Author Archives: Jack Runyon

About Jack Runyon

Jack is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather's vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

Select the Right Material for Your DIY Flooring Project

How to Start Your DIY Flooring ProjectNothing sends a household into a tizzy like hearing the phrase, “let’s redo the floors”. No doubt about it, flooring is a big-ticket item, one that can add value and appeal to your home. If you are looking for a transformative DIY project this year, consider replacing your floors.

What is Your Floor Telling You?

How do you choose the best flooring material for your home? By listening to what your floor is telling you. Take the time to look at your floor. Where are the problem areas? Are you replacing it for aesthetic reasons or because it wears in certain places? There are pros and cons for each flooring product, so assess your needs and make the right selection.

Considerations When Selecting Flooring

  • Foot traffic – Find the wear patterns on your floor, then decide on a durable material for the entire house or different materials in rooms with less traffic.
  • Insulation – You may hate carpet but it does keep the floor warm in the wintertime. Hardwoods are less insulating and will amplify sound throughout your home.
  • Sunlight – Direct sunlight can discolor and break down flooring like carpet fibers. Look for products with UV protective coatings or materials.
  • Overall use – If you have kids and pets, your floors get cleaned a lot. Select materials that don’t require special care and can tolerate spills.
  • Moisture resistance – A kitchen, bathroom or laundry room need flooring that will not warp when exposed to moisture. (Leaks happen!)
  • Allergy protection – Carpets trap dust, mold and pet dander, so avoid them if someone in your house has breathing sensitivities.

Don’t Let the Options Overwhelm You

If it has been a while since you shopped for flooring, the options available will surprise you. From exotic hardwoods and laminates to vinyl that looks like tile and tile that looks like wood, your choices can be overwhelming.

7 Basic Categories of Flooring

  1. Solid wood – Still one of the most popular choices, hardwood flooring is durable and can be re-finished. Buy pre-stained boards to make installation easier.
  2. Engineered wood – A veneer of real wood is applied to a plywood center. While cheaper than hardwoods, they still dent easily and scratch. Depending on the thickness and quality of the top veneer, the boards can be re-finished a few times before needing to be replaced.
  3. Laminate – It has a photographic applique over a plywood center. Laminate is easy to install, resists stains and is now available in waterproof versions. Unlike engineered wood, its veneer cannot be refinished.
  4. Vinyl – Durable and easy to install, vinyl is one of the least expensive materials to use. It comes in sheets, tiles and planks and is great for high traffic areas.
  5. Linoleum – This eco-friendly alternative to vinyl can take a beating and is pet-friendly. Made from solidified linseed oil, it contains no harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Available in sheets or rolls, linoleum has a life span of 20-40 years.
  6. Carpet – Stain-resistant, insulating and durable, it is still an economic option for homeowners. Not a good choice for allergy sufferers, though.
  7. Ceramic Tile – Great for areas that take a lot of abuse. While a very durable material, installation requires accurate measurements, cutting and grout protection.

Happy Feet, Happy Home

Selecting one material to use throughout your home may not be feasible. That’s OK! Designers are mixing flooring from room to room and even in the same room. Find what works for your family’s lifestyle and go for it. Your feet and your home will thank you.

Expert Advice

From flooring nail guns and sanders to linoleum floor rollers and tile cutters, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to handle your flooring projects. Just want to re-finish the wood floors you have? Our blog, What to Remember When Refinishing Your Hardwoods, has great tips to help keep you on track. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Give Your Deck a Facelift and Boost Your Home’s Value

how to build a backyard deckReady to tackle a DIY project that will increase the value of your home? Consider giving your plain looking deck a dramatic new facelift. By adding a few extra touches, you can give your family’s outdoor living space the wow factor they (not to mention prospective buyers) will love.

Does Your Deck Add to Your Home’s Appeal?

Adding a deck or renovating an existing one is one of the top five ways you can improve the value of your home. It even ranks higher than adding an additional bathroom! Ask yourself – does my deck add to the appeal of my home? A lackluster outdoor space does nothing to increase your family’s enjoyment or to catch a buyer’s eye. Take the next step and improve the look of your exterior by renovating your deck.

Before Renovating Your Old Deck:

  1. Pressure wash – A clean deck makes it easier to determine its condition.
  2. Inspect the structure – Are there cracked or rotten deck boards? Are the supports in good condition? If your deck is old and in bad shape, you may want to rebuild rather than trying to fix it.
  3. Re-finish – If your deck boards are in good shape, weather-proof it with a sealant. You should do this every couple of years.
  4. Determine your design/budget – Know how much you want to spend, then come up with a game plan and design ideas.
  5. Production – Decide if you want to do all of the work yourself or hire professionals like electricians or landscapers to do certain parts.

Improve How Your Deck Works for You

Think of ways to improve how your deck functions. Are there things you can add that will make dining outside easier? Do you want to create a mood (Zen and relaxing) or a feeling (romantic or rustic) in your outdoor area? Your deck project can run the gamut from adding design elements like cushions and pillows to constructing adjacent levels for seating.

Items That Dress Up Your Deck:

  • Lighting – If you like to cook outside, increase the lighting near your grill area. Add pod lights to the steps for added safety.
  • Railings –Use different materials like steel cables, glass panels, composite or vinyl to contrast the deck boards and add interest.
  • Additional entryways – To improve the flow and functionality, add another door onto the deck or a second set of steps to the yard.
  • Builtin seating – Add them around the perimeter to provide extra entertaining space.
  • Pergola or canopy – A shady place to sit and relax is always a winner.
  • Decorative planters – Build them onto the railing or as freestanding units that fill awkward or vacant corners.

A Wide Range of Materials are Available for Your Deck

If you do have to re-build all or sections of your deck, check out some of the new building materials available. While pressure-treated lumber is still the most commonly used material, composite and vinyl are gaining in popularity. They are durable, maintenance-free and often come with warranties but cost more than wood. Cedar, redwood and hardwoods like Ipe and Jarrah are fast becoming favorites due to the natural weathered patina they develop over time.

DIY Deck Spectacular

Give your deck a facelift and boost your home’s value. Add a few of our DIY projects to your Spring to-do list and transform a bland looking space into a spectacular entertainment area. Reap the rewards of your hard work well into the Fall and beyond. Party at your house!

Expert Advice

From pressure washers and post hole diggers to drills and band saws, our staff can help you choose the right tools to renovate or build your deck. Need advice on how to re-finish your space? Our blog, Seal and Stain Your Deck in 3 Easy Steps, has great tips on what you need for the final step of this DIY project. Don’t hesitate to contact us or stop by our store if you have questions about pricing or how to’s — we’re open seven days a week.

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Seasons Change and So Should Your Filters

Seasons Change and So Should Your FiltersBefore settling in for a long winter, consider improving your home’s air and water quality by changing the filters throughout the house. A study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the average person spends nearly 87% of their life indoors and that the air inside our homes is often worse than the air outside. We are exposed to higher concentrations of airborne pollutants including cold and flu viruses in our home than anywhere else.

Harmful Allergens Lurk in Your Household Dust

Household dust can contain everything from lead and formaldehyde to allergens like dust mites, pollen, mold and pet dander. Children and the elderly are especially sensitive to poor indoor air quality, which is why keeping filters clean is so important.

Here are 9 filters you should check and/or change before cold weather arrives: 

  • Furnace – Proper filter replacement can help keep it working properly. When removing a filter on an old system, note the direction it was installed. Some only work when placed with the airflow going one way.
  • HVAC – Central air and heat systems need to have the filters changed every 3 months and if you have pets, every 2 months.
  • Dryer – Clean the filter after every load. Once a year have the hose running from the dryer to the exterior wall vacuumed to prevent buildup and fire hazards.
  • Humidifier – Some heating systems have them attached so you may want a professional to service them. For free-standing humidifiers, frequently clean the unit and replace the filter to avoid mold and bacteria growing. A healthy humidity level in a home is between 30-50%.
  • HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation) – Newer, energy efficient homes have air exchange systems that use warm indoor air to heat fresh colder air. Since contaminants can be recirculated back into the home keeping the filter changed is key.
  • AC Housing – The grill on an outdoor unit serves to keep air flowing inward and heat dissipating. Keeping it free of leaves and debris allows your system to run smoothly.
  • Water Filters – Water purifying systems have a sensor to tell you when the filter needs to be changed but we often ignore it. Change this twice a year to keep mold and bacteria from building up.
  • Refrigerator Water/Ice Maker – Just like the purifying system on the kitchen sink, the water filter on the refrigerator gets overlooked until the ice or water develops an odor or tastes bad. Letting your filter go too long can result in costly repairs or replacement.
  • Range Hood – Made of stainless steel, these filters collect grease and food particles from cooking. Scrubbing with warm soapy water and baking soda routinely will keep grime from building up on your fan motor.

Clogged filters can cause:

  • appliances to operate inefficiently.
  • AC cooling coils to freeze from lack of airflow.
  • heating and cooling costs to rise.
  • unhealthy air to be re-circulated throughout home.
  • HVAC systems to fail resulting in costly repairs.

Breathe Easier by Replacing Your Filters

By replacing your air and water filters, your home will be healthier and operating at maximum efficiency. Set a reminder on your phone to help you keep track of when to change them out. Remember to date the new filters before installing. Don’t let replacing an inexpensive filter cost you hundreds of dollars in repairs. Change is a good thing.

Expert Advice

From dehumidifiers and air scrubbers to ladders and vacuums, our expert staff is always on hand to help you keep your home comfortable and safe. Want to stay warm this Winter? Our blog, Need Hot Water/ Heat – Best Practices for Maintaining Your Systems, has tips for helping you stay toasty when cold weather arrives. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Don’t Be Left in the Dark – Replace Light Bulbs and Batteries

Don’t Be Left in the Dark – Replace Light Bulbs and BatteriesMany of us don’t remember to replace light bulbs or batteries until we find ourselves stumbling around in the dark or waking to the mysterious beeps of a smoke alarm at 3 am. Getting into the practice of checking and replacing them at certain times of the year will help you avoid these unfortunate surprises. Lots of people use daylight saving time as a reminder. “Fall Back” and “Spring Forward” also signal a check of batteries and light bulbs around the house. Others use the change of seasons as a prompt for a light and battery check four times a year.

Light Bulb 101

Picking the right light bulb is a science these days. Incandescent bulbs (like the one Edison introduced) used to be the only choice. Now, we have CDLs (compact fluorescent lights) and LEDs (light emitting diodes). Which one should you buy? Don’t focus on the type of bulb (they are all energy efficient) but rather the lumens it emits. The higher the lumens the brighter the bulb. Here’s a handy chart to use when selecting a light bulb:

  • 40 watts – 450 lumens
  • 60 watts – 800 lumens
  • 75 watts – 1100 lumens
  • 100 watts – 1600 lumens

Well Lit Means Well Protected

Keep your house properly lit inside and out to provide a high level of security. Look around your home for the light bulbs that need to be replaced. This list will get you started on your search:

  • Appliances – Check the refrigerator, oven and microwave.
  • Front door – Add a dawn to dusk fixture to keep the bulb from burning out so often.
  • Flood lights – Inspect areas around the perimeter of the house where you don’t frequent.
  • Driveway and walkways – If you have individual lights lining the walkways or driveway, check for ones that have burned out.
  • Garage light – If you get home before dark, you may not know it is out. 

Be Sure to Check Your Smoke and CO2 Detectors

Batteries, like light bulbs, are usually forgotten until needed. With winter weather approaching it is a good time to check your home’s batteries to make sure everything is in working order. Some important items like lifesaving smoke and CO2 detectors often go unnoticed so check them twice a year.

Check and replace these batteries:

  • Flashlights
  • Smoke and CO2 detectors
  • Security systems
  • Car battery
  • Storm weather radios

Check Your Security System’s Battery

You may not realize that your security system has a back-up battery. Because these batteries are built to last, you may never have replaced it. Consult your owner’s manual to see how to check its power status, what type of battery your system uses and how to install it. Storm outages can drain them so make sure to check them to stay secure this winter.

Keep Those Flashlights Ready

While we are on the topic of storms, it is always a good idea for flashlights and storm radios to be charged. A battery-operated alarm clock comes in handy when overnight storms knock out the power. If power is out for a while your cell phone battery may give out, too. Consider keeping a charged battery pack or solar powered charger available.

Tired of Being in the Dark? Get a Portable Generator

If being without of power is something you experience every Winter, consider buying a portable generator. They come in a variety of sizes so decide what appliances you want to keep running (refrigerator, stove, heater) to help you pick. There are UPS (uninterrupted power supplies) for your electronics that will help you stay connected and protect them from power surges when electricity comes back on.

Stay Safe – Replace Light Bulbs and Batteries

Don’t get left in the dark. Take the time to check and replace light bulbs and batteries around your home. These little tasks can help keep you safe and protected all year long.

Expert Advice

From drills and ladders to portable generators and floor jacks, our expert staff is always on hand to help you secure your home and car for whatever Winter throws at them. Want more tips on getting ready for cold weather? Our blog, 4 Cold Weather Basics: Winter Storm Emergencies Pt. 4, has helpful information on what to do during severe weather. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Runyon Rental – Your Place for Great Honda Power Equipment

eu2000i_lo_tailgate_lr_02-1With fall quickly approaching and forecasters predicting a cold, snowy winter, we thought now might be a good time to remind everyone of the great Honda Power Equipment we have available to rent or purchase. Runyon Rental is proud to be an authorized Honda dealer and service center.

Runyon Has the Honda Power Equipment You Need:

Ranked #1 by Consumers Year After Year – Honda Mowers Rule

Nothing beats a Honda mower for quality and reliability. Durable and fuel efficient, the twin blade design of Honda mowers offer a superior cut and produce finer clippings, which make better mulch. Smaller clippings mean less bagging and who doesn’t love that!

The Honda Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Has Features You Need:

  • Hydrostatic cruise control keeps a constant speed while mowing
  • Roto-stop blade stop system halts the blades without having to cut power to the engine
  • 4-in-1 Versamow system allows you to mulch, bag, discharge and chop leaves without additional tools or attachments.
  • Starts easily and quickly
  • Has a 21 inch cutting width, 7 mow height adjustments and a 2.5-bushel bag capacity.
  • A 5-year warranty

End of the Season Gardens Need Honda Tillers

Now that our gardens are beginning to wind down, it’s time to think about getting the soil ready for next year. With a Honda tiller you can make easy work of tilling up your plants and adding in mulch and compost to leave your soil properly set for the cold temperatures.

Tackle the Toughest Garden Projects

Made from quality materials, these tillers churn even the toughest dirt into rich loamy soil. They are easy to start and with intuitive controls, easy to use. The powerful 4 stroke engine does the work in one pass. Ergonomically designed, Honda tillers won’t wear you out while you tackle the toughest garden projects.

Honda’s Got You Covered with VersAttach

Tired of never having the right tool to use on your yard? Try Honda’s VersAttach System, which offers two powerhead options and six different attachments – edger, line trimmer, blower, hedge trimmer, pruner and cultivator for the ultimate in versatility.

Keep the Lights On with a Honda Generator

Whether it is a powerful thunderstorm or a strong Winter snow storm, being left in the dark is no fun. Be ready with a Honda generator. There is a perfect sized unit for whatever your power needs are.

Some of the features of a Honda generator are:

  • Super quiet – perfect for using next to your RV or camp site, too.
  • Compact & lightweight – less than 29 lbs.
  • Fuel efficient – can run up to 8.1 hrs. on 1 gallon of gas.
  • Inverter – supplies a stable source of power for computers and sensitive appliances.
  • 3 Year warranty
  • Oil Alert – shuts the engine off when oil is low.
  • Can be paralleled – multiple generators can be tethered to supply additional power.

Take on the White Stuff with a Honda Snow Blower

Preparing for Winter weather means getting ready to clear snow off your driveway and walkways. Nothing takes on the white stuff better than a Honda snow blower. The self-propelled auger drive can throw snow up to 33 ft. while clearing a path 20 inches wide. Get your blower just the way you want it – track driven or wheeled, electric start or recoil. With Honda’s reliability, this workhorse will be around for years to come.

Let Us Service Your Honda Equipment

Already own Honda equipment? Then bring your mower or snow blower in to be serviced by our certified Honda technicians. When you are ready, let us winterize your garden gear for you.

Expert Advice

From mowers and tillers to generators and snow blowers, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your equipment needs. Not sure what equipment you need for your Fall DIY to-do list? Check out the other popular pieces of equipment we offer in our blog, Top 10 Most Popular Runyon Equipment Rentals for Fall. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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What to Remember When Refinishing Your Hardwoods

Refinishing Your Hardwood FloorsRefinishing your hardwoods is a DIY project you need to understand fully before undertaking.

The most important things to remember:

  • It takes time
  • It takes patience
  • It takes elbow grease

Prepare to Succeed

Refinishing your floors isn’t a quick DIY project. It usually takes longer than a weekend, so be prepared to live with dust and fumes for a few days longer. As with any home renovation, patience is key. Doing the right preparations beforehand will help things go smoothly. Using a floor sander (orbital or drum) is tough on the body, so tag team on the sanding.

Know Your Floors

Before sanding your floors, determine if they can be sanded. Because true hardwoods are solid wood, they withstand the loss of the top layer through sanding. Laminates will be ruined if sanded. It is better to just re-seal and buff engineered flooring.

The 4-Step Process

  1. Prepare. Make sure the floors are clean of all dirt and wax. Remove all furniture, seal off doors, vents, outlets and light switches. The object is to control dust from getting out of the room (and there will be a lot of it!).
  2. Sand. Start with 60 grit sandpaper and work your way up to 120 grit for the final sanding. Work in a straight path along a wall in a semi-circular motion. Always keep the sander moving to avoid creating uneven grooves.
  3. Clean Up. Learn to love the vacuum because your diligence in cleaning after each sanding determines if your finish is blemish free. Frequently check the vacuum filter for clogs. Damp mop floor thoroughly when done.
  4. Finish. Work with a brush when applying sealant around the perimeter and a lamb’s wool applicator for the rest of the floor. Overlap the application with the area worked with the brush. Allow 24 hours to dry. Buff and vacuum before applying second coat. Apply stain in the same manner as sealant. Finish with a couple of coats of polyurethane.

Choosing a Floor Sander – Orbital or Drum

One of the biggest decisions you have to make for this project is which type of sander to choose – orbital or drum. Orbital sanders take longer to do the job but are easier to use. Drum sanders are harder on the floors but they get the job done quickly. Both have a mind of their own, so know your skill level when attempting to operate them.

