Saturday, December 31, 2011

happy New Year!

You know what people like me love about New years parties? Property damage. So go ahead whoop it up and then call me or someone like me to fix everything that was broken in the partying. Holes in the wall? great. Busted fence? perfect. Did you throw a drunk out that came back and kicked the door in? Awesome! Did the police kick the door in? Even better. Did you catch the kitchen on fire trying to deep fry a michelob?You are my kind of people. I can fix all that without your insurance company finding out and probably for less than your deductible. You can too if you'll just ask me for a little advice. If I don't have the answers I know who does and will help you work towards a satisfactory outcome. ask me I know. Happy New year and stay safe.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Awww Not now.

The garbage disposal quit and the prognosis for the water heater isn't good. Watteryagunnado? The disposal is easy and the water heater doesn't have to be hard. Now is a good time to point out that it is NOT a hot water heater it is a cold water heater. Think about it. If the disposal calls it quits then it is a glass half full situation. Yes you need to fix it but half the job is done by virtue of already having one in the first place. Just go to your local plumbing supply store (until I get advertising dollars I'm not going to recommend one mega-box over another) and purchase a unit compatible with the one already there and follow the instructions for installation using the parts already in place. While you are down there make note of any other minor tweaks you can do to be more productive. See? That was easy.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tis the season.

For a time of the year when everyone is supposed to be filled with wonder and joy people have incredibly short fuses due to the stress. It matters not what holiday you celebrate or if you even celebrate one. If your particular faith does not have a signifcant holiday this time of year then you are still stressed by the throngs clamoring for the next cool toy or aggressive people dying to get primo parking spots at the mall when a short walk would give them time to de-stress themselves. If you can avoid Wal-hell do it! Better yet tell all the kids that they moved the holiday back because of the economy. Hey it works for the president so it could work for you if you just blame it on the last Santa Claus. Then you sneak in at midnite after everyone exchanges their Chinese crap for the cash they really wanted in the first place.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Well that's over

So what do you get the "serious" DIYer in your household for the holidays? Here's a hint...Ask them. Or if you have a major project coming up get a piece of high end equipment related to that task. If you are painting the house get a decent paint sprayer. If you are building a deck get a compressor and nailgun. This approach serves more than one purpose. 1st it solves the gift dilemma. Next it gets the project off the ground quickly without prodding since they won't be able to wait to play with their new toy. And 3rd if you chose well it will help bring it to a timely and satisfactory conclusion due to your gift making it easier and much more pleasurable to do. Another excellent idea is to hire a service. Again if you are painting the outside hire a pressure washing service to clean and prep the house. Everyone knows that prep is at least half the work involved in a quality paint job and trust me this will be appreciated especially if it involves second story work. If all else fails get a gift card for their favorite home center or hardware store. This ensures they get what they want (not what they need) but that is a topic for another day.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you are among those lucky souls that stumble upon this blog by accident (it seems not many come here on purpose) I wish you and your family the happiest of days.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Great stuff!

Having a ball on Estero Island. (Fort Myers Beach, Fl) One of the things I like about weekend get-aways is that the carpenter in me gets to see all the old buildings. I love the idea of noticing every little flaw in a building and knowing what needs to be done to fix them. I love knowing I don't have to do any of it even more.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Football and turkey!

Every year football and turkey combine to enhance the holidays. We get to experience the ballgame while simultaneously being treated to wonderful aromas from the kitchen. If you did your homework you should be able to relax and enjoy yourself. pitch in and help out in the kitchen after the meal because if you do not only will you score points for the clean-up the rest of the crew will feel guilty and pitch in as well which will give the cooking crew a break and you can lead the clean-up crew. Everyone gets a pat on the back and no-one gets resentments or overworked.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tis the season to abandon all reason.

So we find ourselves this holiday spending money we don't have on stuff we don't need. Would it kill you to spring for little luxuries that make life more tolerable year round? Dad doesn't want a new tie he won't wear but he does want to take a shower that isn't wrecked because someone(you know who you are) flushed when it was time to rinse the conditioner out. You know that dimmer switch that doesn't dim? Fix it. It's not hard and it takes one more pain in the neck off of his plate. Guess what? If you can read this then you can probably clean or change the A/C filter. It takes under 5 min and is simple to do. I guess what I am getting at is just pitch in. Do you want to come home from work or school only to find a to-do list waiting? Geez let the man (or woman) sit for a few minutes. Bring a tall beverage and say sit I  got this. It's all about love and respect and there is nothing that can make you feel better.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


For some reason tis the season. It makes me feel like getting a paint brush wet. What's it gonna be? Oil or latex? The advances in latex have pretty much made oil obsolete. As much as I like the properties of latex. Water clean-up and all that are great properties to have but you can't beat oil for longevity, durability, and smoothness. The biggest worry is how do you cover oil with latex? It is all in the preparation of the surface to be painted. The smooth skin of oil paint will just cause the paint to peel kinda like a vacation sunburn. You can sand it to give a surface something to grab. Unfortunately you are gonna gum up a lot of paper. My personal recommendation is to use a readily available preparation that is specially formulated to take the gloss off and leave a paintable surface. Having decided on paint just sit and think a minute. Oil is still the selection of choice for high humidity locations. I have personally painted an aquarium cover that still looks brand new to this day and that was 15 years ago. I am pretty sure it wouldn't have lasted 5 years had I done it in latex. The name of the game is pick your poison. I love latex for it's versatility and I love oil for its durability.

Sunny me beach!

What we have here is a failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach.......Um hold on a sec that was my inner Strother Martin coming through. What you may ask does this have to do with home improvement? Well go ahead and ask. What! no takers well I'm gonna tell you anyhow. Now I don't like this anymore than you men...Crap there he is again! A man (or woman) alone with their thoughts can come up with a hundred things to make their home a better place to be. Are your toilets slow? Garbage disposal not disposing? Cracked tile? you did save a couple tiles from the last project right? just about any thing that disturbs you in your home can be remediated all you gotta do is ask me. If I don't have the answer I know who does and will be happy to plumb the depths of my colleagues experience. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving especially if you are frying a turkey for the first time. I cannot stress enough how important it is to dry that sucker off before you put it in the oil. Also if you live in a warm climate where the uniform of the day is shorts and flip-flops put on some protective gear so you don't wind up eating hospital turkey.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Back off Santa!

