend?

A sulfuric base is one of the most effective. Care should be taken, because it is highly corrosive. Do not use on aluminum pipes.

Can I substitute screws for nails when fastening drywall to the studs?

Yes, as long as the spacing of the fasteners is the same, and the length, head diameter and shank are the same.

I need a punch for general use, what type should I buy?

The center punch is probably the most versatile and can handle a variety of jobs that require a punch.

How do I compost?

Compost converts waste material into a fertilizer. Bins should be almost 30 cubic feet to ensure it retains enough heat to spur composting. Choose a location for your bin that is partially shaded. A pile can contain leaves, grass clippings, prunings, straw, spoiled hay, coffee grounds, eggshells, paper and wood ash. Remember you should add equal parts of green material (nitrogen) like fresh grass clippings and food scraps to one part brown (carbon) such as leaves. Keep it as wet as a wrung-out sponge and aerate your pile by stirring it once a week. You can layer in manure, garden soil and commercial fertilizer to speed bacterial action. You should have finished compost in about three months.

What is the difference between regular and Type X wallboard?

To be a type X wallboard, the board must be made by adding noncombustible fibers with the gypsum. The fibers help the board to be more fire resistant during exposure to fire. To achieve a type X rating, the board must meet certain criteria for fire resistance.

What type of masking tape should I use before painting?

Use tape that is designated as painters tape. This tape is usually blue or green in color. It is designed to provide excellent masking capabilities, yet it won’t mar the surface when peeled off, even after several weeks.

When should I plant flower bulbs?

Planting times vary, but as a general rule, earlier in the fall is better than later. Bulbs need to establish strong root systems, before the frosts of winter set in and the bulbs enter a new cycle in preparation for spring blooming. Remember to plant bulbs in an area that drains well and water newly planted bulbs to help those roots get going.

If the wallboard in my basement was damaged during a flood, can I simply dry it out and keep it?

No. It needs to be replaced. Wallboard damaged by floodwater is a health hazard because there may be mud and contaminants dried up inside the board.

I am starting a tiling project and need to know what type of trowels to buy. Do you have any recommendations?

You will probably need several trowels, including a notched tiling trowel, a grout float and a margin trowel for mixing mortar. Be sure to buy the proper type of tiling trowel called for by the type of tile and mortar you are using.

How close should bulbs be planted together?

Groups of bulbs make a much nicer show. To create greater color impact in the garden, plant clusters of same-color flowers together in blocks or “bouquets.” Generally, larger bulbs should be planted 3 to 6 inches apart, smaller bulbs 1 to 2 inches apart.

I am getting no hot water from my electric water heater. What could be the cause of this?

The high-temperature cutoff may have been tripped, which requires someone to press the reset. Otherwise its probably a faulty heating element or thermostat, which can be replaced.

Does wallboard have an R value?

Yes. Generally, 3/8” board is 0.32, 1/2” board is 0.45 and 5/8” board is 0.56.

What is the correct size garbage disposer I should put under my sink?

If you are replacing an existing unit that has worked well for a number of years, the old size should work fine. Otherwise, a unit with a 1/3 horsepower motor will handle limited use once a day. A standard unit with a ½ horsepower motor will normally suffice for general use. Heavy-duty ¾ horsepower units and larger are designed for a large volume of garbage.

How do I transplant flowers?

First, dig a hole a little larger than the plant’s rootball. Put your hand over the rootball and turn the container over. Now, you can gently pull off the container with your other hand. Set the rootball in the hole, cover with loose soil, press down firmly and water thoroughly.

I’m not getting enough hot water from my electric water heater. What could be the cause of this?

The temperature control may be set too low. Otherwise its probably a faulty heating element or thermostat, which can be replaced.

What is the fire resistance rating?

Drywall is not fire proof, but the fire resistance rating is the length of time a wall can withstand fire and serve as a barrier and keep it from spreading.

I need a file to sharpen my lawnmower blade. What kind should I buy?

A flat file will work well. Just be sure to sharpen (redress) the blade using the existing angle or bevel of the mower blade. Also, try to remove as little metal as possible to make the blade last longer.

How long will it take to replant flowers?

If the soil is well prepared, you can plant a flat of 36 flowers in about 30 minutes.

The water from my electric hot water tank is too hot. What could be the cause of this?

The thermostat may be set too high, or it may be faulty. It could also be a grounded heating element.

What is Type C gypsum board?

Type C gypsum board meets all of the requirements of Type X board, but it includes additional properties to enhance its fire resistance.

What’s the difference between a file and a rasp?

A file is generally used to smooth metal, where a rasp is specifically designed for shaping wood.

What do the three numbers on a bag of fertilizer mean?

They represent the percentages of plant nutrients by weight. Just remember “up, down and all around.” The first number represents the nitrogen, the second represents the phosphorus and the last one represents the potassium. These numbers are always expressed in the same order.

  • What is the nitrogen needed for? It’s the up. It promotes plant growth and greening thus providing more foliage, color and density.
  • What does the phosphorous do? This is the “down” number. It stimulates cell building and root growth, and is particularly beneficial in helping seedlings, flowers and vegetables to develop.
  • What does the potassium do? It assists plants in forming starches and proteins thus promoting plant hardiness, disease resistance and a tolerance to drought and cold. It’s the “all-around” number.

How do I caulk baseboard and trim around window and doors before painting?

First, cut a small hole 1/8th of an inch from the tip of the spout at an angle. Don’t cut off too much of the tip. Then, most caulk guns come with a swiveling pin used to puncture the tube. Engage the ratcheting plunger and squeeze the handle. When finished, disengage the ratcheting plunger, and have a rag handy, as caulk will probably continue to ooze out of the tip.

What is a perennial?

These flowers will survive winter and return the next summer. If you plant perennials, you will not have to replant them next year, unless you want to move them to a new location.

Are all electric hot water heater elements the same?

Three are three types—screw in, bolt in and clamp in. The also have different wattage ratings and can work on either 120 or 240 voltage.

Is paperless drywall mold-proof?

Mold can grow anywhere there is moisture, air and a food source for it to grow on. It can grow on virtually any surface if the conditions are right. Paperless drywall panels eliminate the paper facing, which is a good food source for mold. These panels are more mold resistant than paper-faced drywall, but not mold proof.

My crosscut saw doesn’t cut like it used to. What’s the best way to sharpen the blade?

With a taper file, which is a triangular shaped file specifically designed to sharpen saw teeth. Just be sure to follow the saw manufacturer’s recommendations for redressing the teeth and be sure the file size is the right size for the saw teeth you are sharpening.

Can the plastic pipe fittings be removed after they have been glued?

No, they are permanently joined and cannot be taken apart.

What is an annual?

These plants last one season and die out.

I am getting no hot water from my gas water heater. What could be the cause of this?

The pilot light might be out, or you may have a faulty thermostat.

What do I use to install tile backer board?

There are screws made especially for that purpose. You can use galvanized roofing nails, rust-resistant drywall screws or bugle-head deck screws.

Can I use a taper file to sharpen my chain saw?

No. You will want to use a chainsaw file, which is specifically designed for this purpose.

How do I plant a tree?

For best results, choose at least a five-foot-tall tree. Select a site with enough room for roots and branches to reach full size, and don’t forget to avoid overhead and underground utilities. Prepare the area by loosening the soil three to five times the diameter of the root ball. Dig a hole in the middle and set the root ball even with the ground level. Then, water the soil. If the tree will not stand up in the wind, stake it down. Spread a 2” or 3” layer of mulch on prepared area, but do not put any mulch within 6” of the tree trunk.

Click here for our detailed video on how to plant a tree.

how do i plant a tree

I am not getting enough hot water from my gas water heater. What could be the cause of this?

The thermostat may be set too low, otherwise it the burner is probably not burning correctly. If that’s the case, it’s best to call a service technician.

What are the differences in the various types of files?

Differences are primarily denoted by the type of teeth the file has. A single cut denotes a single row of chisel-cut teeth. These files are used on saw teeth and metals where a good finish is required. A double cut file is used primarily on metals where rapid stock removal is necessary and a rough cut is permissible. It has two rows of chisel-cut teeth. A curved-tooth cut features teeth that are milled in an arc. This cut is used on flat surfaces of soft metals for rapid stock removal and a fairly good finish. File teeth are further divided into four groups: coarse, bastard, second and smooth. Coarse and bastard cuts are used on heavy work, while second and smooth cuts are used for finishing or more exacting work.

How should I go about trimming my evergreens?

For heavier cutting, a lopping shear with more leverage will be needed. For other trees, a bypass shear provides a cleaner cut that those trees prefer.

Why is the torch hard to light?

The valve may be open to far. Open the valve just slightly so the rush of gas doesnít blow out the flame

How do I fertilize my tree?

Use fertilizer spikes. The size of the tree’s trunk will tell us how many you should use, and always put them in the ground at the drip line of the tree not the base of the trunk.

There is water leaking from my water heater. What could be the cause of this?

The pressure relief valve could be leaking. Try operating the valve to see if it will stop. It also might need tightening. A gasket around the heating element may need replaced, or the tank could be rusted out, which requires a new hot water heater.

Isn’t a thicker pad for the carpet always better?

Not necessarily. Bedrooms and other area with less foot traffic can use a thicker pad. But heavy traffic areas require a thinner, firmer padding.

I am trying to decide which is better for me—a gas or electric chain saw.

Gas chain saws can be used anywhere and are more powerful. Plus, they come in larger bar sizes. Electric chain saws must stay within the limits of an extension cord.

What is the purpose of a pressure relief valve on a water heater?

This is a safety device that will open in case of high pressure or temperature.

How do I measure how large the room is?

Multiply the length of the room by its width.

Why won’t the torch stay lit while upside down?

In some torches, the liquid propane in an upside down tank works its way through the torch and blows out the flame. To avoid this, use a pressure regulated torch.

What is the difference between a two-cycle and a four cycle-engine?

With a two-cycle engine, you will have to mix oil with the gasoline. Four-stroke engines tend to be more efficient and usually require less maintenance.

What is the rating mean on the carpet?

The rating refers to the amount of foot traffic the carpet is made to withstand.

How do I maintain my mower after each use?

After each mowing, wait until then engine cools and then use a hose to spray the clippings and grass debris that may be clinging to the underside of your mower. Some people recommend that you get your blade sharpened about once a month.

What are the advantages of snow shovels with curved handles?

These are called back savers because they allow you to work without bending over.

What should I look for when buying a lawn mower?

For a mulching or self-propelled mower, you need plenty of horsepower so look for one that has a 5 to 6 horsepower engine.

How often should I deep clean my carpet?

You should deep clean every 12 to 18 months.

Can you repair a leaky valve?

Gate valves can sometimes be repaired by tightening the outside hex nut or by removing the hex nut and adding stem packing.

What kind of security system do I need to protect my doors and windows?

A perimeter system protects the doors and windows while an area alarm has a motion detector that protects entire rooms.

Does new carpet smell?

New carpet may give off a smell after it’s installed. Give the area good ventilation and the smell should be gone within 48 to 72 hours. Look for the CRI (Carpet and Rug Institute) label on the back of the carpet. This means it has been tested for chemical emissions and emits low levels of chemicals.

How often should I sharpen my mower blade?

Once a month if it receives a lot of use. Otherwise, once or twice a year.

What products do you sell that will help childproof my home?

Child-resistant locks on cabinets, electrical outlet covers, additional smoke alarms and gun locks are some of the products you should consider.

My carpet has started to buckle after it was installed.

Buckling can be caused by improper installation, high humidity, using the wrong cushion or by moving heavy furniture. To correct the problem, remove all furniture from the room and have the carpet power stretched.

What is lawn thatch?

It’s a layer of stems and the crowns of dead grass just above the soil. While clippings decompose quickly, thatch decomposes slowly. When it builds up, it creates a problem. Either use a de-thatching machine or a core-aerating machine to fix the problem.

What is a gasket?

It is made of rubber, plastic or paper and is the component that seals the joints in fittings and valves. It is sometimes available in liquid form.

How should I trim?

Most people use a power trimmer that spins a nylon line.  Try to keep it at the same height as your mowed grass. Remember cutting grass too short can damage it.  And always remember to wear protective eyewear and heavy clothing on your legs.

What annual maintenance needs to be done on my mower?

If you are going to store your mower for the winter, disconnect the spark plug and drain the fuel from the tank. Then, reconnect the spark plug and run the engine until it runs out of gas. This keeps aging fuel from going bad inside the engine. In the spring, change the oil in the mower if you have a four-stroke engine. In addition, replace the spark plug, the fuel filter and air filter.

What is an outdoor edger?

These tools provide a vertical cut into the soil, to create a clean line between a lawn and a flowerbed, driveway, sidewalk or some other structure. The fastest models are powered models. A non-powered edging tool looks like a shovel with a small blade shaped like a half moon. You can push the blade in with your foot so that it slices off a thin piece of turf, leaving a clean, straight edge of soil along the edge of the lawn.

Can I replace the spring on my garage door?

There are two types of systems—tension and non-tension. Tension springs have the spring in the center and a large iron roller in the middle. Because is there is so much torque, most people hire a professional to work on these. The other type has the springs on the side of the door.

What is the difference between ceramic and porcelain tile?

Porcelain is made from a more dense clay and kiln fired at higher temperatures. This means porcelain has a higher scratch resistance, durability and stain resistance than ceramic. It is also more difficult to cut.

When should I dethatch my lawn?

Dethatch after thatch on the ground has built up past 1/2 inch. Some thatch on the ground is useful as it acts as insulation, holding in moisture and keeping out high heat. Too much thatch can prevent moisture, air and nutrients from reaching the soil. It also encourages pests and lawn disease.

When buying a trimmer or edger, should I buy a gas-powered or electric model?

If you can reach every corner of your yard with a 150-foot extension cord, you should consider an electric model. They typically cost less, are quieter and require less maintenance. If you have a larger yard then a gas-powered model may be better.

Which spring fits my garage door?

You need to know the size of the door and the number of panels. Information on the replacement spring packaging will indicate which spring is needed.

Won’t stone or ceramic floors always be cold in the winter?

Stone tends to hold the room temperature, but you can buy floor-warming systems. These install underneath the tile and keep the floor warm.

What should I look for when buying a new mower?

Ask yourself some questions:
Do I want a self-propelled lawnmower or a manual push?
Am I going to use it as a mulcher or a bagger? If it’s a mulcher, look for one with a 5-6 horse power engine.

How do I clean my stainless steel sink?

Use a stainless steel cleaner and a nonabrasive cloth or sponge. Do not use cleaners containing chloride or abrasive pads or steel wool.

I need a tool to trim my evergreens.

Anvil pruning shears work well on light foliage. For heavier cutting, a lopping shear with more leverage will be needed. For other trees, a bypass shear provides a cleaner cut that those trees prefer.

Can I leave my window partially open and still have it locked?

Yes, window locks can be mounted on a track which permits windows to be opened a desired distance.

How do I clean slate?

Frequent sweeping is always the first defense. For best results, use cleaners specifically made for slate and similar tiles. Never use abrasive cleaners or scouring pads.

Is there a power tool that I can use to trim evergreens with?

Yes, there are electric hedge trimmers. They come in different sizes. The larger units are more powerful, but do not buy a model that is too heavy for you to handle.

