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How To: Remove a Tub Drain

If your tub drain just isn't doing its job, you may need to take it out to clean or replace it. Rest assured that in just a few simple steps you'll have the drain out and be on your way to resolving your tub trouble.

How to Remove a Tub Drain

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Los Angeles, CA

It’s unfortunate but true: Over time tub drains clog and sometimes even corrode. After all, your bathtub is put to the test every day as you and the other members of your household bathe, forcing all sorts of body care products—and copious amounts of human hair—through the drain and into the pipes beyond. The day may come when your drain ceases to function. When that happens, you’ll probably need to remove the drain for inspection, followed by either a careful cleaning or a complete replacement. The removal process isn’t particularly difficult or time-consuming, taking anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours from start to finish, depending on the type of drain you’re dealing with. Yet, as with all things DIY, a few simple instructions will help the task go more smoothly.

While bathtub drains vary by type, they can be sorted into two broad categories: simple drains (including foot lock, roller ball, and lift-and-turn types) and drains with a trip lever (such as pop-up and plunger drains). Instructions for removing both types appear below. Just find your drain style, and follow the step-by-step to remove it yourself.


Type #1: Simple Drains (Foot Lock, Roller Ball, and Lift-and-Turn)

- Rubber gloves
- Screwdriver
- Wrench
- Vinegar
- Baking soda
- Mild cleanser (optional)
- Blow dryer (optional)
- Drain key or smart dumbbell (if you’re e moving the entire drain, including the flange)

Before you disassemble your tub drain, it’s important to note its condition. Excessive amounts of rust, mildew, or decay may indicate a larger problem, in which case professional assistance may be needed. Otherwise, if the drain is in good shape, pull on a pair of rubber gloves and continue on your mission.

• For a foot lock or roller ball plug, simply rotate it counterclockwise until it separates completely from the drain shaft.

• In the case of a lift-and-turn drain, lift the plug and free it by loosening the setscrew underneath. If you find that the setscrew on your lift-and-turn drain is stuck, a series of light-to-medium taps may help to loosen it. Use your wrench or screwdriver to nudge it into motion if necessary, but be careful not to use too much force, which could damage the drain.

Once the drain basket is fully exposed, use a mild cleanser or a mixture of one part vinegar and one part baking soda to wash it off. Also clean the plug or stopper if you’re planning to reinsert it rather than replace it.

Now, fill the tub with an inch or so of water and watch it drain. If the water still drains too slowly, move on to a stronger drain cleaner (one that specifies that it’s suitable for tubs) or turn to a tried-and-true DIY drain cleaner that uses materials you already have on hand. Fill the tub again with about an inch of water, and watch it drain. Repeat as necessary until the tub empties at a reasonable rate, then proceed to reinstall or replace the part(s) you’ve removed.

If you’re removing the entire drain apparatus, including the basket (also known as the flange), insert your drain key or smart dumbbell into the opening. Turn it counterclockwise and continue turning until the drain flange is released, then remove the flange while it’s still attached to the drain key.

Tip: If the flange is stuck, use a hair dryer to heat it up and loosen the putty, then try again.

Once the drain flange has been removed, be sure to clear out any old putty residue from the base of the opening before replacing the flange or installing a new one.


Type #2: Drains with Trip Levers (Pop-Up and Plunger)

- Rubber gloves
- Screwdriver
- Wrench
- Drain key or smart dumbbell (if removing the entire drain, including the flange)
- Blow dryer (optional)
- Vinegar and baking soda, or mild cleanser (optional)

Before you begin, check the drain for excessive rust, mildew, or decay, which may indicate a larger problem that may require the services of a professional. If the drain looks to be in good shape, it’s probably fine to proceed.

• If your drain has a visible stopper, then set the lever to the open position and use a screwdriver to remove the trip lever faceplate as well as the lever and linkage.