Call me old fashioned but I refuse to talk about Christmas before thanksgiving. Reflecting on the things we are thankful for gives a little more sincerity come the Christmas holiday. OK enough editorializing. Let's focus some more on making the Thanksgiving celebration easier and less stressful. If you are of the DIY disposition this means you have the skills to make this happen. We all know how the potluck dinner goes (everyone brings a dish and it give the hosts less to cook). Where Are you going to put all that food? Well you don't want it in the kitchen cause you are already pressed for space, so let's DIY a solution. If you work around the house at all you have a set of sawhorses these are the legs of the utility table you are going to make. What! you don't have sawhorses? Well you need em. If you are pressed for space home centers sell folding ones that store nicely. Now cut a sheet of 3/4" plywood about 2" wider than the horses and now you you have everything for an 8' table to hold anything you need and it will all fit neatly in a closet later(you may need to trim a few inches off the plywood) Grab a cheap sheet ina color you like and you are done.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Get it ready now so it's fun later.

Ok folks we have the Thanksgiving holiday coming up fast. Today my thoughts are geared more toward the family that has the dubious distinction of hosting the festivities. First and foremost clean the kitchen! If you or another family member has the responsibility of maintaining the overall cleanliness of the kitchen then by all means keep it up as a matter of maintenance. Now we all know that in the traditional sense most times the women gather in the kitchen/dining area and the men gather in front of the TV. I am here to tell you that our times they are a changing and non-traditional gatherings are becoming more and more the norm so this is entirely gender neutral but the chores in front of you remain the same no matter who they fall to. For instance if a lady feels comfortable pulling out the fridge and scrubbing behind it while the man dusts the ceiling fans then so be it. So with that in mind let's get started. Ok we are talking deep cleaning here. I mentioned pulling out the fridge, well pull out the range too if it is that type. I have found grease thick enough on the floor behind a range I needed a putty knife to scrape it up. Now clean the inside and I do mean clean it. Empty the fridge completely and remove all the shelves,drawers, etc and take them outside and clean them there. My top hint for those impossible to clean grill type shelves is to take them to the car wash and blast them clean there. Take those crusty oven racks and broiler trays with you. Using the de-grease feature used to clean engines will make short work of the worst of the crud. The whole point is to get the place as close to pristine as possible to make it a safe ,healthy, pleasing space to work in. Get all non-essential stuff off the countertops. Counterspace is at a premium when there is a lot of preperation going on. Consider setting up a coffee service on a side table in the dining area or near the bar. When Aunt mildred just wants a cup of coffee she can get it without getting in the way and the coffee pot is out of the way. Fix all the little bugaboos we all have like loose knobs and faucet drips. Get the lights all in shape so everyone can see. Get out the coolers and clean them up so you have space for the cold drinks outside. This keeps people out of the kitchen and frees up space in the fridge.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I'm kinda bummed!

OK here's the real deal. You are a complete and utter idiot with no hope for salvation if you buy anything besides a plunger or a closet auger to unstop a toilet. Chemicals do not work I do not care what the people selling chemicals say and you should not either.If you have a clog that an auger cannot resolve then the problem is NOT your toilet. Depending on the strength of your arms(and stomach) you may have to pull the toilet up. Remember it isn't a toilet problem if there are other slow drains. For that you (may) need a pro depending on your proficiency with plumbing. Answer these questions.... are you on septic or sewer? how old is the system? Are there trees that could contribute invasive roots? If you are unsure of how to diagnose the problem then by all means call a pro.......BUT and this is a big but. If you know your way around some pipes and have an adequete tool supply along with a strong (kinda) back We can fix this thing for the price of parts and missing the first half of the game. drop a line and I can walk you through it. If you got a kid to do the digging for you so much the better.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dammit Jim I'm a doctor!

Ok it doesn't get any better than this. What are you going to do when the turlet quits? Well that's easy enough if you got the plumbers cash laying around. You also need the time to wait for him to show up. (he wants to watch the game too and will charge accordingly). Sooooo heres what you do. Make everyone pee outside till halftime and then make a run to the store. You need to buy a plunger(fixes 90% of plugs) If you have one of the other 10% then first you need to make sure your friend is OK cause that is a serious malfunction of the poopin system. While you are at the store you might as well grab a closet auger. I don't know why they call it that but I know it handles the plug when your grandson-daughter flushes a dozen armymen. Or a naked barbie doll. Give me a holler we can fix this stuff together and it doesn't have to cost a fortune.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Keep em safe out there. I know dark and creepy is part of the theme but we're talking about the people who will decide which nursing home we go to. Well I'm kidding but you really need to keep trick or treaters safe. Keep the approach well lit. If you want to keep it toned down for the ambience of the holiday get some low voltage walkway lights. These will keep the foot trail illuminated for proper hazard avoidance while still allowing you to scare the little ones with your headless scarecrow or whatever you got in mind. Be aware that if your treat stinks then the punk with the bag on his head that is just trying to clean up on candy may be back to exact retribution in the form of his own tricks (girls don't normally indulge). Nothing says punk  like a 5'8" kid saying he's a hobo. Stay up for awhile it's fun to catch them just remember todays kids carry guns so keep your own handy. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Got a little taste of fall this morning. Windows open, chilly breezes, low humidity, and all the dogs and cats are being frisky. Don't get used to it, it will be hot and sticky again soon enough. But I had a thought....Your body uses a lot of energy to keep you warm when its cold out so you wear a jacket. Well guess what my water heater lives outside and I'll just bet a lot of people have similar set-ups. My water heater is using a lot of energy to keep my water hot and I can't bring it inside so I figured it could use a jacket too! Think about it....Todays water heaters ( I refuse to say hot water heater cause it's a cold water heater) come standard with some insulation between the shell and the tank but it's only a token amount. Get your butt down to the nearest home center and buy your water heater a new jacket. You'll likely get the cost back in savings over the course of a season.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Are you ready for some football!