How do I know which latch fits my storm door?

If you are going to use existing holes, you need to know the spacing of the holes, or there is an adjustable one available.

What’s the difference between floor tile and wall tile?

Floor tile is 1/2” to 3/4” thick. Wall tile is thinner than floor tile and is not intended to be as heavy-duty as floor tile.

What time of year should I plant grass seed?

As long as the soil temperature is 50 degrees for higher, you can plant seed. However, the best two times are in the spring, when the soil is moist, and in the early fall, when temperatures are still warm enough for the seed to germinate, and there is still enough time for the grass to get established before the first frost. Fall has an advantage because the new grass seedlings won’t be competing with common lawn weeds which are starting to go dormant at this time.

What should I look for in a quality paint brush?

Look for the tips of the bristles to be a different color than the rest of the bristles. This shows that the tips have been machined to be flagged, which will apply the paint easier. The ferrule should be copper or stainless steel so it won’t rust. The handles should also be made of hardwood and should be unfinished for a better grip.

What’s the difference between a plug-type aerator and a spike-type aerator and which one should I use?

A plug-type aerator actually pulls plugs out of the ground so air and moisture can get into the soil. A spike-type aerator punches holes in the ground without removing the dirt. If you have a serious problem with compacted soil, the plug-type aerator is best. A spike aerator is best for small areas or for minor aeration problems.

How is cultured marble different from marble?

Cultured marble is made up of dust from natural marble. It is mixed with a liquid polyester resin for a product that is actually easier to care for than marble.

I’m buying outdoor power tools. Which is better: an electric or gas leaf blower?

A gas blower provides mobility and is more powerful.

How can I square up my wooden screen door? It is rubbing on the sill.

A screen door turnbuckle, applied diagonally, will raise the sagging edge.

What’s the advantage of ceramic tile over vinyl in my kitchen?

Ceramic tile is easy to maintain and more durable than vinyl. It will also last longer, which means it is more cost effective over the long run. Also, it is more likely to increase the value of your home.

Are there tree trimmers you can use from the ground?

Yes, pole tree trimmers typically extend 12’ to 20’. Shears with a pulley and rope can cut about a 1” diameter branch, and saws are used on branches up to about 6”. For these and larger branches you may want to consider a chain saw.

Should I use fiberglass or aluminum screening?

Aluminum screening is more durable. It’s also fireproof. However, fiberglass doesn’t dent. Fiberglass is also easier to work with, but it may need to be restretched after it has been installed.

Is tile a project I can do myself?

Many do-it-yourselfers have had great success installing their own tile.

I have stains on my wall that keep bleeding through the paint surface. How do I prevent this?

You need to prime the area first with a shellac-base primer. The resins in shellac –base primers seal out stains so they can’t bleed back through.

When replacing a faucet, do I need to put putty underneath it?

Yes, this will prevent water and moisture from leaking around the faucet and underneath the counter.

How often should I aerate my lawn?

It depends on what type of soil and grass you have. Aerate clay soil twice a year and sandy soil once a year. Spring and fall are the best times for this project.

How do I clean cultured marble?

Do not use abrasive cleaners. Use an all-purpose disinfectant cleaner and a soft cloth. Keep the marble wet while working on it. Never use steel wool, powdered cleaners, metal scrapers or scrub pads on marble.

What size of string do I need to buy for my string trimmer?

This varies greatly. You either need to bring in your old string or know what brand and model you have. If you don’t know, we can make a guess. If we are right, you won’t have to come back. If you have an electric trimmer its probably .064 and if you have a gas trimmer is most likely .080.

Will this handle fit my sliding glass door?

I’m sorry, there are too many manufacturers and styles to know which one fits your door. The best thing to do is take the one you think looks the closest. It may not work, but if it does it will save you a trip back. Otherwise, it’s best to bring in your old handle to make sure we can match it up.

Are lawnmower blades specific to particular mowers?

Yes, you need to know the brand, width of the cut and whether it is a mulching mower. Some blades come with adapter kits that allow them to be used on different brands.

I have a hole in my screen. Can I repair it or do I need to replace it?

You can patch small holes—those ¼” and 3/8”—with a small amount of household cement. This glue patch will be next to invisible. Larger holes up to about 3 inches in diameter in aluminum screen can usually be easily patched. A patch should go at least ½” to 1” larger all around the hole. These are either kits or just pieces of screen. Unravel a number of strands and then weave the strands through the screening and bend them tight. Plastic patches need a touch of household cement on the ends of the strands after they have been woven through.

Will ceramic tiles resist acids?

Glazed ceramic tiles are highly resistant to acids (except hydrofluoric) and other corrosive substances.

How often should I apply fertilizer to my lawn?

You should feed your lawn every six to eight weeks during the growing season. This usually means April, June, August and October, but your lawn may require more or less feeding depending on the type of grass you have and your soil conditions. Always be sure to check with your local extension agent to get growing tips for your area and for your type of soil.

How can I make my cultured marble sink look shiny again?

Use a polishing compound. To fill in scratches or dents, use appliance wax or car wax.

How big of a snow blower do I need?

Most consumers buy a single-stage model, which has a rubber paddle that reaches to the ground. People with driveways that are wider than two cars may want to consider a two-stage model. These can throw snow farther, because they have an intake and an impeller that throws the snow. However, these do not always clean all the way to the surface of the drive.

I have small children. Will this garage door opener stop if they get in the way?

Yes, since 1990 all garage doors are required to have an optical sensor and/or a door edge sensor that will stop or reverse the door.

I need a glove to work in chemicals.

Use a neoprene-treated glove. It is chemical resistant.

Will a door closer work on my heavy storm door?

A traditional screen door closer may not be strong enough. However, they make heavy-duty ones that will work. They also have the advantage of staying open automatically if they are opened all the way. Some newer doors have two closures—one on top and one on bottom.

What’s the difference between a laminate and an engineered floor?

An engineered floor contains a top layer of real wood attached to layers of plywood or a durable, medium density fiberboard. Laminate flooring contains no real wood and only composite materials with a print that simulates the appearance of wood.

Can I replace my sink with a larger one?

Yes, if you have laminate countertops and if there is enough room in the cabinet under your existing sink to accommodate the larger sink. You’ll need to cut a larger hole in the counter with a saber saw to accommodate the new sink, which should come with a template for sizing the hole properly. If you have a solid surface countertop, then it’s best to call a professional.

Which is better for sealing pipe threads, teflon tape or pipe paste?

They both do a similar job, but the teflon tape is a bit easier to use. Be sure to wrap in a clockwise direction when using teflon tape.

Pipe paste will remain gooey and flexible.

How do I remove hard water stains from my stainless steel sink?

Try cleaning it with a cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol.

I need a glove to work in the yard.

If you are using tools or equipment such as a rake, ax, shovel, lawn mower or string trimmer, you should consider a leather glove. It will offer comfort and protection, while a standard canvas or cloth glove can be your choice if all you want to do is keep your hands clean.

I have mis-drilled the hole for my doorknob. Is there anything I can do to cover this mistake?

One option is to use a brass door reinforcer. This product will also increase the strength of your door.

Can I have my hardwood floor installed the same day it is delivered?

No. A solid hardwood floor should sit in the room where it will be installed at least four days before it is installed. This allows the wood to adjust to the temperature and relative humidity of the room. Engineered wood takes less time to acclimate.

What are some of the various sizes of wheelbarrows?

For general use around the yard, there are 3-cubic-foot and 4-cubic-foot models. The heavy-duty 6-cubic-foot model is designed for commercial use.

What’s a better choice in edgers: electric or gas?

Since all gas-powered equipment is noisy, some people prefer the electric models. The cordless models have run times of about one hour, which is generally sufficient for homeowners.

What can I do to add security to my door?

Consider installing a stronger strikeplate—these are larger and have much longer screws.

Does engineered flooring have any advantages over solid wood?

Engineered is better suited for use in a basement because it is less subject to changes in temperature and humidity.

How do I test my toilet flapper for leaks?

Test your toilet flapper by pouring a bit of food coloring into the tank, then check back in 15 minutes to see if the water in the bowl has changed color. If it has, then most likely your toilet flapper needs to be replaced. If this does not fix the leak, you may need to replace the entire flush valve. For more information on diagnosing a leaky toilet, watch our video “Why is My Toilet Leaking.” To learn how to change your entire flush valve, watch our video “Installing a Flush Valve.”

Why is my showerhead spraying unevenly, or why is water not coming through some of the holes?

The shower head may need to be cleaned of hard water deposits. Take the shower head apart and clean it using an old toothbrush and a decalcifying-type cleaner.

When purchasing outdoor power equipment, what should I consider in a leaf blower?

It’s best to buy a blower that can be reversed and also used as a vac. This allows you to sweep up the leaves, and some models even have a mulching feature.

Is there a product that makes installing a strikeplate easier?

Yes, there is an adjustable strikeplate.

How do I maintain my wood floor?

Most manufacturers recommend you dust mop regularly and use special wood care products. Do not damp mop.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of drop spreaders and broadcast spreaders?

A drop spreader allows for precise applications, such as along flower beds, where you might not want to distribute seed or fertilizer. But it typically takes a little longer and requires you to make sure that you do not put too much or too little in one area. Broadcast spreaders are quicker and require less precision.

I’m buying outdoor power tools. Are cordless electric hedge trimmers a good choice?

For general use they are more than adequate, but most only offer run times of less than one hour and some corded models are more heavy duty.

Do you have a hinge that will fit my door?

The best option is to bring the old hinge in. But as a standard, an exterior door uses a hinge that is 4 inches long with four holes on each side. An interior door usually has a hinge that is 3-1/2 inches long and has three holes on each side.

What is the advantage of wood over carpet?

Wood maintains its value longer than carpet. It is also easier to maintain.

What type of plunger should I use to unclog my toilet?

The best type of plunger to buy is one that includes a flange around the bottom. This allows the plunger to create a better seal inside the toilet. For more information on the best products to clear your toilet, watch our video “Unclogging a Toilet.”

Why can’t I just get a regular showerhead instead of one of those water saver types?

Federal law has set a standard on the flow rate of water from showerheads. However, many of the new showerheads mix air with water. The resulting shower is as satisfying as any shower, and youíll likely never know you were using a low-flow showerhead.

On long-handled tools, such as a shovel, what is the advantage of the more expensive one?

The higher-priced shovels have a sturdier construction and have better materials. For example, the composite handles are less likely to break.

Will this casement window operator work on my window?

There are both left-opening and right-opening ones, and you need to make sure you get the correct one.

Can I install a hardwood floor in the kitchen?

Kitchens are a popular place for hardwoods, and they require minimal maintenance.

Should I buy a long-handle or short-handle shovel?

Limited space of a job may require a short handle. However, a long handle supplies more leverage and allows you to work in a more upright position. As a result, a long-handled shovel is usually a better choice.

Should I protect my wood floor from furniture?

We recommend felt pads or some other type of protector to be placed between the furniture leg and the floor.

How can I make sure my potted plant is getting enough but not too much water?

Use a water meter or gauge to monitor water levels.

What are the advantages of shovels with curved handles?

These are called back savers, because they allow you to work without bending over.

My smoke detector beeped last night, but there was no smoke. What is wrong with it?

This is a warning signal that the batteries are low. If your alarm is more than 10 years old, you should consider replacing it, just to make sure that you have one that is in good working order.

Can I install a hardwood floor over a concrete slab?

Generally, you should not install a solid wood floor over a concrete slab. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If you want to install one over a slab, you first need to install a vapor barrier and a wooden subfloor on top of the slab. For best results, try an engineered floor over a concrete slab.

What is an anti-siphon toilet fill valve?

The anti-siphon protection prevents the toilet tank water from getting into your home water supply system.

Should I use a brush with synthetic or natural bristles?

As a general rule, you should use a synthetic bristle brush with latex paint and a natural bristle brush with oil-base paints. However, many synthetic bristle brushes can also be used with oil base paints.

How does a typical water filter work?

Different types of filters work differently.
If it is a bacteria/sediment/taste/odor filter, water flows through a silver-impregnated ceramic wall, which traps particles down to one micron. Then it flows through a granular-activated charcoal liner that absorbs chemicals, unpleasant tastes and odors. Water that is free of bacteria then passes through the center hole and out of the filter.

If it is a filter that removes chemical/taste/odors, water enters the filter and surrounds a cartridge inside. Water then passes through the hole at the bottom of the cartridge and flows up through a bed of granular activated carbon, which absorbs chemicals, tastes and odors, and then out of the filter.

If it is a filter that removes sediment, it is installed at the source of the supply. Water containing sand, silt, algae and rust enters the filter and surrounds the cartridge, which is tightly sealed at both ends. Water passes through the cartridge well, which traps sediment particles. Relatively free of solid matter (depending on micron rating of the filter), the water flows up through the center hole and out of the filter.


What is the difference between a round-point and square-point shovel?

Round-point shovels are used for digging, while most square points are used for scooping.

How long should a smoke detector last?

We recommend that you replace any smoke detector that is more than 10 years old.

Why is water leaking from the base of my toilet?

Most likely the wax ring at the base of your toilet has failed. To replace it you will need to loosen the bolts that hold the toilet to the floor, pull it up and remove the old wax ring. Place a new wax ring at the base of the toilet and replace the toilet using new bolts. For more information on this, watch our video “How to Replace a Toilet.”

What should a good potted plant fertilizer mixture contain?

Planting mixtures usually contain vermiculite, peat moss, fertilizer and a small amount of sterile soil.

Is there any advantage of a metal leaf rake over a plastic leaf rake?

A metal rake usually has more spring and is better suited for large areas. It is easier to clean around flowerbeds, shrubs and bushes and does not rake up essential thatch in a lawn.

After installing my new vinyl tile floor, how long should I wait to clean it?

Wait one week after installation before washing your new floor.

I want to hang a picture without a stud support. What type of anchor should I use?

The different types of hollow wall anchors are rated to hold different weights. In general, expanding plastic sleeve anchors can usually only hold up to 20 lbs. Molly bolts are usually rated to hold up to 50 lbs., while toggle bolts can hold up to 100 lbs. Keep in mind, however, that even toggle bolts can’t support as much weight as a fastener driven into a wall stud or solid wood blocking in the wall.

What’s the most likely reason my sump pump isn’t working?

Usually its the switch. If the pump shifts inside the sump pit, the float switch may become stuck and not float freely on the water. Debris can also get into the sump pit and interfere with the switch action.

What sizes of wheelbarrows are there?

For general use around the yard, there are 3-cubic-foot and 4-cubic-foot models. The heavy-duty, 6-cubic-foot model is designed for commercial use.

Where should I keep a fire extinguisher in my home?

Don’t mount it too close to where a fire is likely to occur. For example, don’t keep it next to the stove. A good place is at the top of the stairs or near a workshop. In most cases, it’s a good idea to have a fire extinguisher for every 600 square feet of living space.

Do I need to remove the old vinyl floor before installing my new vinyl floor?

No. It will be easier to leave the old floor if you can. You will need to completely clean the old floor and fill in any low spots or embossed areas of the old floor. You can also cover the existing floor with a wood underlayment.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of drop spreader and broadcast spreaders?

