Welcome to Bob Vila

Genius! Boost Your WiFi with a Soda Can

Has your WiFi slowed to a crawl? Get back up to speed—and back to streaming videos—with this free hack!

How to Boost Wifi - Improve Your Router with Aluminum

Photo: youtube.com/HackCollege

If you rely on Google to answer day-to-day questions or count on cat videos to pull you out of the post-lunch slump, slow Internet speeds can feel like the end of the world. Luckily, there’s a simple fix—and it isn’t buying up a $200 WiFi range extender. It mirrors a technique used before cable television became the norm, when people wrapped tin foil around their antennas for better reception. Here, however, a little aluminum cut from a can help your Wifi router’s signals go a long way.

To boost your bars immediately with this trick from Hack College, start by washing out any old beer or soda can with some soapy water. Dry it thoroughly, then flip the can upside down, and cut off the bottom with your utility knife. Also make a cut along the end with the tab, but don’t lop the top off completely—leave about an inch of metal still connected in front of the drinking hole to make a flap, as shown below.

How to Boost Wifi - with a Soda Can

Photo: youtube.com/HackCollege

The final cut will go down the can on the side opposite the metal flap. Slice the can top to bottom, and uncurl it carefully. Stretch out the aluminum on your work surface to flatten, and press down until it holds the shape. Then, when you’re ready, slip the drinking hole over your router’s antenna with the aluminum sheet up standing up tall. With your amplifier in place, sit back, relax, and enjoy the stronger connection.

FOR MORE: Hack College

7 Smart Ways to Cycle Through Laundry Faster

No one likes waiting around for their laundry to dry. So take a load off your mind the next time you tackle a heap of clothes with a few tips to dry your clothes faster.

How to Dry Clothes Fast - Tips for Your Clothes Dryer

Photo: fotosearch.com

Not all that long ago, clotheslines were the household norm. Today, however, while plenty of people like to air their ‘dirty laundry,’ only 21 percent of the population still hangs their clothes out to dry. In this fast-paced world, speed is everything. So what if we told you that your hard-working clothes dryer could work even harder? It’s so simple, it can take as little as a minute. Try any of the following tips to increase your appliance’s efficiency and shrink the time it takes to dry the load—not your clothes.

How to Dry Clothes Fast - Efficient Laundry Room

Photo: fotosearch.com

1. Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct. Periodic cleaning prevents lint buildup, which would otherwise impede the airflow and increase dry time. Perhaps most importantly, though, regular maintenance prevents an appliance fire. You should clean your dryer hose with a brush once a year, and inspect the vent for any blockages at least every 6 months.

2. Shorten the dryer hose. When you disconnect your dryer’s vent hose (that metallic, accordion-like tube) for cleaning, consider truncating it at the same time. The hose only needs to be long enough to reach your dryer, situated just a few feet away from the wall. A shorter hose requires less energy to pump moisture-laden air out of the machine than a full-length one, so your dryer can do its job up to 20 percent faster.

3. Remove lint from the filter screen. Emptying the lint screen after each load is another task that’s absolutely necessary because of lint’s flammability. If the screen gets too clogged, the dryer may overheat and automatically shut off as a safety precaution. In some cases, the tumbler still rotates and blows, so you won’t realize the heating elements are off until you open the door to find a pile of wet clothes. Forgo a fire and any wasted time by keeping it clean.

4. Shake water from your wardrobe. Immediately after the laundry comes out of the washer, wring and shake out each item over the sink to remove excess water. If some pieces are overly wet, place them back in the washer and run only the “spin” cycle to pull out some of the moisture. This may take an extra 15 minutes, but the extra cycle in the washer will save you later in overall dry time.

5. Don’t overload the dryer. It’s a mistake to think stuffing the dryer will save you time—it actually has the opposite effect. Clothes need room to tumble so heated air can pass over and through each item, so keep your load to a minimum for maximum effectiveness.

6. Resist opening the door. Whenever you open the dryer door mid-cycle, warm air escapes, and a little more time is needed to completely dry the load. Plus, if you’re adding a forgotten item, the single sopping wet piece in a partially dry load throws off your clothes dryer’s moisture detector. That means some clothes might be over-dried and others still damp. To avoid this, resolve to sticking stragglers on a drying rack, instead.

7. Throw in the towel—literally. If you have a few items you need to dry fast, toss them into the dryer with a large, dry towel to absorb some of the moisture. After 15 minutes, remove the towel and hang it up to dry; otherwise it will continue to contribute to the moisture level in the dryer and extend the drying time, thus defeating the purpose. Then, when you check on the rest of the items in another five to 10 minutes, you should find the load ready to go.

