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The Dos and Don’ts of Setting a Fence Post

A well-constructed fence can protect privacy, define your property, and enhance curb appeal. But before you decide to put one up yourself, learn how to set your fence posts properly to ensure that your posts—and your entire fence—will enjoy a long, sturdy life.

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Setting Fence Posts

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It’s a bona fide do-it-yourself classic: Every summer without fail, legions of homeowners grab their toolbox and head outdoors to erect a wood fence. Putting up a fence is a substantial, satisfying project, and particularly if you’re relying on a kit, an eminently doable one. And if you’re fortunate enough to have level terrain to work with, there’s really just one tricky step—setting the posts. As they say, a fence is only as strong as its posts. If they fail, the rest of the fence will follow suit, so it’s crucial to devote special care to setting them properly. Anything less, and you run the risk of having to set the fence posts all over again in only a few years’ time. The good news? Setting a fence post doesn’t require uncommon skills or expensive tools, and doing it right doesn’t really take much longer than doing it the slapdash way. Whether your goal is privacy, a better-defined property line, or simply a beautiful addition to your yard, a fence can fit the bill. But to ensure pleasing, long-lasting results, you’ll need to keep a few select considerations in mind and avoid a handful of potential pitfalls. Read on for the full details.

DO Select the Right Type of Wood
Remember that different types of wood offer drastically different levels of long-term fence-post performance. Pressure-treated wood, which boasts both durability and affordability, ranks high among the top choices. Also commonly used—and considerably more expensive (although prices vary by region)—are beautiful, naturally resistant species like cedar, cypress, and redwood. All contain resins that forestall the harmful effects of pests and moisture. Other species, including spruce, oak, and pine, may be used with confidence only if treated beforehand with a brush-on preservative (look for copper naphthenate on the list of ingredients). Generally speaking, it’s wise to opt for darker, denser heartwood over younger, lighter-colored sapwood, because heartwood harbors better defenses, particularly against wood-boring insects. Finally, no matter what wood you select, be sure that you’re buying lumber labeled as suitable for in-ground applications.

 

Setting Fence Posts - Fence Post Detail

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DON’T Make Postholes Too Small
Building codes and ordinances in your area may stipulate a legal depth and diameter for fence-post holes. If not, conventional rules of thumb offer a reliable guide. Typically, in part to ensure that posts lodge below the frost line, experts call for a hole deep enough to submerge the bottom third of the post below ground. For a six-foot-tall post, therefore, you would dig a hole two feet deep. The ideal diameter, meanwhile, should measure three times the width of the post. So, for a standard 4×4, the ideal hole would span twelve inches across. It’s important to note that fence-post holes must be flat-walled and barrel-shaped, maintaining a consistent diameter from top to bottom. If you use a regular shovel, you’ll end up with a cone-shaped hole. Instead, make quicker and easier work of the task by opting for a posthole digger (available for rent at your local home center). Otherwise, use a clamshell digger, which will be slower going but equally effective, particularly if you’re working with rocky soil.

 

DO Employ a Base Gravel Layer
If a fence post fails without any sign of a pest infestation, it’s likely that the failure was caused by moisture that rotted the wood over time. To help slow such deterioration, add pea gravel or crushed stone to the bottom of the posthole. Once you have added gravel to a depth of three inches or so, use a piece of scrap lumber to tamp down the layer. Next, pour an additional three inches of gravel into the hole, tamping down a second time. This simple measure goes a long way toward helping rainwater drain freely into the subsoil. It works so well, in fact, that in mild climates, builders sometimes elect to set fence posts with gravel alone. While that approach makes sense in certain situations, for a lasting installation, experts are more likely to specify a combination of gravel (for drainage) and concrete (for much-needed stability). One type of concrete works particularly well in such applications—rapid-setting concrete like category favorite CTS Rapid Set Concrete Mix.

 

DON’T Ready the Wrong Amount
True to its name, rapid-setting concrete doesn’t delay. In fact, CTS Rapid Set Concrete Mix sets in only 15 minutes. That being the case, it’s only practical to plan your approach. First, consider the size of the posthole in relation to the concrete yield. A standard 60-pound bag of CTS Rapid Set Concrete Mix yields approximately 0.5 cubic feet, so depending on the volume of your hole, you may need to prepare multiple bags at once. Just be careful not to mix more concrete than you can put in place in 15 minutes, before it begins hardening. After you determine how much concrete to prepare, proceed to combine the mix with water, adhering to the precise ratio printed on the package. Continue mixing for two or three minutes until you’ve achieved a smooth, lump-free consistency. At this point, with the post set in place, you can begin filling the posthole with concrete. Pack the concrete to a level slightly above the surrounding soil. Here, to prevent pooling, trowel the concrete so that it slopes away from the post. Double-check that the post hasn’t fallen out of level, then let the concrete harden.

 

DO Apply Caulk to Each Fence Post
After only an hour, CTS Rapid Set Concrete Mix will have hardened completely. You might consider the job done, but to further safeguard the fence post against rot, there’s one more important detail to address. Begin by inspecting the area where the post juts out of the hole. Do you notice a seam? Left as is, this seam could invite water to become trapped in any slivers of space between the wood and the concrete. Over time this moisture could lead to rot—but this scenario isn’t inevitable. After all, there’s a simple means of sealing the opening—caulk. Be proactive: Once the concrete has hardened, go ahead and apply exterior acrylic latex caulk directly to the seam, all the way around the post. (Alternatively, you can use any silicone caulk that adheres to concrete.) Be forewarned that the accumulated effect of freeze-thaw cycles may cause the seam to widen, so you’ll probably need to recaulk every now and then.

