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Enter Bob Vila’s $3,000 Warmer Bathroom Floor Give-Away—TODAY!

Win $3,000 in radiant heating products and installation from SupplyHouse.com!

With the chilly weather settling in, getting going in the morning is always a little tougher. But with radiant heating underneath your floors, you’ll never fear the ice-cold touch of your bathroom tiles again! This month, one lucky winner will receive up to $1,500 worth of radiant heat products and $1,500 installation from SupplyHouse.com! Supply House offers multiple product and installation options, so you’re sure to find the best fit for your bathroom. Whether you’ve been considering the switch to radiant heating, or just want a warmer bathroom this winter, now’s the time to enter.

ENTER HERE TO WIN

Today and every day this month (from noon EST Friday, October 31st, through 11:59 a.m. Sunday, November 30th), enter to win one $3,000 prize applicable towards a new radiant heating system from Supply House! (see Official Rules below).

 

Photo: corbis.com

If you win this month’s give-away, you’ll get a prize valued at up to $3,000–$1,500 for radiant heating supplies, and $1,500 in installation costs.  Install a premium radiant heating system in your bathroom, courtesy of SupplyHouse.com! Their goal is to bring you the highest quality plumbing, heating, HVAC, and electrical supplies at competitive prices. Their products include PEX plumbing supplies, radiant heat supplies, VisionPro Honeywell thermostats, taco pumps and mini-split air conditioners, and much more.

Enter Bob Vila’s $3,000 Warmer Bathroom Floor Give-Away daily to increase your odds of winning $3,000 of radiant heating and installation from SupplyHouse.

To learn more about SupplyHouse.com, their top-rated customer service, and products, click here.

The “Bob Vila’s $3,000 Warmer Floors Give-Away” is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period for Prize runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) EST Friday, October 31st, 2014 through 11:59 am Sunday, November 30th, 2014. One entry per household per day on BobVila.com. Alternative means of entry for Drawing is available by faxing your name and address to 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. By entering, all entrants agree to the Official Rules.


Buyer’s Guide: Chainsaws

Once the province only of horror movies and lumber harvest, chainsaws are becoming more and more popular among homeowners who like to do landscaping. Read our take on the best the market has to offer.

Best Chainsaws

Photo: shutterstock.com

As much as chainsaws hold appeal for tool geeks and aspiring lumberjacks, they are also quite handy for the average homeowner, particularly those who like to do landscaping. Likewise, if you heat your home with wood, you may in fact already own a chainsaw. There are number of types and sizes on the market today, ranging from light- to heavy-duty. Choosing the best chainsaw isn’t a matter of buying the top of the line (that’d be “too much tool” for most). Making the right selection starts with an honest assessment of your needs—that is, for what purpose are you buying a chainsaw? Keep in mind its intended uses, and you can dramatically narrow down the field of options. That’s not to say power and size are the sole considerations; factors like noise and fuel type are also worth weighing. Read on to learn what distinguishes different chainsaws, so you can understand the market and choose the best chainsaw for your specific purposes.

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Size/Power: The size of a chainsaw hinges on its bar length—that is, the distance from the cutting tip to the housing. In effect, the bar length is the cutting area; the larger the cutting area, the larger the jobs you can confidently tackle. Bar lengths run as short as six inches or as long as 20 inches (the former would obviously weigh less than the latter). At least in gas-powered models, another measure of chainsaw power is engine displacement—that is, the engine size. A higher number indicates a more powerful engine (but here, too, recognize that the larger you go, the more weight you’ll have to lug around while you’re working).

Best Chainsaws - Cutting

Photo: shutterstock.com

Fuel Type: Quintessential chainsaws are gas-powered, but there are now many quieter, lighter—and yes, less powerful—electric models on the market. Some are corded, meaning in order to operate the tool, you must be in range of an electrical power source. Cordless chainsaws, meanwhile, run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Though most lack the brawn to take down trees, battery-powered saws are more than serviceable for many common applications.