5 Things to Know Before You Buy a New Boiler

If you're worried that a new boiler might be in your future, start your research now, before the cold weather sets in. Read on for some boiler basics.

How to Choose a Boiler

Photo: fotosearch.com

When it comes to safeguarding the comfort and winter readiness of your home, time is of the essence. Don’t wait until the first frost to make sure your heating system is in good working order. Right now is the ideal time to conduct a thorough review of your home heating components. Think back to last year: Did you spend a small fortune to maintain a cozy, livable temperature throughout your home? Did you find yourself setting the thermostat lower than desired in an effort to hold down your sky-high bills? If either one of these problems sounds familiar, you certainly don’t want history to repeat itself. Here’s the good news: So long as you can pinpoint the source of your heating woes, you, in cooperation with trained professionals, can design a solution that will keep your home warm and your costs reasonable.

Determining the root cause of unsatisfactory HVAC performance isn’t always a straightforward task. But if your home features hydronic heating, those high operating costs most likely stem from the hardworking appliance at the heart of your system: the boiler. Simply put, “older boilers tend to waste a lot of energy,” according to David Kenyon, an HVAC specialist with Sears Home Services. In recent years, against a backdrop of rising energy costs and mounting environmental concerns, many of the newer boilers that have come onto the market boast better-than-ever levels of efficiency. Choosing a new boiler can be tricky, though. Continue reading to learn about the key considerations that should factor into any comprehensive selection process.

According to Kenyon, steam boilers are largely a thing of the past. “In modern homes with hydronic heat, you almost always see a hot-water boiler.” Even among hot-water boilers, though, there are fundamental variations; for instance, different units operate on different fuels. The Kenmore brand, for example, offers a range of boilers that includes some that run on oil, some on natural gas, and others on liquid propane. In your search, focus only on boilers intended to run on a fuel to which your home has cost-effective access. Fuel rates and availability are not uniform, so you have to be sure to match your new boiler to the fuels available where you live. If multiple options exist in your neck of the woods, it may be tempting to pick the cheapest. But bear in mind that switching fuel types usually involves establishing a new service line, and this installation can come with a hefty price tag. For that reason, Kenyon usually sees people replacing old boilers with new units of the same type, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Because of all the nuances at play, “it’s essential to work with a certified professional, even in the early stages,” Kenyon says. He notes that in-home consultations with Sears Home Services are free and that working with an established company can help you flesh out your project plan.

How to Choose a Boiler - Basement Unit

Photo: fotosearch.com

It’s critical to choose a new boiler whose capacity precisely meets the demands of your home. In many cases, a boiler’s poor performance is simply the result of incorrect sizing. A too-large boiler, Kenyon explains, can lead to short-cycling, where the system cycles on and off faster than it should as it satisfies the home’s heating demands. A too-small boiler, however, may end up working too hard while still leaving interior spaces uncomfortably cool. Either situation leads not only to diminished boiler efficiency, but also to a shorter lifespan for the appliance. Despite the vital importance of proper sizing, boilers are often mismatched for their applications—an understandable miscalculation, given the number of variables that are involved in determining appropriate sizing. So many factors must be taken into account, from the number and placement of windows and doors to the amount of insulation installed in the home. Don’t know where to start? Consider contacting Sears Home Services. Sears routinely performs load calculations, and as part of a consulting visit to your home, a technical specialist can do this for free.

In terms of energy consumption, “appliances like televisions and computers pale in comparison to heating and cooling appliances,” Kenyon says. “So choosing an efficient boiler can really help keep down your costs each winter.” To differentiate between boilers of varying efficiency levels, check their Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings. Expressed as a percentage, the AFUE of a given boiler communicates how efficiently it converts fuel into heat energy. The most efficient boilers earn ENERGY STAR certification, with the Kenmore line installed by Sears Home Services including several such units. A high-efficiency boiler “may cost more upfront,” remarks Kenyon, “but remember that you stand to save a lot of money over the long term.”

To perform at peak efficiency and last as long as possible, every boiler requires regular maintenance. A standard maintenance routine includes a comprehensive review of the constituent parts—everything from the electrical connections to the flue piping. In addition, some boiler components may call for periodic cleaning (e.g., the drain line) or replacement (e.g., the air filter). Before you buy a new boiler, Kenyon says, “take the time to fully understand the maintenance requirements of the unit.” Ambitious do-it-yourselfers may able to handle some of it on their own, but once per year, Kenyon strongly recommends engaging a professional. Whether or not you choose Sears Home Services as your boiler installer, you can always hire the company to conduct annual boiler maintenance to catch any issues before the winter sets in.