 

DON’T Neglect to Do Due Diligence
Be responsible. Before getting underway with your project, consult with municipal officials to confirm that your planned fence doesn’t deviate from any specifications of relevant building codes or ordinances. Some localities enforce strict regulations. Also, as you would for any project that involves digging deep down in the dirt, dial 811 (or visit call811.com). Do this about a week before you plan to start the work, so the utility company will be able to come and mark the approximate location of any lines that run under your property before you begin digging. Make no mistake: Digging can be downright dangerous if you don’t know what lies a foot or two below the ground. As long as you give a wide berth to any buried lines, you should be perfectly safe. As for the posts themselves, a little regular scrutiny and maintenance will help ensure a long life for your fence. Inspect your posts at least once a year, ideally in spring or fall, and reapply paint or stain as necessary to protect the wood and keep your fence looking its best.

Setting Fence Posts - Rapid Set Concrete Mix

Photo: ctscement.com

This article has been brought to you by CTS Cement | Rapid Set. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


The New Cool: 3 Ways Air Conditioning Has Changed for the Better

Like so many other technologies, central air conditioning has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years. Delivering enhanced efficiency, unprecedented performance, and "stays out of your way" unobtrusiveness, the latest cooling systems are very cool indeed.

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How did we live before air conditioning? In some regions, it’s not even a nice-to-have amenity, but a virtual necessity for survival. Everywhere else, homeowners rely on AC for much-needed mid-summer heat relief, and they have done so for decades. Of course, central air conditioning hasn’t always been the fine-tuned yet affordable convenience we know today. Even recently, over the last dozen or so years, we’ve seen the technology advance, like so many others, by leaps and bounds. If it’s been ages since you last surveyed the air conditioner market, therefore, “You might be very pleasantly surprised,” says David Kenyon, a product manager with Sears Home Services. With energy costs on the rise and concern mounting for the environment, HVAC equipment manufacturers have responded by launching lines that boast, not only exemplary efficiency, but much-improved performance all around. In the past, you may have resisted the temptation to install central air, or you may now be considering an upgrade your current system. Either way, you already know there’s nothing better than AC this time of year. But to find out why the latest AC equipment outperforms what came before, continue reading now.

 

1. MORE COMFORTABLE

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It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity: There’s a lot of truth to that old aphorism. Go out on a high-humidity day, and you feel discomfort right away. Retreat back into the air conditioning, though, and you may not always get relief. It depends on the age of your system. According to Kenyon of Sears Home Services, previous generations of AC technology can maintain the set temperature but often fail to mitigate humidity. That’s why, in a room cooled by an older system, you may feel clammy and “never fully at ease,” as Kenyon puts it. Nowadays, it’s a much different story. The latest systems are considerably more adept at controlling the moisture content of air, largely thanks to a new type of HVAC component, the modulating condenser. Kenyon explains, “Modulating condensers monitor conditions in the home and self-adjust to keep humidity within a comfortable range.” In other words, many of the latest air conditioners now works against, not only sweltering heat, but discomfiting moisture as well. “That’s a big step up in terms in comfort,” Kenyon points out. An added bonus: Lower humidity usually means you can set the thermostat a bit higher, cutting consumption and saving energy dollars in the process.

 

2. MORE EFFICIENT

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“There’s a night-and-day difference between the average efficiency of air conditioners today versus the average twenty or even ten years ago,” Kenyon says. In fact, efficiency has improved so much and so quickly that the traditional rating system has struggled to keep pace. Pros and consumers alike have long relied on the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating to understand the efficiency of a given HVAC component, relative to others. “It wasn’t so long ago that you would see SEER ratings between 4 and 10,” Kenyon remarks. Flash forward: Today, many air conditioners boast markedly higher SEER ratings, from around 14 up to as high as 26—numbers that Kenyon deems “off the charts!” Even so, it’s key to remember that home energy efficiency depends, not only on the SEER rating of the cooling appliance, but on a host of interconnected factors. Be sure to work with HVAC specialists that look at the bigger picture. For instance, before Sears Home Services considers a job complete, its experts study and make recommendations on an array of factors, from the condition of ductwork to the amount and quality of insulation. “For maximum efficiency, everything needs to work together,” Kenyon concludes.

 

3. MORE DISCREET

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Up to now, home cooling has typically entailed one or another type of sacrifice. In exchange for the benefits of central air conditioning, you would put up with its considerable downsides, including noise and compromised air quality. Here’s the good news: Comfort no longer has to come with a catch. As Kenyon says, “The best of the new breed operate quietly, while promoting the health of the home.” Take the issue of noise. “Once upon a time, if standing near the outdoor unit, you needed to shout to be heard,” Kenyon recalls. But where newer models are concerned, a disruptive level of noise signifies, not normal operation, but a problem in need of repair. By the same token, filtration has come a long way since the days when cooling systems were notorious for distributing dust, pollen, and other airborne impurities. From pleated media-type filters to innovative electrostatic and ultraviolet ones, new options remove such particles—in some cases, even microscopic particles—in the regular course of recirculation. “It all adds up to more enjoyable, less obtrusive air conditioning,” Kenyon says.

 

For all but the most ambitious do-it-yourselfers, putting in or upgrading a central air-conditioning system calls for the involvement of well-qualified contractors with years of experience in HVAC. Don’t just flip open the phone book and settle for the first company listed. Instead, put thought and care into your search for the right pro. There are too many complexities involved to risk doing otherwise. As Kenyon puts it, “Even if you have a top-of-the-line system, you can’t expect peak performance, unless the components are installed properly installed.” Don’t know where to start? Schedule a free in-home consultation with Sears Home Services. Doing so gives you the chance to discuss your needs with an expert, while becoming an expert in your own right on all your different options. At the very least, your project consultant can explain the often quite generous tax credits, incentives, and rebates available in many areas to help defray the upfront cost of energy-smart HVAC. From initial planning to final installation and beyond, Sears remains committed to the lasting success of your project.

Photo: dreamstime.com

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


How To: Drill a Hole in Glass

Be boring—in a good way! Follow this guide to take your DIY projects to the next level.

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How to Drill a Hole in Glass - Empty Glass Bottles

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A lot of crafty DIYers hit the glass ceiling when it comes to the material of the same name. You’d love to create a lamp from an empty wine bottle, say, or hook that mirror directly through a hole, but the thought of putting a drill to such fragile material stops you cold. Clearly, the time to upgrade your skill set is now. As long as you don’t attempt to bore through temperedor “safety” glass (identifiable by markings at the corner of the pane)—which will shatter upon applying mechanical force—all it takes is the correct drill bit and proper technique.