Exhaust: While electric chainsaws obviously do not release exhaust, gas-powered models emit carbon monoxide and other pollutants. In fact, California residents are only legally permitted to use chainsaws that run in compliance with certain environmental standards set by the state.

Noise: They’re loud! That’s the most frequent complaint made against chainsaws, and with good reason. At full tilt, gas-powered models can exceed 100 decibels. And believe or not, some electric saws are just about as noisy. There are some electrics, however, which operate at about 85 decibels. So if you have neighbors close by, consider choosing one of those quieter models. No matter your choice, remember to always wear hearing protection when working with such a loud tool.

Safety Features: Chainsaws are dangerous, plain and simple. They cause thousands of injuries each year. Some of the best chainsaws feature such safety features as a trigger lock, which stops the cutting action the moment you release the trigger. Also, look for anti-kickback chains, which prevent snags and minimize jolting. Finally, there are double-acting chain brakes that protect the hand from moving toward the cutting area. Focus only on models whose design prioritizes your safety.

Accessories: A range of other miscellaneous features may be found in the chainsaw market. Some may be irrelevant to your needs, but others may provide a compelling reason to select one tool over another. Look out for side-mounted or tool-free chain tensioning, for instance; that makes it easier to adjust chain tension on the go. Also handy are see-through oil and gas tanks, self-oiling chains, and spring-assist starting. The latter reduces the pulling force needed to get the tool going—what a relief!

On electric models, built-in circuit breakers prevent the motor from burning out. Corded models need heavy-gauge weatherproof extensions and a ground fault circuit interrupter. Cordless models, meanwhile, are most convenient when they come with an extended-life battery (or an extra).

To help take some of the guesswork out of the shopping process, we’ve identified a few of the top-rated chainsaws available today. These recommendations are based on the criteria listed above, on ratings by leading consumer testing sites, and on reviews written by actual people. Check out the best chainsaws:

 

Husqvarna 450 18-Inch 50.2cc X-Torq 2-Cycle Gas-Powered Chain Saw

Best Chainsaws - Husqvarna

Photo: amazon.com

The Husqvarna 450 was rated by Consumer Search as the best chainsaw among gas-powered models. Amazon shoppers give it 4.2 out of 5 stars, reserving praise for its power and ease of use. Reviewers say it’s “easy to use,” “quiet,” and “powerful,” cutting through hardwood “like a knife through butter.” The Husqvarna 450 offers a Smart Start feature and is CARB-compliant. The unit has a 50.2 cc motor powers and a 20-inch bar. Other features include a Low Vib vibration dampening system; combined choke/stop control; a centrifugal air cleaning system; chain brake; and snap-lock cylinder cover. Price: $357

 

Black & Decker LP1000 Alligator Lopper 4.5 Amp Electric Chain Saw

Best Chainsaws - Alligator

Photo: amazon.com

The electric-powered Alligator Lopper excels at cutting branches up to four inches in diameter. For that reason, Amazon shoppers gave it 4.7 out of 5 stars. One reviewer calls it his “new favorite tool.” Another says it’s “ideal for 99% of the cutting I need to do.” With a 4.5 amp motor powering a six-inch bar, the Lopper boasts powerful clamping jaws that grab and cut in one easy motion. Plus, metal guards protect the cutting chain, allowing for safe use. Price: $79

 

GreenWorks 20322 DigiPro G-MAX 40V Li-Ion 16-Inch Cordless Chainsaw

Best Chainsaws - Greenworks

Photo: amazon.com

Designated the best cordless unit, receiving 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon, shoppers praised the Greenworks G-MAX as “comparable to gas-powered chainsaws” in power and importantly, “easy to use.” Powered by an interchangeable 40-volt lithium-ion battery system, the chainsaw delivers higher performance and a longer run time than other cordless options, with a single charge allowing for up to 100 cuts. Additional features include a 16-inch bar length, auto-oiler lubrication system, chain brake, and low-kickback chain for safety. Price: $194


How To: Get Rid of Mildew Smell

What's that smell? The musty odor on towels, tile, and basement walls can be a sign you have a mildew problem. Don't worry: With a few simple pantry items, you can completely eliminate the odor and stymy future mold growth. Here's how.