A drop spreader allows for precise applications, such as along flower beds, but it typically takes a little longer and requires you to make sure that you do not put too much or too little in one area. Broadcast spreaders are quicker and require less precision.

How long before I can walk on my new vinyl floor?

Wait at least 24 hours before heavy traffic.

Which are better, plastic or metal trashcans

? Most people prefer the heavy-duty plastic models because they do not bend or get out of shape as easily. However, metal cans make good storage containers for things such as birdseed, when you want to protect the contents from mice, rats, squirrels and insects.

What is radon gas and how do I protect my family from it?

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that can collect in hazardous concentrations in areas like the basement. A radon detector in your basement will help keep your family safe.

Can I cut vinyl with a standard utility knife?

Yes, but a vinyl tile cutter you can rent is easier. Also, if you are cutting with a knife, change blades frequently to keep them sharp. A dull blade can tear the vinyl.

Which is better: a metal or a cast iron stove?

Both conduct heat identically well. As a general rule, though, the thicker the metal, the longer the stove will last.

What type of pump sprayer do you recommend?

For the homeowner, the plastic ones are often a good choice because they will not rust. Some of these have metal wands and tips, which are stronger, more durable and easier to clean.

Do I need to worry about carbon monoxide in my home?

If you have a gas or oil furnace, dryer, refrigerator, water heater, space heater, fireplace, wood stove or gas range, then you need to be concerned. These can all be sources of carbon monoxide gas.

How do I cut the vinyl to fit around doorjambs or decorative trim?

Use a backsaw to trim off the bottom of the doorframe. Cut off just enough so that the tile will slide underneath.

What’s the difference between a 2- and 4-cycle engine?

With a two-cycle engine, you will have to mix oil with the gasoline. Two-cycle engines tend to be more efficient and usually require less maintenance, but only if properly maintained. However, they are also known for producing more pollution.

What’s the best type of stain to use on my wooden deck, an oil or latex base stain?

There are pros and cons to each type. Oil base stains generally offer better penetration into the wood to offer more protection from water absorption. However, they have a higher VOC content and require the use of solvents for clean-up.

Water or latex base stains are better at retaining color longer, but generally sit on top of the wood like paint, and don’t penetrate as deep into the wood. This generally requires stripping the finish off before applying a new stain.

Hybrid oil/latex base stains offer the best of both worlds, including better absorption into the wood, but lower VOC content and easier cleanup with soap and water.

Can I repair my pump sprayer that has quit working?

Usually, this is the result of damaged seals in the pump. Most manufacturers sell a repair kit. In addition, the sprayer will not work if the tip is clogged and needs cleaning.

What is the best type of fire extinguisher to have in my kitchen and my garage?

A dry-chemical extinguisher marked general-purpose or multi-purpose is best for home use.

Can I install linoleum over a concrete slab or in the basement?

Linoleum must be protected from moisture in the subfloor. It is generally not recommended for concrete slabs or basement applications.

What type of primer should I use on ceilings?

It depends on factors such as whether or not there are stains that need attention and if you are painting the ceiling white or giving it some color. If you don’t have stains and you will be painting the ceiling white, there are specially formulated primers that go on pink or blue and turn white when dry.

Can I burn coal in my wood stove?

Stoves designed for wood should be used for wood only. Coal burning requires a special grate designed for that purpose. Some kinds of coal produce heat much more intense than wood and can damage a standard grate and even the inside of the firebox.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of anvil and bypass pruners?

Anvils provide one blade that is pushed up against a flat surface. These are less expensive and are good on dried wood. Some experts also believe evergreens also prefer this type of cut. Bypass pruners allow you to cut larger branches (up to about ¾”).

What are the different types of smoke detectors?

Thermal smoke detectors detect heat only. Ionization smoke detectors respond particularly well to smoke caused by flaming fires. Photoelectric smoke detectors detect smoldering fires but react slowly to flaming fires.

How difficult is linoleum to maintain?

It cleans with water and a mild detergent. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for resealing when necessary.

What do the numbers mean on electrical wire?

A wire marked 14/2 means that it’s a 14-gauge wire and it contains two wires inside the insulated jacket.

What do I use if I want to stain something that has already been stained before?

Because of their excellent adhesion properties, latex stains are often recommended for surfaces that were previously stained or painted with oil-based products.

What are compound pruners?

These use mechanical action so the tool does more of the work. It requires less effort and force.

Isn’t cork soft and won’t it be damaged by heavy furniture or foot traffic?

After it’s been compressed, cork will return to its original shape. It’s also dense enough to withstand heavy foot traffic. A protective finish further protects it and makes it easy to maintain. We still recommend placing protective pads under furniture.

I have textured ceilings. What nap of roller cover should I use?

It depends on how textured the ceiling is. If it’s slightly textured, a 3/8-inch or a ½-inch nap roller cover should work well. If it’s heavily textures, you might need a 5/8-inch or a ¾-inch nap.

How can I improve the heat efficiency of my wood stove?

There are a variety of accessories available, such as heat extractors, heat exchangers and glass enclosures.

What do I use to cut branches more than ¾”?

Loppers are used on small trees and bushes up to 2 inches in diameter. They are essentially oversized pruners and are also available in compound models. For larger branches, you will need a saw. These come in a variety of styles. Essentially, you need to pick one that will allow you to get at the branches.

When is the best time to apply fertilizer?

Every 4-6 weeks beginning in February.

What’s the best way to trim large branches with a saw?

About 6” to one foot away from the trunk of the tree, cut about half way up through the branch. Next, cut down from the top. Finally, cut off the stub at its collar on the trunk.

What color should the grout be?

Choose grout color based on your design preference. For a uniform, blended look, use a color that complements the tile color. For a more dramatic, grid effect, chose a different color.

What type of patching material should I use to repair cracks in my wall?

A lightweight spackling compound is a good choice. It resists shrinking, cracking and sagging and it requires little sanding. Some formulas even turn color (from pink to white) to signal when the spackling is dry enough to sand and paint.

How big of a stove do I need?

Bigger is not always better. Check the tag for the BTU rating. Do you need a stove for the whole house or just one room?

When should I prune?

Typically, it’s best to do this trimming when the plant is dormant before it is budding.

I need a screw to anchor a knob onto a drawer, what do you recommend?

If you do not have the knob to identify the size, it’s probably a 8-32 screw. It may not be the right one, but it’s the best guess that may keep you from making another trip.

Will grout get dirty quickly?

Not if you properly seal it during installation and regularly maintain it by cleaning up spills quickly.

Do I need to prime my ceiling before painting it?

While it’s always a good idea to prime before painting, unless you ceiling has stains, you probably don’t need to because it doesn’t take the abuse and get as dirty as walls typically do.

How do I take care of my pruning tools?

Simply keep them clean and wipe them down with light oil. Oil their pivot points and blades and keep them sharp.

My cabinets have handles that have holes that are 3-1/2” apart, but I am only finding new handles that fit holes 3” apart, what do you recommend?

Most pulls are generally on 3” mounting centers. You will need to drill new holes and look for pulls that are designed to cover the previous holes. There are also decorative plates that will cover the previous holes. Mount these plates under the new pulls.

What’s the difference between thinset mortar and latex-modified thinset mortar?

The latex additive in the mortar adds strength and moisture resistance to the mortar mix. You may want to use this type, for example, if you are tiling a shower stall.

What is the difference between drywall joint compound and spackling?

Drywall joint compound is lighter in consistency and is used for joining drywall seams and bedding drywall seam tape. Spackling is used to patch nail holes and cracks in drywall and plaster.

What is the advantage of composite handles on an ax or maul?

These cost a little more than wood-handled versions, but they are stronger. This can be particularly important if you have a tendency to overstrike, which can break a wood handle. In the past, wood handles were easier to replace, but new composite designs make these easy to fix as well. Some people say they prefer the feel of wood and that it creates less vibration.

I just need a small amount of grout for a repair. Do I have to buy a whole new bag of grout?

Gout is also available pre-mixed in a caulking-type tube. Manufacturers have colors that are very close to the standard grout colors.

Do all the sockets in my house need to be a GFI?

Only the first one in the series needs to be a GFI (ground fault interrupter).

How much space should there be between the stove and surrounding objects?

There should be a 36” clearance on all sides of the stove to prevent scorching or possible fire.

What tools do I need to spread mulch?

If you are using bags of mulch, simply pour them out and spread them with a rake. If you have had a pile of mulch delivered, you should use a pitchfork specifically designed for picking up mulch. Use it to put the mulch in a garden cart or wheelbarrow to move where you want to spread it.

What fixture can I use which will enable me to hang a picture straight?

For lightweight pictures, a saw-toothed hanger on picture frames will permit you to adjust the picture on the nail.

Can I use vinegar and water to clean tile?

Most tile experts don’t recommend this combination, as it may permanently damage the color of the grout and damage the tile.

What type of stud finder should I buy?

There are two different types, including electronic and magnetic stud finders. Electronic stud finders measure the capacitance in the wall, which is the amount of electrical charge that ma material is able to absorb. This measurement is higher when an electronic stud finder is moved over the wall where a stud is located. Magnetic stud finders, on the other hand, are powerful rare earth magnets that detect a metal screw or nail fastened to the stud. They’re easy to use and they never need batteries, but they are only as accurate as the screw or nail fasted to the stud.

Is there a sprinkler that I can restrict to a small rectangular area between two buildings?

Yes, an oscillating sprinkler can be set so that it will direct water to a specific area. There are also pattern sprinklers.

Do you have a caster that works better on a bed?

Yes, a special bed caster has a wide wheel, which makes it easier to roll. Casters come in a variety of sizes to accommodate different weights.

Why is there a haze on the tile after I’ve set the grout?

The haze over the tile is grout residue. You can remove it with a scouring pad and water.

What should I look for when buying a lawnmower?

For a mulching or self-propelled mower, you need plenty of horsepower so look for one that has a 5 to 6 horsepower engine.

What is the difference between a stove with a catalytic combustor and a non-catalytic combustor?

A catalytic combustor stove lowers the temperature required to burn wood efficiently. The stove burns fuel slowly and also burns off smoke that would otherwise leave the chimney as wasted fuel. This type generally doesn’t need much cleaning. A non-catalytic combustor stove (a recirculating stove) uses a heavily insulated firebox that keeps the heat in and creates a more complete combustion. This type also has a secondary combustion chamber that burns off more gasses and soot.

What is an impulse sprinkler and what are its advantages?

It will water a large area, with minimum evaporation.

What can I use to tighten up a sagging clothesline?

A turnbuckle installed at one end permits you to tighten the line to the desired tautness.

My house has plaster walls. Is there something specifically designed to patch cracks in plaster walls as opposed to drywall?

Yes. Patching plaster is designed specifically for patching plaster walls. Like spackling, it may be sanded and painted and can be textured to match the existing surface.

I have a large area to water, but I don’t want to be bothered with moving the sprinkler

. Use a traveling sprinkler, it moves under its own power along a track of hose and has an automatic shutoff feature.

I need some joist hangers. Do you have any recommendations?

The most important factor is to make sure you are buying the right joist hanger that fits the dimension of lumber are you using.

Is a suspended ceiling something I can install myself?

Yes. Installing a suspended ceiling is a relatively easy project that requires few special tools.

I need to replace a lightswitch in my house. What should I get?

You need to know if it’s a single pole or a three-way. If the light can be controlled in more than one location, then it is a 3-way pole.

How often should I clean the chimney for my fireplace?

Clean chimneys once a year and inspect them twice a month. This is usually best performed by a professional chimney sweep. A clean metal chimney will “ping” when struck with a metal object. A dull thud indicates it is dirty.

What is the best way to water a lawn?

Once a week for an extended period (slow watering) rather than more often for shorter periods of time. This allows moisture to go deeper into the soil.

What do I use to hang a plant?

For small to medium size hangings, there are kits that include a toggle and a decorative hook. These often have screws so that you do not have to use the toggle if you install it directly into a joist. For larger things, you may have to buy a large hook and toggle separately.

Can ceiling tile be installed in the bathroom?

Some kinds can. Some manufacturers have ceiling tile with a feature that protects against humidity.

I have a good hose but it has a small break in the middle, can I patch this?

Cut out the bad section and connect the two lengths with a hose mender. Simply slide on the compression fitting and screw on the connector. There are also replacement male and female hose couplers that can replace damaged ends. The plastic ones are easier to use.

Can I install ceiling tile over any existing ceiling?

The existing ceiling must be in sound condition. Ceilings can be drywall, plaster, popcorn surfaces or open joists. A suspended ceiling may be installed anywhere there is a place to support the wire hangers.

Where do I start when painting an interior wall?

Use an angled brush to trim the perimeter of the room and around door and window frames.

Can putty knives be used as a scraper for drywall?

While putty knives with stiff blades can be used to scrape loose materials, a paint scraper is a better tool for the job. It has a sharp blade designed specifically for removing old paint and other materials.

What is creosote?

Creosote is formed when the smoke and gas from burning solid fuels condense on a chimney, creating a black, crusty build-up. It creates a fire hazard and reduces the efficiency of the chimney.

I notice there is quite a price range in hoses. What do I get for my money?

The less expensive hose is ½” and not reinforced. Medium-priced hoses are usually 5/8” and have some reinforcement in the walls. Higher-priced hoses have more reinforcement and ¾” hose is usually made with rubber.

How do I hang a picture?

The best method is to use a picture-hanging kit designed for the weight of your picture. In most cases, it’s best to double hook it so that all the weight is not suspended in one area.

Can I glue new ceiling tile onto the old ceiling tile?

Do this only if the old tile is in good condition. Most often, old ceiling tile is deteriorating and will not provide an adequate surface for gluing.

Do I need to find a stud if I’m hanging something on my wall?

If possible, it’s a good idea. But with hollow wall anchors, you can place most wall hangings anywhere you want, between studs.

Which is better, rubber or vinyl hose?

Rubber hose will last longer and will not kink as easily. However, it is heavier and more cumbersome to handle.

Is there an easy way to move my refrigerator so I can clean behind it?

Yes, an appliance roller can be slipped under it. You can even leave it there.

Can I paint acoustical tiles?

You can paint the tiles, but you may void the manufacturer’s warranty and loose some of the sound absorption properties. To correctly paint acoustical tiles, you must be sure not to get the tiny holes on the surface of the tile clogged with paint.

What is the difference between a solvent and a thinner?

A thinner is generally used to thin a liquid finish while a solvent is used to dissolve an existing finish that has been cured.

Do I have to get on the roof to clean the chimney?

Brushes are now available for cleaning chimneys from the inside. It’s made easier with the many brush accessories available, including extension rods, smaller brushes for cleaning in closer areas and connecting hardware such as loops, adapters and couplings.

When is the best time of day to water?

Some people mistakenly believe that daytime watering can burn their grass, but the best time to water is actually from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If that is not possible then morning or early evening.

Is it easy to install a closet rod?

Yes, you need to know the width of the closet, but most rods are expandable. However, it’s best if you hit the stud. That way you are sure that it will hold lots of weight.

Can I use existing lighting over my ceiling tile?

Yes, but you will have to temporarily remove the fixture to install the tile.

Should I clean my roller cover or throw it away?