Bits suitable for boring glass have spear-shaped carbide or diamond tips. Available at most hardware stores, these bits come in various sizes; consider getting a small one for “starter holes” and a larger one to suit the diameter of the finished opening you want to make. As to technique, be sure to maintain low speed and moderate pressure, and always wear goggles to protect your eyes from potentially airborne shards.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Painter’s or masking tape
- Felt-tip marker
- Power drill
- Spear-tipped carbide drill bit or diamond-tipped bit
- Goggles
- 600-grit diamond file

How to Drill a Hole in Glass - Carbide Drill Bit for Glass

Photo: dreamstime.com

STEP 1
Make an “X” with two pieces of painter’s or masking tapeat the drill site. In the center of the “X,” use a felt-tip marker to indicate the precise spot where the hole will be. The tape will give your bit some traction and keep it from wandering on the otherwise slippery glass surface.

STEP 2
Secure the glass object you’re working with. Lay panes of glass on a pad or other cushioning material. If you’re drilling into a glass bottle and find it easier to work on the object at a slight angle—say, 45 degrees—place the bottle on its side, with the marked drill site facing up, lift by the neck to the angle that feels comfortable and hold the neck to keep it from moving while you drill with the other hand.

STEP 3
Insert a 1/8-inch or 3/32-inch carbide- or diamond-tipped bit into the chuck of a variable-speed drill. Small bits work best for creating a dimple or starter hole in the glass.

Don your protective goggles and hold the drill at a right angle (90 degrees) to the glass surface. Begin drilling at a low speed—below 400 rpm—to carve the starter hole; remove the tape when that’s done.

STEP 4
Replace the starter bit with a larger one if your project calls for a wider hole. Continue drilling at about 400 rpm, and apply light pressure on the drill so you won’t crack the glass. High-speed drilling causes overheating and glass-powder buildup at the drill site; it can also ruin the bit.

STEP 5
While the entry hole will be generally clean and smooth, the edges of the exit hole might be sharp. Gently file down any chips or jaggedness with a 600-grit diamond file that fits into the hole. Rinse to remove all residual dust.

Work on a few practice pieces till you get the hang of it, and soon you’ll be crafting with glass!


How To: Spackle a Wall

Here’s a quick, easy way to repair minor damage to plaster and gypsum board surfaces.

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How to Spackle - Repairing Wall Holes

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Maybe there was a mishap while moving a major appliance. Or perhaps someone hung some pictures the old-fashioned way by (gasp!) hammering nails rather than relying on damage-free wall mounting strips. Whatever the cause, you’re now facing small dings, dents, and gouges to your plaster or gypsum board walls. The fastest fix is to use spackle compound, a type of putty not to be confused with drywall or joint compound, which are applied similarly but generally used to remedy larger, properly reinforced holes. What’s great about spackle compound is it dries quickly and shrinks minimally, allowing you to patch minor damage without waiting 24 hours before repainting. Ahead, a guide to making short work of wall repair.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Putty knife (larger than the area that needs repair)
- Fine-grit sandpaper
- Spackle compound
- Clean cloth or sponge

How to Spackle - Putty Knife

Photo: dreamstime.com

STEP 1
First, pick your compound. Spackle compound comes two ways: in a convenient pre-mixed paste or in powdered form that you’ll mix with water for proper consistency. Pre-mixed compound is sold in “lightweight” and “all purpose” varieties. The former, which includes a vinyl binding agent, is best for small holes in areas that aren’t vulnerable to future damage; the latter includes acrylic and is suitable for voids as wide as 3/4 inch. Both vinyl and acrylic add elasticity to minimize shrinkage.

STEP 2
Prepare the area you plan to spackle to enhance the putty’s sticking power. Use the putty knife or fine-grit sandpaper to clean all debris from in and around the hole and make the surface as smooth as possible.

STEP 3
Time to mix and apply to the hole in the wall. If you purchased powdered spackle compound, mix it with small amounts of water until it reaches a thick yet easy-to-spread consistency. Prepare a small batch—you can always mix more if you need it. Pre-mixed compound is generally good to go, but stir it well if you’re using a previously opened container. (Always close the lid after getting what you need so the paste doesn’t dry out.)

Dip the edge of the putty knife into the spackling compound and scoop out a bit more than what you’ll need to fill the hole. Hold the putty-loaded knife slightly above the damage site at a slight angle and apply with a downward motion to patch.

STEP 4
When the hole is filled, hold the knife at a 90-degree angle to scrape away excess, taking care not to pull the putty from the hole. Don’t strive for perfection here; you’ll sand it smooth once dry. Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe residual compound from the wall next to the repair site.

STEP 5
Review your work after about two hours, when the compound should be dry. If the patch seems to be recessed, the paste shrank a bit as it dried. (Holes deeper than ¼ inch often need more than one application.) Repeat the previous steps, this time leaving a slight mound that you’ll sand off later. Wait another two hours.

STEP 6
Once spackle compound is dry, lightly sand the repaired area with fine-grit sandpaper until it’s flush with the surrounding wall. Use the cloth to wipe away any dust.

Now it’s time to prime and paint the patched area until it blends in with the surrounding wall. A seamless look, in a snap!


Enter Bob Vila’s 2nd Annual $3000+ Kitchen Appliance Give-Away Today!

Enter today and every this month for a chance to win your choice of eight amazing prize packages.

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At the heart of every kitchen, you’ll find good company, good food, and a lot of memories. Nothing says home like whipping up Grandma’s famous pie, or Uncle Joe’s award-winning chili. But even if you’re cooking up time-tested recipes, doesn’t mean you should use ancient appliances to get the job done. That’s why Cuisinart and Bob Vila have teamed up to bring you the 2nd Annual $3,000+ Kitchen Appliance Give-Away, which will award four winners their choice of top-of-the-line packages to complete their dream kitchen—and make new memories that will last a lifetime.

