Category: How To’s & Quick Tips


3 Fixes for Sticky Tree Sap

Do you have tree sap stuck to your car, deck, or clothing? Use these short and sweet solutions to remove the sticky substance ASAP.

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How to Remove Tree Sap

Photo: istockphoto.com

The beauty, shade, and privacy offered by trees make them a popular environmental feature for any property. But many varieties, from pine to maple, hide a sweet but sinister cargo behind their majestic exterior: sap. When the sticky substance drips or drizzles from trees, it can coat more than your skin. Your car exterior, wooden deck, and even the clothing on your back might fall victim to stray splatters. Fortunately, you don’t have to live with the remains of the resin for long. Read on to learn how to remove tree sap from common surfaces in surprisingly simple DIY ways.

AN UNWANTED PASSENGER

How to Remove Tree Sap

Photo: istockphoto.com

During the summer, the most sought-after parking spot in any lot is usually located under a shady tree. But while the tree’s broad branches will shelter your four-wheeler from the heat, they can also drip sap onto the hood of the vehicle. If left to linger for too long, that sap can eventually erode the car’s clear coat and discolor underlying paint.

To remove the resin, skip a trip to the car wash and opt for an at-home fix using an emulsifier in your medicine cabinet: a no-frills acetone-based nail polish remover. Start by dipping a cotton ball into the acetone. Work the applicator in a circular motion over the sap-laden surface of the car until it’s clear of the residue. Don’t let the solvent linger for too long, as it can strip the paint. Once you’ve rubbed away the sap, give the spot a once-over with a clean cloth and a solution of one-part baking soda to three-parts water for a streak-free finish.

 

ALL MOPS ON DECK

How to Remove Tree Sap

Photo: istockphoto.com

If you feel a light drizzle on your shoulder as you lounge on deck but there’s no cloud in sight, the culprit might not be rain so much as a shower of sap from an overhanging tree branch. And it is a culprit! Left untreated, the sap can saturate even sealed wooden decking and leave behind unsightly stains once it hardens.

The simple solution for the stubborn mess? Mop undiluted oil soap, a natural sap-softener, over the affected area of the deck. Let the wood absorb the soap for 10 to 15 minutes, then scrub the sap with a stiff-bristle brush doused in water. Hose down the deck to send the sap out of sight and out of mind for good.

 

COLD-FASHIONED COLDING

How to Remove Tree Sap

Photo: istockphoto.com

Whether you’re relaxing in a backyard hammock or raking up leaves from your yard’s shadiest trees, a retreat into nature can easily go awry when tree sap sticks to your clothing. However, removing tree sap from your garments is as easy as a walk in the park.

Head home and place the grubby clothing in the freezer for up to two hours. If the item is too large for the freezer, cover the sap stain with an ice pack or wax paper topped with ice cubes. Once the stain has gone from sticky to frozen solid, wiggle a butter knife beneath it to lift it from the fabric, or use the knife to crack the brittle sap and then scrape it away. If any resin remains, pre-treat the offending spot with warm water and vinegar and then toss your garments into the washing machine, where ordinary detergent and water will restore your fashions to a like-new condition.


How To: Cut Brick

Learning how to cut your own brick opens up a world of home improvement opportunities. Thanks to today's technologies, cutting brick for back yard patios and other outdoor projects has never been easier.

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How to Cut Brick

Photo: istockphoto.com

Many home improvement enthusiasts choose to enhance their landscapes with the DIY installation of brick patios, walkways, walls, even the occasional outdoor fireplace. And, thanks to the impressive selection at home improvement centers, they can find a wide range of styles and colors for landscaping bricks and stone to suit just about any landscaping project. While some of these projects—walkways, patios—are easy enough to lay out, you most likely will run into a circumstance that requires you to cut the brick to fit your intended design, especially with more complicated structures such as a fireplace or water feature. Decades ago, cutting brick would have required a mason’s hammer or cold chisel to score and snap each building block. Thankfully, a little know-how and an electric powered angle grinder with attached diamond cutting blade have simplified the job for today’s DIYers.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Angle grinder with attached diamond cutting blade
- Workbench
- 50-foot extension cord
- Tape measure
- Small framing square
- Pencil
- Dust mask or respirator
- Safety glasses
- Hammer

STEP 1
Set up your workbench close to the work area to reduce travel time between cuts. An ideal workbench would include a set of sawhorses with a scrap of plywood or similar on top; this provides a stable surface when cutting the brick.

