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Solved! What to Do About a Leaking Toilet Tank

Faced with a leaky toilet? To dry things up, you'll first need to track that leak down to its source. Pinpoint the culprit with these quick troubleshooting tips.

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Toilet Tank Leaking - What to Do

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Q: Help! My toilet is leaking all over the bathroom floor, and I haven’t yet located the source. How can I find and fix the cause of the leak before any real damage occurs?

A. Some of the biggest problems homeowners encounter start small and then suddenly spiral out of control—and this is precisely the path that leaks tend to follow. A hairline crack or chip that allows even a few drops to seep out can become a much bigger (and costlier) problem if not dealt with right away. The following troubleshooting tips run through the most common causes of leaky toilets. These should help you both pinpoint and fix the problem, so you can stop the water from seeping from your toilet—and prevent cash from seeping from your wallet.

Toilet Tank Leaking

Photo: fotosearch.com

The most common type of leak occurs at the bottom of the toilet tank and is usually associated with the emptying and refilling of the tank after flushing. The culprit? Oftentimes a worn-away spud washer (the big rubber washer, sometimes called a tank-to-bowl gasket, that seals the opening at the bottom of the toilet tank) or crumbling rubber washers at the bolts on the underside of the tank. Any of these washers can deteriorate over time as a result of exposure to hard water or minerals, but all are relatively easy to replace. Begin by turning off the water supply at the wall and then emptying the toilet tank with a flush. Disconnect the water supply from the tank, and then use an adjustable wrench to remove the bolts, nuts, and their washers from the underside of the tank. Lift up the tank (get a friend to help!), turn it on its side, and remove the spud washer from the bottom.

Another potentially troublesome mechanism is the ball cock, which is responsible for filling the toilet tank. It, as well as its fill valve, can fail over time. As it’s secured to the tank with just a nut and washers, replacing the ball cock mechanism is easy and usually costs about $10. But before you start emptying the tank to make a switch, first check for any loose connections between the water supply line and the existing ball cock. You may be able to fix the problem with a simple tightening—which is much simpler than making a trip to the store.

If a toilet leak seems to be coming from the bottom of the toilet itself, you might look for a failed wax ring affecting the seal. This is a much bigger issue than replacing washers and checking water lines, if only because it involves total removal of the toilet itself to inspect foundation items. First, confirm that the wax ring is to blame: Make sure the water is turned off and the tank is drained properly. Then, remove the cover caps and unscrew the toilet from the floor, carefully moving it (again, you might want to grab a friend) to expose the flange area for inspection. If the wax ring has failed, you can purchase a new one to replace it; the same goes for any obviously corroded bolts. Once the new parts are in place, caulk the base of the toilet to serve as one last DIY safeguard against leaks for (we hope) years to come.


How To: Clean Exterior Siding

Even the sturdiest siding requires some regular maintenance and attention. Here's how to keep the most common siding materials clean and in tip-top condition.

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How to Clean Exterior Siding

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Day after day, year after year, exterior siding protects your home from the elements. It’s the first line of defense against an array of natural challenges, including howling winds, driving rain, hot sun, and bitter cold. Under the circumstances, it’s no wonder that grit and grime tend to accumulate over time. Savvy homeowners, as a result, incorporate exterior cleaning into their semiannual maintenance routines for a number of compelling reasons.

First, it cannot be ignored that the condition of your siding significantly influences the curb appeal of your home—that is, how it appears to visitors and casual passersby. Second, giving your siding a good once-over a few times a year gives you the chance to identify and address any problems early on, before they pick up steam and become extensive, expensive-to-resolve headaches that could steal years from the expected lifespan of the siding.

Indeed, from both an aesthetic and pragmatic perspective, it’s never wise to go long without giving a thought to the wood, brick, stucco, or vinyl that clads your home. Generally speaking, experts recommend seasonal inspection and cleaning as needed. But according to Jim Eldredge, a product manager with Sears Home Services, it’s essential to remember that “different siding materials carry different—often very different—care requirements.”

Continue reading below for expert advice on cleaning and caring for many of today’s best-known and most widely installed types of exterior siding.