ENTER NOW

Today and every day this month (starting at 12:00 p.m. EST on June 30, 2016 through 11:59 a.m. EST July 31, 2016), enter to win your choice of one of eight kitchen appliance packages from Cuisinart. (See Official Rules below.)

Cuisinart products were first hailed by enthusiasts like Julia Child, who praised the company’s now iconic food processor as an innovative appliance that paved the way for a new era of cooking. Now offering an endless variety of world class and award-winning products, Cuisinart has become a household name in every home cook’s kitchen.

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If you’re one of four lucky winners in this month’s give-away, you’ll be able to choose your prize from the following packages, each valued at around $800:

• For Bake’s Sake: 2-lb Convection Bread Maker, Chef’s Classic Non-stick Champagne Bakeware 6-piece set, 7-Quart Stand Mixer, flour sifter, Power Advantage® PLUS 9-Speed Hand Mixer with Storage Case, Cuisinart Smart Stick Variable Speed Hand Blender with Potato Masher

• A Breakfast Dream: Cuisinart® for illy® Buona Tazza™ Super Automatic Single-Serve Espresso, Caffè Latte, Cappuccino, and Coffee Machine, Cuisinart® 4-slice Toaster, Vertical Waffle Maker, Frittata nonstick Set

• A Chef’s Kitchen: SmartPower™ 500 Watt Blender/Food Processor, PerfecTemp 14-Cup Coffeemaker, Pulp Control Citrus Juicer, Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven, GreenGourmet Tri-Ply Stainless Cookware

The Total Set-Up: Cuisinart Hurricane 2.25 Peak HP Blender, Cuisinart Elemental 11 Food Processor, Juice Extractor, Premium Single-Serve Brewer, Cuisinart® CookFresh™ Digital Glass Steamer

• A Night In: Cuisinart Griddler, The Cuisinart® Fruit Scoop™ Frozen Dessert Maker, Electronic Yogurt Maker with Automatic Cooling, PerfecTemp 14-Cup Coffeemaker, Electric Cordless Tea Kettle, Electric Fondue Pot, Griddler Elite, Electric Pressure Cooker

• Family Fun: The Cuisinart® Fruit Scoop™ Frozen Dessert Maker, International Chef Crepe/Pizzelle/Pancake Plus, EasyPop Plus™ Flavored Popcorn Maker, Cuisinart Griddler, Electric Fondue Pot, Cuisinart Smart Stick Variable Speed Hand Blender with Potato Masher, Vertical Waffle Maker, Cuisinart® 14-Piece Chef’s Classic Nonstick Hard Anodized Set, 1 (one) Cuisinart® Asparagus Steamer Set

• Caffeine Kick: Cuisinart Deluxe Grind Conical Burr Mill, Cuisinart Single-Serve Brewer, Cuisinart® for illy® Buona Tazza™ Super Automatic Single-Serve Espresso, Caffè Latte, Cappuccino, and Coffee Machine

• Keeping It Healthy: Cuisinart® CookFresh™ Digital Glass Steamer, Juice Extractor, 4 Qt. 3-in-1 Cook Central Multicooker, Cuisinart® Asparagus Steamer Set, Cuisinart® Food Mill, SmartPower™ 500 Watt Blender/Food Processor, PerfecTemp 14-Cup Coffeemaker

Enter Bob Vila’s 2nd Annual $3,000+ Kitchen Appliance Give-Away daily to increase your chances of winning one of these amazing packages.

To learn more about Cuisinart and their innovative kitchen products, click here.

Bob Vila’s “2nd Annual $3,000+ Kitchen Appliance Give-Away” is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period for Prize runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Wednesday, June 30th, 2016 through 11:59 a.m. (EST) Saturday, July 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.


