Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cleaning With a Shovel

I recently took on a cleaning task that was almost overwhelming, for both me and the gentle lady who owned the property.


For the purposes of this post, I'll call her Meg. That's not her real name, but she agreed to let me share her story on the condition of anonymity, so here goes...


Meg's kitchen was piled about two feet deep with, well, kitchen things, garbage, and some assorted things that were dropped there in moments of absent-mindedness. (That was Meg's description of the situation, not mine.)


The bigger problem arose when a water pipe under her sink broke, and she did not know, as the kitchen was barely usable.

Over the course of days, or more likely, weeks, sulphur water seeped from the pipe and across the floorboard of the kitchen, completely saturating everything in the pile of kitchen things.


By the time Meg realized what had happened, everything porous in the pile had been soaking in tar black sulphur water for who knows how long.


Almost everything was completely ruined, but, as a hoarder, throwing anything away was torturous for Meg, so she asked me to help her out, which I gladly did.


Let me tell you, this was no small job.


Imagine a room, a good sized room, piled two feet deep with wet, heavy, extremely smelly stuff you can't even identify to determine if anything is savable, as  a compulsive hoarder stands there wanting to see every single thing you throw away.


Each trash can carried out weighed in at about fifty pounds, some more.


A shovel was the only reasonable way to tackle digging through this particular mess.


I scooped and lifted each heavy shovel to the edge of the trash can, and with rubber gloves on, I shoved debris bit by bit into the can.


This allowed a chance for Meg to confirm that the few salvageable items left in the room, were salvaged and tucked in boxes, to be washed in bleach water later.


I could have requested that she leave and simply tossed everything, but I wanted to respect that these were her things, and they represented more to her than the rotted clutter they appeared to be.


After about eight hours of heavy lifting and sorting, and hauling away trash, the floor of Meg's kitchen was visible.


It was caked with muddy sludge, which I continued to shovel.


Finally, it was time to mop - and mop - and mop some more.


Finally, when leaving the room for the evening, knowing no one else would be in the room overnight, I coated the floor with a misting of bleach, as it was badly stained.


By morning, some of the stains had faded a bit more, but the linoleum is damaged beyond repair.


Satisfied with my work, and my respect of her things, Meg has asked me to stay on to help her finish turning her kitchen into - well - a kitchen she can use.


Welcome to the Get Organized Club, Meg - so glad you're here!


Now, on to Meg's cupboards....


I'll let you know how that goes in my next post.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Testing for a Toilet Bowl or Tank Crack

Hairline cracks and pinholes in porcelain can be very challenging, this article provides a few basic tips on how-to find toilet cracks.

Find Small Cracks in Porcelain Fixtures

Toilet cracks are hard to find when they are very small, because they do not always show on the outside of the toilet. Deciding if a hairline crack exists at all can be challenging because water condenses on the outside of many toilet tanks and bowls, creating a small amount of wetness around the base of the toilet. Adding colored dye to the water tank will make it easy to see if the toilet tank or bowl has a crack.

 

Steps to Find Cracks in Toilets - Listed in order from easiest to most difficult.

  • Mineral deposits form if the toilet bowl is cracked for a long time, so using a bright light and inspecting the outside of the bowl is one way to find small cracks. This is the simplest, and therefore the preferred first step for most homeowners.
  • Adding color to the water lets you see inner toilet bowl cracks due to the porous nature of the porcelain clay under the glazed finish. If a crack is not found in the first inspection, get either 1 blue toilet cleaning disk or 1/2 bottle food dye.
  • Remove the lid from the toilet tank. Drop the blue disk, or pour the food dye, into the tank. Wait 5 minutes, and flush the toilet.
  • Wait for the colored water to stop running, and let it settle. If you're using the blue toilet cleaning tablets 2 or 3 flushes may be necessary to create enough colored water. Look for colored water seeping through the outside of the toilet bowl, and look at the inside of the toilet bowl for colored crack lines. This often takes several attempts if you are looking for a crack in the bowl, because the water moves in the bowl. This is why it is easier to find a crack in the toilet tank than the bowl - the water rests in the tank for a longer time.
  • The final, and most difficult measure, if a crack is still suspected, is to drain and remove the toilet then inspect it while you have it upside down. This step is pretty drastic, and most homeowners will prefer not want to tackle it. But, if you cannot afford a plumber, or simply like to do things yourself, removal may be the only way to find a small crack in the toilet bowl.
You do not have to settle for excess water seeping all over your bathroom floor. If you can find the crack in a toilet bowl, repair options are available, or the toilet can be replaced.

