Restore and Renovate

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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Need Hot Water & Heat? Best Practices for Maintaining Your Systems

winterize hot water heater and furnaceIt is easy to forget about your hot water heater and heating system until they stop working. With a little preventative maintenance you can avoid impromptu cold showers and costly repair bills. Make sure to add draining your hot water heater and servicing your HVAC system to you winter preparations.

Flush your hot water heater once a year

Draining your hot water heater once a year will help keep that blessed hot water flowing. Sediment from minerals in the water, or sand and grit coming in through the municipal water lines, can settle at the bottom of the tank and hinder its efficiency. It will cause cracking and popping noises during the heating process. Flushing the tank will help extend its life.

How to drain your hot water heater:

  • Read the manufacturer recommended instructions on the side of the tank for your specific model
  • Turn water supply off
  • Turn off power – if you have a gas water heater, put it on the “pilot” setting, and if you have an electric tank make sure to turn it off at the circuit breaker
  • Let water cool overnight or use extreme caution when removing scalding water
  • Attach hose to drain valve at base of unit, extend hose outside house or into a bucket (use a good quality hose since hot water can cause worn hoses to leak)
  • Open a hot water tap in the house (preferably one on the floor above)
  • Open drain valve and drain some water into a bucket to determine the amount of sediment to be flushed out
  • Turn water supply on briefly to stir up remaining sediment, repeat until water draining out hose is clear
  • Close drain valve, refill tank, and turn on power/ gas to hot water heater (be sure to close the hot water tap you left open)
  • Check the valve opening at bottom of tank to make sure it is closed and there are no leaks

Extend the life of your furnace

The HVAC system in a home accounts for over 50% of total energy costs. Having your unit serviced before winter sets in will help to extend the furnace life, reduce energy bills and improve indoor air quality. The cost of a professionally done system tune-up will run between $70 -$100. Included in this service should be:

  • A check of all electrical connections
  • An examination the unit for fire hazards
  • A test for carbon monoxide leakage
  • An inspection and calibration of the thermostat
  • Lubrication of any moving parts
  • Inspection of the condensation drain to make sure it isn’t blocked

Beware of carbon monoxide leaks

Carbon monoxide leaks from a faulty furnace is dangerous. An estimated 500 people die and 15,000 are taken to the emergency room each year from exposure to this invisible gas. Symptoms are headaches, dizziness and nausea. Installing carbon monoxide and fire detectors in your home could help keep you and your family safe.

Change air filter every month

You can keep your HVAC running efficiently by changing the air filters once a month. It will keep the unit from overheating. Dirty filters worsen air quality and exacerbate allergies and asthma symptoms. Pet dander can also accumulate in dirty filters and spread allergens throughout your home.

Programmable thermostats really save

One way you can help extend the life of your unit (and lower heating bills) is to install a programmable thermostat. It can help save you up to 10% on your energy bills. By setting your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and higher in the summer, you can see a noticeable difference in your bills. Check with your power company to see if there are any rebates available for upgrading your thermostat.

A little preventative maintenance goes a long way

Waking up to a cold house or stepping into a cold shower is no one’s idea of a great way to start to the day. Draining your hot water heater, getting your HVAC serviced, and changing that dirty air filter can help you avoid unwanted repair bills. The goal is to stay warm this winter and with a little preventative maintenance you can do just that. For more helpful DIY tips check out our blog on preparing your home for winter.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your DIY winterizing projects. From wet/dry vacuums and garden hoses to heaters, 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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Winterize Your Pool and Sprinkler System in 10 Steps

winterize your pool and sprinkler systemWith the weather getting cooler, the first fall frost won’t be far behind. Your lawn is slowing its growth and your pool is likely doing nothing but collecting leaves. Winterizing your pool and sprinkler system should be at the top of your to-do list.

1. Drain Irrigation Lines

Shutting off the water to your sprinkler system is the first step. Your main shut-off valve should be located in your basement or crawlspace. There are three different methods for draining the lines:

  • Manual drain
  • Auto drain
  • Blowout

2. Blowing Out is Best

To insure that you have removed all the water from your pipes, blowing out the lines is the most effective. Determine what type of lines you have – black polyethylene pipes or white PVC piping. The type line you have will determine how much pressure you can use to remove the water.

3. Too Much Pressure = Damage

Polyethylene pipes can withstand up to 50 PSI (pounds per square inch) while PVC can take up to 80 PSI. You will need to check your air compressor’s rating before you start. Too much pressure in your lines and you can seriously damage your pipes and valves.

