Installing a Peephole

Ladies, here is an inexpensive and effective way to be more secure in your own home. Peepholes are one of the best and simplest ways to improve security—not to mention the benefits of quietly fending off unwanted salespeople and nosy neighbors!

How to install a peephole:

1. Measure the distance from the floor to eye level. A range of between 58 and 62 inches is comfortable for most adults, but it’s a good idea to think about making it accessible to any children in the house—even if this makes it on the low side for you.

2. Wearing eye protection, drill a pilot hole with an — >1- inch drill bit all the way through the door.

3. Attach a spade or “paddle” bit to your drill. The size will depend on the diameter of the peephole you purchased. Measure it and use the appropriate size.

4. Using the pilot hole as a guide, drill through the door with the paddle bit, stopping halfway. This is very important: only drill halfway! Drilling halfway from each side will prevent the door from splitting on the other side.

5. Move to the other side of the door, and drill from that side until you get all the way through to the hole you began on the other side.

6. Insert the viewer sleeve (this is the part of the peephole with the bubble) from the outside of the door.

7. Screw the other half of the viewer into the sleeve from the inside of the door.

8. Tighten the peephole by hand, with one hand on each side of the door.

Make sure you center your drill hole before you start: measure across the door (horizon tally) to be sure.
When using the paddle bit, make sure the drill is level and straight. If you are off even just a tiny bit, you will have a hole that is not level.
Many manufacturers say that you should take the door off its hinges for this project. I say—keep it on! In my opinion, taking the door off its hinges will not make installation easier. Keeping it on provides a stable way to hold the door in place.

Home Wiring Short Circuits

Problem: Power to a circuit is cut off by a fuse or circuit breaker in the main panel.

Background: If a fuse is blown, the fuse window will appear discolored and the metal strip running across the inside of the window will be bro ken. This indicates a short circuit caused by either 2 bare wires touching, or by a hot wire grounding out to a metal object somewhere in the circuit. Circuits protected by cartridge fuses will give no visible indication that a short circuit has taken place. Tripped circuits protected by circuit breakers can be identified when the handle of the circuit breaker is in the “tripped” or “off” position.

What to do: If the circuit power cuts off and no fuse appears to be blown. The method for identifying the cause of a short circuit is the same for fuses or circuit breakers. Disconnect all lights and appliances on the circuit with the blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker. Then replace the blown fuse or turn on the tripped circuit breaker. If the fuse blows or the circuit breaker trips with all appliances unplugged from the circuit, the short is in the circuit wiring itself and the wiring must be repaired or replaced. If the circuit is good, reconnect each light and appliance on that circuit, one at a time.

Special advice: Use extreme caution when reconnecting lights and appliances. Do not connect suspiciously frayed cords to outlets. When you turn on the faulty light or appliance, the fuse will blow or the breaker will trip again. Carefully check appliances for bare cords, broken light sockets, or damaged plugs before replugging.

Helpful hint: If one particular fuse blows several times, shut off all wall switches and appliances on that circuit, and remove all line cords from the sockets. Remove the fuse and screw a 100-watt light bulb into the fuse receptacle. If the bulb lights with all appliances unplugged from the circuit, a short exists within the circuit. If it doesn’t light, connect each of the appliances, lamps, and line cords one at a time. If the bulb lights at the fuse panel and the appliance fails to work, you’ve located the short. Remove the bulb from the panel before disconnecting the faulty appliance.

How to Remove Wallpaper

Removing wallpaper is one of those pit falls of home remodeling that most people would like to avoid at all costs. Unfortunately, it’s an all too common necessity when you buy a new home and discover that you can’t possibly live with the old owner’s decorating tastes. It’s almost always better to remove wallpaper than to cover it or paint it. How to remove wallpaper depends on the type of wallpaper that was used, and the type of wall it’s covering.