No, really. Are you ready for some football? As in a bunch of beer-swilling friends talking smack and asking for more nachos? You may say to yourself..."self....what does this have to do with home improvement?" Well it actually has nothing to do with home improvement at the moment cause there is football on. The home improvement angle comes in when the last of your beer soaked buddies is gone. Now you are left with the wreckage to clean up which is fine if your team won but,...If you lost then the mess is an insult on top of what you probably lost betting on your guys. Take a minute...survey the damage...and ask yourself how do I make this easier?  OK here is my secret. Bet someone clean-up duty if team A wins. Then bet someone clean-up duty if team B wins. Now you have help cleaning up no matter who wins. I know you were smart and had a huge garbage can with an industrial strength liner right next to the TV. Guys have tunnel vision and you have to put the can in the tunnel if there is to be any hope of it being used. Here's a thought....No carpet in the drinking zone! It's fine if that's what you like but I don't want a seasons worth of nasty beer and rotten salsa haunting me in a rug.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Damn it's hot

Sometimes this time of year is difficult. On the first cool day you shut of the AC and open the windows. That is the way to go but ultimately you wind up sitting and sweating because the first cool day was not the last hot day. Where I live humidity is a big deal and can be a factor all by itself. High humidity leads to the Florida state flower....Mildew. Bleach is your friend. If you get in the shower and mildew is in bloom then take a spray bottle full of bleach with you. I normally wouldn't advise this but the bleach kills mildew,mold,every sort of germ known to man and is on my short list of things to have handy in a disaster situation. Your drinking water is purified with chlorine...the main component in bleach. A few drops of chlorine bleach can make a gallon of water safe to drink and while I am not an expert I have spent time in the woods and a tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water has never made me sick. On the other hand a gallon of water w/o bleach has often sickened me.

Friday, October 7, 2011

And stay out!

When the mercury drops you aren't the only one that wants to  come inside.Rats, mice, bugs, squirrels, reptiles, vagrants, bums and all your kids friends want to share your hearth and home. You can't do much about the humans except on an individual basis but something can be done about the rest. The vermin with fur just love the attic/crawlspace. Seal up every opening you can find with spray foam, caulk or even steel wool tucked around gaps. inspect and repair any damaged screens covering openings meant to be ventilated (you know that hole the neighbors cat uses to duck under the house). Do the same for the attic, attics are meant to be ventilated so dont block air vents in the soffit or near the ridgelines. Pipes and wiring are run in the walls and on older houses the holes drilled to facilitate their installation were never sealed. Again here you can use spray foam and caulk to seal holes. When you come out of the attic backtrack and replaced disturbed insulation and add as necessary. Now in a best case scenario you sealed critters out as well as trapped a few inside. The down side of poison is obvious...besides being poisonous to you and pets and family the rats and mice can't get outside to die if you did a good job sealing and will smell pretty rank. For these I recommend traps...traps set right will kill them where they can be safely removed and disposed of. I also recommend the use of a good exterminating service for any bug problems you can't handle since a licensed exterminator has been trained to safely handle the various poisons/agents used to control pests without harming you or your family/pets. Ask to see the credentials, don't settle for Bubbas bug blasters cause they are cheap.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bye bye Summer!

Summer is leaving and Fall/Winter is coming on. Time to get the old homestead up to snuff. Now is the time to take care of all the stuff you don't want to do with frozen fingers. Outside pipes. Outside pipes as a rule will break on the coldest day in the hardest spot to get to. It does not have to be this way. Put on the pipes winter coats (insulation) now while it is pleasant outside and supplies are plentiful. Don't forget to go under (if you have an off-grade home or trailer). This isn't a waste of time since you'll be giving them a thorough inspection as you cover and should spot any bad stuff. If you are under the house take note of any insulation malfunctions and replace that too. Evict any critters you find and tighten up all entrances to keep them out. When it gets cold critters come looking for warmth and can make a mess of things in short order.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I don't need this garbage.

Garbage disposals are dirty,nasty, stinky,and loud. We know these things to be true. They also are handy and versatile. Keep it fresh by grinding lemon peels. keep it fresh by grinding a mix of baking soda with ice-cubes. Save the nasty stuff like potato peels and coffee grounds for use in the compost heap. Remember to grind the good smelling stuff last and use plenty of water to flush it away. Todays disposers are made to be quieter than granpas old bonecrusher you just shouldn't be crushing bones in it cause it doesn't have the power to do it effectively. I don't know what the disclaimer language on a modern disposal units packaging says but I'll bet it advises against using it to dispose of the usual things one normally does.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Far be it from me to try to take advantage of the current economic crisis but......The construction and remodeling fields are among the hardest hit during this recession . Companies are folding up outright or scaling back dramatically just fighting tooth and nail for the crumbs that are out there. This is win -win time for you. Many companies are willing to take on projects that they wouldn't take before in order to keep their core group of employees busy during the hard times. Don't wait if you don't need to. If you can swing it now is the time to do it. This is a golden opportunity to get an excellent price as well as help out some workers whose hours have been drastically cut or eliminated altogether. Also with the surplus labor market it is a good time to upgrade things like insulation or roofing at a bargain price. Energy efficiency and stormproofing are both areas that will reap returns from your homeowners insurance company. Contact your agent or rep and ask for a listing of improvements that can positively affect your premium prices.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why are you so cold?

