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How To: Remove Paint from Plastic

These four paint easy removal methods prove successful in any DIY situation, leaving your plastic pristine.

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How to Remove Paint from Plastic

Photo: istockphoto.com

Nothing spoils the satisfaction of a paint job like drips and splatters on plastic surfaces, such as light switch covers, handles on uncovered appliances, step stools, and outdoor furniture. Hey, accidents happen—even to the most conscientious DIYers—so don’t despair. While it may take a bit more effort than a simple swipe to remove paint from plastic, especially if the paint has dried, the techniques below have proven to banish evidence of this common home improvement slip-up.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Mild dish soap
- Water
- Small bucket
- Clean rags or paper towels
- Paint scraper
- Razor blade
- Work gloves
- Vegetable oil
- Nail polish remover with acetone
- Facemask
- Rubbing alcohol

How to Remove Paint from Plastic - with Vegetable Oil

Photo: dreamstime.com

OPTION 1: Wash it off. It’s always best to address painting mishaps as soon as they occur. So if you spot a fresh spill, fill a bucket with warm water and dish soap, grab a clean rag or paper towels, and wash it off. Once the paint is gone, hose down the item or use a clean, damp rag to rinse.

OPTION 2: Rub it off. If soap and water are ineffective, chances are the paint has begun to dry. Now it’s time to hit the pantry for some vegetable oil, a benign, typically skin-safe substance that can help soften and lift paint. Put some oil on a clean rag and rub the spill, using a bit of elbow grease. Once the paint begins to “give,” employ a paint scraper and proceed to Option 3. If vegetable oil fails, don a pair of work gloves and try nail polish remover containing acetone. Pour on enough to cover the affected area, then rub and wipe with a clean rag or paper towels, repeating as necessary until paint is gone.

OPTION 3: Scrape it off. Your weapon of choice for unwanted dried paint on a flat plastic surface is a paint scraper. Starting at any corner or edge of the spill, apply the scraper as if sliding it underneath to gently “lift” off the splotch. Be patient and maintain constant, steady pressure; attack it too vigorously and you could mar the plastic. On a contoured plastic surface like a chair, use a razor blade in the manner described above. Just keep the blade at an angle to avoid damaging the piece, and remember safety at all times.

OPTION 4: Scrub it off. For truly stubborn paint spills on plastic, turn to isopropyl alcohol. It will remove without melting plastic the way harsh paint thinners can, but you should nonetheless wear a face mask to guard against inhaling fumes, as well as work gloves to protect your skin. Pour alcohol over the unwanted paint and scrub firmly with a rag. You may need to be persistent until paint begins to disappear. Just keep at it and your patience will be rewarded with a clean, paint-free surface. No one will ever know you had a painting casualty!


All of the Expert Painting Advice from BobVila.com

Of all the options available to remodelers, paint provides the quickest, easiest, and most affordable way to achieve a transformation, inside or out. Ready to look at your home in a new way? Click now for the color ideas to make your project beautiful.


Cool Tools: The Gentler Alternative to a Pry Bar

Neatly remove door casing, baseboard, chair-rail molding, and more—without damaging walls in the process.

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Trim Puller - The Better Pry Bar Alternative

Photo: trimpuller.com

Removing trim is one of the peskiest aspects of a deconstruction job. Rotating through and manipulating various clunky, generic implements—crowbar, pry bar, chisel—is a total time suck that inevitably leaves you with damaged walls and trashed trim. You end up having to repair surfaces, and you can forget about reinstalling or repurposing that old molding that you just ruined. To the rescue: Zenith Industries’ new Trim Puller, which is engineered to easily and efficiently take off baseboard, chair rail, door casing, decorative trim—you name it—in a way that protects walls and preserves molding. And while you’ll love how it tackles trim, you’ll also discover plenty of other uses for this tough, sturdy beauty. So stop wasting time and money—read on to learn why the Trim Puller is your new go-to demo and restoration hand tool.

