Category: How To’s & Quick Tips


How To: Balance a Ceiling Fan

When your overhead spinner starts acting up, follow these moves to restore the quiet—and the cool.

By

SHARES
How to Balance a Ceiling Fan

Photo: istockphoto.com

Even in the age of central air, ceiling fans still have their lofty place. The welcome breeze they provide evaporates sweat and contributes to the cooling effect every home calls for in summer. So if yours seems out of whack—wobbling weirdly, making a racket—fret not. The fix is in!

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Ladder
- Damp rags or paper towels
- Screwdriver
- Ruler or yardstick
- Blade balancing kit
- Pennies (optional)
- Painter’s or masking tape (optional)
- Superglue (optional)

How to Balance a Ceiling Fan - With a Ladder

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 1
Banish dust, perhaps the most common cause of a wonky ceiling fan. You’ve got an excuse—it’s easy to forget to look up when cleaning—but neglect can cause big-time buildup. Dust settles unevenly on the blades, making some heavier than others and throwing the entire enterprise off-balance. It’s likely that you’ll need more than a swipe of a feather duster at this point, especially if dust has hardened. So, with the fan off and the blades completely still, climb the ladder and take a damp rag, towel, or pillowcase to both sides of each blade. Then dry with a fresh rag and give the fan a spin to see if the problem’s been solved.

STEP 2
Still got the shakes? The next most likely culprit is a loose screw at the base, where the blades meet the flywheel. Climb back on the ladder and give each screw a clockwise turn with your screwdriver. If you tighten any loose ones, you may have done the trick. Get down from the ladder and flip the switch to see. If so, remember to check the screws every few months to avoid a recurring issue. If not, proceed to the next step.

STEP 3
If blades continue to misbehave, it’s up the ladder again to check their alignment. Using a ruler or yardstick, measure precisely from the ceiling to the blade at the same three points on each: close to the flywheel at the center of the fan, about halfway down the length of the blade, and at the tip. If any of the numbers don’t match up, gently bend the blade holder manually up or down to straighten. Just take care not to apply too much pressure—you don’t want to break a blade or holder.

STEP 4
A stubbornly wobbly fan may have a blade that’s simply lighter or heavier than the others, creating an uneven pull. To test it out, examine your fan on each of its settings to see which speed makes it shake most (usually the highest). Once you’ve determined the problem setting, switch off the fan and when it’s still, either follow the directions on a balancing kit, or try the penny method in the next step.

STEP 5
Using painters’ or masking tape, firmly attach a penny to the top of a blade, close to the center, and then check the fan’s functioning. You may have to do some troubleshooting to determine which blade needs the extra weight and exactly where it should go, so be patient, starting from the center of each blade and working your way out a few inches at a time. Once you’ve found a placement that relieves the issue, replace the tape with a few drops of superglue. Allow glue to dry completely before giving the fan a final spin to make sure the penny is performing. If wobbling persists but it’s not as pronounced, one or two additional, perfectly placed pennies should do the job. Keep it up through trial and error until you’ve found the right locations, and then glue the pennies on permanently.

Still confronting a fan frustration? Blades may have gotten warped due to humidity or age. Before you scrap the whole apparatus, purchase a set of replacement blades, which you can find for under $10 each. Then sit back and enjoy the downwind!


How To: Repair Concrete Steps

Over time, as a result of constant foot traffic and the ravages of the elements, outdoor stairs can start to deteriorate. You can reverse damage and keep your stairs looking as good as new with a little maintenance and some innovative, effective products that simplify and speed up concrete repairs.

SHARES
How to Repair Concrete Steps

Photo: istockphoto.com

For construction professionals and homeowners alike, concrete offers many appealing qualities, but there may be none greater than its undeniable durability. In many instances, concrete can last for decades without deteriorating or requiring much at all in the way of maintenance. But particularly when it’s used outdoors, where it’s exposed to the elements year-round and beset by extreme temperatures and punishing storms, concrete does slowly but surely weaken. Perhaps no hardscaping feature suffers as much as concrete stairs, which are subject to heavy foot traffic that only serves to hasten deterioration. That said, you can repair damage to your concrete stairs, whether it’s the result of gradual wear and tear or a sudden trauma, with a basic course of maintenance. Thanks to advances in manufacturing and a range of innovative products from CTS Cement | Rapid Set, it’s never been quicker or easier to make repairs to concrete. Though the process is pretty straightforward no matter the condition of the concrete, the approach you choose will depend on whether you’re dealing with mere cosmetic flaws or more significant structural issues. In either case, rest assured that you can restore the appearance of your steps while potentially adding years to their lifespan. Read on for the details.