In addition, since brick cutting with an angle grinder is a dusty affair, maintain a safe distance from swimming pools, automobiles, and other areas where the dust could pose a concern. A 50-foot extension cord connected to an outlet provides extra flexibility in location for your power tool when setting up your cutting area.

How to Cut Brick

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 2
Use a tape measure, small framing square, and pencil to mark the brick on all sides you plan to cut so that you can visualize the desired size and shape. While many cuts will be straight during a brick installation project, you may run across circumstances that require an L-Shaped or curved cut. Take your time when measuring and determining the shape of the cut and be as accurate as possible to reduce material waste and re-cuts.

STEP 3
Place the brick on your workbench with the marked surface facing up. Don your protective gear—dust mask and safety glasses—and connect the angle grinder to the extension cord. Word of caution: Make sure the angle grinder is in the Off position before connecting to the power source so that it doesn’t inadvertently start work without an operator.

With the angle grinder firmly in your hand and its blade perpendicular to the brick, turn on the switch that activates the tool. Slowly lower the blade to the brick’s surface and begin cutting along the marked line. You should always cut on the waste side—the section of brick you do not want to use—of the pencil line. This not only facilitates accurate cuts but provides a little leeway until you gain the feel of the tool and cutting process.

STEP 4
Cutting completely through the brick material with one pass will depend on two things: the thickness of the brick material and the size of the angle grinder and diamond blade you are using. For example, an angle grinder designed to use a 4-1/2-inch diameter blade can cut approximately 2-1/4 inches deep—the distance from the center of the blade in each direction—at best, while a 9-inch grinder can cut to depths of approximately 4-1/2 inches. Since brick sizes vary depending on the type and style you are using—the average range is between 1-5/8-inch through 2-3/4-inch thick with some specialty bricks even thicker—the size of your angle grinder is important if you need to cut through the brick in one pass.

If you cannot cut all the way through the brick, you must score the material as deeply as possible on one side with the angle grinder, slide the brick to the edge of your work surface, and finish the cut by lightly tapping the top of the waste side of the brick with a hammer to snap it off. A quick pass with the angle grinder (this time held so that its blade is near parallel with the brick’s cut side in order to shave) will clean up any rough edges.

In addition, making L-Shaped cuts in thicker materials may require that you transfer the pencil marks to the backside of the brick and finish cutting with the angle grinder to prevent accidental (and unwanted) breakage.

A few cuts in, and you will get in the groove of taking measurements and cutting like a pro in no time. The result? A DIY backyard upgrade that will pay dividends in both personal entertainment and property value.

sHow to Cut Brick

Photo: istockphoto.com


How To: Clean Quartz Countertops

Engineered quartz countertops rival the sophistication, design, and timeless appeal of real stone, minus the high maintenance. If you're lucky enough to have this luxurious material in your kitchen, read on for our complete guide to keeping it clean.

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How to Clean Quartz Countertops

Photo: istockphoto.com

Quartz. Quartzite. The names sound alike. Yet, although both of these popular countertop materials are derived from the same mineral—quartz—and achieve a similar aesthetic when installed, they are not the same. Quartzite is formed when quartz-rich sandstone is exposed to high heat and pressure over time as a result of natural processes. It’s found all over the world and in a variety of patterns and colors. Engineered quartz, in contrast, is factory-produced by combining quartz with resins, binding agents, and occasionally pigments, depending on the manufacturer.

