Mold and Mildew Inside Home

Problem: High humidity levels re-suit in mildew growth, which causes damage and potential allergic reaction.

Background: Mold growths that develop under favorable conditions are often seen as a discoloration, ranging in color from white to orange, and from green to brown to black. If mold can’t be seen, it may be recognized as a musty odor. Mold growth can cause soiling and deterioration of appliances and other items in a home. The build-up of mold in air cooling and humidifying units, plumbing fixtures, condensation trays, and drains can cause serious and often costly mechanical problems. Mold can discolor paint, weaken fabrics, and degrade food stuffs. It can also lead to odor problems.

What to do: Relative humidity levels above 70% are optimal for indoor mold build-up. Controlling the problem in a home usually involves three steps 1) eliminating moisture from inside and outside sources; 2) re moving mold colonies and spores, and 3) installing a mechanical ventilation system. One method of deter mining whether your home has a potential problem is to measure the relative humidity inside your house.

Optimal levels are 15% if outside temperature is -20°F, 20% if -10°F, 25% if +0°F, 30% if +10°F, and 35% to 40% if +20°F. Also visually inspect for mold colonies, including areas of stagnant water, and room corners.
Regularly clean appliances that have water pans or use moisture. Other steps to reduce humidity include turning humidifiers down or off, using range and bath exhaust fans while cooking or bathing, cooking with covered pans, installing a fresh-air intake duct to bring in drier outside air, venting dryers to the outside, sealing cracks in house or vapor retarders, and not using un vented kerosene or gas heaters.

Special advice: To remove existing mold, clean affected areas with a homemade solution of cup cleanser (such as Ajax or Comet), ½ cup no phosphate detergent, I quart 5% sodium hypocblorite (such as Clorox or Hilex), and 3 quarts warm water. Brush solution onto affected area with a medium-sized soft brush. After cleaning, rinse thoroughly with fresh water and, if possible, paint area with a mold- resistant paint.

Helpful hint: If a member of your household is allergic to mold, adding an air cleaner can help remove mold spores present. (Heating ducts need to be cleaned before adding an air cleaner.) If carpet, upholstery, ceiling tiles, or other porous furnishings are contaminated, it is best to discard them rather than attempting disinfection because mold spores are likely to remain.

Interior Painting Ideas for your home

Are you looking for interior painting ideas? For all of those who are tired of the same old boring walls, consider various interior painting projects to spruce things up! There are so many ways that you can take a dull wall and make it nothing short of a masterpiece! We know that not everyone has the same levels of skills, but in the world in which we live, there are many avenues that you can take and tools that you can use to get the beautiful, colorful, and designed walls that you are looking for! Let’s not forget that we can paint a lot more than walls as well!

To start, we need to choose the surface to paint. If you are painting walls or other flat surfaces, you need to start with a good cleaning as well as repairing any damages that you may find. Patch any holes and repair any rips, tears, or seams. Then you can move on. For those who are painting other surfaces, you will need to do the same cleaning and repair, but you also may need to consider other steps as well. If the surface will not easily hold paint, you’ll need to use an etching process to help it along.

Okay, so how will you do your painting? There are many techniques to choose from. You don’t just have to paint the wall one color. You can use several in various patterns. This includes processes like ragging, rolling, and washing. In some techniques, paint is coated on to the wall then removed using sponges or rags. Or, if you want a more geometrical look, consider stripes as well as frames around the walls.

You also don’t have to limit your interior painting ideas to walls. You can paint furniture, masonry like fireplaces, as well as elements like molding, doors, and windows. There is no limit to the things that you can paint with the right materials at your side. Painting is a great way to show off a new look or tone within a home. It can enhance or be the focal point of the room. And, just a few coats of paint will end up leading you to a completely different looking room, within minutes.


Painting tips & tricks

Rub petroleum jelly on the hinges and door knobs before you start to paint a door. If you get paint on them, they will wipe off easily.