Tips for Successful Refinishing Projects

  • If working on other renovation projects, save refinishing the floors until last.
  • The finish takes longer to dry in humid and rainy weather. Wait for dry weather.
  • Remove adhesive from a previous flooring with glue remover, rather than sanding. It is tough to sand off and can stain wood.
  • Practice with your sander on a sheet of plywood to get consistent with your strokes.
  • Use an edging sander to smooth out sanding swirls around the walls. Hand sand tight spots like corners.
  • Use a hardwood floor attachment on your vacuum to avoid scratching.
  • Allow dust to settle in room before removing plastic sheeting and doing your final cleanup.
  • When using oil based sealant or stain, use a respirator.
  • Odors from polyurethane can linger for a couple of days so leave plastic up over doors if the fumes bother you.

Keep Off My New Hardwood Floors!

Let the floor dry completely before moving furniture back into the room. It’s a good idea to avoid shoes, bare feet and pets getting on them for the first 48 hours. Until then, don a pair of sunglasses, wear your socks and slide around your refinished floor like Tom Cruise in Risky Business. Clothing is entirely up to you!

Expert Advice

From orbital sanders and floor edgers to fans and shop vacuums, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your DIY hardwood refinishing. For even more helpful info to get you started, check out our blog, How to Re-Finish Your Hardwood Floors to Perfection. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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DIY Garage Door Makeover? Yes, Please!

DIY Faux Garage DoorsWhen you look at your home from the street, do you see any big blank spaces in the curb appeal? If you say the garage door, then you are correct. Our focus is often limited to the front door while the garage door goes unnoticed. Faux garage door windows are easy to do and will complete the overall look of your home.

Why Change the Look of Your Garage Door?

Is your garage door (or doors) solid, white and boring? No need to replace a perfectly good garage door when you can spruce it up with windows that look real from a distance. Here’s what it can do for your home:

  • Boost curb appeal – By adding faux windows and giving it a little charisma, you are toning down that blank space glare from the front of your home.
  • Unify the style of your house – Select window styles that blend well with your type of home – traditional, contemporary or cottage.
  • Get a new view – Pulling into the same old non-descript garage door every day is boring. Adding touches like windows helps you enjoy the curb appeal of your own home.

First Step? Pressure Washing

If you are a fan of carriage door style windows and hinges, there are several ways to create them. One thing they all have in common is that your garage door needs to be clean first. Pressure wash the door to remove any dirt and allow it to dry completely.

How to Create Faux Carriage Windows on Your Garage Door

  1. Paint – This is the most common approach and the least expensive. It is pretty much permanent, so you need to be sure.
  2. Decals – You can order these online for around $100 and many come with hinge details.
  3. Resin – High impact plastic resin can be ordered online and runs between $300-$500. This hard material is screwed onto the garage door.
  4. Professional Repaint – Hiring a professional to paint the windows will cost about $500.

Tape First, Then Paint

If you choose to paint, tape off the sections of the door for the windows. Press the tape firmly to make sure it sticks. Cover the rest of the door with plastic. Use an all-surface enamel and spray or apply the paint to taped sections.

Don’t Forget the Hinges

For the hinges you can either buy real ones and screw them in or paint them on. When painting, use a stencil to keep their look consistent. Go back over the windows and hinges (if painted) with a clear sealant to help them last longer. 

Just Stick It

Decals are easy to find online and easy to use, just peel and stick. A set for a two-car garage will cost around $100. Use outdoor adhesive vinyl if you want to permanently apply them and to have them hold up under the blistering sun. A coat of sealant keeps the color from fading.

Simple DIY Project with Big Results

From the street, it is very hard to discern if the windows are real or not. You will be amazed at how something so simple ties the look of your house together and boosts your curb appeal even higher. Check another project off your to-do list!

Expert Advice

From circular saws and drills to pressure washers and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home improvement project. Looking for suggestions on other ways to boost your home’s curb appeal? Our blog, DIY Projects That Boost the Value of Your Home, has great tips on what to tackle next. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Keep Popcorn in the Bowl & Off the Ceiling

How to Remove Your Popcorn CeilingIs looking at your ceiling giving you the inspiration for your next DIY project? If you want to remove that ugly popcorn texture immediately, then it is! If you’ve also heard this is an easy thing to do, then you’ve heard right. The process does create a mess; however, with a little preparation (and our help) you can tackle that popcorn ceiling – no problem. Ready to get started?

What You’ll Need for Popcorn Ceiling Removal & Repair

Beware – Asbestos Often Lurks in 70’s Ceilings

Popcorn ceilings and acoustical panels were all the rage in the 60’s and 70’s, but today they are a turn-off to potential home buyers. They can be used to hide flaws in the drywall but they collect dust, which may aggravate allergies. The biggest drawback is popcorn ceilings installed prior to 1979 often contain asbestos and will need to be tested. These ceilings are only dangerous if disturbed, which is why professionals need to remove them.

6 Steps to Removing Popcorn Ceilings

  • Prepare the room – Remove furniture and light fixtures; lay plastic over walls, floors and doors to contain dust and debris.
  • Wet the ceiling – Spray water lightly over small sections of the ceiling to soften it up and make it easier to remove.
  • Scrap it off – Use a texture scraper for larger areas and a putty knife for corners and trim.
  • Sand the area – To remove any remaining lumps, sand the ceiling and then run a damp sponge over it to remove dust and debris. Allow to dry.
  • Make repairs – Redo any failed joints and edging tape with drywall mud. Fill in cracks with spackle. Lightly sand again.
  • Prime and paint – Use a bright white ceiling paint to help reflect light in your room.

This is a Messy Job If You Aren’t Careful

This stuff is like wet oatmeal that dries into annoying drywall dust, so unless you want it to get into everything, hang and lay plastic drop cloths. Overlap and tape all the seams. It may seem like overkill but when done all you do is remove the tape, roll the plastic up and stuff it in a trash bag.

Don’t Over Saturate Your Ceilings with Water

If you have moistened the ceiling enough, the popcorn material will scrape off easily. You may have to spray it a couple of times because the texture is dry and porous. Don’t overdo it or the drywall can be damaged when you scrap. Go slowly and work in small sections.

A Putty Knife Comes in Handy in Tight Spots

A ceiling texture scraper is good on large spaces and often comes with a refuse bag to collect popcorn debris. To remove popcorn from tight corners and around molding you may want to use a putty knife. Once the ceiling has dried lightly, sand it and vacuum up the dust.

Are You Ready for Some Mud in Your Life?

Prepare to do a little drywall work when removing a popcorn ceiling. Many installers will do a basic/rough taping of the drywall if they know it is to be covered with popcorn texture. For a smooth surface, put a skim coat of drywall mud on the joints and sand lightly.

Ceilings Are Tough on the Back and Neck

A large room can be a tough workout for someone with a bad back or neck, so consider rounding up some helpers or hire a professional. Yes, this is an easy DIY project but only if you prepare your room first. Take your time, do it right and save the popcorn for a bowl in front of the TV.

Expert Advice

Once you finish removing the popcorn ceiling, do you need some advice on painting? Our blog, Paint Like a Pro – Tips for Painting Your Ceilings and Walls, will help you achieve beautiful results. From tank sprayers and wet/dry vacuums to paint sprayers and drywall tools our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home renovation project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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9 Tips for Building a Backyard Pond

how to make a backyard pondBackyard ponds filled with exotic fish and tranquil waterfalls are a beautiful addition to any landscape. In our previous blog, How to Build a Backyard Pond in 10 Simple Steps, we outline how to begin building a pond. Before you starting digging though, we have some tips to make this DIY project a success.

Pond Kits Give You Everything You’ll Need

The popularity of water gardening and fish ponds has grown so the supplies and the equipment you need are easy to find. Not sure what you will need? Pond kits come with all the required parts – pump, pipes and liner – and are readily available.

Bigger Ponds Are Better

If you use your own design, go bigger! The more fish and plants you have, the healthier the pond, so larger ponds actually require less maintenance. Keeping the water clean is key. Making sure you have the right size pump for your pond is important. Too small and the pump will be overworked and break down.

Pond Maintenance is a Must

A pond is very much like a swimming pool when it comes to maintenance. You will need to clean the filter frequently and remove any debris. Knowing how to service your own equipment will keep your costs down.

9 Tips for Building a Backyard Pond:

  • Buy a good liner – A good butyl rubber liner can last up to 20 years. Use carpet padding or landscape fabric underneath it for protection.
  • Avoid sharp rocks – Use smooth stones to line the pond to avoid tearing the liner. You need flat ones to line the edge.
  • Build a pond shelf – This is a partially submerged ledge where you can place plants.
  • Include rock overhangs – Give your fish places to hide and escape the hot sun.
  • Have a GFCI outlet – Plug the pump into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlet. It needs to be at least five feet away from any outdoor water.
  • Bury your electrical wires – Use PVC pipe to bury them safely in the ground and avoid having someone trip over them or an animal chew through them.
  • Consider your yard’s rain runoff – Locate the pond where it will not fill up with runoff water from your yard or a neighbor’s. Factor in an overflow stream or waterfall where the pond water can go if it does flood.
  • Add an eduction jet and skimmer – The eduction jet creates underwater currents to avoid stagnation and the skimmer will help clean of fallen leaves and debris.
  • Include a bead filter and UV Water clarifier – A bead filter traps sand and debris and a clarifier keeps algae blooms from occurring.

Landscape With A Purpose

Landscaping in and around the pond is your next big step. Select plants that will help keep the water clean and algae free. When installing your plants, use aquatic potting soil. Regular potting soil contains nutrients that will encourage algae growth. Mulch the plants with pea gravel. Start the plants on the pond ledge to acclimate them to the water. Once you have them in the right spot, then submerge them. Plants that add to your waterscape include:

  • Water moss
  • Hornwort
  • Curled pondweed
  • Lotus
  • Canna – Use in the pond or outside
  • Pitcher plant
  • Taro or Elephant’s Ear – Use in the pond or outside
  • Papyrus
  • Water Lily

Protect Your Fish

Feed your fish at least once a day during warm weather. Cut back to two or three times a week during colder weather. If you have a small pond, make sure it does not freeze solid during winter. Decaying plants release gases that get trapped under the ice and kill the fish. Install a floating deicer to keep the surface open.

Your Hard Work Pays Off

When you look back on the hard work that goes into this DIY protect and how great it turns out, you’ll be convinced that a backyard pond is a great investment for your home and a wonderfully relaxing place for your family to unwind.

Expert Advice

From backhoes and trenchers to wheelbarrows and shovels our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY landscaping project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Consider Options Before Diving into a DIY Pool Project

diy fiberglass in-ground poolIf you’ve been thinking about challenging your DIY skills and installing an in-ground pool this summer, consider first whether or not your time, effort (and talent) might be better served on different parts of this kind of project.

Plan for Extra Costs

Every year, 175,000 to 200,000 new pools are built. The average cost of a professionally installed pool runs from $10,000 to $30,000 depending on the size, shape and type of pool you choose. Customers typically spend another $10,000 – $20,000 on all the pool related items; additional landscaping, decking, furniture, lighting and fencing – the kind of projects you can really sink your teeth into.

Let the Professionals Handle the Paperwork

While working with a backhoe might be your idea of a great weekend, leave that part to the pros (as well as dealing with on-site soil and rock issues). Let the pool company determine county, local and neighborhood restrictions as well as HOA (Homeowners Association) rules, which leaves you to focus on the fun stuff that comes along with a pool.

3 Types of In-Ground Pools

  • Concrete lined – While the most expensive, they are durable and can be updated if you want to expand. Can take from 3-12 weeks to install.
  • Vinyl lined – A preformed flexible liner that comes in a variety of colors and textures and takes 1-3 weeks to install. Sharp objects can puncture them so be sure to choose one at least 1-inch thick.
  • Fiberglass – One-piece units that have a super smooth finish and are stain resistant. They are trucked to the site so delivery will affect installation time. A crane needs to lift the pool into place so make sure the equipment has access.

Choose the Right Pool for Your Location

A professional pool installer will know what type of pool works best in your area. Freezing and thawing causes pool materials to expand and contract. Fiberglass and vinyl pool liners can handle the cold weather better than concrete pools. The professionals will make sure the pool is level and the bottom is smooth, not sitting on rocks that can puncture it.

How Will You Use Your Pool?

If family fun is your goal, skip the deep end and the diving board. Most pool activities take place in the shallow end so why not use a third of your pool? Want to swim laps? Cut down on the overall size and install swim jets for resistance. Knowing how you’ll use the pool will determine the right one for you.

The Best DIY Pool Related Projects

  • Fencing – Safety laws require owners to install a fence at least 4 feet high with self-closing/latching gates around a pool.
  • A deck or patio – You will need a place for everyone to gather.
  • Outdoor lighting and outlets – Consider adding a sound system.
  • Landscaping – Add new pathways, sod and plants when construction is finished.
  • Storage for pool equipment and accessories – You need somewhere to store pool supplies and toys, especially in the off season.
  • A whirlpool or sauna – A smaller undertaking than installing a pool but still something your family would enjoy.
  • Add shade – Install an awning over your patio or deck.
  • Maintenance – Rather than sign on for monthly service, you can adjust the chemicals yourself.

A New Pool Provides Plenty of Quality Family Time

Pools may be a big investment and require regular upkeep, but they can also add plenty of quality time with your family and friends. Do your research and decide what kind of pool works for you. Let a professional handle the hard stuff, while you take care of everything else. Before you know it, you will be chillin’ poolside!

Expert Advice

Is your new pool lacking in the entertainment area? Learn How to Construct a Poolside Bar for a DIY project that is sure to get the party started. From bobcats and backhoes to trenchers and plate compactors, our expert staff is always on hand to help you get ready for your next summertime project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Get Decked Out for Entertaining with a New Deck!

Get Decked Out for Entertaining with a New DeckDetatched

 Do you never have enough room to entertain family and friends? Consider adding a new deck. Having the extra space to cook out or enjoy a quiet summer evening is one reason why building a deck is such a popular DIY project. It adds to the beauty of your home and increases the overall value of your property.

Deck Materials – Maintenance Free versus Natural Beauty

With so many materials to choose from, the decision really comes down to what is important to you – maintenance free, natural beauty, or cost? Budget and personal preference are what usually determines the materials used. Do your research though. Some wood materials are beautiful but dense and difficult to drill. You will need special equipment.

Here are five of the most commonly used decking materials:

  • Pressured treated lumber – The most popular, this material is inexpensive, pest resistant, and easy to install. It can split and crack if not treated every 1-2 years. Yearly power washing is recommended.
  • Redwood and cedar – More expensive than pressure treated lumber, they resist decay and pests. To keep their natural color, a preservative will need to be applied every 2-3 years. Left untreated, the wood turns a soft shade of gray.
  • Tropical woods – These exotic materials (massaranduba, ipe, and tigerwood) are durable and beautiful but pricey. They are dense hardwoods which makes them difficult to cut and drill so special installation is required. They also do not accept stains well.
  • Composite – This material is made from wood fibers and recycled plastics. Though more expensive than pressure treated lumber, it comes in a variety of colors, is weather and stain resistant, and very low maintenance. Prone to mold and mildew, a yearly power wash is a must.
  • Plastic – Since it contains no wood, this material is virtually maintenance free. It does not have the look of real wood but it also doesn’t have the upkeep.

Who Says a Deck Has to be Square?

Think outside the box, don’t limit your design. No one said you had to build a square deck. Opt for a multi-leveled deck that flow out from your home and into your garden. Consider wrapping the deck around your house to allow other rooms to open out onto your new space.

Plan Wisely and Keep Your Guests Safe

Whatever your design, remember to check local building codes. Depending on the size of your deck, you may need to apply for a building permit. If you plan to entertain a large number of people on your deck, invest in additional supports and make sure the substructure can handle the excess weight. Keep your guests safe.

Don’t Skimp on Materials That Matter

Will your deck be attached to the house or freestanding? To build the safest, most durable structure possible, avoid the temptation to skimp on fasteners, nails or screws. Buy a high quality, non-corrosive material like stainless steel. Inferior screws and nails will corrode, discolor and shorten the life of your deck.

Things to remember when building your deck:

  • Wood materials have imperfections – Sort through your lumber, choosing the best boards for highly visible areas. Keep pieces with defects for out of the way sections.
  • Create a solid base for your deck – Set your foundation posts in concrete and allow them to set before continuing your construction.
  • Make sure your deck is level – If attaching a deck to your house, make sure the ledger or board you secure to the outside wall is securely fastened and level.
  • Space your boards – Lay boards 1/8” apart to allow for expansion and contraction.
  • Protect it – Applying a weather-proofing finish will guard your wood against the elements and keep it looking great.

Company’s Coming – Time to Get Decked Out

Once you have your deck completed, go wild and decorate! Don’t be afraid of adding color. Deck stains now come in a wide assortment of colors. Add a pergola for some additional shade, install outdoor speakers or hang flower boxes from the railings. The sky is the limit so get out there and fire up that grill. Your company is coming.

deck

Expert Advice

From circular saws and drills to augers and concrete mixers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next DIY building project. A new deck needs some pizzazz! Learn how to add decorative outdoor lighting in our previous blog “Outdoor Refreshers – Install Decorative Outdoor Lighting”. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

glossy deck

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Easy Ideas to Use Stepping Stones in the Garden

Amazing-garden-designAre you excited about Spring? We sure are! Like you, we can’t wait to start working on our gardens. Time to get a game plan together and decide which DIY project to start on first.

Why not create a captivating garden path using stepping stones? Simply trail them throughout your landscape and lead visitors on a magical tour.

Secret Gardens, Hidden Treasures

Garden paths are used to draw interest to out-of-the-way sections of a landscape or to highlight features like ponds, trellises, or gazebos. The style of your home and grounds should dictate the location type of path to create – formal or informal.

Keep a few things in mind when installing a new path:

  • Use – Heavy foot traffic will need sturdy materials like stone that won’t break easily.
  • Cost – Come up with a budget and then shop for materials. A lengthy path will require a lot of materials.
  • Shape – Consider curving paths as well as straight-lined walkways, which can reveal your garden as you walk.
  • Mix it up – Combine materials (pavers/concrete or stones/mulch) to add interest. Create contrasting borders or patterns.
  • Sun or Shade – Dark stones absorb heat, which could make them too hot for bare feet. Smooth stones often remain slippery if in damp areas. Lighter colors and textures are neutral and may be your best option.
  • Hard work – Moving pavers, gravel, or stones around is exhausting so recruit volunteers to help or spread the job out of time.

Choosing Materials

Once you’ve decided where you want your path, pick your materials. For formal paths, many choose brick pavers or flagstone. Informal trails will give you more options, from gravel and stepping stones to turf, decomposed granite, or mulch. With budget in mind, make your selection and set your creativity free.

Peaceful Retreat for Guests

Give visitors a secluded niche along your path where they can relax and unwind. Install a decorative garden fence, gazebo, or bench, creating a peaceful retreat. Fragrant flowers planted along the path will add to their enjoyment. Don’t forget to hang some twinkling lights for those moonlit strolls.