Thanks to the latest leaps in the aesthetics of man-made stone, today’s quartz genuinely reflects nature’s organic splendor, but with an important upgrade: Unlike natural quartzite, which must be sealed on a regular basis (twice a year, according to some experts), quartz does not require any sealing in order to resist stains, making it a very popular compromise. In fact, resin binders make the material nonporous, so mold, mildew, and stain- and odor-causing bacteria cannot penetrate the surface. Once it’s sealed, though, quartzite, the natural stone, can be cared for and maintained in the same way as its man-made counterpart. Follow these basic guidelines to keep either material sparkling like new for years to come.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Mild dish detergent
- Soft cloth
- Glass cleaner
- Nonabrasive sponge
- Plastic putty knife
- Degreasing cleaner
- Goo Gone or comparable cleaner
- Trivet
- Cutting board

SOONER IS BETTER

Though quartz will resist permanent staining when exposed to liquids like wine, vinegar, tea, lemon juice, and soda, or fruits and vegetables, it’s important to wipe up spills immediately—before they have a chance to dry. Take care of fresh messes with mild dishwashing detergent and a soft cloth. For dried spills or heavy stains, your best bet is a glass or surface cleaner, a nonabrasive sponge (sponges designed for nonstick pans are safe and effective), and a little elbow grease. Keep a plastic putty knife handy to gently scrape off gum, food, nail polish, paint, or other messes that harden as they dry.

How to Clean Quartz Countertops

Photo: istockphoto.com

Should you find yourself confronting a particularly sticky situation, your stain-busting might require a couple of extra tools.

• Remove cooking grease. If dinner was great but the counter took a beating, use a degreasing product that will first loosen then remove the grease from the surface. Follow the cleanser manufacturer’s instructions for use.

• Erase permanent markers. Permanent markers are supposed to be, well…permanent. When the kids get creative, make sure your counters are protected from their artistry by first putting down placemats or kraft paper, so the only thing they leave behind is a happy memory. Should you find an ink or permanent marker stain after craft time, moisten a cloth with Goo Gone or a comparable product, and rub it into the stain. Rinse thoroughly with warm water to remove any cleanser residue.

 

DEEP CLEANING

Daily wiping and attention to spills and messes will satisfy your countertop’s basic daily maintenance requirements. But experts also recommend an overall deeper general cleaning at regular intervals. For best results, spray a generous amount of a nonabrasive surface cleaner over your countertop and let it sit for 10 minutes. Wipe away with a non-scratch sponge.

 

AVOID AT ALL COSTS

When it comes to care and maintenance of quartz countertops, the dos are easy and straightforward: Wipe clean with a damp cloth. Use a mild nonabrasive detergent soap for deep cleaning. Simple, right? Preserving your counter’s integrity and appeal is more about adhering to the list of don’ts.

Abrasives and Acid or Alkaline Cleaners
For starters, never use abrasive cleansers and avoid scouring pads, which can dull the surface. Fortunately, soapy water will usually do the trick. If you need a gentle cleanser with a little more oomph to remove surface stains, make sure it is specifically designed for use on quartz.

Beware, too, of harsh cleaning solutions at both ends of the pH spectrum. Culprits include products from nail polish remover and turpentine to drain cleaner and dishwasher rinsing agents. Whether highly acidic or highly alkaline, those chemicals can disintegrate the bonds between quartz and resin. Quartz will tolerate casual exposure to milder alkaline solutions, such as diluted bleach, but high-pH substances, such as oven cleaners and concentrated bleach, will damage the surface. If any of the substances mentioned above come into contact with your quartz countertop, rinse the exposed surface immediately and thoroughly with water.

Extreme Heat
Trivets and hot pads are your quartz countertop’s best friends. Though the material is heat- and scorch-resistant, the resin used in manufacturing quartz countertops is a plastic and therefore prone to melting in heat above 300 degrees Fahrenheit. A sudden change in temperature or prolonged exposure to heat from a pan left on the countertop may even cause the quartz to crack. To be safe, always use a trivet or hot pad.