To keep white paint from yellowing, add 2 drops of black paint to each Gallon of white.

When painting ceilings, cut a child’s rubber ball in half and put your paint brush in one of the halves to catch the drips.

An old pair of swimming goggles will protect your eyes from paint splatters and drips when painting ceilings.

When painting, protect your hands and face with moisturizer. Cleanup will be easier and the moisturizer will prevent paint from seeping into the pores.

To stop paint from dripping, punch a few holes in the rim of the paint can. When the brush is wiped against the edge, the paint flows back into the can. The lid covers the holes so the paint won’t dry out.

Before pouring paint from a can, cover the rim with masking tape. After pouring, remove the tape — the rim will be clean and the cover will fit tightly.

To remove lumps from paint: Cut a piece of screen to fit the inside of the paint can. Set it on top of the paint and let it float down to the bottom of the can. It will take all the lumps with it, trapping them at the bottom of the can.

When painting a room, dip a small card into the paint so that you have the exact colour with you and can match accessories in store.

When painting inside corners, trim the paint brush bristles to a V to save strokes and spread paint more easily.

When you poke a paint brush into corners or allow it to rest on the bottom of the paint can, the bristles curl and stray. To straighten natural bristles (not synthetics), try wrapping the brush in a couple of thicknesses of damp cloth and press gently with an iron. The steam and cloth binding do the job. Only light pressure is needed. Let the bristles cool before you unwrap the brush.

When painting old woodwork fill in the holes or cracks with a mixture of flour and some of the paint you are using. It hardens like cement and matches perfectly.

Hurricane Threatens Home

Problem: Major hurricane is heading toward your location, bringing dangerous winds, floods, and storm surges.

Background: While hurricanes are relatively rare events at any one location, none of the United States coastal areas is immune. Hurricanes are tropical cyclones in which winds reach speeds of 74 miles per hour or more, and blow in a large spiral around a relatively calm center (the eye of the hurricane). Near the center counter clockwise rotating winds may gust to more than 200 miles per hour. Hurricanes that strike the eastern United States originate in the tropical and subtropical North Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. Most occur in August, September, and October, but the 6-month period from June 1 to November 30 is considered the Atlantic hurricane season. An aver age of six Atlantic hurricanes occur each year, and drift gradually to the west-northwest. Initially the storms move forward very slowly in the tropics (about 15 miles per hour), in creasing in forward speed to some times more than 50 miles per hour.

What to do: Collect and read government and community literature about safety measures. When a hurricane threatens, you need to decide whether to evacuate or to ride out the storm at home. If local authorities recommend evacuation, leave! Their advice is based on their knowledge of the storm’s strength and its potential for death and destruction. In general, plan to leave if you live on the coastline or offshore islands, if you live in a mobile home, or if you live near a river or in a flood plain.
Make plans before the hurricane season (June). Learn the storm surge history and elevation of your area.
Determine safe routes inland, the location of official shelters, and where to move your boat (if you have one) in an emergency. Trim back dead wood from trees, check for loose rain gutters and downspouts. If shutters on your home don’t protect windows, keep boards on hand to nail over the windows and cover the glass. When a hurricane watch is sued for your area, check often for official bulletins on radio, TV, or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Ad ministration (NOAA) weather radio. Fuel your car, check mobile home tie-downs, moor or move your small craft to safe shelter, and stock up on canned goods. Also check your sup ply of special medicines and drugs and batteries for radios and flash lights. Secure lawn furniture and other loose outdoor items. Tape, board, or shutter windows, and wedge sliding glass doors to prevent them from lifting out of their tracks.
When a hurricane warning is sued for your area, stay tuned to radio, TV, or NOAA weather radio for official bulletins. Leave if you are in a mobile home, or if officials advise. Leave in daylight if possible, shut off water and power at mains; take small valuables and papers but travel light. Leave food and water for pets, lock up the home and drive carefully to the nearest designated shelter using the recommended evacuation routes. If you stay home, board up garage and porch doors, move valuables to upper floors, and bring pets inside. Fill containers and bathtub with a supply of water for drinking. Turn the temperature control in the refrigerator to coldest set ting and don’t open unnecessarily. Use the phone for emergencies only.