• If your drain has a trip lever without a visible stopper, use a screwdriver to remove the screws on the trip lever faceplate and move it away from the tub wall; the attached plunger should come out along with it.

Once the drain has been disassembled, use a mild cleanser or a mixture of one part vinegar and one part baking soda to wash it off. Also clean the plug or stopper if you’re planning to reinsert it rather than replace it.

Now, fill the tub with approximately one inch of water and watch it drain. If the tub still drains slowly, try your luck with a stronger, tub-specific commercial drain cleaner or a homemade cleaner and repeat the drain test.

When the tub again drains properly, reinstall the cleaned drain parts or replace them with new ones. If you choose to remove the entire drain apparatus, including the flange, use a drain key or smart dumbbell as described in Steps 3 and 4 above.


Although a number of DIY plumbing projects fall outside of most homeowners’ comfort zones, removing a tub drain is a relatively accessible task. The best rule of thumb when you’re tackling any new plumbing job is to proceed with an abundance of caution and remember that if complications arise, a professional plumber is just a quick phone call away.

How To: Get Rid of Fire Ants

Want these painful pests off your property? Choose the extermination method that best suits your infestation.

How to Get Rid of Fire Ants - Outdoor Infestation

Photo: flickr.com via Marufish

Millions of people and animals are swarmed and stung every year by fire ants. Their burning (hence the name) bites are especially a bane in the southern states, where about 30 percent of the population falls prey to the reddish-orange little buggers. The FDA estimates that this invasive insect leads to billions of dollars spent annually in medical treatment, damage repair, and extermination. Concerned about the potential damage that can come from a population on your property? This guide will set you up to get the caustic creepy crawlers under control.

How to Get Rid of Fire Ants

Photo: flickr.com via Elroy Serrao

While there are indigenous species that aren’t particularly invasive or aggressive, the red imported fire ant (also known as RIFA) is a notoriously nasty opponent. RIFA’s main food source is plant sugars, making them a serious problem for farmers, but the ants also consume insects, rodents, birds, and reptiles. They lock onto victims with a powerful four-toothed mandible and then emit an alkaloid-based venom, leaving a red and white pustule in its wake. The venom also contains proteins and peptides that can produce an allergic reaction. While only five percent of fire ant attacks are lethal to humans, hypersensitive individuals should get immediate medical attention upon being stung (the rest of us can just cuss and treat the area as we would a bee sting). Small pets and young livestock that disrupt a nest can also be killed.

The Best Defense
Fire ants can invade virtually anywhere—your home, your lawn, your driveway, you name it—and their nests aren’t always visible. In an open field, however, they appear as a sandy mound that can reach 16 inches in height. Alas, like an iceberg, most of RIFA’s business lies beneath the surface, where tunnels can be as deep as seven feet. Each nest will have at least one queen that can lay 2,000 eggs a day—and a typical nest will also have up to 500,000 worker ants as well—so it’s easy to see why RIFA’s are so challenging to get rid of for good.

Choose Your Weapon
There are various ways to manage a fire ant situation—including everything from sprinkling them with talcum powder to bringing in an anteater—and each has plusses and minuses. Bear in mind that any approach that involves standing close to the nest risks instigating a swarm and getting stung, so be sure to gear up with protective clothing before you begin. Whatever you choose, never fight fire ants with fire; it’s extremely dangerous and ineffective to ignite gasoline on a nest.

Below, some of the most popular battle tactics:

Dousing the mound with boiling water is an old-school approach. Though free, organic, and immediate, it’s not very effective. Chances are slim that the water will reach the queen, who resides deep in the nest. Drenching the mound with liquid insecticide works somewhat better.

Pressure injecting insecticide directly into the mound is more effective because the poison will go deeper. But in addition to the perils of proximity is the risk of the agent leaking onto your body or spraying your face due to faulty equipment. Be sure to proceed with caution.