It depends. When used with latex paint, roller covers can be easily cleaned and reused. First, use the curved part of a 5-in-1 tool to scrape out as much paint from the roller as possible. Then, use the same tool to wash out the paint using a sink or bucket until the water runs clean. Put the roller cover back on the roller handle and spin as much moisture out as possible. Then put it back in its plastic sleeve. If used with oil-base paint, go ahead and discard it.

What is a soaker hose?

It is a hose that is blocked at the end and moisture seeps through its walls. It can be woven through a garden to provide water directly onto the soil.

Are the shelf support brackets used on RTA furniture all the same size?

No. The most common size is 5mm, but there are many variations. If you can’t find the right size, it may be easier to just drill the holes out a little larger to a size bracket that you can find.

How do I clean ceiling tile?

Do not soak acoustic tiles with water. Instead, use a damp sponge with a mild liquid detergent solution. Lightly wipe the surface of the panel. If the panel is badly stained, you should replace it.

How much of this chemical should I use?

Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, because overuse can often lead to poor results. For example, too much fertilizer can damage your lawn.

I had shelf support brackets that bent because there was too much weight on it. Are there stronger ones?

Yes, there are heavier ones and some have angled pieces to support the top, which will almost triple its strength.

Can I install my ceiling tile the same day I purchase it?

Most manufacturers recommend you take the tile out of the package and let sit in the room where they will be installed for at least 24 hours so they can acclimate to the room’s temperature and humidity.

What type of precautions should I take when using paint stripper?

When using strippers, be sure to read the safety and usage instructions on the label. Wear chemical-resistant gloves and protective clothing, ventilate the room if using indoors and avoid exposure to the skin and eyes.

Which is more energy-efficient: vented or non-vented gas logs?

Vented gas logs are less fuel efficient than non-vented logs. Vented logs operate somewhere between 60,000 to 90,000 BTUs and lose heat because they require the chimney damper to remain open.

Will this pesticide work on bugs other than the ones mentioned on the can?

I don’t have the education to fully understand the specific chemicals used in these products, so I am not certified to make those types of recommendations.  It’s best to find a pesticide that is specifically designed for your current needs.

What products do you sell that will help childproof my home?

Child resistant locks on cabinets, electrical outlet covers, additional smoke alarms and gun locks are some of the products you should consider.

How do I cut ceiling tile?

Use a sharp utility knife.

Is there a fertilizer that I can use on my gardens that last a long time?

There are time released fertilizers that can last several months.

Do I need to insulate behind the drop ceiling?

If the ceiling is between floors of a building, there is no need to insulate because there is a natural flow of heat from one floor to another. If you do decide to insulate, make sure the insulation batts are resting on the grid system, not on the ceiling panels and that there is some air space between the panel and the insulation.

How can I make my fireplace more efficient?

Try adding one of the many accessories available that make fireplaces more efficient, including tube grates, heat extractors and glass enclosures.

Which pump should I buy for my water garden?

There are two factors that determine the pump you need. How high you want to raise the water and how fast you want the water to flow. Once these are known, we can look on a chart to see what pump you need. You can always go with a larger pump to get the height you want and restrict the hose with a clamp to slow down the speed.

What is the easiest way to shut out cold air coming in around my aluminum door?

A stick-on foam tape works well on aluminum, but it must be applied when the surface is warm and dry.

What does open time mean?

Open time is the time it takes the glue or adhesive to start to set after it has been applied to the surface of the material.

How can I make sure my pump sprayer and my hose end sprayer lasts a long time?

The best thing to do is to always clean it out after every use. You should run water mixed with a mild soap through the sprayer tip.

What is the best product to weatherproof my door?

Many people prefer the doorjamb weather-strips. They work on metal with screws or wood with nails. Unlike the v-strips, foam strips or felt like these can’t fall off.

Can I install paneling over a brick or concrete surface?

First you will need to install furring strips over the masonry surface. Then, attach the paneling to the furring strips.

What’s the difference between a ionization and a photoelectric smoke detector and where should they be used?

A photoelectric fire alarm is designed to detect a smoldering fire more quickly than an ionization smoke detector will. It should be used in rooms where there is a lot a carpet and upholstery, such in in living rooms, family rooms and bedrooms. Ionization smoke detectors are designed to detect flaming fires, that are more likely to start in kitchens and garages.

What size pump sprayer should I buy?

The bigger the sprayer the longer you can use it without refilling it. The disadvantage is that when they are full they can be heavy. Liquids weigh about eight pounds per gallon.

How can I stop an air draft around the light switch and receptacles?

A foam seal is available to go behind the switch or receptacle plate.

How do I hide the seams between pieces of paneling?

Use a seam cover that snaps in between joints. Also use molding for trimming around windows, outside corners and along floors and ceilings.

How long will a bottle or tube of glue last?

If it has been bottled tightly and kept in a normal temperate environment, it should last up to one year.

How does a tube grate work?

A tube grate functions like a conventional grate or andiron in a fireplace. It is an energy saving device that pulls air into the bottom tube opening, moves it around and over the fire (warming the air as it goes) and then shoots it back into the room. It keeps the room’s air from escaping up the chimney, and when combined with glass doors, is an effective way of increasing the energy efficiency of a fireplace.

I am not having success with my garden or my lawn, what do you think the problem might be?

The three factors to consider are water, light and soil. You already know if it is getting enough light and water, but I recommend that you buy a simple soil tester to let you know what your soil’s strengths and weaknesses are.

What do I use to cut the paneling?

Use a fine-tooth panel saw.

What can I use to make sure my water pipe does not freeze?

Heat tapes have a thermostat on them so they know when to turn on and off. Simply wrap the pipe and plug them in.

What kind of nails should I use to install paneling?

Use panel nails that are ringshank and are color matched to the paneling you are installing. Use 1” nails if you are attaching the paneling directly to the studs. Use 1-1/2” if you are attaching the paneling through a solid backing such as drywall.

Will super glue work on all types of plastic?

No. Certain plastics like polyethylene or polypropylene have a coating that can prevent the two surfaces from bonding properly. You need to use a glue with an activator as well as an adhesive. The activator will “prime” the surface and provide a better bonding surface.

How do I attach tileboard?

Do not use nails. Use an adhesive specially designed for attaching paneling to a wall or furring strips.

How can I tell if a socket or switch has a current?

The best way is with a voltage tester. If it blinks, then power is still flowing through the circuit.

What time of year should I plant my container garden?

The same time of year that is recommended for planting the plants you choose outdoors.

How does a heat extractor help me conserve energy with my fireplace?

A heat extractor mounts on the stovepipe and extracts additional heat from flue gases beyond what normally comes from the stovepipe or the chimney. You can use it for either fireplaces or wood-burning stoves. As it extracts heat, it cools the flue’s gasses and could cause the flue to smoke, so it’s best to install an extractor with more capacity than is necessary for the size of the fireplace. The downside is that an extractor could work against the efficiency of a good wood-burning stove. As the flue gases cool, combustion is reduced and the stove gives off less heat.

What can I use to anchor a drapery rod on drywall?

A plastic anchor will support a lighter rod. Rods supporting heavier weights will need a molly wall grip.

How do I estimate how much paneling I need?

Measure the distance around the room and divide by 4. This assumes you have 8’ ceilings and are buying 4×8 sheets.

How do I install a molly bolt?

Drill the proper size hole to insert the molly. Turn the screw head until you feel the molly expand and grip the drywall. Next, remove the screw for intended use. A drive-in type is available which eliminates the need for drilling a hole.

Can I use soil from my garden to grow pots in containers?

Not by itself. Garden soil has a lot of great trace minerals that are good for growing plants, but it doesn’t have the proper drainage characteristics that potting soil does. When used by itself, it won’t drain quickly enough, which will restrict air getting to the roots. It will also dry out and pull away from the sides of the pot.

Is there any way to easily separate a joint where an epoxy has been used?

Although it is not easy, it can be done. Apply an oven cleaner, such as Easy-Off, to the bond and let it sit for 10 to 15 minuets. The epoxy will eventually start to soften and can then be pried apart with a stiff putty knife.

Where in the room should I place a portable heater for best results?

Place heaters under a window to warm cold air as it enters the room through possible gaps around the window.

How do I install a toggle bolt?

Drill proper size hole and insert bolt. Don’t forget that you have to insert bolt through the item you are fastening to the wall. Collapse the toggle and push bolt through the hole until the toggle springs open. Now, tighten the bolt to complete the anchoring.

What is the advantage of wood siding over other types of exterior sidings?

Wood acts as a natural insulator. It also can add dimensional stability to the structure.

My new light fixture is rated for 60W bulbs. Is it OK to use 75W bulbs if I want the room to be brighter?

No. This could cause a serious fire hazard, as the bulbs could get too hot and melt parts of the fixture and even catch on fire.

Is a toggle bolt a good choice for anchoring something to my wall?

No. Toggle bolts are designed for hanging things from a ceiling, where weight is distributed across the toggle. For a wall, it’s best to use one of the newer kinds of plastic anchors. One has a self-drilling head that can be driven either with a screwdriver or a power tool.

How do I finish or treat wood siding.

Most wood siding can be stained or painted, or finished with a clear coat to let the natural grain show through.

What ingredients are in container potting soil?

Potting soil is a mix of several ingredients, including peat moss, compost perlite and vermiculite. Some compost also contains fertilizer, which generally last for 8 to 12 weeks.

Can I use an extension cord with my electric space heater?

It is best to plug your electric heater directly into a wall outlet. However, if you must use an extension cord, only use one that is heavy duty, meaning it has 14-gauge wire.

How can I anchor something to concrete?

A newer anchor has a drill bit built into the end of a screw so that it can be driven directly into the concrete.

What kind of nail should I use to install wood siding?

Use a stainless steel nail, a high tensile strength aluminum nail or a hot-dipped galvanized nail. The nail should have a ring-threaded or spiral-threaded shank for improved holding power.

Will a stick-on hook hold much weight?

They are really only designed for towels and other lightweight items.

What is back priming?

It means priming the backside of the siding. You should also prime the cut edges so the wood is completely sealed from moisture.

How large of a kerosene heater should I buy?

Kerosene heaters are rated by their BTU output. Approximately 28 BTUs/hour are required to maintain one square foot of space at 70°F. Multiply this figure by the total square footage in the room you want to heat and you will have the approximate BTU rating of the heater you should buy.

How do I deal with corners when I’m installing wood siding?

For outside corners you can use preformed metal corners or a corner post. For inside corners use an inside corner made from wood stock.

What is the difference between a caulk and a sealant?

Although “caulk” and “sealant” are often used interchangeably, a sealant is generally a high-performance caulk. A product that meets or exceeds the requirements of American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) Specification C-920 is considered a sealant because of its high-performance characteristics, such as durability both inside and outside and during inclement conditions. If there are no specifications on the label—or if the label says the product meets requirements of ASTM Specification C-834—it is considered a caulk.

What kind of anchor should I use if I’m attaching conduit to a foundation wall?

Use either hammer anchors or a concrete/masonry screw.

What kind of anchor should I use to attach machinery to a concrete floor?

Use a heavy expansion anchor such as a sleeve or wedge anchor.

Can I paint my vinyl siding?

You may be able to paint vinyl, but check with the manufacturer. Painting may void the manufacturer’s warranty.

How much of an area will a gallon of paint cover?

For many paints, a gallon will cover 400 square feet. However, the quality of the paint can affect how much it will cover. The label on the paint can usually provides some guidance.  In addition, there are a number of factors that affect how much paint you will need. These include the type of surface being covered, the color currently on the surface and the color being applied.

How do I clean my vinyl siding?

Use a soft-bristled, long-handled brush. You can even use one attached to a garden hose. If needed, use a general purpose cleaner for ordinary dirt.

The plugs in my outlet are very loose. Can this be fixed?

No, you should replace them … immediately. Loose contacts can lead to arcing, which can cause a fire.

What is the benefit of a humidifier?

A humidifier can make a house more comfortable during the winter months. Cold air holds little moisture. When it enters the house and is warmed, the air in the house becomes dry. Humidifiers restore moisture to the air and can make the house feel warmer, allowing you to use less heat and thus save energy.

How do I recognize a good paint?

Paint has three components: the binder, the pigment and the liquid. The best paints contain a higher volume of solid materials. Pay close attention to the solid content. For example, a $13 gallon of paint with a solid content of 19 percent might cover about 200 square feet, while a $20 gallon of paint with 41 percent solid content will cover about twice that amount. The binder is the most important factor in the durability. Some paints also have additives to enhance their performance, such as mildewcide.

Which is a bigger nail—No. 6 or No. 8?

No. 8 – the bigger the number the bigger the nail.

Can I use a power washer to clean vinyl siding?

If you use a power washer, hold the washer straight or at eye level so it can clean most effectively. Do not point the power washer upward, as water may collect behind the siding.

What are some common uses for sealants?

Sealants are used to seal or close cracks or joints between sills and foundations; where siding joins window and door trim; openings around external electrical outlets, electrical and telephone cables; dryer vents; kitchen, attic and bathroom vents; flashings; skylights; other cracks and openings that leak water into homes or that leak heated air and energy out.

What is an oil-based paint?

These paints have resins and thinners in them that evaporate when the paint dries. This process forms a hard coating and provides heavier coverage on the first coat, effective penetration and excellent adhesion. They are particularly good for chalky surfaces and those that already have several layers of oil-based paint.

What is the advantage of a cement coated nail?

Friction heat from driving the nail softens the cement coating and causes the nail to adhere to wood more firmly.

Do I need any special tools for installing vinyl?

Yes. You’ll need a nail hole punch for punching slots in cut panels, a snaplock punch for dimpling panels where they will be pressed into the utility trim and an unlocking tool for separating panels.

Should I use the screw terminal or the holds in the back of the electrical outlet to attach the wires?

Technically, you can use either one. But wires “backstabbed” into these holes (as it is called) are more likely to fall out, which could start a fire. Most electricians recommend attaching the wires to the screw terminals, with the wire wrapped around the screw clockwise, to ensure a solid wired connection when the screw is tightened.

How large of a humidifier should I buy?

There are three main sizes of humidifiers. The portable type, or tabletop style, is intended to service a single room. The console humidifiers can output from six to 13 gallons of water per day, enough for several rooms. An in-duct humidifier can be installed in a forced-air heating system.

What does the term gloss paint mean?

It refers to how shiny the paint is. Manufacturers use terms such as flat, satin, semi-gloss and high-gloss to describe their paint, but there are no specific industry standards.

What is the difference between a common nail and a smooth box nail?

The common nail is thicker even though they have the same length.

What are the advantages of vinyl siding?

The biggest advantage is ease of maintenance. Vinyl does not rot, mold or need painting. Better quality vinyl siding incorporates insulation to raise the energy efficiency of your home.

Where should I use a flat paint?

These are also called matte finishes and they are good for walls and ceilings in lower-traffic areas.

Should I use a finishing nail?

These are mostly for interior work when you would countersink the head and cover the nail hole.

Is thickness of siding the best determiner of quality?

The thickness of the siding is important when considering what siding to buy, but it isn’t the only factor that determines quality siding. Other factors such as nailing hem design, design of the locking mechanism and UV inhibitors all contribute to the overall quality of the panel.

What is an eggshell finish?