Slicing or Dicing Without a Cutting Board
Quartz is a hard surface, but not hard enough to withstand the effects of sharp objects like knives. So, slice and dice to your heart’s content, but make sure to do it on a cutting board to avoid ugly scratches on your quartz countertops.

The Elements
Quartz is not the right choice for an outdoor kitchen. If you install it outdoors, you do so at your own risk, as all manufacturer warranties cover indoor use only. Day after day in direct sunlight will fade colors and lead to warping or splitting.

Combining the best of authenticity and ingenuity, quartz is truly the rock of all ages. Be kind to your quartz countertops with regular attention and cleaning, and they will give you a lifetime of pleasure!

 

How to Clean Quartz Countertops

Photo: istockphoto.com


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.

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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 help keep grass from sticking and limit 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 help 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 opener hinges, pulleys, and tracks. You’ll want to coat the entire length of the track, from the door to the opener. The lubricant will 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. Lubricate the bottom tracks at the same time. 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 is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of WD-40. The opinions and text are all mine.


How To: Remove Rust from Stainless Steel

Don’t let rust run rampant in your house. Fight the intrusive tarnish with these surefire methods, and your countertops and appliances will soon glisten once again.

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How to Remove Rust from Stainless Steel

Photo: istockphoto.com

At its best, a kitchen furnished with shiny stainless steel appliances and surfaces is practically the picture of pristine—and professional. But when the thick, seemingly impenetrable metal making up your kitchen sink, counters, and pots and pans begins to rust, the expensive aesthetic looks worse than if actually damaged. Homeowners dealing with these blemishes may ask, Isn’t stainless steel supposed to be, well, stainless? Though its name is somewhat misleading, any appliance made up of the chromium-based metal can easily corrode if not properly cared for. Luckily, there’s no need to panic! If you’re one of the myriad of individuals who have accidentally left utensils or frying pans soaking in the kitchen sink longer than you care to admit, don’t throw in the towel on removing unsightly surface stains just yet. In fact, the solutions—yes, there are a few—are so simple that they’re probably staring you right in the face if you happen to be in the kitchen. Read on for how to remove rust from stainless steel all throughout the kitchen and home.

How to Remove Rust from Stainless Steel

Photo: istockphoto.com

Solution #1: Simply Baking Soda

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Baking soda
- Water
- Soft cloth
- Soft bristle brush
- Paper towels

For small rust spots…
STEP 1: When removing only a few unseemly spots from the side of a pan or the front of your dishwasher, mix a paste from 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 2 cups of water. (For larger rust spots, skip ahead to the next set of steps.) Baking soda is a very mild abrasive, so you can rest easy knowing that you’re conquering corrosion in a completely chemical-free way that won’t scratch up your stainless steel.

STEP 2: Rub the paste onto your stainless steel surface in the direction of the grain using a soft, clean cloth.

STEP 3: Finally, rinse and gently wipe the affected area with a damp paper towel.

For larger areas showing signs of rust…
STEP 1: Rinse the larger surface area—be it the basin of your sink or a section of your stainless steel counters—thoroughly to remove any debris and dampen the surface. Immediately after, sprinkle a layer of baking soda over it, making sure to coat the entire rusted region.

STEP 2: Let the layer of baking soda sit for between 30 minutes and an hour.

STEP 3: Roll up those sleeves and start scrubbing! You can scrub with a soft bristle brush, or—if you’re fresh out of cleaning brushes—use an old toothbrush that you may have saved for these sort of cleaning purposes.

STEP 4: Rinse and carefully dry with a paper towel.