Bait, which is placed around a mound or in areas where nests may be hidden, are a safe, fairly effective means of RIFA management, though not a quick fix. The ants take the bait and carry it deep inside, ideally killing the queen.

Broadcast treatment with granular insecticide is often best for a large area. Granules are tossed as if you were feeding chickens, and the ants bring them home. This is the safest method because you don’t directly engage with the nest, but granules may be light sensitive and lose their lethal potency before the ants feed on them.

A canvas of professional exterminators found a resounding reliance on the broadcast method, using a product called Top Choice. Most states require you to have a pest control license to purchase this highly effective insecticide, so chances are you’ll need to call a pro. A once-a-year treatment usually costs about $500 per acre—pricey but worth it if you’re truly overrun.

If you choose to go it alone against fire ants, you’ll find insecticides of varying potency at hardware stores; online retailers tend to sell stronger formulas (look into licensing requirements). Know that you are not defenseless and will ultimately prevail!

Genius! The Easy Way to Add Privacy to a Chain-Link Fence

If you're stuck with a chain-link fence, you can DIY your way to better backyard privacy in a day. Here's what you'll need to upgrade your space—and create a peaceful hangout spot for friends and family.


Photo: smileandwave.typepad.com

Chain-link fences have bordered American yards for more than a century, and with good reason—they’re cheap, easy to install, and durable. But the steel perimeter’s signature open weave left renter and Smile and Wave blogger, Rachel Denbow, feeling exposed to nosy neighbors and passing cars. The problem wasn’t just people looking in, either; it was what she saw looking out. Everyday eyesores like overgrown weeds, parked cars, and trash cans at the curb dominated her dreary view, and gave the whole space an unwelcoming vibe. So, Rachel turned to the inspiration-laden social platform Pinterest to research a simple privacy solution, and devised her own affordable, renter-friendly fix.

Crafting her custom wooden privacy panel only took some 6-foot-long cedar boards, 1×3 lumber, and a pair of metal pipe straps. Rachel first laid two cedar planks on the ground horizontally, separated so that outer edge to outer edge measured roughly four inches taller than the height of the existing chain-link fence—enough to hide it completely. Once aligned, she perpendicularly placed two 1×3s across the boards (one about 4 inches in from either edge) and secured the pieces together with nails. After checking that the structure squared up with the fence, Rachel strengthened the frame with a few extra nails and filled in the center with the rest of the cedar boards, all equally spaced.

Panel complete, all it took were a couple of pipe straps fastened to the wood to hang the project from the metal fence lip. Her hanging solution caused zero damage to the unsightly existing structure (should she ever need to take the piece off) and cost less than a full fence installation! More than adding privacy to an open space, the horizontal boards in this clever cover-up also add a fresh, modern twist on traditional fencing. For the low cost of a few wood boards and fasteners, it’s a simple DIY that will transform your bleak backyard into an outdoor oasis.

FOR MORE: Smile and Wave


Photo: smileandwave.typepad.com

Cool Tools: A No-Hassle Cure for Tough Cleaning Dilemmas

As easy to use as it is to wear, the HYDE Quickly Clean Glove is your best bet—and the best buy on the market—for tackling your next cleanup job!

Quickly Clean Glove with Paintbrush

Photo: thehydeway.com

April showers keep many DIYers indoors working on home maintenance projects large and small, from pepping up interiors with paint to recaulking showers and tubs. Though these home projects can beautify your home, they can also easily coat innocent bystanders—like tools, furniture, windows, floors, counters, or worse, your hands—in residual grime. If your go-to cleanup crew for life’s messes relies on chemical-laden commercial solvents, consider for a moment a safer, more effective natural alternative: the HYDE Quickly Clean Glove. This smart slip-on with a super-strength weave can take oil- or latex-based paint, putty, caulk, dirt, soap scum, and even permanent marker off of any surface without requiring harsh chemicals. Find out how this cleaning companion offers a hands-off solution to spring-cleaning year-round.