How to Get Rid of Mildew Smell

Photo: shutterstock.com

Among household odors, mildew undoubtedly ranks among the worst. And unfortunately, it’s all too common, lurking in the dark, damp corners of your home. If you were looking for a quick fix, there isn’t one. The smell of mildew can literally develop overnight, especially during periods of damp and humid weather. Getting rid of that smell—and making sure it doesn’t return—is an ongoing effort. But luckily, it’s not a particularly difficult effort: You can get rid of that mildew smell pretty easily, using only items found in most pantries, so long as you can identify the source of the odor. That’s the tough part. The rest? Persistence.

Search and Destroy
Sniff around. The first step in getting rid of a mildew smell is to locate the source of the problem. Remove impediments to your search. In the bathroom, that means taking down the shower curtain and temporarily relocating toiletries that would obscure your view of the likeliest breeding grounds (e.g., grout lines or tub caulking). In the basement, pack up old newspapers, cardboard boxes, and any other disposables. Focus your attention on surfaces vulnerable to moisture.

How to Get Rid of Mildew Smell - Mold Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

The Beauty of Bleach
If you’re successfully able to isolate the mildewed area, that means you can spot-treat it without going through the effort of cleaning the whole room. However, if you’ve searched high and low but cannot find any obvious mildew growth, cover all your bases by giving the entire space a once-over. In a large bucket, mix one part bleach to four parts water. Scrub the walls and floors with the homemade mildew killer you’ve concocted, being sure to rinse away all bleach residue once you’ve finished the job.

Freshen Fabrics
Scrubbing the walls and floors isn’t necessarily going to cut it, though. It’s not uncommon for the smell of mildew to emanate from fabrics, such as towels, and from other personal belongings (e.g., sneakers). Can the mildewy item be placed in the washing machine? If so, soak it in all-fabric bleach for about 30 minutes. After rinsing it off, run it through the washer as you would a normal load of laundry.

And Don’t Come Back!
Of course, the best way to get rid of a mildew smell is to prevent it from developing it in the first place. An arsenal of tools can help you keep your spaces dry and clean and mildew-free:

• Install dehumidifiers in problem areas; with the humidity level low, mildew cannot grow.

Ceiling fans help keep areas dry and are at home mildew-prone areas like the kitchen and laundry.

Odor absorbers like baking soda, charcoal briquettes, and kitty litter are all effective in keeping mildew at bay. Fill a large container about halfway with your chosen deodorizer and leave it to work its magic in whichever rooms you’ve been encountering issues with mildew. Replace every month or so.

With regular attention and the occasional use of a few household staples, you can get rid of that mildew smell you hate so much, along with the hazardous, unhealthy mold those smells belong to.


How To: Prevent or Eliminate Closet Moths

Storing clothes for the off-season? Protect your wardrobe from moths using these simple, effective tips.

How to Get Rid of Moths

Photo: shutterstock.com

Tineola bisselliella, the common clothes moth, wreaks havoc on wardrobes, destroying shirts and socks, pants and sweaters, without your even noticing there’s a pest problem. Once clothes moths find their way to your natural fabrics, the insects lay eggs and the situation worsens, with hatched larvae hungrily feeding themselves on wood, silk, fur and cotton. The best way to get rid of moths is to never allow an infestation in the first place. Prevention is key; eradication can be a real chore. We’ll cover both. Whether you’ve discovered clothes moths in your home—yikes!—or are hoping never to see one, follow the advice outlined below.

PREVENTION
Take the following precautions to ensure that your store clothing remains free of moths:

• Since food stains attract moths, be sure to launder all clothing before putting it away, particularly if you’re storing garments for the off-season.