Special advice: After the all-clear is announced, drive carefully and watch for dangling electrical wires, weakened roads and bridges, and flooded low spots. Avoid downed power lines and any water in which they may be lying, as well as weakened tree limbs or damaged overhanging boards. Watch for poisonous snakes, which may have been driven from their dens by high water. Don’t go sightseeing. Report broken or damaged water, sewer, and electrical lines. Avoid using the phone any more than absolutely necessary (the system will likely be jammed with calls). Use caution when re-entering your home. Check for gas leaks (don’t use any flames for light) by smelling for any gas like odor, and check food and water for spoilage. Don’t drink or prepare food with tap water until you are sure it is not contaminated. For more tips on re-entering your home.

Helpful hint: Beware of the “eye” of the storm. If the eye of the hurricane passes over your area, be aware that the improved weather conditions are temporary, and that the storm conditions will return—sometimes in a few seconds—with winds that come from the opposite direction.

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.

Home Has Been Flooded

Problem: Home has suffered damage from floodwater.

Background: For what to do if a flood is imminent. If your home has been flooded, and you have a flood insurance policy, immediately call the agent or broker who handled it. The agent will submit a loss form to the National Flood Insurance Program and an adjuster will be assigned to inspect your property. Most standard homeowners policies do not cover flood loss. Proceed with immediate cleanup measures after the flood.

Before entering the home, make sure it is not in danger of collapsing. Turn off any outside gas lines at the meter or tank, and let the house air for enough time to remove foul odors or escaping gas.

What to do: When entering a building after a flood, use a battery flash light instead of an open flame as a light source because gas may still be trapped inside the building. Watch for electrical shorts of live wires be fore making certain that the main power switch is turned off. Don’t turn on any lights or appliances until an electrician has checked the system for short circuits. Cover broken windows and holes in the roof or walls to prevent further weather damage. (Take pictures of the damage done to your home and contents to aid in settling any insurance claims.) Throw out perishable items that pose a health problem, as well as any previously opened medicines that have come in contact with floodwater. Until the public water system has been declared safe, vigorously boil water for drinking and preparing foods for 10 minutes.

Shovel mud out of the building while it is still moist to give walls and floors a chance to dry. Once plastered walls have dried, brush off loose dirt, wash with a mild soap solution, and rinse with clean water. Always start at the bottom and work up, doing ceilings last. When cleaning, pay special attention to heating and plumbing systems. Clean off refrigerators, sofas, and other hard goods and keep until inspected by an adjuster. Any partially damaged items should be dried and aired; the adjuster will make recommendations for repairs or disposal. Move wooden furniture outdoors, but keep out of direct sun to prevent warping. Remove drawers and other moving parts, but do not pry open swollen drawers from the front; in stead, remove the backing and push the drawers out. Allow clothing or household fabrics to dry slowly, away from direct heat.

Special advice: Drain and clean flooded basements as soon as possible but be aware that structural damage can occur when water is pumped out too quickly. After the floodwaters around your property have subsided, begin draining the basement in stages; drain about a third of the water volume each day. Mildew can be removed from dry wood with a solution of 4 to 6 table spoons of trisodium phosphate (TSP), 1 cup liquid chlorine bleach, and 1 gallon of water. Clean metal, then wipe with a kerosene-soaked cloth. Use a light coating of oil on iron to prevent rusting.

Helpful hint: Another method of disinfecting water for drinking or cooking is to mix ½ teaspoon of liquid commercial laundry bleach with 2 1/2 gallons of water, and let stand for 5 minutes before using. The flat taste can be removed by pouring the water from one container to another, or by adding a pinch of salt. In an emergency, water may be acquired by draining a hot water tank or by melting ice cubes.

