Monday, September 30, 2013

slippedcog: I don't have anything to wear!

slippedcog: I don't have anything to wear!: How can a house be too big and still not have room for all your stuff? Simple, you have too much stuff. Some of your junk needs to go.and y...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday! Fall! Football!

   Ah yes it is that magical day of that magical time of the year named football season. The coffee shops are all selling their seasonal offerings of pumpkin spiced stuff that tastes nothing like pumpkin but we forgive them. It is Friday, As of this writing it is Friday morning. A Friday full of hope since even fans of high school ball have yet to experience a crushing defeat. Have you done what you need to do to enjoy the game? Or have you settled for just enough to get by? Around here the weather and the season seem to be forcing the carpenter ants to seek more hospitable accommodations. These accommodations include but are not limited to crawling up my pants leg.
     For those not in the know a carpenter ant is unfairly labeled. It is not a carpenter in the sense that it does not build structures to give you shelter or pleasure. It also will not show up 30 minutes late to drink your coffee and make small talk about things that have nothing to do with the project that is a week behind schedule. A carpenter ant is named because it infests habitat familiar to carpenters, namely old, rotten wood. This can be the dead tree and leaf litter associated with it or the rotten siding on your house. If you have the trees there is a good chance you will have the ants.
      I for one wish to spend the game noshing on nachos without the unwelcome attention of an ant that can bench press a Cadillac crawling up my leg. Make no mistake these guys can get big and the biggest ones pack a wallop. As far as I know they are non-venomous but the largest ones have a set of gear on their head that is straight out of a Japanese horror movie. With this goal in mind I intend to proceed straight out with a retail preparation designed by people smarter than me to foil the invasion. After all, as effective as a size 13 flip-flop is I would still prefer to vacuum the carcasses up post mortem as opposed to dealing with the live critters. I've had enough dealings with them in the past to know when chemical warfare is actually an appropriate alternative.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

slippedcog: Working outside in the Summer.

slippedcog: Working outside in the Summer.: Working outside in the Florida Summer can be fun. This I know because reliable sources have assured me that it has been done. I guess it h...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I'll get right on that.

    The other day I attended a seaside wedding. It was at a beautiful bed and breakfast in our country's oldest continually occupied city (St Augustine, Fl). The bride was radiant, the groom was handsome and the entire wedding party looked impeccable and performed their parts flawlessly. The Minister performing the ceremony was appropriately solemn and light which was proper for such a joyous yet serious ceremony celebrating the union of a young couple. The vows were said, the blessings were given and the prayers were bestowed. And then....The bar was opened.
      A good time was being had by all on beautiful oceanfront grounds swept by a gentle seabreeze on a sunny September weekend. There was a DJ to keep music going and maintain the mood. There were servers circulating with platters of  hors d'oeurves. And the bar was doing a brisk business while guests relaxed and enjoyed the company and the surroundings while celebrating the special day of a special couple. And then...then it appeared. At first I ignored it and hoped it would go away. But it was not to be denied. How could it show up here on this day at this time and worm its way ceaselessly into my consciousness. I knew it was there and I was the only one who recognized it for what it truly was. It was an old nemesis. Older than I and far more destructive. A true enemy against whom I had fought many battles but realized I could never win the war. An enemy deceptive in its progression yet relentless in its destruction.
      I am talking of course about rusty fasteners used in the construction/upkeep of a dwelling being constantly assaulted by some of the harshest conditions Mother nature can serve up. When you build on the ocean's front stoop there is no such thing as stainless steel. But you have to try. It was a gorgeous day with a gentle breeze but even that gentle breeze was carrying the salt to attack unprotected surfaces. During Winter North Easters that salt is combined with sand and driven sideways into the building. These conditions are a fact of life for coastal dwellers and the repair and/or replacement of such damage is a neverending task. Sometimes people take it in stride and fix it themselves. These people know the value of paying for good quality fasteners and properly treating new materials. It is not uncommon for the cost of the fasteners in a repair job to exceed the cost of the wood. I have seen $5.00 worth of stainless holding up a $2.00 board. But don't cheap out on the hardware or in a couple months it will look like crap and in a couple more it will need to be done again. The same goes for prep and paint. Get the best and use them right. If you hire the job out then make sure the workman does it right. It's more expensive but that is part of what you signed up for when you moved oceanfront. I haven't even started in about hurricanes yet.