• If you plan to leave clothes untouched for a few months, store them in airtight bins or vacuum bags.

• Install lighting in the closet and keep an efficient LED bulb going at all times. Clothes moths prefer dark environments and are likely to shy away.

• Once per season, clean the interior of the closet with an all-purpose cleaner, paying special attention to corners, shelves, and baseboards.

Vacuum a carpeted closet as often as once per week. Allow dirt and dust to accumulate, and you’re extending an open invitation to clothes moths.

• A lot of people hate the smell of mothballs. If you’re one of those people, consider natural repellents, including red cedar chips and ground black pepper.

How to Get Rid of Moths - Infestation

Photo: shutterstock.com

REMOVAL
Damage to your clothing provides unmistakable evidence of a moth infestation. But if you’re not sure whether or not there’s an issue, keep an eye out: Clothes moths are typically light gold or buff-colored, with a half-inch wingspan (their larvae, meanwhile, look like small white worms). If despite your best efforts, you discover moths have invaded your closet, don’t despair. You can solve the problem in relatively short order with some elbow grease:

1. Vigorously brush (or even vacuum) your clothes, then launder (or dry-clean) all damaged garments—that is, the ones that are salvageable. For best results, wash all affected clothes in hot water—at least 120 degrees—for at least 20 minutes. (You can also try freezing garments for several days). If you encounter any items that’ve been damaged beyond repair, seal them in plastic garbage bags, then remove the bags from your home as soon as possible.

2. Vacuum the floors, shelves, and walls of your closet, paying special attention to the nooks and crannies that may be concealing larvae. Next, spray the closet with insecticide specially formulated for moths. Suitable products are those containing pyrethrum, chlorpyrifos, allethrin or permethrin as the active ingredient.

3. Prevent future infestations by storing clothing in airtight containers or vacuum bags. For extra protection, use a moth repellant, whether mothballs or a natural substitute. You also may want to try moth traps; these are adhesive-lined cardboard enclosures baited with artificial pheromones. The virtue of traps is that that they can help you monitor moth activity, giving you a sense of the problem’s severity. In some cases, it may be wise to call in a pest control specialist.


How To: Get Rid of Bats

When bats takes up residence under your roof, you're in danger of more than merely foul odors. Be rid of your unwanted guests by following these steps.

How to Get Rid of Bats

Photo: shutterstock.com

The good news: Bats are not aggressive. The bad news: If there are bats in your house, it’s only a matter of time before their waste begins to pose a serious problem. Health concerns aside—and there are indeed viable health concerns—bat droppings and urine can actually destroy wood and other building materials, gradually compromising the structural integrity of your home. So even if you are not skittish and don’t mind the idea of bats dwelling under your roof, there are very good, wholly rational reasons to act fast. Follow the steps outlined below to get rid of bats and prevent them from returning.

STEP 1
Familiarize yourself with local laws. In most states, bats are a protected species, which means that it’s illegal to kill them. One humane approach is to install a bat house on your property prior to evicting your unwanted guests. Chances are that once barred entry to your home, the bats would take up residence in the new accommodations you’ve prepared for there. From there, you could count on the bats to continue their beneficial service of eating the insects on your property.

Bats

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
When the goal is to get rid of bats, it’s essential to figure out what type of bat you’re dealing with. So the first thing to do is learn what types of bats are common in your neck of the woods. Next, try to get a good look at the bats, if you haven’t already, so you can compare your observations to your research. Vampire aficionados could easily guess that you  best chances of seeing a bat are at dusk and dawn.

Once you know what kind of bats are in your house, you can move on to determining whether or not it’s maternity season for that particular species. If you prevent the mother bat from regaining entry to your house while the babies are still inside, those babies are going to die. And no matter how you feel about that, you’re definitely not going to like how it smells. So if it’s maternity season, wait it out.

