The Professional Choice

A companion overview to the popular "Ask Mr. Handyman" radio program airing on Christian Talk Radio, KCRO 660AM Saturdays @ 9:30AM.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Deck Maintenance

Your deck gets used most during the warmer weather so take a few minutes to inspect the structure for signs of deterioration and maintenance needs.

Look for any loose, soft or cracked wood that could be unsafe if not corrected.
Replace any decking boards that have too much give or feel spongy when you walk on them.
Handrailings should be secure and not wobbly.
The deck posts should not show signs of rot at the bottom. Push a screwdriver into any areas that show damage. If the point of the screwdriver goes into the wood it is time to get it repaired.
The deck board against the house should not have any gap between the house. It should also not have any rot or deterioration.
Ballasters (verticle slats on the rails) shouldn't be greater than 4 inches apart.
Apply sealer to any exposed wood. Pressure wash if necessary to clean deck prior to sealing.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

"Sweating" tank on a toilet

If you have moisture on the outside of your toilet tank you may have a moisture problem in your home. The excess moisture can cause the floor under the toilet to fail and will be very costly to repair if that happens. Prevent it by following the simple suggestions in the order listed.

Turn the vent fan on and leave it on for at least 20 minutes after you take a shower or bath.

Check the humidity level in your home. Run the A/C longer or purchase a dehumidifier if needed.

Purchase a new toilet that has a plastic tank inside of the ceramic tank housing.

Have a plumber install a mixing valve which will send warmer water to the toilet.

Excessive moisture in the bathroom can cause the grout and caulking to mold quickly and may lead to costly wall and floor repairs. Preventing the problem is the least costly and will help keep your home safe from mold and mildew.

Garage Organization

Helpful tips to keep your garage clean and organized.

Pare down. Get rid of items you no longer need. Recycle by donating to the Goodwill.

Install a pull-down attic ladder to increase your storage space.

Purchase "knock-down" heavy-duty plastic shelving from one of the "big-box" stores.

Install a pully system to raise your bikes up and out of the way. (Great for winter storage)

Hang garden tools and ladders on the walls with specially designed hooks & racks.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Free “Green” Money from the good uncle

Do you like to get some “green” back at tax time? Tax credits are available for some home improvements. Don’t miss out! The program is short lived and may not be re-authorized by congress. If you need new windows, exterior doors or need to add insulation you are throwing away money if you do not take advantage of this program.

Here is a brief overview.

  • Improvements must be placed in service before December 31, 2010.

  • Improvements must be made to your (taxpayer’s) principal residence.

  • Tax credit is equal to 30% of product cost (not installation).

  • Maximum tax credit is $1,500 over 2 years (2009 and 2010). You have less than 18 months to plan, save and leverage this program.

  • You must have Manufacturer Certification Statement and receipts to qualify. The Energy Star web site states "Taxpayers must keep a copy of the certification statement for their records, but do not have to submit a copy with their tax return."

Here are the Energy Efficiency Improvements that qualify through the end of 2010:

  • Insulation - primary purpose must be insulation, i.e. insulated siding doesn't qualify.

  • Exterior Windows, Skylights, Doors and Storm Windows and Doors - but check carefully as not all qualify (see table on Energy Star web site, right column).

  • Roofing - includes all Energy Star qualified metal roofs plus reflective asphalt shingles.

  • Central A/C- should be properly sized, and check for supporting documentation.

  • Furnaces - there are oil, natural gas and propane eligible furnaces but make sure you're picking a model that is eligible for the tax credits. It includes some air-source heat pumps.

  • Water Heaters - there are select models of natural gas, propane, oil and electric hot water heaters that qualify.

More novel Renewable Energy Improvements are eligible for 30% of the total cost (no $1500 cap), and can be added to your home up to December 2016.

  • Solar Water Heating – use the sun to heat your bath water.

  • Photovoltaic Systems – solar panels that produce electricity for your home.

  • Residential Wind Turbines – produce energy for your home from the wind.

As always, with any government program, there are some strict rules to qualify. Visit or consult the manufacturer to ensure the requirements are met prior to purchasing any of these items.

Tip$....On the House.

Deck cleaning without pressure-washing
The preferred way to clean a deck in preparation for staining and resealing is with the use of a pressure washer, can also use a deck wash (purchased at a big-box home store) and a stiff-bristled brush. Oh, and don't forget a whole lot of elbow grease! Pressure wash the underside to remove algae, dirt and mildew at least every 2nd to 3rd sealing/staining.

Chair Rail Height
Generally chair rail should be installed approximately 1/3 the height of the ceiling. Use 2 inch blue painter's tape to test the location and apply it around the whole room to visually verify your height desire. This will help you avoid obstructions such as light switches, ledges, window sills etc.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"Green" Uses for Vinegar

Some people are earth friendly in almost everything they do. Some of us are just learning to be. Here is a less harmful way (environmentally) to accomplish tasks around the home without chemicals.

Soap scum on shower walls: Spray on vinegar, scrub and rinse.

Hard-water rings in the toilet: Turn off the supply valve to the toilet then flush it to lower the water level. Pour vinegar on the ring, sprinkle in borax and scrub a green scrubby.

Shower head lime/calcium deposit: Pour vinegar into a plastic bag, tape to the shower head and leave overnight. Brush the shower head to remove remaining deposits. You can remove the shower head and soak it in a tupperware bowl. You will need to apply teflon tape when re-installing it.

Drain Cleaner: Remove the stopper, pour 1 cup baking soda down the drain, then pour in 1 cup of vinegar; the mixture will foam, clean and deodorize. Use whenever needed to unclog the drain or when the drain starts to smell badly.

Mildew in the tub/shower area: Use full strength, scrub with a green scrubbie to remove mold and mildew. Evaluate the caulking and re-caulk if needed. Inspect tile grout. Repair if needed to prevent future water damage.

Fabric Softener: Fill dispenser with 1/4 cup white vinegar to soften laundry without leaving odors.

Cleaning vinyl floors: Add 1/4 cup vinegar to 1 gallon hot water for spotless floors.

Cleaning windows: Mix 50 percent white vinegar with 50 percent water in a spray bottle. Spray glass surfaces and wipe dry.

Neutralize pet odors: Mix 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water. Pour on stained areas and blot; never rub to remove stains and odors.

Greasy dishes: Mix 2 tablespoons white vinegar to liquid dish soap to boost its cleaning power.

Coffee Pot: Add 1/2 cup vinegar to the full level for the coffee pot and run it through. Be sure to run another of just water to rinse.