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Bob Vila Radio: The Basics of Drilling Through Metal

Metal is hard, but drilling through it is easy, so long as you take the time to do it right and give due credence to safety.

Provided you have the right tools, it’s not difficult to drill through metal. But for the job to go smoothly and the results to be satisfying, make sure you know the basics.

How to Drill Through Metal

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Listen to BOB VILA ON DRILLING THROUGH METAL or read the text below:

First, be sure to wear safety goggles—not glasses—when you drill through metal. The goggles prevent any tiny flecks of metal from getting into your eyes. To hold the metal in place as you work, use a vise or a set of clamps. Also, it helps to create a small dimple, using a center punch, in the spot where you are planning to drill. The dimple doesn’t need to be big, just large enough to keep the drill bit in place.

As you’re drilling, keep a little light motor oil in the hole to help with lubrication and to keep the bit from overheating. Don’t try to rush the job by applying too much pressure on the drill and running it at top speed. You’ll achieve better control, and end up with a more accurate and cleaner cut, if you use moderate pressure and keep the drill at half speed.

Bob Vila Radio is a daily radio spot carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

Radiant Heating Gives You Total Design Freedom

The benefits of radiant floor heating range from increased energy efficiency to improved indoor air quality, but for design-conscious homeowners, its greatest appeal may be that it's unnoticeable.

Radiant Heating Gives You Total Design Freedom - Warmboard

Photo: warmboard.com

By now, you’re familiar with the many benefits of radiant floor heating: It runs silently, circulates no dust or airborne impurities, and operates at least 25 percent more efficiently than the forced-air systems in so many American homes. Still, for some homeowners, what’s most impressive about radiant heat is how it stays out of the way, its  components always invisible. There are no vents, radiators, or baseboards to work around, enabling you to enjoy true design freedom. You get to lay out and decorate your home without coming up against any impediments, and without having to make any sacrifices. Radiant heat stays out of your way.

Radiant heating isn’t magic. The concept actually dates back to the Roman era, and 21st-century versions are the result of sound building science and savvy engineering. The principle is that, instead of distributing heat from a single source within a room, it would be more effective to deliver heat across the entire square footage of a space, from beneath the floor (or even from within the walls). Hidden from view, hydronic tubes deliver heated water to a series of panels, which in turn conduct heat into the rooms of the home. What results is an even, enveloping heat whose source does not encroach at all into the heated areas.

Over the past few decades, we’ve gradually become accustomed to setting up our living spaces only in ways our heating system components permit. For instance, knowing that obstruction would disrupt their proper operation, you’d seek not to place anything in the way of a forced-air vent or air return. Likewise, is there anyone who’s never chosen a spot for a piece of furniture specifically so that it would conceal the rusty baseboard or radiator with peeling paint? With radiant heat, meanwhile, there are no such limitations, because, quite simply, there are no visible components the homeowner would need to make allowances for.

Photo: warmboard.com

Even among radiant heating products, there are a range of technologies. Traditional radiant systems rely on concrete, with hydronic tubes set inside. Though it may be the most common approach, concrete isn’t always the best, in part because it doesn’t install easily under every floor type. To work under hardwood, for example, the concrete must be supplemented with an intermediate layer of either “sleeper” beams or plywood. The extra layers not only steal height from the room, but they also put more material between the heat source and the home interior. Sleeper beams, in particular, break up the heating area and cause surface temperature to vary across the floor. That decreases comfort while increasing the likelihood of uneven temperatures leading to floor damage.

Only Warmboard radiant heating panels are manufactured in a way that allows wood floor boards to be installed directly on top. With Warmboard’s highly conductive aluminum panels heating the floor material directly, with no intervening layer, the risk of damage to the wood goes away. In fact, Warmboard products are compatible not only with solid and engineered wood, but with virtually all types of flooring, including tile, vinyl, linoleum, and carpeting.

In the past, thick carpets and radiant heat were rarely used in combination, because with its insulating properties, carpeting worked against under-floor heating. That’s no longer the case, thanks to Warmboard. Because its aluminum panels conduct heat so efficiently, there’s enough power to heat through even thick-pile wool carpeting. So while radiant heating affords greater flexibility than traditional systems, innovative Warmboard technology takes it all a step further, eliminating what few obstacles remained. Now you have total freedom to design your home exactly how you please, and isn’t that how it should be?