Today I am in the mood to talk windows. No! not that windows but rather the windows on you domicile (house).  This is gonna hark back to earlier posts but what do you wait for? OK here's a scenario for you. When thet hurricane/cyclone hits do you really wan't to be standing in line and waiting for the last piece of overpriced plywood? Hey does everyone remember Grandmas house? I do I remember being over heated from helping to bake cookies and sitting by a closed window yet getting a breeze anyhow. Windows are one of the improvements that bring about the highest selling price and will allow you to recoup energy savings that will pay for themselves about as fast as anything will. Don't screw around with inferior products, they are meant to rip you off. Q: What does a $400 window with a lifetime warranty and a $100 generic one have in common? A: absolutely nothing. Double glazed, triple glazed, Argon filled and a partridge in a pear tree.Choose wisely, do not let the salesman  pressure you any at all. Demos can and will be happy to show samples and explain the function of each part. It must be quality from top to bottom or you walk. If you get a written estimate (you should) seek out competition to get other quotes and go with the person or company you feel comfortable with. Pay for professionalism and insist that all of your necessities are addressed to your satisfaction. get references and CALL them, why the heck else would you ask for them.

Talk to me I don't bite and I'm here
to help

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Air it out.

It is almost that time of year. Almost time to give the A/C a break and get some fresh air in the house. When the temps dip to an acceptable level open up those windows and get some clean air in the house. If you are a city dweller and the traffic noise and air pollution are going to be an issue maybe it's not a great idea but at least hit the parks and enjoy some nice weather. Ok now, while the A/C is off clean/replace the filter. If you can get to them vacuum the coils and do a thorough cleaning of the outside unit. While you are in the mode pull the fridge out and clean and vacuum the coils on it thoroughly too. The number 1 killer of refridgerators is dirty coils leading to overheating and inefficiency. Ok now the windows are open, the house is cool, but where are the bugs coming from? Apparently you neglected to check all your screens. Do it now. If the screen frames are in good shape you can replace the screen and spline yourself. If the frame is shot a local hardware store can make new ones. You may as well do it since once we put winter to bed we're gonna do it all over again in the spring. Enjoy the weather but think ahead. Do you really want to wait for the first freeze warning to think about the pipes?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Are you ready?

So if you live on the east coast and survived Irene you saw the potential for damage and the lack of accuracy that the weather people posess in forecasting an accurate landfall. This begs the question, are you ready? There is absolutely no reason to scramble at the last minute. Get a portable file cabinet and put your important papers in it now. There is no reason they can't just sit there till the end of hurricane season. They will be ready to toss in the ar at a moments notice plus you have time to inventory them and make sure you have all of them. If you have a pet put together a kit with bowls,food,medication etc,etc. It is a good time to have a microchip embedded in your pet in case you get seperated. Make sure all vaccinations are in order and it has a collar with tags bearing your name address and phone #.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Joe cool rocks the block.

If you are gonna do it yourself you are going to amass a good collection of tools. Once the neighbors find out you are going to have a lot of friends. help them out, this cultivates good neighbors who will in turn help you when you need them. A lot of projects are going to require a hand and having a neighbor you can turn to is a valuable resource.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Get a facelift ya old bag!

Are you tired of coming home to the same old ugly mess? Do you need to sell in order to squirm out from under some mortgage mess? Do you simply have time on your hands and not a lot to do because it is so dang hot? Well there are things to do which can be satisfying in the short term and profitable down the road. Plant a tree, trees are valuable additions to the landscape and not a lot of work beyond digging the hole and watering faithfully. for an extra bonus make it a fruit tree compatible with your geographic location and get ready to bake some pies. You could also paint. Now I know it's hot out but just changing the trim color makes a huge impact and you can really piss off the home owners associations enforcement nazis by using an unapproved color and then entertain yourself by attending meetings to tell them to get stuffed when they go all big brother on you. Hey if you are paying the dues get something out of it besides a set of rules to follow that are enforced by bored old ladies walking little dogs. While their dog is crapping in your yard they'll measure the grass so they can fire off a notification that it's a 1/4 inch too high and has dog crap in it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

After the madness.

Be the first one up to clean. Not only will you get an early start you'll also get first crack at any goodies left laying around by the drinkers. Now I'm not saying that you should be dishonest but if there were a lot of people at the party you culd easily find enough to buy lunch.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

After the meal

There will be the inevitable visit to the "facilities" This cannot be avoided and should be planned for. It has been said that you can tell a lot about a dining establishment by the condition of its bathrooms. How do you imagine the kitchen to be if the restroom looks like a Detroit Greyhound station bathroom? Toilet paper? Get the good stuff. Soap? Antibacterial in an attractive container. Air freshener?...Umm absolutely especially if I'm coming over. Hand towels? keep them handy and change them often. Get rid of the magazines in order to avoid traffic jams because you invited the guy that really does read Playboy for the articles.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Kitchen layout.

Everyone wants a huge kitchen with an island, 2 dishwashers, 2 refrigerators 3 ovens, a compactor, wine cooler, 8 burner stove and 4 sinks. That is fine if you have the staff to use it all but a huge waste of $ if you are the only cook. If you cook alone then it doesn't matter how many you cook for, you want the classic triangle. Stove/oven-fridge-sink. with adequate prep room near the stove. I don't know about you but I have no desire to hike across a great huge kitchen to get butter out of a fridge too far away in time to add it to a sauce that will burn before I get back. Efficiency and economy of motion is essential unless you just want to brag to your guests about the size of your kitchen while you serve them take-out sushi because there is no way you can get anything done while you are marching back and forth. If you go to the kitchen of your favorite restaurant you may be surprised how small it is.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Holy cow! why does this look like a mess?

Kitchen countertops are the workhorse of any kitchen. They must be attractive and functional at the same time. Fortunately you can learn from one of my mistakes and never I repeat never buy a white countertop. not only does a white countertop boast proudly of every piece of pepper that misses the plate, it also is proud to show off its flaws. Seldom will they be able to bring a countertop to a modern kitchen in one piece. Therefore there will be visible flaws in the joinery. This looks terrible and they will not be able to correct it which leaves you explaining to people why your kitchen looks like......well you know. And consider the fact that you paid superior money for an inferior product well the list goes on. Pay for a countertop you are gonna love but not one that is gonna cause you embarrasment or extra work. If you gotta take a quick swipe to clear a sandwich mess fine but if you have to do a full blown"Oh my god the pope is coming" every time you wipe down the kitchen then you defeated the entire concept.

Monday, July 18, 2011

E-kit part uuumm trois?

