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- How To: Get Rid of Stink Bugs
How To: Get Rid of Stink Bugs
If stink bugs have been making themselves at home within your four walls, it's time to roll up the welcome mat by following these suggestions for eliminating an infestation and keeping the critters out in the first place.
Stop! If you encounter an unfamiliar pest in your home, think twice before swatting it with a magazine. If you do anything to bother the shield-shaped, dime-size stink bug, you may suddenly find yourself subject to its foul odor—which actually attracts even more stink bugs! True, that sounds like something ripped from the plot of a bad horror movie, but it’s far from fiction. Native to Asia, stink bugs have proliferated in the United States since first arriving here in the mid-1990s. Today, particularly in the Midwest and along the Eastern Seaboard, they have become a uniquely repugnant household pest.
Most of the year, stink bugs breed and feed outdoors, but when temperatures drop in the fall, they seek out a warm spot in which to hibernate through winter. Entering via holes and cracks in the exterior, stink bugs tend to hide in the dark, cloistered crevices of the home—behind baseboards, for example. Because they spend the winter in dormancy, though, it’s possible not even to notice an infestation until the seasons change and the bugs begin hunting for a way back outdoors. That said, it’s somewhat common for stink bugs to emerge earlier, having mistaken an unseasonably warm day for the arrival of spring.
Perhaps the best way to deal with stink bugs is to prevent them from gaining access to your home in the first place. To that end, go out of your way to locate and seal the little gaps through which they might intrude. Pay special attention to the trim around windows and doors; here, add caulk or weatherstripping to fill in any breaks. By the same token, make repairs to even minor damage you discover on the siding or foundation. Finally, inspect around utility pipes, behind chimneys, and beneath the roof overhang. In short, wherever outside air or moisture can infiltrate the home, so too can stink bugs. Act accordingly.
There are clearly compelling reasons to shore up your home’s exterior, but if there are stink bugs in your home already, then you may want to take them on directly. Fortunately, with any of the following methods, you can get rid of stink bugs without creating an awful stench in the process.
Vacuuming. For the average homeowner, vacuuming offers the most effective method of removing even a large number of stink bugs. There’s a catch, though. Afterward, you must be very careful with the vacuum bag. Be sure to close it up tightly, right away, disposing of it at a safe distance from your home. To do otherwise is to invite a recurrence. Also, if you have a bagless vacuum, this isn’t the method for you—unless of course you’re ready to trash the now-smelly vacuum too!
Detergent. Combine equal parts liquid detergent and water in a spray bottle and employ it to drench any stink bugs you encounter (or any spots where you suspect that they are hiding). Another option: Add the detergent-and-water solution to a small, open container and, using a popsicle stick or a gloved hand, knock or drop the stink bugs into the liquid. The trick here is to work very quickly, fast enough not to give the bugs an opportunity to emit their signature stink.
Nicotine. For once, you can be glad to have a smoker in the house! Shred cigarettes or butts into a volume of warm water (use about 20 cigarettes’ worth of tobacco for every gallon). Let the mixture soak overnight, and in the morning, strain out the debris. Next, add about two tablespoons of dish detergent to the liquid that remains, then funnel the solution into a spray bottle. Now you have a spray that kills stink bugs instantly. For safety, wear rubber gloves when handling the solution.
Electricity. Hung in a windowless attic or another similarly dark space in your home, a run-of-the-mill bug zapper can work wonders to lure and eradicate stink bugs. Because the insects die upon contact with the electrical discharge, there’s no residual stink to worry about or suffer through. Just remember to clean the zapper every few days to help maintain the efficacy of the unit. (In the case of a lighter infestation, you can probably get away with cleaning the zapper less often.)
Any of the methods described above can go a long way toward ridding your home of stink bugs, so long as you’re dealing with a problem of modest, manageable size. But keep in mind that some homeowners have reported infestations with stink bugs numbering in the hundreds, if not thousands. In such severe cases, don’t hesitate to reach out to a trained pest professional. A certified, licensed expert can put an end to your infestation while also providing advice on how to prevent problems in the future.
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- How To: Remove Paint from Glass
How To: Remove Paint from Glass
Whether it’s accidental splatter on the window or a mason jar crafting misstep, here’s how to quickly remove paint and make any glass crystal clear again.
You set out a drop cloth and meticulously lined the wall trim with painter’s tape, but you still ended up with a little bit of paint splatter on the windows in your kitchen. Even with careful preparation, you’ll have the occasional drip-drop during a project, but removing paint from glass is a lot easier than you think. In fact, it requires minimal tools (most of which you can find beneath your sink) and minimal time. Still, there’s an art to getting the job done, whether you want to remove the paint from your windows or from a mason jar paint project gone awry. Master the fix with this straightforward step-by-step.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Glass measuring cup or microwavable dish
- White vinegar
- Rubber gloves
- 3 clean cloths
- A bucket (optional, depending on the size of the job)
- Dish soap
- A new razor blade
- Glass cleaner
Fill a glass measuring cup or other dish with 1 cup of white vinegar, and bring it to a boil in the microwave. Then, wearing a pair of thick rubber gloves to protect your hands from the heat, dip an old rag into the liquid. Use the soaked rag and a little elbow grease to rub the paint spots you want to remove. The hot vinegar will help loosen the paint and often causes it to come right off in this first step. Don’t get discouraged if the paint remains, though; just proceed to Step 2.