It’s a paint that has a little more sheen than a flat paint, which makes it easier to clean and gives it a more lustrous appearance. It can be used in place of semi-gloss to provide a less shiny finish. Some manufacturers market a satin or silk finish, which is usually a little shinier than an eggshell but less shiny than a semi-gloss.

How long of a nail should I use?

If the board you are fastening to another is not going to bear weight, it should be a half inch longer than the board is thick. If it is going to bear weight, it should be 2-1/2 times the thickness of the material to be fastened.

What type of paint should I use in my kitchen?

High-gloss paints are great for high-traffic areas because they provide a tough, washable finish that also resists water and grease. Use them on kitchen and bathroom walls, kitchen cabinets, banisters and railings, trim, furniture, doorjambs and windowsills. However, the gloss will make surface imperfections more noticeable, so you will have to work a little harder to ensure a good finish. A semi-gloss provides a little less durability but is a little easier to work with.

Should I use a galvanized nail?

Galvanized nails resist rust, and you should use them whenever you are building a project that will be exposed to the elements. Aluminum nails are rustproof, but must be thicker to prevent them from bending.

How do I fasten fiber cement siding?

Use corrosion resistant nails, either stainless steel or galvanized. You can also use galvanized screws.

How does a voltage tester work?

A non-contact voltage tester measures the difference in electrostatic charge between the person holding the tester and the tip. If you hold it near an energized cable it will sound or flash (or both). These devices, however, do have limitations, including detecting ghost voltage (or phantom voltage), which has bled over from a nearby energized cable or device. Contact testers (or continuity testers, as they are called) have probes that are inserted into the slots in a receptacle. They can also test for correct grounding to make sure the receptacle is wired correctly. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before using these products.

What do I need to know to buy the right type of caulk?

The type of caulk you use will depend on the following factors:

  • Where it will be applied?
  • What type of surfaces will be bonded or caulked?
  • How much stress or movement will the joint be subject to?

Why should I use distilled water with my humidifier?

Certain types of humidifiers such as the ultrasonic humidifier should be used with distilled water. If not, the humidifier could leave a sticky, white dust around the house. It could also contribute to elevated levels of bacteria residue and mold particles in the air.

Is there a good time to paint outside?

Always check the paint can for specific recommendations. But for general guidelines, you want the paint to dry evenly, so try to paint in the shade and when the temperature is between 60 degrees and below 90 degrees. Also, avoid windy days because they might make the paint dry too quickly or blow debris onto your wet paint.

What do I use to cut fiber cement siding?

Use a saw blade specially designed for cutting fiber-cement. Or, use shears and a score-and-snap method.

How long will I have to wait between coats of paint?

While drying times can vary based on factors such as humidity, plan on waiting about four hours when you are using latex paint. If you are using oil-based paint, you will probably need to wait up to 24 hours.

Are there nails that match my walnut paneling?

Yes, paneling nails come in a variety of colors.

Can I use staples to attach siding?

We do not recommend using staples.

Does the tank size contribute to the efficiency of the humidifier?

No. Larger tank sizes merely mean you won’t have to refill them as often.

Should I use a primer?

In most cases, you need a primer if the surface has never been painted before. If you are repainting something, you will need a primer if the old paint is worn down and the surface is exposed.

Is there a nail I can use that is less likely to split my wood?

Pointless nails protect against wood splitting, because they cut through fibers rather than following the grain of the wood.

Do I have to tear off my existing siding before installing steel siding?

You don’t have to tear off existing siding. You do, however, need to make sure that the existing siding will hold nails and is stable.

Can I store unused spray paint?  Sometimes I have paint left in an old can of spray paint but the tip is clogged.

Paint dries in the tip if you do not flush it out. When you are finished with your project, you can turn the can upside down for a few seconds and spray. The propellant will blow out the remaining paint that is in the tip.

I’m going to nail a small piece of wood to something. What should I use?

You can use small nails—called brads—but to help prevent the wood from splitting, you should pre-drill the holes.

Can I paint aluminum siding?

You can paint aluminum siding. Be sure to prep it properly by sanding with a fine-grit paper and clean it. Replace dented siding or repair with filler made for metal. Also prime any bare aluminum using a metal primer.

Where should I place my humidifier for maximum efficiency?

Place portable humidifiers near an inside wall, preferably facing a stairwell. Also keep the unit at least 6” from the wall for proper air circulation. Since moist, warm air rises, an upstairs floor unit will not be as effective.

How long will I have to wait between coats of paint?

While drying times can vary based on factors such as humidity, plan on waiting about four hours when you are using latex paint. If you are using oil-based paint, you will probably need to wait up to 24 hours.

Should I use a sheet metal screw or a wood screw?

The main difference is that a sheet metal screw has threads along its entire length. A wood screw has threads along about two-thirds of its length and costs a little less.

Why are the shingles I just installed already blowing off the roof?

One possible cause is that the shingles were laid in the fall or winter and the self-sealing tab never had the opportunity to properly seal. This doesn’t always happen, but can. A possible solution is to put asphalt adhesive in a caulking gun and tack down the tabs, one by one.

I always clean the grates on my grill, but do I need to clean my burner cover bars after each use to keep pests away?

No, just use a wire brush on them from time to time. They sit close enough to the flame from the burner that any drips from above will burn away when the grill is turned on high.

How can I get the most efficient use from my dehumidifier?

Operate the dehumidifier with doors and windows closed. Place the unit away from walls, furniture and other airflow obstructions.

What is the advantage of a natural-bristle brush?

Bristle has naturally split ends called flags, which help hold the paint in the brush so that it is released throughout the stroke instead of all at once.

What do the numbers—such as 8-32—mean on a machine screw?

The first number is the diameter. The bigger the number the bigger the screw. The second number is the number of threads per inch.

What’s the difference between a roofing nail and a shingle nail?

A roofing nail has a large head for holding down asphalt roofing, which is typically asphalt shingles. The large head helps reduce “tear through.” A shingle nail is just a 3d galvanized box nail used to fasten wood shingles.

The inside of my grill needs painting. What type of paint should I use?

If you need to touch up the paint on the non-porcelain surfaces of your grill, such as the endcaps or the cook box, use a high heat-resistant Barbecue Black or Fireplace Black spray paint that is rated up to 700 degrees F. First wash the surface and use some fine sandpaper to rough up any bare spots. Then be sure to mask off and cover the porcelain hood so you don’t get paint on it. For the cook box, first cover any other parts of the grill with paper or cardboard, then use the spray to touch them up.

How often do I need to stain my deck?

It’s a good idea to reapply stain once a year on wooden decks, especially if the deck is located in full sun most of the time. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are one of the most harmful environmental factors for wooden decks. UV rays destroy the lignin in wood that holds cellulose fibers together. This causes the fibers to eventually wear away. Better quality deck stains have UV inhibitors that either reflect or absorb the sun’s damaging rays.

Water is the other environmental factor that destroys wooden decks over time. When not protected properly, wooden deck boards absorb water and expand and shrink across the width of the deck boards, especially at the ends of the boards. Quality deck stains contain penetrating finishes to slow the water absorption process.

What Type of Ladder Should I Buy?

The major points to consider when selecting a ladder are:

  • The kind of activity involved—The intended activity will make the choice obvious. For example, a stepladder would be the choice to paint interior walls and ceilings, while an extension ladder usually is needed to paint outside. If the job involves more effort than usual, or will require more time on the ladder, you should probably by a platform ladder instead of a stepladder.
  • The demands of the application— All ladders are designed to hold a certain weight. Therefore, ladders are matched or “job-rated” to the physical demands of the application. For instance, a ladder used daily on a construction site obviously should have a sturdier construction than the ladder used a few times a year around the house. The most important factor is the rated load capacity—the aggregate working weight of the user, his clothing and his tools. For that reason, the duty rating is described in terms of pounds. (See Pro Corner for more information.) Every ladder’s duty rating is color-coded. A label in the appropriate color is prominently displayed on the side rail. Look for the proper duty ratings to match the highest level of use.
  • The height the ladder must reach so the climber may work from a safe position—Stepladders should be high enough for the user not to have to stand above the second step from the top. (The first step from the top carries a label warning the user not to stand there.) On extension ladders, the user should stand no more than four rungs from the top, which should extend 3’ above the work surface. The base of the ladder should be one-fourth the distance from the top support of the ladder to its bottom support.
  • The basic material from which the ladder is made—The most common materials for ladders are wood, aluminum and fiberglass.
  • Wood ladders are non-conductive when clean and dry. They also offer a natural, firm grip for the worker’s feet and hands. However, wood ladders are heavy.
  • Fiberglass ladders offer a favorable blend of the more desirable qualities of wood and aluminum. It’s non-conductive (like dry, clean wood) but made of sturdy modern materials (like aluminum). If you are planning to use the ladder in a variety of circumstances, a fiberglass ladder is the best choice.
  • Aluminum ladders are lightweight, provide excellent strength and offer reliable performance. Aluminum ladders are corrosion-resistant and require little if any maintenance. They conduct electricity, however, so they should never be used when working near electrical lines.


What type of brush is best for rough surfaces?

A synthetic brush is your best choice, because the rough surface can quickly damage the flags on a natural-bristle brush.

Are there screws that will not rust?

Brass, aluminum and stainless steal screws should meet your needs.

Can dirt and debris buildup hurt my roof?

Yes. Dirt and debris such as limbs, leaves or pine straw can hold moisture that can cause mildew and damage to the roof.

I’m replacing a light switch. How do I know which wire should be attached to each screw on the new light switch?

If you are replacing an existing switch, make a diagram of how the wires were attached to the old switch before you remove them. Snap a picture with your camera phone or draw a diagram. Then replace them in the same position on the new switch.

How do I know how much humidity my humidifier is producing?

Use a hygrometer. These are inexpensive and will tell you how much humidity is in the air.

Can I use the same brush for both latex and oil-based paint?

Yes, but you must make sure you clean them extremely well. It’s best if you just buy two sets of brushes. One for latex and one for oil-based paints.

Why would I use aluminum?

It is less expensive than stainless, but they are softer and not as strong. They are used for some specific applications. For example, they are good underwater. In general, stainless is the most popular.

What is a “square” in roofing terms?

A square is 100 square feet of shingles on a roof. Shingles are typically sold in bundles and will tell you how many bundles it takes to make a square.

What is causing the ends of my deck boards to crack?

Excessive cracking at the ends of wooden deck boards is a sign that too much water is being absorbed into the ends of the board (also known as end grain), where water absorbs more rapidly into the wood. When staining a wooden deck, be sure to fully coat the ends of the board.

Should I use a natural bristle brush with a latex paint?

No. Just remember that humid weather can make someone’s hair turn frizzy. Water-based paints do the same thing to natural-bristle brushes, so you will want to use a synthetic brush with latex paint.

Why would I use brass screws?

Brass is softer than and not as strong as stainless, and its main use is when you want the decorative look of brass.

What are some signs my roof is getting old or has problems?

When inspecting your roof, check for cracked, warped or missing shingles. Also look for seams that are loose and flashing that has deteriorated. Look in the gutters for excessive granules that are coming loose from the roof. Also, of course, check inside for leaks.

How often should I give my grill a thorough scrubbing?

Be sure to do it at the beginning of the grilling season. Then, it depends on how often you use it. Three times a year is probably adequate.

What type of brush works best with oil-based paint?

Natural bristles are best for most oil-based finishes including varnishes and stains. Their soft tips leave fewer brush marks.

What do the marks on the head of a bolt mean?

They represent the hardness of the bolt. No marks indicates the least hard, three marks is medium hardness and bolts with six marks are the hardest.

Where should I place my air conditioner to get the most out of it?

Place window air conditioners in a window that is shaded most of the time and will allow maximum air circulation into the room or rooms to be cooled.

There is water seeping from around the base of my toilet. What do I need to do to solve this problem?

Your wax gasket is probably not working anymore. This is a simple problem to fix. You need to remove the toilet and install a new wax ring. While you have the toilet off you should go ahead and replace the bolts. Otherwise, it could be a crack in your toilet bowl.

Should I buy a paint brush with angled bristles or cut square?

An angle-tipped brush allows you to put the tips of the bristles on the work at the natural angle that the brush is held. In addition, an angle-tipped brush puts slightly more bristle area on the work than a square-tipped brush of the same width.

What are the advantages of a carriage bolt?

The square shoulder, sunk into wood, prevents the bolt from turning and the round head gives a smoother finish.

Is a shake and a shingle the same thing?

No, there is a difference. A shingle is sawn and thinner at the butt than a shake. A shake is split on one or both sides.

How wide of a brush should I use?

The best answer is whatever you feel comfortable with. A bigger brush holds more paint and applies it more quickly, but it is also harder to control.

Even with a lock washer, I continue losing the nut off my mower.

Use a lock nut with a nylon insert. This arrangement will not vibrate loose as readily.

Do I need to put some kind of finish on my wooden shingle roof?

There are several different kinds of products you can put on your wood shingle or shake roof. Depending on the look you want, you can use transparent, semi-transparent or bleaching oil penetrating stain; a solid color stain; or a paint. Check with the manufacturer’s instructions first to review finishing recommendations.

My mower won’t start. What’s most likely the problem?

Some of the common reasons mowers won’t start include the following:
1. It’s out of gas.

2. It’s flooded. Let it sit for an hour or two or overnight
until the strong gas smell goes away, then try again.

3. It needs a new spark plug. Check the tip of the plug for
corrosion and rust and replace it if necessary.

4. The fuel is stale. Replace with fresh fuel.

I want to put some shelves in my garage, what kind should I buy?

It’s always a good idea to keep things off the floor if possible, so invest in some shelves and brackets that you can hang on the wall.

How do I know how large of an air conditioner I need?

The BTU rating of the air conditioner gives you its capacity. To find what BTU rating you need, multiple the square feet of the room by 25, adding 1,000 for every window and 400 for each occupant. Example: A room measures 12’ x 15’ with two windows and two occupants. The formula works out to 180 sq. ft. x 25 = 4,500 + 2,000 for the windows + 800 for the occupants = 7,300, or a 7,000 – 8,000 BTU air conditioner.

What do I do if there is a crack in my toilet bowl?

If it is small crack, you can try to repair it. Drain the toilet, dry it off, apply some Plumber’s Goop and let it dry completely before refilling the tank. However, you may have to replace the bowl.

Should I use a different type of roller cover for oil-based paint and latex paint?

Yes, just as you would with a paint brush. Natural fiber roller covers made with mohair or a blend of polyester and lamb’s wool are usually recommended for oil-based paints, varnish and stains. Synthetic fiber roller covers, on the other hand, are most often recommended for applying latex paints.

What is the meaning of USS and SAE as it pertains to bolts?

USS are coarse threads, while SAE refers to fine threads.

What are the advantages of using a wood shingle on my roof?

Besides the beauty of natural wood, a wooden shake or shingle is a renewable resource and is highly durable in extreme weather such as hail, high wind and earthquakes.

What’s the difference between transparent, semi-transparent and solid stains?

The difference lies in the amount of pigment in each. Transparent stains, although they appear clear, have some pigment in them for UV protection. Semi-transparent stains have more pigment, but still allow some of the wood grain to show through. Solid stains are basically like paint. They hide most of the wood’s character, but they offer the best protection from moisture and UV rays. The general rule is that the more pigment in the stain, the better protection it will provide.