Hyde Quickly Clean Glove

Photo: thehydeway.com

Effortless and Economical
The magic of this do-it-all glove lies in its simplicity: Just wet it with water, add a squirt of soap (if desired), and then pull on the one-size-fits-all glove to turn your hand into a powerhouse scrubbing agent. Thanks to the glove’s patented weave, no additional scouring pad is required! Just work your fingers over the dirtied surface. The Quickly Clean Glove acts as an easy-to-control abrasive, so that even gunk on irregular surfaces—like paintbrushes, trowels, and trays as well as your sink, shower, and tub drains—can be wiped away with minimal elbow grease. When your work area is spotless, rinse the handy tool, and hang it to dry until your next job.

More than simply saving you physical energy as you tackle your to-do list, the reusable gloves can also save you money at the hardware store. How? By replacing half of your cart. When the glove’s fibers can remove nearly any amount of mess, there’s no need to load up on commercial paint and varnish strippers, foam and caulk removers, and heated sealant and putty removal tools. Leave the budget-busting and cabinet-crowding specialty cleaners behind as you head for checkout with a single top-of-the-line, bottom-dollar Quickly Clean Glove that can be used again and again.

Natural, Non-damaging, and Non-irritating
Even perfectionist painters will occasionally leave a mark on more than their intended object, often right on their own hands. Should you encounter a similar slip-up, slip on the Quickly Clean Glove and buff your other (uncovered) hand clean without fear of irritating your skin. In fact, the glove is so gentle that it can be used on rugged and sensitive surfaces alike without damaging them.

As easy as the Quickly Clean Glove is on you, it’s equally easy on the environment—both indoors and out. Unlike commercial cleaners fraught with chemicals that subject your family to harmful fumes, the Quickly Clean Glove is chemical-free, so you won’t have to pop open a window or wear an air mask.

Amazingly Adaptable
Experienced and amateur painters, mechanics, and hobbyists alike can take comfort in this jack-of-all-trades glove. Good for tidying up tools, furniture, and interior surfaces after paint, caulk, and putty jobs, its versatility practically surpasses your long to-do list. And it doesn’t stop there! The Quickly Clean Glove can also be used in the kitchen to wipe up the refrigerator—and even the produce within it—clean. Headed outdoors? Use the glove on siding and outdoor furniture to get rid of algae, in the garage to clear tar from auto parts, or at the golf course to remove grass from your 5-iron. And given the Quickly Clean Glove’s bargain price, you can afford to keep a pair with every cleaning caddy you have, indoors, outdoors, and beyond!

Purchase HYDE Quickly Clean Glove, $3.97


Watch the video below to see the HYDE Quickly Clean Glove in action!


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

Weekend Projects: 5 Ways to DIY a Fence Gate

Still on the fence about whether to replace your weathered, style-devoid gate? These DIY yard entrances will make your decision—and the process of building them—unbelievably easy!


Adding a fence to your property provides a simple solution for shutting out unwanted animals and nosy neighbors from either front- or backyard. But designing a fence gate that balances the need for privacy with a level of curb appeal that won’t deter the invited guests can be a challenge. These easy-to-build, do-it-yourself fence gates accomplish just that, granting privacy and protection while still enhancing your home’s exterior from any vantage point.



DIY Fence Gate - White Picket Fence Gate

Photo: frysauceandgrits.com

If you’ve always dreamed of a white picket fence, ’tis the season to make it a reality—starting with this white picket fence gate from Fry Sauce and Grits. Roll up your sleeves and dig two, 2-foot-deep holes for the fence gate, filling them with pebbles before inserting pre-cut and painted white fence posts. Stylish, black gate hardware complement the row of matching fence pickets for a striking visual contrast.