If vinegar doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to kick things up a notch. Fill the dish or bucket with warm water and dish soap (enough to make it sudsy), and dip your second cloth into this solution. Use it to thoroughly wet the paint spots on the glass. The soap you apply to the affected areas will act as a lubricant so you don’t accidentally scratch the glass.
Now position a single razor blade (the sharper and newer the blade, the better) at a 45-degree angle from the windowpane. The angle here is very important: Any more or less, and you’re likely to scratch or break the glass.
Push the blade in one slow, smooth motion to scrape the paint away. Always work in the same direction—never back and forth—as you carefully lift the paint off the glass. Basically, you want the paint to lift off all at once in one sheet rather than flake off the glass. Keep your damp and sudsy cloth nearby to moisten the paint anytime it appears to be drying out.
Once you’ve removed all the paint, grab a glass cleaner and spray down the windowpane wherever the paint used to be. Use your third clean, dry cloth to buff out any streaks left behind so your paint-free pane will have zero obstructions on the next sunny day.
- Contests & Give-Aways >
- Bob Vila’s Pick Your Present Give-Away from Hayneedle.com Official Rules
Bob Vila’s Pick Your Present Give-Away from Hayneedle.com Official Rules
Bob Vila’s “Pick Your Present Give-Away from Hayneedle.com” (the “Sweepstakes”) is sponsored by Vila Media, LLC, Post Office Box 835, West Barnstable, MA 02668 (“Sponsor”). The Sweepstakes consists of four (4) separate, successive, random drawings (each a “Drawing” and collectively, the “Drawings”). The Sweepstakes begins at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (“EST”) on Monday, November 30th, 2015 and ends at 11:59 a.m EST on Thursday, December 31st, 2015 (the “Sweepstakes Period”). One Drawing per week will be held during the Sweepstakes Period. The entry period for each weekly Drawing shall begin on each respective Monday during the Sweepstakes Period, starting with 12:00 p.m. EST on December 7th, 2015, and end at 11:59 a.m. EST on the following Monday, with the exception of the last entry period which will end at 11:59 a.m. on Thursday, December 31st, 2015 (each an “Entry Period” and collectively, the “Entry Periods”). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. MAKING A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. ODDS OF WINNING WILL DEPEND ON THE TOTAL NUMBER OF ENTRIES RECEIVED. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. ONLINE ENTRY ONLY AND INTERNET CONNECTION REQUIRED. AFFIDAVIT OF ELIGIBILITY AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY FORM MAY BE REQUIRED.
Open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. Employees of Sponsor and its respective parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and promotion agencies and any other entity involved in the development or administration of this Sweepstakes, and their immediate family members or household members are not eligible to participate in or win the Sweepstakes. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any person who fails to meet the eligibility requirements or any person it determines, in its sole discretion, to be sufficiently connected with the Sweepstakes such that such person’s participation could create the appearance of impropriety. Entries generated by script, macro, or other automated means are void, and Sponsor expressly reserves the right to disqualify any entries that it believes in good faith are generated by an automated program or via scripts. Entries that are determined, in the sole discretion of the Sponsor to constitute advertisements, commercial messages, or “spam” will be disqualified and deleted.
Void where prohibited by law. All applicable federal, state and local laws apply. No purchase is necessary to participate in the Sweepstakes. You may enter any given Drawing one (1) time per household per day by visiting the BOB VILA website at http://www.bobvila.com and submit your name and email address using the online “Pick Your Present Give-Away from Hayneedle.com” submission form. Each entry submitted in response to a Drawing and in accordance with the Official Rules will constitute an official entry. Duplicate entries submitted through either method within one day will be deemed void. If you do not have internet access, alternative means of entry for each Drawing is available by faxing your name, address and phone number to the Sponsor at 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. Up to two (2) alternative entries per household per day. Any additional entries submitted via fax within one day will be deemed void. Entries received after the end of the Sweepstakes Period will be deemed void. Normal time, toll, connection, and usage rates, if any, charged by your Internet service provider will apply.
All prizes (or in the event of a lost, misdirected, or otherwise unavailable prize, a prize of equivalent value) will be awarded. In no event shall the Sponsor be obligated to award more prizes than the number of prizes stated in these Official Rules. Winners shall be responsible and liable for all federal, state and local taxes on the value of their prize. To receive a complete list of winners or a copy of the Official Rules, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Prize Fulfillment, Vila Media, LLC, PO Box 835 Barnstable, MA 02668. Specify winner’s list or rules on your request.