Friday, September 20, 2013

What's old is new again.

There is an old saying ..."Everything in it's time". I don't know who said it but face it..Neither does anyone else. And if a smartypants wants to show their google skills then that's cool too. My point for today's discussion (written but seldom read ) is that certain things need tended to around the ol homestead. If you are renting these fall into the category of home maintenance and need not concern you. Please if you are renting read your lease carefully and make sure this is in fact true. Many homeowners have elected to invest their funds in ironclad leases drawn up by lawyers rather than in the appropriate upkeep of their property.
     It is easy to say with a straight face that the leaking roof does not concern you when they have a legal document to prove that the color you painted the bedroom concerns them. If you are leasing a space your legal options are slim and you are limited to the little bit of wiggle room afforded by your lease. If the money spent on the lease lawyer instead of the roof was well spent there won't be much wiggle room.
     But regardless of ownership status or landlord/tenant disputes hopefully you are settled in the domicile you plan to spend the winter in. If this is the case then a few things are in order. Unless you live in a basement or some other subterranean space then you have windows. This being the time of year to take advantage of Mother Natures air conditioning as opposed to ponying up for the local utility's Christmas party how about checking the window lock hardware while you open it? The landlord will not fix a drafty door unless you bust a pipe so water is running out the gap. And even then the leak may be repaired but the draft will not be. Perhaps a little weather stripping might be in order? The point is you have to take charge of your own comfort. No one else cares. And if they do it's your parents and only because you still live with them and they are getting the bill for the busted pipe and the weatherstripping

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Old man winter is upon us!

Why is winter characterized as an old man? Could it be because winter weather can be as ornery, unpredictable and as cantankerous as and old man who spends the springtime yelling at kids to get off the lawn and bemoaning the loss of the good life of his youth? I don't know the answer but I do know that the calendar says that the Brrrrs are upon us. You know, Septembrrrr, Octobrrrr, Novembrrrr, Decembrrrr. Football season is here and so is playoff baseball not to mention that frozen free for all played on skates with sticks known as hockey.
        How you spend your free time now has a lot to do with where and what level of comfort you will be watching the games at. Take a walk around your kingdom and while you enjoy being the master of all you survey take notes on the things that your kingdom needs corrected before freezing weather arrives. Is a faucet leaking that will leave a sheet of ice for you to bust your butt on during that halftime beer run? What about pipe insulation? Pipe insulation can take a beating in the good months that won't cause a problem till a hard freeze. Yard work, kids, pets,and wildlife all take a toll and it's much simpler to deal with now. The last thing on your mind should be having to get out in the frigid weather trying to duct tape rags around the pipes with a flashlight in your mouth. Animals want to come in from the cold too so make sure your attics and crawl spaces are sealed. Hot tubs that won't see use should be drained and covered. Hot tubs that will see use need to have their heaters tested and thermostats adjusted along with all applicable plumbing protection in place. Pool owners know the drill and are familiar with what needs to be done to winterize the pool. Just remember any enclosure that houses heating equipment will be attractive to critters that can do a lot of damage so prep accordingly.
        The methods of heating a home vary so much according to climate that I can't get into all of them. Just make sure which ever method you use is in good repair, clean and ready to go when you need it. If you need wood for a stove or fireplace get it now before the price gougers come out of their dens. Heat with oil? Gas? Top off the tanks. Is your water heater in the garage? Most water heaters are insulated between the shell and the tank but if your area gets multiple days of down right cold weather an insulating jacket may be in order to minimize heat loss and excessive power consumption.
        Do these things now plus all the ones I forgot to mention and Fall/Winter will be less stressful for all.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mold and mildew.