“Don’t attempt to install a new boiler yourself,” warns Kenyon. “It’s not a do-it-yourself project. It’s really a job for the pros.” Improper installation can result in unequivocally negative consequences, ranging from the high financial cost of inefficient operation to the physical danger of “utterly unsafe” conditions. Give the project the respect it deserves by contracting with a reputable installer who holds sufficient bonding, insurance, and all relevant licenses. While there are likely to be wholly competent outfits in your local area, Kenyon points out that there are compelling reasons to work with a nationwide company like Sears Home Services. For instance, to demonstrate its commitment to customers, the company provides a Satisfaction Guarantee. Plus, whereas some boilers come with disappointing product warranties, Kenmore models are accompanied by a full seven years of Sears Master Protection (view details). In part, that means your relationship with Sears continues well after the installation takes place. Indeed, where your comfort and safety are concerned, there’s peace of mind in having Sears in your corner.

Photo: fotosearch.com

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

Bob Vila Radio: Every DIYer Needs a Random Orbital Sander

Read on for the basics of a powerful yet precise tool useful for any number of building and repair projects, no matter your skill level or experience.

If you’re looking to create a really smooth finish on woodwork, your best bet is to use a random orbital sander—a power tool that finely sands, rounds edges, and removes coats of paint or vanish, all without leaving gouges or swirls on the surface.

Photo: fotosearch.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON RANDOM ORBITAL SANDERS or read the text below:

The random orbital sander works in a unique way: It spins the sanding disk even while moving the disk in small ellipses. That way, no part of the sandpaper travels the same path in a given rotation. The result is that you can move the sander in any direction, including against the grain of the wood. Few power tools are easier or more satisfying to work with.

Disks usually attach to the sander by way of hook-and-loop fasteners or pressure-sensitive adhesives. Your local home center advise you on what grade of sanding disk to use for the job at hand. Note that while some random orbital sanders include a built-in container for dust, you should wear goggles and a mask anyway in order to protect your eyes and lungs.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!

Complete Control: Set the Temperature at Home No Matter Where You Are

Achieve unparalleled comfort at home with zoned cooling and heating technology that gives you the ability to control your system via the Internet.

Wireless Zoned HVAC

Photo: mitsubishicomfort.com

You are reading one installment in a 10-part series devoted to exploring Mitsubishi Electric ductless cooling and heating. See all.

Cooling and heating the home isn’t what it used to be—and that’s a good thing! For decades, forced-air central systems dominated the marketplace, with the majority of homeowners subjected to the limitations of an increasingly outmoded technology. In recent years, however, we’ve seen tremendous advancement across a broad swath of product categories, like home climate control. Today, homeowners enjoy a rich variety of exciting new options for cooling and heating. Of them all, there’s perhaps none more exciting than the zoned systems pioneered by Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc. Cooling & Heating (Mitsubishi Electric). Already popular in Europe and Asia, zoned systems from Mitsubishi Electric boast several compelling features including easy, unobtrusive installation and performance so efficient that homeowners can save 30 to 40 percent on their monthly energy bills.

One feature in particular stands out from the rest: True to their name, zoned systems from Mitsubishi Electric reject the all-or-nothing approach of traditional cooling and heating. In the past, in order to control the temperature of any given room, you would need to run (and pay for) the system to operate in every room, even the empty ones. With Mitsubishi Electric, that’s no longer the case. Now, you can establish multiple zones in your home and, if you like, set a different temperature in each one. That means you’ll no longer need to pay to cool and heat the spaces you’re not occupying. Plus, every member of your household can finally feel at home under the same roof, as zoning accommodates the different temperature preferences of family members.

Wireless Zoned HVAC - Redlink App

Photo: mitsubishicomfort.com

In short, zoning gives you an extraordinarily fine degree of control over the climate of your home. But while targeting temperatures on a room-by-room basis may be revolutionary, it’s not the only way Mitsubishi Electric empowers the homeowner. Thanks to its kumo cloud™ app, the company’s zoned systems can be operated and programmed from any iOS, Android or Fire OS smartphone or tablet. There is even a web browser version, great for laptops or desktops. That doesn’t mean you can’t interact with the thermostat in your home; the point is, you don’t need to. With the kumo cloud app (free to use and download with a Wi-Fi Interface installed), you can modify thermostat settings at any time, from anywhere. Indeed, Mitsubishi Electric zoned systems are unique in that they can actually keep up with the busy modern homeowner who’s constantly on the go.