 

SUPERFICIAL DAMAGE

Photo: istockphoto.com

Believe it or not, concrete has something in common with a plain white tablecloth—both are capable of getting stained. Of course, there’s no practical harm associated with discoloration, so depending on the location of the stairs in question, you may or may not feel the need to intervene. If the affected stairs are in a highly visible location—leading up to your home’s entrance, for instance—then cosmetic reasons alone may be all the motivation you need to seek a solution. In addition to stains, you should be on the lookout for a range of other minor, superficial issues that commonly plague concrete installations outdoors. Check for signs of weathering, flaking, or crazing (shallow, spiderweb-like cracks). If any such imperfections are compromising the appearance of your stairs, remember this: You can give the concrete a like-new look and a renewed lease on life with a resurfacer like NewCrete from CTS Cement | Rapid Set. You simply spread the product over the existing surface, leaving behind a smooth, blemish-free replacement layer. Best of all, NewCrete works quickly and self-cures. Once you have applied it, there are no additional, tedious steps to complete. Within two to three hours, your transformed stairs will be ready to accept foot traffic again.

Although there’s no more straightforward way to revive tired concrete, there are still nuances to working with NewCrete or another resurfacer. For starters, before doing anything else, remember to clean the stairs thoroughly, removing all dirt and debris (including loose concrete). Here, a power washer can be an effective tool and a real time-saver, but an old-fashioned wire brush works too. Next, after preparing the area, move on to preparing your chosen resurfacer. Specific guidelines vary by manufacturer, but with NewCrete, use a drill-mounted paddle mix to combine water and the resurfacer mix in a bucket. Then work the material for a few minutes until it resembles pancake batter. The final step? Dampen the existing concrete stairs, then add the NewCrete, using a trowel to smooth and shape it. Note that a couple of nonstandard trowels may prove handy along the way. When, for instance, you’re trying to achieve a crisp line along the outer edge of a stair tread, your best bet may be a nose trowel. Meanwhile, for the inside edge where a tread meets a riser, opt for a cove trowel. Once you have applied, shaped, and smoothed the NewCrete, there’s nothing more to do. Other products may require a time-intensive water curing process, but NewCrete cures entirely on its own—and with remarkable speed.

 

STRUCTURAL DAMAGE

Photo: istockphoto.com

While you may opt not to make a cosmetic fix—it’s purely elective, after all—structural damage is another matter entirely and should be repaired sooner rather than later. For one thing, structural problems in concrete only get worse, particularly with each passing winter, until the installation deteriorates so badly that it needs to be fully replaced. There’s also the fact that compromised concrete can be a tripping hazard, never more so than on stairs. Certainly, structural repairs are more demanding than cosmetic ones, and badly damaged concrete requires a particularly high level of effort. But even so, solutions like Rapid Set Cement All enable you to shore up failing concrete on your own, and to do so easily and quickly, even without a contractor. Relative to other repair compounds, Cement All stands out for many reasons. For one, Cement All boasts superior adhesion, helping facilitate bonding with the damaged concrete. As well, Cement All—rated three times stronger than most concrete—provides ample, lasting strength. Most of all, though, homeowners appreciate how rapidly the product sets and cures. Indeed, if you make your repair with Cement All, you can go back to regular use of the stairs in just an hour.

Whether the damage involves the horizontal or vertical surfaces of the steps, start by eliminating any loose material that could interfere with proper bonding. As you go, look for deep cracks and take the time to chisel their edges smooth (and, of course, brush away any debris that results). Once you have made the steps as clean as possible, roughen and dampen the surface or surfaces you plan to address. Then, to prepare the Cement All, combine the mix with the recommended quantity of water. Continue working the mixture, either manually or with a drill-mounted paddle mixer, until it has achieved a peanut butter-like consistency. Ready? Trowel Cement All onto each damaged area, taking special care to get it into any cracks or holes. Pack the cement to the desired level, but depending on the nature of the repair, note that it may be necessary to use a wooden form to help the compound retain the desired shape. Given stairs’ blocky character, a form can typically be made from scrap wood nailed into an L shape and then positioned firmly against the riser, with its top edge level with the surface of the stair tread. To finish, smooth the Cement All with either a trowel or float, and then, once the surface has lost its moist sheen, proceed to water cure. That’s it!