 

Method #2: A Stronger Solution

If you’ve ever left cast iron pots in the sink while wet, it is likely you’ve woken up to the menacing sight of rust decorating a once perfectly varnished stainless steel sink. A forgivable gaffe, indeed. But how to treat it? You may wish to bump up your cleaning ammo by employing a cleaner containing oxalic acid. It’s true, not all stainless steel behaves the same way. So when a baking soda bath does not do the job to your satisfaction, oxalic acid-based cleaners offer a very effective alternative method for dissolving rust and cleaning stains.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS 
- Cleaner that contains oxalic acid
- Soft sponge

STEP 1: Apply a generous amount of cleaner containing oxalic acid onto the affected area, following the package’s instructions. The appliance manufacturer General Electric recommends Bar Keeper’s Friend Soft Cleanser (a liquid cleanser free of grit), which you can pick up for less than $10 at your nearest big-box home improvement store. Revere Ware Copper and Stainless Steel Cleaner/Polish and Kleen King Stainless Steel and Copper Cleaner are two more highly effective, rust-busting cleaners containing this key ingredient; you can find them at your local grocery store. Avoid using any caustic cleaners that contain chlorides, as the abrasive nature of these products will only further damage the steel’s chromium film (the protective layer).

STEP 2: Once set, rub the cleaner in the direction of the metal grain lines using a soft, slightly damp sponge. Again, a little elbow grease is required here, but well worth it for the sparkling finish that awaits you!

STEP 3: Finally, rinse clean with fresh water and gently towel dry.

 

How to Remove Rust from Stainless Steel

Photo: istockphoto.com

Best (and Worst) Practices for Rust Removal

Whatever you choose to do to remove rust, stay far away from steel wool, steel brushes, or any cleaner that contains fluorine, chlorine, bromine, and iodine (to name but a few elements in the chloride family). Remember, chlorides are so abrasive that they’ll mar the “stainless” surface, making it susceptible to corrosion. As well, harsher cleaners and scrubbing pads like steel wool can cause damaging scratches—or worse, leave a pesky remainder of particles that can lead to yet another unpleasant rust encounter.

Of course, in order to avoid rust in the future, it’s best to minimize moisture around any stainless steel appliance. Refrigerators are particularly vulnerable if you live in coastal areas with salt-laden air—or if you happen to share the kitchen with those with small, impatient fingers that tend to spill liquids into the nooks and crannies of your fridge! So, if you happen to spot a splash or spill, don’t tell yourself you’ll get to it later—grab a mop or an absorbent paper towel and get to work. Your gleaming stainless steel-enhanced kitchen will thank you later.

For everyday upkeep—and to maintain that glowing luster throughout your kitchen—wipe away smudges and fingerprints regularly with warm water with a mild soap or dish detergent. Then give these stainless steel surfaces a quick rinse with cloth dampened with fresh water, and don’t skimp on the drying! Remove standing water or leftover droplets with another clean cloth, and you can eliminate moisture before it starts the problematic cycle all over.

 

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: Extinguishing Fire Ants

With few natural predators, one or two fire ants can quickly turn into an invasion. If you already have a problem, their burning bites might be the least of your worries. Here's what you need to know to plan your attack—and stamp them out once and for all.

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Although fire ants are more common in southern states, they can thrive nearly anywhere. Ranging from reddish brown to reddish black in color, you’ll find their nests in large dirt mounds around your property.

how-to-get-rid-of-fire-ants

Photo: istockphoto.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON GETTING RID OF FIRE ANTS or read the text below:

Injecting pressurized insecticide to get rid of these painful pests is very effective, but don’t forget to wear safety goggles and protective clothing—and before you spray, check the pressurized equipment for air leaks.

Most exterminators prefer a “broadcast” application, where granules of insecticide are thrown around the nest—similar to how you would spread chicken feed. Some pesticides are available at the hardware store, but the most potent are available only to licensed exterminators. Calling in the pros can be expensive (often upwards of $500 per acre) but if you have a large, persistent infestation, that may be your only option.

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!


Solved! What to Do About Wasps

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.

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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: Clean Ceramic Tile

Keep your floors looking shiny and new with these simple techniques.

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How to Clean Ceramic Tile

Photo: istockphoto.com

It’s hard to beat ceramic tile for beauty, versatility, and durability. Perfect for bathroom, kitchen, even entryway floors—as well as backsplashes and countertops—ceramic tile is generally easy care, but it does require some upkeep. Follow these guidelines on how to clean ceramic tile, and you’ll ensure that yours stays in sparkling shape for years to come.