Official Rules: 2nd Annual $3000+ Kitchen Appliance Give-Away from Cuisinart

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Bob Vila’s “2nd Annual $3,000+ Kitchen Appliance Give-Away” (the “Sweepstakes”) is sponsored by Vila Media, LLC, Post Office Box 835, West Barnstable, MA 02668 (“Sponsor”). The Sweepstakes consists of four (4) random drawings (each a “Drawing” and collectively, the “Drawings”). The Sweepstakes begins at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (“EST”) on June 30, 2016 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on July 31st, 2016 (the “Sweepstakes Period”). Four Drawings will be held at the conclusion of the Sweepstakes 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 in all 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 “2nd Annual $3,000+ Kitchen Appliance Give-Away” 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. 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 any 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 Sweepstakes, there will be four (4) drawings in which four (4) potential winners (“Winners”) shall be selected from all eligible entries received for each prize available by employees or representatives of the Sponsor to receive the prize designated for the Drawing. Each winning entry will be chosen at random. The number of eligible entries received during the Entry Period 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. 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 Winners will choose one from the following prize packages during the Sweepstakes Period: Prize Pack One, For Bake’s Sake valuing $842.84: 1 (one) 2-lb Convection Bread Maker (model no. CBK-200) valuing $149, 1 (one) Chef’s Classic Non-stick Champagne Bakeware 6-piece set (model no. AMB-6CH valuing $49.95, 1 (one) 7-Quart Stand Mixer (model no: SM-70BC) valuing $449, 1 (one) flour sifter (model no. CTG-00-SIF) valuing $14.99, 1 (one) Power Advantage® PLUS 9-Speed Hand Mixer with Storage Case (model no. HM-90S) valuing $69.95, 1 (one) Cuisinart Smart Stick Variable Speed Hand Blender with Potato Masher (model no. CSB-100) valuing $99.95; Prize Pack Two, A Breakfast Dream valuing $828.90: 1 (one) Cuisinart® for illy® Buona Tazza™ Super Automatic Single-Serve Espresso, Caffè Latte, Cappuccino, and Coffee Machine (model no. EM-600) valuing $599, Cuisinart® 4-slice Toaster (model no. CPT-640) valuing $79.95, 1 (one) Vertical Waffle Maker (model no. WAF-V100) valuing $79.95, 1 (one) 10″ Frittata nonstick Set (model no. FP2-24BK) valuing $70.00; Prize Pack Three, A Chef’s Kitchen valuing $836.90: SmartPower™ 500 Watt Blender/Food Processor (model no. BFP-703BC) valuing $149.99, 1 (one) PerfecTemp 14-Cup Coffeemaker (model no. DCC-2800) valuing $99.95, 1 (one) Pulp Control Citrus Juicer (model no. CCJ-500) valuing $29.95, 1 (one) Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven (model no. TOB-260) valuing $259, 1 (one) GreenGourmet Tri-Ply Stainless Cookware (model no. GGT-10) valuing $299, Prize Pack 4, The Total Set-Up valuing $845.00: 1 (one) Cuisinart Hurricane 2.25 Peak HP Blender (CBT-1500) valuing $199.00, Cuisinart Elemental 11 Food Processor (model no. FP-11) valuing $149.00, 1 (one) Juice Extractor (model no. CJE-1000) valuing $149, 1 (one) Premium Single-Serve Brewer (model no. SS-10) valuing $149.00, 1 (one) Cuisinart® CookFresh™ Digital Glass Steamer (model no. STM-1000) valuing $199.00; Prize Pack 5, A Night In valuing $828.65: 1 (one) Cuisinart Griddler (model no. GR-4N) valuing $99.95, 1 (one) The Cuisinart® Fruit Scoop™ Frozen Dessert Maker (model no. ICE-31) valuing $99.95, 1 (one) Electronic Yogurt Maker with Automatic Cooling (model no. CYM-100) valuing $99.95, 1 (one) PerfecTemp 14-Cup Coffeemaker (model no. DCC-2800) valuing $99.95, 1 (one) Electric Cordless Tea Kettle (model no. JK-17) valuing $69.95, 1 (one) Electric Fondue Pot (model no. CF0-3SS) valuing $59.95, 1 (one) Griddler Elite (model no. GR-300) valuing $199, 1 (one) Electric Pressure Cooker (model no. CPC-600); valuing $99.95; Prize Pack Six, Family Fun valuing $823.60: 1 (one) The Cuisinart® Fruit Scoop™ Frozen Dessert Maker (model no. ICE-31) valuing $99.95, 1 (one) International Chef Crepe/Pizzelle/Pancake Plus (model no. CPP-200) valuing $99.95, 1 (one) EasyPop Plus™ Flavored Popcorn Maker (model no. CPM-700) valuing $49.95, 1 (one) Cuisinart Griddler (model no. GR-4N) valuing $99.95, 1 (one) Electric Fondue Pot (model no. CF0-3SS) valuing $59.95, 1 (one) Cuisinart Smart Stick Variable Speed Hand Blender with Potato Masher (model no. CSB-100) valuing $99.95, 1 (one) Vertical Waffle Maker (model no. WAF-V100) valuing $79.95, 1 (one) Cuisinart® 14-Piece Chef’s Classic Nonstick Hard Anodized Set (model no. 66-14N) valuing $199, 1 (one) Cuisinart® Asparagus Steamer Set (model no. 773-20APW) valuing $34.95; Prize Pack Seven, Caffeine Kick valuing $847.99: 1 (one) Cuisinart Deluxe Grind Conical Burr Mill (model no. CBM-20) valuing $149, Cuisinart Single-Serve Brewer (model no. SS-5NC) valuing $99.95, 1 (one) Cuisinart® for illy® Buona Tazza™ Super Automatic Single-Serve Espresso, Caffè Latte, Cappuccino, and Coffee Machine (model no. EM-600) valuing $599; Prize Pack Eight, Keeping It Healthy valuing $800.89: 1 (one) Cuisinart® CookFresh™ Digital Glass Steamer (model no. STM-1000) valuing $199.00, 1 (one) Juice Extractor (model no. CJE-1000) valuing $149, 1 (one) 4 Qt. 3-in-1 Cook Central Multicooker (model no. MSC-400) valuing $129, 1 (one) Cuisinart® Asparagus Steamer Set (model no. 773-20APW) valuing $34.95, Cuisinart® Food Mill (model no. CTG-00-FM) valuing $39.99, 1 (one) SmartPower™ 500 Watt Blender/Food Processor (model no. BFP-703BC) valuing $149.99, 1 (one) PerfecTemp 14-Cup Coffeemaker (model no. DCC-2800) valuing $99.95. No transfer, substitution or cash redemption will be awarded in lieu of Prize. Limit one prize per entrant. Prizes shall be delivered within 30 days from end of the Sweepstakes Period. 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.


How To: Prevent Drain Clogs

Drain clogs can be a drag, but with simple monthly maintenance, you can keep things free and clear. Check out these quick tips for keeping the plunger tucked away and the plumber at bay.

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How to Prevent Drain Clogs

Photo:dreamstime.com

Here’s an unpleasant thought: Our household drains see all sorts of horrors on a daily basis—hair, dirt, grime, and food waste, just to name a few. Add up everything that passes through our sinks, bathtubs, and toilets, and clogged drains become an inevitability even for the most careful and conscientious of homeowners. The question isn’t whether the drain might clog; it’s only a question of when it’s going to. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Just a few minutes’ worth of regular maintenance can go a long way toward putting drain problems in the past.

Instead of dealing with multiple cleansers, tools, and elbow grease, there’s one product in your cleaning caddy that can keep clogs at bay with little more than once-a-month use. Known primarily as a tried-and-true solution for clearing up slow drains (and no-drains), Liquid-Plumr® Full Clog Destroyer™ also proves highly effective as a preventive measure. By regularly using this powerful gel, you’re dissolving life’s lingering, undetected leftovers before they turn into problematic buildup—and wiping out accompanying foul odors along the way.