Photo: fotosearch.com

WOOD
A perennial favorite, wood siding boasts timeless, undeniable beauty, but of all siding types, Eldredge says, “it’s probably the most demanding.” For one, it needs to be painted (or stained) approximately every five years. Also, because wood naturally expands and contracts, “you regularly need to check all the windows and doors, reapplying caulk if and when appropriate,” he adds. Plus, for wood siding to not only perform well but look good too, it requires annual or twice-yearly cleaning. Mostly, Eldredge says, “you can get away with using soapy water and a soft-bristle brush.” But in special cases—say, to remove mold, mildew, or algae stains—you need to scrub with a solution of bleach (one part) and water (four parts). A note of caution: “Don’t use a pressure washer,” Eldredge warns. “It’d be faster and easier than cleaning by hand,” he continues, “but a lot of times, it does way more harm than good.”

BRICK
A centuries-old siding material that typically lasts a lifetime, brick has long thrilled homeowners with its historical appearance, stately impression, and aura of strength. That said, as durable as brick may be, Eldredge points out that “its longevity partly depends on annual cleaning.” Under ideal conditions, so long as the siding remains in decent condition—with neither chipped, flaking brick nor cracked, crumbling mortar—maintenance involves thoroughly spraying down the entire house. Complicating matters is that, according to Eldredge, “parts of the structure that don’t receive much sun may get mold, mildew, or moss growth.” Double-check those shaded areas, and if you discover a problem, don’t hesitate to bring out the bleach. After thoroughly soaking the area to make the brick more absorptive, scrub in a mixture of bleach and water—about a cup of the former and a gallon of the latter.

STUCCO
Portland cement, sand, and lime or gypsum combine to create stucco, a material with an ancient heritage that today remains as popular ever. Versatility ranks as one of its main advantages—the material can take on a wide variety of colors and textures. The downside? Its rigid composition makes it vulnerable to chipping and cracking. Competent do-it-yourselfers can patch small areas on their own with store-bought stucco fillers, but for larger repairs, “it’s wise to hire a pro,” Eldredge recommends. Like plastering, properly applying stucco takes, as Eldredge puts it, “the kind of skills you develop only after years of experience.” You don’t need to be an expert to clean the material, though. Spray the exterior with warm, soapy water. It’s important to “start at the foundation level and work upward,” he says. “That way, the stucco near the base of the building doesn’t absorb gallons of dirty water.”

VINYL
“There’s a reason vinyl has become the most popular type of siding in America,” Eldredge says. “It’s virtually maintenance-free.” Continuing, he notes that options like WeatherBeater vinyl siding, installed exclusively by Sears Home Services, actually “deliver the look of traditional wood siding, just without all the hassle.” For instance, vinyl doesn’t need to be refinished; it remains colorfast for years. Plus, vinyl is not susceptible to many of the factors that harm other materials—rot, for instance, and pests like termites. If your vinyl siding has gotten a bit dirty, don’t worry—cleanup couldn’t be easier. Even tough stains tend to come out with a solution of water and mild detergent, but as Eldredge attests, “more often than not, cleaning vinyl means nothing more than rinsing with a garden hose.” In the end, “that’s what makes it a great choice for people who don’t have the time or energy for home upkeep.”

 

When properly cared for, exterior siding can last for decades. But no siding lasts forever. There comes a time when cleaning and repairs won’t cut it anymore—a time when, in order to guarantee continued protection from the elements, you need to install brand-new siding. Fortunately, there are many benefits to be gained from an upgrade. Eye-catching curb appeal, higher home resale value, improved energy efficiency, and dramatically lower maintenance requirements are just some of the reasons homeowners choose a category leader like WeatherBeater. Though re-siding can be an overwhelming prospect, companies like Sears Home Services guide you through the entire project, all the way from selection of the new material to the final installation. Best of all, in contrast with many local contractors, the Sears brand offers a Satisfaction Guarantee. Schedule a free in-home consultation as soon as you’re ready.

Photo: fotosearch.com

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


Home Security 2.0: Design and Install Your Own Smart System

Let customizable, modular, and easy-to-use smart-home automation help you take control of your own home—turn on lights automatically, let you know whether you remembered to lock the door, alert you if there's an intruder while you're away, and even help you keep an eye on your pet in the backyard.

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Photo: sagebyhughes.com

Of all the rooms in the house, my personal office is where I spend the most time. Thickly carpeted and paneled in wood, it’s a tranquil, comfortable space. Here’s the catch: Some of its pros are actually cons. Because it’s located toward the back of the house, on the second level, the office sits apart from the majority of household activity, at least during the day. That means I can work undisturbed for hours at a time, but it also means that I don’t hear the goings-on downstairs. Is there someone at door? Has my wife gotten home from work? I don’t know unless I get up and go downstairs to check.