There is such a thing as strippable wallpaper. Strippable wallpaper is designed to be easily removed without the use of tools or solutions. You can determine if your wallpaper is strippable by trying to pull it down. Start at one of the upper corners and try to pull the wallpaper off the wall slowly. If it pulls easily without breaking, it’s your lucky day. You can remove strippable wallpaper by slowly pulling it off in a uniform way. Be sure to keep the plane of the paper parallel to the wall and not pulled out towards you for best results.

If you weren’t lucky enough to discover strippable wallpaper, you will require a little more effort to get your wallpaper down. The process for how to remove wallpaper is much more time consuming when it is not strippable. The first step is to move the furniture away from the walls and put down drop cloths. The glue on the backing of the wallpaper will need to be moistened to get the wallpaper down. Unfortunately, some wallpaper is designed to be water resistant (washable), and won’t readily absorb liquid. In this case, you will need to puncture or score the wallpaper so that you can soak the glue. This can be done with a utility knife, but the easiest way is with a special scoring tool for wallpaper available at most hardware stores. This tool fits in the palm of your hand and has spiky wheels on the underside that make tiny holes in the wallpaper.

You can either use a soapy solution of water and household soap to moisten the glue, a warm water and vinegar solution or a chemical wallpaper removal solution. Some chemical solutions are noxious, so check to see if you need a mask, gloves and goggles to work with the one you choose. Whichever solution you choose, apply it to the wallpaper with a spray bottle or a bucket and sponge. Allow it to soak into the glue for about 30 minutes.

When the glue is softened, try to peel off the wallpaper. It may come off with just your hand, but more likely than not, you are going to have to use a putty knife or wallpaper scraper to get it all. Be careful scrapping, and don’t apply too much pressure or you could cause a lot of damage to your walls. You may have to spray some more solution onto the wallpaper as you go if you encounter some tricky pieces that are stuck tight. Continue to peel, spray and scrape until you get all of the wallpaper off.

If you start to remove one layer of wallpaper and discover another layer of wallpaper, you’re looking at twice the work. The bad news is that you need to remove one layer at a time or you risk damaging the walls underneath. Hopefully, there won’t be even more layers under those, or you will have to remove those separately as well.

Once you get all the wallpaper off, you need to remove any remaining glue from the walls that was left behind. To do this, use a solution of tri sodium phosphate (TSP) and warm water. That should remove all of the glue. Let the walls dry completely (it may take several days) before moving on to the next step. You will also have to repair any damage to the walls caused by the removal process. The scraper will occasionally pull off some bits of drywall or poke small holes in the wall, but those can be easily fixed with some spackle. All you have to do is apply the spackle over the hole, let it dry, and sand it down. You can also apply a primer coat on top of it if you like. You’re now all set to paint or apply another wallpaper better suited to your decorating tastes.

Painting Home Basics

Interior Painting

When painting a room, it¹s best to paint the ceiling first, followed by the walls, with the trim, cabinets, and doors painted last. Work from the top down. In order to keep a wet edge, only cut in one wall at a time before you begin painting with rollers.

Brushes are used to cut in around the ceiling, trim, windows, and doors before using a roller. They are also used to paint the trim, window frames and doors. There are a number of brush sizes available in both straight edge and angled sash. Your choice depends upon the size of the area you are painting and whether you prefer a straight edge or an angled sash. Rollers are a great time saver for painting larger flat surfaces such as ceilings and walls. Roller covers come in various nap lengths. Your choice depends upon whether the surface to be painted is smooth or if it is more textured. The more textured the surface, the longer the nap should be in order to allow the fibers to push the paint into the crevices on the surface.

High quality applicators will provide the best painting results. Cheap or low quality applicators can make the best quality paint look and perform poorly. Cheap roller covers do not spread the paint evenly on the surface, and often leave fuzz from the roller on the wall. Inexpensive brushes are harder to use because they do not spread the paint evenly and leave unsightly brush marks. High quality applicators can be cleaned and used again.