4. Watch for Flying Debris

Connect the air compressor to the mainline just after the backflow device. Always keep at least one control valve open to avoid damaging the system. Start with the furthest sprinkler location and blow-out each line. Be careful of flying debris coming out of your lines. Wear safety goggles and keep clear of the valve during a blowout.

5. Insulate Exposed Equipment

Besides blowing out the lines, make sure you protect any equipment that may be exposed to the elements. The backflow prevention device is usually located outside near the foundation. The “bonnet” and “poppet assembly” inside this device can freeze and burst, causing costly damage. Wrap it with insulation and cover with a plastic bag. Duct tape the bag shut to keep out moisture.

6. Remember the Controller

Don’t forget to address your automated controller. Put it into “rain” mode, which will allow the timer to continue to run (saving your programmed settings) but shut off all the valves. If your controller connects to a pump, you may want to disconnect the power to it. You will lose your settings but the pump motor will not burn out from continuous use.

7. Preparing Your Pool for Winter

Winterizing your pool is a definite must-do. Clean all the debris from around and out of the pool. It’s important to leave water in your pool. Without the weight of the water, frozen ground can expand and cause a pool to rise up, cracking it. Lower the water level just below the mouth of your skimmer.

8. Cover Pool for Safety

Make sure the water chemistry is balanced to protect against staining and etching. Add a winterizing chemical kit to the water to keep it clear of algae. Cover the pool to keep out debris, inspecting the cover for any tears. To keep water off of the cover (and children safe), you may want to invest in an automated pump. Store all of your pool equipment (ladders and slides) to protect them from harmful weather damage.

9. Winterization Plugs Keep Water Out

As with your irrigation system, you need to drain all plumbing lines associated with your pool. After blowing the water out of the pipes, seal the line on the pool end to keep water from getting back into it. Many pools come with plugs specifically for winterization.

10. Winterize Filter, Too

Don’t forget about your filter. There is a plug at the bottom that will allow water to drain out. Open the air relief valve if you have one. Put the multiport valve in the “closed” position and remove the pressure gauge. Cover any exposed equipment with insulation and a plastic bag to keep moisture out.

Winterizing your pool and irrigation system keeps you from experiencing the headaches of ruptured water pipes and costly repairs. While ice sculptures created by a burst pipe might appear beautiful, your wallet will not think it is so spectacular. Save your money for more important things like suntan lotion and a new pair of shades.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your DIY winterizing projects. From leaf blowers and wet/dry vacuums to air compressors, 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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Refresh Your Home with Interior, Exterior & Shutter Paint

DIY Home Refresher: Interior, Exterior and Shutter PaintingSummertime is often when we decide to spruce up our homes, and nothing can give your home’s exterior better curb appeal than a fresh coat of paint. Whether you decide to tackle the outside of your home or just an interior room that needs a makeover, painting is an easy DIY project.

Preparation Pays Off

There is only one word to remember in painting: “prep”. The key to any successful painting job, whether it is the exterior of your home or an accent wall in your den, is preparation. To achieve a professional paint project, follow a few key steps.

Prepping an Exterior Paint Job:

  • Pressure wash your house – Removing the dirt and debris will make sure the paint adheres correctly. Learn more about it in our blog, How to Pressure Wash Your Home’s Exterior for Paint.
  • Remove add-ons  Take down storm windows, screens, shutters, awnings, wall-mounted light fixtures and even downspouts.
  • Scrape loose paint – Remove cracking, peeling paint and sand smooth before painting. If paint is intact, don’t scrape to the bare wood.
  • Repair surface flaws – Use a repair compound that is rated for exterior use. Sand after it dries.
  • Remove old caulk – Re-caulk around door trim, windowsills and other areas with paintable exterior caulk.
  • Repair and re-putty windows – Remove old putty and apply new glazing. Let dry before painting. Don’t forget to check under eaves and doors for any damage that needs to be repaired.
  • Use drop cloths to protect flowerbeds and lawns – Gently tie up shrubs or small trees to keep them from rubbing up against wet paint.
  • Prime bare wood or anywhere repairs are made – The primer will help the paint adhere to the wood or newly repaired area. The primer you use depends on the paint you are going to use.

The average paint job on the exterior of a home can last from five to eight years if the proper preparations are done.

Why Not Paint the Shutters?