No matter whether your home has older (and, therefore, probably narrow) pipes or if your brand-new house’s plastic pipes flush out all the dirt, soap, body oil, hair, and worse that a family of five can produce, your plumbing needs regular upkeep if you want things to go with the flow. Liquid Plumr® Full Clog Destroyer™ works on all septic systems and pipes, including those made of PVC and plastic as well as old-fashioned materials. So, there’s no need to worry about doing damage to those delicate systems—which, given the rigors they’re put through every day, are probably anything but delicate! Given a choice between a few minutes’ worth of simple maintenance from time to time and the stress (and expense) of dealing with backed-up pipes, prevention is always the better option. So, add these three quick steps once a month to your bathroom or kitchen cleaning regimen to keep the plunger—not to mention the plumber—out of sight.

How to Prevent Drain Clogs - Full Clog Destroyer

Photo: liquidplumr.com

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Liquid-Plumr® Full Clog Destroyer™
- Hot water

STEP 1
Once a month, slowly pour two cups of the clog destroyer down your sink, tub, or shower drain—even into your toilet, if needed. If you’re using a 32-ounce bottle, then one-half of it should do the trick for each drain; if you’ve stocked an 80-ounce bottle, one-fifth of the container is all you need for each job.

STEP 2
Now, let it sit for 15 minutes. If you already have enough buildup that some water is left standing in your sink basin, the gel will cut right through it; just wait a little longer until the drain is clear before proceeding to the next step.

STEP 3
Flush the product away with hot water. (If your sink is equipped with a garbage disposal, turn on the motor for a few seconds while running water the entire time.)

A few minutes spent once a month on this almost zero-effort maintenance task keeps drains running clear, meaning that you can file away the plumber’s card for another day—or, ideally, never.

How to Prevent Drain Clogs - Sink Drain Detail

Photo: dreamstime.com

This article has been brought to you by Liquid-Plumr®. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


The Cooling and Heating Option You Haven’t Considered—Yet

If you've had it with your inefficient, inconvenient cooling and heating system, maybe it's time to think about an entirely new approach to household comfort. A Zoned Comfort Solution™ incorporating ductless technology offers both cooling and heating in a streamlined, energy-efficient way that might just solve your comfort woes.

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Zoned Comfort Solutions - Library

Photo: mitsubishicomfort.com

It’s astonishing: Technology has revolutionized so many aspects of day-to-day life over the past 50 years, yet home air conditioning systems haven’t changed much at all. Walk into any American home in 2016, and you’re likely to find the same type of central system that probably kept the home comfortable decades earlier. Despite its long run as the dominant mode of indoor climate control, central or forced air has never been perfect—far from it. The main drawback? Ductwork. For homeowners, the only thing more frustrating than those bulky, rigid metal or flexible ducts that hog otherwise usable space is the fact that ductwork tends to leak, often severely enough to compromise overall system efficiency by 20 percent or more. That means, in order to make up for the energy loss, the cooling and heating system must work harder and longer to maintain the target indoor temperature. Homeowners, meanwhile, pay the price for the extra energy consumed because of the system’s imperfect design. No wonder people often complain that it costs a small fortune to cool and heat their home. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.

Today’s homeowner can choose from an array of exciting, next-generation climate-control options, many of which eliminate ductwork and deliver unsurpassed efficiency. Of them all, Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating (Mitsubishi Electric) stands out in a class of its own, with a technology that combines energy-smart design with customizable options. Mitsubishi Electric offers the best of both worlds. In the realm of energy efficiency, a Zoned Comfort Solution can save homeowners up to 30 percent or more on monthly utility bills in comparison with traditional forced-air systems. As for household comfort, a system provides an unprecedented high degree of control, enabling homeowners to not only conserve energy, but to enjoy a significantly different experience, one that assures total comfort and practically redefines it. Other systems cause homeowners to sacrifice comfort for savings, or savings for comfort. The technology behind a Zoned Comfort Solution, however, entails no sacrifice at all. And word is getting around: Already popular in Europe and Asia, these systems are swiftly gaining converts here.

 

INSTALLATION AND OPERATION

Zoned Comfort Solutions - System Diagram

Photo: mitsubishicomfort.com

Zoned Comfort Solutions from Mitsubishi Electric take a fundamentally different approach to cooling and heating, and it starts with the basic system design. In contrast with traditional systems, Mitsubishi Electric systems are simple, compact and streamlined. In fact, a Zoned Comfort Solution includes only two major components—an outdoor condenser and an indoor unit (or units). Instead of ducts, a pair of refrigerant pipes narrow enough to fit through a three-inch hole connects the indoor and outdoor units. Whereas the installation of a ducted, central system would entail extensive, time-consuming remodeling, these systems are nonintrusive and, as a result, a great deal easier to put into place. Technicians often complete installation within a single day. Another key point of distinction: Forced-air systems operate intermittently, turning on and off, over and over, in a cycle that consumes a great deal of energy (and makes a lot of noise). Zoned Comfort Solutions, by contrast, conserve energy (and stay quiet) by operating continuously at a low power level.

Besides driving up running costs, the stop-and-start operation of forced air systems also results in unpleasant, rollercoaster-like temperature variations. With Zoned Comfort Solutions, it’s a much different story. The technology can accurately monitor the ambient temperature and modulate output based on the demand because the unit is in the space it is conditioning. At the same time, the indoor unit fan ensures controlled, even air distribution throughout the space, preventing any areas from becoming too hot or too cold. That means, no matter where in the room you sit or stand, you always experience the set temperature. Want to switch from cooling mode to heating mode, or vice versa? It takes only the push of a button.

When cooling, the Mitsubishi Electric system collects heat from the home and expels it outside. When heating, the operation reverses and the INVERTER-driven compressor harvests heat from outdoor air and brings it inside. In any season, even at extreme temperatures (down to -13 degrees Fahrenheit), you can rely on a Mitsubishi Electric Zoned Comfort Solution to provide a comfortable and efficient combination.

 

ZONING AND WI-FI CONTROL

Zoned Comfort solutions - HVAC House Diagram

Photo: mitsubishicomfort.com

Some homeowners choose to install a Zoned Comfort Solution in one room only—typically, a peripheral space that rarely feels comfortable, such as a sunroom or attic bedroom. More common than ever before is for homeowners to select the Mitsubishi Electric system for whole-home climate control since the system allows you to establish different cooling and heating zones within the home. A zone can be one room, a set of rooms, or an entire floor—you decide. Whatever configuration you choose, each zone gets its own thermostat and can be controlled separately from all the other zones. What does that mean? For one, it means that, finally, family members with different temperature preferences can all be comfortable simultaneously. At last, thanks to the Zoned Comfort Solution, you can put an end to thermostat wars.