When painting, always work from the dry area into the adjoining wet paint area. Use the “N” technique when using a roller. Load the roller completely. Apply the paint in the form of an “N” in a 2¹ x 2¹ area. Fill in the center of the “N” with horizontal strokes from side to side. Lightly smooth the painted area with vertical strokes from top to bottom. Continue to use the “N” pattern with a freshly loaded roller directly below the first “N”, working until you reach the bottom of the wall.

Timesaving Tip: If you take a short break from painting, you can wrap your applicators tightly in a plastic bag or aluminum foil instead of washing them!

Always be sure to stir the paint thoroughly before using and do not thin the paint. If you are using more than one gallon of the same color, mix them together in order to insure color consistency. Paint when the room and surface temperature is 50ƒF or above. Avoid touching, wiping, or wetting a freshly painted surface for 30 days to allow the paint to completely cure. After 30 days, the painted surface can be cleaned with a mild, non-abrasive cleaner and water. Do not place or hang objects on the surface until the paint is thoroughly dry.

Remember: Its important to follow the directions on the back of the paint label. It contains the most important information you need for your painting project.

7 Home Repairs for $15

Keeping your home in tip-top condition doesn’t have to mean taking on big, expensive projects. Here are 15 repairs that can be accomplished for less than $15. Despite relatively small investments of time and money, each of these repairs helps make your home more comfortable, attractive and cost efficient.

Repair a Sink Sprayer: $5 or less
Mineral deposits in the aerator can rob a sink sprayer of its power. Unscrew the aerator from the sprayer and scrub it out with a toothbrush, then soak it in vinegar overnight. If that doesn’t solve the problem, turn off the water to the fixture and remove the faucet handle and spout. Inside the faucet body, you’ll find a small, round diverter valve. Scrub that valve with a toothbrush, coat new O-rings and washers with heat-proof grease, and reassemble the faucet.

Patch a Hole in Drywall: $8 or less
You can fix small holes and minor drywall damage in less than an hour. Scrape the area smooth, using a putty knife. Use the putty knife to fill small holes with ultra-light spackle. Sand when dry. Cover larger holes with nylon drywall tape, then use a broadknife to smooth a coat of joint compound over the area. When the compound is dry, add a second coat, feathering out the edges. Allow to dry. Sand, prime, and paint the repair.

Replace an Interior Door Handle: $15 & Up
When cleaning the mechanism isn’t enough to keep a doorknob from sticking, it’s time to replace the knob. Remove the screws holding the cover plates to the door, then pull the doorknob apart. Outside the door, insert the stem of the new doorknob into the latch case — the mechanism inside the hole in the door. Inside the door, fit the interior knob over the spindle and align the stems with the screw holes. Install a screw into the hole closest to the door edge. Install the other screw, and test the doorknob. If the latch sticks, loosen both screws slightly.

Weatherstrip a Window: $15 or less
This cost-effective fix is super simple, thanks to peel-and-stick weatherstripping. Remove old weatherstrip and thoroughly clean all surfaces. Cut self-adhesive foam or rubber compression strips to fit the outside edges of the window stops. Peel off the backing paper and press the weatherstripping into place.

Caulk a Bathtub: $15 or less
Caulk seals the joint between the bathtub and the wall, which keeps moisture out of the walls. To replace failed caulk, tape the edges of the joint with painter’s tape, and use a utility knife scrape out the old caulk. Thoroughly clean the joint, using a solution of hot water and bleach, then dry the area with a clean rag. Fill the tub with water to open the joint to its maximum capacity. Squeeze a thin bead of caulk into the joint, then use your index finger to smooth it out. Remove the tape.

Unclog a Showerhead: $5 or less
Mineral deposits can reduce a shower’s water pressure and even change its spray pattern. When this happens, an inexpensive jug of white vinegar holds the answer. Remove the showerhead, and use the end of a paper clip to scrape deposits out of the inlet holes. Soak the showerhead in vinegar overnight, then replace it. The pressure should be back.