Stepping Stones in the Garden

A great way to create a meandering trail through your flower beds is with stepping stones. An informal design works with a wide variety of materials. No matter what type of stones you choose or filler you opt for, the process is generally the same:

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  • Boundaries – Determine the width and length of your path and mark it off.
  • Clear– Remove all grass and debris. Put down landscape material.
  • Level – Put down a layer of sand and level it out.
  • Position – Decide if you want the stones in a random placement or a checkerboard pattern.
  • Press – Stones should be pushed into the sand and leveled.
  • Fill – Add gravel, mulch, or planting soil to grow ground covers like Scotch moss.

Discover the Wonders of Nature

Your wonderful landscape reflects all your hard work and love of gardening. Help others enjoy the fruits of your labor by tying it all together with a relaxing stepping stone path. Lead them on a relaxing journey around your property to discover the wonders Nature has to offer. You’ll surely have a number of repeat guests.

Expert Advice

From wheelbarrows and shovels to saws and drills, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next DIY landscape project. Now that you have your garden path planned out, are you ready for Spring planting? Our blog, Get Started on Your Spring Gardening To-do List, may have the ideas you need. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Finish a Kitchen Update with New Hardware – Creative Remodeling Project Idea #4

Your Guide to Installing New Kitchen HardwareFirst you paint the cabinets, then you update the floors and install a new backsplash. Everything looks great – with finishing final touch: complete your picture perfect kitchen update with new cabinet knobs, pulls or a sink faucet.

Express Kitchen Personality

Not sure what type of kitchen hardware would work with your design style? Decide if you want your knobs and pulls to coordinate with your appliances (like stainless steel), to add touches of color, or to reflect your personality. Most hardware comes in polished, brushed and satin finishes and are readily available. This is an inexpensive way to set your creativity free.

Why Not Upgrade Your Faucet, Too?

Retire your old sink faucet when making hardware upgrades. Replace it with a new high-neck style. Just as with cabinet fixtures, faucets come in a variety of metals. We’ve listed a few options:

  • Polished Brass – Easy to clean, durable, expensive.
  • Satin Brass – Matte, brushed gold look, doesn’t show fingerprints. Can be hard to find.
  • Oil Rubbed Bronze – Gives a traditional feel, colors vary from light bronze to almost black.
  • Satin Bronze – A lighter option than oil rubbed bronze, expensive.
  • Copper – Gives a rich feel and has antibacterial properties, not as durable as nickel or chrome.
  • Polished Nickel – Smooth, shiny and works well with many styles
  • Brushed Nickel – One of the most durable finishes. Doesn’t show wear, fingerprints or water spots.
  • Chrome – Works with multiple styles, does show water spots and fingerprints, inexpensive.
  • Stainless Steel – Often a logical choice for a stainless steel sink.
  • Non-metallic options – Enamel or epoxy coated faucet in matte black, white or tan have a modern look, prone to chipping.

9 Easy Steps to Faucet Replacement

DIY installation of a faucet is fairly straightforward. You will need an adjustable basin wrench, slip joint pliers, safety glasses and a bucket. The toughest part may be cleaning out the area under the sink to give you room to work.

  • Turn off both hot and cold water supplies – place hoses in bucket to collect excess water.
  • Unscrew mounting nuts – these hold the faucet to sink.
  • Remove the old faucet – clean the area around sink hole before installing the new one.
  • Place rubber gasket around hole – if your faucet did not come with one apply a sealant before installing.
  • Slip faucet supply lines through hole.
  • Secure new faucet to sink – avoid tightening screws too much on porcelain faucets because they will chip.
  • Reattach water lines – test the lines to check the water pressure. Make adjustment if necessary.
  • Cap all unused holes with covers – If you are switching to a single handle then cover up the old holes for the water knobs with universal caps that match your sink.
  • Think accessories – Add a soap dispenser or water filter to the leftover holes where water handles were.

Match Fixtures

Consider buying any additional accessories (soap dispenser, water filter, sprayer) from the same manufacturer. Many finishes vary from company to company so keep your look consistent.

Hard Work Pays Off

Putting the finishing touches on your kitchen upgrade is easy and exhilarating. All your hard work definitely pays off. DIY projects are fun, save money and give you a sense of accomplishment that hiring outside help doesn’t provide. Try not to rest on those laurels for long; plenty of other home improvement projects need your attention!

Expert Advice

From a right angle drill and battery powered work light to a basin wrench, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next kitchen DIY project. Looking to upgrade your own kitchen? Review our blogs in this series for helpful tips on where to begin – How to Reinvigorate Your Kitchen for Less, Show Off Your DIY Skills with Flooring, and Kitchen Backsplashes with Pizzazz. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Easy Advice for Installing Storm Windows = Big Energy Savings This Winter

How to Install Storm WindowsWorried about winter heating bills? Or just wishing your home wasn’t so drafty? We’ve already covered the perfect DIY solution #1: installing storm doors. What’s the perfect DIY solution #2? Installing storm windows. They alone can save you between 12 and 33 percent on your heating costs and are much cheaper than replacement windows. Plus, installing storm windows is easy, with our expert how-to advice.

Make Your Choice – Interior or Exterior Storm Windows

Determine what type of storm windows you’d like – interior or exterior. Exterior models come with solid windows and screens in frames that attach directly to an existing window. Interior storm windows are usually seasonal products that you install every winter. They snap or clip into your interior windowsill but do not have adjustable glass panes or screens.

Exterior storm windows are the most common. Frames are made from wood, aluminum or vinyl and offer extra protection to your existing windows. They help them last longer and require less maintenance to the paint and caulk. Most have low emissivity glass (Low-E), which keeps thermal heat in during the winter and infrared heat out during the summer.

Installation is a simple DIY home project that you can tackle in a weekend (depending on the number of windows you have). To start, you will need the following:

Measure, Measure, Measure

Take a series of measurements of the inside of your existing window, at the bottom, top and middle of the frame. Why? The window frame may not be straight. Use the smallest measurement to order your storm windows. Measure the height of the frame from the outside of your window.

Consider ordering your windows with some of the following features:

  • Multiple positioning stops so you can raise or lower the panes to where you want.
  • Quality weather stripping to help stop heating/cooling loss.
  • Pre-drilled holes for quicker installation.
  • Easy-to-clean removable half pane glass and screens to make spring cleaning easier.

Drill Weep Holes then Paint

Storm windows come with weep holes installed at the bottom. Drill matching holes in the bottom exterior windowsill. This will allow condensation to escape. Next, scrap and paint the exterior frame before installing the new window.

Seal Your Storm Windows

Manufacturers recommend applying Butyl caulk, a rubber-based sealant that is good for outdoor installations like siding and gutters. It is a little uncooperative to work with, but it seals better than a silicone caulk. Apply it to the back of the storm window before installing to the exterior frame.

An Extra Set of Hands Comes in – Handy

You may need an extra set of hands to help hold the storm window while you mount it. First center the window then screw it in at top. Close the bottom sash and then screw the sides to the exterior frame. There will be an adjustable expander at the bottom of your storm windows. Tap it down tight against the windowsill and you are done.

Look for Condensation and Fix Air Leaks

Be sure to check your storm windows for condensation during the next cold snap. Leaks from your interior windows can cause moisture build up. This is no problem since the storm window has weep holes, but you may want to follow up with new weather stripping on your interior sill to plug possible air leaks.

Take a Bite Out of Your Next Power Bill

Cutting down on heating bills is always a challenge. Improving your home’s insulation, plugging air leaks and installing storm windows will go a long way to take a bite out of that next bill. Next time the cold wind blows and you sit warm inside, remember to thank your storm windows. Everyone likes a nice pat on the back from time to time.

Expert Advice

From ladders and drills to caulking saws, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to tackle your next DIY project. For more helpful tips on how to keep things warm at your house check out our blog, 3 Easy Economical Ways to Winterize Your Home. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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3 Methods for Inspecting & Cleaning a Fireplace

cleaning your fireplace and chimney in 3 simple stepsSitting in front of a blazing fire during the winter is one of life’s joys. A fireplace that offers warmth and comfort must be properly maintained, so it doesn’t pose a hazard to your family. Give yourself peace of mind by having your both your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned.

4 Types of Chimney Soot

  • A light, dull dusting of gray, brown or black soot
  • Black granular accumulation
  • A black, gummy, road-tar-like coating
  • A shiny, glaze-like coating, which is very combustible

Creosote Buildup Causes Fires

Chimney fires are caused by a buildup of creosote, which is the byproduct of unburnt wood. It adheres to the inside of the chimney or flue and can ignite with a spark. An inspection will determine the amount of soot and creosote coating the interior of the chimney. If the layer is over 1/8-inch thick, then avoid using the fireplace until it can be cleaned.

3 Basic Methods for Cleaning a Chimney & Fireplace

  • From the top down – You would use the chimney brush and extenders down into the chimney from the roof, scrubbing the sides to loosen debris.
  • From the bottom up – You extend the brush up into the chimney and flue to remove the soot and creosote.
  • Tag team method – With a rope pulley system, one person is on the roof and the other is at the base of the fireplace. Together they pull the chimney brush back and forth on the pulley, cleaning the sides.

Successful cleaning is all in the preparation – Inspecting and cleaning a chimney and fireplace will take preparation and some tools you may or may not have on hand, such as:

  • Chimney brush and extension pipes
  • Stiff wire brush
  • Drop cloth and tarps to cover floor and furniture
  • Flash light
  • Safety goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Ladder
  • Broom and dust pan
  • Shop Vac (optional)

If you are not sure, call a professional chimney sweep  Determining the type and thickness of the soot is important. Simply scrape some off the side of the chimney to ascertain what kind of cleaning is needed. If you are unsure about tackling the job yourself then call in a professional. A reputable chimney sweep is licensed by the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the cost is estimated at $150-$200.

Soot can get everywhere, so cover up  This DIY project can be messy so be sure to cover your floors and furniture with drop cloths. Wear old clothes, a dust mask and safety goggles. Place a drop cloth in the bottom of the fireplace. You may even want to create a “tent” around the fireplace if you worry about covering your house in soot.

Your chimney may have houseguests  Lay on your back and look up into the chimney and flue with a flash light. Don’t be surprised to find animals like birds and squirrels nesting in there. If you do you will need to remove them before continuing.

Glazed, hardened creosote may need a professional touch to remove  Whichever method appeals to you, be sure to get as much soot and creosote off the walls as possible. Use a shop vacuum to gather the falling debris as you work. If the creosote on the walls has hardened into a glaze you may need to seek professional help in getting it off. Scrubbing will not remove this type layer.

Don’t forget to trim back tree limbs  Inspect the outside of your chimney. Look for any loose or cracked bricks and deteriorating mortar. If you have tree limbs that are covering your chimney now is the time to trim them back.

Make sure the damper is working properly – From the fireplace, shine your flashlight upward to make sure the damper is working properly. Be sure to wear your safety goggles since debris will often float back down and land on the damper ledge. Use your chimney brush to clean this area.

Get out the shop vac for clean-up  After getting as much soot and creosote off the walls, vacuum the fireplace and drop cloths. Be careful to clean up any debris that may have escaped the hearth before removing the tarps on your furniture.

Keep Safe and Warm this Winter

By inspecting and cleaning your chimney and fireplace once a year in addition to burning well-seasoned wood, you can greatly reduce the chances of having an accidental fire in your home. Keeping your family safe and warm this winter only takes a little elbow grease and a good chimney brush. You can even whistle tunes from Mary Poppins while you work … if this helps!

Expert Advice

From ladders and chain saws to shop vacs, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your home projects. For more helpful tips on how to get your home ready for the cold temps, check our blog, 3 More Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Improve Your Home’s Heating This Winter with Storm Doors & Ceiling Fans

Installing Winter Storm Doors & WindowsThis winter, with the high cost of heating on everyone’s mind, improve your home’s heating efficiency by finding ways to stop heat loss and to better distribute the warm air coming out of your furnace and fireplace. Some of these solutions are right in front of you.

Shut the Front Door

Even though today’s fiberglass and steel front doors are more energy efficient, switching a screen door to a storm door could help cut down on energy bills, just not the way they used to. However, storm doors can help:

  • Protect the Front Door – Entryway doors can be costly and storm doors keep rain and snow off of them, extending their life.
  • Add Security – A locked storm door can add protection when you open your front door to a stranger.
  • Protect Visitors – There’s nothing worse than opening the front door and getting a face full of rain or snow. It’s nice to have a buffer before venturing out.

Avoid Trapped Heat

Some front door manufacturers will recommend not using a storm door, especially if it will be receiving several hours of daily direct sunlight. Heat can build up between the two doors. Install a storm door with vents to allow the heat to escape. Add UV protective tinting to all glass storm doors.

Swap Panels for Different Seasons

During the spring and summer, storm door screens keep pests out and cool breezes coming in. In the fall and winter, swap out the screen for the glass panel. Just remove the plastic clips on the top, bottom and sides of the screen and gently pop it out. The glass insert slides in and you finish by replacing the clips around all sides. Clean the screen and store it to await the swap out in the spring.

Ceiling Fans Help Keep Rooms Warmer

Most ceiling fans have a switch on the motor assembly that you flip to change the turning direction. In the summer, blades that turn counter-clockwise produce a cool breeze that blows directly down. In the winter, blades that turn clockwise draw air up and out, helping to recirculate the warmer air sitting at the ceiling.

  • Spread Warm Air Around – Hot air rises and often leaves pockets of cold air throughout rooms. Ceiling fans redistribute the warm air from a central source, such as a fireplace or wood stove, to reach other areas of the house.
  • It’s Hot Upstairs and Cold Downstairs – If you own a two story home with a central open staircase, you know how warm it can get upstairs while the rooms downstairs remain cold. Install a ceiling fan at the top of the stairs. It can help redirect some of the heat rising upstairs back to the ground floors.

Try Insulated Drapes

Check for air drafts around windows and doors. Caulk around windows to help seal them. Weather stripping can help eliminate leaks as well. For drafty patio and French doors – and also for windows – try installing insulated drapes that you close at night to keep the heat from escaping.

Stay Warm and Toasty This Winter

The goal is to stay warm and toasty this winter. Look for anything around your home that can eat into your energy efficiency. Every little bit helps. These simple DIY repairs will help you focus on more important things like how many marshmallows are going to go into your hot chocolate.

Expert Advice

From ladders to insulation blowers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right tools and equipment for your home improvements. For more helpful tips on how to keep the cold out, check our blog, Cold Weather Basics: Winterizing Window, Doors and Vents. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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DIY Project: How to Install a Sump Pump

How to Install a Sump PumpHaving a flooded basement is one of the worst fears a homeowner has and it’s a costly one. It only takes a heavy rainfall or a broken water pipe to ruin everything in the lower level of your home. One item that can alleviate this anxiety is a sump pump.

Water Problems are Not Uncommon

Sixty percent of American homes suffer from below-ground wetness. Water problems can be caused by:

  • Excessive water, i.e. over-saturating the ground around the foundation
  • Improperly installed or maintained gutters
  • Patios, decks or walkways sloping back toward the home’s foundation

Which Type of Sump Pump Do You Need?

Installing a sump pump in your basement is an easy do-it-yourself project. A sump pump’s main function is to channel water out of your basement and away from your foundation. There are three different types of pumps:

  • Pedestal – This type has the motor mounted above the sump pit and is less expensive. They can last 25-30 years but take up more room and cannot handle debris.
  • Submersible – The motor is submerged in the sump pit, which makes it less accessible. These pumps last 5-15 years, are best for tight spaces and can take up debris without clogging the pump.
  • Ejector – These are good for crawlspaces with pea gravel floors. Constructed from cast iron, these pumps last between 5-10 years and can eject small debris as well as water.

Installing a Sump Pump is Easy

Before you begin to dig the sump pit (the hole in which the pump sits), know where your main water and power lines are. It is recommended that you buy your sump pump and the heavy plastic pit liner together to assure proper fit. Once you determine the lowest point in your basement, we are ready to begin.

  1. Place the pit at least 8” away from outside walls, but close to a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) electrical outlet. You need to plug directly into outlet. No extension cords please!
  2. Dig a hole that is 3” wider than the liner and 6” deeper. You will need to jack hammer the foundation floor in order to clear the way for digging.
  3. Line the pit with gravel at the bottom and tamp. Place and level the liner inside the pit and fill around it with more gravel.
  4. Attach the discharge pipe to the pump and place it in the pit, making sure to keep it level. The discharge pipe is usually made of PVC pipe and will run from the pit to the outside of the house. A common method of getting the pipe outside is to drill into the rim joist.
  5. Dry fit all pipes together and then cement. Discharge pipes should have a small vent hole to prevent an air lock from forming. Be sure to caulk around the pipe, exiting through the rim joist.
  6. Dig a hole about a foot deep for the discharge line to exit through. Fill the hole completely with gravel to keep the line from freezing.
  7. Support the PVC pipes by attaching them to walls or other joists.
  8. Adjust the float valve on the pump and test. Pour water into the pit until the pump is submerged. Plug the pump in and voilà! Water is exiting the building.
  9. Put a cover or lid over the pit to help keep debris from getting into the pump or it becomes a hazard.

Consider Buying an Alarm and Battery Back-Up

You should consider buying a pump that has an alarm and a battery back-up. Both would come in handy during storms when water is likely to be a problem. For frequent flooding problems, you may want to consider having two separate sump pumps just to cover you in the event the first one fails.

Inspect and Test Your Pump Regularly

It is a good practice to test your sump pump twice a year. Just fill the pit with water and turn the pump on. Regular inspection of the pump will help you avoid any issues. To learn more about some of the potential problems you can face check out our blog on repairing sump pumps.

Keep Your Home Safe and Dry

You no longer have to worry about a flooded basement with a sump pump. This simple DIY project will help keep your home safe and dry. So sleep easy and listen to the rain. You’re in good hands.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on-hand to help you with your DIY projects. From jack hammers and drills to shovels and tamps, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How to Insulate Your Garage for Winter

insulate your garage for winterWhen planning projects to do around your house to get ready for the long winter to come, remember to include your garage. This often overlooked area is one of the main sources of heat loss in your home. Garages often share a wall with a kitchen or den. Keeping the garage warm will help keep your house toasty and more energy efficient.

The Higher the R-Value the Better

R-Value refers to an insulation material’s ability to resist heat flow. When insulating, the higher the R-Value, the better. Normally for walls, look for an R-Value of R11-R15 and for an attic space, look for R38- R49. Foam board only has an R-Value of R3-R6, but is a good option for insulating garage doors.

Look for Storage Opportunities

Assess your garage, and while you’re at it, why not organize and purge items that have accumulated over the summer. Look for any missed opportunities for storage in the rafters or along the walls. Work these features into your plan of attack for winterizing the garage. Cabinets along walls can do double duty, keeping the cold away from indoor rooms, as well as store items.