DIY Fence Gate - Garden Arbor Gate

Photo: smartgirlsdiy.com

To turn an ordinary driveway into a shady, garden alcove, look no further than this affordable arbor concept. Following the adaptable plans of the makers at Smart Girls DIY, cut pressure-treated wood planks for the arbor posts, headers, and arches. After planting the posts—filling in with gravel beneath for drainage—attach the headers and arches with deck screws. Finish by adjoining a short, fanciful wooden gate that repeats the curves in your arbor for an even more enchanting entrance for guests.



DIY Fence Gate - Tall Wooden Garden Gate

Photo: blackanddecker.com

This tall and narrow backyard gate featured on Black and Decker boasts a pricey professional quality, but you can make it cheaply—and easily—with this tutorial. Referencing a sketched diagram of your fence-gate-to-be, cut lumber planks for the door-size frame and arches, and deckboards (with their already smoothed and rounded edges) for the gate’s wood panels. Once the joinery is assembled with glue and screws, attach the deckboards to the frame, hang the finished gate with heavy-duty gate hinges, and swing the door open to let in the fun!



DIY Fence Gate - Repurposed Garden Tools as Gate

Photo: montanawildlifegardener.blogspot.com

Transforming a closed and forbidding garden fence into an inviting entryway is as simple as opening your mind—and the door to your shed—to the decorative touch of unused tools lying in your shed. Like the blogger at Montana Wildlife Gardener, tear down your existing fence gate, reserving its wooden boards and screws to erect a new frame. After adorning with a crisscrossed menagerie of repurposed garden tools—from shovels to rakes—your re-tooled garden gate is ready to open wide!



DIY Fence Gate - Horizontal Wood Slat Gate

Photo: thecavenderdiary.com

Faced with a weather-worn gate that has begun to sag? The bloggers at The Cavender Diary turned to a handy fence gate kit for a structural face lift. You, too, can rely on something similar from your local home improvement store to aid you in your DIY project! Once you’ve picked up a starter set, remove the slats from the original frame and set aside to reuse. Then cut pressure-treated 2×4s to create a new, sturdier, rectangular frame, and assemble the planks flat on the ground using the kit’s brackets. Hang the fence frame in place of the old gate, re-attach the saved slats, and stain for a finished look that’s equal parts vibrant and natural.

Bob Vila Thumbs Up: The Furniture Makeover Competition Starts Today

Vote today and everyday this month to help your favorite blogger win the April Thumbs Up challenge.


Furniture Makeovers

Photo: fotosearch.com

Old furniture is one of the best—and cheapest—materials to get your hands dirty in the DIY world. Whether it’s a modern spin on an old classic, a quick paint upgrade that makes a huge impact, or a charming (or quirky!) addition to a builder-basic piece, the opportunities for personalizing found furniture are endless. Which is why we’ve decided to showcase some of the best furniture makeovers around for this month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up competition.


Bob Vila Thumbs Up recognizes some of the very best DIY projects around the web, and this month we’re shining the spotlight on great furniture makeovers. Each of these bloggers wins points in our book for creativity but only one can win the Bob Vila Thumbs Up competition and the $250 gift card.


So cast your vote today and every day through April 30 to help your favorite furniture makeover become this month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up winner. After all, only you and your vote can determine the outcome of this competition.

Congrats to last month’s winning blogger, The House of Wood. Read more about the winning Bob Vila Thumbs Up project here.

How To: Clean an Electric Stove Top

Your stove top shouldn’t reveal forensic evidence of everything you’ve recently cooked. Discover five easy steps to keep your electric range from exposing your culinary spills and missteps.

How to Clean Electric Stove Top - After Making a Mess at Dinner

Photo: fotosearch.com

Like most home cooks, you probably love whipping up meals but hate cleaning up afterwards. If you neglect tidying up your trusty electric stove top, however, the leftover grime, grease, and dirt will build up and harden over time—and trying to chip it off could damage the coils and the surface. Fortunately, electric stove tops are easier to clean than their gas-fueled counterparts, plus you needn’t worry about clogging the igniter. Glass-topped versions respond to a quick swipe with a dish soap-soaked rag and a baking soda scrub. One with metal-coiled burners require a bit more attention—especially if it’s been a while since you’ve tackled it—so we’ve outlined the best way to go about it. You’ll be done in no time and ready to try out a new recipe, no matter how messy it might be.