The Winners will be notified by email, or in the case of alternate entry, by phone; Sponsor reserves the right to determine the method of notification. Winners must claim their respective prize within twenty-four (24) hours after the date of notification of their prize. A Winner’s failure to respond to the prize notification within the specified twenty- four (24) hours will be considered such Winner’s forfeiture of the prize and an alternate Winner may be selected from the pool of eligible entries. If an entrant is found to be ineligible, an alternate Winner may also be selected from the pool of eligible entries. Sponsor reserves the right to ship prizes directly to the mailing and/or email address (as applicable) provided by Winners during their entry to the Drawings.
The prize for the first Drawing during the Sweepstakes Period shall be choice of 1 (one) Red Ember Wheatland 50 in. Outdoor Square Tile Convertible Fire Pit Table with FREE Cover with approximate retail value of $349.98, 1 (one) Red Ember 28 in. Clarksville Campfire Fire Pit valuing $295.97, or 1 (one) Red Ember Hammered Bronze Commercial Patio Heater with Table with approximate retail value of 169.98; the prize for the second Drawing during the Sweepstakes Period shall be choice of 1 (one) Belham Living White Mini Concord Kitchen Island with Stainless Steel Top valuing $290.98, 1 (one) Belham Living Sutter Bakers Rack with Baskets valuing $214.98, or 1 (one) Keurig K450 2.0 Brewer valuing $139.99; the prize for the third Drawing during the Sweepstakes Period shall be choice of one (1) Belham Living Palmer Printed Arm Chair valuing $399.99, 1 (one) Belham Living Brinfield Rustic Console Table valuing $159.98, or 1 (one) Belham Living Grayson Tufted Entryway Bench valuing $159.98; and the prize during the fourth Drawing during the Sweepstakes Period shall be choice of 1 (one) Belham Living Trenton Bar Cart valuing $287.98, 1 (one) Palazzo 30 Inch Bar Stool – Set of 2 with approximate retail value of $179.99, or 1 (one) Arachnid Cricket Pro 800 Electronic Dart Board Complete Set with approximate retail value of $319.99. Prizes are not transferable. Limit one prize per entrant. Actual retail value may vary. Winner will not receive the difference between actual and approximate retail value. Hayneedle.com has 30 days from official end of Sweepstakes (January 30) to deliver prizes to respective winners. Prize is product only and does not include installation. An entrant or winner may be disqualified from the Sweepstakes, and his or her entry may be deleted, if he or she fails to comply with each provision of these Official Rules, as determined in the sole discretion of the Sponsor. Participation in the Sweepstakes is at entrant’s own risk.
Sponsor shall not be liable for (1) failed, returned or misdirected notifications based on inaccurate information provided by the winner on the Drawings entry forms, (2) entries and responses to winner notifications which are lost, late, incomplete, illegible, unintelligible, postage-due, misdirected, damaged or otherwise not received by the intended recipient in whole or in part or for computer or technical error of any kind, (3) any electronic miscommunications or failures, technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmissions which may limit an entrant’s ability to participate in part or wholly in the Sweepstakes, (4) any technical malfunctions of the telephone network, computer on-line system, computer equipment, software, program malfunctions or other failures, delayed computer transactions or network connections that are human, mechanical or technical in nature, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from downloading any part of this Sweepstakes or (5) any warranty of fitness or merchantability of any prize or the function or operation thereof, which shall be the sole responsibility of the manufacturer of the prize.
Sponsor does not make any, and hereby disclaims any and all, representations or warranties of any kind regarding any prize. Unless prohibited by applicable law, your entry constitutes your permission to use your name, photograph, likeness, voice, address (city and state) and testimonials in all media, in perpetuity, in any manner Sponsor deems appropriate for publicity purposes without any further compensation to such entrant. By entering or accepting a prize in the Sweepstakes, Winners agree to be bound by these Official Rules and to conform to all federal, state and local laws and regulations. When applicable, the Winner (or, if the Winner is a minor, the Winner’s parent or legal guardian) may be required to execute and return to Sponsor within three (3) business days an Affidavit of Eligibility, a Liability and Publicity Release and relevant tax forms to be eligible for the prize or an alternate winner may be selected. Winner may be required to furnish proof of identity, address and birth date in order to receive a prize.
By entering, an entrant agrees to indemnify, release and hold harmless Sponsor and each of its respective parents, subsidiaries and affiliated entities, directors, officers, employees, attorneys, agents, and representatives (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from any damage, injury, death, loss, claim, action, demand, or other liability (collectively, “Claims”) that may arise from their acceptance, possession and/or use of any prize or their participation in the Sweepstakes, or from any misuse or malfunction of any prize awarded, regardless of whether such Claims, or knowledge of the facts constituting such Claims, exist at the time of entry or arise at any time thereafter. Released Parties are not responsible or liable to any entrant or to any Winner or any person claiming through such Winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action, regulation, order or request by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action, regulations, order or request proves to be invalid), equipment failure, threatened terrorist acts, terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond the Released Parties’ sole control.