How to Clean Ceramic Tile - With a Mop

Photo: istockphoto.com

Stave off scratches. Though a relatively tough material, ceramic tile—composed of natural clay, sand, and water, then baked in a kiln—can get scratched. Regular sweeping or vacuuming (using a soft head attachment) will keep dirt and debris from marring the surface and getting ground into the grout. If you’ve got ceramic tile in an entryway, place a doormat both outside and inside and encourage family to wipe their feet.

Wash tiles weekly. After sweeping or vacuuming, mop ceramic tile floors at least once a week with a small amount of mild dish detergent mixed in hot water. There should be no need to use stronger stuff, but if you wish to, test the cleanser on an unobtrusive spot (like behind an appliance) to ensure it won’t harm the finish. Avoid using a sponge mop, which will push dirt off tiles and into grout; use a string or strip mop head instead. Replace water as soon as it gets dirty or you’ll get dull, cloudy results.

Avoid accidents. Ceramic tile can be slick when wet, so either dry the area thoroughly with a clean towel or stay out of the room until it air-dries completely to avoid a slip.

Pick up spills promptly. Everyday messes like spilled milk and tracked mud should be cleaned up as soon as you spot them or tiles can stain. Simply dampen a cloth or mop with warm water and a bit of mild dish detergent and swipe it up.

Seal the seams. Grout is applied to tiles to lock them tight, keep out water, and provide a finished look. But grout is porous substance and often white or light-colored, so prone to getting dingy. A preventive measure is to seal the grout once tile has been installed, and once or twice a year afterward. There are various easy-to-apply sealers available at your local hardware or home store. Tip: When installing new tile, consider darker grout. Not only does it hide dirt, the contrast lends an attractive modern look.

Get grime out of grout. If grout does need cleaning, often a good going-over with a stiff brush and hot water will do the job. Tougher jobs call for a vinegar/baking soda paste or a hydrogen peroxide solution: Allow several minutes dwell time before scrubbing with the brush, then rinse. Really stubborn stains may require bleach or even steam cleaning. Once grout is clean, a regular spray-down with vinegar-and-water solution will help to prevent new stains from setting in. (For more grout-cleaning know-how, go here.)


How To: Get Rid Of Weevils

Don’t let these pantry pests get the best of you. Vanquish the beetles with this battle plan.

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How to Get Rid of Weevils

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No matter how scrupulously you clean your kitchen, you may still open your cabinets one day to find them crawling with tiny beetles. Unlike insects that enter through doors, windows, and crevices, weevils sneak in with your groceries. The adults chew into grains and lay eggs, making it virtually impossible to tell if you’ve purchased a sack of something that contains larvae. Of the some 60,000 species of weevils, the ones that threaten your larder are the rice and maize varieties (dark reddish-brown with red or yellow spots, about 1/16-inch long) and the larger, shiny, dark brown-to-black grain weevils. But have no fear! The following step-by-step will walk you through how to get rid of weevils for good.

How to Get Rid of Weevils - Inspect Your Rice

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STEP 1
By the time you spot weevils, odds are they’ve infested other nearby food items. So in order to oust them, you’ve got to purge your pantry of unsealed dry foods, including oats, rice, barley, flour, corn meal, pasta—even pre-packaged box-type dinners that don’t have sealed internal pouches. And don’t stop there: If boxed products have sealed airtight bags inside, toss the box and label the bag with an indelible marker. Do this even for boxed products weevils won’t eat, such as gelatin, because the pests might have entered the box and could later emerge to re-infest new products.

STEP 2
Put salvageable foodstuffs in the freezer for four days, which will kill any larvae that might be hiding in the product. Items you don’t think will withstand freezing—dried herbs, for instance, that may lose their zing—can go in a sealed bag or container and be stored elsewhere. Before returning anything to the shelves, proceed to Step 3.