This frustrating lack of knowledge only intensifies when we go away for a few days, perhaps on a jaunt to our cabin. We’re left with plenty more, often quite worrying questions that I have no way to investigate. Is there a package waiting out on the front step, tempting a would-be thief? Or, wait a second, did I completely forget to lock the door? Has the place been ransacked for its valuables? We’re fortunate in that we’ve never had a problem. I’ve always been able to breathe a sigh of relief when we return home and find everything safe and untouched. Still, I’d like not to be so in the dark about the status and security of my greatest investment, my home.

Of course, one answer would be to bite the bullet and install a full-fledged security system, but the cost turns me off. Plus, I want versatility, and traditional security options aren’t known for their flexibility. I don’t want to end up overspending on bells and whistles that I don’t really need. That’s why, when I learned about SAGE by Hughes and its brand-new, innovative line of home automation and security products, I got excited. Its modular design would enable me to devise a solution customized to my needs, involving only those components that I’d actually use day to day.

Photo: sagebyhughes.com

SAGE by Hughes offers a full suite of sensors and cameras, locks and switches—indeed, all you could possibly need to make your residence smart and secure. You can install your chosen components all at once or, as I plan to do, add onto the system gradually over time. To get started, I chose not a set of individual components, but the SAGE Security Kit, a bundled package of essentials that I judged would be perfect for what I planned to devise: a system that would both reduce the isolation of my office while I’m working and provide peace of mind when we’re away on family trips.

First, I installed the Doorbell Sensor (with help from the step-by-step video instructions). The result? Now, it no longer matters if I don’t hear the doorbell, because an alert arrives on my phone, telling me there’s a visitor. Next, I installed the Door Sensor so that if someone enters the house, I know right away—again, thanks to a message sent to my phone. (Don’t worry—if you are expecting family members to be going in and out of the house all day, it’s easy to disengage the alerts.) Also in the kit: a Motion Sensor and an Indoor Camera. For now, I have both in the living room.

No matter the specifics of your individual solution, every SAGE setup has one thing in common—the hub. As the heart of the system, the hub connects to your TV, syncs all components, and becomes the command center. Here’s where you configure your SAGE and, by following intuitive prompts, define the rules that control its behavior. If, for instance, the Motion Sensor ever detects movement in the living room when I have set the system to vacation mode, the hub knows to activate the Indoor Camera and send me an instant notification.

Photo: sagebyhughes.com

Although I sincerely hope an alert never comes, what if one did? What if, on a day when I was traveling, SAGE alerted me to an intruder? Unlike other smart-home security options, SAGE offers a unique feature, MyLocal911, as part of its entirely optional $9-per-month Premium Service. Here’s how it works: If I have reason to believe my home is in jeopardy, I would immediately call the police. But if I’m at the family cabin, dialing 911 would connect me to the force nearest the cabin, not the force nearest the break-in. MyLocal911 simplifies the situation, connecting directly to the appropriate police station. Clever.

Already, after only a few weeks with SAGE, I’m thinking about adding more components. One possibility: Outfit the entry hall with the SAGE Light Switch and LED Bulb. That way, I can have lights turn on automatically whenever the front door opens after, say, 5 o’clock in the evening. Another idea: Install the Outdoor Camera so I can check to make sure the dog’s OK without having to go out into the yard. As the online purchasing process is as seamless as the system itself, it’s tempting to envision new ways to put the SAGE solution to work in my home.

I’ve been stunned to discover how easy (and frankly, fun) it can be to gain control over the household inefficiencies and anxieties that used to drive me batty. Now, I really believe it when I read an article or see something on TV about home automation being the wave of the future. I think of it like this: In recent years, technology has been making our lives easier and more enjoyable in so many ways. And now, thanks to systems like SAGE, we can use technology to solve those problems, large and small, that we encounter all the time in our own homes. It’s a bright future, indeed!

HURRY: Until April 30, 2016, you can enter to win SAGE by Hughes kits and components in the Easy Is Awesome sweepstakes—go now!

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SAGE by Hughes. The opinions and text are all mine.


3 Fixes for a Lawn Mower That Won’t Start

If your lawn mower just can't get going, try one of these quick fixes to put it back to work.