Zenith Industries' Trim Puller

Photo: trimpuller.com

Smart, Specific Design
With the Trim Puller, there’s no more sweating over multipurpose tools that perform poorly. Its business end is four inches of heat-treated carbon steel that’s not just wider but also larger and flatter than any crowbar or pry bar, providing three points of contact instead of just one. Its ground bevel edge drives cleanly between the trim and the wall, while an integrated center wedge cleanly separates the trim from the wall, leaving both in good shape.

Quick and Comfortable
The Trim Puller makes short work of an otherwise tiresome, potentially painful and costly chore. Simply line it up along the seam where the trim meets the wall and hit the top with a hammer or mallet, creating a gap as the wedge drives in between the two, automatically beginning to separate the trim from the wall. Working at intervals (leveraging from side to side if necessary), gently separate the molding from the surface. Not only do you waste zero time switching between tools as you go, but thanks to the tool’s wide contact area and greater leveraging ability, it takes just a few swings of the hammer for the trim to pop off intact. Trim Puller also has excellent “feel”—solid but not too heavy—and its comfort-grip, impact-absorbing EPDM handle means you’ll barely feel the vibration of your hammer blows. The task goes so smoothly, your hands and knees won’t know you’re doing demo!

Trim Is Just the Beginning!
The more remodeling you do, the more indispensable you’ll find the Trim Puller. For instance, its leveraging abilities make it highly effective for taking off siding and flooring, knocking off ceramic tiles, and lifting carpet tack strip and edging. You can rely on it to detach decorative panels from doors or trim around windows without risk of damage, and remove countertops whether they’ve been nailed or glued in place. Plus, thanks to its center wedge, the Trim Puller can even be used as a temporary shim when leveling base cabinets for installation.

A tool tailored to make one of your least-favorite demo duties easier, that has multiple uses besides? Now that’s a remodeling must-have.

Purchase a Trim Puller from Zenith Industries; $29.95, shipping included.

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


The 3 Best Reasons to Upgrade Your Garage Door

If your garage door is bringing down the look of your entire facade, maybe it's time for a change—and what better place to start than with the high-quality doors and a generous new selection of styles, colors, and options from Clopay.

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Garage Door Replacement

Photo: clopaydoor.com

Every time you leave or return home, you can’t help but notice the garage door. But how often do you really look at it? If you’re like most, you rarely pause to consider the impact your garage door has on the appearance of your home. Indeed, ever since the rise of the automobile, the garage door has become the dominant feature of most home exteriors. Paint colors, architectural details, and landscaping all contribute to a home’s character, but make no mistake, curb appeal inevitably suffers if a garage door appears worn, out of date, or simply doesn’t complement the rest of the house. But this isn’t just about aesthetics. The right garage door can directly benefit a homeowner’s bottom line, both right away and over the long term, so a garage door should never be an afterthought. Instead, view a new garage door as an opportunity to give your home an instant facelift in a highly cost-effective way. If it’s been years since you shopped for a garage door, you may be pleasantly surprised by how much things have changed. Garage door manufacturers like Clopay now offer an astonishingly wide range of durable, low-maintenance materials and styles, with all the options you need to customize a door that will suit your home perfectly.

 

1. CURB APPEAL

Garage Door Replacement - Clopay Curb Appeal

Photo: clopaydoor.com

When viewed from the street, the garage door can account for as much as 40 percent of a home’s facade. Because it’s so prominent, the garage door can make or break a visitor’s first impression. If your battered old door has seen better days—or if it never really matched your home in the first place—then it may be sending the wrong message about you, your style, and your priorities as a homeowner. By upgrading to a new garage door that perfectly captures your design vision, you can instantly transform your home’s curb appeal. As simple as that sounds, there are a lot of factors to consider. With its online Door Imagination System, Clopay makes selecting the perfect door not only easy, but actually fun. After you upload a photo of your home, you can experiment with different combinations of garage door designs, finishes, and hardware, so you can see exactly how each would look installed on your house. From timeless carriage house style doors to sleek and streamlined contemporary models, Clopay provides plenty of options. Because when it comes to curb appeal, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach.