Photo: warmboard.com

This post has been brought to you by Warmboard. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


How To: Clean an Oven

Smell something smoky? Check your oven. Spills and splatters from long-gone casseroles could be to blame. Roll up your sleeves and follow this step-by-step to get your oven back to working order.

How to Clean an Oven

Photo: shutterstock.com

You’ve put it off for months, hoping the little spills and splatters inside the oven would vanish of their own accord. There comes a time, though—as much as you wish it weren’t true—when you must clean an oven to ensure its continued operation. Of course, that’s assuming you don’t have a self-cleaning oven. These marvelous inventions have been around for a number of years. They maintain themselves by heating to an extremely high temperature that burns away residue. Older appliances are not so conveniently equipped. But by following the instructions detailed below, you can clean an oven completely in only a handful of steps.

TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Baking soda
- Water
- Sponge
- Old newspapers
- Spray bottle
- White vinegar
- Clean microfiber cloth

STEP 1
Start be removing the oven racks. These may need to be cleaned, too. The most effective method of cleaning oven racks is to give them a good, long soak in hot, soapy water (liquid dish soap or a crumbled dishwasher tablet ought to suffice). Can’t fit your oven racks in the kitchen sink? As an alternative, you can soak them in the bathtub. Just be sure to line the tub with an old towel so as to prevent the metal racks from chipping or scratching the delicate finish on your tub.

How to Clean an Oven Door

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
Within the oven itself, use a metal spatula to gently scrape away residue. The sides of the oven may be messy too, but most of your effort is likely to be spent on clearing ashy chunks off the bottom of the oven chamber. Most baked-on spills and splatters can be removed this way, but you’re not finished yet!

STEP 3
Mix baking soda with just enough water to create a thick paste. A typical ratio is one half-cup of baking soda and two or three tablespoons of water. Apply the paste to every surface inside the oven, including the back side of the door. Let sit for several hours or overnight, allowing the paste to penetrate deeply.

STEP 4
Once six or eight hours have gone by, lay old newspapers or paper towels on the floor in front of the oven. Next, using a slightly moist sponge, wipe out as much of the paste as possible. Lots of grease and ash should come out along with the paste. Continue wiping, rinsing the sponge as necessary, until no more paste remains in the oven. If the chamber still seems dirty, you may want to repeat the process, reapplying the baking soda and letting it sit before attacking the oven with a sponge yet again.

STEP 5
Fill a spray bottle with a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water, using it to spray down the glass portion of the oven door. Wipe away the moisture with a clean, dry cotton or microfiber cloth.

Additional Notes
In the future, to make oven maintenance less of a time-consuming chore, why not regularly wipe down the oven chamber with soapy water? If you stick to a program of more frequent, less intensive cleaning, your oven may never again need such major TLC. Hey, it’s something to think about, at least!


A Contractor’s Tips for a Long-Lasting Front Door

To keep entry doors looking and performing their best, heed the advice of contractor, author, and old house expert Scott Sidler.

Front Door Maintenance

Photo: masonite.com

If there were one rule in home exterior maintenance, it might be this: Don’t skip the door. With their frequent daily use and constant exposure to the elements, even well made, properly installed entry doors are prone to wear and tear. Given their partly utilitarian role in the home, doors are too often taken for granted and left out of monthly or annual upkeep routines. That’s a mistake, according to contractor, author, and owner of Austin Home Restorations, Scott Sidler. Here, Scott tells us what threats exist to the appearance and functioning of doors, and more importantly, what can be done to ensure that the door enjoys a long life. 

Front Door Maintenance - With Plants

Photo: masonite.com

What about ongoing maintenance? Are there annual upkeep tasks that you would recommend?

Scott: Spot-check the finish at least every year. Because of the stronger sun we have in the South, I see a lot of peeling paint. Here, paint chalks very quickly and doesn’t last nearly as long as it does in the rest of the country. But as long as you care for the door by keeping it painted, you’re not likely to have issues. I’d say that around here, a front door probably needs a fresh coat of paint—and at least a little sanding—every five years. It depends on the level of exposure it gets. If the door isn’t covered by a porch and is out there in the full sun, you may need to paint it as often as every two or three years.

Parents always scold children for slamming the door, but the sun and the rain are really a door’s worst enemies, right? Are there any steps you would recommend taking to minimize with the vulnerability of an entry door installation to the elements?