Insects Inside Home

Problem: Insects are causing problems within the home.

Background: A long list of chemicals is available for controlling in sects that invade the home. However, with the growing concern for the environment and the move away from chemicals, the following are alternative, no chemical methods of pre venting or treating household pests.
In most all cases, it’s helpful to re pair or seal cracks, holes, and other potential points of entry around the home, including foundation, walls, and screens. If the suggestions below don’t seem to work, contact your local extension service office or an experienced nursery person.

What to do: For ants, use a bait made of 2 parts boric acid in 98 parts food attractant. Select the food attractant by offering ants various materials, such as grease, jelly or peanut butter, and choose the material most frequently selected. For carpenter ants, repair moisture-damaged wood. Do not store fire wood on the ground, especially near the home. Also keep stored lumber dry. For carpet beetles and clothes moths, dry clean or launder clothing before storing. Freeze, dry clean or iron infested articles of clothing. Use mothballs when storing susceptible clothing.
For centipedes, eliminate their prey, which is primarily sow bugs. Dry damp areas with a fan or dehumidifier. When found in the home, eliminate with a broom or swatter. For clover mites, wipe them up with a damp cloth; they are generally found around windows. Keep 18 inches to 24 inches of soil bordering the home’s foundation loose and free of grass.
For crickets, keep the lawn well mowed and maintain a weed-free area around the home. If using outdoor lights near the home, use a non-attracting yellow light. For fleas, keep pets and pet living areas clean; thoroughly vacuum infested rooms (see Fleas Inside Home).
For flies, keep kitchen and other household areas clean. Pour boiling water down drains to eliminate drain-infesting flies. Store garbage in tightly covered receptacles. For ground beetles, keep firewood and debris away from the home. When found in the home, remove by hand or by vacuum. For sow bugs, reduce moisture through dehumidification. Remove decaying vegetation, such as lawn clippings or fallen leaves, from around the foundation. For spiders, keep household areas clean. Eliminate their hiding places and prey (such as sow bugs). When found in the home, kill them using a broom or swatter.

Special advice: For pantry insects, dispose of infested food products. Store uninfested food in tightly sealed glass, metal, or plastic containers. Clean shelves thoroughly, removing crumbs and debris from cracks and crevices. Treat foods more than 60 days old: Foods such as cake mixes and spices in original containers can be cold-treated by ex posing them to 0°F (in a freezer) or lower temperatures for 3 to 7 days, depending on the size of package. Dried fruits can be heat-treated by placing them in a cheesecloth bag and dipping them in boiling water for about 6 seconds.

Helpful hint: For boxelder bugs, try spraying clustered insects on your home or other buildings with a solution of ½ cup laundry detergent to 1 gallon of water. (Test on an inconspicuous area because detergents discolor some siding.) Vacuum bugs found in the home (properly disposing of the used vacuum bag) or re move them by hand.

Home Suffers Earthquake

Problem: Home has suffered stress and damage from earth quake.

Background: For what to do during an earthquake. After an earthquake has struck, be prepared for additional earthquake shocks called “aftershocks.” Though most of these are smaller than the main shock, some may be large enough to cause additional damage. Respond to requests for help from police, fire fighting, civil defence, and relief organizations, but do not go into dam aged areas unless your help has been requested. Don’t go sightseeing, especially in beach and water front areas where seismic sea waves may strike. Keep the streets clear for emergency vehicles. Cooperate fully with public safety officials. (In some areas you may be arrested for get ting in the way of disaster operations.)

What to do: Check your family, those around you, and others in your neighborhood for injuries. Don’t attempt to move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Don’t use your phone except for genuine emergency calls. Use a radio for damage reports and information. Don’t share rumors or un verified stories; they often do great harm after disasters. Wear shoes, if possible, in all areas near debris or broken glass. Check for fires or fire hazards. Avoid downed power lines or objects touched by downed wires. Do not enter the home or neighborhood until approved by the authorities.