Okay we've been down the food and water road. We have plenty of that stuff to keep everyone happy. What we don't have is the means to cook it. Do you have a gas grill? No? Get one. Get one with a side burner so you can cook other stuff since the meat will only last so long. Unless of course you keep it on the hoof. While you are shopping pick up one of those turkey fryers. Unless you are blessed with a turkey in the freezer you may not use it for that. But the burner that comes with it is dandy for heating large quantities of water for the stuff you need hot water for. You do have a couple gas tanks in reserve right? If you don't get some cause how will you dis-infect and clean the wounds that are sure to follow

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Emergency kit part deux

Ok we have established that you need water. Now what are you gonna wash down with it? This doesn't have to be any more difficult than you make it. When you go shopping take the family with you so they can pick out some stuff they like. While you may be perfectly happy with 6 cases of vienna sausages not everyone is likely to share your gastronomic preferences. Being camped out without the creature comforts is stressful enough without not even being able to stomach the limited culinary selection at your disposal. Also there is the fact that once disaster season has passed you'll be able to make use of it. Just make sure everything is non-perishable. If you followed advice and stockpiled plenty of water then you'll be able to boil noodles which can go underneath almost anything you can coax out a can.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Emergency kit

Water. Then some water. Get a little more water. See the trend? You have got to have water for hydration, sanitation, cooking, first-aid, and taking care of 4-legged friends. There are countless other things you need it for but if you are without resources for any length of time you cannot have too much of it. You are smart people (I hope)and realize that the bigger the family the more you might need. Laying in a huge stock of bottled water can take up some room but it is worth it and you can use it up during times of the year when you don't necessarily need to keep it on hand. My basic formula for how much is to contact your local emergency preparedness office and find out what they recomend per person per day then double that. Then figure out what the longest time you would expect to be stranded is and double that. then multiply those 2 figures coming up with a formula like this where amount=A time=T and water equals=W
2A X 2T = W ex: 3 gallons per person per day and you estimate 7 days. So useing my formula it would be 6gal X 14Days =84 gal per person for that period. This can be adjusted for peoples size and activity level meaning that capable adults involved in cleanup and housekeeping can be expected to require more per day than elderly and children. The time you plan for is also adjustable by location. If you live in an urban area or even suburban area with decent access and high ground you can scale it back. If you live out in the woods without any access if your roads are blocked you may want more.

Friday, July 8, 2011

One other thing.

Gettting back to the old plywood issue, anyone who has spent time in the south or ever even seen the Weather Channel (during all the idiotic coverage given to the POSSIBILITY of a Tropical storm) knows that putting a duct tape X on the windows isn't gonna cut it. You need to pick a sunny day and measure and cut individual panels for each window and test fit and fasten each one. Figure out a numbering system and paint and label both sides of each panel with several coats of high quality exterior paint because they may be up awhile and they will be re-usable after the false alarms. Store the appropriate fasteners for each panel in a resealable bag and seal it after labeling it the same as its intended panel. Store the entire collection of parts together in a container labeled as such along with a diagram of your system. Having this diagram ensures two things (1) That if you forget (it may be several years between uses)you can still figure it out (2) If you are out of town or unable for any reason anyone can do it for you (3) If you sell the house you've done a huge favor for the next owner without having to explain it all. This is an excellent weekend project and another tip is if you have a multi-story home use different colors for each floor. Taking the time to do this will give you maximum time to take care of other stuff cause you will be able to board up in a hurry.

Tis the season!

Hurricane season, flood season, wildfire season, summer storm season, tornado..... well you get the idea. This is also the season to get out and prepare your home for these events to give it a fighting chance if you have to cut and run. Spring-Summer are when to evaluate the trees since you can easily spot the dead stuff and clean it out. It's also the time to identify vegetation that needs to be cut back to keep fuel off the roof and away from the house. Clean the roof, get all the trash out of the valleys and gutters. get out the hurricane plywood and make sure it's in order and ready to go with all fasteners in good shape. What! You don't already have that stuff? Do you really want to be one of those guys fighting over the last piece of over-priced plywood at the rip-off mart when a storm is a brewing? Next I'll give my own list of what I think should be in a homes emergency kit.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Phew that was close!

Well if you are reading this you made it through the holiday weekend and may even be somewhat recovered. If you are reading this cause you are surfing around job-hunting well good luck depending on the difference between what you want and what you are able to get. I try not to get too political here but based on the facts that I am unemployed and have all this experience you can take a guess as to how pleased I am with the current state of the union.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Holiday weekend! Woohoo!

For my friends in the great white north it is time to celebrate Canada day. South of the border it is Independence Day weekend. Being the geographically challenged guy I am forgive me if I forget anyone. Todays lesson is on staying safe for the festivities as well as preserving life and limb for other stuff like cleaning up the mess when its over.
(1) The drunker they are the farther they must be from the grill. To this end do not keep the beverages near the grill.
(2) If a guy says to you "aww c'mon its just a lil firecracker" there is a good chance its not and you should be careful who and where any personal fireworks displays are performed.
(3) Do not ask how they want their meat cooked. The guy who said make it rare is the guy you will be taking to the emergency room for intestinal distress. Just cook it all well and let them save their preferences for their grill.
(4) Do not drink and drive. We all know it but the jails are full of drunk drivers so I have to say it again. If you have to make a beer run find the sober person pleeeze!
(5) A string of firecrackers going off in the lap of the guy passed out in the lawn chair is hilarious. Really? If you did it to me the laughter would be short-lived. If you actually like the person drag their chair over to a safe spot to sleep it off and while your at it rifle their pockets for car keys. (see#4)
Have a happy and safe weekend and remember safe trumps happy. I know a few guys whos last words were "Ya'll watch this" or "Hold my beer a minute"

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The work starts after the fun stops.

It's funny how you have a lot of friends (well not funny Ha Ha but funny odd) until there is blood, sweat, or tears to be shed on a project. A neat thing about blood, sweat, and tears is you can make more of all of them and it's free. I didn't start out today to rant but I guess I will. I have inner turmoil (surprise,surprise) But I also have a sincere desire to help you get the things done that you need to get done as efficiently as you can. Post here and we can get started. Give me a project you'd be amazed at how much I can come up with.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

You people are wasting a valuable resource....ME!