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Lawn Mower Won't Start

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Lawn care can be a tedious chore, but once the grass starts growing in the spring, mowing becomes an inevitable fact of life. When you finally muster the strength to tackle that first cut of the season, there are few sounds as disheartening as that of an engine that revs, but doesn’t start. Before you drag the mower in for repairs, or invest in costly replacement parts, first make sure that a clogged air filter, soiled spark plug, or contaminated gas isn’t to blame. Check out these possible perps by working through the following steps, and you may be able to get your puttering grass guzzler up and running again in no time.

 

UNFIT FILTER

Lawn Mower Won't Start - Air Filter

Photo: instructables.com via seamster

Your lawn mower’s air filter guards the carburetor and engine from debris like grass clippings and dirt. When the air filter becomes clogged or too dirty, it can prevent the engine from starting. To keep this from happening, replace paper filters—or clean or replace foam filters—after every 25 hours of engine use. The process for removing the filter depends on whether you are operating a riding or push lawn mower. For a riding mower, turn off the engine and raise the parking brake; for a push mower, pull the spark plug wire from the plug. Then, lift the filter from its housing. For a paper filter, your only choice is replacement. If you’re cleaning a foam filter, wash it in a solution of hot water and detergent to loosen grime. Allow it to dry completely, and then wipe fresh motor oil over the filter, replace it in its housing, and power up the mower—this time to the pleasant whirring of an engine in tip-top condition.

 

LOST THE SPARK

Lawn Mower Won't Start - Spark Plug

Photo: instructables.com via Sedgewick17

Is your lawn mower still being stubborn? The culprit may be the spark plug, which, as the name indicates, is responsible for creating the spark that ignites the fuel in the engine. If it’s loosened, disconnected, or coated in water or carbon residue, the spark plug may be the cause of your machine’s malfunction. Locate the spark plug, often found on the front of the mower. If it is connected, remove the plug wire beneath the plug cap and unscrew the plug with a socket wrench to reveal the electrode and insulator. If you see buildup, spray brake cleaner onto the plug, and let it soak for several minutes before wiping it with a clean cloth. Reinstall the plug, first by hand, and then with a socket wrench for a final tightening. If the problem persists, consider replacing the spark plug.

 

RUNNING ON “E”

Lawn Mower Won't Start - Gas

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An obvious—and often overlooked—reason your mower may not be starting is if the gas tank is empty, or contains gas that is either old or contaminated with excess moisture and dirt. If your gas is more than a month old, use an oil siphon pump to drain it from the tank. Then, refill with fresh fuel and a fuel stabilizer to extend the life of the gas and prevent future buildup.

If that doesn’t do the trick, see if your lawn mower has a fuel filter (not all do) and whether or not it’s functioning properly. When clogged, the engine can’t access the gas that makes the system go. To check the status of your fuel filter, remove the fuel line at the carburetor. If gas doesn’t flow out, confirm that the fuel shutoff valve isn’t accidentally closed, and then remove the fuel line that’s ahead of the fuel filter. Gas should run out freely, assuming that the problem is with the fuel filter; consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions on replacing the filter and reassembling your mower. With no more excuses, go back out there and get your grass in shape for summer!


Green Your HVAC: A Small-Duct System Can Bring Big Savings

Keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter with an innovative, efficient, and nonintrusive system that's as suitable for retrofitting as it is for new construction.

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Small Duct High Velocity HVAC Efficiency

Photo: absolutegreenhomes.com

For homeowners who have witnessed their energy bills rise ever higher over the years, heating and cooling represents a constant push-and-pull between livability and affordability. While there’s no disputing that HVAC systems are necessary to ensure year-round comfort, it’s unfortunately also true that these systems are household energy hogs, accounting for about 50 percent of the monthly utility bill.

Thankfully, there’s good news: The march of technology has brought new HVAC options to the fore, and the next generation of indoor climate control offers the best of both worlds—that is, unparalleled comfort delivered efficiently enough to minimize the cost of operation. There are many alternatives to traditional forced air that are worth considering, but there may be none more intriguing than the Unico System.

With its barely noticeable vents and whisper-quiet operation, the Unico System calls no attention itself—that is, until the utility bill comes in the mail with a pleasing total that attests to the system’s efficient operation. Installed at the heart of several award-winning, envelope-pushing green homes—in the Department of Energy’s Builders Challenge and Race to Zero competitions, for example, and the annual GreenBuild Expo—Unico System has earned a reputation for energy-saving, eco-friendly HVAC innovation.