Original Source

How to Dig Under a Garage

When you decide to dig under a garage to enlarge a crawlspace or even add a basement, don’t expect a simple task. It entails a significant amount of physical labor, and you must be careful to retain the garage’s supports so the garage doesn’t fall on top of you. Ideally, digging under a garage is a job for a professional, but an industrious and determined do-it-yourselfer can achieve the task. The conventional way to dig under a garage is to jack up the structure and laboriously shovel soil and rocks, but a far easier way exists now.

Enlarging the space under a garage may be difficult but possible.

Things You’ll Need

• Vacuum excavator
• Truck with tailgate and bed
• Shovel
• Screen
• Wooden piling blocks

Set up a vacuum excavator according to the equipment’s instructions. Mount the vacuum excavator’s large, tank end to the tailgate of a truck in such a way that the tank’s contents will simply fall into the truck’s bed. Place the excavator’s hose end under your garage.

Shovel onto a screen soil and rocks from the places you want to enlarge under your garage. Remove by hand large rocks that do not pass through the screen. Such large materials could clog the vacuum excavator and delay your efforts.

Turn on the vacuum excavator, and use its nozzle end to vacuum the shoveled soil and small rocks from under your garage. The process is not much different from using a shop vacuum cleaner; it’s just on a far larger scale. All of the material will end up in the truck bed, ready for transport.

Place wooden piling blocks in the spaces that shoveling and vacuuming create on top of the existing pilings and in places where you want a little extra support. Do that task for every few feet of space you create by shoveling and vacuuming. Crisscross each level of pilings. For example, make one level of wooden piling blocks parallel to your body when you are in front of the supporting wall, and make the next level perpendicular to your body. When that crisscross technique is used, a particular piling block that shifts will not fall out of place and take the rest of the wall with it.

Remove the vacuum excavator’s tank end from the truck when the truck’s bed is full. Drive the truck to your disposal site, and shovel the soil and rocks out of the bed.

Repeat the steps as necessary until you remove all that you want to remove from under the garage.

Tips & Warnings

 Vacuum excavators are available for rent and sale at most building supply stores.

 Consider consulting a construction professional about where to dig under the garage so that existing supports won’t be disturbed and to determine other dangers particular to the situation.

 Before beginning the excavation project under your garage, check your area’s building codes for depth restrictions that are in place.

Original Source

DIY Bathroom Renovations

Renovating any room in the home can become an expensive task. For some, the cost of bathroom renovations was made easier due to government tax credits for things like low-flow toilets. Today, those same tax credits may not be available, so anything that is being added will need to come out of your own pocket.

The good thing with a bathroom renovation is that those looking to do them are typically not looking to completely redo the room. Most of the time, the reason behind a bathroom renovation is a change in theme. With that in mind, what are some options that you can take?


Bathroom floors can be a tricky subject. One easy DIY method to get around the old floors is simply not to worry about them. No, that does not mean you should leave the old floors as they are, but rather that you should just cover them over with new tile.

Because they sell thin, self-adhering tiles, you can easily just install this new tile directly over the old tile. Before doing this, make sure to clean the floor thoroughly first. Sweep up any dirt or dust and mop the floor so it looks as good as it possibly can. Once this is done, simply lay the new tile and cut around as needed. This will save you a lot of money, and perhaps more important, a lot of time.

Wallpaper or Tile?

Depending on the theme of your bathroom, you may want to install wallpaper or you may want to just put in new tile. Unfortunately, the walls may not be as easy as the floors. If you can find a complimentary, self-adhering tile for your walls, you do have the option of following the same process as you did for the ground. If not, removing the wall tiles in a bathroom can be a pain.

The pain with bathroom walls really comes into play when you do want new wallpaper though. This is because old bathrooms often had tiles that we installed with grout, which makes them have indentations around every tile. If you’re looking to install wallpaper over the tile, this can be real struggle, and often compromise your wallpaper installation.

One way around this is to buy the thinnest drywall you can find and install that over the exposed tile. Because you are working in a bathroom, make sure that you get something resistant to water. Once the drywall is installed over the tile, simply put the wallpaper over the drywall. This will be a smooth surface and will not even have to be cleaned or prepped.