STEP 3
Sure that maternity season is over or has not begun yet? OK—time to get serious. Watch your home closely at dusk or dawn, with the aim of pinpointing where exactly the bats are entering and exiting your home. Bear in mind that a bat colony usually has more than one access point, and these can be as small as a half-inch. You may need more than one evening to locate the different openings being used.

STEP 4
Cover each distinct opening with a one-way exit valve, one-way tube, or one-way bat netting product. Such items are commonly sold at home centers and pest control dealers. The ingeniousness of these designs is that, while they allow bats to exit the house with ease, they provide no way for the bats to return. If your chosen device seems to be working, leave it in place for a period of about three days.

STEP 5
Once there are no more bats left inside, you have a messy job on your hand. Inevitably, the bats will have left droppings and urine in their wake. When cleaning, it’s imperative that you wear the proper protective gear—full-sleave clothing, work gloves, and a respirator. In fact, think seriously about hiring a professional cleanup crew. Once the area is no longer toxic, proceed to seal all the holes you identified.


Noisy Radiator? Here’s How to Shush It

Try these fixes if you're fed up in frustration over the noise that your radiator makes.

How to Repair a Noisy Radiator

Photo: shutterstock.com

There’s a simple reason why builders relied on steam radiators for decades and decades—they work! But every technology has drawbacks, and with steam radiators, homeowner complaints often center around noise. At times, with all that clanking and banging, you might wonder why the radiators didn’t come with earplugs. What causes that cacophony, and how can you usher in quiet? If you want to repair a noisy radiator in your home, here are a few things to know.

No Way Out
In a typical steam heat system, a single pipe extends from the boiler to the radiators. At the point where the pipe connects to a radiator, you’ll find an intake valve. This component performs two functions. First, it feeds steam into the radiator. Second, once the steam cools and condenses into water, the intake valve allows the liquid to drain out of the radiator and return to the boiler. At least, that’s how things are supposed to work. But water often gets trapped in the radiator, and when that happens, steam is blocked from entering. As the trapper water and blocked steam play a game of tug-of-war, they produce the delightful symphony that keeps you up at night. So aside from being an awful racket, a noisy radiator means that your system isn’t operating as well as it should.

How to Repair a Noisy Radiator - Cast Iron Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

Try the Tilt
A properly functioning steam radiator does not sit perfectly level on the floor. Rather, it tilts slightly toward the intake valve. That positioning allows condensed water to flow out of the radiator, not by means of a pump, but through the force of gravity. Therefore, if your radiator starts getting noisy, the first thing to check is check whether the radiator remains tilted toward the valve. Use a level, and if you see that the radiator sits level or is tilting away from the valve, intervene. Try slipping a wooden shim or paint stirrer under the legs on the end opposite to the valve. A tilt of only five degrees or so should do the trick.

Keep Things Hot
If you’ve checked the radiator and found that it’s tilting correctly, a different common problem may be at play. Often, steam condenses in the pipe before it even reaches your radiator. If that’s the case, the fix is to insulate the pipe, wherever possible, along its run up from the boiler. Pipe insulation couldn’t be much easier to work with, but the portions of the pipe most in need of insulation may be hidden behind a wall.

It Needs to Vent
Another possible cause of radiator noise: the steam vent. Try this: Close the intake valve so that no steam can enter the radiator. Next, remove the steam vent from the radiator, placing it in a bowl of vinegar. Let it sit overnight. Doing so may help dissolve any calcium deposits that have gradually accumulated over time. If that doesn’t work, purchase a new steam vent to see whether the replacement fares any better. Readily available at most home centers, a new vent only costs about ten bucks, so it’s worth a shot if all else fails.

Finally, a friendly reminder regarding the use of steam radiators, in general. The intake valve should be either fully open or fully closed. Leaving the valve partially open can result in leaks and damage to floors.