Friday, August 29, 2014

How to Clean Mold Off of a Ceiling

Are you looking for the easiest way to clean mold off of a ceiling?

Avoid ladders and holding your arms above your head with this simple tip. Black mold on a ceiling is unsightly. In addition to being unsightly, mold has been linked to health problems like cancer and upper respiratory disease. Mold located on the ceiling is hard to clean due to being above your head. Having to hold your arms up for a long period of time or else run up and down a ladder make cleaning the ceiling a major task.

Having everything ready and close at hand before beginning will make the cleaning project go smoother. The supplies you need to gather before beginning this cleaning project are a bucket, bleach or borax, eye protection, gloves, a mask, and a mop. You will also need at least 2 gallons of hot water for washing and rinsing the molded area. Also, a sponge mop will break down quickly if dipped into a bleach solution so if you are using bleach use another style of mop.

Before mixing the cleaner and water you will need to put your protective gear on. The mask is optional if you are working in a well ventilated area, but it is highly recommended regardless. The eye protection and gloves are important because you will be working with chemicals and mold above your head and either one could drip down onto you.

Make sure the bucket is sitting on a flat surface before you fill it so it will not get knocked over. Pour one cup of bleach or borax - do not try to mix the two because you only need one - into the bucket and add one gallon of hot water. If your bucket is large and you want to make cleaner add double the amount of cleaner and water. You can use the mop to mix the cleaning solution so you do not need a stirring stick.

Get started by dipping the mop into the cleaning solution. Lift the mop out of the water and wring most of the excess water out of it. You will not want it to be too dry because the wetness of the cleaning solution is what breaks down the mold and prevents dry mold spores from drifting into the air.

Begin to rub the wet mop on the ceiling. If the ceiling has a pattern then you should follow the lines of the pattern. Getting the molded area clean might require two or three tries scrubbing with the mop. If it does not come clean the first time you ass over it wait about five minutes and try again.

When the ceiling is clean you can dump the bucket and fill it with clean hot water. Dip the mop into it and wipe the area with the clean water to rinse it off. Let the ceiling dry completely and look for ways to make sure the area does not become damp again. If the damp conditions are not eliminated, then new mold will grow. Consider things like a dehumidifier and ventilation improvements to accomplish this.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Best Tips for Painting with Textured Paint

This is a list of tips on how to paint with textured paint. Interior textured paint is an attractive way to finish a wall or ceiling plus it hides small flaws in walls.

Textured paints give walls a unique appearance. Painting with textured paint is an easy way to quickly change the appearance of a plain wall. It can also be used to hide small imperfections in walls and on ceilings. It is even useful on floors because it can be used to make them non-skid.

  • Choosing the right textured paint is the first thing you will need to do. You would make this choice based on the desired appearance or if the paint is for a floor. If you want a sandy, glittery texture you might select granite crystals or sandstone paint.
    • If you want a high stipple you might want to go with "smooth texture paint" or if you want deep, contoured swirls you might want a Venetian plaster. Floor paints will be labeled as floor paints and you can either buy them textured or you can buy packets of "grit" to add to them.

  • The tools you will need to apply textured paint vary according to the particular type of paint you select. The basic tools you will need, however, are a trowel, a stiff brush, or textured roller. Check the manufacturers information on the can label for extra pointers.
  • Smooth texture paint can be a difficult textured paint to apply but the finished appearance makes it worthwhile. The walls need to be carefully prepared before you can begin painting. Take the time to read the manufacturers directions before you start. It will save you work and headaches later.
  • Intermix all of your containers that hold the same color so you won't have smears of varying color shades.
  • Practice the pattern you plan to create on a board or piece of cardboard so you won't have to fumble with it while you are rushing to get the paint on the wall before it becomes hard to control and shape.
The paint dries rather quickly to a point that is hard to manipulate - so work in small sections to make sure you get the design you want before the paint dries. Take the time to blend each new section with the old so it has a uniform appearance when you are done.

If you are painting a high traffic area that will need frequent washing add a topcoat of latex satin or semi-gloss paint. Clean-up will be much easier later if you finish the wall properly for the use it will receive.