There are usually only a few cabinets and drawers in the bathroom, but buying completely new ones can still be expensive. With this in mind, perhaps you can look at the idea of simply repainting the cabinets. For this, all you need are: new fixtures, sandpaper for smoothing, primer and paint. This may take a bit more time to install than completely new cabinets, but it can add an artistic and unique look to your bathroom. If it will fit the theme you are working on, it is definitely worth considering.

Working with Water

As you already know, if you do decide to get a new sink or toilet, remember to turn off the water. Rather than having to turn off each individual item, you may want to go outside to the main water source and turn it off from there. Tell your family that they will not have water for a couple of hours and maybe have them go out while you work. Always double check that you have done this, because the last thing you want to do while working on a project is to open up a pipe and find that you have released the flood gates. You’ll also want to check your home insurance policy as most will require any DIY plumbing work to be inspected and certified by a master plumber. Same applies for any electrical work you do yourself.

Original Source

6 Home Repairs for $15

Stop a Running Toilet: $0
When a toilet runs after the flush is complete, adjusting the lift chain or float arm usually solves the problem. The lift chain should hang straight down from the handle with about half an inch of slack. Move the chain to provide more or less slack, as required. Or, if the toilet has lift wires, straighten them. If that doesn’t do the trick, try bending the float arm until the float ball does not touch the tank wall.

Install a GFCI: $15 & up
To install a GFCI for single-location protection (does not protect other devices on the same circuit), shut down the power at the service panel and test with a non-contact circuit tester to confirm that the power is off. Remove the white neutral wires on the old receptacle, and pigtail them to the white line terminal on the GFCI. Remove the black hot wires from the old receptacle, and pigtail them to the hot line terminal. Disconnect the grounding wires from the old receptacle and pigtail them to the grounding screw terminal on the GFCI. Mount the GFCI and attach the cover. Turn on the power and test the GFCI.

Repair a Broken Lamp: $0
If the bulb is good and the circuit is operating but the lamp won’t light, the connections may be loose. Unplug the lamp and remove the light bulb. Use a screwdriver to pry up the metal tab at the bottom of the lamp socket. If that doesn’t solve the problem, pop the socket open. Loosen the screw terminals and reshape the C-shaped loops. Secure the loops around the screw terminals and tighten the screws. Pop the socket back into place, insert a lightbulb and test the lamp.

Seal a Leaky Downspout: $15 or less
Downspouts tend to be quite durable, but joints can work loose and leak. Tightening and sealing the joint is a quick and lasting solution. Take the leaky joint apart and use a stiff-bristled brush to scrub it clean. Wash the mating pieces and dry them thoroughly. Apply a bead of caulk at the seam line, position the pieces, and secure the joint with new fasteners.

Caulk Around a Window: $15
Gaps around windows and doors leak air, which means higher utility bills. Seal those gaps with silicone caulk. First, scrape out any failed caulk and clean the joint. Cut off the nozzle on a tube of caulk, angling the nozzle. Insert the tube into a caulk gun, and squeeze a smooth, even bead of caulk into the joint between the window frame and the siding.

Secure a Front Door: $15
Thieves can kick in the average door in moments, but sturdy hardware makes a door stronger and more secure. Fill the gap between the door frame and surrounding wall studs with plywood shims, and replace short hinge screws with 3- to 4-inch screws. Install metal plates to reinforce deadbolt locks and strike plates.

Original Source

How to Evaluate Your Basement

Trace plumbing lines and note locations of shutoff valves can supply lines: which are natural points for adding new pipes :r redirecting old pipes. If you ere considering a bathroom or kitchen addition, also trace drain lines back to the main drain stack, and take measurements to determine if adding new drain lines is feasible.

Evaluate headroom in your basement, paying particular attention to ductwork that is mounted below the bottoms of the floor joists. In many cases, you can reroute the ductwork so it runs in the joist cavity.