 

2. ENERGY SAVINGS

Garage Door Replacement - Clopay Energy Efficiency

Photo: clopaydoor.com

In a busy household, the garage door gets opened and closed so frequently that temperatures inside the garage go up and down like a rollercoaster. That isn’t such a big deal in a stand-alone, rarely used garage. It’s a much different story, though, when the garage is attached to the house, or if your garage doubles as a workshop, laundry, or utility room. Here, the temperature matters, not only for your comfort, but also for your energy bills. After all, temperatures in the garage can affect those of adjacent living areas. Check your next utility bill. If it’s sky-high, your garage door may be at least partially to blame. Fortunately, there’s a simple, cost-effective solution—garage door insulation. An insulated garage door ensures substantially more stable temperature levels. In fact, on a cold winter’s day, an insulated door keeps the garage 10 to 20 degrees warmer than it would be otherwise, according to a study by Clopay engineers. If you’re hoping to raise the energy efficiency of your garage and your home, be sure to double-check the insulating properties of any door you’re considering. Another reason to opt for a door from Clopay: The company gives you the freedom to choose the type of garage door insulation best suited to your needs—polystyrene or foamed-in-place polyurethane (ideal for regions with cold winters and hot summers). No matter which you choose, you can count on greater comfort and savings with an insulated garage door.

 

3. RETURN ON INVESTMENT

Garage Door Replacement - Clopay Return on Investment

Photo: clopaydoor.com

Everyone knows that home improvement adds value, but from a return-on-investment point of view, a handful of projects are known to pay you back when it’s time to sell. It may surprise you to learn that out of all the most commonly completed home remodeling projects, garage door replacement ranks near the very top of the list in terms of cost-effectiveness. In its annual Cost Vs. Value Report, Remodeling magazine reports that at resale the average homeowner recoups 91.5% of the amount spent on a garage door upgrade. Of course, maintenance goes a long way to safeguard your return. All garage doors require annual maintenance to keep them running smoothly. Take note, though: Not every garage door on the market is built to last, and some require ongoing finish upkeep to retain their beauty through the years. Look for insulated models constructed in durable, low-maintenance steel or composite, so you can enjoy all the benefits of your new garage door without any hassle.

 

Gone are the days when homeowners expected garage doors to do nothing more than open and close. Today, we insist on eye-catching designs that complement the colors and architectural style of our homes. At the same time, savvy homeowners know that the garage door can maximize comfort and energy efficiency. Finally, more and more homeowners look to garage door replacement as a reliable means of boosting home resale value. Times have changed, and in the modern home, garage doors play a central role, both aesthetically and practically. Let Clopay, with its history of service and commitment to American-made products and design innovation, help you transform the look of your home by giving you the tools and the confidence you need to take the next step.

Garage Door Replacement - Clopay Closer

Photo: clopay.com

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


Genius! Hide a Litter Box (and Its Mess) in Plain Sight

If you own a cat, you know that taking care of a pet isn't all about cuddling up on the couch. Try out this clever DIY to transform on-hand furniture into a hidden litter box—and stop the stray litter and odors for good.

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DIY Hidden Litterbox

Photo: housetweaking.com

Cat owners love to spoil their pets, and why wouldn’t they? These cuddly companions with big personalities won’t make you feel guilty for streaming eight Netflix episodes in a row or judge you for skipping your morning run. In fact, there aren’t many downsides to caring for such an independent animal, but keeping—and cleaning—a smelly litter box tops the short list.

DIY Hidden Litterbox - Cutting the Hole for the Pet Door

Photo: housetweaking.com

Dana, the all-star DIY-er behind House*Tweaking and owner of a Maine Coon kitten, knows the struggle well. Her initial litter box setup on the floor next to the dryer was much too accessible to her curious toddler, plus the odor practically overpowered the scent of fresh laundry. When researching how to make her own litter box solution, she found that most existing DIY plans required buying and converting new dressers and other furniture. Determined to make it work with what she had, Dana settled on starting with a tall Ikea Pax wardrobe that stood nestled into the corner of her entryway.

Compared to building a cabinet from scratch, converting the Pax was a pain-free process. Dana’s wardrobe already had all of the ideal features for a litter box cover: double doors for easy access when it came time to clean up, storage space for litter and toys, and a modern design that complemented the rest of her decor. All she needed to do was empty out the bottom shelf where the box would sit and add a pet door.

