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Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page

Relining a Chimney~Installing Ice Shields~Installing a Bathroom Exhaust Fan

In Q&A on December 26, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Q:
We recently sold a family members house that had an 80-percent efficiency furnace. The purchaser hired a home inspector and everything passed with no problems. I was told later that there was no flue liner in the chimney and that it was a new code to have one.

A:
You need to check with the furnace manufacturer. Most require the chimney be relined. But there are caveats. If the chimney is in the middle of the house, it may not be as critical to reline. Chimneys on outside walls are colder and contribute to greater downdrafts.

Another consideration is the local code enforcement officer. They have the final say on whether it is needed.

To summarize, most need relining, which prevents downdrafts and condensation from accumulating in the colder chimney. Relining helps eliminate carbon monoxide problems. As you can see it is almost always required.

Q:
In the past you have stated to install ice shields to eliminate ice dams. What did you mean by installing them minimally 6-feet past the exterior wall? What about 6-feet from the eave edges of the roof (with a 2-foot wide soffit) making it 4-feet past the exterior wall? What width do ice shields come in?

A:
I always would want the ice shields all the way up any and all valleys.

I know many people who installed 6-feet of ice shields past the exterior walls and still had ice damage to the interior. By the way, that included my house and for that reason I installed the ice shields back up 12 feet. I also ran them all the way up all valleys and around all skylights.

Don’t take the chance and try to save a few bucks, it may be short sighted.

Finally, ice shields come in 3-foot wide rolls.

Q:
I want to install an exhaust fan in my bathroom. What brand do you suggest?

A:
The brand is not as important as size. There are several criteria you should follow. You need to know about the amount of cubic feet in the area so you know how much volume of air to move around.

To determine, measure height times the length times the width of the bathroom and it will equal cubic feet. You’ll want a fan that has a capacity to change the air a minimum of 8 times per hour. Multiply the cubic feet by 8, which gives you the cubic feet per hour. Divide that by 60 minutes to get your cubic feet per minute (CFM). All fans are stamped with that number.

Also, get a fan with the lowest “sone”. The lower the sone number, the quieter the fan. Finally, vent the exhaust fan to the exterior and not into the attic.

Q:
My Birmingham condo’s basement floor is covered with cement dust that seems impossible to clean up. The building supervisor said to clean it with muriatic acid. After reading the label it sounds like I should not be using this product in a basement with only one small window for ventilation. Should this be the builder’s responsibility to clean this up or mine?

A:
I agree with you. It should be the builder’s responsibility. Dusting on the surface of concrete is called “laitance” and too much water in the concrete or premature finishing causes it. The water that rises to the surface in newly placed concrete should disappear prior to troweling.

Whoever ends up doing it should know that the dust could be removed with a 5 percent solution of muriatic acid. Indoors, use Trisodium Phosphate (TSP). Wear gloves and goggles and thoroughly rinse with clean water. Let the floor dry and apply a concrete sealer. Make sure the sealer can be used indoors and is safe around the furnace and hot water tank.

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~ Holiday Gifts That Will Inspire Everyone~

In New Products, Uncategorized on December 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm

It’s that time of year again when you are trying to find that great new holiday gift to surprise the handyperson in your life. I found some interesting tools on the market that I think are worth checking out. I know my Christmas wish list just got a little bigger.

Skil Oscillating Multi-Tasker™
I know what you’re thinking. What the heck is a Multi-Tasker™ and why would I need or want one? It’s uncanny how I know how your mind works.

Now to answer that question: The Multi-Tasker™ is an oscillating, hand-held tool that easily (and I emphasize “easily”) cuts through wood, drywall, grout and most metals. The 2.0 amp motor is strong enough for just about any job or project you will undertake around your house.

Skil designed the Multi-Tasker with variable speeds, which I found perfect for total control, as well as when I used it for sanding. Yes, it has a sanding pad and comes with assorted sanding sheets.

Another feature I liked was the weight. It only weighs about 2.75 pounds. That makes it easy enough to hold but provides stability when using the tool.

You’ll also like the soft-grip design, which made it comfortable to hold and use. There are lots of other features you can check out at Lowes, Amazon.com or other retailers. You can also check out this $79.99 tool at Skil’s website www.skil.com.