Bear in mind that you can always use Cement All and NewCrete in tandem, as a tag-team remedy for the full spectrum of issues that threaten to destroy any concrete installation. This powerful pair will leave your concrete stairs not only structurally sound but looking like new. While Cement All fortifies, NewCrete beautifies—and because both products set and cure so rapidly, it’s possible to breeze through a job in one day, or even in one afternoon. Speed matters: If the stairs serve as the main access to the house or lie along a frequently traveled part of the property, a long and drawn-out repair process can be a real nuisance. As well, when you’re dealing with a material that lasts as long as concrete does, over the years you’re bound to encounter more than one occasion for maintenance. After all, foot traffic and the passage of time both take their toll. You’ll want every repair job to go as quickly and smoothly as possible. Fortunately, so long as you rely on innovative, rapid-setting repair products from CTS Cement | Rapid Set, you’ll be able to maintain the longevity and looks of your concrete steps while still leaving plenty of time for all your other to-do’s—or for that matter, some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

Photo: istockphoto.com

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


Solved! What to Do about Wasps in the House

They’re the stuff of nightmares for many of us, but when it’s time for a war against wasps, here’s how to keep the upper hand.

SHARES
Wasps in House - Wasps' Nest Under Roof Eaves

Photo: istockphoto.com

Q: I’ve found not one but multiple wasps hanging out inside my house over the past few days, but no nest. Where could they be coming from? And—more importantly—how do I get rid of them?

A: As far as desirable neighbors go, let’s face it: Wasps are pretty far down on the list. Luckily, once you’ve figured out where they’ve made their home on your property, getting them to buzz off is rarely a difficult procedure. More often than not, your biggest challenge will be to conquer your fears of getting stung. Follow these careful guidelines , and you should remain unscathed.

Wasps in House - Wasp Emerging from Nest

Photo: istockphoto.com

First, make sure you’ve checked around every point of entry to your home. Inspect under any eaves, along the mortar between bricks, around all beams and supports in your garage, porch, and attic—wasps in your house tend to build their nests any place overhead with exterior access. Still no luck? Try your trees. These insects often make themselves comfortable up in tree limbs, primarily because wood is their home-building material of choice.

Once you’ve found it, make sure it’s actually a wasps’ nest and not a wild beehive. If it’s a honeybee hive with telltale hexagons, it’s important to leave it alone; these pollinators are an important yet critically endangered part of the food chain. A wasps’ nest will be constructed from shavings of dead wood, often making it grey or light brown in color and with some swirls in its texture. When you identify the nest, proceed with caution.

Know when to call in a professional. Never, ever attempt to remove a wasps’ nest yourself if you are allergic to wasp stings or your nest is out of reach. If you have a serious allergy, getting rid of wasps on your own could put you in a life-threatening position. Check with your doctor to make sure you’re in the clear before moving forward. Equally high-risk are wasp nests that require a ladder for removal. A swarm of wasps could easily cause you to fall from as high up as the second story, promising injuries and medical bills that cost much more than what an exterminator would charge. In either case, your only option is to call in a professional to remove the wasps’ nest on your property.

Should you opt for DIY extermination, your level of involvement in destroying the nest will depend largely on the time of year. Wasps tend to build their homes in the spring, inhabit them throughout the summer months, and die off once the temperature dips. So, if you’re just noticing a problem at the end of summer and can handle a few more weeks of pesky backyard guests, nature will do the job for you soon enough. Earlier in the season, though, you’ll want to exterminate using a wasp-specific pesticide.

Choose an insecticidal aerosol spray or dust designed specifically to kill wasps, including the colony’s queen. You can purchase one at any hardware store. Administer it only at night, when wasps are less aggressive and slower to react. Dress in protective clothing (ideally covering as much skin as possible with long pants, long sleeves, socks, and footwear to prevent any stings) and be sure to follow the insecticide’s instructions to the letter. The aerosol spray can likely be applied from afar, while the dust will probably require you to get up close and sprinkle it around the nest’s opening. Whichever method you choose, have an escape plan ready in case you get swarmed.

Once you’ve done the deed, return to the nest in the morning and knock it loose using a long stick or broom handle. No matter how high the hive is, stay off of the ladder—you won’t want a still-live wasp buzzing out and around you while you’re stuck at the top of an unstable stepladder. Keep your distance at first, stay aware, and know your escape route so that you can reach safety quickly. Cautiously dislodge the wasps’ nest from where it hangs. When it drops to the ground, break it into pieces using the same stick, and reapply your pesticide of choice on the inside of the pieces. Then dispose of the nest and any dead wasps immediately.

Whether it’s a DIY operation or you need to call for backup, good luck and be safe out there! After you’ve taken care of the source of the wasps in your house, wrap up by proactively closing up any potential entry points to the inside of your house—cracks around doors and windows, loose exterior siding—so you won’t have a repeat of the situation next season.

Wasps in House - How to Get Rid of a Nest

Photo: istockphoto.com


How To: Make Your Own Ant Trap

Send these creepy-crawlers marching elsewhere with the homemade ant trap that best suits your situation.