Scott: Many door jambs come with a factory finish on the side that’s visible to everybody coming and going in the house. But the back side of the jamb is usually left unfinished. So when we install a pre-hung door—whether it’s a fiberglass, steel, or wood door—we always make sure to back-prime the wood jamb to give it that much more resistance to moisture and insects. The other thing you can do is a borate treatment. It’s nothing complex. Borate either brushes or sprays on. Once applied, it migrates through the jamb, helping to the lengthen its life at minimal extra cost. It takes five minutes.

Editor’s note: Borate products are inexpensive and readily available at The Home Depot, which is also a great place to buy a entry door. The retail chain sells the full line of doors made by Masonite, a long-established leader in the product category whose fiberglass, steel, and wood doors come with a limited lifetime warranty when purchased at The Home Depot. If you need help choosing a new door, check out Masonite Max. Offered jointly by Masonite and The Home Depot, Masonite Max is an easy- and fun-to-use tool that guides you through the process of designing the perfect door for your project.

What other issues are there to watch out for? 

Scott: Of course, these problems don’t tend to affect fiberglass or steel doors, but in the warm, humid season, doors made of wood often stick. Then in the winter, everything works again. What some people do is shave down a sticking door in the summer so that it opens and shuts smoothly again. But now you’ve got a problem, because in the winter, that door is going to shrink, leaving big gaps all around it. If you’re going to modify a wood door because you’re having trouble with it, be sure to make allowances for the time of year. Fiberglass and steel doors are less sensitive to weather conditions, so they’re free of these seasonal issues.

Front Door Maintenance - Veranda

Photo: masonite.com

Assuming you’ve got the new door, it’s the style for your house, and you’re properly maintaining it—what are the benefits that can be expected? 

Scott: I don’t think a lot of people think about it this way, but the front door is the only part of your house that anyone will stand and stare at, with nothing else to do. This is how I explain it to homeowners: A guest doesn’t walk up to a wall in your house and just stare at it. But at the front door, while they’re waiting for you to answer it, visitors are just going to stand there and stare at the door. The door and its hardware. That’s the stuff your guests and potential homebuyers see first and linger on. Meanwhile, you probably go in and out of the front door every day. So make it something you love. And if there is one door in the house that should work smoothly, it should be your front door. It just gets so much attention. It’s the first impression your home makes. Don’t skip the door!

Editor’s note: Choose a new entry door with the best chance of standing up to the inevitable wear and tear it’s going to experience. In continuous operation since 1925, Masonite manufactures doors in an array of materials and style, and the company specializes in durability. Among the many Masonite product lines are its Barrington fiberglass doors, which stand out for their resistance to denting, warping, splitting, and cracking. Not sure what type of door you want? Don’t forget to try Masonite Max, a new online tool that guides you through the process of designing the perfect door and easily purchasing it from The Home Depot.

Front Door Maintenance - Glass Inset

Photo: masonite.com

This post has been brought to you by Masonite. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com


5 New Smart Home Gadgets for 2015

There were all kinds of gadgets and gizmos on display at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. Most exciting are the ones bringing us ever closer to the dream of a fully automated smart home.

As surely as the tides ebb and flow, each new year retires older technology and witnesses the arrival of a new generation, one more innovative and exciting than what had previously been state of the art. Of course, it’s only January right now. The year is still young. But if what’s to come resembles these favorites seen at the recent International Consumer Electronics Show, 2015 may prove to be the year in which smart home technology finally lives up to its compelling promise.

 

1. INTELLIGENT VENT

New Smart Home Technology 2015 - Keen Home

Photo: keenhome.io

If you’re spending the day in the kitchen, dining room, and living room, why should you pay to heat or cool the home office and den? With a system of smart HVAC vents, you can specify different temperatures for different rooms, all from your laptop, tablet or smartphone. Since they are sensitive to temperature, Keen Home vents can even self-adjust, sending heated or cooled air only to where it’s necessary, never to where it’s not. Check out the product video.

 

2. LIGHTER LOAD

New Smart Home Technology 2015 - Whirlpool

Photo: whirlpool.com

The latest washer-and-dryer combo from Whirlpool can behave differently depending on whether you’re home or away. For instance, if you’re at the office, the dryer can snap into “wrinkle-shield mode,” keeping your clothing fresh until you return later. At night and on weekends, or if you’re hosting guests, the machine can run on “quiet mode” so as not to create a disturbance. Plus, the machines boast item-specific cycles; that means you no longer need to wonder about which wash would be best for the bedding. Simply press a button on the control panel and let the appliances work their magic. Check out the product video.