What are the quality features in a good roller?

Good roller frames have a compression-type cage, which is also convenient, because their covers can be removed quickly and easily. Also, look for a handle that has a threaded end so you can use an extension pole for painting floors and ceilings.

What is a lag bolt?

It is basically a large wood screw (with a pointed tip) and a hex head.

All my hand tools are in toolboxes and drawers scattered throughout the house. What’s the best storage method and where I can find them easily?

Installing pegboard on a garage wall is an excellent way to keep your tools in sight so you can easily get them when you need them. Some people even draw outlines around the tools with a permanent marker on the pegboard so they know when a tool is missing from its proper location.

Why isn’t my toilet bowl filling up?

See if you toilet has an overflow pipe. If so, a rubber tube should go into it. It has a metal clip on it and sometimes it can come loose.

I have a bolt that is not threading in properly. Can I fix this?

Yes, a thread repair kit allows you to retap it, put in an insert and rebuild it.

Won’t an aluminum or steel roof be noisy in the rain?

Not necessarily. Aluminum shingles should be installed over a solid deck, and the insulation in the attic as well as any insulation between the decking and the shingles will help deaden the sound.

Can I plug my air conditioner into any standard outlet?

Check the voltage rating of the unit. Units with 115 volts (having less than a 9,000 BTU capacity) will not overload average house wiring. For larger capacity units and those requiring 220V wiring (high BTU capacity), consult an electrician.

What does a lock washer do?

It helps to tighten the grip of the nut. If the screw needs to maintain lots of torque or if it’s going to vibrate, you should consider using a lock washer.

Will an aluminum or steel roof attract lightning?

Aluminum or steel roofs do not attract lightning. However, if the roof were struck by lightning, it would safely dissipate the charge throughout the structure. These roofs are also fire resistant, so it will actually help prevent the house from catching fire if the house were struck by lightning.

What are the working parts of a toilet?

The refill valve, the flush valve and the trip lever.

What type of caulk should I use in my shower?

Silicone caulks are water resistant and provide excellent adhesion to smooth surfaces, such as metal, glass and tile. However, it does not adhere well to masonry and is paint resistant. It is also difficult to work with and smears must be cleaned up with paint thinner.

I’ve broken the head off a bolt. Is there some way I can get it out?

You should use a bolt extractor kit. It has a tap and an insert with a left-hand thread so that it can be turned to remove the bolt.

Why are some metal roofs called “standing seam”?

A standing seam roof is one where the seam between sheets is raised to be above the sheet, and therefore is less likely to leak.

Are there different kinds of latex caulk?

Yes. For example, vinyl latex is good for small cracks. Acrylic latex is a little more flexible and lasts longer up to 10 or 15 years. Siliconized acrlic latex should not be confused with a pure silicone caulk, but it is a medium-performance caulk that provides some water resistance and lasts up to 25 years or more.

What do I use to hang a plant?

For small to medium size hangings, there are kits that include a toggle and a decorative hook. These often have screws so that you do not have to use the toggle if you install it directly into a joist. For larger things, you may have to buy a large hook and toggle separately.

What kind of nails do I use with a steel panel roof?

The most common nail to use is a nail with a washer that seals the hole from leaking. This is used because, unlike shingles, the nail on a steel panel roof is exposed.

What will happen if you put straight gas in a 2-cycle engine?

Without any oil in the fuel for lubricating, the engine will seize up and will probably be ruined. Always remember to use the oil/gas mixture in the proper ratio recommended by the mower manufacturer.

My gutters are letting out water at the ends. What can I do to fix it?

The endcap of the gutter is one of the most common places for leaks to develop. You can by a silicone based product specifically designed to seal gutters. It comes in a caulk-like tube and can be applied with a caulk gun.

Do I need to open any other windows while using a window fan?

Opening other windows allows a way for the air in the room to vent. To cool one room, run the window fan on intake and open a second window to act as a vent. To cool several rooms, run the fan on exhaust and open the windows and connecting doors.

Why is my toilet refilling every 10 minutes. What is the problem?

More than likely, water is leaking from the tank into the bowl. This could be the result of the lift chain being tangled which isn’t letting the flapper seat properly. A build-up of scale or hard water deposits on the seat of the flapper might also be preventing the flapper from seating properly. Remove this scale with steel wool or with No. 500 abrasive paper.

What is the advantage of a steel roof?

A steel roof does not support the growth of moss, mildew or fungus. They are also lightweight and can withstand severe weather. They also last longer than some types of roofing.

Do I need to apply anything to the wall before papering?

You should apply wall sizing to all old or new walls. It prepares the surface and acts as a first coat. It makes a smooth surface and prevents paste from soaking into the wall.

Do you have a screw for an electrical outlet cover?

In most cases they are a 6 – 32.

Can I walk on my metal roof?

Generally yes, you can walk on a metal roof. But like walking on any roof, be careful.

My ceiling fan wobbles, what should I do?

If a wood blade is warped, it will wobble. Correct this problem by installing adhesive-backed weights to the blades. Operating at faster speeds may also cause humming or clicking noises with some models.

How do I test to see if water is leaking from the tank into the bowl?

After flushing the toilet, let it refill. Now put a few drops of food coloring into the tank. If the color appears in the bowl after a few minutes, there is a leak.

What tools do I need to remove old wallpaper?

A wallpaper remover, a 3” wallpaper stripping tool, a bucket and a sponge. You can also buy a tool that will score the paper before you apply the remover.

I need to replace this bolt on my car engine, what bolt do I use?

Automotive bolts are usually a fine thread.

How do I keep the water from pooling beneath my downspouts? Do I need to adjust the position my gutters?

There are several products designed to help carry water away from the foundation. The first is a splash block which sits directly under your downspout elbow to help carry the water that extra couple of feet away from the house. The other product is a downspout extender which is generally four-feet long. If after using these products the water is still pooling under your downspouts, you probably need to check the grade of your foundation, which is how much the land slopes away from your house.

How do I remove paint from wood?

You can use a chemical paint stripper. Be sure to brush it on in one direction and always wear chemical-resistant gloves and safety goggles. You will also need a putty knife.

I can see I have a few cracked tiles on my roof. Can I just replace those tiles instead of replacing the entire roof?

Usually the best choice is to replace tiles. Clay tiles last a very long time and it is likely that most of the roof is in good condition. A clay tile roof is also expensive to replace. An experienced roofer can replace individual clay tiles.

What R-value should I use?

The Department of Energy recommends R-values based on the type of fuel used and where you live. Generally, attics in homes heated by gas or oil in most southern locations should use R-19. For an electrically heated home in the same area, the recommendation is R-30. The minimum recommendation for homes in the coldest climates, regardless of heating method, is R-49.

Why should I put a vent fan in my bathroom?

Bath fans help eliminate odors but also clear away steam that causes steamy mirrors and windows after bathing or showering. Walls damp with steam build-up can result in mold, mildew, wood rot and ruined insulation.

Can I test to see if the leak is coming from the refill or the flush valve?

Yes. Shut off the water supply to the toilet. Mark the water level on the inside of the tank with a pencil. Check the water level in 10 or 20 minutes. If the water has fallen, you know the flush valve is leaking.

What type of sandpaper do I need for preparing wood before I paint it?

Aluminum oxide is a good multipurpose sandpaper. It cuts fast and lasts long time. It’s usually best to use three different grits of sandpaper. Start with the #320, which is a course grade. Follow this with #400 and then #600. Sand with the grain of the wood at all times. For sanding fine woodworking projects you may want to use garnet sandpaper.

Should I use 3 mil visqueen or 4 mil visqueen?

The 4 mil is thicker, which makes it more durable. The 3 mil is not as good, but if it’s for a short one-time use, it is a little less expensive. For example, it could be used as a disposable drop cloth.

How do I check the condition of my clay tile roof?

Using binoculars, check for missing, cracked or slipped tiles and missing mortar. Be sure to check the ridge, horizontal row, valleys and any place the roof changes direction.

What type of sandpaper should I use on metal?

For smooth finishes you should use aluminum oxide, and for extreme fineness you can use emery to create a final polish. Steel wool can be used for removing rust or smoothing surfaces between coats.

What type of rope should I buy?

Working strength is the most important factor.

Does a tile roof have a good insulation value?

The combination of the roof tiles, decking and the air space under and between the tiles makes roof tiles good insulators.

Do I need to sand my deck before staining it?

Sanding deck boards before proceeding with the staining process helps ensure that the surface of the deck is level and there are no tripping hazards. It also removes stubborn stains left behind after the stripping process. Perhaps most importantly, it removes old cellulose fibers that will soon wear away from exposure to the sun’s UV rays.

Should I use a special type of soil or add any fertilizer when backfilling the hole around the root ball?

You should always backfill the hole with the same soil you dug out of the hole to begin with. However, it’s a good idea to add some plant food fertilizer and some root stimulator to avoid transplant shock. Be sure to carefully read and follow manufacturer’s instructions.

What does MERV stand for?

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It basically rates the filter’s ability to trap particles from the air. The higher the MERV number, the more efficient the filter.

Why is water constantly running into my toilet?

If the refill valve is leaking, the tank overfills and the excess water runs into the overflow pipe and into the bowl.

How does a sandpaper holder help me sand?

A sanding block helps speed up sanding jobs, relieves strain on your hands and makes your sandpaper last longer.

Is nylon rope worth its extra cost?

Twisted nylon rope is the most versatile because of its strength. Additionally it has good shock resistance, which means sudden jerks are less likely to damage the rope or cause failure. It’s resistance to abrasion makes it durable where rubbing is likely to occur. It is resistant to most chemicals and will not rot or mold when wet. When stretched it tends to return to its original length, making it good for lifting and towing. However, it should not be attached to winches, bits, hooks or chains.

Aren’t clay tile roofs expensive?

They are economical if you consider their long life, typically 50 years or longer. You may replace an asphalt roof several times during the lifespan of a clay roof.

What type of storage tote should I buy to store my clothes to store in my apartment?

Buy one that is clear or somewhat clear so you can see the content of what’s inside. This will help you easily locate that special sweater this fall.

What does a number such as 120 on sandpaper mean?

These numbers stand for the number of particles per square inch. The higher the number the finer the sandpaper.

When should I use a polyester rope?

Polyester twisted rope has strength similar to nylon, but at the expense of a poor shock load capacity. However, it has a good resistance to abrasion and sunshine. It’s a good choice for general-purpose boating applications.

I’m considering a clay roof, but don’t care for the Spanish tile look on my home. Is there anything else available?

Yes. Clay and concrete tile manufacturers offer many options of style and color of tiles.

How do I change the air filter in my furnace?

The filter generally is located as close to the blower unit as possible. It will be between the incoming ductwork and the blower. Furnaces may have a slot with a flap that closes over it. Slide the old filter out and slide the new one in the same way.

How high should the water level in the toilet tank be?

It needs to be high enough for complete flushes, but it should be below the top of the overflow pipe. The tank should have a colored or molded water level mark. The rule of thumb is to set the water level about ¾” below the top of the overflow pipe.

Is sandpaper better for smoothing coats between coats than steel wool?

It can be just a matter of preference, but steel wool is normally recommended. You might also want to consider a finishing pad. They don’t shed or rust like steel wool, and they can be rinsed and reused. They’re available for wood, metal and stripping.

I am building a swing. What type of chain do you recommend?

Passing link allows the links to pass each other easily, which helps prevent kinking and tangling?

In my apartment, I share a walk-in closet. What’s the best way to share this space?

While you’re sharing the closet, the best way to keep the peace in the closet is to keep everything separate. Each of you should get one of the long walls, then you can decided how to divide up any of the remaining short sections.

What spray tip is best to use with my pressure washer when cleaning exterior siding?

Choose a tip that won’t damage the siding. A 15-degree tip is a good choice.

What can be used to produce a nice smooth surface when I finish furniture?

Using a fine steel wool between multiple coats will give you a smoother surface. Be sure to clean the surface with a tack cloth before painting each additional coat.

How strong should the chain be I buy?

Chains are all rated to their working loads. Welded chains have links that are welded to form a continuous loop, and are the strongest. Weldless chains are formed by bending, twisting or knotting the metal to form individual loops. They are recommended for light work only.

Can I use an asphalt roof patching material to patch a hole in a rubber roof?

No. Asphalt is not compatible with rubber roofing. Patch according to the manufacturers specifications.

Can I combine several different faux finish techniques?

Yes. However, be sure to try out the various techniques first on a scrap piece of drywall to make sure they will look good before applying them to the wall.

How do I adjust toilet water level?

To adjust the water level on a toilet with modern tank components, there is a lock ring or pinch clamp that allows you to raise or lower the float on the fill valve. On toilets with older fill valves, you can simply bend the float arm down to lower the water level or up to raise it.

How do I tell which steel wool is finer?

The smaller the number, the finer the steel wool.

I have a tarp that I want to tie down. What should I use?

The easiest way is to use a grommet tool and grommets.

Is EPDM and rubber roofing the same thing?

EPDM is a type of rubber roofing that is the most common and easiest for the do-it-yourselfer to use. Rubber roofing is a generic term that can refer to a variety of membrane roofing materials.

Can I avoid scraping the peeling paint off the exterior of my home by using a pressure washer before painting?

It is not advisable. Pressure washers should only be used for removing dirt, mildew and algae that can lead to premature paint failure. Flaking paint should only be removed by scraping and sanding.

What size air filter does my furnace need?

Check labeling on or measure the existing filter. If no filter exists, measure the length and width of the space where the filter should be.

What is the difference between concrete mix and sand mix?

Concrete mix has gravel in it, which makes it stronger and more durable. Sand mix is used mainly for patching or where you want a particularly smooth finish.

Can I install an EPDM rubber roof over an existing roof?

You cannot install an EPDM rubber roof directly over asphalt, tar, shingles or felt paper. Install on 5/8” plywood or OSB. You can install it over existing roofing only if you first place the plywood or OSB decking over the existing roof. Oils in the asphalt and tar roofing will cause problems in the EPDM.

I’m installing some wire closet shelving as storage. Do I need to secure the brackets into wall studs?

Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but it probably depends on the total weight that you’ll be placing on the shelves. See our video Wall Hanging Basics for more information.

How do I replace a damaged refill valve?

Turn off the toilet’s water supply valve, flush the toilet and sponge out any remaining water in the tank. The refill valve is usually removed by turning a nut that holds it in place. When the nut is off, the refill assembly can be lifted out. Install the new assembly by following the manufacture’s directions.

I’m going to be painting a table that has a gloss finish. Do I need to prepare the surface?

You should use a liquid deglosser, which works without sanding and also produces a slight tack for better adhesion of the new finish.

Is there a quick way to fill a crack in my cement block foundation?

One of the easiest ways is to use expanding foam.

How thick of an EPDM rubber roof do I need?

For most applications, a 40 or 45 mil roll is sufficient. Use a thicker 60 or 90 mil if the roof will be in an area where you need good puncture resistance, such as an area where tree limbs may fall.

What is a tack cloth?

It’s a cloth that picks up and holds dirt, sand and other debris. You should use one on any surface before you apply a coat of paint or any other finish.