Since you have removed your storm windows, screens and shutters, now is the perfect time to repair or paint them. A paint sprayer makes an easy job of painting shutters. (Check out our blog post on Airless Sprayers to see how they can make quick work of your painting jobs.)

Here are a few guidelines for painting shutters with a paint sprayer:

  • Clean the shutters to remove grime and mildew.
  • Scrape off loose or flaking paint.
  • Lightly feather sand the shutters.
  • Prime any bare spots.
  • Starting with the back, paint all the shutters on the same side, let dry and then flip them over to paint the other side. This will keep the painting uniform.
  • Spray at a slight upward angle so that you can paint the upper portion of each slat.
  • Spray the entire face including the frame.
  • Use a dry brush to eliminate drips and runs.
  • Avoid drips and runs by painting two or three light coats rather than one heavy coat.
  • Paint the metal hinges that hold the shutters in place.

The Inside Scoop on Interior Painting

Painting the interior of your home is similar to what we’ve discussed for the exterior. Preparation is still the most important part. Though time consuming, prepping your walls the right way will give you professional results. Here are some steps for guaranteeing success:

  • Remove as much furniture as possible – Cover the remaining pieces with plastic to protect against accidental spills.
  • Clean the walls – After vacuuming or dusting, wipe them down with a damp cloth. When washing down kitchen walls, use a mixture of 3 tsp of laundry detergent to a gallon of warm water to eliminate grease build-up.
  • Tape trim, windows and door frames – No matter how steady your hands are they will get tired. Stay on the straight and narrow by putting blue painters tape down. Remove immediately after painting (before the paint dries) to avoid peeling off any with it.
  • Prime walls – Some say a wall with multiple coats of paint doesn’t need it. However, if you want a uniform look to your color choice, don’t take the chance – prime.
  • Use a brush where you can’t use a roller – Use a paint brush to get around trim and in the corners of walls.
  • Use the “W” technique – Paint a 3 x 3 foot “W” pattern on the wall and then fill it in without lifting the roller. It helps hide seams where you picked up the roller and put it back down.
  • Paint the trim – Once the walls are dry, tape where the walls meet the molding and door frames. Straight edges give you a crisp, professional look.

Find out more tips for painting the interiors in our blog, Painting Walls in Your Dream Home Made Easy.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your DIY painting projects. From pressure washers to paint sprayers, 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 Patch or Resurface Your Cracked & Spalled Concrete Driveway

How to Repair A Spall or Cracked DrivewayFor those of you with garages at the forefront of your home, it’s safe to say a cracked and spalled driveway completely dampens curb appeal. And with such bipolar Indiana weather, it’s no wonder freeze-thaw conditions contribute so much to this. Depending on the cause of concrete driveway failure, there are solutions and ways to prevent unwanted defects.

What’s Causing Your Driveway to Fail?

The first step in repairing your driveway, is to determine what is causing it to fail.

If it is a stabilization issue, then unfortunately resurfacing won’t permanently fix the issue. The reason being, that when the foundation under placed concrete starts to deteriorate, there is a void created, which results in the concrete cracking and falling more than the concrete around it. You could level out the concrete temporarily, but if the concrete underneath the patch moves, then inevitably the patch will move with it. In essence, the concrete can’t support itself and falls through. The only solution if this is the case is to tear the driveway out and pour completely new concrete at full depth.

On the other hand, if you have concrete cracks or spalls not caused by a foundation issue, then there are a few easy approaches for remedying them….read on….

Preventing or Patching Concrete Spalls

Many driveways have spalls. Freeze-thaw in the winter and summer creates pop-outs when concrete contracts, then expands. This phenomenon pops pieces of concrete loose (hence the name), which result in what are known as spalls. A way of preventing this is to keep water from penetrating into the concrete to begin with. Concrete sealer can assist with this – you can purchase sealer here.

For repairing spalls, the first step is to use a pressure washer for cleaning them out, then clean them up with a hand grinder and wire wheel. After all the debris and loose bits of concrete are removed from each spall, you can fill in the voids with Concrete Resurfacer. Keep in mind, the color may not match exactly, but it will do the trick.

Leveling Your Driveway and Filling-In Cracks

If your main issue is concrete cracks (not caused by stabilization issues mind you), then you can also use Concrete Resurfacer to level the surface of your driveway. However, this is only recommended for use on substrates with 1/8″ or less difference in depth. On anything 1/4″ or greater, you can use Skim Coat.