Eliminate Cold Air From Entering Your House

Insulating your garage will help protect your car, eliminate cold air from entering your house, and provide you with additional workspace during the winter. Here are some ideas on where to start in your garage:

  • Fix and insulate your garage door. Add foam board to the inside of your garage door. If you have an older door, consider investing in a modern insulated door.
  • Replace weather stripping around your garage door and any outside doors.
  • Insulate the garage walls. Garages are shells and have little if any insulation in the walls.
  • Seal switches and outlets on outside walls. Cold air can seep in through these openings.
  • Cover exposed pipes. It is easy to overlook these pipes, but treat them as if they are outdoors and wrap them.
  • Caulk around any windows, doors and the garage door.

Use Weather Seal

The garage door is a big culprit for letting cold air in even when it is in place. Consider installing a weather seal where the door meets the ground. This will not only keep the frigid air out, but it will help keep rain and insects out, too.

Durable, Protective Epoxy Floors

Waterproofing the floor of a garage will not only seal it to keep the dampness out, but it will also go a long way towards improving the appearance of your garage. Epoxy combines a resin and a hardener to form a rigid plastic material. These floors are easy to install. They are durable, repel stains and can stand up to heavy traffic. Epoxy is an affordable and stylish way to protect your concrete floors.

No More Working in a Cold Garage

Adding a heater may seem like a luxury, but it can help keep the fluids in your car’s engine from “gelling up”. A gas system will cost more to install but is cheaper to run. An electric unit will be cheaper to install but you will have higher operating costs. You’ll also be able to use your garage more in the winter using a heater, so you can work in a comfortable setting.

Keep Your Heating Costs Down

Insulating your garage now will help keep your heating costs down this winter. It will protect your car and other items in the garage from extreme temperature changes. Just think how nice it will be to get into your car without having to walk out into a cold garage. Bring on old man winter!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your home improvement projects. From an insulation blower and epoxy mixer to a circular saw and drill, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week. Learn more insulation tips by reading our blogs, Increase the Energy Efficiency of Your Home by Insulating the Garage and Find Air Leaks in Your House and Plug ‘Em Up Fast.

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Outdoor Refreshers – How to Install a Sprinkler System

How to Install a Permanent Sprinkler System

Dragging garden hoses around the yard and setting up sprinklers is one summertime chore no needs to sweat over. Keep the lawn, flowers, trees and shrubs looking their best by installing a dedicated sprinkler system in your yard.

Do Your Homework

If you’re an intermediate do-it-yourselfer, installing a sprinkler system yourself will take several days, yet the extra planning and set-up on the front end of the project will be worth it as the growing season progresses. Before heading to the hardware store, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you need a building permit to install a permanent sprinkler system?
  • Do I know where the underground utility lines are located in my yard? If not, what’s the number for your utility company?
  • Are any local watering restrictions or ordinances in effect?
  • Do your state/ local regulations require a licensed professional to help with part of the installation? Some require professional electricians and plumbers to handle the technical stuff.

Once your homework is done, focus on the details of your sprinkler project. First, set an overall budget that includes the use of professional service people to connect the timer box or tap into the main water line of the house. Also, if you are adding a system to an existing lawn, then factor in what it will cost to fix the damage that trenching may leave across the grass, such as additional sod, grass seed, fertilizer, etc.

Use a Sprinkler Template

Many sprinkler manufacturers can create a customized design for your landscape. They offer templates for you to map all of the features in your yard like shrubs and flower beds, areas of sun and shade, and hardscapes like retaining walls. From this, they will help you design a sprinkler plan with the correct number of zones and suggest the materials needed to install your system. This service may cost a nominal fee but it is worth it to have the details worked out so you don’t have to.

Turn on the Waterworks in 13 Steps (It’s Lucky, We Tell You!)

  1. Mark the location of all the trenches and sprinklers with stakes or plastic flags.
  2. With a gas powered trenching machine, dig trenches 4-12 inches deep according to your plan. The manufacturer will have taken into consideration the area you live and how deep the water lines need to be to keep them from freezing.
  3. Turn off water to house at meter.
  4. Cut into the main water line. This may be where you want to hire a professional plumber to make sure that the work is done properly and your water pressure is maintained. They can also install a backflow prevention device.
  5. Dig a trench from the main water line to the valve box location. At the end dig a hold about 18 inches deep and 2-3 feet long. Line hole with 2 inches of gravel and set the valve box into it. The box lid should be flush with the grass.
  6. Next glue together the manifold and attach the zone valves. Set manifold in box.
  7. Dig a shallow trench from valve box to the location you want for the timer. Lay the 24 volt underground wire in the trench and connect it to the wires leading from each valve.
  8. Place pipes in trenches leading from the valve box. Whenever a pipe branches off you will need to splice a tee fitting to the main pipe and attach a short length of flexible pipe.
  9. Using 90 degree PVC elbow joints join pipes in trenches to the valve box. Turn on the water and flush the pipes to eliminate dirt in line and avoid clogs. Turn water back off.
  10. Install pop up sprinkler heads to each of the flexible pipes.
  11. After mounting the timer box where you want it, attach the 24 volt wires from the zone valves to the timer. You may want to hire an electrician to run power to the timer box.
  12. Set timer and run tests on the system to see where sprinkler heads need to be adjusted. Check lines to make sure there are no leaks that can cost you money down the road.
  13. Fill in trenches with soil and repair the lawn with sod or seed.

Take Time for the Timer

You may want to save money doing the job yourself, but that’s no reason to skimp on the quality of the parts you use. Sprinkler heads take a beating from day to day use and getting mowed over. Putting money into quality sprinkler heads will cut down on you having to go back and forth to the hardware store. Also, research the features you want on your timer. You may want one that allows you to test the system without having to disrupt your programmed schedule. You may also want features like rain sensors or frost sensors so the system doesn’t run during those times.

Homework, folks, will help you avoid any headaches and get you the sprinklers you want. Now sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor and forget all about those stupid garden hoses – except, of course, if you like watering your prize roses by hand. Then by all means, find a great water hose at Runyon!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From landscaping tools to a trencher, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Spring Refresh DIY Idea #3 – How to Build a Patio

How to Build a Patio

Now that spring is here it’s time to get outside. Time to put those DIY plans you’ve had rattling around in your head all winter into action. Let’s build that patio you’ve been dreaming of.

First things first, make a few key decisions before starting to haul in the pavers.

  • How will you use the patio? – For entertaining? To relax? How you plan to use it will determine the size and materials you will need.
  • Where will you build the patio? – Look for an area that has good drainage, isn’t too close to trees, and is away from any buried utility lines. Call the power company before you start to dig and they can mark the location of the lines.
  • How much do you have to spend on the project? – Figure out how much you have to spend and let that help you determine the size of the patio and the materials to be used.
  • Do you need help? – Don’t forget that much of the materials needed are heavy and will have to be delivered. You may not be able to deposit the sand, gravel or stones close to your project site which means you may need to use a wheel barrow or front end loader to move the materials around.

Once you have determined your design plan, location and budget, then you will need to choose the materials you want to use. Here are a few options:

  • Concrete – This is probably the cheapest way to add a hard surface to your landscape but it can be problematic. If you choose to dye it with a coloring agent then you will need to be prepared to reapply the coating every couple of years in order to keep the color.
  • Natural Stone – Flagstone, slate, bluestone and limestone cost more. The thicknesses vary so you have to carefully install each stone in order to keep the patio level.
  • Brick – Offers Old World charm but needs maintenance. It is very porous and cold weather can cause it to crack leaving space for weeds or moss to grow through.
  • Pavers – Home improvement stores carry a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. They are all uniform in thickness so they are easier to install than natural stone and they are fairly inexpensive.

Get Down to Building

Your materials have been delivered and you are ready to begin. All patios need to be built on a level surface no matter what materials you use. Cracks, uneven surfaces and water pooling can all be traced back to not having a proper, level foundation. Let’s get started.

  • Mark the site – Whether you use the old string and stake method or the new aerosol paint technique, outline the area where you plan to build.
  • Dig, man, dig – Excavate down at least 8 inches for the sub-base of your patio. Whether you are going to pour concrete or lay pavers, the process is the same.
  • No sub-standard sub-base for you! – Clear the area of all roots, rocks and debris. Stamp down the dirt with a hand or power-driven stamper. Check to see if the ground is level. If it is, add a layer of gravel and pack it down. Once again, check to see if it is level.
  • Power to the pavers – Time to add the paving stones. Once you have laid them out in the design you want, stamp them down, and check to see if they are level. Adjust where needed.
  • Sand in your pavers? – Spread sand into the joints between the stones. Don’t scrimp on the sand. Work it in between the pavers to help lock them in place.
  • Wash down – Spray the remaining loose sand into the joints and now you are ready to clean up the patio and decorate.

Now, you are the proud owner of an outdoor room. “What will I do next?” you may be saying to yourself as you roll that shiny new grill across the new patio surface. Anything! The world is your oyster. Go forth and build more.

Expert Advice

Need more inspiration? Read our recent blog, Stir Up a Little DIY Inspiration with these 3 Project Ideas. Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects.

From power driven stampers to front end loaders and more, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Spring Refresh DIY Idea #2 – Building a Backyard Playset

How to Build a PlaysetWhen you think back on your childhood, you may recall playing on a rusty old metal swing set with hard plastic seats. Remember how the whole thing threatened to flip over if you swung too high? The backyard play sets of today are a far cry from those rickety contraptions. Now kids have their choice of towers and forts in addition to swings and slides. What about a rock climbing wall?! We have the technology. The choices are endless … and the cost can run in the thousands of dollars. So what’s a parent to do? Here are a few things to consider in your quest to build a better playset.

Shop Smart

Before you start shopping stores or the internet for a playset to assemble, consider this:

  • Know your audience – What’s the age of the child you are building the playset for? What interests a toddler is less engaging for a 10-year-old. Look for a playset that can be reconfigured as your child grows up. Some sets will have features that can be removed and replaced with more age appropriate ones using very little additional construction.
  • It’s going to be how big? – Determine the size of the area where you want to put the playset. It will help to narrow down the choices in design plans. Consider placing the structure off to one side of the yard rather than in the middle. That gives the kids an open space where they can play football and other games. Besides, you don’t want to step out you back door and onto the jungle gym.
  • Avoid any trips to the ER – Know the weight limit of the playset you select. If you expect a neighborhood of kids to be on it at one time then spend the money for the highest rated play set. Accidents will happen so cushion their falls with a protective surface like bark or rubberized mulch. Spread it in a dense layer and extend it around all sides of the structure. Make sure all platforms and ramps have guard rails.
  • Can I mortgage that playset? – Focus on the quality of the building materials and the inclusive safeguards more than the elaborate play features. A playset made from good hard wood like cedar or redwood is the preferred choice of most professional playset builders. Sure, you will have to clean and paint it, but if properly maintained, a set built out of this kind of wood could last 7-10 years. Pressure treated lumber is less expensive but it has been created using chemicals that you don’t want to expose your children to. Manufacturers say the toxicity levels are low but ultimately it is your call as a parent on whether the risk is worth it.
  • Stick with the classics – Forget all the fancy construction plans. Swings and slides will always be in fashion. Elaborate features like rock climbing walls or trapezes only add to the cost of the project. Remember these are the same kids that happily played with your pots and pans just a few years ago. That swinging pirate ship may fall out of fashion with them in a heartbeat, and if isn’t not easy to remove, you’re stuck with it marooned in your backyard.

A Family Project

No one knows your kids the way you do. Select the type playset that will make them want to put down the smart phone, remote or other device and run out to play on it. Make building it a family project. Even young children can hand you a hammer or help spread mulch. It is all about creating memories of childhood days spent playing with friends on a backyard playset – one they’ll remember was built just for them by you. Priceless.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your backyard projects. From circular saws and nailers/staplers to pressure washers and mulch, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Structural Home Fixes Part 3: How to Repair a Sump Pump

How to Repair a Sump Pump

In part three of our series that tackles structural home fixes, we explore how to repair a sump pump, what could arguably be called the most important piece of equipment in your home … especially if you have a ground water issue underneath the building.

What is a Sump Pump?

Usually installed in the lowest part of a house, such as a basement or crawlspace, a sump pump sits in a specially constructed hole called a sump pit. As water flows into the sump pit from the ground outside or even during a heavy rain storm, the sump pump is activated by the incoming water level, and starts to push the moisture out and away from under the building to the outside, which prevents flooding and keeps the basement or crawlspace dry. Without one, ground water could flood the area or your whole house.

Typically, keep a close eye on the function of a sump pump, because the best repair is consistent maintenance.

Types of Sump Pumps

Pedestal Pumps

  • One of the most common
  • The motor is mounted on a small pedestal
  • A hose or pipe extends down to the bottom of the pit
  • Activated by a float switch

Submersible Pumps

  • Smaller unit that sits in the bottom of your sump pit
  • Water is sucked up through the bottom of the pump by an impeller
  • Activated by a float or bubble switch

Ejector Pumps

  • Good for use in crawlspaces made with a pea gravel floor
  • Capable of ejecting small debris as well as water
  • Constructed of cast iron and a larger ejector port instead of the standard size

Easy Fixes and Repairs 

Drainage Pipe Freezeswhich causes flooding. To avoid freezing at the end of the pipe, dig a hole at least a foot deep around the end of the drainage pipe and fill it to the top with fine gravel. Water will move through it without freezing.

Sump Pumps Clogs which results in flooding. Clogging depends on the ground water; if it’s full of silt, clay or debris, it will eventually gunk up the intake screen. Schedule a good cleaning of the screen and the intake area to remove any clogging matter before a clog happens – every few months or so, if these conditions exist.

Loses Electricitywhich causes flooding because the sump pump stops running. Ensure it never loses power installing a battery-powered or water-pressure backup power source for the sump pump. Basically, the backup power source charges from the AC power during normal power. If that power goes out, the backup source will kick on and operate the sump pump.

Stops Working which results in, you guessed it, flooding. This can happen if the pump burns the motor out from overwork, due to a frozen drainage pipe or it’s overwhelmed by a big flood or the equipment is just old. You can call in a professional for help, but the best thing to do here is to replace it.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with home fixes and repairs. From portable generators to dehumidifiers, ventilators and carpet fans, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Structural Home Fixes Part 2: How to Repair the Gutters

How to Repair Your Gutters

Taking care of home improvement projects like structural fixes or replacement before they become emergencies is one of the ways homeowners are protecting their property as well as their financial investment. In part two of our series that tackles structural home fixes, we explore how to repair the gutters.

Not only do April showers bring May flowers, they give you first-hand knowledge of how your rain gutters and downspouts hold up to moisture. Not to mention, keeping your home, garage and basement dry. Your gutters could have holes, leaky corners or are sagging or have pulled away from the house –and all of these scenarios need to be taken care of, extending their life and efficiency.

Patching Holes

Whether rust eats into a gutter, or a falling branch punctures it or a well-meaning do-it-yourselfer drills one intentionally, holes need to be patched as soon as they’re spotted, so they don’t get any bigger. Roofing cement, a sheet metal-repair patch or other patch that matches the gutter material will do perfectly. Before applying any patch, clean the area around the hole with gloved hands and a stiff-bristle wire brush. Cut out any rust with aviation snips.

Fixing Leaky Joints

Standing water will eventually seep through gutter seams. After relieving the gutter of the water and letting it dry out, brush clean and apply silicone-rubber caulking compound along the once-leaking seams both inside and out. If the gutters are showing their age, however, replace them with new.

Un-Sagging Gutters

The same standing water causing leaks can cause gutters to sag. The weight of the water causes the hangers to loosen. Gutters should drop about 1/4 inch for every 10 feet of run toward the downspouts, so check the gutter slope using a level. Some gutters are held in place with large spikes in tubular sleeves, called ferrules. To fix a sag, either replace or re-seat the hangers. Use a hammer or screwdriver to drive the long spike or long screw into solid wood. To tighten clip-style gutter hangers, lift the roofing material along the eaves and refasten the hangers to the sheathing.

Stopping an Overflow

Gutters that overflow during a heavy rain storm could be too small to handle a large volume of runoff, or more likely they could be clogged with leaves and debris. If this is the case, by all means give the gutters a good cleaning. Learn more by reading our blog, See How Easily You Can Rid Your Gutters of Dirt and Grime.

Don’t Forget About the Downspouts

Gutter downspouts are important extension of the gutter system. They could loosen away from the gutter or between sections or become clogged with debris.

When you’re cleaning the gutters, clean the downspouts, too – taking the sections apart. Refasten them by pushing the sections together fastening them with two 3/8-inch #8 galvanized sheet metal screws. Drill pilot holes if needed. The downspout anchor straps should be secure to the wall.

Avoid Runoff Water Pools

If water pools at the bottom of the downspout, it will soak into the soil and make its way right into the foundation. Direct rainwater away from the house using a downspout diverter, which fits onto the bottom of the downspout and carries water several feet away.

The downspout can also run into a dry well that’s about two to four feet wide and three feet deep. Secure underground drainage pipes that slope to the dry well, keeping moisture away from the house’s foundation. You can also modify a 55-gallon drum that’s buried at the end of a downspout and punctured with holes. Before using any one of these solutions, check local building codes.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with home fixes and repairs. From ladders to drills and other equipment, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Structural Home Fixes Part 1: How to Fix or Replace a Roof

How to Fix or Replace Your RoofHomeowners today are making measured, timely decisions about their homes that take care of improvement projects like structural fixes or replacement before they become emergencies. In this way, homeowners are protecting their property as well as their investment, financial and otherwise. In part one of our series that tackles structural home fixes, we explore options for fixing or replacing your roof.

Your first decision should be based on a thorough inspection of the roof to determine whether simple patching or repair can repair leaks or other damage you may find – or if it is better for the life of your home to replace the roof entirely. Before the inspection, hire a professional cleaning service or rent a pressure washer to clean the roof, especially if it has moss or a fair amount of debris on its surface. This allows for you to better evaluate the actual condition of the roof. Continue the inspection inside the attic, if possible – especially if you find evidence of leaks.

General Roof Repair

If you find damage to shingles resulting from wind, weather or fallen limbs, it is usually easy and inexpensive to fix:

  • Inspect under the shingles, making sure the roof deck is sound.
  • Remove any worn, torn or damaged shingles and replace with new ones. It’s always a good idea to store new shingles that match the existing roof just for this type of repair. However, you can have the building contractor order matching shingles for you, or you can go with a new one, even if it’s not an exact match.
  • Consistently replacing worn shingles could extend the life of the roof by 10 years or more.