Look for asbestos insulation, usually found on hot air supply ducts from the furnace. Asbestos removal is dangerous and closely regulated, but it in many cases you can do it yourself if you follow the right proscriptions. Check with your local building department or waste management authority for more information on asbestos abatement in your area.

Identify sources of standing water and visible leaks. If water comes into the basement on a regular basis through the foundation walls or floor, you’ll definitely need to correct the problem before you begin your basement project.

Inspect foundation wall cracks to see if they are stable. Draw marks across the crack and take measurements at the marks. Compare measurements for a few months to see if the crack is widening. If the crack is stable you can repair it (see page 30). If it is moving, contact a structural engineer and resolve the problem before you begin your remodeling project.

Probe small cracks in poured concrete walls and floors with a cold chisel to evaluate the condition of the concrete. If the concrete flakes off easily, keep probing until you get to solid concrete. If the crack and loose material extend more than 1* or so into the wall, contact a structural engineer.

Check the mortar joints on concrete block foundation walls. Some degradation is normal, but if gaps wider than 1/4* have formed, you should have the wall repaired before you begin building.

Check for bowing in basement walls, water pressure in the ground often causes concrete walls to bow inward over time. As long as the amount of bowing is less than 1 or 2″ and the bowing is not active, you can usually address the problem by furring out from the wall with a framed wall.

Drainage Solution: How to Build a Dry Streambed

A dry streambed or watercourse (also known as an arroyo can be built to direct water runoff away from your house foundation and toward areas where the water can percolate into the ground and irrigate plants. When designing your dry streambed, keep it natural and practical. Use local stone that’s arranged as it would be found in a natural stream. Take a field trip to an area containing natural streams and make some observations. Note how quickly the water depth drops at the outside of bends, where only larger stones can withstand the current. By the same token, note how gradually the water level drops at the inside of broad bends, where water movement is slow. Place smaller river-rock gravel here as though it had accumulated in a natural stream.

Large heavy stones with flat tops may serve as steppingstones, creating paths to cross or even follow dry stream beds.

The most important design principle for dry stream-beds is to avoid regularity. Stones are never spaced evenly in nature nor should they be in your streambed. Also, if you dig a bed with consistent width it will look like a canal or a drainage ditch, not a stream, so vary the width and the depth. Consider other yard elements and furnishings. For example, a dry streambed is essentially a river of rock. so it presents a nice opportunity to add a landscape bridge or two to your yard.

Contact your local building department before deliberately routing water toward a storm sewer; this maybe illegal. Before digging, call your local utilities hotline to have buried pipes and wires in or near the construction area flagged.

Tools & Materials:

Garden rake
Landscape fabric 6-mil black plastic ¾ to 2” river rock 6 to 18”- dia.
river-rock boulders
8-thick stepping stones Native grasses or other
perennials for banks

A dry streambed can be constructed to direct water runoff away from your basement walls and to add an attractive landscape feature to your yard.

Excavate the streambed to about 12’ deep, working within a no regular outline. The streambed should originate at a downspout from your gutter system. Follow the natural course of rainwater runoff where possible. End at a natural sink, such as a rain garden. Bends are often wider in natural streams, so make your stream wider at bends. Rake, smooth, and compact the soil within the project area.

Lay strips of landscape fabric over the excavation area, overlapping fabric by at least 12° at seams. Lay the fabric to within 2 to 3 ft. of the house, and then lay a strip of 6-m black plastic next to the house to direct water away and into the streambed. Weigh down the edges of the fabric with some of your larger rocks.

Place rocks in the streambed, beginning with larger boulders along the streambed banks. Extra excavation maybe needed to properly set extra large boulders. Fill around large boulders and line “rapids” with smaller boulders. You may also place stepping stones to make a pathway or bridge in an area where you’re likely to be walking. In most cases this feature is mostly ornamental.

Fill in spaces and create gravel bottoms with river rock in the ¾ to 2’ size range. Make sure the river rock you’re using is native to your area, and avoid dumping it all into a flat field. Retain some nice shapes and contours Trim off any exposed landscape fabric and plant native grasses and other perennials along the banks.