    What is the difference? Does it matter? Mold is mildew gone bad and mildew is a warning of things to come. Mold can have toxic repercussions if not addressed promptly. A bad case of mildew left untreated can lead to mold that causes breathing problems and other nasty irritations that do not have to be endured. For the sake of this post I am going to address both as one and the same problem and will only use what works for me. As a standard disclaimer if you have health problems that can be irritated by any of the things I discuss then seek alternates approved by a health care professional. Blah blah blah blah blah. Here in Florida mildew is the unofficial state flower and if you haven't experienced it it is because you haven't been here long. Mold and mildew thrive in a warm moist environment which is Florida in a nutshell.
      The enemy of mold and mildew is .....Bleach. The problem is.......fumes. This is a case where the solution is almost as bad as the problem. In the not too distant past people with breathing related ailments were sent to the hot, dry western climate where airborne micro-organisms that aggravated such conditions would not affect them nearly as much. Personally I will speak from experience and say that if you can breath well and afford the bleach then you should use it often and liberally. Bleach is cheap and effective. It kills mold and mildew on contact and sanitizes surfaces at the same time. Do not skimp. Open the windows and saturate any surfaces that are exposed to moisture regularly. This may be more than you want to hear but my biggest problem spot is the shower. When this requires attention I strip to my birthday suit (It doesn't fit like it did when I got it) and climb in with a spray bottle of bleach. That gunk on the shower curtain and in the grout between the tiles doesn't stand a chance. Follow with a stiff brush and it is lights out for mold. It won't smell good and may burn your eyes but that is what clean smells like. I don't care what the pine-sol lady says. Open some windows and turn on the fan.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

slippedcog: Where am I going to put it all?

slippedcog: Where am I going to put it all?:       Storage. It seems like there is never enough of it and not just for the people featured on the TV show 'Hoarders'. You have t...

Saturday, September 7, 2013

But the game is on.

 Fall maintenance isn't rocket surgery here anyone can fix it I am proof of that. Sure, it make take you longer than someone you pay to do it but if you have the time and basic tools to invest it makes sense to try. First check out the scope of the job and balance that with the time available to you to dedicate to its completion. Things to consider are will you be doing this in spare time or do you have full time to dedicate to it. Full time is considered a job and is not considered breaks for TV, BBQ, playing with the dog, being a proper dad, handling honey do’s or anything else. Also consider any assistance required. If your help is there to drink the beer you bought for helping or talk fishing or girls or whatever then this is not help and is an option best discarded. If your help is a guy you know who also knows how to do the work you have in front of you then you are ahead of the game and have become his/her help. Reward them appropriately by providing everything needed and pitching in where you can. If your help is just an equally unskilled but willing aide reconsider your relationship. Are they willing to follow your direction or are they headstrong and apt to try to take control? 3 guys can do the same job 3 different ways and the job can be done well. 2 guys trying to do the same job at the same time 2 different ways will be lucky to get it done at all.
            Rotten wood repair is pretty much a matter of reverse assembly followed by reassembly. But this must be with an eye toward correcting the circumstances which caused it in the first place. For instance if it is rotten siding in a place where wooden siding is always going to rot then perhaps wood siding is a bad choice for this spot and another material should be selected but that is another subject for another day. Maybe rain runoff had splashed back and ruined the bottom. If that is the case then gutters just became a part of the project. At this point you can choose to split it up into seperate projects but you can’t choose to put them too far apart on your schedule. The main thing to think about going in is that you really have two problems. You have the problem and you have the problem which caused the problem and fixing the problem means fixing both problems. Got it? Good. If not you will always have the problem and putting up new wood just to watch it rot means you never really fixed anything you simply slowed down the cycle of decay.
         Granted, not every situation is caused by a problem in your control since some things have to be considered plain old fashioned maintenance. There are environmental issues that take their toll. Some places are hot, humid, muggy, and buggy. You can employ proper pest control practices to mitigate the bugs but you can’t control nature all you can do there is use the proper material for the job. There are places that are extremes from scorching to fridgid and those will take a toll no matter what the scale of your diligence to upkeep. The key here is to stay on top of it. Every Spring you take care of what the previous Summer and Winter have dealt you. That way you can enjoy Fall football and raking leaves without worrying

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