After you’ve left the house, have you ever worried that the air conditioner is still going at full blast? With the remote system monitoring that kumo cloud makes possible, you can simply pull out your smartphone to check and, if you want, turn the AC down or off. Likewise, if you’re heading home at the end of a long day, you can easily turn up the heat in advance of your arrival, ensuring that your home will be toasty and warm when you get there. Sure, you can always program a Mitsubishi Electric zoned system to run on a set schedule that you’ve specified. But schedules are prone to sudden alterations. Only over-the-Internet control accommodates for those inevitable changes of plan. By putting full control at your fingertips, kumo cloud enables you to handle any situation and capitalize on every opportunity to save money and ensure comfort.

In the future, you may wonder how you ever lived without remote control of your cooling and heating. Remote control isn’t the whole story, though, when it comes to kumo cloud from Mitsubishi Electric. The technology also delivers system monitoring with push notifications and email. That may not sound like much, but make no mistake—knowledge is power.

Imagine what could happen if your home were to experience a climate-control problem in the dead of winter while you’re on vacation in Florida. In a worst-case scenario, you would come home to frozen pipes and extensive, costly damage. If you had system monitoring in place, however, you could easily avoid such a disaster. Never forget that cooling and heating does more than keep your family comfortable—it often protects the home as well. It’s always in a homeowner’s best interest to be aware of the zoning system’s status.

Cumbersome and inefficient, traditional forced-air central cooling and heating tend to frustrate the homeowner seeking consistent, even indoor temperatures at an affordable monthly cost. For a responsive system that can provide the comfort and control that you crave, look no further than Mitsubishi Electric. The company’s kumo cloud Wi-Fi control technology, together with the system’s zoning capability, means you no longer have to sacrifice comfort for savings, or vice versa. With finely tuned, customizable control and monitoring, you can experience the most comfortable home of your life, possibly for less than you’re currently spending each month.

Wireless Zoned HVAC - Redlink How It Works

Photo: mitsubishicomfort.com

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

Official Rules: Bob Vila’s $5,000 Fall Gutter Give-Away

Bob Vila’s “$5,000 Fall Gutter Give-Away” (the “Sweepstakes”) is sponsored by Vila Media, LLC, Post Office Box 835, West Barnstable, MA 02668 (“Sponsor”).

The Sweepstakes consists of one (1) random drawing (the “Drawing”). The Sweepstakes begins at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (“EST”) on October 31st, 2015 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on November 30th, 2015 (the “Sweepstakes Period”). One Drawing will be held during the Sweepstakes Period. The entry period for the Drawing shall begin at 12:00 p.m. EST on October 31st, 2015 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on November 30th, 2015 (the “Entry Period”). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. MAKING A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. ODDS OF WINNING WILL DEPEND ON THE TOTAL NUMBER OF ENTRIES RECEIVED. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. ONLINE ENTRY ONLY AND INTERNET CONNECTION REQUIRED. AFFIDAVIT OF ELIGIBILITY AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY FORM MAY BE REQUIRED.

Open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. Employees of Sponsor and its respective parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and promotion agencies and any other entity involved in the development or administration of this Sweepstakes, and their immediate family members or household members are not eligible to participate in or win the Sweepstakes. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any person who fails to meet the eligibility requirements or any person it determines, in its sole discretion, to be sufficiently connected with the Sweepstakes such that such person’s participation could create the appearance of impropriety. Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means are void, and Sponsor expressly reserves the right to disqualify any entries that it believes in good faith are generated by an automated program or via scripts. Entries that are determined, in the sole discretion of the Sponsor to constitute advertisements, commercial messages, or “spam” will be disqualified and deleted. Void where prohibited by law. All applicable federal, state and local laws apply. No purchase is necessary to participate in the Sweepstakes. You may enter any given Drawing one (1) time per household per day by visiting the BOB VILA website at http://www.bobvila.com and submit your name and email address using the online ““$5,000 Fall Gutter Give-Away” submission form.

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

If you do not have internet access, alternative means of entry for the Drawing is available by faxing your name, address and phone number to the Sponsor at 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. One (1) alternative entry per household per day. Any additional entries submitted via fax within one day will be deemed void.