The Released Parties are not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by entrants, printing, electronic or human errors or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes; (2) viruses or technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications or entry information, any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, failures or technical malfunction of any computer online systems, servers, providers, computer equipment, software, email, players or browsers, whether on account of technical problems, traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, or on account of any combination of the foregoing; (3) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (4) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Sweepstakes; (5) technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Sweepstakes or the processing of entries; (6) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant’s participation in the Sweepstakes or receipt or use or misuse of any prize; or (7) late, lost, misdirected, illegible, incomplete or mutilated entries or for theft, destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of entries. These indemnification and release provisions shall survive expiration of the Sweepstakes.
Persons found tampering with, abusing, or otherwise disrupting any aspect of this Sweepstakes, or otherwise attempting to defraud Sponsor, as solely determined by Sponsor, will be disqualified and their entries will be deleted. If disqualified, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the entrant’s eligibility to further participate in this Sweepstakes and future promotions and sweepstakes of Sponsor or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates. Any attempt by an entrant or any other individual to undermine the legitimate operation of this Sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil laws. Should such an attempt be made, sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law. This Sweepstakes is strictly for promotional and entertainment purposes and may not be used in connection with any form of gambling. In the event this Sweepstakes is challenged by any legal or regulatory authority, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the Sweepstakes, or to disqualify entrants residing in the affected geographic areas. In such event, the Sponsor shall have no liability to any entrants who are disqualified due to such an action.
Sponsor reserves the right to modify these Official Rules in any way or at any time. Sponsor reserves the right, in their sole discretion, to cancel or suspend this Sweepstakes should viruses, bugs or other causes beyond their control corrupt the administration, security or proper play of the Sweepstakes. In the event any portion of this Sweepstakes is compromised by any non-authorized human intervention, actions of entrants, or other causes beyond the control of Sponsor which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, corrupt or impair the integrity, administration, security, or operation of this Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to suspend, modify, abbreviate or terminate the Sweepstakes without further obligation.
If Sponsor elects to abbreviate the Sweepstakes, Winner(s) will be determined from all eligible entries received for Drawing(s) prior to the action or compromise giving rise to the suspension or termination of this Sweepstakes. In the event of cancellation, abbreviation or suspension, Sponsor shall promptly post a notice on the Sweepstakes entry page to such effect. This Sweepstakes shall be governed by New York law. By participating in this Sweepstakes entrants agree that New York courts shall have jurisdiction over any dispute or litigation arising from or relating to this Sweepstakes and that venue shall be only in New York City, New York. The failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. If any part of these Official Rules is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unenforceable, that part will be enforced to the maximum extent permitted by law, and the remainder of these Official Rules will remain fully in force.
- Contests & Give-Aways >
- Enter Bob Vila’s Pick Your Present Give-Away from Hayneedle.com Today!
Enter Bob Vila’s Pick Your Present Give-Away from Hayneedle.com Today!
Enter daily for you chance to win one of three weekly prizes from Hayneedle.com
The chilly temps and snowy days signal that winter isn’t coming, it’s already here. With the winter season also comes an influx of friends and family. Playing host to guests can be an overwhelming—and expensive—task. But if you’re a lucky winner of Bob Vila’s Pick Your Present Give-Away from Hayneedle.com, you could outfit your home with all the cozy furnishings, stylish accessories, and entertaining necessities you need without spending a fortune.
Enter today and every day this month (starting 12:00 p.m. EST on November 30th, 2015 through 11:59 a.m. EST on December 31st, 2015) for the chance to win your choice of one of three weekly prizes from hayneedle.com. (See Official Rules below.)
Hayneedle.com is one of the nation’s largest online retailers for home furnishings and decor, featuring over 3,000 brands and millions of products for every room, style, and budget. Offering everything from furniture to kitchenware, it’s an online destination for homeowners looking to bring their decorating visions to life.
Each week in December we’re giving one lucky winner their choice of hayneedle.com prizes. Check back every week to choose from these amazing options:
During Week 1 (November 30–December 7), warm up to any of these porch and patio heaters. Choose from the Red Ember Wheatland 50-inch Outdoor Convertible Fire Pit Table and cover, the 28-inch Campfire Fire Pit, or the Hammered Bronze Commercial Patio Heater with Table.
For Week 2 (December 7–14), you could give your kitchen a most welcome treat. Enter to win the Belham Living White Mini Concord Kitchen Island with Stainless Steel Top, the Sutter Bakers Rack with Baskets, or a super convenient Keurig K450 2.0 Brewer.