Expert Advice

Our goal is to assist with any repair tricks and tips to keep your home happy and healthy, so please let us know if you have additional questions about this process. We have an entire concrete division as well, so be sure to check out our Runyon Surface Prep website for the full line of products.

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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 Repair and Replace Window and Door Screens

How to Fix a Window or Door ScreenSpring fever is on the rise – Get ready to enjoy it!

Very soon now, the warmer, milder weather of spring will motivate us to open windows and doors and feel the fresh air. This goes for flies and insects, too – it doesn’t take much of a hole in a screen for them to fly right into your home. Now’s the time to make sure all of your screens are in good condition. What might you find?

  • Holes and punctures in the screen
  • Screens torn away from frames
  • Window, door or screen parts that are rusted, corroded or damaged
  • Screen windows and doors in perfect condition (do a little jig!)

Depending on the condition of your screen windows and doors, you may decide to buy new ones, which can be an expensive proposition especially if your screens are custom-made.

However, do-it-yourselfers are likely to decide on repairing or replacing screens themselves.

How to Repair a Screen

Repair small holes or tears in screens using a patch. Patches will look obvious, yet still do the job of keeping insects out of the house. You will need screen material that matches the original, scissors, a block of wood and a tape measure or ruler.

  1. Trim the hole of excess or damage.
  2. Cut a piece of screen two inches larger than the hole on all sides.
  3. Secure the patch to the outside of the original screen by lacing a piece of wire through completely. Twist the end of the wire around one section of the original screen to finish.
  4. Or, use about ½-inch of the wires on the edges of the patch on all four sides to secure it to the original screen. Bend the ends over a wood block or the ruler edge of a ruler to form prongs.
  5. Place the patch over the hole and push the prongs through the screen.
  6. Bend the prongs toward the center of the hole to secure the patch.

How to Replace a Screen

A less obvious repair job is to replace the entire screen. You will need screen wire fabric, screen staples or tacks, bedding strips or splines for metal frames, scissors, screwdriver and hammer. Metal or nylon screen fabric comes in rolls or large pieces, which is attached differently on wood or metal frames.

  1. Work with each frame on a smooth, flat surface.
  2. Remove the damaged screen from the door or window:
    1. Wood: To free the wire fabric, use a screwdriver to pry up moldings, then remove old staples, tacks and brads.
    2. Metal: Lift and pull the cut end of the bedding strip up and out.
  3. Measure and cut the replacement screen fabric on the grain.
    1. Wood: Cut the fabric 6 inches longer and 3 inches wider than the opening.
    2. Metal: Cut the fabric 3 inches larger than the opening on all sides.
  4. Position screen fabric on the frame. Make sure the grain of the screen fabric lines up parallel to the sides of the frame.
    1. Wood: The screen fabric should extend about 1 inch from the top opening and 1-½ inches from each side.
    2. Metal: The screen fabric should extend about 2 inches from the top opening and 2 inches from each side.
  5. Attach screen fabric to frame.
    1. Wood: Insert screen staples or tacks across the top of the frame every 2 inches. Stretch the screen fabric from top to bottom of the frame, and attach the fabric in same manner as for the top. Tack or staple the sides every 2 inches. Attach the fabric to the center rail last.
    2. Metal: With a screwdriver, seat the bedding strip and edge of the screen fabric into the metal channel. Push the bedding strip into the channel on top of the screen. Pull the screen fabric taut across the frame and secure the other side, then secure the top and bottom by pushing the wire fabric and bedding strip into the channel.
  6. Trim excess wire fabric with a sharp knife or scissors and remove.
  7. Attach molding or quarter rounds. Touch up wood frames with paint, if necessary. 

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with home repair projects. From power tools such as drills and hammers, saws, nailers and staplers, 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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When & How to Use a Shot Blaster for Surface Prep

Contec Shot BlasterShot blasting is a process used to remove built-up coatings, contaminants or impurities from surfaces by forcibly propelling an abrasive material against it to achieve a clean result. Often used to prepare a floor for further processing, such as the application of industrial flooring systems and epoxy coatings, shot blasters use the blasting material, or media, to smooth and shape a surface, as well as, roughen a smooth surface, depending on the size, shape and density of the media, the coverage of the blast and the angle of impact.