SHARES
Homemade Ant Trap

Photo: istockphoto.com

If you see an ant or two, chances are you’ll see more—many more—especially if there’s something tasty lying around nearby. While more than 12,000 species of ants exist, only a few types are likely to invade your home. The ones that do can be a real nuisance, though, ruining food and giving homeowners the creepy-crawlies. Fortunately, you needn’t shell out for sprays, bombs, or other insecticides, since an effective homemade ant trap is simple enough to prepare with ingredients on hand or found at your pharmacy, supermarket, farm-supply store, or favorite online retailer. Check out the recipes here and read on for ways to keep their armies from invading.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Boric acid
- Corn syrup
- Small bowl
- Spoon
- Waxed paper
- Sealed container
- Borax
- Powdered sugar
- Shortening
- Diatomaceous earth

Homemade Ant Trap - DIY Pest Removal

Photo: istockphoto.com

HOMEMADE ANT TRAP #1: Sweet and Deadly
Most ants are attracted to sweet stuff, so this recipe is sure to lure. In a small bowl, mix 1 teaspoon of boric acid (available over the counter at your local pharmacy) with 1/4 cup of corn syrup. Stir well to combine. Transfer a few drops of the mixture onto a small piece of waxed paper and place it where you’ve seen ant activity. Whatever ants find your bait will carry bits of the solution back to their colony. Then, you wait. Resist the temptation to kill the ants you see, as they need some time to carry the boric acid poison back to their buddies. Replace with fresh drops daily (storing unused bait at room temperature in a small sealed container for up to two weeks) and soon ants will be gone.

Note: While boric acid is considered to be of “low toxicity” to humans and animals, don’t take chances. Be safe and place this homemade ant trap and unused bait where pets and children cannot get to them.

HOMEMADE ANT TRAP #2: Shortening and Sugar
Because certain types of ants are drawn to greasy substances, the foolproof ingredient in this formula is shortening. In a small bowl or cup, mix 1 tablespoon of borax (a laundry booster related to boric acid, but milder) with 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar, and then blend in just enough shortening or lard to make the mixture crumbly (about a teaspoon).

Put crumbs of bait on pieces of waxed paper and place them near ant trails. Trails are invisible, so the way to identify them is to watch ants traveling in a straight line; early in an infestation, that unbroken line marks the trail of scent they leave for other ants. Replace crumbs daily (store leftover bait in a small sealed container or wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to two weeks), and ensure that traps and extra bait are out of reach of pets and children.

HOMEMADE ANT TRAP #3: Powdery and Natural
If you don’t have a full-blown infestation, and prefer a green method safe to sprinkle freely around kids and pets, use diatomaceous earth (DE). Though soft and powdery to the touch, the substance contains the ground-up fossils of aquatic organisms called diatoms, which on a microscopic level has sharp edges that cut into ant bodies. DE won’t wipe out a colony, but any ants that cross over the powder will dry out and perish. Purchase only food-grade DE (available at farm-supply stores and garden centers); do not use DE manufactured for swimming pool filters, because it contains added chemicals.

Sprinkle DE inside cabinets, on windowsills, around doors, and anywhere else you occasionally see ant activity. It will work indefinitely unless it gets wet. If using DE outdoors, reapply after rain.

 

REDUCE AND REPEL

After getting rid of an active infestation with a homemade ant trap, follow this two-part prevention program to make your home less attractive to the little buggers.

Reduce how attractive your abode is to the pests by:

• Cleaning countertops thoroughly after meals.
• Wiping up spills promptly.
• Taking garbage out of the house daily.

Repel nearby ants by:

• Putting a few drops of essential oil (try citrus, lemon, or eucalyptus) on a rag and wiping baseboards, windowsills, and exterior door casings.
• Sprinkling cayenne powder or garlic powder around doors and your home’s foundation.
• Placing a potpourri of dried mint leaves and clove buds on windowsills.


3 Fixes for a Lingering Gasoline Smell

Has an “oops” moment with a can of gasoline left you—and your garage floor, car interior, or clothes—fuming? Banish the odor with one or more of these fast-acting fixes!