Week 3 (December 14–21) could give you the gift of brand-new furniture. One lucky winner will take home their choice of a Belham Living Palmer Printed Arm Chair, a Brinfield Rustic Console Table, or the Gayson Tufted Entryway Bench.
Your guests will never want for entertainment if you win the Week 4 drawing (December 21–31). Take home your choice of the Belham Living Trenton Bar Cart, the Palazzo 30-inch Bar Stool, or a fully electric dart set from Arachnid.
So what are you waiting for? Enter today and every day in December for your chance to pick a very special present for your home.
To learn more about hayneedle.com, click here.
The “Bob Vila’s Pick Your Present Give-Away from Hayneedle.com” is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Monday, November 30th, 2015, through 11:59 a.m. Thursday, December 31st, 2015. 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. See Official Rules.
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- Quick Tip: The Best Way to Prevent Freezer Burn
Quick Tip: The Best Way to Prevent Freezer Burn
This airtight solution to freezer burn will ensure a Thanksgiving feast that’s forever frozen in your memory.
For many Thanksgiving hosts, the holiday’s fun, family, and food mark the culmination of a month-long process: diligent decorating, guest planning, and, most notably, large-scale meal preparation. Menus are strategized with oven scheduling in mind, vegetables diced days in advance, dry rubs measured and mixed, and buttery pie crusts baked to perfection. But at the end of the big day, what remains of that hard work often gets haphazardly strewn into the fridge or freezer, where it can fall victim to freezer burn. Don’t let storage mistakes turn your Thanksgiving feast into a short-lived success. Switch out your go-to food containers, and you can preserve your feast—not to mention freezer space—after the holiday.
To reap the fruits (and vegetables) of your Thanksgiving labor all winter, round up the cooled leftovers and transfer a small amount of any dish into a Ziploc freezer bag, squeezing out excess air from each before sealing. Think ahead: Make reheating easier on yourself by only packaging the portion that you’d reheat for your next meal, roughly one to two servings per bag. Then slide the filled bag into a second one to create a dual-layered seal that will protect the foods from air and moisture. Repeat this process with all of your sweet and savory comestibles, labeling as you go.
Worried about running out? It’s better to stock an extra box of freezer bags at the holidays than count on ill-fitting plastic wrap or bulky storage containers with loose lids. Not only does oversized organization eat up space that could be used for the more leftovers and future grocery purchases, but these particular methods also invite air and encourage freezer burn. (Besides, it never hurts to have these disposable bags on hand so that you can send some leftovers home with guests without sacrificing a dish!)
When you’re ready to stow your holiday feast, stack or group similar foods together using baskets for a space-smart solution to your limited freezer space. Then move the most recently cooked foods behind any other lingering leftovers so that you don’t forget to thaw and gobble up all of your home-cooked goods this season.
- Major Systems >
- Bob Vila Radio: Power Strips vs. Surge Protectors
Bob Vila Radio: Power Strips vs. Surge Protectors
There's really only one major difference between power strips and surge protectors. But when you're using either to power an expensive or essential device, that sole distinction matters more than you might think. Read on for the details.
Not quite sure of the difference between power strips and surge protectors? You’re not alone. Home improvement centers report that many customers ask the same question. Perhaps it’s time to set the record straight?
Listen to BOB VILA ON SURGE PROTECTORS AND POWER STRIPS or read the text below:
Power strips are basically extension cords with multiple receptacles. For most purposes, they work fine in supplying electricity to devices located near one another—so long as those devices are not expensive or essential for your daily routine. However, if you’re plugging in a laptop, modem, router or flat-screen TV, you may wish to opt for a surge protector. Because they provide a safeguard against power spikes, the latter makes the best choice for certain prized items. Note, many surge protectors look just like power strips, but you can always tell a surge protector by the specification stamped or printed on the housing (this indicates the level of protection the unit provides). Some newer surge protectors can even help cut your utility bills by temporarily powering down devices not in use—a great option for accessories you don’t use all day, every day.
Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!
- Historic Homes & More >
- A Man Who Remakes Vintage Relics into Modern Marvels
A Man Who Remakes Vintage Relics into Modern Marvels
See how one man's light bulb moments transform an eclectic assortment of unused housewares into brilliant lighting displays for today's one-of-a-kind home.
Jason Aleksa is no stranger to the shop. His grandfather founded a machine shop in the 1960s, which his father then took over until retirement. Growing up, Jason spent a lot of time sweeping the floors and watching his dad pull white-hot pieces of metal out of the furnaces. As he got older, though, he started making things for himself. Fast-forward to today: The 33-year-old now runs a small business in Fairfield, CT, called Stonehill Design, where he crafts unique home goods that boast both history and heart.
How did you get started making these home accents?