Small Duct High Velocity HVAC Efficiency - Unico Floor Outlet

Photo: unicosystem.com

There are multiple ways in which Unico promotes efficiency. First, the small, flexible ducts are virtually leak-free, while the full-size metal ducts in a run-of-the-mill HVAC system create a huge potential for leakage. In fact, air leaks and thermal loss can compromise system efficiency by 25 percent or more. By contrast, Unico’s mini ducts feature nylon inner cores and are sheathed in closed-cell insulation. In combination, the added layers eliminate air leaks and thermal loss, and in so doing prevent the waste of energy.

Second, the system leverages the principle of aspiration, ensuring that the conditioned air draws in the ambient air to bring about an even temperature across the entire home. The house stays neither too hot nor too cold, so homeowners save by not having to turn the thermostat up or down, depending on the season, in order to combat discomfort. Even a few degrees matter to the bottom line!

With the Unico System, in the summer homeowners can actually set the thermostat a few degrees higher than usual. That’s because the system employs advanced cooling coils, which remove up to 30 percent more humidity than conventional AC. Lower humidity, of course, means greater comfort, but it also means savings, with each one-degree increase in the set temperature translating to a 3 percent cut in energy use. Over time, the savings really add up.

Small Duct High Velocity HVAC Efficiency - Unico iSeries Outdoor Unit

Photo: unicosystem.com

For maximum efficiency, consider the new iSeries, a system that allows you to use Unico’s ducting, or a ductless high-wall split, or the two together. Driving the iSeries is the inverter unit, which works in an ingenious way. In the winter, it harvests heat from the outdoor air and sends it indoors. In the summer, it does the opposite, expelling heat from the home. Able to either heat or cool, the inverter effectively replaces both the furnace and AC compressor.

What makes the iSeries so efficient? Most important, it avoids one of the energy-hungry hallmarks of traditional HVAC. Typical systems operate intermittently, turning on and off, on and off, in a constant cycle. Although it seems counterintuitive to saving money, the iSeries runs continuously, but at a lower power level. This minimizes energy consumption—and in the process, achieves a remarkably high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER).

Indoors, an iSeries high-wall mounted unit auto-adjusts its output to match the demand, while its fan distribution ensures even coverage. Best of all, if you choose to install multiple indoor units, the iSeries allows for zoning. That means that you can establish different zones rather than setting one temperature for the entire home, so you can economize on climate control in those parts of the home that you’re not occupying. This is such a simple, effective way to save!

It’s a common homeowner complaint: HVAC costs an arm and a leg. But in light of the latest technology, that may no longer hold true. Nonintrusive, versatile, and efficient enough to help homes achieve LEED, National Green Building, HERS and Zero Net Energy certifications, the Unico System proves once and for all that comfort and savings are not mutually exclusive. In the past, homeowners had to sacrifice one or the other—but not anymore.

Want to find a Unico-certified installer in your area? Visit the Contractor Locator now!

Unico Infographic

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


The Dos and Don’ts of Pruning Shrubs

Snip your front yard's shrubs into shape with our easy-to-follow pruning tips.

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Pruning Shrubs

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Shrubs play a vital role in your landscape, serving as decorative borders, living fences, and foundation plantings that add distinction and personality to your property. But if your privet hedge is suddenly sprawling all over your sidewalk, it may be time to get out the pruning shears. Whether you’re just trying to control the rapid growth of the hedges under your windows, or you want to increase the number of blooms on your snowball bush, correct pruning is the key. Before you start clipping away, prepare yourself with this list of common dos and don’ts.

DO Prune Shrubs When Planting

Get your shrub off to a good start. Immediately remove any dead branches by cutting them as close to the shrub’s main stem as possible. This is also the time to inspect the root ball and remove broken roots, which can spread disease to the rest of the shrub. Cut off any large roots (thicker than your little finger) that have grown in a circle around the root ball, as these “girdling” roots will never straighten out and could eventually kill the shrub.

DON’T Forget to Maintain Your Tools

Dull blades can damage branches, creating tears that lead to disease. Sharpen your pruning tools to ensure the smoothest cuts, and keep them clean to avoid transmitting infection from a diseased shrub to a healthy one. Sterilize pruning tools before every use, and in between uses on individual shrubs, by wiping them down with rubbing alcohol, household disinfectant, or a 10-percent solution of household bleach and water.