If you find evidence of leaks, such as discolored felt paper under the shingles, other water stains and especially rotted wood around plumbing boots, vents, chimneys, windows, dormers or anything else that is built through the roof, you can still make a fix:

  • If the leak is due to condensation on cold “shiners,” nails that have missed their mark, clip it with a side-cutting pliers.
  • If a plumbing vent is torn, rotted, cracked or has broken seams, replace it with a new one. If the vent is in good shape, but nails are missing or pulled free, replace them with the rubber-washer screws used for metal roofing systems. Be careful when removing shingles around the fix so they can be reused.
  • To repair around windows or dormers, make sure the area is still sealed using a putty knife. Dig in to reveal any old, crumbling caulk. Remove all of it and re-caulk using a silicon latex caulk. Replace any cracked, rotting or missing siding, overlapping the step flashing by at least two inches.
  • If the flashing around a chimney is rusted through, either slip new flashing under the old or cut what’s called a saw kerf into the mortar and install new flashing.
  • If the step flashing along walls is rusted through, replace it with new flashing. If the flashing has come loose, exposing the wall, re-position it and re-nail to the roof.
  • If you find tiny holes in any shingles or in the roof, do not inject caulking into them. Fix the holes by using flashing.

When It’s Time for a New Roof

  • If your roof is more than 20 years old – the projected life of any roofing surface – it’s time for a new roof.
  • If just part of the roof is significantly showing its age, and you live in a severe weather area, replace the entire roof.
  • If you find evidence of a worn or damaged roof deck, do a replacement, so it too can be repaired or in some extreme cases, replaced.

Do the Job Right

Save yourself the hassle of continuous interruptions to the project by having these tools and materials on hand before you start:

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with home fixes and repairs. Learn more by reading our blog, Repair and Prepare Your Shingles and Windows for Winter in 6 Easy Steps and if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How To Safely Operate a Backhoe Loader in 5 Simple Steps

Bobcat Skidsteer LoaderFor anyone working in construction, the versatile backhoe loader is one of the industry’s go-to machines, a popular choice that’s powerful enough to take on jobs where moving earth, loading and spreading materials, installing big equipment like septic tanks, and digging water, sewer and gas lines are what needs to get done.

1. Plan The Job Ahead of Time
Operating a backhoe loader safely using best practices starts with the person in the driver’s seat. Survey the job site well in advance of the work whistle, mapping out the safest routes for the backhoe in the least amount of time. Take a look at the condition of the ground around the dig site and decide what course of action to take.

If you’re the operator, the first thing you should do after you jump in and take your place is fasten the seat belt. A roll cage will only protect you in case of an overturn if you are buckled in. Make sure the parking brake is engaged, then get familiar with the controls. Make sure you can reach all of them easily while sitting in the seat and that they move freely. Below are a few more steps for operating a backhoe loader safely.

2. Take Control

Steady, even, level movement is the safest way to maintain control of a backhoe loader. Even though most of its weight is distributed towards the rear, some loads will change the center of gravity, affecting the machine’s stability. When in motion, keep the bucket low to the ground. Driving up sloped surfaces in reverse, i.e., with the backend first, can keep the front of the backhoe on the ground, especially if there’s no load in the bucket. Operating a backhoe on slopes is the most difficult to maintain stability. Keep the backhoe as level as possible when in motion, taking care when repositioning on a slope. Backhoe loaders are equipped with stabilizer legs. Spread them out to their full width, which will hold the machine in place while digging or lifting the bucket. If at any time the machine starts to feel unstable, stop everything to regain control.

3. Prepare for Excavation

Make sure to check the job site for any buried utilities such as telephone or natural gas lines and electrical transmission cables. Avoid cave-ins by knowing the soil conditions beforehand and placing excavated material at least three feet away from the dig site. The operator is responsible for the safety of all personnel around the dig site. Before moving the machine, sound the horn or the backup alarm to alert other workers. Before any heavy lifting, survey the area for people in the way and make sure the backhoe is as stable as possible.

4. Know Your Weight

It is the operator’s responsibility to know how much a load needs to weigh to pick it up safely at a given angle. This requires a study of the machine’s lifting capabilities; the heights and distances are found on its spec sheet. If in doubt, test the lift before any material is moved. Slow and steady wins the race here; transport excavated material with the bucket low to the ground, rather than too high in the air.

5. Shut Down for the Day Safely, Too
After work is finished for the day, park the backhoe on a level surface. Set the parking brake, lower the front and back attachments to the ground, put the engine in neutral gear and drop the hydraulic levers to release any pressure.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with excavation projects. From backhoe loaders to bulldozers, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How to Safely Operate and Maneuver a Bobcat® Skid-Steer Loader

Bobcat Skid-Steer LoaderSkid-steer loaders made by Bobcat® enjoy a 50-year reputation for performance and reliability. The company manufactures more than 12 skid-steer loader models and over 70 attachments to accommodate a number of outdoor projects that require a digging machine:

  • Great for ongoing or one-time jobs
  • Quick-change attachments and maintenance-free chain case help make the most of the work day
  • Efficient, dependable performance for maximum digs, lifts and dumps
  • Reduce operating costs
  • Machine shutdown protection, pressurized cabs with all-around visibility, heat and air conditioning keep operators comfortable and safe

A compact machine used for digging, the skid-steer loader also pushes, pulls and lifts material. Popular for use in building, construction, landscaping and farm work, the skid-steer loader is a lighter machine that can maneuver better than a typical tractor front loader, making quicker work of manual labor jobs that would take more time and effort without equipment. They also have a number of attachments, including different types and sizes of buckets, backhoes, forks, hammers, brooms, and augers that help with the machine’s versatility and performance.

Training and Safety

To safely operate a Bobcat® skid-steer loader, the company offers operator training and service safety courses, which review best practices for safe operation through video presentations, classroom exercises and hands-on operation. Although the training courses available through Bobcat give trainees an overall knowledge of safe and efficient operation, they are not designed to license or certify operators as skilled or factory authorized operators. However, here are a few tips on Bobcat safety:

  • Always clear the work area
  • Stand away from the front of the buckets as it is raised
  • Warn other workers before moving or raising the bucket
  • Keep all safety structures, cages and screens in place for operator protection in case of rollover
  • In case of an emergency, remove hands and feet from the controls until the machine stops moving

Tips for Driving a Bobcat

Learning how to maneuver properly in a Bobcat starts with examining the terrain, checking the work area for hazards overhead, like power lines. The trick is to not get stuck or roll the machine over. Do not drive over too-rough ground or into soft, soggy soil, and avoid creeks, ravines and steep banks. Make no sudden stops, starts or turns, and move along at a speed that is appropriate for the existing conditions and visibility. Drive up and down slopes with the bucket lowered. Drive across slopes, and you could tip the skid-steer loader over. Dump material by driving around a fence rather than dumping over one to avoid operator injury.

Tips for Loading a Bobcat

  • Drive the Bobcat into a pile of material
  • Raising the bucket after the machine is in position
  • Tilt a loaded bucket upwards
  • Back away from the pile slowly
  • Once far enough from the pile, lower the loaded bucket and drive to the dumping area
  • Raise the bucket just before positioning it over the truck or pile and dump
  • Always be ready to lower the bucket quickly in case the equipment feels unstable
  • The machine’s weight can cause trenches to collapse, so take care when backfilling
  • Abide by the manufacturer’s recommended maximum loads
  • Overloading makes the Bobcat steering front-heavy, erratic and unstable

Tips for Bobcat Balance

Aim for keeping a Bobcat skid-steer loader in a balanced position. A Bobcat carries two-thirds of its weight on the rear axles when empty. A full load transfers that weight and the machines balance to the front wheels. Always move with the arms and bucket lowered for maximum stability. When negotiating slopes, keep the heaviest end of the Bobcat pointing uphill to reduce the risk of turning the Bobcat over.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with moving projects. We rent the entire line of Bobcat® Skid-Steer Loaders and attachable buckets. If you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How to Safely and Effectively Use a Trencher

Trenching EquipmentWant to dig a trench? There is special equipment for that!

In addition to a shovel and massive amounts of strength and sweat, the most effective tool to dig a trench is a machine called a trencher. If you want to lay cable or fiber optics, install a drainage system or place pipes underground, a trencher helps dig holes with consistent width and depth through a variety of surfaces to be cut, including soil, stone and pavement. Most include a mechanism to clear excavated material from the trench, too.

Trenchers range in configuration from walk-behind models, to attachments for a skid loader, to portable hand-held tools. They use different types of cutting elements, depending on the hardness of the cutting surface. Because they involve cutting with teeth, chain or blade, use trenchers with proper care.

Types of Trenchers

1. Rockwheel Trencher: uses a cutting wheel fitted with teeth to move soil. Teeth are made from industrial strength steel or cemented carbide and are changed out or adjusted easily by hand, allowing for multiple cutting widths and depths, as well as ground conditions. The wheel design lets the machine cut at a constant angle to the ground. Excavated materials are cleared from the trench through an ejector system.

  • Works hard or soft soils
  • Work homogeneous, compact rocks, silts and sands or heterogeneous, broken rock, alluvia and moraines
  • Less sensitive to blocks in soil
  • Cuts pavement for road and underground utilities maintenance
  • Cheaper to operate and maintain than chain trenchers

2. Micro Trencher: uses a cutting wheel specially designed to work in tighter spaces such as a city or other urban area. The teeth cut in smaller widths that range from about one to five inches and a depth of 20 inches or less. Excavated material is also less.

  • Works harder ground than chain trencher
  • Cutting through solid stone
  • Cuts trenches with no associated damage to the road
  • Used to minimize vehicle and pedestrian traffic congestion
  • Digs smaller trenches for optical fiber connections
  • Effective for sidewalks, narrow streets
  • Cuts pavement for road and underground utilities maintenance
  • Sometimes radio-controlled 

3. Chain Trencher: uses a chain or belt to cut through the ground. Like a chainsaw, the cutting element moves around a metal frame or boom, which is adjusted at a fixed angle to accommodate different cutting depths. Excavated materials can be removed by conveyor belt.

  • Works hard soils
  • Digs wider trenches for telecommunication, electricity, drainage, water, gas, sanitation
  • Can cut narrow, deep trenches
  • Good for work in rural areas
  • Used to excavate trenches in rock, along with hydraulic breakers or drill and blast

4. Portable Trencher: uses a chain or blade that rotates like a rotary lawn mower to dig trenches. Lightweight and easily maneuverable, these machines are sometimes used in conjunction with other types of equipment to finish landscaping and lawn care jobs.

  • Cuts trenches for landscape edging and irrigation lines
  • Used in combination with a drainage pipe or geotextile feeder and backfiller to lay drain or textile and fill trench in one pass

How to Operate a Trencher in 3 Steps

Step 1: Turn on the engine and warm up the machine. Put the transmission in neutral, make sure the hydraulic pump is off (if applicable), unlock the wheels and move the trencher in place.

Step 2: Once in position to start digging, make sure the wheels are positioned so they work together, start the cutting element spinning and lower it to its first depth, put the transmission in forward, engage the removal apparatus and start digging. Keep the power on full throttle, controlling speed by using the transmission.

Step 3: Once you dig all the down, put the machine in reverse to start moving backward. Most machines will trench in reverse.

Safety Tips

  • Wear protective clothing, eye and ear wear, utility gloves
  • Stand away from the machine when it’s operating (unless you’re the operator) to avoid getting hit by excavated material
  • Before you start digging, locate underground wires or pipes by calling your local utility company

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with excavating your property. We carry a full line of trenchers designed for many types of landscaping, lawn care or digging projects. If you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How to Choose a Snow Blower that’s Right for You

To keep this winter’s snow tamed and out of the way of your home, your car and your family, a snow blower is an essential tool. Used in conjunction with a snow shovel and ice melt, snow blowers can clear even the most monumental accumulation with a little forethought and elbow grease – from removing that snow plow ridge at the foot of the driveway to keeping the front stoop free of falling precipitation.

It’s All About the White Stuff

Knowing what type of snow your area typically gets (and how much of it) helps to determine which snow blower is right for your snow removal job.

Single Stage v. Two Stage Snow Blower Comparison

Snow blowers are available in all sizes, depending on the typical conditions you face on a snow removal job. For short driveways and moderate amounts of snow, look for a smaller, easier-handling model. To tackle the occasional heavy storm, choose a mid-sized model. Long, hilly driveways probably require a larger snow blower with power-driven wheels.

However, engine size is not the only consideration. Maneuverability is just as important, especially if you have smaller areas that need clearing. Snow blowers can be powered by gas or electricity. Gas-powered models may be loud and require ear plugs. For electric models, use an outdoor extension cord. Also, consider the kind of storage space you can devote to a snow blower when not in use.

Types of Snow Blowers

A good snow blower is one that performs the easiest clean-up for the type of snow you’re removing.

1. Single-stage electric models: small units that pull in snow and throw it out the chute in one step.

  • Best in 4 inches or less of snow
  • Best for short, level driveways, decks and walks
  • Lightest, smallest, quietest and easiest to handle
  • No need to fuel
  • Less engine maintenance
  • Requires multiple passes for complete removal
  • Not effective on steep slopes
  • Power cord limits range

2. Single-stage gas models: small-to-midsize units that pick up and throw snow using a rubber-tipped auger to help propel the machine.

  • Best in 8 inches or less of snow
  • Best for level, midsized paved driveways and walks
  • More powerful than electric units; still light and easy to handle
  • Clear more snow in one pass
  • Four-cycle gas engines are fueled with straight gasoline with electric starts
  • Poor choice for gravel driveways and steep slopes
  • Require regular engine maintenance

3. Two-stage gas models: pick up using an impeller behind the auger to help throw snow out the chute.

  • Best in 8 inches or higher snow
  • Best for long, wide driveways
  • Larger, more powerful, propelled by engine-driven wheels
  • Can handle steeper inclines
  • Best on gravel
  • Relatively heavy
  • Requires regular engine maintenance

More Tips on Renting or Buying

  • Be comfortable with handle height and chute adjustment
  • Look for a “dead-man control,” a safety feature that stops the spinning auger and impeller when the handlebar grip is released
  • Check for a handle or joystick that controls the height and direction of snow throwing with ease
  • Ask about plug-in electric starting for gas-powered models, which is easier that using a pull cord
  • Consider a model with a headlight, if you need to work in the dark
  • Typically included with a snow blower is a clearing tool – a plastic stick used for safely clearing clogs
  • Ask about the choice of speeds, which can help prevent clogs through heavy snow

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with any snow removal project. Runyon Rental is a proud dealer of Honda snow blowers. Find all of our snow blowers for rent here or buy one here. For more information on snow blowers and snow removal, read our two blogs, “Be Sure You Have a Snow Blower this Winter – a True Must-Have Item” and “4 Cold Weather Basics: Your Guide to Snow Removal (Part 1)”.

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4 Cold Weather Basics: Winterizing Windows, Doors and Vents (Part 3)

How much heat is lost through windows, doors and vents in the winter? We’re here to help you navigate all the challenges of the season with the third of a four-part special edition on our blog, outlining the basics of cold weather preparedness. Today, we’re talking about winterizing windows, doors and vents.

Winterizing Your Doors, Windows and Vents1. TLC for Drafty Windows

Windows let the warm sunshine into a room, and can also let heat escape to the outside. Even triple-pane glass windows can benefit from a little winterizing. Install storm windows, if you have them, or you can create an efficient – and less expensive – solution using plastic sheeting designed to insulate windows. Properly installed, plastic sheeting creates a seal with the glass, keeping moisture out and preventing heat loss, while the smooth, almost invisible seal lets the light shine in.

Cut the plastic sheeting a few inches larger than each window. Apply the sheeting to the inside of clean windows, using double-sided tape to secure it to the window sill and the wall. Apply heat to the plastic with a hair dryer or heat gun until the sheeting shrinks against the window and creates the seal. Trim any excess plastic if needed.

2. Weather-Stripping for Windows & Doors

Experts say homeowners can save up to 15 percent on energy bills by weather-stripping windows and doors. You can find many types of weather stripping at your local home center such as foam tape, sponge rubber, vinyl tubing, silicone air barriers, felt and V-strip or tension seals. Good for both windows and doors, these types of weather stripping peel and stick, fasten with screws, press into place or come attached to a metal or wood mounting strip. Most attach to the tops and bottoms of doors and windows with ease, working as a barrier against the elements. The V-strip uses a tension seal created by its “V’ shape.

Door sweeps are attached to the bottom, interior side of a door and use a strip made from nylon, plastic or vinyl, or a sponge brush to fill the space between the floor and door.

3. Try Register Covers

One of most overlooked winterizing projects is to cover central air conditioning AC vents, or registers. They are essentially large holes in the ceiling where heat can escape right into the duct work. Cover the air conditioning ducts using magnetic ceiling register covers. If the register is made from aluminum, you can make a cover from plastic and attach it with Velcro strips or even thin weather stripping. When it comes to floors, keep cold at bay by close foundation vents and covering them with Styrofoam vent covers.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with the cold weather basics of winterizing your windows, doors and vents. For other installments in this series, check out the post about snow removal and the post about insulating your home. If you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Effectively Winterize Your Home With Lube-A-Boom®

Winterize Your Home With Lube-A-BoomMany homeowners are in the process of preparing their homes and yard equipment for winter. Winterizing not only protects their property from cold weather and storm damage, it helps to maintain it –extending the life of machine parts and blocking winter’s chill from entering living space, keeping families safer and investments more viable.

Indianapolis, IN-based LAB, LLC is the maker of Lube-A-Boom®, a line of lubricants that reduces friction and provides excellent corrosion and rust protection, which helps to give machine parts a longer life. Well-known in the lift industry for specialty lubricants used on cranes, forklifts, aerial lifts, telehandlers, telescoping booms, excavators, pins, bushings, bearings, wreckers and tow trucks, Lube-A-Boom products can also assist homeowners with residential winterizing – such as Lube-A-Boom® Clear.

Lube-A-Boom® Clear Heavy-Duty Silicone Lubricant is a multi-purpose aerosol spray that is safe to use on almost any kind of surface or component, helping them to slide, roll or rotate more easily and prevent squeaking. Once applied, it lubricates and penetrates, which extends the life of components and machinery. The lubricant leaves a clear, anti-corrosive film, which is impervious to water and prevents rust. Additional benefits include:

  • Multi-purpose
  • Safe on most surfaces
  • Reduces friction
  • Provides a clear film
  • Improves water resistance

Homeowners can use Lube-A-Boom Clear much like other silicone products, penetrating oil or water-displacing spray to let windows, doors and other house features move more smoothly or close tightly. It’s also great to use if you also want a clear, water-resistant layer left on the surface rather than a black, greasy residue.

Made in the USA. Founded in 2002 by Harley and Marilyn Wilson, the Lube-A-Boom company continues to be family-owned, manufacturing its products in the United States. The product line itself was conceived after Harley Wilson determined the industry simply needed a product that “was slicker, stayed on and lasted longer,” as well as produced according to his chemical specifications. After months of formulation, field and laboratory testing, Lube-A-Boom friction reducing lubricant had its first production run in July, 2003.