- Lint-free dishrags
- Water
- Liquid dish soap
- Baking soda
- Cook top scraper (optional)
- Cook top cleaning pad or mild kitchen scrub sponge

How to Clean Electric Stove Top - Electric Coil Burners

Photo: fotosearch.com

Electric stove tops are designed to be self-cleaning. To banish spills, first wipe gently with a clean, lint-free cloth damp with water (an old T-shirt works great!). Then remove all cookware from the stove, turn burners to high, and leave them on for two to three minutes. The high heat will burn off most of the mess. When the stove top has completely cooled, wipe off any remaining residue with a fresh cloth.

Next, remove the burner coils from the socket with a quick tug and lift motion. If they don’t come out easily, refer to the cooktop user manual for removal tips. (Don’t despair if you can find it, since most manuals are available online. Simply search with the stove’s make and model number.)

Soak a dishrag in a solution of warm water and dish soap. Squeeze out excess and gently scrub the burners, taking care to avoid wetting the socket—it is electric, after all! Follow with a swipe of a clean, moist, lint-free rag to rinse. If your burners look spic and span, go to Step 5. If not, continue to Step 4.

STEP 4 (optional)
Still confronted with crud? Mix 1/2 cup baking soda with 3 to 4 tablespoons of water to create a thick, spreadable paste. Coat the burners with this gentle scouring agent and give it up to 20 minutes “dwell time.” Then moisten a clean, lint-free cloth and use it to remove the paste, rinsing after every few passes and making sure to avoid the socket.

While the baking soda paste is doing its work, clean the surface below the coils. Carefully remove food residue with a cooktop scraper if necessary, and then scrub the surface with a gentle cleaning pad and a bit of baking soda paste (see Step 4 for quick instructions on how to whip this up). Remove the paste with a clean, moist rag, and dry with a fresh cloth. Finally, plug the clean, dry burners back into the sockets, and you’re ready to cook!

Get in the habit of wiping up spills as soon as the cooktop cools, and give it a thorough cleaning once a week. This way no one will know your messy little cooking secrets—unless, of course, you accidentally spill the beans!

How To: Clean a Jetted Tub

Don't let your relaxing soak in your whirlpool tub be cut short by unsightly debris floating in the water! Use these steps to get both tub and jets squeaky clean so you can again relax in your crystal-clear oasis without fear of filth.

How to Clean a Jetted Tub

Photo: fotosearch.com

Let’s be honest here: No matter the touted health benefits of its massaging hydrotherapy, a jetted tub can be only as restorative and relaxing as it is clean and sanitary. Therefore, in order to enjoy the soothing effects of a whirlpool bath, you need to get your hands dirty now and again. True, it doesn’t take hours of punishing labor to clean a jetted tub, but it’s not a quick and easy process either. After all, cleaning even a regular tub takes some time, so it stands to reason that with its many components and hard-to-reach crevices, a jetted tub requires even more work. Fortunately, the joy of having such a calming respite from a stressful world makes the cleaning well worth the effort. Keep reading now for step-by-step instructions for cleaning your jetted tub with a minimum of hassle. Before you begin, though, note that while the process below provides a useful guideline, you should always follow the care and cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer of your specific tub model.