I’ve always made things myself. We had a lot of tools—a milling machine, band saw, and drill press—in the shop. Having those tools available just makes it easier. When I was 14, my dad and I bought a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle with the intention of fixing it up and that being my first car…and he’s still working on it!
You can pick up a piece of furniture in a store going $1000, or you could spend a few days, buy some materials, and make something of better quality yourself. That idea was instilled in me at a young age. It’s not always about how expensive things are, or how fancy it is. If you can make it yourself, that’s more important than how much something costs. You know where it came from, you know what went into it and how hard it was to make.
Why do you choose to upcycle old items?
I make original pieces, but the majority of what I do is repurposing. I’ve always had an appreciation for the amount of work that went into making some of these things. Take an old 1920s radio speaker, for example—you just don’t find things like that anymore. I could probably reproduce that somehow and make something that looks like it, but these things are still out there. You can go find them. I think that’s half the fun: poking around in a flea market and finding something that you never would have thought to use.
Where do you find the vintage components you use for your projects?
I have a few different places. There are some antique shops that I frequent, with owners who always know the certain things I’m interested in. But sometimes people will just bring me things. They’ll be cleaning out a garage and they’ll say, “Oh, I found this. Do you want it?” There’s a whole network out there to find what you’re looking for.
Granted, some of the pieces are not very desirable in their current state. They’ve far outlived their purpose. Nobody needs an antenna rotor control anymore, but 50 years ago somebody put a lot of thought into the design of this thing. And then over those 50 years somebody saved it, packed it away in an attic, and kept it in really nice condition. It’s kind of neat to take something like that and make it into a piece that someone else will appreciate for another 50 years.
I’m especially curious about the gumball machine lamp. Tell me a little about that one.
I’ve made a few of those. The original one came from an antique shop out on Cape Code, where my parents have retired. It was in working condition, and I thought that it’d be awesome if I could figure out a way to remake it and have it still operate.
So it’s both a functional light and a functional gumball machine. I created a lens by sandwiching antique marbles in between two panes of plexiglass in the front. Then I put an LED bulb in the back and managed to mount and wire it around all the mechanical workings of the gumball machine so that it could still work.
At the first show that I displayed it, some kids came up to it with nickels. I had forgotten to put anything in there because I didn’t even think someone would want to use it, so I had to disappoint a few children.
Have there been any designs you’ve made that just didn’t work?
I definitely have. Usually when I find myself struggling, I just set it down and work on something else. I’ve bought pieces where I think, ‘Oh, I’ll totally use this.’ Then I get it home and really look at it, and nothing comes to mind. So I set it aside for a while. I’ll continue to subconsciously work on it in my head a little, though, until one day when know exactly what I should do. You can’t just force your way into the design; you have to let it come to you every once in a while.
What’s next for you?
I have a full-time job, so I’m creating on the side. The ultimate goal is for this to become my full-time gig. I do a lot of shows, so I get the opportunity to interact with people and see their reactions to the things I’ve created—that really keeps me wanting to make things.
To learn more about Jason’s work, visit the Stonehill Design website.
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- Create Your Best-Ever Holiday Home with Customizable Climate Control
Create Your Best-Ever Holiday Home with Customizable Climate Control
With the holidays approaching, it's time to get ready for friends and family who will no doubt stop by for joyful celebrations or even overnight visits. This year, as part of your preparations, give some thought to your guests' comfort by installing a heating system that can accommodate a wide range of temperature preferences.
You are reading one installment in a 10-part series devoted to exploring Mitsubishi Electric ductless heating and cooling. See all.
It’s going to be a busy holiday season. Cousins are driving in from out of town, and grandparents are staying for at least a week, possibly longer. You want everyone to have a great time, so you’re going all out: you’re cleaning the house, sprucing up the guest rooms and making your home look beautiful. Additionally, you’re pouring over recipes to ensure that every meal not only tastes delicious, but also appeals to your guests’ diverse tastes. In short, you are doing everything within your control to make sure your guests are comfortable. But there’s one thing you may not have considered yet: With so many people under the same roof, and with each person likely favoring a different temperature, is everyone going to be truly comfortable?
Having pondered just about everything else, why hadn’t you thought about accommodating your guests’ varying temperature preferences? The reason may be, quite simply, that you didn’t know you could. For decades, the average cooling and heating system has taken a one-size-fits-all approach, with one thermostat controlling the temperature of every room in the house. Who knows how many disagreements have arisen in households whose members couldn’t agree on a single temperature—all because of that one limitation? Fortunately, cooling and heating have advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years. Thanks to the zoned systems pioneered by Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc. Cooling & Heating (Mitsubishi Electric), you can put an end to thermostat wars once and for all!