Now a staple in a number of equipment manufacturing operations as well as the U.S. Marine Corps, Lube-A-Boom performs beautifully in many different environments, including extreme heat in places like Iraq to extreme cold, in places like Iceland, and works exceptionally well in coastal regions all over the world because it has excellent water and salt water resistance.

Expert Advice:

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with all your wintering projects. We are an authorized dealer for Lube-A-Boom products. If you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How To Sand & Finish Your Wood Floor in 3 Simple Steps

How To Sand  Finish Your Hardwood Floors

When it comes to refurbishing your hardwood floors so they look new again, a sander is your best friend. Actually, you’ve got a few new friends in the sander isle at your local rental store, because to sand a wood floor to perfection before finishing, you’ll likely need to use more than one kind of sander. Depending upon the condition of the floor, you’ll use a variety of sanding techniques, too.

For instance, if the floor is flat or new, plan to sand it up and down, following the grain of the floor boards. However, if the floor is uneven, painted or varnished, plan to sand it across the grain at a 45-degree angle to remove unwanted finish and avoid damaging the wood.

Step 1. Prepare for the Messy Job

Sanding involves dust, noise and mess – and it’s best to be prepared for it. A few precautionary measures you should take before beginning any sanding:

  • Wear a respiratory mask, ear protectors and other protective clothing
  • Prevent dust from spreading to other areas of the house by covering doors, windows and even air grills for duct work
  • Work in a well-ventilated area, opening windows if necessary
  • Prep the room and the floor by removing all furniture, draperies, base shoe molding, any protruding splinters or screw heads, nailing down any loose floorboards and sweeping the surface clean of debris

Step 2. Choose the Right Sander/s for Your Floor

Types & Function of Sanders
All sanders use sandpaper specially made for each type. It’s best to change the sandpaper as soon as it’s spent. It’s also critical to progress through sandpaper grits, from coarse and up, to remove finishes, flatten the wood and polish off any scratches. In addition, sweep or vacuum the floor clean between grit changes. Here’s a rundown of the types of sanders and their function:

Drum Sander – uses a rotating drum wrapped in sandpaper, which can be replaced by unscrewing the retaining strip, feeding a fresh sheet of sandpaper around the drum, then re-securing it. Drum sanders do the heavy-duty work of removing old paint and varnish with a continual application of sanding grit, producing a smooth finish. Start be sanding diagonally in one direction across the floor, changing direction for the next set of diagonal runs followed by a final run in the direction of the wood grain.

Orbital or Rotary Sander – uses a rotating sanding disk that produces the same smooth finish regardless of the direction of the wood grain or sanding runs, leaving no swirl marks. Best used for the first sanding of the floor rather than between coats of finish or paint.

Edging Sander – uses a disk of sandpaper to sand areas of floor that are close to the walls or baseboards. Usually hand-held, this specialty equipment is mounted on a big motor and includes a bag for collecting dust.

Corner Sander – uses a vibrating sandpaper head in a triangular shape that fits nicely in corners and other small spaces like under a radiator.

Buffer – uses a rotating sandpaper disk to screen, which blends the edge-sanded perimeter with the drum or orbital-sanded area, polishing out sanding scratches. Buffers also give a sanded floor a final buff or polish before finishing.

Step 3. Apply the Finishing Touches

Once the floor is sanded, screened and buffed to the desired smoothness, sweep and vacuum to remove any remaining dust or debris. Touch up any rough places with hand sanding. Wipe with a damp sponge and let dry.

Choose your finish and apply. Two coats of water-based varnish can be applied in as little as one day, with light hand-sanding between coats.

If your wood floors are scratched on the surface, you can clean and remove the scratches without having to sand down to bare wood. Find out how by reading our blog, Spruce up Your Wood Floors in Time for Winter Entertaining.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your sanding projects. From drum sanders to rotary sanders and everything in-between, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Increase the Energy Efficiency of Your Home by Insulating the Garage

How-To Insulate Your GarageA garage that’s attached to your home not only protects your cars, it serves as a multi-functional storage space and creative place, otherwise known as the Man Cave! It goes without saying that today’s American family needs to treat their garage just like any other important room in the house, insulating for energy efficiency, and more…

  • To keep it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer
  • To help control the temperature in rooms above the garage
  • To tinker or work on man cave projects in a comfortable environment
  • To cut down on noise pollution associated with power tools
  • To prevent potentially harmful gases or chemicals from entering living spaces
  • To create a safer living environment for your family

Types of Insulation for Your Garage

For garages where the walls have studs and no drywall, 15″ wide R13 fiberglass blanket insulation is the most common and cost efficient. However, blanket insulation comes in different widths to accommodate various studding and depth. Rock wool insulation is made from volcanic rock and used for fire prevention, which is good for the garage wall that’s attached to your home. Loose-fill and sprayed foam insulation are easier to install in walls that already have drywall installed.

Based on your local climate, the effectiveness of insulation is determined by an R-value, which measures the resistance of the insulation to heat flow. A higher R-value or number means a greater ability to insulate. Consult a hardware center specialist for the best garage R-value in your area.

Like most rooms in the house, it’s a good idea to insulate garage walls and the attic, if your garage has one, as well as air sealing the wall cavities between the garage and walls directly connected to the living spaces, caulking windows and running weather stripping along the garage door. Here’s a checklist:

  • Look for any obvious holes, gaps and cracks in garage walls and seal them with spray foam. Remember to check around electrical wires and plumbing fixtures and plug with spray foam or silicone caulk.
  • To avoid any fumes from seeping underneath the walls into the house, run a bead of silicone caulk along the bottom of the wall that’s attached to your home.
  • When insulating the garage wall that’s attached to your home, place fiberglass blanket insulation so the kraft facing, or vapor retarder, is facing inward toward the living spaces, with the fuzzy stuff exposed to the garage space.
  • For all other garage walls, install the fiberglass blanket with vapor retarder facing out, into the room.
  • If the walls in your garage already have drywall installed, blow in loose-fill fiberglass or cellulose insulation by hose through a hole you cut into the drywall.
  • Insulate a garage attic like you would any other attic in your home. For more on this, read our blog post, How to Effectively and Easily Insulate Your Attic
  • Cover and protect blanket insulation with 2×4’s, plywood or drywall
    • Nail 2×4’s over the top of blanket insulation between the studs in a secure pattern,
    • Or, secure plywood to the walls using screws with the A-grade side facing out,
    • Or drywall can be used in place of plywood; tape and mud as necessary.
    • For loose-fill and spray foam insulation, repair the access hole in the drywall.
  • Measure the space between the garage door and concrete floor, then cut a piece of weather stripping to fill the gap, securing the weather stripping to the door with glue and screws.
  • Caulk around the outside of the garage door, using silicone bead.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next winterizing project. From safety glasses and gloves to insulation vacuums and blowers, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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12 of Our Favorite Woodworking Tips and Tricks

12 woodworking tips & tricksWhen it comes to woodworking, there’s no greater relationship than that of a carpenter and his (or her) saw. After all, a woodworker relies most on cutting machines to create works of art out of wood — even if it’s just a window frame. Woodworkers are always ready to try new ways of working faster and smarter in the shop. Great advice, tips and tricks on sawing are readily available, too. Below are 12 important ones to keep in mind during your next wood project.

  1. To crosscut safely, clamp a one-inch block of wood to the fence of your table saw before the blade, then make the cut length by setting the fence scale one-inch greater than the desired length. This way, the end of the board is free of the fence during and after the cut — and you can avoid getting a board kicked back directly at you.
  1. Stair gauges are an inexpensive way to make your own crosscut guide for circular saws. Usually used to lay out stair jacks, stair gauges are available at hardware stores or home centers and can be clamped on the same tongue of a carpenter’s square and used as notch markers. Make sure to clamp the square in place so it won’t slide around while you’re cutting.
  1. Use a drafting square for measuring accurate 2- to 3-foot squares. Drywall squares can be inaccurate and carpenter squares can be especially cumbersome because they have to be hooked onto the edge of the work piece. Drafting squares are accurate, as well as, inexpensive and can be as useful as a tape measure in the shop.
  1. If you’re always trying to find a level workspace, put your saw on a mobile base so it’s easy to move around the shop. Then find a convenient place for sawing where the floor is level and free of obstruction. Mark wheel positions on the floor with duct tape in a bright color. Now you can roll the saw to the same flat spot every time you saw. 
  1. To avoid staining wood with oozing glue along joints, clamp the pieces together using tape instead of glue. Lay the tape down on the joint, then cut the tape along the joint with a sharp blade. Separate the tape pieces, apply the glue and clamp them together again, so the glue oozes onto the tape, not the wood. Peel off the tape before the glue dries.
  1. When you have to cut, shape, file, sand or finish something small, reach for your hot glue gun and glue the piece to a pedestal stick instead of fumbling with a clamp. When you’re finished, gently pop the piece loose with a putty knife. If this doesn’t work, try sticking the work piece into the freezer for an hour or so, freezing the glue, which will usually give way with little force. A third option is to try a hair dryer or heat gun to warm the piece slowly and soften the glue for removal without scorching the wood or damaging the finish.
  1. Install saw blades so the teeth face forward, because hacksaws are designed to cut with a forward stroke. When you do a lot of cutting, the blade will heat up and expand, so check and make sure the blade is tight in the saw, tightening when needed so it won’t bend.
  1. To use your shop space economically, raise the base for your saw about 3-1/8 inches higher than the bench top, so you can slip a short length of a 4×4 under each end of your work piece for support. This way, you won’t have to devote space to a long support table and you won’t have to clear the entire bench to make a cut.
  1. Whenever you raise and lower your saw blade, save wear and tear on your saw table by taping a wooden stop-block to the column of your radial-arm saw about 1/8-inch below the surface of the table. The block prevents the blade from digging deep into the table.
  1. Build a hold-down for your radial-arm saw like those available for table saws and router tables by attaching two screw eyes to the saw’s fence about 8 inches to the right and left of the blade. Make the hold-down out of 3/4 x 3-inch stock at a length that’s equal the width from the fence to the front edge of the saw table. Fasten on a handle. Position a roundhead screw in the end of the hold-down so it sits flush with the thickness of the wood you’re cutting. Make sure the fence is securely anchored so it doesn’t pull up when you push down on the hold-down.
  1. Make your own reusable sanding blocks from scrap 3/4-inch plywood. Cut 2-1/2 x 4-3/4-inch blocks for each sandpaper grit you commonly use, spraying adhesive on both a square of cork tile and each block. Stick a block to the cork and cut the cork flush with a utility knife. Spray the adhesive on a sheet of sandpaper and stick it on each block cork side down, cutting the sandpaper flush with the cork. Label each block. 
  1. Stack your table saw or circular saw blades for storage or transport using plastic coffee can lids as spacers instead of cutting them out of hardboard or plywood. Spacers help prevent the carbide teeth from chipping each other. The lids of three-pound cans work great; simply bore a hole the size of your saw’s arbor in the center and place them between your blades.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next woodworking project. From wood saws to clamps and blades, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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7 Best Practices for Keeping Your Work Site Safe

7 Job Site Safety Best PracticesWhether you’re preparing for a heavy construction job or a home yard project, one of the most important tasks you have in front of you is making sure that the work environment is safe. This includes the work site itself, the surrounding area and your workers. Even with safety precautions fully in place, people can still get injured, but dangerous work zone conditions, putting the public at risk and injuries are less likely if you follow these seven best practices.

  1. Walk through your work site to identify any situations that could be considered unsafe, writing down the details and potential solutions. Bring this list with you to your rental supply company – the folks there should be able to help you alleviate workplace hazards.
  1. Identify any potentially hazardous chemicals or materials at the work site. Label and store these materials in proper containers, placing them in a safe location. Include a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and post handling precautions close by.
  2. Inspect all tools and equipment, including those that are rented, making sure they are working properly. Do not operate any faulty machinery until repairs are made.
  1. Train all personnel, not only in operating procedures, but work site safety. Include proper lifting techniques, specific tool operation, how to get on and off machinery, where to get rid of rubbish or demo materials, etc.
  1. Every worker needs to be using personal protective equipment such as hard hats, safety goggles, work boots and gloves, earplugs, face masks and other forms of protection. Workers should use harnesses and other safety equipment for roof work or working on scaffolds.
  1. Prepare for emergencies. All site workers should know what to do in case of injuries, electrical, mechanical or power failures and potentially dangerous weather.
  1. Protect the public during working hours from the rigors of heavy construction or worksite dangers with barricades such as construction signs, construction cones, safety barricades, crowd control fences or flashing safety lights. Site workers should direct traffic using standardized stop signs. After hours, protect ongoing work areas or holes with street plates and lock down all entrances to the work zone.

One regulatory note: Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace, including keeping it free of serious recognized hazards. If you own a company or are in business for yourself, it is your responsibility to comply with and enforce all Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. Follow all recommendations and mandates from occupational health and safety inspectors. OSHA’s Law and Regulations are easily accessible online.

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How to Choose the Right Drill for the Job

The drill is an essential part of any do-it-yourselfer’s toolkit. Drills are versatile beyond a doubt, with reliable design, adapting to functional improvements such as keyless chucks, the addition of work lights and the subtraction of cords and weight. For most everyday jobs like drilling holes and driving screws, it’s the workhorse of the work bench.

Special Jobs Benefit from Specialized Drills

For some special jobs however, drill manufacturers have come up with specialized models that handle specific tasks more efficiently than the traditional drill. You may not need to include one in your home workshop though, as they’re readily available for rent. Here’s a look at the differences between impact drivers, hammer drills and rotary drills.

Choosing the Right Specialized Drill for the Job

1. The Impact Driver

The impact driver is smaller than a regular drill, with a hex socket in place of the chuck. It only works with bits that have a hex shaft. This drill not only grips the drill bit, but it applies torque automatically when needed to spin the bit, resulting in better control.

Ideal for…

  • Driving very long screws with little effort
  • Driving screws for on-site cabinet installs and general construction work
  • Making DIY projects easier

Because of its powerful torque, impact drivers are generally not appropriate for use with fine woodwork or brass hardware.

2. The Hammer Drill

The hammer drill looks and works like a regular drill, using a clutch to hammer a punch. However, in addition to drilling, the hammer drill hits the surface thousands of times per minute, with torque similar to a jackhammer to make the work faster and easier. Hammer drills also include a lock that stops the hammering, while drilling continues.

Ideal for…

  • Driving screws though concrete and other masonry
  • Driving screws through softer materials that do not require as much power as a rotary drill (see below)

3. The Rotary Drill

The rotary drill is a more powerful type of hammer drill that moves the hammer in a circular motion, making it a better choice for jobs with harder materials. The rotary drill is powered by a piston, which puts more force behind its punch, allowing it to work faster and bore bigger holes than a hammer drill.

Ideal for…

  • Drilling or boring holes into a surface
  • Drilling into masonry, stone, concrete and metal
  • Larger jobs that benefit from using a hammer drill

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next construction project. If you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store – we’re open seven days a week. Ask us about our full line of regular and specialized drills available for rent!

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Easy Bush Removal Takes Planning and a Few Power Tools

Remove Unwanted Bushes in 5 Easy Steps

Seasonal maintenance or an update to a mature landscape could mean removing overgrown, diseased or unwanted shrubs and bushes from your yard. You can do it yourself, with a little planning and a few power tools. Here are Runyon Rental’s easy-to-follow instructions:

Step 1. Survey the situation. Look around each bush for bird nests. Schedule the removal after hatchlings leave. Make sure the bush is not a protected species. If it is, you may be obligated to follow certain removal procedures or transplant to an appropriate site. And last but not least, know where utility or sprinkler lines are buried before digging into them. Call your local utility company for this specific information.

Step 2. Choose your tools. Depending on the size of the removal job, you can start with a heavy spade-type shovel, manual hedge clippers and a large wheelbarrow to get it done. To save yourself some sweat, consider renting a power hedge trimmer, a chainsaw, a stump cutter and even a wood chipper, for easier cleanup.

Step 3. Cut down to size. Cut each bush to a manageable size, removing branches first, and cutting the trunk into manageable pieces that fit into the wood chipper. If you’re going the manual removal route, leave enough of a stump above the ground to get a good hold on it. Otherwise, cut the bush down to the ground.

Step 4. Remove the stump and roots. Especially if the bush is diseased, get rid of the stump and the roots with a stump cutter. Most of the roots can be pulled from the ground manually. If you’re working without a stump cutter, dig a trench around the stump and start breaking it down by cutting through the roots and throwing away any soil containing them, until one piece of the stump is left. Dig the shovel deep into the ground near the stump, moving it back and forth until the roots directly below the stump are cut. Then stick the shovel into the trench, angling it to the middle and push and lift. Repeat this procedure around the entire stump until you can lift it out with your hands.

Step 5. Fill the hole…with soil and continue with your new plan for the landscape. Throw wood chips on the compost pile or use as mulch.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next landscaping project. If you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store – we’re open seven days a week. If you plan to plant a new bush or tree, ask us about our tree spade rentals!

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How-to Tutorial: Stain Your Fence in 3 Simple Steps

Stain Your Fence in 3 Simple Steps

Staining and sealing a fence is a lot like staining and sealing your deck. In just three steps you can guarantee that its color and durability are maintained.

Step 1 – Prep the fence by clearing away any plants around the bottom and using a pressure washer to clean and remove tough residue.

Step 2 – Apply stain usinga hand-held paint sprayer for a consistent, uniform coat that goes on quickly. Fill the sprayer with the stain and spray it evenly from one end of the fence to the other in a steady, vertical pattern, overlapping each row.

Step 3 – For maximum protection, wait at least two days for the stain to dry. Then, seal the fence by applying sealer with a paintbrush or roller.

This is a very brief how-to, so if you would like more in-depth tips about staining outdoors, read this post about staining your deck. And as always, contact us or comment if you have additional questions!

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

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Replace Your Old, Damaged Mailbox in 5 Easy Steps

Replace Your Mailbox in 5 Easy StepsHas this spring’s snow melt revealed a mailbox that’s been pummeled by plows?

Now’s the time to add a little curb appeal to your home and replace that damaged mailbox with a new version, which not only meets federal regulations, but it’s stylish too. All you need are a few hours and some basic tools to check this outdoor improvement off your spring checklist.

Before you replace an existing mailbox or install one for the first time, keep in mind these federal regulations:

  • Install the mailbox about two feet in from the edge of the street, on the right-hand side as traveled by your mail carrier
  • Place the bottom of mailbox at a height of 42 inches from the ground
  • Clearly mark your house number on the mailbox with painted digits or stickers no less than one inch in height

5 Easy Steps for Replacing Your Mailbox

Once you’ve checked for underground utilities, you’re ready for the first step.

Step 1 – Dig the mailbox posthole using a post hole digger or a shovel, making sure it’s deep enough to set the post at the correct height, allowing for about 6 inches of gravel at the bottom.