This type of abrasive blasting takes several forms, including bead blasting, soda blasting and sand blasting, and has seen effective use in industries like shipbuilding, automobile and metal manufacturing, foundry and welding, aviation and the production of tanks, silos, pipelines and chassis. A form of shot blasting is also used in the fashion industry, to roughen brand new denim for instance, giving it that well-worn patina.

The Difference Between Shot Blasting and Sand Blasting

Shot blasters use centrifugal force powered by a rotating wheel at high speed to shoot media made from steel, copper, nickel, glass, iron ore, even dry ice, ground walnut shells, or water, at the work surface. Whereas sand blasters use compressed air to shoot a high speed stream of abrasive sand at the work surface. Shot blasting does not generate dust like sand blasting, which has less impact on the environment, and can improve the fatigue strength of the surface. Sand blasting also improves the surface quality and mechanical performance.

Shot blasting is an ideal process for cleaning off thin coatings and paint from large spaces because it is dust-free and usually dry, the blasters provide an accurate blast pattern and a wide assortment of abrasive media is available and re-usable, all at a relatively moderate cost.

When using a shot blaster, protect yourself by wearing eye and ear protection, heavy boots, long pants and shirt. Turn the shot blaster on and adjust the pressure incrementally from the lowest setting, moving up to the highest speed as you test the area to be cleaned. Starting at the furthest corner of the work area, walk slowly with the machine in a linear motion across the surface, making several passes until the area is completely clean.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with renting or buying sand blasters and shot blasters. 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. For more information on shot blasting, read these two posts from our Runyon Service Prep blog: What Grinders, Scarifiers, Shot Blasters & Scabblers Can Do For You and Remove Residue Build-Up with 4 Proven Methods.

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How to Re-Finish Your Hardwood Floors to Perfection

Refinish Your Hardwood Floors to Perfection

Bringing a dull, scratched hardwood floor finish back to perfection used to mean sanding down to bare wood, but not always. A technique called screening takes off the worn top layer of coating, leaving the wood underneath ready for a new finish. It’s inexpensive, less risky and lets you do the work yourself without the hassle of hefty clean-up.

Screening is accomplished with the use of a floor polisher and clog-resistant sanding disks called screens. The weight of the polisher and its synthetic-wool pad hold the screen in place, but you don’t have to have a lot of strength or skill to use one. As long as the floor is not waxed and the wood underneath is not stained or damaged, the screens remove just the floor finish, such as
polyurethane. Then, you can re-finish the wood as you desire.

Steps for Screening

Step 1. Remove everything that collects dust from the room. Seal off doorways, duct registers and cabinet doors with plastic sheeting and masking tape. Open the windows if possible. Remove baseboard molding and put on a respirator.

Step 2. Prepare the screening disk by sanding it with a palm sander and 100-grit sandpaper. Use four screening grits, from rough to smooth (60-, 80-, 100- and 120-grit).

Step 3. Fit the floor polisher with the first screening pad and begin screening the floor, just like you would to sand it. Use the palm sander or sanding pad and sandpaper to get into corners and edges.

Step 4. When the screening is complete, wipe down walls and vacuum dust up from all surfaces. Use a tack cloth to pick up any remaining dust on the floor.

Tips for Sanding Floors

If the floor is waxed, stained or damaged, sand the floor down to the base wood using a drum sander and edger.

  • Keep the sander moving, so it doesn’t dig into the wood or leave a noticeable swale
  • Move at a steady, even pace, sanding away a uniform amount of top coat and wood
  • An edger will fit into many corners, but not all, so use the palm sander

Finish the Floor

The most popular and readily available floor finish is polyurethane, because it’s tough and resistant to constant foot traffic. Choose an oil-based or water-based polyurethane depending on the effect you want to achieve. Oil-based polyurethane dries slowly, is relatively smelly and turns a light amber color with age, while water-based dries quickly, emits no odor and remains clear. With both types of polyurethane, apply at least two coats along the grain of the wood. For the smoothest finish, use a pole sander to sand lightly between each coat using 100-grit sandpaper, leaving the last coat shiny, which will last for years. Polyurethane finished floors can also be waxed and buffed.

To add a different color to a floor rather than the natural wood color, use a penetrating hardwood floor stain before finishing with polyurethane. Apply the stain along the grain of the wood with a rag or paint roller directly to the screened or sanded floor as evenly as possible.

Allow the stain to dry before finishing with several coats of polyurethane – again, sanding lightly between coats.