Black and Decker’s Sure Grip™ All In One Laser Level

This new product sucks! Black and Decker’s Sure Grip™ All In One Laser Level will not only prove it, but will help you keep level. The Sure Grip™, at only $29.97 is an incredibly clever, next-generation laser level.

Why would you or the handy person on your gift list need or want the Sure Grip™? Two reasons. First, it works! Second, it works great and absolutely will not damage or scuff any wall. The only marks left on my wall were dirty hand prints pointed out to me by my dutiful wife.

The Sure Grip™ operates on two AAA batteries (included). It securely attaches by itself to a wall and can stay in place up to two hours.

It makes hanging mirrors, photos, paintings, shelving, etc. a lot easier and certainly more accurate. It is also perfect for painting or attaching graphics on walls. A couple of features I truly loved were the audio signal. It let me know when I was ‘on the mark’ even when I was working at the other end of the wall.

There is also no guessing or constant checking needed to see if the bubble is between the lines. When you are level, a color change bubble vial automatically changes from red to green. That shouldn’t be a problem unless you’re colorblind. In that case, it’s time to give up driving and spend some time looking at your four bare walls.

The Black and Decker Sure Grip™ All In One Laser Level is available at most hardware retailers.

Bora Multi-Angle™

Affinity Tool Works, LLC right here in Troy, Michigan has introduced the Bora Multi-Angle™ that would make a great stocking stuffer. It’s an adjustable square that helps you take the guesswork out of layouts of complex angles.

The precise pre-set locking positions allow for consistent measurements from project to project. It is constructed of durable materials with an extruded aluminum base and etched stainless steel ruler. It has eight locking positions, is easy to open and close and fits perfectly in a carpenter’s belt or anyone’s pocket.

I loved the Bora Multi Angle™ collapsible design, which allows for ease of use and multiple storage options. It has consistent measurements with eight pre-set positions and is engineered for everyday use by any professional contractor. It also comes with a lifetime warranty and can be purchased at Home Depot  (www.homedepot.com) and retails for approximately $45.00.

Blount Oregon® PowerNow™ 40-Volt Max Cordless Chainsaw

Another tool I’ve been hinting to my wife about is the Oregon® PowerNow™ 40-volt Max Cordless Chainsaw from Blount. Blount is no stranger since they are the world’s largest manufacturer of saw chain. I know with my treed lot, I sure could use this saw.

For the first time there’s a true alternative to noisy gas-powered chainsaws. With this saws 40V Max lithium ion battery pack there is instant start-ups with no pull cords, gas or warm-up times. It is equipped with a 14-inch bar and can power through logs as large as 10 to 12 inches. According to the manufacturer the PowerNow can cut up to 250, two to three inch branches on a single charge with the Endurance battery pack. The PowerNow™ is sold with either the Endurance or Standard battery pack (the Endurance battery pack doubles the runtime of the Standard battery pack.)

Obviously, this chainsaw is quieter than gas-powered chainsaws and is silent betweens cuts. At just under 11 pounds, the PowerNow is lightweight, easily portable and offers good ergonomic comfort.

Another feature I cannot wait to try out is the PowerSharp® built-in chain sharpening system so you’ll never cut with a dull chain again. When the chain dulls, simply pull the PowerSharp Lever for three to five seconds with the saw running and the chain will work like new.

The PowerNow™ 40V Chainsaw Kit with Standard Battery Pack comes with the chainsaw, 14-inch guide bar, Power Sharp® Chain, Standard Battery Pack and charger and sells for $399.00. The PowerNow™ 40V Max Chainsaw Kit with Endurance Pack comes with the chainsaw, 14-inch guide bar, Power Sharp® Chain, Endurance Battery Pack and charger for $499.00. You can learn more about their product by checking out their website at www.OregonPowerNowTools.com.

Craftsman™ Nextec 12-Volt Right Angle Impact Driver

Last, but definitely not least; professionals, craftsmen and anyone working on cars or equipment will absolutely want (if the don’t already have one) the Craftsman™ Nextec 12-Volt Right Angle Impact Driver.