Step 2 – Add gravel and prepare quick-setting concrete mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 3 – Set the post and fill the hole with the prepared concrete mix, tamping to eliminate air pockets and sloping around the base to allow for water runoff. Or, you can fill the hole to within a few inches of the top and conceal the concrete with soil after it sets.

Step 4 – Attach the mailbox to the post after it sets with attachment brackets that come with the new mailbox. Use the old brackets or purchase them separately. Use a level to check the mailbox and adjust as needed.

Step 5 – Label the side and the front of the box with your house number using stick-on digits or stencils and paint.

While you’re at it, take another step to improve your curb appeal by co-coordinating your mailbox numbers with your house numbers. For more ideas about how to prep your home, yard and garden for warm weather, visit our how-to page. If you have any questions about this process and the tools necessary, be sure to comment below or contact us on our website.

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

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Create Curb Appeal with Concrete Resurfacing

Repair Your Cracked and Eroded DrivewayToday’s the day for that do-it-yourself concrete repair project you’ve been meaning to accomplish for a while now: restoring your driveway, walkway and patio. The weather’s been cooperating all week long — there’s been no rain and temperatures are ranging between 70° and 75°F — which is not only great for your mood, but perfect for your concrete, which needs to maintain a surface temp of at least 50°F before you can repair those cracks or crumbles successfully.

No jackhammer needed. Unless your concrete has extremely wide cracking and an uneven surface, there’s no need to tear it out, repair the sub base and pour new concrete. The existing concrete can be restored to look like new with a little repair and resurfacing. Smaller cracks are relatively simple to fix, if you have these tools and products on hand:

*A quick note about power trowels: available for rent, this equipment comes with accessories for working out surface imperfections and creating a satin smooth concrete finish with ease. As always, let us know what questions you have, or if you need advice on which tools will help you effectively complete a project.

Small cracks up to a half-inch wide are the simplest to repair. Use a wire brush or chisel to scrape any debris from the crack, then spray or hose clean with water. A latex concrete patch can be injected with a caulking gun or troweled into the crack, leveled and smoothed out.

Tiny cracks up to a quarter of an inch wide should be worked with a chisel to widen slightly, enough to help hold the patch material in place. Spray the crack clean with water and let dry before applying a concrete adhesive, then a concrete patch compound. Level the patch with a trowel. Once any crack is filled, cover the repair with plastic and allow it to dry slowly before moving on to resurfacing.

If you plan to resurface your concrete, mask the expansion joints. These are the dividing areas of large slabs that help control cracking. Mask them with duct tape before applying a dressing. Mix the resurfacer with a portable mixer or electric drill fitted with a mixing paddle, pour it onto the clean slab and spread it out immediately with a trowel. Remember to texture the surface with a push broom, to create slip resistance.

Time is of the essence. Experts say is takes about one hour to resurface 60 square feet of concrete. If you use a polymer-based cement resurfacer, you’ve got less than 30 minutes to apply once water is mixed in, so prepare it in batches. The treated surface can be walked on after about two hours; wait six hours before driving a car onto a driveway. After 24 hours, protect the new surface with a clear, waterborne masonry sealer.

Learn more about restoring cracked and eroded surfaces from our blog post, The 7 Step Process to Restore Your Cracked and Eroded Driveways.

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

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It’s That Time of Year to Sharpen Your Blades and Chains

Sharpen your blades and chains this spring

Lawn mowers, trimmers and chain saws, oh my! When you open up your tool shed or garage for the first time this spring, this is probably what you’re looking at. And it feels great doesn’t it, getting ready for the new lawn mowing and yard-work season? Especially if you winterized your power tools last fall. If not, don’t worry – they are ready to be dusted off and spruced up. We know it!

Sharpening Blades and Chains

Keeping your blades and chains sharp is an important step in maintaining your power tools. A sharp blade and chain not only keep your equipment running smoothly, but they make yard work easier on you and your lawn. Not to mention, it’s much safer.

Sharpening blades and chains, and even replacing them, is not always the easiest do-it-yourself project. For one thing, it could require specialized tools. Both jobs use a file, and the lawn mower job may require a power grinder, blade balancer and precision. This is especially true when it comes to sharpening blades at proper angles. Care needs to be taken so the blade isn’t sharpened too much, or it will curl up as it gets dinged by pebbles and debris. Using coarse grit sandpaper for a quick sharpening will do in a pinch, but this method won’t smooth out any big nicks and dings in the blade.

The most precise way to sharpen a chain is by hand, using a file and a guide – if you have a lot of time that is. It also requires patience, especially when it comes to adjusting the height of depth gauges. Special equipment required would be an electric chain sharpener, which works as well as a new chain.

Since sharpening and replacing blades and chains are not as easily done at home, why not stop by our store so we can do it for you? Our in-house service department is full of pros! We offer a high degree of advice, expert instruction and in-store services that customers have come to expect. We carry thousands of tools, and our inventory is frequently updated. We even offer extended hours of operation, so lawn mowers, trimmers and chain saws can get serviced at your convenience. So come in and experience the Runyon Equipment Rental difference first hand!

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

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Repurpose Yard Debris for Next Year’s Stockpile of Firewood

Stockpile Yard Debris for FirewoodThe reports are in — the last six months have been the coldest for much of the country in the last 100 years. That’s quite a statistic, extending from mid-fall in October all the way through this record-breaking winter that continues to whiteout snowfall totals, in addition to low temps.

Is there still a chance to save a little money on heating costs this year, or save up for next? Perhaps… if you have a fireplace, an insert or wood-burning stove, and a lot of fallen wood in your yard from all those winter storms.

During typical stormy weather, howling wind will knock dead tree branches to the ground, wood that could already be seasoned and used for fuel. Here’s how to tell if wood is ready to burn:

  • Dry wood is lighter in weight
  • Bark is dark or gray or missing, wood is whitish on the inside
  • Appears dry when freshly cut; cracked if already split
  • When tapped together, dry wood makes a hollow sound; wet wood makes a thud sound

Fallen limbs and tree debris can come in large pieces, so you’ll need to cut it down to size. Once you’ve gathered the stash, use a chainsaw to chop up long slender branches and medium-sized chunks to a size that fits easily into your fireplace or wood stove. If an entire tree has fallen, remove smaller branches right at the site, then use a log splitter to cut up the bigger trunk. You’ll probably work up a bit of sweat doing this kind of yard work – and make a bit of a mess, too – but nothing needs to go to waste. Rent a wood chipper and make mulch from all the little pieces. Your garden will thank you later this spring!

If the fallen debris is wet wood, cut it up anyway and stack it for use next winter. Proper seasoning takes at least a year, more if the stack is covered with a tarp, slowing moisture evaporation. The best-burning wood has been seasoned for two to three years.

Tips for Fireplace Efficiency

An open fireplace is no more than 15 percent efficient, because a huge amount of heat is lost up the chimney. When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox or open the nearest window slightly and close the doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F. Here are a few more tips for increasing heating efficiency:

  1. stockpiled firewoodIf a fireplace is never used, plug and seal the chimney flue
  2. Keep fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning
  3. Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible
  4. Install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room
  5. Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room
  6. Add caulking around the fireplace hearth
  7. Install a fireplace insert or a wood-burning stove
    1. Placed partly into the fireplace, using the existing chimney to vent exhaust gases
    2. Placed in front of the fireplace (self-contained, free-standing units vented into the fireplace chimney)

Although it is finally warming up, and building a fire may not be as necessary anymore, why not use your yard debris for firewood and tinder next year? Stock pile it and then you have one less thing to worry about come October. If you have additional questions, contact us here. And, any other ideas for how to use yard debris? Share your ideas in the comment section below.

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, Gardening and Lawn Care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How to Repair Your Damaged Drywall in 9 Easy Steps

Drywall Repair in 9 Easy Steps[Restore & Renovate] This is the second installment of an informative series on making structural repairs to your home. Find the first here.

Drywall, also known as wallboard, plasterboard, gypsum board or sheetrock, is that durable, sensible material covering nearly every wall and ceiling in your home. It is prevalent in most rooms, including your finished garage or basement, and even the attic storage area. Drywall damage is relatively easy to fix using just a few tools and skills you’ve probably already mastered, such as sawing, drilling, sandpapering and painting. The trick is to repair and conceal holes and other damage so no one can tell. There’s the rub! However, if you learn the right way to repair holes in drywall, your walls will always look good as new.

What You’ll Need:

  • Drywall – for making repairs, buy a smaller amount such as 2′ x 2′ section, in the correct thickness for the repair. Most interior walls use ½-inch drywall; ceilings may use 5/8-inch.
  • Paper Tape or Mesh Tape – whatever your preference
  • Spackling or Wallboard Joint Compound
  • Backer Board – such as plywood to secure the new piece of drywall
  • Setting or Patching Compound (Mud) – a powder that you mix with water, which dries very hard with little shrinking. The compound is sold with different set times calculated in minutes, so choose one that works for you.
  • 100 Grit Sandpaper
  • Primer, Paint and Brushes

What To Do:

Adjust these steps to the size of the drywall damage.

1. Clean up the damaged area by brushing away pieces of paint or drywall and evening out the edges of the hole with a file or sandpaper.

2. Cut the hole into a square or rectangle using a drywall saw, so it’s easier to work a new piece of drywall in its place.

Good-to-know tip #1: Before cutting or drilling, be sure you won’t hit pipes or electrical wires inside the wall.

3. Attach a backer board such as plywood or a scrap board inside the hole using a drywall screw gun and screws in each corner, countersinking each one.

4. Cut a new piece of drywall that fits into the hole.

5. Cover the joints and edges with tape using a mud taping tool or by hand, or spread spackling compound with a putty knife.

Good to know tip #2: wash or wipe away excess compound between putty knife swipes to insure a cleaner patch job. Also, don’t let the knife cut into the drywall paper.

6. Mix a batch of setting compound and apply the first coat with a drywall knife. Use thin coats to eliminate a lot of sanding and mess. Once the first coat is set, continue applying compound, feathering out until the patch is as smooth as possible.

7. Sand the surface smooth using a drywall sander, removing any dimples or ridges.

Good-to-know tip #3: it’s better to use too much compound that not enough – you can always sand down smooth. Also, damp wiping is cleaner than sanding, but use sparingly and let the paper covering dry thoroughly before sanding.

Once all the components are dry:

8. Prime the area with primer because compound takes paint differently than drywall does.

9. Paint the patch using paint that is matched to the wall color.

Good luck with all your DIY in-home repairs – you’ll be glad you took the time! And as always, if you have questions or comments please utilize our section below or the contact us page on our website.

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

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Protect Your Home from Disaster: Inspect and Repair Pipes, Ducts and Vents

3 In-Home Repairs[Restore & Renovate] This is the first installment of an informative series on making structural repairs to your home.

Right about now, you may be thinking more about checking into a nice resort for a long weekend getaway rather than checking up on all the pipes and duct work in your house. But, in the middle of this stormy winter, it’s a good idea to take a look before you go, so the house is in perfect working order upon your return!

Pipes and ducts are your home’s veins and arteries, allowing water and air to flow where they’re needed, nourishing its life-space. With the extreme winter weather Central Indiana is experiencing, a DIY homeowner doesn’t want to take any chances with frozen water pipes that could burst, or energy-depleting leaks in furnace duct work or dryer vents so full of lint; they could start a fire. Below are a few ways to alleviate the stress, so your home can relax.

FROZEN WATER PIPES

The moment you notice that a water pipe is frozen, try to unfreeze it using a heat gun. If you turn on a faucet and nothing comes out, it’s an indication to act quickly. No matter what the pipes are made from, PVC plastic or copper – both kinds can freeze:

  • Where they’re not insulated
  • If located along an outside wall
  • Underneath a cabinet usually kept closed

What to Do:

  1. Locate the freeze. Feel along the pipe for cold spots.
  2. Open the hot water side of the faucet, if the hot water line is frozen, and vice versa. Opening the offending faucet can help to alleviate pressure in the line.
  3. Move the heat gun steadily along the pipe. Depending on where the frozen pipe is located, a hair dryer or a heater positioned closely can also do the trick.
  4. Leave the faucet open for several minutes when water begins to run again, to clear away any ice. Turn the water off and inspect for damage or leaks.
  5. In the case of a leak or burst pipe, shut the water off at the main valve.
  6. Patch the leak or hole, then replace the pipe.

Protect Your Pipes

  • Let Faucets Drip – before temps drop low, open faucets of pipes prone to freezing enough to let water drip slowly. The continuous flow is the best prevention.
  • Insulate – water pipe insulation is inexpensive and readily available at your local hardware or at your local home supply center. The round lengths can be cut to size and slipped over a pipe using a slit along one side.
  • Install Heat Tape – considerably more expensive than insulation, heat tape is wrapped around exposed pipes and plugged into a household outlet. Follow manufacturer’s instructions.

FURNACE DUCT REPAIRS

The furnace, the thermostat and the duct system – together, they deliver heat throughout your house, so you want them working at peak efficiency. Age and unnoticed damage can cause any one of these workhorses to stumble. You’ll most likely need to crawl under the house, but it will be worth it.

What to Do:

1. Conduct an inspection, either by yourself, or hire a licensed HVAC contractor to do it for you. Turn the furnace on, so air can move through the ducts, making it easier to hear and feel any leaks. Bring a powerful, cordless light and follow each duct passage from the furnace to its end. Mark any areas needing repair with flagging tape, so you can find them easily later on.

  1. Look and feel for loose joints, gaps in fittings or duct boots.
  2. Note where support straps are missing or sagging, which impede airflow.
  3. Find areas where insulation is missing and where the ducts are resting directly on the ground, which can also cause moisture-related problems.
  4. Inspect the large sheet-metal box attached to the top or bottom of the furnace where the ducts originate, called the plenum. Make sure it’s fully insulated and all ducts are well sealed at the connection points.

2. Make repairs. A basic repair kit includes a hammer, tin snips, utility knife, cordless drill, some short sheet-metal screws, a roll of metallic foil duct repair tape and duct strapping.

  1. Repair loose joints in solid sheet metal ducting using sheet-metal screws, then seal with foil tape. Flexible ducts typically use a clamp system to secure joints. Sometimes the original clamp can be reused; otherwise, use a large worm-drive or flexible plastic clamp to secure, re-wrap insulation and seal.
  2. Attach duck strapping to a solid support using nails or screws, and secure the ducts up off the ground.

3. Insulate the ducts using R-8 or R-11 insulation – in cold climates as well as warm, so heated and air-conditioned air is not lost.

DRYER VENT CLEANING

While you keep up with your family’s endless laundry, lint keeps building up in your dryer and venting. Just cleaning out the lint filter before every load simply isn’t enough to alleviate this condition, dangerous enough to start a fire, or worse. Experts say a full load of wet clothes contains about a half gallon of water. Lint is created from the clothes as water is removed during the drying process. This lint builds up deep down inside the lint filter trap and all along the dryer vent hose. Warning signs of danger include:

  • Clothes take longer and longer to dry
  • Clothes don’t fully dry
  • Clothes are hotter than normal at the end of the drying cycle
  • The dryer exterior gets very hot
  • Low exhaust velocity is apparent outside at the exhaust vent flapper
  • The laundry room gets very humid or a burnt smell is evident

What to Do:

The best defense is a good cleaning of the entire dryer/vent hose/venting system, and for this you may want to purchase a special dryer duct cleaning kit, which includes a set of brushes made especially for this type of cleaning. However, a good vacuum and attachments, along with some cleaning brushes can work in a pinch. Try using a long handle 20″ gong brush or long handled scrub brush.

  1. Unplug the dryer and pull it away from the wall.
  2. Remove the lint trap filter, remove the screen by pulling it straight out and clean it gently with a fine bristled brush.
  3. Vacuum the lint trap-housing cavity, where the filter goes. Extend a brush with a long flexible handle all the way into the bottom of the cavity. Then, twisting gently, pull out the brush with the clumps of lint. Repeat until no more lint is revealed.
  4. Disconnect sections of dryer vent and remove lint build-up on the sides with a stiff brush at the end of an extender using circular motion. Repeat on all vent sections, until they are free of lint.
  5. Reassemble dryer ducting, plug in the dryer, move it back in place and replace the lint trap filter.

Good luck with all your DIY in-home repairs – you’ll be glad you took the time! And as always, if you have questions or comments please utilize our section below or the contact us page on our website.

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

Categories: How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fix Winter Damage to Shingles Now and Avoid Costly Repairs in the Spring

How is your roof holding up during this crazy winter season? Especially in colder climates like ours, roof damage can occur easily from stormy weather and extreme temperature changes. Your shingles are going to take the brunt of wind, snow, ice, even rain – sometimes, all in one day! So don’t wait until you see water stains inside on the living room ceiling before you investigate if your roof is safe, sound and stress-free. When you know what certain weather conditions can cause, you can determine what preventative measures or repairs you may need to get done, and pronto. This means you can improve your property in the spring, instead of spending time and money on costly repairs that are too far gone for DIY repair. Below are three major causes of roof damage and the steps you can take now to prevent extensive issues.

Clear Your Roof of Snow1. Extremely Heavy Snowfall.  Piling snow adds extra weight on the roof structure, and too much weight can cause the roof to sag, leak or worse.

  1. Choose the next good-weather day and clear snow from the roof. Bundle up, use a ladder to climb up and brush snow away with a broom or shovel. Like any debris, snow tends to collect in crevices and places where melting moisture can break down the shingles, or prevent water from flowing off the roof and into the gutter system.
  2. Check for leaks that may have already formed. Common places where roof leaks can start include flashing, chimneys and skylights. It’s also a good idea to check for moisture seepage inside, at the attic level.

Clear the Ice Off Your Roof2. Ice Buildup. Fluctuating temperatures can cause heavy ice on the roof to melt, re-freeze and accumulate, causing ice dams that prevent snow melt and water from draining down the gutters properly. This can result in shingle damage and more leaks.

  1. Break up ice dams with an ice pick or a shovel. Just as you would with snow, clear the roof of ice thoroughly. Applying ice melt can help.
  2. Clear the gutter system of ice too, making sure the entire system is in good condition and drains are unobstructed.
  3. Consider having the attic properly insulated and vented so heat from your home cannot escape through the roof, keeping it at a temperature that avoids conditions where ice damming occurs. Learn more about attic insulation here.

How to Repair Wind Shingle Damage3. Wind Storms. Relentless wind can cause shingles to crack, bruise, blister or simply blow away.

  1. Fix shingle damage immediately with the right tools. You’ll need new shingles, shingle nails, a hammer, a pry bar or shingle remover and protection for your hands and face.
  2. Loosen and pry away the remainder of a damaged shingle, including the nails (which may need to be cut with a hacksaw or utility knife). Fit and hammer a new shingle in place. Learn more about shingle replacement and repair here.

Good luck with all your DIY roof endeavors – you’ll be glad you took the time! And as always, if you have questions or comments please utilize our section below or the contact us page on our website.