C'mon already! I know at least one person out there has project happening that they could use free...FREE...advice on. If you are the first to tell me what's going on I will personally research and post about that until you ask me to stop. You don't have to take my advice but it can't hurt to read it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A little on the side please.

Another thing to consider when hiring a contractor is the men he sends over to do the work. Treat them with respect and kindness and they are likely to go out of their way to do a top notch job for you. If the job is going to take a few days you have a chance to cultivate a relationship with some tradesmen you wouldn't ordinarily associate with. This is a good way to develop contacts for projects down the road that you want to do yourself but may need a hand with. Contractors may get mad at me saying this but most bluecollar guys with skills are always looking for a little extra on the side. It's up to you but if it is a little job that your contractor doesn't want to do anyhow most won't mind their guys making some side money if it does not interfere with their regular commitments. I have been in the business for a long time and never had a problem telling an employer when I had a little side work if we weren't swamped. I was normally his best man and he wanted me to be happy some didn't even mind renting me equipment for side work and were just glad to know I wasn't going behind their back. Also if good men show up and do good work a tip is always appreciated and the best time to give is after the work is done but before the clean up is finished. A man whose skills and labor has been appreciated will go the extra mile to clean up and make you happy as well.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I was thinking.

I was alone with my thoughts and since that is a dangerous place to be I thought I'd bring you with me. Expectations should be clearly communicated and that is true of hiring any pro to perform a service. That is the entire basis for the contract process,to ensure both you and the person providing a service both agree on exactly what is to be done or provided. This also provides legal recourse and protection for both parties should a dispute arise. Now this is true only if the "contractor" is duly licensed, registered and permitted by the state or municipality where you reside. I'm saying this as a way of explaining why things cost so much. All these things contribute to a legitimate enterprises overhead and as such will be incuded in the contract as a cost of doing business. Federal,state,and local taxes, payroll and social security as well as permitting fees all drive up the cost to provide you with a legally binding and protected contract. So don't automatically think you are getting shafted when Joe schmo the ragman says he can do for $20 what a licensed contractor want's $120 to do. Building contractors get a bad rap for price gouging when it is a homeowners responsibility to do some legwork. Insurance...Yours and his also play a huge part in your protection and that of any employees he may have working on your property. His isn't free anymore than yours is. and a chunk of what you pay him goes toward insurance he is required to carry so you don't get sued when his guy smokes his lunch and falls off your roof.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

OMG it's hot!

So let's go inside and do something since you've got the A/C all shipshape. Where to start? I'm gonna start by trying to save a little cash to help pay for frosty beverages when it cools down a little. A good cheap project that you can easily do and may save you money you didn't even know you were wasting is to test the toilet tanks for leaks. A leaking tank is easy to miss because it leaks into the bowl and not the floor. Remove the tank lid and put a few drops of food coloring into the tank and stir. You have just completed the diagnostic part of the project. Go reward yourself with a sandwich and a cold iced tea (make mine unsweet with lemon please). After you finish the sandwich go look at the toilet bowls if there is food coloring in the bowl then you have a leaking tank. So now you change out the flapper valve (the little rubber thingy that attaches to the flush handle). These are about $5-$8 bucks (USD) and simple to install and will make a real difference in your water bill. Good luck

Monday, June 20, 2011

making a house a home.

There is a differents between a house and a home. A house is just a bulding , but a home is were family or friends spends time with each other. Any one can have a home but it takes love to make a home. So making a house a home you have too communicate more, eat with each other (family table) or have some fun make one night of the week a family night with board games.

-guess writer brittany

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I'm on fire!

A topic of interest here in the sunshine state of FLA is wildfires. Our neighbors in GA have theirs as well and AZ is certainly being tested. On a matter of note unless you are flush and don't need to worry about it insurance requires that you take precautions to protect the ol homestead or they won't pay up. If you have experience dealing with insurance claims then you know this already. Clear the trash, weeds, dead brush and HELLO FIREWOOD! away from the house. I heard a radio program wih an "expert" saying to give yourself a 30' defensible zone. Now I'm not an expert but I know fires and I know houses and 30' sounds ridiculously small to me. I'm pretty sure that it is the public safety people charged with protecting you that come up with this stuff. Just get all the crap off the roof. Get all the flammables away from the house. Use your best judgement but if the tallest tree on your property will fall on the house when it catches fire then it should go.
more later, stay safe

Friday, June 17, 2011


A liability is something that hinders progress. A roadblock to sucess. These are not set in stone. you have every tool at your disposal to render sucessful outcome a certainty as opposed to an abyssmal failure that you will be embarrassed to claim as your own.

Get off your assets

C'mon get moving. The biggest money saving feature you have going for you is the free labor. You have as much of that as you are willing to invest so spend it wisely. Put in the research to find out as much as you can about your project and the best materials to use. Familiarize yourself so you aren't learning on the fly and wasting valuable materials. It's worth the extra time to spend twice as long doing it right once instead of doing it twice cause you couldn't be bothered to do the research. There are far too many resources online for you to need to ask your neighbor the orthodontist how to install a brick patio.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Are you a man or a mouse?

It doesn't matter because "The best laid plan of mice and men often go awry"
You can plan all you want but you can't control it all. Some stuff is gonna happen. To paraphrase John Lennon "Life is what happens while you make other plans". At some point ou have to just do it. So no matter the project, plan it, get the material and get started. Be fluid enough in your progress to work through or around obstacles. If you hit a snag that halts progress then seek help. Come here and ask or E-mail at and I'll help you get back on track. If I don't know the answer I know where to find it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

You want what?

A skylight? Are you out of your mind? Skylights always leak right? Plus they let in heat and UV rays that damage the furniture right? Well yes and no. There have been major advances in skylight construction that bring all those problems under control. The problem is knowing that you will have to pay for them and deciding whether the benefits are worth it. A cheap skylight is just that and it will deliver all those performance defects I mentioned. This is an amenity that you simply cannot skimp on or you will be sorry.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Size matters!