Adjustable shelving made it easy enough to raise or even remove the divider in order to accommodate a cat’s height. Then, using a measuring tape and a jigsaw, Dana carefully cut out a hole just large enough to fit a flap door. But the flap isn’t altogether necessary: If you don’t want to shell out for a pet door,  simply sand the edges of the cut-out to remove any splinters and leave it uncovered for your cat to come and go. Door or no door, an entryway bench pulled up to the cabinet serves well to discreetly hide the litter box entrance from view.

The pet door Dana picked up on Amazon cost about $20, but shopping her home for everything else she needed meant money zero dollars wasted on new or used furniture to convert into a litter box cover. Secondhand, similar cabinets cost at least $30, and new shelving units would set Dana back $100 or more—all of which are still cheaper options than a ready-made box cover from an online retailer. Better yet, the custom enclosure reduces odor and keeps litter in the box instead of scattered all over the floor. As much as you love the prospect of not having to see or smell cat turds ever  again, your cat might be the biggest fan of the litter box upgrade: Dana says her cat Cheetah “took to it right away,” and prefers the privacy of her custom bathroom to the old, open setup by the appliances.

FOR MORE: House*Tweaking 

DIY Hidden Litterbox - Inside and Out

Photo: housetweaking.com


How To: Stretch Carpet

If your wall-to-wall begins to bunch, wrinkle, or otherwise come up short, try this strategy to restore its looks, comfort, and safety.

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How to Stretch Carpet - Carpeted Living Room

Photo: dreamstime.com

Even the nicest wall-to-wall carpeting can start to buckle, ripple, or wrinkle over time when it loosens and lifts from the initial adhesive. Sometimes the carpet unfastens due to humidity, other times from improper installation. Whatever the cause, consider re-stretching your initial investment before you take a nasty fall due to the tripping hazard. Making carpeting taut again isn’t an especially difficult task for the daring do-it-yourselfer. In fact, this project’s most challenging aspect for the average homeowner is that it requires access to two professional tools: a power stretcher and knee kicker.

While the former looks like a mop with sharp teeth, it does the bulk of the work when either installing carpet or stretching out any wrinkles over spaces of 10 feet by 10 feet or more. All set up, the power stretcher’s head of teeth hooks through the pile and into the carpet’s backing on one side of the bumps and the base remains positioned on the other. Then, with a press of the handle, the power stretcher extends, pushing the two ends farther apart and stretching the carpet. A knee kicker possesses similar stretching talents on a smaller scale—perfect for dewrinkling in tight corners and spaces within three feet from the wall. Fortunately for the average homeowner who only looking to fix up a single room, both tools (which together retail upwards of $400) are typically available to rent by the hour or day from your local home improvement store, bringing this ambitious DIY project back to within reach.

How to Stretch Carpet - With a Power Carpet Stretcher

Photo: homedepot.com

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Power stretcher
- Knee kicker (optional)
- Work gloves
- Pliers
- Flat-head screwdriver
- Pry bar (optional)
- Carpet knife or utility knife
- Yardstick

How to Stretch Carpet

Photo: dreamstime.com

STEP 1
Remove all furniture from the room. Don’t fret over fixed obstacles, such as built-in cabinets—you can work around them. Then, run a vacuum over the entire carpet; hoovering the excess dirt before you start will limit the amount of dust that shakes free while stretching the carpet.

STEP 2
Pull on your work gloves, and free the corner of your carpet from the baseboard tack strip by gently tugging with a pair of pliers. (Work carefully so that you don’t fray the pile fibers too much during the process.) Once you’ve undone enough of the edge for you to grab the carpet, set down your pliers and tug the carpet by hand away from the wall. Work your way along the wall for three sides of the room, leaving one side in place to anchor the carpet.

Beneath the carpet, the pad should lie short of (and not overlap) the tack strip and remain firmly secured to the subfloor. Using the pliers and a flat-head screwdriver, remove any tacks or staples that might secure the carpet to the padding—or a pry bar if they’re stubborn. Again, pull gently so you don’t tear carpet fibers. Leave tack strips in place unless rotten or moldy; otherwise, rip them out using a pry bar angled underneath the setting nails and replace them.