Pruning Shrubs - Clippers

Photo: fotosearch.com

DO Prune Flowering Shrubs at the Right Time of Year

Spring-flowering shrubs, such as lilac and forsythia, develop buds that will display the following year during the previous year’s late summer and early fall. If you prune during fall or winter, you will cut off these potential blooms, resulting in little to no growth the following spring. If you need to maintain size or remove dead wood, prune immediately after buds bloom to avoid snipping off next year’s blossoms. Summer-flowering shrubs, such as roses and crape myrtle, develop buds in late spring and early summer, and should be pruned during dormancy in late winter or early spring to stimulate flower production.

DON’T Prune During Fall

No matter what type of shrub you have, fall pruning can stimulate late-season growth that may not have enough time to harden, which can weaken and damage the plant—especially if there’s an early frost. Wait until the shrub is deep in dormancy to give it a trim.

DO Maintain Throughout the Year

Unlike seasonal pruning, maintenance pruning is an ongoing process. This includes removing diseased or broken branches and snipping away any fast-growing sprouts during the growing season. Limit maintenance pruning to fixing immediate problems, and never cut away more than is needed.

DON’T Let Shrubs Get Too Dense

Shrubs that get abundant light and air circulation are healthier than shrubs with compact centers. To thin a dense shrub, prune up to one-third of its side branches where they connect to the main stem. If it’s a multi-stem shrub, prune out the branches at ground level. By opening up the center of the shrub, you’ll ensure that it receives adequate air and light.

DO Consider the Natural Shape of the Shrub

The simplest shape to maintain is the one that is most natural to your shrub. This factor is just as important during the shrub-buying stage as it is to the pruning process. By knowing what your shrub should look like as an established specimen, you’ll know where it will fit best in your landscape and how to prune it to maximize its display potential.

DON’T Shear Off the Top to Control Vertical Growth

Cutting off the top of a shrub is a radical step, and it doesn’t work. By shearing off the top to obtain a cube look, you’ll stimulate leggy vertical growth, which leads to that unsightly “witches’ broom” effect. Unless you’re in the topiary business, you’re better off individually cutting back too-tall branches. Keep in mind that whichever way a bud faces determines the direction of the new growth. The guiding principal here is to prune at a spot that’s just above an outward-facing branch bud. It takes a bit more time, but you’ll be happier with the results.

DO Prune to Rejuvenate a Declining Shrub

Give that ancient woody spirea a new lease on life by pruning out the older wood to stimulate new growth. The new branch sprouts will produce more blossoms, so you’ll be able to keep an older shrub looking young for years.

DON’T Leave Stubs

When removing side branches, cut within one-quarter inch of the main stem. Anything longer is susceptible to disease or infestation by insects. Pruning flush with the main stem at a branch’s point of origin gives the shrub its best chance of healing from the wound.


Genius! The Backyard Movie Theater You Can Build in a Day

Next time you're looking to share the fun of the theater with your family, try this budget-friendly fix that brings the big screen right to your backyard.

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DIY Outdoor Movie Screen

Photo: running-w-scissors.com

A night at the movies doesn’t come cheap. With the steep price of tickets, not to mention the popcorn and M&Ms, this classic family outing can make a big dent in a tight budget. Jessica, busy mom and blogger behind Running with Scissors, suffered from the same costly problem, but didn’t want to cut out summertime entertainment altogether. Starting with a few inexpensive materials, she built an outdoor alternative—a backyard “big screen”—that was perfect for showcasing fan-favorite flicks all season long.

Feeling thrifty, Jessica started on eBay, snatching up an affordable digital projector for super-sized showings. (Secondhand models in good condition are a steal online, sometimes going for as low as $10!) Next, she found herself a giant panel of screen fabric on Amazon for about $40, although an even cheaper canvas drop cloth or thick white curtain can work in a pinch. As for the stand itself, Jessica relied on what her backyard supplied: Her property featured two trees that faced each other, perfect for the job of stringing up a projector screen, hammock, or clothesline. Of course, handy homeowners looking to re-create the project, but short a pair of trees, can sub in anything sturdy and available—like a fence post or deck railing—for the screen support.