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Quick and Easy In-Home Plumbing Repairs

There’s no better time than the New Year to make your home improvement dreams come true, especially for do-it-yourself homeowners. Not all improvement projects cater to your creativity, though. Consider a leaky faucet or a stopped-up toilet. These kinds of home repairs are not only necessary, but also nice to take care of, finally. So roll up your sleeves and find out how you can complete home maintenance and repairs yourself…and become a DIY star!

1. Fix a Leaky Faucet

It’s one of the most common household repairs, one that can save you money on utility bills and help you avoid wasting water. Most of the time, a leak starts because the washer has deteriorated.

What to Do:

  • Leaky FaucetShut off the water to the faucet by turning off the stop valves under the sink
  • Locate the screw that holds the faucet handle in place (back or side, under a metal or plastic cap)
  • Unscrew the handle with a screwdriver and remove it
  • Remove the packing nut with pliers
  • Unscrew the valve stem and remove it from the housing
  • Take out the screw that holds the washer in place
  • Remove the washer and examine it
    • Use the washer to help you locate a replacement, if it’s still intact
    • If the washer falls apart, check the valve-body for the washer size
    • Buy a replacement washer at your home improvement store or plumbing supplier
    • Install a new washer and reverse these steps to re-assemble the faucet

2. Fix a Stopped-Up Toilet

When a toilet backs up, the entire family can get stressed, but don’t panic! First, investigate what’s causing the clog. Chances are, some foreign object is stuck in the bowl. However, you have a couple options for unclogging the toilet.

The Easy Method:

  • Unclog Your ToiletPut on a pair of rubber gloves and try fishing the object out of the bowl with your hands
  • Wait for the extra water to drain, then pour a bucket of water into the bowl (this can dislodge whatever is causing the blockage)
  • Try using a plunger to clear the toilet
  • A plumbing snake or closet auger dislodges clogs by threading a coiled length of metal from the bowl down through the serpentine piping to free what’s trapped there
  • Another option is a compressed air or carbon dioxide sewer air cleaner, which uses stronger pressure than a standard plunger to suction out anything trapped in the piping

If all else fails, you can uninstall the toilet and get to a clog that way. Most toilets are relatively easy to remove from the floor.

A Little Extra Elbow Grease Required:

  • Toilets are heavy, so find a helper
  • Unbolt the tank from the bowl
  • Undo the bolts that attach the bowl to the floor and remove the wax collar
  • Remove the caulk around the base, use a sealant saw if needed
  • Carefully place the toilet onto a plastic tarp with cushioning underneath, to avoid cracking the toilet
  • Cover the drain opening to keep gas from escaping into the room
  • Upend the toilet and find that clog
  • Replace the wax collar before reinstalling the toilet and re-caulk

In the winter months it is especially important that your plumbing works properly, what with the chance of pipes freezing. So, fix your leaky faucet or clogged toilet now, before you have a bigger mess on your hands. These may not be the most glamorous fix-ups, but you’ll be happy after you take the time. Let us know if you have more questions about these issues, especially in regards to the tools you’ll need. Happy amateur plumbing!

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Spruce Up Your Wood Floors in Time for Winter Entertaining

Are you planning to host a huge Super Bowl party at your place this year? How about a Valentine’s Day soiree, February book club or a group binge-watch of Downton Abbey? If so, would you like to spruce up your floors first? Well, here’s the good news – you have more than enough time to refinish your floors and even install new flooring. If you start the project now that is…and, we can help!

Equipment, Materials and Time

Wood Flooring RenovationTo install a new floor you’re most likely looking at a weekend project. Add at least a week to the weekend project if you’re refinishing a floor. However, most of the equipment and materials you’ll need to get the job done efficiently are not stored in your garage. Tools like floor strippers, sanders, polishers, laminate floor staplers, tapping blocks or wood saws are available for rent, while a vacuum, hammers and a pry bar can come from your toolbox. You’ll probably want to spend a little time choosing laminate wood flooring and the foam cushioning recommended for the type of laminate floor that gets installed underneath. Then you’ll want to buy wood glue, sand paper, polyurethane finish, plywood and spacers from your local hardware store.

Once you get it all home, each project requires a bit of demo work before application, from removing all furniture from the room to sanding or buffing existing wood floors, to prying up old carpet, baseboards and flooring.

How to Install New Laminate Wood Flooring

Installing a “floating” floor, which is not directly attached to the subfloor, but uses padding in between, cuts down the sound and compensates for any irregularities in the floor.

  1. install laminate flooringAfter all the old material is stripped away, make sure what’s left is level with the floor in the adjoining room.
  2. Cut new plywood to size, then secure in place with wood glue and nails.
  3. Position a layer of foam padding on the plywood.
  4. Place the first row of floorboards against the wall with the grooved side to the outside, putting spacers between the boards and the wall, which allows for the wood to expand. Cut the floorboards to size as needed.
  5. Fit each board tightly together by tapping each board into place using a hammer and tapping block.
  6. Move out from the wall, fitting boards and tapping them into place until the entire floor is covered.
  7. Once the new wood flooring is in place, remove spacers.
  8. Replace the baseboard molding, covering the gap between floor and walls.
  9. Bring back the furniture.

How to Refinish Wood Floors

If your wood floors are scratched on the surface, you can clean and remove the scratches without having to sand down to bare wood. Here’s how:

  1. Clean the floor with a hardwood floor cleaner or mix your own (10 parts water to 1 part white vinegar).
  2. Wipe down the floor with a soft cloth.
  3. Hand sand any parts a buffer can’t reach, such as the perimeter of the room, with 180-grit sandpaper. Rub with the grain about five inches out from the baseboard, until the finish dulls.
  4. Put on a dust mask and lightly sand the rest of the floor with a buffer/polisher, sander or stripper in the direction of the grain, making sure to keep the machine moving at all times, covering every area.
  5. Let the dust settle for about 15 minutes, then vacuum it up using a soft-bottomed attachment, following each strip of flooring, then sweeping across them to get any powder that settled between the boards.
  6. After vacuuming, use a microfiber cloth to wipe the floor a final time, along the grain.

refinish your floorsNow you’re ready to refinish the floor by applying a fresh coat of finish. If you use a water-based polyurethane, you can apply a second coat in about three hours. If using an oil-based polyurethane, you’ll have to wait about eight hours for each coat to dry before adding another. Instead of using the finish straight from the packaging, it’s a good idea to remove any impurities by straining the finish through a cone filter into a clean plastic container before application. Also, cover your shoes with booties and your nose and mouth with a respirator.

Once a section of finish begins to dry, lap marks will appear. To guarantee a line-less finish, pour only as much finish as you can spread in a 10-minute time frame.

  1. Starting for a point that’s farthest from the exit door, brush a 3-inch-wide stripe beside the baseboard.
  2. Next, pour a 1-inch-wide stripe of finish in line with the wood grain.
  3. Using a long-handled roller with a ¼-inch nap cover, roll out the finish with the grain, then across it.
  4. Working quickly to keep a wet edge, overlap the finish with each pass, for 10 minutes.
  5. After the 10 minutes, brush more finish along the edge, then pour and roll for 10 more minutes until the floor is covered.
  6. Wait three hours before adding a second coat of finish.
  7. Wait about a week before replacing furniture.

To keep your floor looking as good as new, experts recommend a fresh coat of finish every two years. We carry a wide variety of the tools needed for installing or refinishing wood floors. If you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us.

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

Categories: How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stay Warm this Winter with Heaters Just Right for Your Home

Space HeaterWith the bone chilling temperatures this year, it isn’t a bad idea to think about investing in one, or even a few, portable heaters for indoor and outdoor use. If the power goes out, or with the wind chill well below freezing, an energy-saving and cost-effective way to ensure heat for you and your family is with portable heaters. Read on for more benefits of portable heaters and other essentials this winter season.

Here’s our short list of essentials every homeowner can use to survive the winter season with success:

  1. Portable Power Generator
  2. Snow Blower
  3. Outdoor and Indoor Heaters
  4. Ice Melt

In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of using portable heaters.

Maybe this is the year you’ll host that fabulous tailgate you’ve always wanted on Super Bowl Sunday – outside, right in the driveway! Or perhaps you really want to fix that old sports car you’ve got in the garage, only you think it’s too cold to work out there in winter. Either way, portable space heaters can keep you warm and comfortable, inside and out.

Inside, portable heaters can warm an un-heated room, one that’s not used often or a place where the main heating system needs extra help. In addition, you may save money on your energy bills with zone heating, an alternative to central heating. Instead of heating your whole house, heat only the rooms you spend time in. Space heaters are perfect for this type of heating because they’re portable, they’re generally efficient to run, they’re eco-friendly and they can keep you comfortable.

Patio HeaterOutside, there’s no reason to freeze your fingers and toes on a cold winter day. Portable heaters can be placed on a patio, a deck or a driveway to heat just that small area you’re using, like zone heating in a house. It’s a great way to get the party started!

Outdoor and indoor heaters run on electricity, propane, natural gas or kerosene, and work by circulating the air in a room (convection) or by using radiant heat, which warms things directly in its path. Newer models have all of the current safety features, including the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label. Choosing a heater with a thermostat allows you to control the heat and avoid wasting energy. Some heaters come with a tip-over safety switch, which automatically shuts off the heater if the unit is tipped over.

First, determine the size of the space that needs to be heated and whether or not you want to warm a personal space or the entire area:

  • Radiant heaters are good choice to heat a room or space for a few hours, and you stay within sight of the heater.
  • Convection heaters that use a heat transfer liquid are ideal for warming a personal space or small room, under desks in the office or in a bedroom. They use no fan, so they’re relatively silent. They’re also easy to maintain because the liquid inside never needs to be replaced.
  • Ceramic heaters use fan-forced air, are compact and good for heating spaces up to 150 square feet, like living rooms or bedrooms.
  • Infrared heaters produce heat quickly, are also quiet and very efficient for warming personal spaces.

Then, once you’ve decided which heater/s you need for your home, you know just where to find them. We carry a wide variety with many of these specifications, find them here. Also, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing, etc., don’t hesitate to contact us.

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, Featured Products | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Your First Winter Must-Have: A Portable Generator

To celebrate winter, which begins around noon EST on December 21, we’ve put together a short list of essentials every homeowner can use to survive the season with success:

  1. Portable generators
  2. Snow blower
  3. Outdoor and indoor heaters
  4. Ice melt

In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of the portable generator.

Portable GeneratorA generator’s primary function is to provide electrical energy. For homeowners, portable generators provide emergency power when the power to your house is interrupted, during ice storms, blizzards or an extreme natural disaster like a tornado, hurricane or flood. If you live at the end of the neighborhood power grid or in an area where the power is frequently intermittent, using a generator can help save your tech devices from any power surges, keep your pipes from freezing and food from spoiling – at least for short amount of time. People also use generators for recreational purposes, bringing one along while camping, RVing, tailgating or boating.

Generators can be engine-powered, meaning they burn gasoline, diesel or propane to generate electric power, or they can use an inverter that powers the generator from an automobile battery.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Generator

1. NOISE LEVEL. A running generator can make a lot of noise. It’s a good idea to check for any noise ordinances or restrictions in your area, especially at night. Most generators are labeled with a decibel rating. For every increase in 10 decibels, the noise level is 10 times more powerful. This means that a generator running at 70 decibels is 10 times as loud as a generator that runs at 60 decibels. However, some generators are built for quiet operation and are perfect for recreational use, so if you’re thinking about using a generator for tailgating, as well as, a source of emergency power, choose a quiet generator.

2. FUEL EFFICIENCY AND RUN TIME. Look for a generator that runs on the least amount of fuel for the longest amount of time.

3. QUALITY OF POWER. To avoid shut down or damage, consistent power output is much more preferable than any fluctuations in output, both for the generator and the appliances being powered. Inverter-type generators are ideal for sensitive electronics, such as computers. Also consider using a generator with voltage regulation that is automatic (AVR), digital (DAVR) or intelligent (iAVR). Runyon carries generators made by Honda with a patented CycloConverter technology that offers the benefits of an AVR-type generator, allowing cleaner power with less weight. Honda Super-Quiet EU generators use inverter technology.

4. SIZE AND EASE OF TRANSPORT. How do you plan on moving a generator and where will you store it? Many times, you’ll benefit from compact, lightweight generators that move easily on wheels.

Tips for Operation

  • Read the owner’s manual before operating your generator.
  • Always run your generator outside and keep house doors and windows closed.
  • Allow for plenty of space around the generator for proper ventilation. Do not enclose in a box or other casing. Operate the generator under an open, canopy-like structure instead.
  • Avoid using the generator in wet conditions, such as rain or snow, or near a pool or sprinkler system.
  • Place the generator on a firm, level, dry surface.
  • Never use stale or contaminated gasoline or an oil/gas mixture. Follow manufacturer recommendations.
  • Use heavy-duty extension cords that are specifically designed for outdoor use with the generator.
  • Do not plug the generator into a wall outlet, a practice known as “backfeeding.” This is extremely dangerous and presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer.
  • Run your generator at least once a month, so it’s ready for use when the power goes out.
  • Be sure to refuel when the engine is off and the generator is in a well-ventilated area.
  • Allow the generator to cool for 15 minutes before transporting or storing it.
  • Store your generator upright in a well-ventilated area.

Safety Considerations

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that portable generators can be very hazardous when installed or used improperly. Hazards may include damaged electrical systems, carbon monoxide poisoning, electrocution and fire. If you start to feel sick, dizzy or weak in your home while using a generator, get to fresh air immediately. Do not delay, because carbon monoxide from generators can kill you in minutes. Consider installing battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up on every level of your home.

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, Featured Products | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How to Efficiently and Easily Insulate Your Attic

A somewhat overlooked energy and heat cost-cutter is “adding insulation to your attic.” Central Indiana is known for harsh winters, and this year is no exception. By spending a little time and money re-insulating your attic this fall you will not only save on heating costs, but you’ll ensure a comfortable and happy home for the rest of the year.

Attic Insulation Installation

A few things to consider…

First and foremost, determine if you even need to re-insulate your attic. There are several key indicators:

  • Heating bills are significantly higher in the winter months than normal
  • Snow melts on-contact with your roof
  • Your A/C ran more than normal this past summer
  • Your rooms are drafty and uncomfortable
  • There are noticeable temperature changes in different parts of your house

You may also be able to tell by actually going up into the attic and inspecting the current insulation, doing a DIY attic audit if you will. An obvious tell-tale is how much insulation is in place, the condition (wet, soggy, molded), etc. Once you know for a fact that installing new insulation is a must, then you can move to the next step.

One of the first things you need to know prior to doing any insulating is what R-value your batts should have. For a colder, temperate climate like Indiana, R-49 is an accurate estimate. Make sure you ask your local hardware store or insulation supplier which value is best suited though, because a higher insulation level will prevent hot air from escaping via the attic during the next few winter months. And if you’re feeling ambitious, for more information on how to calculate your own insulation needs, visit this blog post.

After determining your R-value, you’ll need to gather equipment – the fun part! We recommend using both an insulation vacuum and an insulation blower. You can use both of these in lieu of simply laying down rolls of insulation, or you can use them all in conjunction. It really depends on your preference. Keep in mind however, that using an insulation vacuum and blower will cut your time in half, as opposed to putting it all in by hand. Other tools necessary:

Bundle up and get to work

Once you have all the insulation you need – per your supplier’s instructions or DIY determination, and the insulation vacuum and blower, you can begin insulating. First things first, remove your old insulation with an insulation vacuum. This machine makes quick work of wet or dry insulation and drywall chip removal. All you do is plug it in and start sucking up everything. Some of the bigger pieces of insulation you can grab and throw out by hand, or you can use the vac for everything, especially for smaller pieces in nooks and crannies.

A word of advice though, use bags to tarp off the vacuum port. Otherwise, it could catch fire from all the debris churned up at such a high volume. A little maintenance goes a long way!

After getting out all the old insulation, it’s time to install the new insulation. You can either lay down rolls between the ceiling joists and blow insulation over the top, or you can use an insulation blower to install it all. The beauty of using a blower is that it is durable and powerful enough to insulate the main sections of your attic, in addition to the smaller, hard-to-reach spots. It can also blow both types of insulation – cellulose or fiberglass. Strive for uniform, complete coverage. The better you insulation the entirety of the attic, the warmer and more efficiently your household will modulate temperature. After you finish installing the insulation, you may also want to go back over loose bits with the vacuum, so keep it handy.

And voila, another item you can mark off your checklist! If you would like more information on how to add insulation to your attic in a safe and energy-efficient way, refer to this Energy Star guide.  And as always, we are here to help! So please contact us with questions or use the comment section below.

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

Categories: Fall Checklist, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Winterize and Maintain Your Outdoor Power Equipment in 6 Simple Steps

It is probably a no-brainer that with the chilly weather setting in maintaining your outdoor power equipment is crucial, but here is your checklist all the same! Not only does winter mean you have a few months off from using outdoor equipment, but winterizing, repairing and storing your equipment ensures efficient use come spring when you can dig it all out again. There are some simple measures you can take to accomplish the task, so read up and then get to work marking “winterizing outdoor equipment” off your to-do list this weekend.

Winterize Your Outdoor EquipmentTools Needed:

  • Fuel stabilizer – to winterize the engine
  • Engine oil – to refill oil tank if low
  • Sponge or other scrubber – to clean the equipment
  • Air pump – to air up tires
  • Wrench – to tighten bolts

1. One of the most important things you can do for any outdoor equipment is winterizing it. Fuel stabilizer is your best friend in this step. Pour it into your fuel tank, top it off and then run the engine until the fuel runs out.

2. While you’re checking liquids, also make sure you have enough oil in each machine. Add more if the dipstick is below the suggested line.

3. Then, clean any air filters and other caked-on dirt or grime. It will be harder to clean your equipment if the dirt freezes on, not to mention dirt can really muck up performance once you use the equipment again.

4. Other check-ups: make sure all your bolts are tightened, tires are inflated, cords are in tact (not frayed) and spark plugs are disconnected.

5. Another key element of outdoor equipment maintenance is sharpening blades and chains. This is not as easily done at home, so stop by our store and we will do it for you!

6. Lastly, hang or store all your equipment inside. Inevitably, anything left outside may be damaged by snow, wind, hail, etc. Trimmers for instance are best suited hanging on a wall hook, while lawn mowers just need to be parked inside your garage or shed.

Maintaining your outdoor equipment for the winter months is really not a difficult task to accomplish, and when done properly it is well worth the time spent. So get out your lawn mower, weed eater, tiller, trimmer, hedge shears, chainsaw, etc. and get to work – you’ll be done in no time! If during the process you have any questions, please feel free to contact us – we are more than happy to help. And if you’re feeling ambitious after finishing these six steps, and would like other project ideas, find our checklist here.

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

Categories: Fall Checklist, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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