STEP 3
Brace the power stretcher’s base against a short length of 2×4 in front of the wall where the carpet remains attached. (When the power stretcher’s base pushes as its head stretches, the wood will protect your wall and trim.) Lay the machine, tooth-side down, perpendicular to the ripple or ripples. Increase the length of the stretcher’s shaft using extension poles until the head is about 6 inches from the opposite wall. Then, adjust the length of the teeth on the machine’s head via a knob or dial in order to sink them through the pile and into the carpet backing.

STEP 4
Press down on the machine’s lever of a handle to extend the head (teeth still gripping the carpeting) as the stretching begins. If it takes herculean effort to push the lever, you’re overstretching the carpet and could damage it. If it’s too easy, you’re not stretching the carpet enough to remove the ridges; adjust the teeth to let go of the carpeting, then lift the head and handle and start over using the appropriate force.

Continue to press the lever until you see the wrinkles disappear. Your carpeting should reach the wall, perhaps even a little further. Press its backing into the tack strip until it holds, and then release the power stretcher’s handle.

STEP 5 (optional)
Depending on how long the ripple is, you may need to reposition the power carpet stretcher a couple feet to the right or left of where you started. Repeat Steps 3 and 4.

How to Stretch Carpet - with a Knee Kicker

Photo: dreamstime.com

STEP 6 (optional)
If you’re working in a small area or a corner where the power stretcher is too large to use, employ the knee kicker (pictured at right) to finish the job. Press the teeth of this old-school tool into the carpet 6 inches from the wall, and adjust their lengths so that they hook through the pile and into the backing. Then, place your leg just above the kneecap into its padded base, and kick forward. More or harder kicks will push the head forward and effectively stretch the carpet. When you’ve worked out any lumps in your carpet, immediately fasten the section of carpeting to the tack strip.

STEP 7
Before you move to the adjoining walls to reattach carpet to the subfloor, use a curved carpet knife or sharp utility knife to trim any amount of carpeting material that extends past the floor. Roll the surplus carpet back toward you and cut a straight line on the backing right about where the wall meets the floor. Be sure to leave enough material to abut or tuck under the baseboard—better to have more length than cut the carpeting too short to reach the wall. A yardstick or straightedge placed atop the carpet can help keep the carpet aligned with the baseboard as you slice.

STEP 8
Finally, carefully press the carpeting into the tack strips on both adjoining walls.

Now you’ve got flat, smooth, safe wall-to-wall to welcome you home again. Enjoy!


Enter to Win the $5,000 Dream Office Give-Away from BDI—TODAY!

Enter today and every this month for a chance to win your choice of desk and office furniture.

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For many Americans, a home office is more than a luxury—it’s a necessity. Not only is it the natural spot for doing taxes, paying bills, and storing important documents, but in today’s digital world, it’s the new HQ for a growing number of people who work remotely. But if you intend to spend your 9 to 5 (or any amount of time) in a home workspace, it’s time to outfit the room with well-designed furniture that’s built to last. That’s why we’ve teamed up with BDI to give away a stunning set of home office furniture in this month’s $5,000 Dream Office Give-Away!

ENTER NOW!

Today and every day this month (starting at 12:00 p.m. EST on July 31, 2016 through 11:59 a.m. EST August 31, 2016), enter to win your choice of several quality pieces of furniture for the home office. (See Official Rules below.)

bdiusa.com

BDI, a leader in home furnishings, is on a mission to make great design accessible to everyone. Their unique and functional designs bring a touch of modern style to the home or corporate environment alike. With their wide range of desks and storage options, it’s possible to turn any spare room into a fully customized—and fully organized—workspace.

If you’re the lucky winner in this month’s give-away, you’ll be able to pick a prize from each category, for a total value of up to $5,050, and create your dream office—all in just three simple steps. First, choose from two desk sizes, then select your preferred file cabinet, and finally pick your bonus storage or extra workspace solution. Read on for a full list of offerings.