Entries received after the end of the Sweepstakes Period will be deemed void. Normal time, toll, connection and usage rates, if any, charged by your Internet Service Provider will apply. All entries become the property of the Sponsor. By entering the Drawing during the Sweepstakes, you will be agreeing that any information collected in connection with the Sweepstakes may be used by Sponsor in accordance with Vila Media, LLC’s Privacy Policy, a current copy of which can be found here. By participating, all entrants agree to abide by these Official Rules.

At the end of the Entry Period, there will be one (1) drawing in which one (1) potential winner (“Winner”) shall be selected from all eligible entries received during that Entry Period by employees or representatives of the Sponsor to receive the prize designated for the Drawing. The winning entry will be chosen at random. The number of eligible entries received during the Entry Period for the Drawing determines the odds of winning. The Sweepstakes will be conducted under the supervision of the Sponsor. If the Winner is determined to be ineligible, forfeits or does not claim the prize, the prize will be re-awarded, in Sponsor’s sole discretion based on a subsequent drawing from the pool of eligible entries. Other restrictions may apply. Decisions of the Sponsor are final and binding with respect to all matters related to the Sweepstakes. All prizes (or in the event of a lost, misdirected, or otherwise unavailable prize, a prize of equivalent value) will be awarded. In no event shall the Sponsor be obligated to award more prizes than the number of prizes stated in these Official Rules. Winner shall be responsible and liable for all federal, state and local taxes on the value of their prize. To receive a complete list of winners or a copy of the Official Rules, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Prize Fulfillment, Vila Media, LLC, PO Box 835 Barnstable, MA 02668. Specify winner’s list or rules on your request.

The Winner will be notified by email, or in the case of alternate entry, by phone; Sponsor reserves the right to determine the method of notification. Winner must claim their prize within twenty-four (24) hours after the date of notification of their prize. A Winner’s failure to respond to the prize notification within the specified twenty-four (24) hours will be considered such Winner’s forfeiture of the prize and an alternate Winner may be selected from the pool of eligible entries. If an entrant is found to be ineligible, an alternate Winner may also be selected from the pool of eligible entries. Sponsor reserves the right to ship prizes directly to the mailing and/or email address (as applicable) provided by Winner during their entry to the Drawing.

The prize for the Drawing during the Sweepstakes Period shall be 1 (one) LeafGuard home gutter system and installation, with approximate retail value $5,000 (MSRP). If a LeafGuard dealer is not available in the winner’s market for any reason, the winner will receive $5,000 cash.
Prize is not transferable.

Limit one prize per entrant. Actual retail value may vary. Winner will not receive the difference between actual and approximate retail value. Prize includes installation.

An entrant or winner may be disqualified from the Sweepstakes, and his or her entry may be deleted, if he or she fails to comply with each provision of these Official Rules, as determined in the sole discretion of the Sponsor. Participation in the Sweepstakes is at entrant’s own risk. Sponsor shall not be liable for (1) failed, returned or misdirected notifications based on inaccurate information provided by the winner on the Drawings entry forms, (2) entries and responses to winner notifications which are lost, late, incomplete, illegible, unintelligible, postage-due, misdirected, damaged or otherwise not received by the intended recipient in whole or in part or for computer or technical error of any kind, (3) any electronic miscommunications or failures, technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmissions which may limit an entrant’s ability to participate in part or wholly in the Sweepstakes, (4) any technical malfunctions of the telephone network, computer on-line system, computer equipment, software, program malfunctions or other failures, delayed computer transactions or network connections that are human, mechanical or technical in nature, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from downloading any part of this Sweepstakes or (5) any warranty of fitness or merchantability of any prize or the function or operation thereof, which shall be the sole responsibility of the manufacturer of the prize. Sponsor does not make any, and hereby disclaims any and all, representations or warranties of any kind regarding any prize. Unless prohibited by applicable law, your entry constitutes your permission to use your name, photograph, likeness, voice, address (city and state) and testimonials in all media, in perpetuity, in any manner Sponsor deems appropriate for publicity purposes without any further compensation to such entrant.

By entering or accepting a prize in the Sweepstakes, Winner agrees to be bound by these Official Rules and to conform to all federal, state and local laws and regulations. When applicable, the Winner (or, if the Winner is a minor, the Winner’s parent or legal guardian) may be required to execute and return to Sponsor within three (3) business days an Affidavit of Eligibility, a Liability and Publicity Release and relevant tax forms to be eligible for the prize or an alternate winner may be selected. Winner may be required to furnish proof of identity, address and birth date in order to receive a prize.