- Baking soda
- Vinegar
- Dishwashing powder or liquid (optional)
- Bleach (optional)
- Measuring cup
- Soft cloth
- Toothbrush
- Bucket
- Dental floss (optional)

How to Clean a Jetted Tub - Modern Bath Detail

Photo: fotosearch.com

Start by flushing the accumulated gunk and worrisome bacteria out of the plumbing. To begin, wipe up any hair or other debris from the basin or rim, then fill the tub until water stands at least a couple of inches above the jets. (If it’s been a while since you last cleaned the tub, it’s best to fill it with hot water.) Once the tub is full, you have a few options in cleaning agents (as always, first consult the manufacturer’s instructions). Option one is to add about two cups of vinegar into the water. Because it’s acidic, vinegar dissolves buildup effectively but unlike many commercial cleaning products, it does so without damaging tub components. As an alternative, try 1/2 cup of bleach along with a few teaspoons of powdered or liquid dishwashing detergent. (Some manufacturers do not recommend bleach, which can dry out the gaskets over time.) Or you can purchase one of the many commercial products formulated specifically for cleaning jetted tubs, following the instructions on the packaging.

Now it’s time to activate the jets, but before you turn them on, turn off the air-induction valves (unless the manufacturer of your tub specifically recommends leaving them open). Closing the induction valves forces water to circulate only through the internal plumbing of the tub. This concentrates the flow, resulting in a deeper cleaning. With the valves closed (or not), run the jets on high for 10 or 15 minutes, or until debris from the internal plumbing stops washing into the water in the tub.

Drain the water from the tub. Now, after coming to terms with the disgust you feel over the amount of filth that’s probably lining the tub basin at this point, fill it up again with warm water a few inches above the jets. Run the tub on high once more for another 10 to 15 minutes in order to flush out even more gunk. Drain the water.

OK, it’s time for some good, old-fashioned scrubbing. Grab a soft cloth and some baking soda; the latter works great to break up mold, mildew, and soap scum. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda inside the tub, let it sit for several minutes, and then use the soft, dampened cloth to scrub away the grime. Conveniently, you can also use the baking soda on the faucet and drain too. Try not to scrub too vigorously as you go along. Most whirlpool tubs are made of acrylic, a material that can be scratched or gouged, not easily, but sometimes, if you’re not careful.

You’ve come a long way, but there’s still one last thing to do—that is, address the muck and bacteria that may be lodged in and around the water jets. With a toothbrush that you use only for cleaning, gently scrub the jet nozzles and the contoured trim around those nozzles. If you can see buildup on a nozzle but can’t reach it with the toothbrush, try to dislodge it with a length of dental floss. Also, remember to clean the air-intake cover by unscrewing it, giving it a soapy brushing, rinsing it off, and screwing it back into position. Finally, give the tub a thorough rinsing.

At last, you’re finished! Reward yourself with a leisurely soak, because hey, you deserve it. But remember: If you want to get the most out of your jetted tub, a once-in-a-blue-moon cleaning isn’t enough. Routine maintenance is key. If your tub is used only occasionally, you may be able to get by with cleaning it four times a year. But if you enjoy frequent whirlpool baths, follow the procedure described above at least once a month.

Enter Bob Vila’s Love Your Lawn Give-Away with John Deere Today!

Enter to win a John Deere riding mower!


John Deere

Spring has officially sprung, which means it’s time to turn your attention to your flowers, bushes, trees, and—most importantly—your lawn. While all outdoor greenery makes for a beautiful home, there’s no single feature that covers as much real estate, and packs such a curb appeal punch, as fresh, green grass. That’s why we’ve partnered with John Deere to bring you the Love Your Lawn Give-Away, which awards one lucky winner a top-of-the-line mowing machine that makes easy work of outdoor maintenance.


Today and every day in April (starting 12:00 p.m. EST March 31st, 2016 through 11:59 a.m. EST April 30th, 2016), enter to win your choice of one of two John Deere riding mowers. (See Official Rules below.)

sealSince its founding in 1837, John Deere has grown from one man’s idea to improve agriculture into one of the most admired producers of American-made residential lawn equipment in the world. Building innovative, high-quality products that constantly improve the lives of those who use them is all in a day’s work for this household name, making John Deere a top choice for the farm, the front lawn, and everything in between.