Venetian Plaster and Venetian Plaster topcoat textured paint is very pretty when finished - with a marble-like appearance. It is also a time consuming process. You need to carefully clean and prime the wall - even if the wall was primed before.

You need to apply a minimum of three coats of Venetian Plaster to get a smooth, attractive finish. When you apply the final coat, it needs to be polished before it dries completely.

High traffic, high moisture areas that require frequent cleaning need to be protected with a protective finish. It will make it much easier to wash without damaging the textured surface.

The drawbacks to using textured paint come when or if the time comes to remove it or repaint it. If you need to repaint a textured wall it will take about 25% more paint than an un-textured wall would take. It is also very hard to remove.

Sources:
http://www.calfinder.com/library/drywall/Drywall-Paint/textured-drywall-paint
http://valsparatlowes.com/products/product/Faux_Finish_Venetian_Plaster.html
http://valsparatlowes.com/products/product/Smooth_Texture_Paint.html

Monday, August 25, 2014

Easy Weekend Home Improvement Projects That Give Big Results

The weekend is a great time to spruce up your home by doing basic home improvement projects.

Most people get an extra day away from work, and while it may not be the most fun thing to work on the house, it can be really satisfying and worthwhile. Fall weekends are a good time to do home improvement projects that focus on preparing the structure for the rigors of harsh weather.

Cleaning the gutters or eaves can be a messy task but it helps protect your home from water leaks, roof damage, and a wet basement. If the gutters are not clear the water pools, the eaves sag, rust, and pull lose from the house. This also allows water to drain into the basement or ground floor in damaging quantities.
  • Unless you have to go buy a ladder - this home improvement project is not going to cost you a lot of money.
  • You just need a good pair of gloves to protect your hands from sharp surfaces.
  • It can be time consuming though.
  • If you move the ladder around the house and climb up and down it will take you a long time.
  • You will also - probably - be very tired when you get done.
  • I have watched people climb on top of the roof, maneuver around on the hands and knees, and be done in about half an hour.
  • Words of caution -if you get vertigo, have a fear of heights, or tend to be clumsy - be safe and hire out this task.
Replacing door trims that are damaged is another great home improvement project to do over the weekend. It helps in insulating your home which is nice for summer or for winter - plus it can save you, according to Lowes.com, approximately 15% on both heating and cooling bills. Door trims are also called weather stripping - try the alternate product name if you have any trouble finding them in the store.
  • There are two main kinds of weather stripping that go on doors.
  • Sweeps go on the bottom of the door and foam weather-stripping.
  • Sweeps and self adhesive foam strips are available at Lowe's and other hardware stores.
  • Sweeps are attached to the door with screws.
  • You just cut them to fit the door and screw them in place.
  • The foam is self-adhesive and requires an extremely clean surface.
Outdoor Painting
  • Outdoor Painting projects are a good choice (except in Northern winters or rainy weekends) because the fresh coat of paint protects surfaces from the elements. You just need scrapers, brushes or rollers, primer, and paint.
  • Completing painting projects early can save you the cost of an expensive repair later. If the unprotected wood rots - then you have a major home improvement project on your hands.
  • Painting window trim and door jambs is a project that is rewarding in addition to protecting your home's value. It shows - usually from the road - as soon as you paint so the satisfaction is immediate.
  • Painting the fascia boards, soffits and under-hangs - like the gutter cleaning - helps extend the life of your roof. The longer the boards that support your roof last - the longer you can expect your roof to last.
  • Painting or sealing wooden porches and decks will help to protect the wood. If you use a textured paint or sealer this project also makes walking on wet or snow covered surfaces a little bit safer.
Sources:
http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=howTo&p=Improve/Weatherstripping.html

Friday, August 22, 2014

How to Fix a Sticking Door Without Removing It

Two easy ways to unstick a sticking door without removing it from the door jamb.

A sticking door is usually more of a nuisance than a serious problem - as long as you take care of it before the door gets too warped. If you think the problem is from the building settling and it is really sticking, you might try the easy fixes first. If the problem continues or reoccurs you might want to have a professional check it out.

To fix the problem yourself; start by checking the condition of your door hinges. I had a door that would not swing back and forth freely and was leaving a mark on the floor. It turned out the hinge screws had come loose and the hinge was not properly seated in the door jamb. I replaced the old screws with slightly larger screws and then the door worked perfectly.