Step 1: Pick a Desk

  • Sequel Lift Desk 6052 (MSRP $2205)—with optional drawer (MSRP $280)
  • Sequel Lift Desk 6051 (MSRP $1905)

Step 2: Pick a File Cabinet

  • Tall Mobile File Pedestal 6005 (MSRP $890)
  • Low Mobile File Pedestal 6007-2 (MSRP $845)

Step 3: Pick Bonus Storage or Extra Workspace

  • Sequel Storage Cabinet 6015 (MSRP $1525)
  • Sequel Lateral File Cabinet 6016 (MSRP $1565)
  • Sequel Multifunctional Cabinet 6017 (MSRP $1675)
  • Sequel Return 6002 (MSRP $1145), with optional Back Panel 6009 (MSRP $235) and Return end Panel 6012 (MSRP $135)

Enter Bob Vila’s $5,000 Dream Office Give-Away daily to increase your chances of winning your choice of furniture.

Bob Vila’s $5,000 Dream Office Give-Away is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. The Contest Period will last from noon EST Saturday, July 31, 2016 through 11:59 a.m. EST Wednesday, August 31, 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. By entering, all entrants agree to the Official Rules.


Solved! What to Do When Your Air Conditioner Is Leaking Water

Too much condensation pooling around your central AC? Follow these steps to keep your cool when your system can’t.

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Central Air Conditioner Leaking Water

Photo: dreamstime.com

Q: My central air conditioning system is leaking water. Any way I can DIY the repair and avoid an expensive repair bill?

A: Most likely, you’re dealing with one of three things: a damaged drain pan, a clogged air filter, or a blocked condensate line. Left unchecked, these concerns could cause all sorts of unwanted costs, from repair fees and astronomical utility bills to the worst-case scenario: water overflowing from the system and flooding parts of your home. The good news is, if you catch a leak early, you may be able to remedy the situation yourself. So as soon as you notice water around the unit, begin the diagnostic process with these troubleshooting tips.

Air Conditioner Leaking Water

Photo: dreamstime.com

First, check your drain pan. Located directly underneath your unit, the drain pan catches the condensation that emerges normally from running your air conditioner. If it’s cracked or otherwise damaged, it can’t do its job—soon after, you’ll start to notice your air conditioner leaking water. So, follow along the edges, paying special attention to the corners for breaches. (Tip: Use a flashlight for better visibility, since the cracks may be small.) Any minor damage you find can be repaired with epoxy, but it’s generally wiser to replace the pan altogether.

Assess the air filter. If your pan isn’t the problem, take a look at the air filter, which is placed directly into your unit; the edge is usually visible from outside. When a filter is dirty or full, ice can form on your unit’s evaporator coils and melt into pooled water below. Most filters last for a month or two, but if your system is getting a lot of use (in summer, for instance), replacing it like clockwork every 30 days can prevent problems. If yours looks dirty—or you don’t remember when you changed it—swap it out for a new one now.

Unclog the condensate line. The most common gremlin behind a central air conditioner‘s leakages is a clogged condensate line. Because it’s located outside your house near your condenser, the line is subjected to the elements year-round, and algae can build up inside fairly easily, clogging it and causing a backflow. Though it requires a bit more effort than troubleshooting a cracked drain pan or dirty air filter, you may still be able to fix it yourself.

First, turn your air conditioner unit off. Next, step outside and locate the line (typically a ¾-inch PVC pipe emerging from the ground near your exterior unit). Pull your wet-dry vacuum up to it and choose an attachment fitting that’s ¼-inch smaller than the condensate line opening; this should give you an airtight seal. Once you’ve achieved a snug fit, turn the vacuum on and let it run for three to four minutes. Then turn off the vacuum and check the tank for algae-filled water. If that’s what you see, you’ve likely solved your problem without having to make a service call, saving somewhere in the neighborhood of $100.

In the future, running a bit of chlorine through the line every six months or so should keep the gunk from coming back and wreaking havoc on your system. Likewise, it’s smart to change your air filter every month or two and periodically check your drain pan to stave off potential AC calamities. Schedule due diligence with your system throughout the year to keep things flowing. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cool!


The Dos and Don’ts of Swimming Pool Maintenance

For a safe and healthy summer in your own backyard oasis, take these steps before you take the plunge.