Of all the features Mitsubishi Electric systems deliver, one particular capability could have the greatest impact on the comfort of your holiday guests—zoning. In homes with traditional cooling and heating systems, only some people will be truly comfortable at any given time. Mitsubishi Electric, however, enables you to establish multiple zones. Each zone, whether it comprises of one room, a set of rooms, or an entire floor, can be controlled independently of the others. So, while you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner or a Christmas feast in the oven-warmed kitchen, you can remain cool by keeping the room’s temperature relatively low. Meanwhile, in the living room, where the grandparents are being entertained by your children, you can set the temperature a few degrees higher. Indeed, everyone can enjoy his or her ideal environment.
The ability to select different temperatures in different zones ensures a higher level of comfort, but that’s not all. At a time of year when family finances are often strained, zoning provides another crucial benefit—an energy-saving opportunity. Because traditional systems operate in all-or-nothing fashion, one-zone climate control can’t capitalize on these same opportunities. To have cooling or heating in any room, you must run the system (and pay for the energy consumed) in all rooms, even the unoccupied ones. Imagine if the same principle were applied to a home’s electrical system, and turning on one fixture meant turning on every light in the house. A setup like that would be extremely wasteful, not to mention inconvenient. With zoning, Mitsubishi Electric offers a sensible solution.
The precision afforded by Mitsubishi Electric means that you only pay for the climate comfort you need and use. For instance, on New Year’s Day, as the family sleeps late in the bedrooms upstairs, you can set a lower-than-usual temperature for the spaces on the ground floor. After all, if the living room and kitchen are vacant, why spend the money to make them toasty warm? Later on, when household activity moves downstairs, you can cut back on heating the now-empty bedrooms. In this way, Mitsubishi Electric’s systems empower you to eliminate unnecessary energy consumption and, in the process, reduce your monthly utility bills. Room-by-room system management may seem straightforward and logical, but only zoning makes it possible. In the future, you may wonder how you ever lived without it!
Whereas traditional HVAC is inflexible, Mitsubishi Electric gives you virtually limitless options. If you choose, you can program the system to run on a customized schedule, making savings automatic and manual adjustments unnecessary. Of course, because schedules are prone to change—especially during the holiday season—the Mitsubishi Electric system easily accommodates changes of plan. Thanks to its kumo cloud™ app, you can configure the thermostat in your home from anywhere, via a computer or mobile device. Heading home from a chilly afternoon at the ice rink? Open the kumo cloud app on your smartphone and turn up the heat in advance of your arrival. With Mitsubishi Electric, you’re in complete control of creating a comfortable environment for you and your guests.
This post has been brought to you by Mitsubishi Electric. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.
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- Genius! The Trash Can Turkey Smoker
Genius! The Trash Can Turkey Smoker
Sometimes holiday dinners can get a little bit boring, especially when Grandma breaks out that dry oven-roasted turkey again. Smoke the Thanksgiving competition in style with this clever DIY—and infuse your bird with flavor!
Just like us, our ancestors loved a good cookout. As early as 500,000 years ago, the earliest humans whipped up dinner over an open fire. Over time, however, they discovered that smoking meats preserved them, and cooking methods improved to keep food fresh for longer. Today, the technique is more of a treat than a necessity, but this clever DIY smoker from Instructables member DrEel aims to change all that. For tender turkey with a smoky kick of flavor, forget the oven and bring that bird to the backyard!
With little more than an adventurous spirit, a circular grill grate, and a trash can—yes, you read that correctly—this maker went to work. As it turns out, a brand new garbage can works just like a large store-bought smoker, using convective heat from the smoking wood chips to cook and flavor your family-sized bird.
To transform the trash can into a full-fledged smoker, DrEel first drilled a series of holes to establish a few levels. Three equidistant holes about 8 inches below the rim (a little more than the height of the turkey) fit 3-inch-long bolts to support the grill grate and the bird. Several inches below that, four more holes and a pair of threaded rods suspend a foil dripping pan—a smart addition that prevents grease fires and minimizes any mess. At the bottom, one final hole is drilled to thread the electrical cord of a $10 electric hotplate to an outlet outside of the can.
Come Turkey Day, this Instructables user stationed the smokey contraption a safe distance from the house and neighbors using a high voltage extension cord. Inside the bottom of the can, the hotplate (set to the highest temperature) warms a small pan of water-soaked applewood chips. The smoke and heat circulates within the lidded smoker, cooking the brined turkey resting on the grate. A small BBQ thermometer punched through the lid reads the temperature inside over the course of the afternoon. Ultimately, the weight of your bird will determine cooking time. A rule of thumb: Give yourself at least 30 minutes for every pound of turkey to cook all the way through. (A 16-pound bird, then, will be table-ready in about 8 hours.) And remember, the best things in life are worth the wait—and a great meal is no exception.
Ready to get cooking with this holiday DIY? Just remember to take proper precautions. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby, and always opt for a stainless steel trash can over one made of galvanized steel—studies have shown that the fumes produced by galvanized steel at high temperatures can be harmful. Safety concerns aside, there’s nothing like making your own Thanksgiving tradition, especially one this cool. At the very least, we guarantee it will be the tastiest thing you’ve ever pulled out of a trash can!