If you come away the winner of this month’s give-away, you’ll get to choose the perfect John Deere mower for your lawn:

Want to give your neighbors major lawn envy? Then the S240 Sport Lawn Tractor is for you. This user-friendly model makes maintaining your lawn a smooth, comfortable, and enjoyable experience. Large, turf-friendly tires and a powerful engine help this sleek machine tackle even hilly landscapes with ease, while the 42-inch Edge Cutting System provides a clean cut for your lawn.

If you choose the Z335E ZTrak Zero-Turn Radius Mower, you’re signing up for the best in speed and precision. It’s not how fast you mow, it’s how well you mow fast, and this mower delivers both. Ideal for long and level stretches of land, the motion control levers driven by two independent transmissions make turning on a dime easy and fun. Equipped with the ACCEL DEEP™ mower deck, which offers first-rate cut quality at faster speeds, the Z335E will leave your lawn consistently beautiful.

So what are you waiting for? Enter today and every day in April for your chance to win one of these two amazing mowers that will help make your lawn the most beautiful on the block.

To learn more about John Deere, click here.

The “Bob Vila’s Love Your Lawn Give-Away with John Deere” is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Thursday, March 31st, 2016, through 11:59 a.m. Saturday, April 30th, 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.

3 Fixes for Cracked Concrete

Do you have an unsightly fissure on your concrete driveway, stairs, or foundation? Get cracking on these simple but vital repair solutions!

Cracked Concrete

Photo: fotosearch.com

Despite its reputation as one of the most rugged building materials ever conceived, even concrete has a sensitive side. Drying shrinkage, chemical or environmental corrosion, or even just regular wear and tear can create cracks that grow in size and severity if left untreated. Fortunately, small cracks in driveways, stairs, or the foundation can be repaired without too much muss or fuss. So, put on your gloves and safety glasses, and add these solid concrete repair solutions to your masonry skill set!



Cracked Concrete - Driveway

Photo: fotosearch.com

Small, surface-level fissures can form on driveways new and old, but they don’t represent an earth-shattering problem if caught early. These hairline cracks, often created when concrete weathers and separates, can be easily and economically filled. First, remove any loose particles of concrete with a screwdriver or chisel, and then use a wire brush followed by a broom to get rid of any remaining debris. Pick up a small supply of concrete patching compound or masonry crack filler (you’ll find them at the hardware store packaged as either squeeze bottles or tubes to insert into a caulking gun), and apply the compound into the crack, using a putty knife to smooth out any excess. After the compound cures, spread a sealer to prevent the crack from growing larger and to protect it from the damaging elements.



Cracked Concrete - Steps

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Cracked concrete on stair edges or corners can rob a walkway of style while also posing a safety hazard to passersby. Fortunately, you can transform these crumbling contours into a stunning staircase using simple materials and tools. After removing any damaged concrete with a small sledgehammer, sweep the area clean with a brush and broom, and then hose it down with water to provide optimal adhesion for the patching compound. You’ll want to use a wood form to ensure that your concrete takes the proper shape, so place one or two planks against the edge you’re trying to fill, and set a brick against the outside of the wood to hold it steady. Make sure the height of the planks exactly matches the height of the stair. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, trowel premixed vinyl compound into the space created by the form. Once the patch has set, remove the form, and let the compound cure into a flawless flight of steps.



Cracked Concrete - Foundation

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Forgotten cracks in your concrete foundation today can present serious structural issues that may require a professional tomorrow. To rein in smaller cracks (between one-eighth and one-quarter of an inch), start by cutting away crumbling concrete with a chisel or sledgehammer, undercutting the edges so the adhesive doesn’t slip out of the cracks. Then, brush the area clean, and mist it generously with water to help your compound stick. Apply a mixture of dry vinyl concrete patch powder and latex to the crack, and smooth it with a trowel. If the surrounding concrete isn’t smooth, sweep over the area with a broom until the patch blends in seamlessly.