Special advice: When re-entering the neighborhood or home, check for damage to utility lines and appliances. Do not use matches, lighters, or open-flame appliances until you are sure that there are no gas leaks. Don’t operate electrical switches or appliances if gas leaks are suspected. If gas leaks exist, shut off the main gas valve. If there is damage to home wiring, shut off the electrical power. Report damage to the utility companies and follow their instructions. Approach chimneys with caution, first checking them from a distance. Check entire chimney lengths for cracks and damage, particularly in the attic and at the roof line. Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire. Check closets and storage shelf areas. Open closet and cupboard doors carefully and watch for falling objects. Check to see that sewage lines are intact before flushing toilets. Clean up spilled medicines, drugs, and other potentially harmful materials.

Helpful hint: Check your freezer and plan to use foods that will spoil quickly if the power is shut off. Don’t eat or drink anything from open containers near shattered glass. If the water is off, you can get emergency water from water heaters, toilet tanks, melted ice cubes, and canned vegetables.

Home Repair Glossary

Ampere: Unit of measure for the rate of flow of electrical energy (see volt); watts divided by volts equals amperes.

Anode rod: Device used inside water heaters to protect the tank against corrosion.

Auxiliary heaters: Heating devices used in addition to the main heating system, such as kerosene heaters, fireplaces, or electrical space heaters.

Awning window: A window that cranks out at the bottom by turning a crank handle; can provide ventilation even in rainy weather.

Basin wrench: Long tool with a flexible, self-gripping head that is used to turn hard-to-reach nuts that hold basins and faucets in place.

Blast bag: Slang term for hydraulic drain openers which are attached to a garden hose and pulsate under high water pressure.

Blower: In reference to forced, warm-air furnaces, the centrifugal fan driven by an electric motor that draws cold air from rooms through the cold-air ducts into the furnace and then forces warmed air back to ducts.

Blower belt: The V-belt which is used to link an electric motor to a centrifugal fan used in a forced, warm-air furnace.

Casement window: Hinged at one side, and may swing out or in as it is cranked by a handle.

Caulking: Procedure of sealing or weatherproofing cracks between materials; may also refer to the caulk material used, such as silicone caulking.

Closet auger: Special, flexible version of a clean-out auger designed for use in toilets; has protective tubing to protect ceramic toilets from scratches.

Cord clamp: Metal clamp with screws on the exterior of larger replacement plugs which is used to secure the cord to the plug.

Condensor switch: In air-conditioning systems, an additional switch that directly controls the motor which powers the fan and the compressor in a unit which is usually located outdoors.

Cotter pin: A hairpin-like fastener which is inserted through a hole (in a shaft, for example) with its two leg sections spread open to hold it in place.

Crocus cloth: Has powdered iron oxide on cloth backing; generally used for polishing.

Circuit breaker panel: Term for main service panel housing the main switches and branch circuits protected by circuit breakers. If circuits become overloaded, a circuit breaker trips to interrupt electrical flow to that circuit (see fuse box).

Cylinder lockset: Used on exterior doors; locked by key inserted into a cylinder within the outside knob, or with turn knob or push button on inner knob.

Double-hung window: Divided into two sections that ride in channels in the jamb on both sides; the top sash can be lowered, the bottom sash can be raised.

Drain cock: A faucet-like device that is turned to allow liquid to drain.

Drain (or disposal) field: A system of underground drain pipe in a private sewer disposal system which is connected to a septic tank through a distribution box.

Drive belt: The flexible V-belt which transfers power between motors and driven devices (see blower belt).

Drywall: Generic term for gypsum board used in place of lath and plaster to cover walls; Sheetrock is a brand name. May also be called wallboard or plasterboard.