Tools and supplies needed to fix hinge screws:
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws
Steps to change hinge screws:
  1. Remove one of the old screws.
  2. Put in the new screw.
  3. I found it easier to do one at a time instead of removing all of them. The door flopped around and was awkward to handle when I removed all of them from the hinge at once.
The other door I was having problems with was a little bit harder to fix - but still an easy fix. It had swollen and warped on the edges and removed the varnish from the door's edge - leading to even more swelling. I was working on the project alone so I wanted to avoid removing the door if at all possible. It turned out my repair task was pretty simple and I was able to take care of the problem with a hand planer and sandpaper - without removing the door.

Tools and Supplies needed:
  • Chalk (according to Lowes.com carbon paper also works)
  • Hand planer
  • Sandpaper or Dremel-type tool
  • Varnish or paint to restore the finish after sanding
Steps to sand sticking areas off of door:
  1. Visually check to see where the door is sticking.
  2. Mark the area that is sticking with chalk or (according to lowes.com) put the carbon paper in the door jamb positioned so the ink will rub off on the door. It is going to be sanded or planed off anyway.
  3. Check to see which way the grain in the wood goes. It will normally go up and down on a door. It will be rare to see it go from side to side because it's just not how doors are made.
  4. You can plane with the grain of the wood and sand anywhere you have to go across it. What this means for you as you try to fix your door - if the door is sticking on the sides you can gently plane away the excess using a fairly long, smooth motion. If it is sticking on the top or bottom you should sand it. (If it is on the bottom you will have to remove the door.)
  5. If you have room to move your hands and the tools you can get away without removing the door. At least I managed to complete the job without removing the door and it both works and looks great.
  6. Put a couple of coats of varnish or paint to seal and protect the newly sanded or planed edge. This will help to reduce the need for future sanding and planing work on the door.
Sources
http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=howTo&p=Improve/StkyDr.html
http://www.ehow.com/how_346_repair-sticking-doors.html
http://www.rd.com/17572/article17572.html

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Learn How to Replace a Doorknob

Eleven easy steps to replace a doorknob.

Replacing a doorknob is a fairly easy do-it-yourself repair. I was surprised to find this out when my closet doorknob broke. The best tip I have for anyone doing this or any type of replacement work is to take a lot of pictures as you take the original apart. There are many little parts that can get mixed up and it is a wonderful help to be able to go back to your own images of the doorknob assembly. I didn't get to do this when I changed my closet doorknob because it broke before I got to take any pictures.

The first step is finding the right replacement doorknob kit. I went to Lowe's, but most hardware and some department stores carry replacement doorknobs. Is it for an exterior or interior door? If it is for an interior door - do you need a locking doorknob or not? One easy way to choose - get the same style (locking or not locking) of knob you are replacing.

You don't need very many tools or supplies to replace a doorknob.

The supplies you will need to complete the task are:
  • Screwdrivers
    • Phillips
    • Flathead
  • Replacement doorknob kit
Steps to replace a doorknob:
  1. Most doorknobs will have two long screws that are easily visible on the base. The long screws go through the base and into the knob assembly on the other side of the door. These long screws have to be removed first so the base and knob can come off of the door.
  2. When the base trim ring has been removed you can ether check to see if the bolt (the part that goes from the door into the door jamb) needs to be replaced or just go ahead and replace it with the new one.
  3. Make a mental note of which way the slant goes on the old bolt. You will need to know when you put the new bolt in place.
  4. To replace the bolt look for two screws attaching the long rectangular part to the hole in the door and remove them.
  5. Place the new bolt in position and replace the two screws.
  6. If you have a locking doorknob make sure the key hole and locking side are on the correct sides of the door. It is surprisingly easy to get this backwards.
  7. Slide the long part of the new doorknob (it should be square) through the center hole of the bolt assembly.
  8. Line up the screw holes on the doorknob with the screw holes on the bolt assembly.
  9. Put the two long screws in place. They will go right through the bolt assembly and into the other side of the knob.
  10. To change the metal strike plate on the door jamb (so it all matches.) remove the two screws holding it in place. Put the new strike plate over the hole in the door jamb and put the two screws back in place.
  11. Test your new doorknob.
Sources
http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-change-a-door-handle/index.html
http://www.ehow.com/how_3283_change-doorknob.html
http://www.lowes.com

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