The size of the shade trees that is. A tree canopy can be a blessing in the summer but a curse in the winter. In order to be effective you need a fast growing variety to get some shade pronto but it needs to be far enough from the house not to damage the foundation as it grows and not to damage the house if it comes down in a storm. You also want the leaves to drop in winter when you want the sun to help warm the house. This means raking leaves if not for you for a teenager with a need for a little spending cabbage.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Solar flares?!

Looks like tere is a major solar event in store for us and you know what that means. Sattelites and electronic devices are gonna be iffy for a while. That mans all of my loyal followers (currently numbering 1 cause I found out I could follow myself) may have touble not staying in touch with me.On the other hand folks should be treated to a light show that otherwise rarely get to see it.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

How do I do that?

OK you've all seen the $69.95 A/C tune up specials. What they don't tell you is you can do 90% of that for nothing. Take out the filter (you should do this once a month anyhow)Either clean it or replace it. Lay down on the floor and look up where the filter was, these are the cooling coils Vacuum them if you can. If the coils are moist from condensation turn it off and go get an Ice cream. When you come back try again get up in there with a brush if you can. No sharp objects! Now head outside to the outside unit and clear all the junk and debris away from it. Also check out the copper lines running between the systems. One should be insulated and if there are missing patches redo it. About the only thing that an A/C repairman will do that you can't is check and recharge the refrigerent if that is necessary.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cold water works

Wash your clothes in cold water. It works and they make detergent just for that. Hang em up to dry if you need that fabric softener touch then wait till they're dry and fluff with a fabric softener sheet. Besides saving the energy using the dryer if the dryer is inside you saved the energy to overcome the heat the dryer produced. By now this should be becoming tiresome, repetitive and obvious. If you generate heat then you are paying to do so. If you generate heat indoors you are paying twice. Once to generate it and once for the climate control to overcome it.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Catch the breeze.

If there isn't one to catch then make your own.An outdoor ceiling fan is nice but sometimes all it does is move warm air around. A pedestal fan set to oscillate will really create a cooling breeze and the comfort level will rise tremendously.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cool Cool water.

Something to consider when trying to keep your cool this summer might be a patio misting system. These can lower the ambient temperature of the desired area by 10 degrees or more. They consist of misting nozzles coupled to a home water system and a simple network of hoses. The water consumption is very low and the installation can be completed with a minimum of tools and experience. Not too terribly expensive and worth it just to keep your cool outside. Clogged nozzles are a frequent bugaboo but easily remedied. Filter systems are available to keep this inconvenience to a minimum.Stay cool!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's not the heat it's the stupidity.

Sometimes when it gets hot we have the impulse to crank the air and kick back. This you should not do. Take the time to cool down first. This is a holiday post so I couldn't come up with anything much of relevance but check it out tomorrow.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Darn fans!

When you get the vacuum out to do the blinds and upholstery try to remember to clean the ceiling fans too. Not just the blades but the backside of the motors where they draw in air. They get clogged with dust and lint which makes them run hot and inefficiently. An in efficient fan uses too much energy for the benefits it delivers.

Help me out here!

I can ramble on endlessly about anything but would rather talk about what is important to you. Which I can't do if you don't talk to me. So what I am going to do is tell you about the obvious that gets overlooked beginning with pipes. If they are outside or exposed insulate them soon. Why you ask? Well since no-one is asking I'll tell you anyhow. It's a whole lot easier to do a good job now than it is after the first hard freeze warning when you can't feel your fingers. Plan now for the future to make the future easier on you. Plus you get the added benefits of insulated pipes in the summer as well.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Look out for Santas feet.

I just thought of something. And if I just remembered I'll bet a lot of others forgot too. If you have a fireplace and the season is over make sure to close the damper so your A/C isn't going up the flue. Just make sure Santa isn't stuck in there first.

Get outside and cook!

As I mentioned in the last post light bulbs emit heat that your A/C is forced to deal with. This is true of any appliance. Computers,TVs,DVD players, etc,etc. Nowhere is this truer than the kitchen with its range/oven and refrigerator hummin. So get outside and cook the hot stuff if you can. With a gas or electric grill you can keep a lot of hot air outside where it belongs. Think about it. You pay for the energy to produce the heat anyhow why should you pay for the energy to get rid of it also? Save the heavy oven work for winter when it will actually help heat the house.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Turn it off.

Turn it off if you aren't using it. Our parents were right we're not trying to cool the outdoors so keep the doors shut. But times change and more than likely the kids (if they are even home) will be inside and plugged into something. But somethings don't change like a light bulb that isn't on doesn't use any power. Also if that light bulb is of the CFL variety rather than incandescent it doesn't use as much energy when it is on. Another thing about CFL bulbs is they don't generate nearly as much heat for the A/C system to overcome.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Can you hear it? That is the sound of your money being sucked out of your bank account. Higher costs of energy coupled with everything else is bleeding you dry. But there are ways to slow the hemorraghing at your end even if the power company is mercilessly raising rates while pleading rising costs and not greed as the reason. I'll try to stay out of the politics and double-dealing aspects of why you're getting shafted (unless you ask). I'm not here for that. I am here to help you find cost effective ways of lowering your usage while still maintaining comfort.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

slippedcog: Gettting hot!

slippedcog: Gettting hot!: "Save yourself!(And your furniture) Plus gain the benefits of reduced A/C usage. There are DIY window tint kits that require little more than..."

Gettting hot!

Save yourself!(And your furniture) Plus gain the benefits of reduced A/C usage. There are DIY window tint kits that require little more than a squeegee and window cleaning implements to cut down immensely on the heat and UV rays transmitted by your windows. If you don't wish to tint your windows perhaps consider blackout shades that can be drawn during the worst of the heat and glare.

Friday, May 20, 2011

How much!!?