SHARES
How to Get Rid of Gasoline Smell

Photo: istockphoto.com

Whether you’re planning a road trip or gearing up for an outdoor DIY project, the task ahead starts with checking and often replenishing your fuel tank. But be careful: Even the smallest drip of gasoline while filling up at the pump, transporting a gas can, or refueling motorized lawn equipment is enough to cover your cement floor, car interior, or clothing in its unmistakable odor. Should you, your car, or other surface be so unlucky as to get splashed, you’ll want to both cautious and efficient about the removal of this highly flammable and smelly substance. Rather than temporarily mitigating the scent by airing the stain out or spraying on fabric deodorizer, take action with one of these odor-fighting ways to get rid of gasoline and its smell.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Cat litter
- Broom and dustpan
- Plastic takeout container
- Baking soda
- White vinegar
- Water
- Bowl
- Rag or old cloth
- Clothesline
- Dish soap
- Hand vacuum

 

How to Get Rid of Gasoline Smell - Using Cat Litter

Photo: istockphoto.com

TO GET RID OF GASOLINE SMELL ON THE FLOOR…
COVER IN CAT LITTER
If your heavy-duty landscaping equipment’s fuel tank leaks gasoline onto the cement floor of your garage, that puddle can quickly become a permanent stench. Fortunately, you can lift the liquid and the smell with a supply of clay cat litter. Just as the granules excel at cleaning up after your feline friend, they too can also quickly absorb liquid and combat odor from gasoline spills.

For optimal results, act fast! Don’t wait until the gasoline evaporates to try this approach. Generously spread odor-absorbing cat litter over the still wet pool of gasoline, and leave it to soak up the spill over the next one to two hours. Then use a broom to sweep the gasoline-soaked remains into a dustpan and transfer them to a sealed bag or old plastic takeout container to completely seal in the smell. Check with your local laws to correctly dispose of the contaminated cat litter. Open the garage door while you work to air out any lingering odor.

 

How to Get Rid of Gasoline Smell - Using Baking Soda and Vinegar

Photo: istockphoto.com

TO GET RID OF GASOLINE SMELL ON YOUR CAR’S UPHOLSTERY…
PULL OUT YOUR PANTRY STAPLES

When a gas nozzle precariously peeks past an open car door during your fill-up, your vehicle’s interior may soak up a splash and leave you with upholstery that reeks. Fortunately for automobile drivers everywhere, the pungent scent of petrol doesn’t stand a chance against the triple threat of baking soda, vinegar, and hot water.

Mix a solution of equal parts of these three kitchen standbys in a bowl. Then, dip an old rag in the bowl and gently rub it over the source of the stench in the car, whether its the seat cushion or fabric floor mat. The friction created by the rag, combined with the stain-lifting and odor-fighting powers of baking soda and vinegar, will subside gasoline stains and accompanying odor on contact.

 

How to Get Rid of Gasoline Smell - By Airing Out Clothes

Photo: istockphoto.com

TO GET RID OF GASOLINE SMELL ON CLOTHING…
WASH OUT AND LINE DRY

Due to the highly-flammable constitution of gasoline, gas-sopped clothing or shoes are better left discarded. However, smaller gasoline stains from the accidental drip still stand a chance at saving—but not from washing alone. The oily residue requires pre-treatment to be safely and effectively removed.

Start by air-drying the stained items for a full day outdoors. (If the scent is particularly strong, you might want to soak them in vinegar for at least one hour, then return to the clothesline to fully dry.) You do not want to toss garments or shoes into the washer before you’re certain that the smell (read: the fumes) has diminished because of the slight risk of combustion in your laundry appliances.

When taking a whiff of the garment no longer fills your nose with the scent of fuel, vacuum and then rub a mild dish soap into the gasoline stain. Place the garments into your washer in a load by themselves—you won’t want any missed residue or odor transferring to any other clothing—and machine-wash normally on the hottest setting that’s safe for the type and/or color of fabric. When the cycle ends, hang it up to dry (or, in the case of sneakers, air outside) and take a load off knowing that your wardrobe is once again fresh, clean, and odor-free.

 

Cleaning Tips for a Spotless Home

All of the Essential Cleaning Advice from BobVila.com
There’s no way around it: Keeping the house clean demands your time, your energy, and even some of your money. Fortunately, this arsenal of cleaning tips can help you finish the housekeeping more quickly—and with fewer commercially sold products.


Bob Vila Radio: Quick Fixes for Furniture

Whether it's a chair or an end table, your favorite piece of furniture is probably the one most in need of a fix-up. Here's how to repair it the right way so you won't have to do it over again.

SHARES

When furniture fixes fall apart, it’s usually because the tools and supplies weren’t right for the job. Always remember to read the label before you stock up on glue, nails, or sandpaper for your next repair.

diy-furniture-fix

Photo: istockphoto.com

 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Adhesives can take anywhere from a few minutes to a day to set and harden, so it’s a good idea to do a little research before you buy. Steer clear of epoxy glues— the bonds they create are basically permanent, so you’re truly stuck if need to disassemble the piece again.