After she determined the aspect ratio she wanted for her screen and what that meant for dimensions, she assembled a rectangular frame from 1×4 boards. Then Jessica stretched her fabric taut over the frame and secured it with staples—first across the top and bottom, then the sides, and finally in the corners—for a smooth, wrinkle-free viewing surface. Three screw hooks fastened to the top of the lightweight frame allow it to hang from a curtain-hanging wire suspended between the two tree trunks. As an extra precaution against windy days, Jessica drilled an eye bolt into each trunk a few inches lower than the base of the screen, threaded a set of bungee cords through them, and tethered the cords to the bottom corners of the frame. Once everything was secure, Jessica went back to enjoying blockbuster entertainment, now in the comfort of her own private theater—minus the long lines and loud teenagers.

FOR MORE: Running with Scissors

diy-outdoor-movie-screen-2

Photo: running-w-scissors.com


Enter to Win Bob Vila’s $3,000 Refresh Your Deck Give-Away with HYDE Tools Today

Enter for your chance to win a $3,000 deck makeover.

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April showers have brought May flowers, and we can now exchange the confines of our indoor spaces for the sunshine and warmth of our backyards, and—even better—our decks. But if yours is looking a little worse for the wear, then Bob Vila and HYDE Tools have just what you need: Enter to win the $3,000 Refresh Your Deck Give-Away for the chance to get your deck spick-and-span for spring.

ENTER HERE TO WIN 

Today and every day in May (starting 12:00 p.m. EST April 30th, 2016 through 11:59 a.m. EST May 31st, 2016), enter to win $3,000 from HYDE Tools to put toward a deck makeover. (See Official Rules below.)

If you’re the winner of this month’s give-away, you’ll score $3,000 to put toward transforming your outdated deck into a relaxing retreat. Spend the prize money on whatever your deck needs, from repairs and contractor services, to a brand new outdoor dining set. In addition to the $3,000 prize, HYDE Tools is also offering up an assortment of gear to help make your dream deck a reality. Whether you try out the PivotPro Water Wand—which transforms any standard garden hose into a cleaning machine—or another of their multitasking tools, HYDE has what you need to keep a good deck looking great.

Don’t waste another minute! Enter today and every day in May for your chance to upgrade a forlorn deck into the gathering hub you’ve always imagined.

To learn more about HYDE Tools, click here.

The “Bob Vila’s $3,000 Refresh Your Deck Give-Away with HYDE Tools” is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 50 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) Saturday, April 30th, 2016 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on Tuesday, May 31st, 2016 . 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.


Bob Vila’s $3,000 Refresh Your Deck Give-Away with HYDE Tools Official Rules

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Bob Vila’s “$3,000 Refresh Your Deck Give-Away with HYDE Tools” (the “Sweepstakes”) is sponsored by Vila Media, LLC, Post Office Box 835, West Barnstable, MA 02668 (“Sponsor”).

The Sweepstakes consists of one (1) random drawing (the “Drawing”). The Sweepstakes begins at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (“EST”) on April 30th, 2016 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on May 31st, 2016 (the “Sweepstakes Period”). One Drawing will be held during the Sweepstakes Period. The entry period for the Drawing shall begin at 12:00 p.m. EST on April 30th, 2016 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on May 31st, 2016 (the “Entry Period”). 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 50 states and the District of Columbia. 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 “$3,000 Refresh Your Deck Give-Away with HYDE Tools” submission form.

Each entry submitted in response to the Drawing and in accordance with the Official Rules will constitute an official entry. Duplicate entries within one day will be deemed void.

If you do not have internet access, alternative means of entry for the Drawing is available by faxing your name, address and phone number to the Sponsor at 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. One (1) alternative entry 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 entries become the property of the Sponsor. By entering the Drawing during the Sweepstakes, you will be agreeing that any information collected in connection with the Sweepstakes may be used by Sponsor in accordance with Vila Media, LLC’s Privacy Policy, a current copy of which can be found here. By participating, all entrants agree to abide by these Official Rules.