By entering, an entrant agrees to indemnify, release and hold harmless Sponsor and each of its respective parents, subsidiaries and affiliated entities, directors, officers, employees, attorneys, agents, and representatives (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from any damage, injury, death, loss, claim, action, demand, or other liability (collectively, “Claims”) that may arise from their acceptance, possession and/or use of any prize or their participation in the Sweepstakes, or from any misuse or malfunction of any prize awarded, regardless of whether such Claims, or knowledge of the facts constituting such Claims, exist at the time of entry or arise at any time thereafter. Released Parties are not responsible or liable to any entrant or to any Winner or any person claiming through such Winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action, regulation, order or request by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action, regulations, order or request proves to be invalid), equipment failure, threatened terrorist acts, terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond the Released Parties’ sole control. The Released Parties are not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by entrants, printing, electronic or human errors or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes; (2) viruses or technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications or entry information, any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, failures or technical malfunction of any computer online systems, servers, providers, computer equipment, software, email, players or browsers, whether on account of technical problems, traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, or on account of any combination of the foregoing; (3) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (4) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Sweepstakes; (5) technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Sweepstakes or the processing of entries; (6) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant’s participation in the Sweepstakes or receipt or use or misuse of any prize; or (7) late, lost, misdirected, illegible, incomplete or mutilated entries or for theft, destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of entries. These indemnification and release provisions shall survive expiration of the Sweepstakes.

Persons found tampering with, abusing, or otherwise disrupting any aspect of this Sweepstakes, or otherwise attempting to defraud Sponsor, as solely determined by Sponsor, will be disqualified and their entries will be deleted. If disqualified, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the entrant’s eligibility to further participate in this Sweepstakes and future promotions and sweepstakes of Sponsor or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates. Any attempt by an entrant or any other individual to undermine the legitimate operation of this Sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil laws. Should such an attempt be made, sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law.

This Sweepstakes is strictly for promotional and entertainment purposes and may not be used in connection with any form of gambling. In the event this Sweepstakes is challenged by any legal or regulatory authority, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the Sweepstakes, or to disqualify entrants residing in the affected geographic areas. In such event, the Sponsor shall have no liability to any entrants who are disqualified due to such an action. Sponsor reserves the right to modify these Official Rules in any way or at any time. Sponsor reserves the right, in their sole discretion, to cancel or suspend this Sweepstakes should viruses, bugs or other causes beyond their control corrupt the administration, security or proper play of the Sweepstakes. In the event any portion of this Sweepstakes is compromised by any non-authorized human intervention, actions of entrants, or other causes beyond the control of Sponsor which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, corrupt or impair the integrity, administration, security, or operation of this Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to suspend, modify, abbreviate or terminate the Sweepstakes without further obligation. If Sponsor elects to abbreviate the Sweepstakes, Winner(s) will be determined from all eligible entries received for Drawing(s) prior to the action or compromise giving rise to the suspension or termination of this Sweepstakes. In the event of cancellation, abbreviation or suspension, Sponsor shall promptly post a notice on the Sweepstakes entry page to such effect.

This Sweepstakes shall be governed by New York law. By participating in this Sweepstakes entrants agree that New York courts shall have jurisdiction over any dispute or litigation arising from or relating to this Sweepstakes and that venue shall be only in New York City, New York. The failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. If any part of these Official Rules is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unenforceable, that part will be enforced to the maximum extent permitted by law, and the remainder of these Official Rules will remain fully in force.

How To: Waterproof Fabric

You can waterproof everything from your favorite outdoor pillows to your kitschy canvas tote using a water repellant that’s been around for more than a century.

How To Waterproof Fabric - DIY Waterproofing With Wax

Photo: fotosearch.com

Looking to reupholster your dining room chairs in a beautiful print without having to worry about future damage from spills? Concerned about wearing a new pair of canvas sneakers because of the threat of rain? You’re not alone: Despite the advent and increased use of synthetic fibers, not every fabric is water-repellent—but it can be. Sure, you could commit to spraying on a store-bought silicone solution once a year between rainy seasons. But, if you’re a die-hard do-it-yourselfer and you’d like to waterproof your fabrics the old-fashioned way, you can seal the deal with one tried-and-true ingredient: wax. Just follow the steps below and, before you know it, those water droplets will be rolling off your favorite fabrics in no time flat.

The Wax On, Water Off Method
One hundred years ago, wax was the go-to substance for waterproofing fabric. Not only did it repel water, but it also smelled better than the tars, tannins, and oils commonly used at the time. Today, high-end apparel companies like Filson and Barbour still sell waxed outerwear—but it comes with a hefty price tag. If you’re willing to waterproof your wearables the old-school way with wax, here’s a DIY method that comes at a much lower cost yet with equally good results.