Holy %#*&! Stuff starts getting expensive quickly! But knowing what to do and knowing when to call for help are both equally valuable skills. As a general rule if you can screw it up and haven't it's because you haven't tried hard enough yet. Another good rule is if it needs to be done now and done right consider hiring a pro. There is a big difference between living with a bad paint job till next weekend and trying to keep your ceiling from caving in becaused of a botched patch

Monday, May 16, 2011

An ongoing battle

Once you have identified all the trespassers and their entry points as well as sealed up any ductwork leaks. (duct tape duh!) Fixed displaced insulation and made sure the exposed electrical isn't rat gnawed now is the time to get out, take a break and think about your next step. It should be obvious if you've been thorough in your inspection. Something is going to strike you as needing immediate attention and since you took good notes you won't forget anything. First and foremost you want to address any immmediate threats to the home. (again duh!)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Still in the attic.

Well you finished the roof inspection and checked out the ductwork. Hopefully you found all to be in good order and not in need of attention. What's next? A cold beverage? Nope. Look around and see what spent the winter up there and initiate eviction proceedings. Look for disturbed insulation,rat droppings,nut shells,snakeskins and any other evidence that you are not alone. Have a look at any exposed wiring and junction boxes to be sure they haven't been chewed by vermin or children. And finally see if you need to rearrange or replace any insulation.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Up in the attic

So you've got your stuff together and you are ready to go up top. I forgot to tell you to bring a sharpie please do that. OK the primary mission is to check for problem spots underneath the roof decking. The biggest offenders are where there is any penetration of the roof itself. I.E. plumbing vents, skylights, chimneys etc,etc. Since you are up here and already sweaty make it worth your while and check the other stuff too. Since you remembered to turn on the A/C fan before you came up you can check your ductwork for leaks. Allright! Holler at someone to turn the fan on so you don't have to get down and do it. Now, holding that piece of paper by one corner gently pass it around all sides of the ductwork. If it catches a breeze then you have a leak to mark with the sharpie. Stay tuned for other fun attic stuff next.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

In the attic

OK so you're heading up to check stuff out. You've picked a cool time of day and are dressed appropriately. So before you go get your tools together. Here is what you'll need.#1 light and a good one you need to really see things and that penlight with the half dead AAs isn't gonna cut it. #2 screwdrivers phillips and standard. These are for poking suspicious places and to secure loose stuff.#3 a sheet of paper. You are still taking your notepad and pen but the sheet of paper is going to potentially save you$$. Now you can do this 2 ways and it is up to you how you do it. Not only are you looking for leaks but you are looking to correct the obvious stuff too.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Look underneath.

As I said in my last post a quality inspector doing a roof inspection will want to have a look at the underside and framing. This is the first place that problems manifest themselves. If you are handling it yourself you are going to have to get up there and spend some time. The best time to accomplish this is Early in the morning when it is as cool as it's gonna get. If it's a rainy day that is even better because that is a good time to spot any obvious leaks. You'll want to dress for the occasion in long sleeves and trousers if you have fiberglass insulation. Now since you are going up, there are a few other things to accomplish and you might as well do them now. The attic is home to some key components of a homes mechanical systems and I'm not talking about the Christmas decorations.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


This one is important but may need to be farmed out to a pro. However on a single story home with a low slope, and good ladder,shoes ,balance and insurance if you are in decent shape you can do this yourself. You are looking primarily at the overall condition such as age and weathering of the roofing material. You also will be closely inspecting where any two rooflines come together. Where any wood comes in contact with the roof you are looking for rot, peeling paint, etc. These areas are often the most neglected due to the inaccessibility of their location but they often take the most abuse from the weather due to their exposure. If you have any doubts at all about the safety of doing this yourself hire a professional home inspector. They know what they are looking for and will often cut a break on the price if all they have to do is the exterior of the roof. However a good one will often insist on doing an interior inspection of the attic to determine the soundness of the inside structure.

Friday, May 6, 2011


To do a proper inspection first clear away any and all vegetation,debris,etc away from the house. If it's not part of the house it shouldn't be there anyhow. Next get your grubbies on cause you'll need to spend time on your knees. Examine closely the spaces between the siding and the slab or where the stucco meets the earth. These are primary entry points for moisture and insect intrusion. Make a note of any spots that need to be sealed and any insect evidence needs to be addressed as well. Termites are best left to the pros but you can handle ants and roaches yourself. If you can't tell the difference guess what? You're not alone and need the pros.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Next step

OK you've been around the house and written down any problems of note. What? OK I'll wait while you get your notepad and catch up. Soooo... there are a couple of spots that are of particular interest to you. #1 The foundation, especially if you live in a frame house with siding. Work your way around the entire perimeter of the house and carefully inspect for bugs, wood rot, and any other obvious problems.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tell the truth.

Did you clean it or did you CLEAN it? Did you pay attention to the sticky bits that were stubborn? Here in Fl we have a term called WDO's which is a catch-all term for anything alive that can eat your house....Ewwww! These include but are not limited to Insects,rodents, Fungi,mold or the Fl state flower mildew. Anything that was tough to clean or simply fell off warrants closer inspection if was something other than just dirt then it's time to go to work.

slippedcog: Clean it! Clean it! Clean it!

slippedcog: Clean it! Clean it! Clean it!: "Spring is in the air and it's time to spruce up the ol homestead. Maybe a new coat of paint is in order, or maybe you are blessed with one o..."

Clean it! Clean it! Clean it!

Spring is in the air and it's time to spruce up the ol homestead. Maybe a new coat of paint is in order, or maybe you are blessed with one of those "maintenance free" exteriors. Since there is no such thing as truly maintenance free the first step is to clean it! Clean it well and inspect it thoroughly for the little things that can be addressed before they become big things.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's all about the money

Face it folks quality work is 80% wrapped up in the material investment. If you choose to do it yourself there is absolutely no need to shortchange yourself on this most controllable aspect of home improvement. If you choose to hire it done, once again do not shortchange yourself. Ask for an estimate based on labor alone do a little leg (keyboard) work to get the most satisfactory materials for your site. If you leave it up to the contractor odds are he will maximise his profits ahead of the interests of your project.