Genius! DIY Pumpkin Keg

What's more seasonal than pumpkins? Here's one DIY you can make in minutes as the memorable centerpiece of your Halloween party this year.

DIY Pumpkin Keg

Photo: celebrations.com

This time of year, it seems like everyone’s got a thing for pumpkins. But even if neither pumpkin pie nor pumpkin-spiced lattés are on the menu for your Halloween bash, you can still find a place at the table for fall’s most famous gourd. Introducing the pumpkin keg.

Christina Stiehl, editor at Celebrations.com, first tipped us off to this genius little hack (and for that, we’re forever grateful.) Christina, it should be said, loves pumpkins—cooking them, decorating them, and yes, drinking out of them.

While it may tempting to gut the pumpkin in haste to make your pumpkin keg, Christina reminds us that it’d be waste to speed through the process. ”Pumpkins are super cute on the outside,” she says, “but the insides are filled with a bunch of delicious good-for-you stuff. After carving a pumpkin and cleaning out all the ooey-gooey insides, I love saving all of the seeds to roast. After washing them, I usually toss them in olive oil and some kind of seasoning (usually Cajun or a ranch packet), then bake for 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees. It’s a tradition we always did when I was a kid, and I like to continue it every year.”

Roasted pumpkin seeds: the perfect snack to serve next to the DIY pumpkin keg you create for your guests! 

DIY Pumpkin Keg - Pour

Photo: celebrations.com

MATERIALS
- Pumpkin
- Marker or pencil
- Pumpkin carving kit (or serrated knife)
- Plastic spigot
- Beverage of choice

STEP 1
First, draw a ring around the top of your pumpkin. This will be your guide to carve the lid. Try to keep this pretty close to the top of the pumpkin, so you optimize the hollowed-out space that will hold the liquid.

STEP 2
Once that’s done, carve it! If you’re without a carving kit, you can use a serrated knife. Whatever your tool of choice, poke it in at an angle and work your way around the ring.

DIY Pumpkin Keg - Carved

Photo: celebrations.com

STEP 3
Once you’ve gone all the way around, pop the lid off and clean out your pumpkin. Make sure you get all the seeds out and most of the pulp, but don’t worry if some gets left behind, as it adds a little flavor to the drink.

STEP 4
Now find the spot where you want to place your spigot. Using your pencil or marker. Cutting the hole here will require a pretty fine serrated knife, so the carving kit proves really worthwhile at this point.

STEP 5
Once your spigot is secured, pour in your drink of choice. (Christine recommends Sam Adam’s Octoberfest, but you can try cider or other seasonal drinks.) Finally, pop the lid back on your pumpkin. You’re ready to go!

And that’s it! Be sure to check out the how to video at Celebrations.com, where you can also find seasonal craft and recipe ideas.


Bob Vila Radio: Adding a Fire Pit to Your Backyard

Homeowners love fire pits, not least because they are so affordable and easy to add to outdoor living areas.

If you enjoy cozying up to the fireplace in your home, why not consider adding a fire pit in your backyard? Fire pits are just the thing to bring friends and family together on cool evenings, extending the outdoor season.

Backyard Fire Pit

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON FIREPITS, or read the text below:

If you keep it simple, a firepit won’t break the bank. The simplest are essentially metal bowls with legs. They’re readily available at home centers. Some come with lift-off tops to keep the rain out (when they’re not being used). Some have screened covers to contain burning embers. Still others include grills you can set over the fire for cooking.

A do-it-yourself option is to create a ring of mortared stone at ground level. You can make the ring as tall as you want. To keep rainwater from accumulating in the middle, you may want to include an underground drain.

Some municipalities restrict or forbid outdoor wood fires; before finalizing plans, be sure to check local ordinances. And one more caution: Never put scraps of pressurized wood into your firepit. When burned, the chemicals in treated wood give off noxious fumes.

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.