- 1 large saucepan
- 1 metal bowl
- Stovetop
- 4 oz. paraffin wax
- 4 oz. beeswax pellets
- Stirring spoon
- Clothes dryer
- 1-inch disposable paintbrush
- Heat gun or hair dryer
- Pillowcase (optional)
- Freezer (optional)

How To Waterproof Fabric - Dining Room Chair Seats

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Moorestown, NJ

Create a double boiler to melt the waxes by filling a saucepan with water, bringing it to a boil on the stovetop, then resting a metal bowl on top of the pan. The metal bowl should be small enough to fit inside the pan, but large enough that its bottom doesn’t touch the water. The space between the pan and the bowl will trap the heat needed to melt the wax in the bowl above.

Place four ounces of beeswax pellets (available in the candle-making section of an arts and crafts store) in the metal bowl. Then, cut the four-ounce bar of paraffin wax into small chunks and add them to the pellets, stirring the two together until the chunks melt. While the waxes liquefy, throw the item you wish to waterproof into the dryer (if possible) to warm the material. This will make the application process easier.

Stir until all chunks of wax have melted, then apply the molten wax to the fabric in a thick layer using a one-inch paintbrush. (An inexpensive brush with stiff bristles provides the best results here.) Work in one small section at a time until you have evenly covered the entire area.

Turn a heat gun on at a low setting or a hair dryer on high, and point it toward the layer you just applied so that it melts the wax into the fabric. Allow it to cool.

For any smaller item, such as a pair of canvas shoes or a square of upholstery fabric for a chair seat, also slip the wax-coated piece into an old pillowcase and run it through the dryer for 15 minutes. This, too, will help melt the wax.

When the item is cool, check for uneven spots. Apply a second coat, if necessary, then reheat the fabric once again.

Allow the item to cure for at least 24 hours before you use it. Should you notice a strong smell from the wax, you can let the waterproofed item air out over the next few days or, for faster results, make space to stick it in the freezer overnight. When you retrieve it, your waxed material should be odorless, watertight, and ready for use.

Quick Tip: How to Snag Shipping Pallets for Your Next Project

Shipping pallets are a highly coveted material among DIYers, but finding them can be a tricky business. Learn where to score cheap, quality pallets for your next project with these easy tips.

Where to Find Pallets - DIY Project Materials

Photo: fotosearch.com

The foundation of many furniture projects—like crafty wine racks, whimsical swing chairs, and elegant daybeds—relies on old-fashioned elbow grease and a pile of shipping pallets. Durable, versatile, and affordable, pallets are a must-have in your workshop, should you need to know where to find them. While you can order shipping pallets online, plucky DIYers seeking a bargain may be more tempted to upcycle shipping pallets found in dumpsters or lumberyards. These innocent-looking pallets may seem like a DIY treasure trove, but they could be unsafe to bring into your home. To find the cleanest and cheapest pallets, consider these tips.

Where to Find Pallets - Stack of Cheap Wood Pallets

Photo: fotosearch.com

• Skip large commercial companies that may house contaminated pallets or have disposal practices already in place. Instead, frequent small businesses like nurseries or gardens, hardware and power equipment stores, furniture stores, and neighborhood construction zones. These sites regularly receive a steady supply of clean and safe pallets that they’re often willing to unload for free if you ask.

• If a new storefront has opened up in your town, consider swinging by and inquiring with them as well. Oftentimes their influx of product has arrived via shipping pallets, and they would be happy to donate some to your DIY cause.

• But remember, never take what seems to be a freebie without asking! Some companies are charged for unreturned pallets, so always check first.

• If the places around town fail you, you can always scour Craigslist for users who are looking to get rid of their stash.

Before you commit to a pickup, keep in mind that not all pallets are equal: Some may contain splinters or nails, be tainted by food or fungus, or have been treated with harmful chemicals. Always check for the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) logo, which certifies that a pallet has been heat-treated or fumigated to prevent the spread of insects or plant diseases. Unstamped pallets may or may not be safe to use; don’t risk it. Heat-treated pallets (marked “HT”) are safe to use, as are debarked pallets (marked “DB”). Ones marked “MB” have been treated with methyl bromide, a highly toxic pesticide—not something you want to use as your building supplies. Select the stamped pallets that appear sturdy enough to support your future DIY endeavors and, ideally, were made in the United States (an abbreviation indicating the country of origin should be on the IPPC stamp). Once you’ve confirmed that a pallet meets your standards, take it home and get to work!