STEP 3
Thoroughly clean the pantry and cabinet shelves. Everything has to come out—canned goods, spices, aluminum foil, whatever you store in there—in order to get rid of every weevil. Vacuum the shelves, making sure to get the nooks and crannies, and then take your vacuum outside to dump its canister. Wipe down the entire vacuum (canister included) with disinfectant before bringing it back inside. Sponge all shelving and cabinet interiors with either hot soapy water or spray cleaner, and let dry thoroughly.

STEP 4
Finally, spray shelves and cabinet interiors with a household insecticide labeled as effective for killing weevils. Follow all the manufacturer’s safety precautions, and keep children and pets out of the area while you work. When dry, you can safely re-stock the shelves.

Sure, these four easy steps can get rid of weevils in an afternoon. But since any and all innocent-looking dry food packages could contain weevils, the only sure way to prevent another infestation is to put dry staples, such as rice, beans, lentils, quinoa, wheatberries, macaroni, and cereals in the freezer for four days after purchase before stowing them. Alternately, store these items in individual sealed plastic or glass containers. While these suggestions might seem like overkill, all it takes is one female weevil to start another invasion.

How to Get Rid of Weevils - Infestation

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How To: Remove Rivets

The ubiquitous metal bolts are designed for permanence, but sometimes they’ve simply got to go. These techniques will help you get them out cleanly, with or without a drill.

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How to Remove Rivets - From a Corrugated Metal Shed

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Plenty of DIYers find themselves eager to start a project only to come to a full stop when confronting rivets. The fasteners’ function is to hold metal against metal for good, so they can be challenging to remove safely without damaging the surrounding material or leaving a raggedy opening. Luckily, there are techniques to getting rivets out of your way cleanly, whether you’ve got a specialty implement for this purpose at your disposal or simply need to go about it with common hand tools. Follow this guide on how to remove rivets and then return to the matter at hand, be it reinforcing a backyard shed, removing exterior awnings, restructuring steel-beamed walls, or doing repairs on a boat.

How to Remove Rivets

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TECHNIQUE 1: Use a Targeted Tool

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Rivet removal tool
- Power drill

Though they run about $50 to $75, a rivet removal tool that fits onto your power drill might be a smart investment if you’ve got to get rid of many rivets. The tool comes in a set with various guides and drill bits in different sizes. If you already have one but lack the right sized bit and guide to fit the rivets for a job, you can likely find them at your local hardware store.

Attach the tool to the opening on your power drill and place the appropriate bit onto the end, fastening it securely. Then simply adjust your drill depth accordingly and drill out the rivet neatly.

 

TECHNIQUE 2: Go with a Grinder

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Grinder
- Power drill
- Hammer
- Punch

A steady hand, patience, and concentration will certainly help the process, too!

First, approach the rivet’s head while keeping your grinding wheel parallel to the surrounding surface, and carefully grind off as much as possible. Hover with the tool so that you touch nothing other than the rivet head itself. You may need to approach the head from several sides to do away with it entirely.

Next, use the hammer and punch to pierce a tiny divot into the top of the rivet to act as a groove to keep the drill in place. Then bore a hole with a drill bit considerably smaller than the rivet all the way through the center of the fastener, creating a pilot hole.

Finally, switch out your drill bit for one the same size as the rivet. Hold the drill straight over the rivet and drill it to push it out entirely, being careful not to widen the surrounding hole.

 

TECHNIQUE 3: Take the Hand Tool Approach

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Chisel
- Hammer
- Punch

Wedge the sharp end of your chisel underneath the rivet head’s edge. Once you’ve got some leverage there, tap the dull end of the chisel with a hammer until the head falls loose. Place your punch over the top of the rivet remnant and hammer out, using moderate force. This technique isn’t foolproof, so if the rivet doesn’t budge, break out your power drill and follow the steps listed above in Technique 2.

 

Rivet-free, you can now start your project in earnest! If you need instructions on installing new rivets, look no further.