You can also put an end to wasteful spending on home temperature control. In a single-thermostat home, any adjustment takes effect across the entire house. If you want your bedroom a bit cooler before bedtime, you must pay for the energy consumed to cool not only the bedroom, but every room in the home. Ultimately, all-or-nothing cooling and heating fails to accommodate the reality that different rooms are occupied at different times. By enabling you to target temperatures on a room-by-room basis, zoning ensures that you never again need to pay for cooling or heating an empty room.

Empowering homeowners to save even more, Mitsubishi Electric also offers its kumo cloud™ app for temperature control. Available for any iOS, Android, or Fire OS smartphone or tablet, the kumo cloud app enables homeowners to monitor and adjust settings for their Zoned Comfort Solution anytime, anywhere. Are you worried that you left the system on when you ran out of the house? Simply pull out your smartphone to check. Sure, you can always program a Mitsubishi Electric zoned system to run on a set schedule, but mobile control lets you take charge if there’s a change of plan. Are you heading home early? You can turn on the air conditioning before you get there, so your home will be cool and comfortable the moment you walk in the door!

 

DESIGNER SERIES

Zoned Comfort Solutions - Designer Series Line

Photo: mitsubishicomfort.com

Finally, by its commitment to design, Mitsubishi Electric suggests a new look for cooling and heating. In years past, systems often were anything but eye-catching. Now, with the release of its brand-new Designer Series, Mitsubishi Electric proves that a climate-control system can be more than a simple utilitarian add-on; it can instead become a sophisticated thread in the fabric of home design. Stand-out performance and sleek aesthetics are not mutually exclusive, after all! Boasting a slim profile, with crisp, beveled edges, and a sharply delineated, rectangular shape, the finely proportioned Designer Series Zoned Comfort Solution comes in a choice of three colors. In light-color interiors, the white model blends in so well that it can almost escape notice. On the other hand, the black finish, meshes best with darker decor, while silver offers a lustrous look, perfectly suited to the clean lines and minimalist sophistication of stylish modern homes—a perfect pairing with stainless steel accents and appliances. The Designer Series makes it easier than ever before to live in harmony with household appliances. In fact, you might even find yourself admiring its aesthetic impact.

 

Cooling and heating isn’t what it used to be, and that’s a good thing. With a system from Mitsubishi Electric, you can experience the most comfortable home climate control of your lifetime, while saving money on utility bills every month. It’s a win-win. And now, with appealing design options and game-changing features like zoning, Mitsubishi Electric’s innovative cooling and heating technology inspire you to view home climate control in a whole new light. In the past, plenty of homeowners have had frustrating, unsatisfying relationships with their space- and energy-wasting systems, but today, with a compact, efficient and customizable Zoned Comfort Solution from Mitsubishi Electric, a much more rewarding option is possible. You no longer need to sacrifice your preferences in deference to the whims and limitations of your increasingly outmoded air conditioning system. Zoned Comfort Solutions are designed to meet your needs–not the other way around—and isn’t that the way it should be?

Zoned Comfort Solutions - Dining Room Installation

Photo: mitsubishicomfort.com

This article has been brought to you by Mitsubishi Electric. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


How To: Get Rid of Caterpillars

Try these easy DIY pest solutions to rid plants of pesky caterpillars and take back control of your garden greens.

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How to Get Rid of Caterpillars in the Garden

Photo: dreamstime.com

A love of gardening often goes hand in hand with a hatred toward the pests that pervade the fruits of your labor, both figurative and literal. While backyard gardens attract some “pests” that are actually beneficial to the ecosystem, they also appeal to a number of creepy crawlers that are detrimental to the plants, including caterpillars. It’s these small critters’ big appetites that leave frustrated homeowners looking for their demise. Luckily, these tried and true, all-natural methods can help homeowners regain control of their lush landscape once more.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Bucket
- Liquid dish soap
- Rubber or gardening gloves
- Broom handle
- Bacillus thuringiensis
- Molasses
- Garlic
- Vegetable oil
- Birdhouse

How to Get Rid of Caterpillars

Photo: dreamstime.com

Hand-Pick Your Least Favorites
When it comes to caterpillar removal, the fastest way to address the problem is by hand—that is, by gloved hand. Fill a bucket about halfway with hot water and a couple of tablespoons of mild dish soap, pull on a pair of rubber or canvas gardening gloves, and head out to your garden to do a different kind of picking. This time, you’ll want to lift caterpillars from the leaves—checking all of the undersides, where caterpillars are known to hide—and drop them one by one into the bucket to drown. The protective hand gear will ensure that you aren’t stung by the spines on some varieties of caterpillar as you handle them, like the saddleback. While this method is the most proactive, it also may require repetition to remove the entire population.

Empty the Nest
A more aggressive way to attack the problem—literally—is to destroy the caterpillars’ nest. You’ll often find these silk-spun homes hanging from tree limbs. Simply punch your implement of choice (either a long sharpened stick or broom handle work well) into the nest itself, then spin and scrape along its interior to remove all of its inhabitants. Afterward, dispose of the nest and its contents in a bucket of warm, soapy water to drown still-living caterpillars.

For the best chance of success, attack the camp early in the morning or late at night to guarantee that the majority of the caterpillars will be in the nest. While immediately effective, this method may also require a few rounds should any remaining caterpillars rebuild their home.