Weekend Projects: 5 Designs for an Easy DIY Storage Bench

Stylishly cure a lifetime of clutter by building one of these easy and inexpensive storage benches.

When you’re choosing functional furniture for your indoor or outdoor spaces, an ideal piece would feature three characteristics: comfort, style, and storage. Whether placed in a small entryway or on a back patio, a storage bench meets all these requirements, increasing seating, doubling organization opportunities, and adding a boost of pattern or style to any room. While some store-bought models don’t come cheap, you can still incorporate this multipurpose marvel into your home with a few materials and some ingenuity. Run through these five DIY storage benches for ideas and inspiration to help you build a version of your own this weekend.



DIY Storage Bench - Converted from Twin Bed

Photo: myrepurposedlife.com

This dreamy storage bench from My Repurposed Life cleverly relocates the comforts and style of basic bedroom furniture to the great outdoors. The mastermind behind this innovative idea began by cutting the footboard of a bed into multiple pieces to fashion the frame and armrests. A $5 scrap drawer is the true hero of the piece, serving as both the seat and subtle storage for outdoor oddities. The no-sew cushion adds a cozy finishing touch, making this bench an ideal spot for porch lounging on fair-weather days.



DIY Storage Bench - Sliding Door

Photo: abeautifulmess.com

Sleek and hardworking, this storage bench was designed with kids in mind. Cunning half walls at either end mean that kids can stash toys behind closed doors without even having to slide them open. A resourceful DIYer from A Beautiful Mess challenged himself to make the frame of this bench from a single sheet of particle board; pocket holes secure the pieces. After attaching the top, verticals, and back, he positioned the sliding doors and held them in place with surrounding strips. Finger holes in the doors make them easier to slide for access to toys and knickknacks.



DIY Storage Bench - Cabinet Bench

Photo: mylove2create.com

If needless clutter has invaded your home, don’t flip your lid—flip an inexpensive particleboard cabinet instead. This elegant storage bench from My Love 2 Create is actually a tall laminate cabinet that’s been turned on its side, trimmed with scrap wood, and outfitted with a huddle of furring strips for the bench top. The weathered-wood stain gives the piece a winsome appeal, and screw-on casters make it easy to wheel away this homegrown storage solution at a moment’s notice.



DIY Storage Bench - Open-Top Bench

Photo: betterwhenbuilt.com

If loose stationery and folders have left a paper trail throughout your house, file them away in this open-top storage bench from Better When Built. The pieces—legs, front, back, and sides—were cut from plywood and assembled using pocket-hole screws, and then the bench was sanded and painted. The success of this space-smart bench literally hinges on the bench top—an eye-catching, foam-cushioned lid that’s fastened to the frame with lustrous nickel hinges.



DIY Storage Bench - Wooden Seat

Photo: thekimsixfix.com

This wooden bench is a double-duty solution for space-challenged backyards. While the standard wood design serves as the perfect perch for guests, it’s the storage area underneath that makes this build truly functional. Although Kim from The Kim Six Fix outfitted her version with thrift store crates she found for a steal, any bins you have lying around will do to house your pool toys, lawn games, or other outdoor extras that need corralling.

Bob Vila Radio: Dodge Disaster with a Wi-Fi Flood Alarm

Homeowners dread the possibility of being away from home when a pipe bursts or the basement floods. Now, with internet-enabled sumps pumps and water sensors, you can get instant alerts and a fighting chance to keep the damage contained.

Flood alarms have been around in one form or another for decades. At its most basic, the technology isn’t new. But of all the ways to protect your home and its contents from extensive, expensive moisture damage, flood alarms offer a great return on investment.

Flood Alarms

Photo: flickr.com via crartist

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Listen to BOB VILA ON FLOOD ALARMS or read the text below:

The oldest and most inexpensive models out there simply emit a loud noise when triggered. While certainly better than no alarm at all, their drawback is that you may not be at home to hear the alarm. More sophisticated are the models that you can program to telephone you (and your plumber too, if you want) in case of a flood. But in this digital day and age, why rely only on phone calls? Now, you can buy internet-connected sump pumps that call, text, and email you if there’s a gushing pipe in the basement. That way, you can be sure not to miss the alarm, and you can jump into action as quickly as possible to keep damage to a minimum.

If you’re willing to spend big bucks, you might even want to consider a whole-house alarm system that combines flood, fire, and intruder detection in one, with monitoring by a commercial service. Hey, don’t underestimate the value of peace of mind!

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!