 

3. LIGHT-BULB MOMENT

New Smart Home Technology - Stack

Photo: stacklighting.com

Light bulbs went for decades without changing. Then, in the past few years, these once-humble components have undergone at least a couple revolutions. Stack Lighting may have the final word: Its responsive light bulb, the first of its kind, automatically adjusts according to the amount of natural light there is available at any given time. These bulbs can even sync with your alarm clock, slowly but surely brightening to help you wake in the morning. Check out the product video.

 

4. SEE YOUR GUESTS IN

New Smart Home Technology - Netatmo

Photo: netatmo.com

It’s every mom’s dream come true: You can practically have eyes on the back of your head with Netatmo Welcome, a new home monitoring system. When a familiar face comes into view of the system’s camera component, you can be alerted by the system’s smartphone app. That way, you can know if and when a family member makes it home safely. Likewise, the camera can keep tabs on unrecognized faces, too. Check out the product video.

 

5. GARDEN SITTER

New Smart Home Technology 2015 - Parrot Flower Power

Photo: parrot.com

Whether you’re going away on vacation or are simply prone to bouts of forgetfulness, Parrot has the solution for keeping your houseplants alive. The company’s new device senses how much water your plant needs and delivers the right amount, for up to three weeks at a time. Whereas you might over- or under-water the ficus or philodendron one day the Flower Power H20 has been specially designed never to make that mistake. Check out the product video.


Bob Vila Radio: Fix Ice Dams—Fast!

Though it's no substitute for comprehensive, permanent prevention measures, you can use this clever trick to resolve an ice dam problem before it leaves lasting damage.

If you live in an area of the country with cold winters, you are likely familiar with ice dams. These are the ridges of frozen water that form along the edges of roofs.

Ice Dam Solution

Photo: mastersconstruction.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON FIXING ICE DAMS or read the text below:

Ice dams occur when heated air in your home rises, finding its way into the attic and settling on the underside of the roof. There, the presence of warm air causes any snow on the roof to melt. The snowmelt drains down the roof until it reaches the cold overhang of the roof, where if it refreezes, an ice dams forms.

Ice dams can lead to all sorts of damage, mostly stemming to the fact that, once the ice dams are entrenched, they prevent the roof from shedding any additional melted snow or rain. With nowhere else to go, the captive water can leak into the house, rotting wood or inciting the growth of mold.

Properly insulating the home—that means, in part, sealing the attic from rising warm air—is the best way to avoid ice dams. If you get an ice dam anyway, you’ll probably need to consult an energy-savvy contractor. But in the meantime, here’s a fix that may get you through a crisis:

Find a pair of old nylons and fill one of the legs with store-bought or homemade ice melt. Drape the nylons on the roof in such a way that the stuffed leg crosses the ice dam and the gutter. Eventually, the chemicals will melt that section of the ice, creating a gap through which water can slide down off the roof pitch.

Bob Vila Radio is a daily radio spot carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Why Isn’t the Dryer Drying?

Don't let a lengthy dry time get you down: Check out and tend to these five problem zones to remedy what might be slowing down your appliance, and your schedule.

Dryer Not Drying

Photo: shutterstock.com

Are you stumped by the fact that your dryer seems to take forever these days? If your clothes dryer needs more time to dry a load now than when you first purchased it, don’t jump to replace the home appliance just yet. There are several common reasons these machines become poky. First, take a peek at these five possible problem areas that could be messing with your dryer’s efficiency.

1. Check the lint filter.
The filter is the first line of defense against fabric lint, dust, and hair. Sure, you’ve heard this before, but you really do need to empty the dryer’s lint filter after every load. Some types of clothing—socks, especially—shed more than others. But no matter the load, getting into the habit of wiping the filter out after every wash and dry will put you ahead of the game.

Problematic Dryer

Photo: shutterstock.com

2. Inspect where the dryer vent exits the house.
When the dryer’s running, there should be a steady, unhindered stream of warm air passing through the vent exit. If you have mesh screening stretched across it, you’d do well to remove the mesh, which can catch lint and obstruct airflow. Instead, install a proper louvered door that opens only when the dryer’s running. You can purchase one at your local home center.