Poison the Hungry Caterpillars’ Food
Homeowners who aren’t interested in hunting and handling these pests can opt to administer the hands-off—and hand-down most effective—extermination solution, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). This naturally occurring soil bacteria kills caterpillars in a matter of days by destroying the lining of their stomachs. Simply dust its powder or mist its liquid form directly onto your garden plants and wait for the caterpillars to get hungry. Better yet, apply without any worry about negative side effects: Bt is completely safe for the plants, their pollinators, pets, and humans. The bacteria is only toxic to caterpillars, as well as some moths and worms who’d like to munch on your greens. Stock up at any local garden shop, and reapply after a week or two if your infestation still exists, as your first application would have broken down in direct sunlight and rainfall.

If you’re not ready to shell out for caterpillar control, you can mix up a home remedy to get the job done. For plants, a regular spray of a molasses solution (1 tablespoon molasses, 1 teaspoon dish soap, and a liter of warm water) or a garlic solution (three crushed cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon dish soap, and a liter of water) will deter insects from munching.


The Dos and Don’ts of Pressure-Washing

Pressure washers—impressively efficient for cleaning your home's exterior—can cause more harm than good if misused. To speed through your cleaning chores without damaging any surfaces, heed these best and worst practices for pressure-washing.

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Hyde Pivot Nozzle Wand for Pressure Washers - Cleaning a House Exterior

Photo: hydetools.com

It’s tough to get excited about outdoor cleaning projects when you’d rather be at the lake or on the golf course. Fortunately, the right time-saving tools can help you squeeze both your around-the-house tasks and recreational activities into a single weekend. Refreshing a dirty deck, cleaning mold from patio furniture, removing packed mud from tire wells—all these can be done more quickly and efficiently when you break out a pressure washer. This handy machine uses up to 80 percent less water than the average garden hose while packing more than 50 times the power!

But not all pressure washers are equal, nor is one suitable for every outdoor chore. And it’s important to use this tool properly to ensure satisfying, damage-free results. Whether you’re in the market for a powerful, game-changing cleaner or you already have one in your home-care arsenal, make note of these best and worst practices so you can be sure to get the most from this lean, mean cleaning machine.

 

DO Prep Before Starting

Without an adequate water supply, your pressure washer will fall short of your expectations for efficiency. First, test the water flow from your hose by timing how long it takes to fill a five-gallon bucket. If it takes two minutes or less, you’re good to go; longer than that indicates that there’s not enough water flow to operate the washer. Once you’ve determined that you have sufficient water flow to feed your pressure washer, clean out its inlet filter and check that the connections are secure wherever the tool attaches to a hose or accessory, such as the twist-on Pivot Nozzle Wand from Hyde Tools, which facilitates easy maneuvering during cleaning chores.

 

Hyde Pivot Nozzle Wand for Pressure Washers - Cleaning a Pergola

Photo: hydetools.com

DON’T Underestimate Its Power

A pressure washer’s biggest strengths—speed and power—make this tool as dangerous as it is efficient. Case in point: The water stream from even those models with psi’s on the lower side is forceful enough to cut through human skin! Save yourself and your property from harm by putting on safety goggles, gripping the wand tightly to avoid recoil when the pressure kicks in, and starting on the lowest pressure setting. Work in sweeping motions so that you’re never concentrating the tool’s power in one place for too long—and always aim the nozzle away from people, pets, and your prize peony bush.

 

DON’T Use One Nozzle Tip for Every Job

You can fit a pressure washer with a variety of nozzles that produce everything from wide-spray patterns to narrow streams so you can better harness the water for the job at hand. Rule of thumb: The more narrow the spray, the more force it delivers. A wide, 40-degree nozzle works well for general washing, such as loosening dirt on redwood or cedar decking, cleaning siding, and rinsing outdoor furniture. A 25-degree nozzle tip will tackle dirt and grime on concrete and other types of masonry. Zero- or 15-degree nozzle tips concentrate intense pressure on a small area, making them most useful for removing stubborn stains from iron.

 

DO Adjust Your Spray’s Angle for Best Force

When stubborn stains require maximum cleaning power, you want to keep the pressure washer’s nozzle perpendicular to the grimy surface. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it is—until you need to reach the underside of a patio table or the siding along the top of a house. Fortunately, the problem-solving Pivot Nozzle Wand from Hyde Tools eliminates the need to bend or overextend for these harder-to-reach areas. Each of its models—the 18-inch wand for electric pressure washers and the 28-inch one for the heavier-duty, gas-powered machines—features extra control via an adjustable nozzle. A simple twist of the handle rotates the spray within a 90-degree angle so you can direct the force of your pressure washer’s stream over, under, or around any dirty object. No more squatting, stretching, or straining to achieve the appropriate spray angle.

 

DO Ease Into the Job

A blast that is too direct can damage even those surfaces you’d expect to hold up well to a washing, so you always want to start with a light touch. Take, for instance, siding: Pressure washers excel at cleaning most types, but stand too close and you risk blasting off some of the paint or ruining softer wood like cedar. For best results in pressure-washing, position yourself 10 feet away from the surface you’re cleaning, turn on the water, then step forward until the spray is just forceful enough to remove dirt.

 

Hyde PivotPro Water Wand Washing a Car

Photo: hydetools.com

DON’T Use a Pressure Washer for Everything

Even with extreme care and lowest pressure, not all items are suitable for pressure-washing, particularly if they already show signs of wear and tear. For example, while most automobile paint jobs can withstand strong spray, a thin clear coat or scratched exterior should be cleaned using lower water pressure. To tackle this and other similar outdoor chores, disconnect the pressure washer from your garden hose and swap in a HYDE PivotPro™ Water Wand, which features a detergent reservoir and an adjustable nozzle to save you from unnecessary exertion and back-bending contortions. Plus, different PivotPro™ models come equipped with handy, interchangeable brushes attached to the front end. The Boat & Auto kit includes a soft-bristle brush, a spindle brush for cleaning wheel rims, and a microfiber-pad that will pamper your car’s exterior while you remove dirt and road grime.

 

DO Master the Correct Washing Technique

Caked-on gunk comes off more easily if you first soak the surface, with or without detergent, and let it sit for a few minutes. When using detergent, wet from the bottom up, using sweeping horizontal strokes to prevent streaks caused by runoff. To rinse, do the opposite, working from the top down so you don’t miss any cleanser.

 

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