Craftsman claims (and they are absolutely correct) that is great for working in tight spaces and the ingenious right angle design lets you handle those tough tasks that your everyday drill can’t reach or handle. It weighs just 2.2-pounds and is powered by a 12.0-volt Lithium-ion battery for enhanced performance and longer shelf life and delivers 700-pounds of torque in both forward and reverse. This powerful impact driver delivers more torque and works faster than “full sized” 18-volt drills.

The innovative impact mechanism absorbs the twisting action associated with most other drills and applies it to the work piece so your hand doesn’t twist with the tool.
The 30-minute “Quick Charger: with LED charge indicator, quickly charges the battery and shows you the status of the charge. There is also an LED Work Light that illuminates the work area for enhanced line of sight.

The kit includes the Right Angle Impact Driver, battery, charger, 4 drilling and driving accessories, storage case and comes with a 1 Year Limited Warranty. The retail price is $99.99.

When you pull out any of Craftsman Nextec tools, such as their impact driver, it’s going to bring a new meaning to “tool envy”.

Check out their website at www.craftsmantools.com.

Handy Tips on Heating Costs For A Chilly Winter

In Q&A, Winter Tips For Your Home on December 12, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Q:
If people want to save ten to twenty percent on their heating bills, do they need to be handy?

A:
They don’t really need to be handy, just take their hand and set the thermostat back to 68-degrees. This is one of those energy saving tips (read that as money saving) that you’ve been hearing for the past decade but still forget to do. For every degree you turn your thermostat back, you save approximately one-percent on your heating bill. That could accumulate to some big bucks.

If you’re elderly or have infants in the house this tip may not be such a great idea since it could affect their health. But for the average household, if you dress for the temperature by wearing a sweater for example and by controlling drafts by closing the blinds or drapes on the windows you shouldn’t have any discomfort. Also, don’t forget “clock thermostats”, which cost anywhere from twenty to fifty dollars. Older models just had one or two setbacks that automatically turned the heat down in the evening just before you went to bed and had it start up fifteen minutes before you woke up in the morning.

Newer, more complicated models can be programmed to accommodate any schedules you and your family may want it to go off and at any time of the day you need. Some digital thermostats contain little computers that accommodate your weekly schedule including the weekend. If you’re following my advice, you’ll be a little cooler, and that’s not a lot of hot air.
Q:
The static electricity in our house is a shocking problem. What can we do about it?

A:
Static electricity in the house is usually more of a problem in the winter when the relative humidity is very low than in the summer when the humidity is high.

You know the expression, “It’s not the heat it’s the humidity”. Well, static electricity is the build-up of an electrical charge brought about by rubbing two dissimilar, non-conducting materials together. Moist air is a better conductor than dry air and as such, helps dissipate the charge before it becomes noticeable.

It’s a good idea to add a humidifier to your forced air heating system if you have none. Also, if you have a humidifier it may need cleaning and maintaining. Another problem I find with many units is that they are just too small for the square footage that they are trying to humidify. You m ay need a second unit to replace the one you have with a better one or larger model. Studies have shown that in order to prevent static shock in rooms with carpets of wool, nylon and some other synthetic fibers, the relative humidity should be 35 to 45-percent.

Some manufacturers have introduced conducting fibers in the carpet to minimize the problem. One such example is Monsanto’s Ultron line. In the meantime there are products available in grocery stores such as Static Guard® that can be sprayed on clothing and some furniture that eliminates static cling.
Cutting & Stacking Firewood

Cutting and stacking firewood is not only hard work it can be dangerous as well. Not every chain saw user understands how to work safely outdoors. Conditions, especially when cold or wet, are often less than ideal. Woodcutting is heavy, strenuous work. That’s why I avoid doing it at any cost. Special safety gear is also recommended whenever these tools are used and are available from a variety of sources including chain saw manufactures and distributors.

You know the best defense against injury is always work carefully, without hurry or distraction (I’m sorry, what were we taking about?) and to prepare for the job at hand. Good footing and support are essential, both for the material you are working on and for yourself. Boots and ankle supports are better than low shoes or sneakers, also back supports should be worn when handling heavy objects or doing repetitive tasks, as when lifting and stacking firewood.

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