How often should I seal my asphalt driveway?

Depending on the product you use and the number of coats you apply, every 2 to 4 years should be adequate.

How much glaze will I need for an average room?

It depends, but generally one quart of tinted paint to six quarts of glaze is common. When using acrylic glaze, the ratio increases to one quart of tinted paint to eight quarts of glaze.

How should I clean my washable filter?

Spray gently with warm water in the opposite direction of the airflow. Do not use the full stream of a garden hose. Too much pressure can push holes in the filter and void the warranty. Some manufacturers suggest using a household detergent; refer to the package to verify. Do not use ammonia-based products. Make sure the filter is completely dry before reinstalling.

What size water supply line do I need?

There are generally two sizes of supply lines. The toilet supply line head is the larger of the two. The smaller ones are sink supply lines.

Will a rechargeable battery ever wear out?

Yes, different brands will last longer than others will. Generally, batteries that are more expensive will last longer, but the savings of the longer life offset their initial expense.

What is an ice dam?

An ice dam is a condition where the temperature is just below freezing and the snow has fallen on the roof. The combination of heat from the sun and the escaping building heat causes the snow above the heated space to melt. The melted snow runs down the roof until it hits the unheated eave overhang. If the weather is cold enough, the runoff freezes and forms a small ridge. As the process continues, the ridge grows. Soon, water is backed up over the house and flows under the shingles, leaking into the home.

What is the difference between a wood stain and a varnish?

A wood stain is used to change the appearance of the wood, such as to bring out the definition in the wood grain or match the look of another species of wood. Semi-transparent stains provide a color to the wood, but still allow the texture and natural grain to show through. Solid-color stains allow the texture to show, but not the grain. Varnish, which may be water- or oil-based, provides a clear, transparent coating that is durable and hard. Varnishes also come in a variety of shines from flat to high gloss, and they may be water or oil based.

Should I just throw away my old recyclable batteries?

No, laws require that they be recycled. This includes Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium Ion (Li-ion) and small sealed Lead (Pb) batteries. You can look for a battery recycling seal on the rechargeable batteries found in cordless power tools, cellular and cordless telephones, laptop computers and camcorders.

So how do I prevent ice dams from happening on my roof?

Three ways. If you are installing a new roof, you can install an ice/water shield as an underlayment to the shingles. Second, you should have adequate insulation in the attic to keep heat from escaping, which causes the snow to melt. Third, the attic should have adequate ventilation to allow the roof deck to evenly cool and help prevent snow on the roof from melting.

Should I seal my asphalt driveway every year?

Sealing your driveway too frequently could cause a build-up of sealer that could split and peel, which should split and peel. Always let the sealer on your driveway start to wear and fade before applying more. This will signal that it’s time for another coat.

How do I clean my air cleaner?

Remove the intake grill and wash with warm, soapy water. Do not place in a dishwasher. Make sure it is dry before returning it to the unit. Dust the outlet grille; do not clean it with water.

What is polyurethane?

Polyurethane is a clear, hard finish that protects wood surfaces.

How do I know if my attic is properly ventilated?

In general, the formula is based on the square footage of the attic. You should have one vent for every 150 square feet of attic floor space. The vents should be split between high and low vents. If you have a vapor barrier, you only need one vent for every 300 square feet.

How many coats of varnish do I need to apply?

Generally, from two to four coats, applied in thin layers.

What is a time delay fuse?

Time delay fuses are used on circuits where appliance motors have initial surges of electrical power when the motor starts. This initial surge might blow a regular fuse.

What’s the best way to apply varnish?

The best type of room is one that is not too humid and is about 70 to 75 degrees. To protect against debris from getting onto the finished piece, the room should be free from dust. You might even consider mopping the room or covering the floor with paper. Make sure that the surface to be varnished is clean, dry and free of any finishes.Try to have the piece horizontal. In addition, to mix the varnish, stir it. Don’t shake it, because air bubbles can get into your finished piece.

I need a circuit breaker, but I don’t have it with me. Are they all the same?

No, it’s best if you bring in the old breaker and match it up. If you know the name of the brand of service box, we could also match it that way. Of course, you can make a guess and if you are right, you can save a trip back.

How often should I inspect the gutters on my house?

Inspect them at least twice a year, in the spring and fall. Be sure to clear out all leaves and debris.

I have a sloped driveway. Should I buy a sealer with more sand content for extra traction?

Sealers with more sand contain less coal tar emulsion, which is what actually seals your driveway. Since most sealers are rubberized, they will aid in traction without having to sacrifice the products’ actual sealing capabilities.

How much should I water my newly planted tree?

Regular watering is vital to a new tree’s health. New trees need at least 1” of water per week, whether it’s by irrigation or from rainfall.

What should I use to thin shellac?

Denatured alcohol, which can also be used in many shellac based products?

How do you figure amperage?

It is watts divided by volts. For example, a 1500-watt heater (divided by) 120 volts equals 12.5 amps.

What are some problem areas in the guttering system that I should be aware of?

Check for high spots where water might not flow or low spots in the gutter where water might collect. Correct that problem by either installing additional spikes and ferrules or by bending the hanger that supports the gutter. Fix leaks or holes in the gutter by patching or replacing a section of the gutter.

What can I use to thin epoxy?

Use acetone, it will soften most paints and plastics so you must exercise caution when you are using it. Acetone is the active ingredient in many paint strippers.

Why are electric heaters limited to 1500 watts?

Because anything over that would exceed the safe amp rating of most wiring and would present a fire hazard.

Is there a way to keep leaves out of the gutter?

There are several different types of gutter covers that keeps leaves out of the gutter and makes them easier to maintain.

I’ve heard I need to mix both brown and green materials in my compost pile. What does this mean?

Brown ingredients are carbon-based materials, such as dried leaves. Green ingredients are nitrogen-based materials, such as fresh grass clippings. Mix these two ingredients together in equal parts.

How big of a hole should I dig when planting a tree?

Make the hole 6 inches wider than the diameter of the container it came in. Also don’t dig the hole any deeper than the depth of the container, measured from the top of the soil surface to the bottom of the container.

Can I paint over a wall where a faux finish has been applied?

Yes. Several coats of a latex paint should do the trick.

What is the difference between solid-color and semi-transparent stains?

Semi-transparent stains provide a color to the wood, but still allow the texture and natural grain to show through. Solid-color stains allow the texture to show, but not the grain.

I have some slots left on my circuit breaker box that do not have breakers in them. Can I add more circuits?

You need to see how many amps your box is rated for and then look at the existing circuits to see how many total amps are already being used. If you have not reached the maximum, it’s possible to add more, but its best to have a professional do the work inside the box unless you have the specific knowledge.

I have a circuit breaker that tripped. Is this dangerous?

Usually the problem is simply an overload and you only need to run fewer appliances on the circuit. However, if it is not overloaded and it keeps tripping, you should suspect a short. Also, look for a defective cord, socket or plug.

What does “cladding”mean, when referring to a window?

Cladding is an exterior layer of vinyl or aluminum covering a wood frame. It is generally only on the side of the window that faces the outside. The cladding provides additional protection and weather resistance for the window frame.

How often should I turn my compost pile?

Once a week. This will continue to mix everything together and help aerate the pile. If the microbes deep within the pile don’t get enough oxygen, they’ll create hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs. That’s a telltale sign that it’s time to turn the pile.

Why does the hook on the end of my tape measure move slightly? Doesn’t that affect the final reading? Do I need to get a new one for my toolkit?

It is designed to slide the same amount as the thickness of the end of the hook. That way it can accurately measure distances when the tape is hooked to the end of an object (such as the end of a board) or when measuring between objects (such as the width of a door jamb). If it were fixed, one of these two measurements would be off by the thickness of the hook.

What is a glaziers point and glazing compound?

Glaziers points are used to secure glass in a sash prior to adding glazing compound, which is a putty used to seal windows.

Can I add additional outlets to an existing circuit?

You need to figure the current circuit load in watts to see if it can handle additional use. The National Electric Code is 20 percent less than maximum. This means a 15-amp circuit has a safe capacity of 1,440 amps. A 20-amp circuit limit is 1,920 amps, a 25-amp circuit’s limit is 2,400 amps and a 30-amp circuit has a safe limit of 2,880 watts.

Why is there condensation on the inside of the window?

Condensation indicates that there is higher humidity inside the room than outside. Having too much moisture collecting on the inside of the window can cause deterioration and even mold. Correct the problem by using a ceiling fan to keep air circulating; by using exhaust fans in rooms with high humidity; and by using a dehumidifier.

Other than walls, where are faux finishes generally used?

Faux finishing is quite popular on furniture, lamps, bowls—you name it.

I need a good stepladder. What should I consider?

Wood stepladders are sturdy and the least expensive, but they are heavy. Aluminum stepladders are lightweight but more expensive than wood stepladders. Fiberglass stepladders combine strength and lightweight and are the most expensive.

Is it all right to replace fuse or circuit breaker with a larger one to prevent them from blowing or tripping?

In most cases the answer is no. They are designed to blow at certain levels to protect equipment and for fire safety.

What makes a window more energy efficient?

A number of factors affect energy efficiency, including how the frame is built, the type of glass used, the type of low-emissivity coating on the glass and the weather stripping.

How can I tell when the compost is ready to use?

It will look like rich, organic soil, without any large clumps in it. To test if it’s ready, plant a few grass seeds in a small pot using some of the compost, and if the seeds sprout in a couple days, it’s ready.

I have some loose shingles. Is there anything I can do to prevent leaks without replacing those shingles?

Fibred plastic roof cement, which comes in caulk tubes, quarts, gallons and 5-gallons, can be used to seal down shingles and seal flashings.

What are some signals I need new windows?

Air leaking around the windows; windows don’t open easily and are painted or nailed shut, which could prevent a safe escape during a fire; or the sash and other parts are rotting or deteriorating.

How heavy of a hammer should I buy for my toolkit?

A 16 oz. hammer will handle most jobs easily.

Should I apply a protective coating over a faux finish?

While it isn’t mandatory, it will enhance the durability. Just be sure to let the glaze dry for two days before coating.

What’s the difference between roof cement and roof coating?

The cement has to be put on with a trowel, which the coating is brushed on.

Do I need a special lamp for this droplight?

I recommend a rough service bulb. These heavy-duty bulbs will take rougher treatment and water droplets.

How do I know I’m getting an energy efficient window?

Look on the label for a rating by the National Fenestration Rating Council. It will rate the energy efficiency of each model of window.

Can I paint the vinyl siding on my house?

Some experts don’t recommend painting vinyl siding because it expands and contracts. Some siding manufacturers void their warranties if the siding is painted. However, if you decide to paint it, make sure that you clean it well with a strong cleanser such as TSP. Make sure it is also rinsed off. Don’t use a primer and use a premium 100 percent acrylic latex paint that is a light shade to prevent the siding from warping.

What is the difference between a floodlight and a spotlight?

The floodlight will have a broader light pattern, and a spotlight will focus on a more narrow area.

Are there building code regulations on the windows I buy?

Windows must meet two safety guidelines: wind load and human impact. Standard factory-built windows meet most wind load requirements. Always check with local codes to make sure the windows you buy comply.

Can I paint my aluminum siding

? Yes, it needs to be cleaned and rinsed well. Then, it needs to be scuffed up and primed with a special primer. It can then be painted with a premium acrylic latex house paint.

Do four-foot fluorescent fixtures come in different wattages?

Yes, the most common are 25-, 34- and 40- watt bulbs.

What can I use to clean my deck?

You can use one of the deck brightener products that are on the market, or you can use TSP (trisodium phosphate). You can also use a power washer if you are careful not to mar the wood.

What is the advantage of a halogen bulb?

It provides brighter, cleaner light. However, they consume lots of electricity and they get very hot. You should ensure that it stays away from draperies, bedding, clothing, and hanging plants.

What is safety glass?

Safety glass helps cut down on injuries from people falling against glass. Tempered glass is a type of safety glass. It shatters into small pieces rather than shards, reducing the chance of injury.

What is meant by “open” time when using glazes?

Open time refers to the time it takes for the glaze to begin setting up. This is generally the amount of time you have to reach your desired effect. Most of the time you have up to 15 minutes, depending on the product you’re using. However, be sure to read the directions carefully to make sure. You can also mix Floetrol to the glaze to extend the open time.

Do I need to buy a special bulb for my garage door opener?

It’s best to use a rough service bulb.

What is the difference between plate glass and sheet glass?

Plate glass is generally used for large picture windows. It provides a clear view without distortion. It is usually 3/16” thick. Sheet glass is the most common glass. It is usually about 3/32” for single strength glass. Other thicknesses are available.

I need to retrofit some plumbing lines. What are the advantages of choosing plastic (CPVC) pipe over copper?

First, it’s traditionally about half the price of copper. Second, it’s not affected by the pH conditions of water or soil. Copper can fail if water or soil conditions are too acidic. Drawbacks include that CPVC expands and contracts with temperature swings and the solvent welding process does emit VOCs as it cures.

Is there one chisel that you can recommend to handle most household jobs?

No. Chisels are grouped according to the material they cut—either wood, metal, stone or masonry. The two main types, however, are wood and cold.

How can you recognize a socket used for a 3-way lamp?

This socket will have a regular contact tab inside, which all sockets have, plus another raised contact point.

What type of weatherstripping would you recommend for a double-hung window?

I would recommend a pile-type weatherstipping. It is designed to allow the sash to slide back and forth. It is usually installed at the top and bottom of a sliding window track.

What do I need to do to repair my leaking faucet?

Is it leaking from the handle or out the spout? Most faucets are washer-type, and if these are leaking from the spout, you will have to replace the washer. If the seat is corroded, you will have to dress it or replace it. If it is leaking from the handle, you may need to replace the O-rings, tighten the packing nut or replace the packing. If a disk faucet is leaking, you will need to replace the O-ring. If it is leaking from the spout, you will need to replace the disk assembly. For ball-type faucet leaks, you may need to replace the cam assembly, the seat assembly and the ball.

I need to buy chisel for a woodworking job. What size do you recommend?

You can handle most of your needs with a ¼ inch model and one larger one—either a ¾ inch or inch.

What type of weatherstripping would you recommend for a casement or utility window?

You might try a bulb-type weatherstripping, usually a foam-filled vinyl. Another popular type is a leaf- or fin-type weatherstripping that is V-shaped and fits onto the jamb on the sash side of the stop.

What can I use to join plastic (CPVC) to copper?

The easiest thing is to use a push fitting.

How much energy do compact fluorescent light bulbs save?

Most estimates are 70%, which means that over the life of the bulb you can save as much as $100.

Can I repair a hole in a screen?

Yes, there is a kit you can buy that makes it easy to repair small holes or tears in the screen.

Are all faucet seats the same?

No, you will need to bring in your old seat to match up with the new one when you visit your local hardware store. Each brand has its own design and thread.

Are there any power tools I should own?

A power drill is a must for general maintenance. A drill, a circular saw, and a saber saw can handle most household repair and carpentry jobs. Power sanders have also become popular.

What tools do I need to replace a screen?

You’ll need a utility knife, a screen installation tool.

When it comes to plastic piping, Is ½-inch CPVC and ½-inch PVC the same size?