And while you might think using screws is a good idea, it’ s usually not. Unless you’re replacing one that was there before, you could damage the wood. Avoid nails, angle irons, and mending plates and stick to dowels, splines, and wood glue for repairs. To tighten up a loose joint (like a wobbly chair spindle), try wrapping the wood in cotton thread or wood shavings before applying adhesive. And remember—for the strongest bond, remove any old glue before you get to work.

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!


How To: Magnetize a Screwdriver

With this technique you’ll never drop a screw up again!

SHARES
How to Magnetize a Screwdriver

Photo: istockphoto.com

Few things are as frustrating as trying to drive a screw into a tight corner or over your head, only to have it fall to the ground just as you’re getting it lined up. Fortunately, the solution to this problem is as simple as grade school science. Running a neodymium or other rare-earth magnet in one direction along any metal tool that contains some iron will magnetize it to attract other iron-based items. But this trick is especially useful for hand tools like screwdrivers, which will not just lift the screw but hold it in place while you work. Take just 5 minutes to magnetize a screwdriver today for quicker, easier repairs down the line.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Neodymium or other rare-earth magnet
- Screwdriver
- Clean rag or cloth

STEP 1
Obtain a neodymium magnet with a pull force of ¼ pound to 1 pound. If you haven’t got one handy, there are a number of online retailers that specialize in inexpensive magnets.

STEP 2
Wipe any dirt or debris from all metal parts of the screwdriver with a dry rag or cloth. If especially dirty, dampen the rag to thoroughly clean the tool, then allow the metal to dry before proceeding.

STEP 3
Hold the screwdriver in one hand and the magnet in the other. Slide the magnet slowly along the tool’s metal shaft from handle to tip, continuing the motion just past the end that will come into contact with the screws. (On very large screwdrivers, you can start the motion halfway down the tool’s shaft.) Repeat several times, going in one direction only; swiping the magnet back the other direction over your screwdriver’s shaft can undo any magnetism you’ve achieved thus far. Then give the tool a quarter turn and repeat.

Continue the quarter turn and stroke process four times. The more strokes (and the more iron content in the tool), the more powerful the magnetism will be.

STEP 4
Test the strength of the newly magnetized screwdriver to see if it’s sufficient for your needs. Touch the driver to a screw and see how well it lifts and holds the fastener. If you want a stronger pull, repeat Step 3.

How to Magnetize a Screwdriver - Toolbox Hack

Photo: istockphoto.com

The screwdriver should stay magnetized for at least three months; accidentally dropping it will weaken it sooner by throwing the magnetic elements out of whack. To intentionally demagnetize the tool (useful if you need to drive a screw into something made of metal), reverse the direction in which you drag the magnet along the screwdriver shaft—in this case, from tip to handle.

 

DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

All of the Best Hands-on Tutorials from BobVila.com
Get the nitty-gritty details you need—and the jaw-dropping inspiration you want—from our collection of the favorite projects ever featured on BobVila.com. Whether your goal is to fix, tinker, build or make something better, your next adventure in DIY starts here.


How To: Remove Blood from Carpet

You needn’t be a CSI to get the rug spotless again after an accident.

SHARES
How to Remove Blood from Carpet

Photo: istockphoto.com

Blood happens. Not often, hopefully, but when a kid skins a knee and lays wailing on the living room rug, or the dog catches his paw on something sharp and leaves a bright red trail, you need to act immediately. Immediately after you administer first aid, that is! Follow these steps, stat, and your carpet—any pile, any material—will be clean and fresh again. And if you didn’t notice a drop till it dried, there’s a technique to tackle that too.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Paper towels
- Liquid dish soap
- Cold water
- Bowl or bucket
- Clean white rag
- Stiff brush
- Vacuum

To remove a fresh blood stain from carpet…

STEP 1
Gently blot the affected area with an absorbent paper towel to remove any excess. Be careful not to scrub or rub, as this will spread and worsen the stain.

How to Remove Blood from Carpet - Vacuum Dry Stains

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 2
Mix a few drops of mild liquid dish detergent with a couple of cups of cold water in a bowl or small bucket. Be sure to use very cold water; hot will set the stain into carpet fibers, making the frightful discoloration nearly impossible to remove. And be stingy on the number of drops of dish detergent you mix in! Soap that remains after cleaning will attract dirt, replacing the blood stain with a dark spot.

STEP 3
Wet a clean white rag or cloth (an old T-shirt works well) with the cleaning solution and gently sponge it on top of the stain, again taking care not to rub or scrub. Continue wetting the cloth and blotting the stain, until all the blood comes up. Depending on the size and depth of the stain, you may need to repeat several times.

STEP 4
With a dry section of cloth or absorbent paper towels, blot the remaining water from the carpet to dry it as much as possible. If it’s a large area, you might want to bring a fan into the room to help circulate the air or use a hair dryer on cool setting only. Drying the area quickly reduces the chance that any blood set deep down in the carpet pile will wick up and become visible.