At the end of the Entry Period, there will be one (1) drawing in which one (1) potential winner (“Winner”) shall be selected from all eligible entries received during that Entry Period by employees or representatives of the Sponsor to receive the prize designated for the Drawing. The winning entry will be chosen at random. The number of eligible entries received during the Entry Period for the Drawing determines the odds of winning. The Sweepstakes will be conducted under the supervision of the Sponsor. If the Winner is determined to be ineligible, forfeits or does not claim the prize, the prize will be re-awarded, in Sponsor’s sole discretion based on a subsequent drawing from the pool of eligible entries. Other restrictions may apply. Decisions of the Sponsor are final and binding with respect to all matters related to the Sweepstakes. 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. Winner 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 Winner will be notified by email, or in the case of alternate entry, by phone; Sponsor reserves the right to determine the method of notification. Winner must claim their 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 Winner during their entry to the Drawing.

The prize for the Drawing during the Sweepstakes Period shall be provided by Hyde Tools, Inc. (the “Prize Supplier”) and shall consist of up to $3,000 reimbursement by the Prize Supplier of Winner’s verified, direct expenses for paint, supplies, and professional services in connection with a deck refurbishment. No transfer, substitution or cash redemption will be awarded in lieu of Prize. Limit one prize per entrant. The prize will be delivered within 30 days from when the prize winners’ documents are executed and sent to the prize provider.

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, Winner agrees 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.


Cool Tools: The Ultimate Accessory for Any Paint Job

This king among paint tools, from HYDE, is the only accessory you’ll need to complete your next DIY paint project with ease!

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Hyde Painter's Assistant - Cleaning a Paintbrush

Photo: thehydeway.com

Whether you’re refreshing your living room wall color or priming the porch for perfection, when it comes to paint jobs, even DIYers with a can-do spirit can’t do it all on their own. After all, when you find yourself with your hands full, teetering on a ladder to reach that last unpainted square inch, who’s going to secure your paint can or hang onto the narrow paintbrush? The answer isn’t a pricey personal assistant, but instead the HYDE Painter’s Assistant. This multi-tool gives you the second set of hands you’ve always wanted—and the versatility of Picasso himself. Equipped with a magnetized surface, a clippable ladder and belt hook, and paint-removing tines, the Painter’s Assistant easily transforms from a carrying handle for paint containers to an on-demand brush holder and cleaner. Find out how the Painter’s Assistant can help you achieve a perfect—and fumble-proof—finish on your next paint job.

Hyde Painter's Assistant - Packaging

Photo: thehydeway.com

All-In-One Appeal
While you may be familiar with the paint-can openers, paint-bucket ladder hangers, and paintbrush combs that line the paint aisle of your hardware store, the multipurpose yet lightweight Painter’s Assistant outmatches these single-use tools in both value and versatility. By consolidating all their functions and offering even more conveniences, it provides DIYers of all skill levels with more bang for their buck.

Solves Painting Problems from Start to Finish
Whether you’re painting indoors or out, one room or everywhere in the house, the Painter’s Assistant stands by you from the first brushstroke to the finishing touch. Use the lip on the bottom of the tool to pop open a can of paint like a pro, no screwdriver required. Then, when you’re ready to start painting, flip the tool around. Snapped onto the edge of a one- or two-quart paint container, the Painter’s Assistant acts like a carrying handle, providing a sturdy grip and thereby thwarting paint splatters on the floor or furniture as you move down the wall. If your project has you up a ladder painting a ceiling, wall, or window trim, stay high and dry by hooking the bottom lip of the tool to the paint can’s handle and the other end over a ladder rung—you’ll prevent your paint and yourself from taking a messy spill. The Painter’s Assistant’s can even serve as a belt or garage hook, with its clip and magnetic strip that can keep painter’s tape and other tools of the trade ready for use whenever—and wherever—you are.

Should you need to take a breather from the paint fumes or simply want to stop and assess (or admire) your progress, your assistant is ready to hold down the fort. Snap the multi-tool onto the edge of your paint can or tray, and stick your paintbrush onto the tool’s magnetic surface to keep it from falling into the paint.

Finally, after completing a successful, no-spill paint job, the Painter’s Assistant instantly morphs into the perfect cleanup companion, thanks to its compact paintbrush cleaner and a paint roller squeegee. Glide your drenched paint roller through the ring of the Painter’s Assistant to quickly squeeze out excess paint. Or, run the tines of the tool over your paintbrush to clear off the bristles. As you field compliments about your freshly applied, professional-quality paint job, feel free to take all the credit for this team effort—your faithful Painter’s Assistant won’t mind.

Purchase HYDE Painter’s Assistant at The Home Depot, $4.97

 

Watch the video below to see the HYDE Painter’s Assistant in action!

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