Penetrating oils and sealers like linseed oil, soak into the wood and the floor will require a wax for protection. Apply directly to the screened or sanded wood surface. Occasionally, wax is used as the only floor finish. Make spot repairs on wax floors by rubbing lightly with steel wool, then applying more wax and buffing.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your floor refinishing projects. If you have any questions about how to choose floor polisher or floor sander, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Check our recent blog post, How To Sand & Finish Your Wood Floor in 3 Simple Steps, for more helpful information. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How to Clean Up Yard Debris After a Winter Storm in 3 Steps

How to Clean Up Yard Debris with a Log SplitterNo matter where you live in the U.S., this year’s winter storm season is proving to be a ferocious one. Extreme winds, blinding rain, heavy snow and dangerous ice can not only snap branches and send them hurling all over the yard, these conditions can uproot established trees and topple them to the ground. After the storm, the best approach is immediate clean-up, for the safety of your family and your home.

1. Survey the Damage

When the skies clear, walk around your property to survey the damage. Depending on what you find, you may need special equipment to help clean it all up. In addition to a chain saw, a log splitterstump cutter or grinder can help cut yard debris down to a manageable size for recycling, or even reuse.

2. Choose Helpful Tools

If your yard is full of tree branches and plant debris or smaller downed trees, you can cut up larger tree trunks with the chain saw, gather it all, string together with heavy twine and leave it all at the side of the road for recycling pick-up.

A log splitter will cut larger tree trunks into logs, splitting them for use as firewood. Less physically challenging than splitting trees with an ax, the log splitter uses hydraulics to split the wood easily. The engine uses gas or electricity to power hydraulic oil through the machine. Once a log is placed securely in the cutting wedge, a piston is triggered to apply intense pressure for the wedge to split the log. A manual log splitter also uses hydraulics to split wood down to fireplace size.

If a large tree has cracked or has split into pieces or has been uprooted, use a chain saw to cut it down to smaller size. Use the log splitter if you want to make firewood, or package twigs and branches for recycling. When it comes to removing the tree stump, however – renting a stump cutter or grinder is your best bet for efficient clean-up after a storm.

3. Remove a Tree Stump (step-by-step)

  1. After the tree is cut down to the ground, start by digging out the snow, ice, rocks and soil around the remaining stump manually with a shovel.
  2. Position the stump cutter close enough so the cutting wheel fits right above the center of the stump.
  3. Turn on the equipment so the cutting wheel starts to spin, then lower it directly onto the stump.
  4. Swing the cutting wheel from side to side as it slowly cuts down into the wood. Lower the cutting wheel inch by inch, until it has removed the stump to just below the surface.
  5. Raise the cutting wheel, adjust the machine as necessary, lower the cutting wheel and continue to grind down the entire stump until the wood has been removed at least six inches under the ground.
  6. Fill the remaining hole with topsoil. Spread grass seed if desired.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with yard clean-up. From chain saws to log splitters and stump cutters, 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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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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4 Cold Weather Basics: Insulating Your Home (Part 2)

Cold Weather Basics Part 2 - Home InsulationProtect your home from winter’s wrath! We’re here to help you navigate all the challenges of the season with the second of a four-part special edition on our blog, outlining the basics of cold weather preparedness. Today, we’re talking insulation.

Winterizing your home with insulation is one of the most economical – and efficient – ways to save energy, keeping you and your family warm and toasty. In addition to caulking, weather-stripping and installing storm windows and doors (or covering them with plastic), adding insulation to walls and attics (even floors, basements, garages, barns, sheds or any place that provides shelter for your family and pets, livestock and equipment) can make a difference keeping warm air in and cold air out.

1. Twelve to 15 inches of roll insulation in your attic is one of the easiest ways to achieve insulation protection. Do-it-yourself insulating is simplified when you use an insulation vacuum and blower, which blow insulating foam into the area.

For more information on how to insulate your attic, read this blog post.

2. Consider closing off the attic using a sheet of plywood to cover the opening. To cut down on cold air leaking into the living space, create an airtight seal by attaching foam insulation pads to the back of the attic door and applying foam weather stripping tape around it, just as you would any other door. You can also install an insulated attic tent that fits over the pull-down stairs (if applicable).

3. Insulate pipes to keep them from freezing. Insulating hot water pipes will help decrease the cost of hot water, too. Cut pre-slit high R-value pipe foam to size and fasten it in pace with duct tape. Take it up a notch by wrapping (or re-wrapping) your hot water tank, using an insulation blanket and securing it tightly around the tank (tankless water heaters do not need this precaution). Seal air ducts in your attic and basement using a roll of HVAC foil tape, available at home centers. Simply wrap the tape around joints and secure.