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- Is Your Furnace Going to Survive the Winter?
Is Your Furnace Going to Survive the Winter?
Your furnace is your home's primary defense against the uncomfortable, potentially damaging effects of frigid weather. Before winter really kicks in, make sure your furnace is up to the task.
With snow flurries already flying in parts of the country, now is the time to take a close look at your furnace to assess whether it will be able to reliably serve you through the winter. If the appliance requires repair or replacement, it’s best to address the issue early, before the mercury plummets and frigid temperatures take hold. After all, “you don’t want to wake up to find ice in the dog bowl,” says David Kenyon, a product manager with Sears Home Services. To be on the safe side, Kenyon recommends expert furnace maintenance on a yearly basis, to ensure that the unit both delivers peak performance and lasts through its intended useful lifespan. That said, you don’t have to be a professional to assess, at least in general terms, the health of your furnace. Certain warning signs can be unmistakable. “Your furnace is probably trying to tell you something,” Kenyon says. Read on for some pointers on translating its message.
How old is your furnace? If you don’t know the answer—or if you believe the furnace to be more than 15 years old—chances are that its best days have come and gone. “The average heating appliance typically lasts for 10 to 14 years,” according to Kenyon. So it’s not out of the ordinary for a decade-old furnace to suffer performance problems. With regular maintenance and perhaps the occasional repair, it’s often possible to delay the inevitable. As Kenyon says, “Hire qualified, experienced technicians, and they may be able to coax your ailing furnace back into service.” But financially speaking, repair isn’t always preferable to replacement. Kenyon points out that in recent years, a lot has changed in furnace design and manufacturing. “The newer units are more efficient than ever before.” And with a furnace that consumes less energy, you can hope for lower monthly bills. Over time, Kenyon says, “those savings really add up.”
A furnace in top condition performs at the high end of its efficiency spectrum. As the appliance deteriorates with age, however, so too does its efficiency, with the furnace consuming more energy to do the same job. “If your heating bills are higher than they were last year, it doesn’t necessarily mean your rates are higher this year,” says Kenyon. “It could be that your furnace needs attention.” Besides keeping an eye on the bottom line on your utility bills, Kenyon recommends taking notice of temperature variations from one room to the next. Uneven heating stems from a number of causes, but according to Kenyon, it’s often a signature of poor furnace efficiency. In addition, Kenyon suggests monitoring the operating patterns of your furnace. “Does it cycle on and off very frequently? Or does it seem to run all the time?” Either behavior indicates something may be amiss. A professional can help diagnose the problem, Kenyon concludes, noting that Sears Home Services offers in-home consultations free of charge.
Sights and Sounds
Some signs of furnace malfunction are subtle. Others are obvious, so long as you get close enough to see and hear the appliance at work. In his experience, Kenyon says, “A surprising number of homeowners rarely even go near the furnace.” But, he continues, simply “standing next to it can tell you a lot about its condition.” Check the surface for rust or corrosion. Listen for excessive buzzing, humming, or rattling. And if you observe any such signs of distress—or if the unit emanates an unusual odor—”don’t hesitate to have it looked at,” Kenyon says. “It may be nothing or it may be something, but to prevent a midwinter emergency, it pays to be cautious,” he advises. When arranging a service call, though, be sure to hire a technician who’s qualified to work on your specific furnace. Some pros specialize in only one type. Sears Home Services is different, Kenyon points out, because it performs maintenance on all makes and models—no matter where the unit was purchased.
When to Buy New
Near the end of its life, your furnace may be prone to frequent breakdowns. At this point, you need to decide whether to repair the unit or replace it altogether. As expected, Kenyon says, “a new furnace demands a sizable investment.” But as mentioned above, upgrading to a newer, more efficient unit often leads to lower monthly utility bills. So, Kenyon summarizes, “despite the upfront cost, replacing an old furnace could be cheaper than paying to repair an inefficient unit over and over.” In addition, Kenyon offers the reminder that, “Ultimately, your home is likely to feel more comfortable in winter with a new furnace supplying its heat.” If you decide to upgrade, know that choosing a new furnace can be overwhelming. An important advantage of a company like Sears Home Services is that, from initial selection to final installation, a project coordinator guides you through the process.
When both the comfort of your family and the integrity of your home are at stake, can you afford to take chances? Which brings up yet another reason that so many homeowners enjoy working with Sears Home Services. As a nationwide company with a decades-long history, Sears supports its work with a Satisfaction Guarantee—and your relationship with Sears will continue long after the workers pick up and leave your home. That way, you can enjoy full confidence that just as you are, Sears is committed to the success of your project. Stay warm!
This post has been brought to you by Sears Home Services. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.