No. CPVC is measured by O.D., which makes its sizing similar to hard copper. PVC is measured by I.D., which makes its sizing similar to iron pipe.

What are the quality differences between drop forged and cast metal hand tools?

During construction, drop forging removes more air bubbles. This means there are fewer weak spots.

How do I troubleshoot a fluorescent fixture that doesn’t light?

It’s probably not the bulb, because they rarely go bad all at once. Wiggle the tube to make sure it is seated. Replace any damaged lamp holders. Replace the starter. Check the switch and outlet box to make sure it is getting power.

Can I make my own screen frame?

Yes. Screens are easy to make using screen stock. Cut the pieces to length to fit the window and connect using corner connectors. Then cover the frame using screening. Items you’ll need for the project include screen stock, screen, corner connectors, spline, screen installation tool, hacksaw, measuring tape and utility knife.

What do the marks on the head of a bolt mean?

No marks is the least hard.
Three marks is a medium hardness.
Six marks is the hardest bolt.

How does the number on the shank of a drill bit relate to its size?

Bit diameters are usually marked by a single number—the numerator of a fraction. For example, an auger bit, which is marked by 16ths of an inch, with a number 8 would stand for 8/16″ or 1/2″. Twist bits are usually marked in the same manner by 64ths of an inch. Thus a No. 8 bit would stand for 8/64″ or 1/8″.

How do I remove a faucet seat?

Use a seat wrench, which has several sizes of square and hex ends.

Can you recommend a tool that makes a good gift?

I would consider a cordless drill, a bench grinder, a palm sander, a level, a square, a chalkline or a new ladder.

What’s making the tubes in my fluorescent light flicker?

Wiggle the tubes to make sure they are properly seated. Replace any tubes that are dark or have damaged pins. Replace the starter if there is one.

What’s the benefit of tinted glass?

Tinting provides additional shading from sunlight and warm temperatures. If you choose tinted glass, you can choose from a variety of tones and thicknesses.

What does the amp rating mean on power tools?

Generally, more amps translate into more power for electric tools.

What’s causing my fluorescent fixture to hum?

The ballast probably needs replaced. Another sign of a faulty ballast is black tar like substance oozing from the fixture.

Is there a type of glass that can help insulate against noise?

Yes. Laminated glass is particularly effective in reducing noise

My garage floor has cracks. Can I still use an epoxy finish, or is it primarily for relatively new floors?

You can use an epoxy floor finish on your garage, but you must first fill all the cracks using cement crack filler or a hydraulic cement patching compound and let it set completely before starting.

What are the advantages of plastic supply lines?

They are less expensive, do not corrode, will not kink, are more flexible and are non-toxic.

Do you have a tool for cutting lightweight metal sheeting?

Yes, they are called metal cutting snips, and they come in a variety of sizes and designs.

How do I know the size ballast I need for a fluorescent fixture?

You need to know how many bulbs there are and how long they are. However, make sure you check the starter before you change the ballast. In fact, you may want to replace the whole fixture.

Do you have a tool for cutting chicken wire?

Yes, tin snips are a good choice for cutting many kinds of mesh wire.

How do I check the starter in the fluorescent fixture?

Older, delayed-start fluorescent lights flicker when they first light up. If this last more than a couple of seconds, make sure the starter is seated by pushing it in and turning clockwise. If the ends of the tube light up and the middle does not, the starter is bad. Remove it by turning counterclockwise.

How do I fix a door that is sticking or that doesn’t seem to fit into the doorframe?

See if you can determine where the door is sticking. First, make sure the screws on the hinges are tight. Most likely, you may need to use a plane to shave down one of the edges so the door will fit.

I have a painted concrete floor in my garage. Can I still apply an epoxy coating?

It depends on the shape it’s in. If it’s in good shape, you can forego the etching process, give it a good cleaning with an all-purpose cleaner and rough it up with a floor sander before apply the new epoxy finish. If it’ flaking, however, you’ll have to completely remove the old finish before applying a new one.

What’s the difference between PSA sandpaper and hook-and-loop sandpaper?

PSA has a sticky back and is good to be used on large jobs that are likely to wear out the sandpaper. Hook-and-loop paper uses a fuzzy backing that sticks to the bottom of a sander. It can be pulled off and reused before the abrasive on the paper wears out.

What does it mean when a faucet is said to have 8-inch centers?

The faucet mounts with the fixture holes set 8 inches apart. It’s important that you buy the right size faucet to fit.

The tubes in my fluorescent light are graying near the ends; does this mean they are wearing out?

Working tubes usually have a gray tinge on the ends, but dark gray or black is a sign that the tube is failing.

What does “handing” refer to on a door?

Handing is how a door opens. Generally, you want a door to open toward a wall if one is nearby and away from the traffic flow. Imagine yourself standing in front of the door, outside the room or building. If the door swings in and opens to the left, it’s a left hand swing. If the door swings out, it is a left hand reverse. If you’re standing in front of the door and it swings to the right, it’s a right hand swing. If the door swings out and opens to the right, it’s a reverse right hand swing.

How can I remove the molding from my wall without damaging either the drywall or the molding?

A pry bar is more efficient than a claw hammer, and its smooth base keeps it from damaging the wall.

My fluorescent fixture does not seem to be putting out as much light as it used to. Could the tube be failing?

If the entire tube is dim, it may simply need washing. Try removing it and wiping it with a damp cloth.

What is the fire rating on a door?

The fire rating is the length of time a door can resist the spread of a fire.

Can I install hinges or plane off the edge of a steel door?

Yes. Most steel entry doors use wood frames so it’s easier to install the hinges or to plane down the edges so they fit in a doorframe.

What is the purpose of an aerator on a faucet?

An aerator diffuses the water to prevent splashing.

What’s the difference between a putty knife and a paint scraper?

They both look the same? Scrapers are too stiff for the efficient application of compounds. Putty knives are to flexible for scraping.

I have low voltage outdoor lighting. Can I add additional lights?

You will have to look at your transformer to determine what its maximum wattage is. Most bulbs are four watts, but they come in different wattages, you will have to add up what you are currently using.

What type of door should I use on a closet?

Louver doors are popular for closets because they provide ventilation. Bypassing and bifold doors are also popular because they don’t interfere with traffic flow and don’t take up much space.

What is the difference between a professional power tool and a consumer tool?

A pro tool is designed to withstand heavier workloads and as a result they have more power. They also have motors that are able to withstand use for a long period of time without burning up the motor.

My dusk to dawn light doesn’t go off and remains on all day. Do I need to replace it?

First find the sensor and see if it is being obscured by something. If not, you can probably just replace this sensor.

What do I need to install an interior door?

You should have a hammer, saw, drill, measuring tape, 24” level, 6’ straight edge, plane, screwdriver, utility knife and blade. You will also need hinges and a drill and bits for cutting out the lockset.

I want to give my finished garage floor more traction. Is there a way to add traction?

You can still use the epoxy finish, you’ll just need to apply two coats. In between the first and the second coat, you can add a non-skid material, such as sand, by applying it to the first coat while it is still wet using a hand-held broadcast spreader. Then, when it is dry, apply the second coat of epoxy finish.

Do I need plumbers putty underneath my faucet?

This is a good idea to keep moisture from getting under the faucet and into the cabinet below.

What weight hammer should I buy?

Buy the heaviest hammer that you can control, because the heavier the hammer the easier it will drive nails. However, the heavier the hammer, the harder it is to hit nails on the head and the more quickly your arm muscles will become fatigued.

What size hinges should I buy?

Use 4”x4” hinges for 1-3/4” doors and 3-1/2” x 3-1/2” hinges for 1-3/8” doors.

What type of router do I use with my router table?

You can use either a fixed base or a plunge router with a table. The most common and easiest one to use is a fixed base. A plunge router may require a special attachment to use the plunge features with a table.

How do I know how much loose-fill insulation to buy to insulate my atttic?

First measure the attic floor area, and then divide that by 1,000. For example, if the dimensions are 30’ x 40’, or 1,200 square feet, you divide that number by 1,000 and get 1.2. The label on the bag of insulation will tell you how many bags you need to cover 1,000 square feet. Multiply that number by 1.2.

What’s the difference between a rip hammer and a curved claw hammer?

A hammer with a curved claw provides leverage for pulling nails. A rip (straight claw) hammer is often the choice of professionals because it is usually a slightly heftier tool that is used to rip apart wood that has been nailed together.

The dryer plug will not fit the receptacle in our new house. How can I remedy this?

In most new homes, there should be four-prong dryer and range receptacles. If you have a three prong power cord, you will need to change it.

What is a pre-hung door?

A pre-hung door is installed in the frame at the factory. Doing this simplifies installation and saves time. It also makes it easier for a do-it-yourselfer to complete the project.

Do the paint flakes that you shake on when the garage floor epoxy is still wet help with slip resistance?

A little, but they are mostly designed to hide imperfections and offer a custom look.

Which is better wood or fiberglass handles on hammers?

Some people say the wood provides a better feel and absorbs shocks. While wood is durable, fiberglass is stronger.

What is a polarized plug?

One prong is bigger than the other is. This feature is designed to make sure that a 110-volt plug is never put into a socket that is not a 110-volt outlet.

What is the difference between an architectural door and a residential door?

An architectural door is custom manufactured to meet certain specifications from a builder or architect for a specific project. They are generally used in commercial applications and are also often larger than residential doors. Residential doors are standard doors used for homes and townhouses.

Where should I install carbon monoxide detectors in the home?

The safest recommendation is to put one in every room, but most people are not willing to do this. The simplest rule is to mount one between the bedrooms and the rest of the house, but closer to the bedrooms. If there is more than one sleeping area, each should have its own alarm. In multi-level homes, install one on each level, and if possible have them interconnected so any one unit will sound the alarm throughout the house. The basement ceiling, near the steps, is a good location for extra protection.

How does a biscuit joiner work?

A biscuit joiner uses a special horizontal blade that plunges into a piece of wood to create a slot for a biscuit. A biscuit is a football-shaped piece of compressed wood that helps join together two pieces of wood. To use a biscuit joiner, align the joiner on the piece of wood and push the handle forward. Make a similar cut in the second piece of wood at the place where the two will adjoin.

What should I use to insulate the top and sides of my garage door?

Aluminum and vinyl weather stripping is available for this. There is also a weather strip made specifically for garage door bottoms.

I have some tools that have three prongs, but the outlet I want to use has only two prongs. Can I safely cut the extra prong off?

No, the third prong is the grounding prong. If you cut it off or use a plug adapter that is not grounded, you will disable a feature that is designed to protect against electrical shock.

Why is there is quite a range in prices for claw hammers?

The higher priced hammers have sturdier handles and better steel in their heads. These hammers will perform better and last longer.

Why do some appliances and tools only have two prongs and no grounding prong?

These products are “double-insulated” and do not need the added protection of a grounding plug. You can plug them into ungrounded outlets and still be protected.

Does a fiberglass door have any advantages over a steel door?

A fiberglass door won’t dent, while a steel door might. The fiberglass door can also better simulate a wood grain appearance.

Once I mix the epoxy base with the hardener, when can I start painting the floor?

It varies by manufacturer, but some of the more common products require a 30 minute set up time minimum before using. They, you have 2½ hours to use it or the product must be discarded.

What size shop vac should I buy?

If you will be using it mainly for quick clean-up jobs, a small 1.5 hp model will do just fine. They are also easy to store. Medium sizes, such as the 6 gallon size, are still easy to maneuver and they will hold more debris than the smaller versions. Models below 10 gallons tend to be louder and easier to tip. The large models, those more than 10 gallons in capacity, are best if you want something for your garage or workshop and will be cleaning up large spills. While they take up more storage space, their larger capacity means they don’t have to be emptied as often.

Is it easy to replace a faulty plug?

Yes, start by snipping off the original plug. Slide the cord into the new plug, strip the wires and connect them to the proper terminals. For lamps and small appliances there are quick connect plugs. The snipped wire is inserted and a small lever is closed which holds the wire and pierces the wire to make the connection.

What is the advantage of a swinging patio door over a sliding one?

A swinging door is more energy efficient because the weatherstripping can be sealed much tighter than on a sliding door. Also, a swinging door can be latched with a deadbolt.

Is there a hammer I can use with a chisel?

Yes, small sledge hammers weigh between two pounds and four pounds. A two-pound model is a good choice.

Are there advantages of a wood frame over aluminum on a sliding patio door?

Wood is stronger and a better natural insulator.

I want to hide the nail head in some molding that I am installing.

Use a nail set to sink the nail head into the molding. Then you can fill the hole with a spackling compound, sand it smooth and paint it.

What is a ground fault interrupter?

It’s a safety device that shuts off the power if a wire in an outlet develops a leak that could electrocute someone. This hazard is so serious that the National Electrical Code requires all new homes be equipped with them in the bathroom, kitchen, workroom, outdoor, basement, garage and swimming pool circuits.

How many hinges do I need for my door?

Use three butt hinges for doors up to 3 feet wide, and four hinges for wider doors. You’ll also want four hinges for doors taller than 7 feet tall.

What do the teeth-per-inch numbers mean on sawblades?

The numbers indicate the number of points per inch on a saw blade.

Do all of the outlets in my kitchen need to have ground-fault circuit-interrupters?

No, if the first in the series is GFCI then all are protected.

What kind of deadbolt should I use with my door?

There are two types of deadbolts: single cylinder and double cylinder. A single cylinder deadbolt must be opened with a key from the outside and a turn on the inside. If your door has a sidelight or a glass pane, I suggest a double cylinder deadbolt. With this type, an intruder can’t break the glass and reach in and unlock the bolt. This design does present a danger, however, in case of a fire, as a key has to be used to exit.

What type of grass seed should I use for a bare spot?

There are many types of grass for different regions of the country. But the things to consider include—is the area shaded or sunny and how much foot traffic the area gets.

I’m going to apply an oil-base stain to my deck. Do I need to strip the existing finish off first before applying the new stain?

If the existing finish was a water- or latex-base stain, then you should remove it before re-staining. If it is an oil-base finish, then you can probably skip the stripping step and just give a thorough washing before re-applying the stain.

I have an older home that does not have ground fault interrupters. Can I install these myself?

Yes, you can replace your regular outlets with ground fault interrupters. If you do not want to rewire the outlet, you can use a portable model that is plugged into an existing outlet.

Do I need to paint my steel door?

Steel doors usually come pre-primed from the factory. It is a good idea to either paint or stain the door so it will not begin to rust.

Are hand drilling tools used very much anymore?

With the advent of cordless drills, both hand drills and bit braces aren’t used very much anymore. However, they are still used on some job sites where there is no electricity for re-charging batteries and in fine woodworking applications.

I need to install a receptacle for my kitchen range. Is it okay to use one designed for a dryer?

No, they may look similar, but they have different features. Make sure you check the manufacturer’s label to ensure you are buying one that is rated for the proper amperage.

I think my toilet may be leaking. What should I do?

The most likely cause is that your toilet’s flush valve is leaking through the flapper, letting water continue to drain from the tank down into the bowl. You can check this by pouring some food coloring or blue fabric softener into the tank. Let it sit for 10 minutes than check back to see if the color of the water is the bowl has changed. If so, start by making sure the flapper is seating properly, and replace it if necessary.