To remove a fresh blood stain from carpet…

Take a clean, stiff brush to the area and brush firmly to crumble the stain, and then vacuum thoroughly. Proceed by jumping to Step 2 of the method outlined above (for fresh stains) and continue through to the end for stain-free carpeting.

 

Cleaning Tips for a Spotless Home

All of the Essential Cleaning Advice from BobVila.com
There’s no way around it: Keeping the house clean demands your time, your energy, and even some of your money. Fortunately, this arsenal of cleaning tips can help you finish the housekeeping more quickly—and with fewer commercially sold products.


5 Even Easier Fixes for Household Problems—All in 1 Innovative Can

Finally, you can put the power of WD-40 to use in even the most awkward and annoyingly tight spaces, thanks to the long, flexible applicator of the product's new can.

SHARES
WD-40 EZ-REACH Fixes Stuck Plumbing Joints Faster

Photo: wd40.com

An essential at job sites, in workshops, and on garage shelves for more than 60 years, WD-40® Multi-Use Product has earned the trust of do-it-yourselfers by solving hundreds of problems in both household and professional settings. It works to un-stick, un-gunk, and protect virtually any item that has moving parts. Yet, while its multitasking formula and short, stiff applicator consistently delivered positive results, success still required very precise aim on the DIYer’s part and often necessitated stooping, twisting, or reaching awkwardly around. The product’s latest packaging, however, makes the go-to fixit a whole lot easier to use on a wide variety of projects.

Fear not: The formula you’ve long relied on for repairs at home and at work remains the same. But now, the brand-new flexible straw on WD-40 EZ-REACH™ enables you to apply the tried-and-true solution in tight or inconvenient spots without having to twist yourself into a pretzel to get it where it needs to go. Using just two fingers, you can easily shape and reshape the eight-inch applicator into any angle, curve, or hook necessary to lubricate hard-to-reach cracks and crevices. The new straw can reach around corners, maneuver between staggered fan blades, and even arch over tall items to spray WD-40 exactly where you need it, providing greater precision with less time and effort than ever before. No more creaks. No more squeaks. No more frozen push buttons or pulleys. No more wasted product.

Stock up, and say goodbye to scraped knuckles! We’ve rounded up five handy ways that the new flexible applicator on WD-40 EZ-REACH™ can make daily DIY projects and repairs a cinch.

 

Use WD-40 EZ-REACH to Loosen Sink Plumbing

Photo: istockphoto.com

Loosen Under-Sink Plumbing Connections
No need to scoot about and twist yourself into knots under the sink just to fix a clogged trap. With a can of WD-40 EZ-REACH™ in your arsenal of tools, you can lubricate the entire circumference of a stuck galvanized or metal plumbing joint by contorting your spray nozzle, not yourself. Simply twist and reshape the metal flex straw to hook around the back and sides of the connections. Saturate the joint thoroughly and give it a few minutes to work its magic before using a pipe wrench or water pump pliers to twist the connections loose.

 

Use WD-40 EZ-REACH to Clean Mower Blades

Photo: istockphoto.com

Keep Mower Blades Clean and Sharp
Savvy homeowners and professional landscapers alike know that clean lawn-mower blades create sharper cuts than dull, gunked-up ones—and already entrust WD-40® with keeping their mower blades cleaner for longer amounts of time. They’ve seen for themselves how the go-to lubricant makes it easier for grass clippings to slide off rather than stick during the job. But tipping the mower on its side after each run to remove the blade and apply a coat of WD-40® isn’t easy. With WD-40 EZ-REACH™, however, you’ll spend less time underneath the machine because it’s so much easier to reach behind the blade. Just bend the flex straw upward to direct the spray toward the blade and the undercarriage to keep grass from sticking and prevent hard grass deposits.

 

Use WD-40 EZ-REACH to Repair Noisy HVAC Fans

Photo: istockphoto.com

Repair Noisy HVAC Fans
Shrill squeals every time the AC kicks on can drive you up the wall, especially when the ductwork carries that annoying sound throughout the house. With a little WD-40®, however, you can lubricate the HVAC blower fan assembly and achieve blissful peace and quiet. Before you tackle this repair, first turn off the breaker to the HVAC unit. Remove the cover from the squirrel cage fan, then bend the straw of the WD-40 EZ-REACH™ can to aim between the fins. Thanks to the straw’s pliable length, you’ll be able to easily and directly spray the shaft to silence the squeaking.