3. Clean the inner reaches of the vent.
If the lint filter and the exit of the vent are clear, you probably need to clean the inner reaches of the vent. This cleaning job isn’t that big a chore, especially if you use one of the widely available kits made for this express purpose. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends wiping the innards out at least once per year.

4. If possible, shorten the exit.
Keep in mind that the exit vent on your dryer should be as straight and as short as possible. If the air exiting the dryer has to be pushed too far or make its way around kinks or sags in the hose, drying times can significantly lengthen. That’s not only a nuisance, but it’s also a waste of energy (and money). If you can, consider moving your dryer to a position that allows for a shorter hose.

5. Tape all joints in the dryer vent.
Duct tape can and will melt when exposed to heat. And while screws and rivets usually make good fasteners, they’re sure to snag lint if they’re holding together joints in dryer vents—avoid using them.

An important word of caution: If you’re using one of those exit hoses that looks like a Slinky covered with vinyl, replace it. Now. Choose a foil-type hose or, even better, an aluminum flexible duct. A ridged, Slinky-like tube can more easily trap lint, and a buildup can lead to overheating. Since vynil is flammable, you could have a lot more to worry about than poky dryer.

While problems with exit vents aren’t the only factors that can cause your dryer to take forever, they’re by far the most common. Scope out these issues before you ring the repair folks, and you might just save yourself the price of an expensive service call.


A Contractor’s Tips for Open-and-Shut Door Installation

In an interview with Bob Vila, contractor, author, and old house expert Scott Sidler explains his approach to choosing and installing doors in the South, where he lives and works around a changeable climate.

Front Door Installation

Photo: masonite.com

Real estate agents call it curb appeal. It’s how a house looks to visitors as they arrive by car. Curb appeal was, is, and will be important to homeowners, whether or not they’re planning to sell. And while factors ranging from landscaping to paint color influence curb appeal, there’s no more immediate facade facelift than a new front door. Thanks to the advent of pre-hung doors, installation has only gotten easier. But according to contractor, author, and old house expert Scott Sidler, owner of Austin Home Restorations, the job still comes with some complexities. Here, Scott shares what to keep in mind.

Front Door Installation - Curb Appeal

Photo: masonite.com

Most entry doors that you can pick up at The Home Depot—they’re pre-hung, right? What is a pre-hung door, anyway?

Scott: A pre-hung door comes with the jamb, the hinges, and the door itself. It’s a fully functional door; it’s just not installed. If it were not pre-hung, you would have to cut out hinge mortises and fit that door into an existing jamb. But with a pre-hung, you just order the doors you need, you set it in the rough opening—the framing between the studs, with the header above it. Then the door gets leveled, plumbed, shimmed, and fastened into place, and finally the trim goes over. Unless it’s a custom situation, pre-hung doors are used almost exclusively. It’s been a big step forward, I think. Everything is already assembled, and you just install it into the building.

If pre-hung doors have made entry door installation so much more forgiving, what’s the most difficult part now?

Scott: When you’re installing a door, you’re working with three planes: The door needs to be plumb, it needs to be level, and it needs to be square. It’s easy to miss some of the alignment issues. If you shim it a little too much on one side, you may put the jamb out of square, and as a consequence, the door may not close properly. But in new construction—if your framer did a good job, and you’ve got a well-framed opening—it’s fairly easy, so long as you take your measurements properly. With remodeling, it’s another world. In an older house that may have settled a bit, you need to make adjustments to account for any sagging. If the level, plumb, and square are not perfect, the door isn’t going to perform as it should. It’s not going to stay open when it’s open. It’s not going to to stay closed when it’s closed.

Front Door Installation - Interior View

Photo: masonite.com

You live and work in the South. Are there any regional considerations you take into account when installing a door?

Scott: If we’re installing a pre-hung—or even if we’re building a jamb on-site—I like there to be plenty of space in the jamb. That’s why I use larger shims. They allow me to make sure there’s extra space in there, and that’s important because we get so much sun. Winters here, the temperature ranges from the 30s to 50s, so the wood contracts quite a bit. And in the summer, when it’s 95 degrees and 100% humidity, and it’s raining, that wood is going to swell. You want to make sure that there’s a little extra gap around the door that you can fill with weatherstripping, which can take that large expansion and contraction we get here. I think that’s fairly common in a lot of the country, but with wood doors here, the effect is extreme. You don’t have those issues with fiberglass or steel doors.