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Swimming Pool Maintenance

Photo: dreamstime.com

Nothing says summer like a refreshing swim in the backyard pool. But your swimming pool does need care—and doses of the proper chemicals—to ensure safe, delightful dips. It’s important to address all the additives that make their way into the water every time someone submerges, not to mention the problems of plant life that blows in. The key is to establish a regular maintenance routine that limits the time you spend prepping the pool so you can spend more time enjoying it. Last one in is a rotten egg!

Swimming Pool Maintenance - Backyard Pool

Photo: dreamstime.com

DON’T JUMP RIGHT IN.

When uncovering your swimming pool after a season of non-use, be prepared to spend some extra time up front, clearing away any debris that may have built up over the winter. First, get the bigger branches and leaves out with a pool net. Next, run the filter to get things circulating again before you begin to chemically treat the water. A typical 1 HP pool pump moves about 3,000 gallons of water per hour, so be sure to run it long enough for one full cycle to take place. (And if you’re not sure how many gallons of water your swimming pool holds, multiply its number of cubic feet by 7.5.)

 

DO BALANCE THE LEVELS.

Everyone likes to be laidback in the summer, but properly balancing your swimming pool’s levels is one piece of maintenance that’s essential to keeping swimmers’ skin and eyes from getting irritated. So it’s crucial to follow your pool kit’s instructions to the letter each time you treat your water. Striking a proper balance of pH, overall alkalinity, and calcium also keeps metals from corroding and plaster from degrading over time and prevents the formation of scale, which makes water cloudy, stains surfaces, and can even clog your filter if left unchecked.

 

DON’T NEGLECT CHLORINE.

While there are chlorine alternatives on the market, none are as effective or inexpensive as the real thing when it comes to killing bacteria to keep us safe. The chemical works by destroying enzymes, structures, and processes of potentially nasty microorganisms. But you do have options when it comes to how you chlorinate. Do a little research to decide if you’d prefer tabs or liquid, and whether you want an all-in- one option that includes algaecide or you’d rather handle the green gunk separately.

 

DO GIVE IT A SHOCK.

Most pool specialists recommend “shocking”—essentially, applying three to five times the normal amount of chlorine—at least twice a month, and many would prescribe weekly shocks for swimming pools that see a lot of use. Shock product comes in either granular or liquid form from your swimming pool supply store. For liquid, use 3.5 quarts for every 10,000 gallons of water; for granular, use one pound for every 10,000 gallons. The great thing is, some shock products work so quickly, they render a pool swimmable again in as few as 15 minutes. Pool pro tip: Even if you use bromine instead of chlorine on a day-to- day basis, you’ll still need to shock with chlorine. For best results, wait until the sun goes down so that UV rays won’t interfere with the process.

 

DON’T FORGET THE ALGAECIDE.

Microscopic plant life can make its way into your pool and quickly bloom to the point of making swimmers avoid the water entirely. The goal in using an algaecide is to kill all existing algae and prevent anything from returning. It’s particularly useful in windy and rainy climates, since these conditions foster algae growth by sweeping those pesky spores straight into your pool. Generally speaking, a weekly or biweekly algaecide treatment should keep those blooms at bay.

 

DO AVOID POOL PROBLEMS.

To keep a pool sparkling clean, steer clear of common missteps that would undo your copious maintenance efforts. Direct the garden hose away from the pool when banishing poolside dirt—otherwise, you’re just creating more work for yourself (and your filter). And since rainwater welcomes algae infestation, cover the pool when you’re in for a spate of storms.

 

DON’T REUSE EMPTY CONTAINERS.

Here’s a rule of thumb every pool owner should live by: Always add chemicals to water, and never add water to chemicals. It’s a dictate of chemistry 101 that keeps you from accidentally causing an explosion when attempting to rinse out your old pool chemical containers. Be sure to dispose of them properly instead of putting your safety at risk.

Swimming Pool Maintenance - Pool House

Photo: dreamstime.com

All in all, it does take a bit of work to keep a pool in shape, but it’s well worth it—whether you’re up for a game of Marco Polo or just want to lie on a float!


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.


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

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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!