 

Use WD-40 EZ-REACH to Preserve Garage Door Opener

Photo: istockphoto.com

Extend the Life of Your Garage Door Opener
Over time, corrosion causes garage door opener chains to bind, putting unnecessary stress on the motor—enough to potentially cut its life short. Spare yourself the inconvenience and expense of replacement by preserving your current machine with a yearly application of lubricant. With the garage door closed, climb a step stool or ladder and let the hooked straw of WD-40 EZ-REACH™ provide just the boost needed to spray the top of the opener chain. You’ll want to coat the entire length of the chain, from the door to the opener. The lubricant will seep down into the links to remove rust, cut friction, and ultimately extend the life of your garage door opener.

 

Use WD-40 EZ-REACH to Lubricate Stuck Doors

Photo: istockphoto.com

Slide Closet Doors with Ease
You probably already reach for WD-40® when it’s time to silence a squeaky door hinge, but did you know that you can also ease the motion of a sliding closet door, thanks to the new and improved applicator on WD-40 EZ-REACH™? With the door in its open position, bend the straw to reach above the wheel assembly, which is tucked between the top of the door and the trim. While you’re at it, carry the can over to any pocket doors to smooth out the movement along their tracks in the same manner.

Save yourself the hassle of any of these five home improvements by purchasing WD-40 EZ-REACH™ today.

 

This post has been brought to you by WD-40®. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


How To: DIY and Apply Your Own Deck Cleaner

Keep your platform for outdoor fun looking great for pennies—without harming nearby plants.

SHARES
Homemade Deck Cleaner

Photo: istockphoto.com

Your deck gets a lot of traffic. Muddy shoes, spilled food, and wet dogs can leave it dirty, stained, and smelly. Even a deck that’s not a party platform is up against the elements—pollen, leaves, and algae all take their toll. But you needn’t use a harsh, expensive deck detergent to restore it. In under half an hour, you can mix up a batch of homemade deck cleaner, apply it with a deck brush, and then rinse away all manner of dirt and grime.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Garden hose
- Large plastic bucket
- Warm water
- Powdered oxygen bleach
- Deck brush with attached pole
- Liquid dishwashing detergent
- Borax (optional)

Homemade Deck Cleaner for Outdoor Cleaning

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 1
Clear the deck of whatever furniture, grill, gardening containers, and other miscellaneous outdoor equipment you can easily stash elsewhere. Spray the deck amply with plain water from your garden hose to loosen and soften mud and debris, making it easier to remove.

STEP 2
While the ingredients suggested here are relatively safe and won’t damage garden greenery, it’s a good idea to dress in goggles and rubber gloves to protect sensitive eyes and skin should the homemade deck cleaner accidentally splash.

Pour 2 gallons of very warm water into a plastic bucket, large enough to accommodate a deck brush. Add 2 cups of powdered oxygen bleach (found in the laundry detergent aisle), which is milder than liquid chlorine bleach. Submerge the brush and stir gently until powdered bleach completely dissolves. Then add 1/4 cup of liquid dishwashing soap and stir just enough to disperse it through the solution.

STEP 3
Liberally saturate the deck by dipping the brush into the homemade cleaning solution and sloshing it over the planks. Starting at one end and working your way to the other, scrub with the brush to work up a light lather, rewetting the brush’s bristles as needed. Give the solution 15 minutes of dwell time to allow the oxygen bleach to work.

STEP 4
Spray off the DIY deck cleaner with the garden hose. Let your deck dry naturally and completely in the sun’s rays before redecorating it.

SEASON-LONG CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE TIPS
• Banish mildew with borax. If your deck has visible mildew stains, add 1 cup of powdered borax to the solution at the same time you add the oxygen bleach. Borax, found in the supermarket laundry aisle, is a natural mineral compound that won’t damage nearby landscaping plants. Apply the solution as instructed above.

• Treat stains with oxygen bleach paste. To treat a stubborn stain, mix just enough warm water with a small amount of powdered oxygen bleach to make a paste. Apply directly on the stain with a stiff-bristle brush and leave it on for 30 minutes, then rinse.

• Sweep away dirt promptly. A light sweeping—daily, ideally—will free your deck of loose dirt, leaves, and other debris before it can be ground into the wood surface.

• Apply a penetrating sealer once a year. Wood is a product of nature, and even pressure-treated decks will eventually succumb to harsh UV rays, wet/dry cycles, and temperature fluctuations. To add years of useful life to your deck, treat it annually with a good penetrating sealer. The best time to apply a sealer is after a thorough deck cleaning!

Now that your deck is clean as new, take a look around you. If wood handrails, balusters, even outdoor wooden furniture seem less than fresh, mix up some more deck cleaning solution to safely restore them and you’re fully prepared for any outdoor gathering large or small.