Drywall tape: Narrow strips used, – along with joint compound, to finish joints in sections of drywall; may be made of paper or perforated paper without adhesive, or of fiberglass with adhesive backing.

Drywell: A device used to catch and hold water; may be a metal drum sunken into the ground, filled with rocks, and connected to drains to collect rainwater runoff.

Electrical conduit: Metal pathways that carry electric wires; may be greenfield (also known as flexible metal conduit), electric metallic tubing conduit (EMT), or BX cable (also known as armored cable, Type A.C.)

Electronic ignition: In a furnace, an electronic device which provides a direct spark to the main burner, eliminating the need for a pilot burner.

Emery cloth: Has emery abrasive, a natural mineral, on cloth backing; used for rust removal or for sanding metal.

Expansion nozzle: Another term for a hydraulic drain opener, a balloon-type device which connects to a garden hose and is inserted into clogged drains.

Faceplate: The metal plate surrounding the latchbolt that is inset into the door on the latch side.

Feathering: Gradual tapering of added material, such as drywall compound, over a distance so that changes in surface thickness are not noticeable.

Flat-wire plug: Electrical plug designed to accept wires that are flat, as opposed to wires that are round.

Float valve: A valve that opens and closes to keep water at a specific level in a container; generally actuated by the up-and-down movement of a float on the water’s surface.

Flywheel: A wheel of sufficient mass attached to a shaft to help provide continuous momentum.

Forced-air furnace: A furnace which heats and distributes air to the home using a fan to draw cooled air from the rooms through cold-air ductwork to the furnace heating chamber, and back to rooms through hot-air ducts.

Four-way switch: Used in combination with three-way switches when power must be turned on and off from more than two locations.

Fuse box: Term for main service panel that houses the main switches and branch circuits protected by fuses; if circuits become overloaded, a fuse burns out to interrupt electrical flow to that circuit (see circuit breaker pane!).

Glider window: Windows that can be opened and closed by sliding sections horizontally.

Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI): Special receptacle or circuit breaker which detects current flow changes and quickly shuts off before shocks can occur; used in circuits supplying power to outlets in baths, kitchens, laundry rooms, or outdoors.

Gypsum board: A term used for wallboard (see drywall).

Hard-wired: Electrical-powered device which is wired directly into the electrical system of the home, as opposed to one that draws power from a plugged-in power cord or batteries.

Jalousie window: Consists of several narrow horizontal glass sections that pivot in unison for either opening or closing when a hand crank is turned.

Joists: Horizontal wood members that support either floors or ceilings.

Kilowatt: Equal to 1,000 watts; watts divided by 1,000 equals kilowatts. One kilowatt working for one hour equals one kilowatt-hour (kwh).

Media pad: In a home humidifier, the thin, fibrous material that picks up water to be evaporated; may be a smaller pad wrapped around a wheel framework in a central humidifier, or a larger, wider pad humidifier running over rollers in a portable.

Media wheel: In a home humidifier, the wheel-shaped framework that holds the media pad material in place (see media pad).

0-ring: Rubberbandlike ring, generally round in cross-section, which fits between two components to provide a seal.

Octopus plug: A special plug that allows several more plugs to be inserted; its use is ordinarily not recommended by safety specialists and electricians.

Oil heating system: System employing a furnace or stove that burns fuel oil; may be a forced-air system with a blower or a system that depends on the rise of warm air.

Packing nut: A nut with an interior recess that accepts packing material to help seal in a liquid, such as water or oil.

Pilot burner: Small flame that ignites a flame in main burners when fuel is turned on in appliances such as furnaces, water heaters, or kitchen ranges.

Plumber’s friend: Plunger with rubber cup on the end of a wooden handle, used to unclog fixture drains by vigorously moving up and down.

Plumbing fixture: A receptacle, such as a sink, basin, or toilet, that is connected to the plumbing system and collects and retains water or wastes for discharge.

Plumbing stack: Main vent into which all fixtures drain; it is also the vent pipe which emerges through the roof of the house.