Do you think that’s a reason other contractors should think about shying away from wood doors in the South?

Scott: In new construction down here, and also in standard remodels, it sure feels like most of the exterior doors are fiberglass or steel, except on the high end, where the clients want something really special. In the South, fiberglass and steel tend to hold up better than wood. We also run across rotten jamb bottoms. The legs of the jamb start to rot out, because no matter what material the door is, you’ve likely still got a wooden jamb. With all the rain we get, that wood is going to rot out eventually. That’s why some jambs today have PVC bottoms. Just that bottom foot and a half or so being PVC… it makes a huge difference.

Front Door Installation - Lites

Photo: masonite.com

A new door ought to suit the style of the house. How do you go about choosing the right door for a project you’re working on?

Scott: It really depends on what the client wants. A lot of our clients say, “I want something that’s true to the style of the house,” what was there originally. So we can do a little research and see if we can find out. But usually we choose based on the home’s architectural style. Colonial-style doors are going to be the standard four- or six-panel doors. Mission-style doors are typically composed of thick, vertical boards tied together under an arched top, with a peek hole and wrought iron hardware. It’s about staying true to the architectural style of the house, whether this is an 1800 Queen Anne Victorian or a newer house in the local vernacular. Just try and stay true to that, so it doesn’t look terribly anachronistic and way out of place. Choose for the scale and style of the building.

Editor’s note: If you need help selecting a door, don’t hesitate to check out the Masonite Max configurator offered jointly by The Home Depot and Masonite. Easy and actually quite fun to use, the Masonite Max tool guides you through the process of designing and purchasing the perfect door for your project. Based in Tampa, Florida, Masonite has continually operated since its founding in 1925. Today, the company manufactures steel, wood, and fiberglass doors in an array of styles to suit any preference. Plus, at The Home Depot, Masonite fiberglass and steel doors carry a limited lifetime warranty!

Front Door Installation - Back

Photo: masonite.com

This post has been brought to you by Masonite. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Bob Vila Radio: 2 Quick Fixes for a Slow Kitchen Drain

The kitchen sink drain may be slow, but these clever tips can help you repair it, and fast.

Chances are that, somewhere along the line, you’ve had to deal with a clog in your kitchen drain. Even if you make a point of not pouring grease down the drain, it can still build up over time and create a mess.

How to Unclog a Kitchen Sink

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON HOW TO UNLCOG A KITCHEN SINK or read the text below:

Before going nuclear with that toxic chemical drain cleaner, why not try a one or two eco-friendly solutions?

First, focus on the plumbing under the sink—specifically, the P-trap. Use a hair dryer to heat the drain pipe at the point where it forms an obvious curve. Heating the pipe may help to melt any grease that’s accumulated there. Next, flush the pipe with hot water.

The sink is already backed up? Use a cooking pot to bail out the water, then pour a cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. Let that concoction bubble for a half hour or so, then flush out the pipes with hot water.

In the future, to prevent grease from piling up again, dump a quarter cup of baking soda in the drain every couple of weeks. The bubbles will not only help keep your drain clear, but they’ll neutralize any odors the drain might otherwise emit.

Bob Vila Radio is a daily radio spot carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Bob Vila Radio: Why Is the Smoke Alarm Chirping?

Is the sound of a chirping smoke alarm steadily driving you crazy? Find out what you can do to restore quiet—and your sanity.

Why do you do when there’s a smoke alarm chirping in your home, seemingly without provocation? How can you keep that smoke alarm from robbing you of peace and quiet?

Smoke Alarm Chirping

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Listen to BOB VILA ON CHIRPING SMOKE ALARMS, or read the text below:

If the smoke alarm chirps at even intervals—say, every minute or so—it’s probably the device’s way of telling you that it needs a new battery. That’s true whether the detector runs on battery power all the time, or if it’s hard-wired and the battery’s only there as a back-up in case of a power outage. Simply open up the case and replace the battery; that should be the end of it.

While you’re changing smoke alarm batteries, it’s a good idea to use a can of compressed air to blow away any accumulated spider webs or dust. That sort of debris can cause irregular chirping that a new battery isn’t going to make go away. Also, bear in mind that alarms don’t live forever. Most need replacement every 10 years or so. The cost of a few new alarms is well worth the protection they’ll provide you and your family!

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.