Top Tips for Identifying a Hazardous Tree

How to Identify a Dangerous Tree

Photo: shutterstock.com

It’s not always easy to identify a tree that’s in trouble. In part, that’s because while trees face certain knowable foes like drought and disease, they are also vulnerable to unpredictable dangers—strong winds, for example, or lighting. Still, a responsible homeowner ought to keep his eyes open for signs of a problem. Read on to find out which red flags to be on the lookout for:

Hide and Seek
To begin your inspection of a tree, head right to its base. If the lowest part of the trunk is obscured by ground cover plantings, pull them back to gain a better view. Here, either hollow cavities or the presence of mushrooms could indicate a serious problem. Move on to checking the ground around the tree’s drip line—that is, the circumference under its canopy. Look for roots protruding up from the ground. Visible roots are not problematic in and of themselves, but if there’s other evidence to suggest that the tree is struggling, then protruding roots might mean that the tree is on the verge of toppling over.

Lightning
If you encounter a tree that’s missing a long streak of bark along its trunk, it was probably struck by lightning. Being composed mostly of water, trees are excellent conductors of electricity. When lightning hits the canopy, the bolt careens all the way day down to the roots, boiling sap in its wake and creating explosive steam. If there’s damage to one side of the trunk only, the tree might fully recover. But if bark’s missing on multiple sides, it’s likely that the tree isn’t going to survive.

How to Identify a Dangerous Tree - Bark Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

Branch Inspection
Since dead branches are the first to fall, it’s wise to remove them from trees growing close to the house. On deciduous trees, dead branches either have no leaves or brown leaves (in the winter, this is tough to judge). With evergreen trees, look for brown needles and the absence of bark. If you successfully identify dead branches—and if those branches are easily accessible—go ahead and prune. Otherwise, call in a specialist.

Two-Trunk Trees
When trees have two or more trunks, be sure to look closely at the point where they meet. U-shaped connections between trunks are usually not a problem. A tight “V” shape, however, suggests a weak spot. If you’re worried about a particular tree, you can have a steel or elastic cable installed to keep it from splitting apart in high winds. But to be clear, this isn’t a project for the do-it-yourselfer; hire an experienced pro.

Call in the Pros
If any of the red flags discussed leave you uncertain about the health of a tree on your property, it’s best to call in a certified arborist. Besides having training and hard-earned knowledge, arborists also have specialized tools they can use to make sophisticated diagnoses far beyond the scope of this article.

Additional Notes
If you have work done on a tree, don’t let any of the workers climb the trunk by means of leg spikes. With every step, they’d be punching holes in the tree that would make ideal portals for harmful pathogens. The damage done by leg spikes might not be immediately evident, but it could eventually prove fatal to the tree.


Bob Vila Radio: This Winter, Remove Your Screen Door to Enjoy More Light

Screens are a must in warm weather. But as it gets darker earlier in the evening, you may choose to remove your sliding screen door as a way of maximizing natural light.

Maybe your cat has been using your sliding screen door for climbing practice. Or maybe, as we approach winter, you’re thinking you simply won’t be using the screen again until spring.

How to Remove a Sliding Screen Door

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON REMOVING SLIDING SCREEN DOORS or read the text below:

Whatever the reason, you’re planning to remove the sliding screen door. Here’s how it’s done.

With some doors, it couldn’t be simpler. Just grasp each end of the door and lift, pulling the bottom towards you until it clears the track. Once you’ve got the bottom out of the frame, you should be free to guide the panel to the basement, garage, shed or wherever storage area you’ve chosen.

It’s not always that hassle-free. Some doors have screws sticking up from the bottom of the frame, one at each end. These screws control the tension on the wheels that allow the door to roll in its track. To remove this type, start by loosening the tension on the wheels a bit. Then, working one end of the door at a time, ease a flathead screwdriver under the wheel, gently lifting up. Once both wheels are out of the track, pull the bottom of the door toward you to ease it out of the frame.

Take care not to damage the door hardware or wheels. Plastic wheels on old doors can be especially brittle.