Plumbing trap: Special curved fitting needed under all fixtures except toilets to prevent sewer gas from entering the home. Toilets have built-in traps.

Pressure-reducing valves: Special valves that reduce pressure sometimes employed in homes to lower pressure from water mains for use inside the home.

Quick-connect plug: Electrical plug connected by inserting the wires, with spikes making contact between the prongs of the plug and the wires.

Rafters: Sloping wooden members that support the roof of a home.

Receptacle: In electrical systems, outlets within electrical boxes mostly in walls and floors that accept plugs; the most common are those with openings for two plugs, called duplex receptacles; also sometimes referred to as plug-ins.

Replacement plug: Electrical plug, available in several varieties, designed to replace original plugs or other replacement plugs that have become defective.

Roof louvers: Series of slanted slots allowing for ventilation while repelling rain.

Roof vents: Openings that allow attic air to exit through the roof; may be assisted by power fans or wind-assisted turbine devices over the vent. Ridge vents are no mechanical vents installed along the roof ridge.

Romex: Non-metallic-sheathed electrical cable which can be used without metal raceways (see electrical conduit).

Round-cord plug: Electrical plug designed to accept wires that are round instead of flat.

Seat wrench: A special L-shaped tool used to remove a faucet seat; the seat mates with a washer fastened to the handle stem that is turned to close off the water supply.

Set-back thermostats: Programmable thermostats which save energy by automatically dropping the temperature setting for specific periods during heating seasons, or by raising the temperature settings during certain periods during the cooling season.

Sheeftock: Brand name for wallboard (see drywall).

Shims: Narrow strips of wood or other material used to increase thickness; common wood shims used in homes are thin at one end and thicker at the other, and are driven between adjoining wood members.

Single-pole switch: A switch that turns power on and off from only one point.

Soffit vents: Openings within the soffits (the underside of the roof overhang on the outside of the home).

Solenoid: Electronic device that moves on command to allow, for example, the opening and closing of valves.

Spiraled auger: A flexible “plumber’s snake” often made of coiled spring material with its working end configured in spiraling, hooklike manner.

Spline: Slotted grooves, usually on a shaft, designed to accept a second part with corresponding ridges and slots.

Strikeplate: The metal plate used around the hole in the doorjamb that accepts the latchbolt of a door lockset.

Subflooring: First layer of flooring material which lies directly over the floor joints; may be diagonal rough boards or plywood.

Sump pump: An electrically powered pump which is positioned in a “sump” or hole to pump out collected water when it reaches a certain level.

Temperature-pressure relief valve: Special valve used on water heaters that automatically opens before an increase in temperature or pressure could cause an explosion.

Terminal clips: Clips that are flat in configuration and that slip over prongs to make an electrical connection.

Three-way switch: Switch used in pairs to switch power on and off from two different locations.

Tilt-turn window: Newer style which tilts in at the top to provide ventilation and can turn a full 1800 for easy cleaning.

Trip lever: Device used to initiate operation of mechanisms (such as the handle on the tank of a toilet) that begins the flushing operation when pushed.

Tubular lockset: Mostly used in interior doors. May have a push button in its knob or a small lever or button on its interior side.

Underwriter’s knot: A special knot used when replacing plugs or cords (where space allows) to help reduce tension on wires connected to screw terminals.

Volt: Unit of measure for electrical pressure; volts times amperes equals watts or, expressed differently, (pressure) times (current flow) equals power.

Water-mixing valve: A device that mixes hot and cold water to produce water of specific temperatures.

Water-resistant gypsum board: Drywall sheets with a water-resistant paper wrapper for use in areas of high humidity.

Watt: Unit of measure for electrical energy. One ampere of current flow at a pressure of one volt equals one watt of electrical energy (see ampere and volt).

X-bridging: The wood or metal braces used between joists to brace one joist to the next to prevent twisting.

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.

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