4. One place you may not think about is your light switches and outlets. These holes in the wall are usually covered with thin plastic covers that probably provide little protection against cold air leaking into the living space. Install pre-cut foam gaskets underneath your light switch and outlet covers, which will act like weather stripping in the smallest places. Hey, every little bit counts!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with the cold weather basics of insulating your home. For the first installment in this series, check out the first post about snow removal. From insulation equipment, accessories 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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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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Part 1. Essential Yard Tools for Your Fall Maintenance Checklist

Fall is not surprisingly one of the biggest times of year to clean up your yard, which includes maintenance of trees and branches. With winter just around the corner, for those lucky enough to have a wood-burning fireplace, that means dead limbs make the perfect source of fuel, not to mention being ideal for fall mulching. That said, it seems to us that five fall maintenance tools tend to be most popular, and thus incredibly helpful. Read on to find out which and why.

5 Essential Fall Tools

1. Wood Chipper: Besides making mulch, wood chips can be used for several other purposes. A brilliant use of wood chips would be as fuel. It is a good source of biomass fuel, making it environment friendly, as well as energy efficient. If you are using it in your homes, you could use the chips in place of firewood. They can be lit up in much the same way and you can add bigger quantities of the chips to ensure your fire burns for a longer time.

Another interesting use of wood chips is for decoration. A large number of interior designers are now incorporating them into their designs to create wood chip paintings, murals and even furniture, which can be done by mixing other organic substances with it.

2. Stump Cutter: Now is also an ideal time to consider which rotten old trees to cut down, and with that, any old stumps from trees you’ve already cut. Stump cutters provide an easy and efficient method for shaving down old tree stumps – essentially grinding them down to dust. Getting rid of old tree stumps makes a huge difference on your lawn’s appearance and the overall health.

3. Log Splitter: Speaking of chopping down old, rotting, unwanted trees, once you yell timber, you’re left with some large tree trunks to clean up. And what better way of eliminating that mess, but to split them into firewood? Then you can start your winter stockpile. Log splitters may seem fairly hefty, but they are strong and reliable, so if you rented one you could finish all your log splitting in a day.

4. Post Hole Digger: In addition to chopping down trees, fall is also the perfect time to consider planting new trees, such as oaks and evergreens. However, you’ll want to get started on this sooner rather than later, meaning you’ll need a post hole digger to make room for your tree’s roots to grow down deep. Read this post to learn how to plant new trees.

A post hole digger is also the ideal tool for replacing old, rotten fence posts or deck/porch posts that need reinforced. You can rent a heavy-duty auger for either of these tasks, a post hole digger that attaches to a dingo or a simple handheld post hole digger.

5. Tree Pruner: Lastly, tree pruning is a popular to-do for this time of year. With all this arbor talk, it goes without saying that trees still alive and kicking probably need a good trim to prepare their healthy branches for the harsh winter weather fast approaching. For a few pruning tips, check out this post: How to Hedge and Trim Your Garden Greens.

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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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3 More Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Getting your home ready for winter’s weather is a priority for most homeowners, especially in the fall, before the cold stuff starts to fly. We’ve put together three more ways to protect your home and property – then you can cross “winterizing” off your to-do list. Don’t delay!

3 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter

1. Tune-Up Your Home Heating System

In addition to preparing your home to keep heat in for the winter (consider linking to part 1 of this blog series), keeping your furnace and other heating equipment clean and in good running condition, helps ensure proper heat output, reducing energy use and heating costs.

  • Check if your utility company offers free or discounted annual checkups of your home’s heating system by qualified technicians, and call early to avoid the rush. Another resource to try is furnace manufacturers or dealers that offer free or discounted inspections.
  • If your furnace needs a new part, by all means get it replaced now – it will not only save your money, but perhaps a little heartache, if the furnace decides to poop out during a winter storm. Plus it’s a lot more cost efficient to replace a part rather than replace the entire furnace.
  • Consider upgrading to a new energy efficient furnace to not only save money, but also increase the value of your home. Typically you’ll save 50% or more and you could qualify for federal tax credit.
  • Clean or replace furnace filters now before the heating season begins and once a month during the heating season. A regular filter maintenance schedule can help increase the need for more energy due to dirty filters, which restrict the airflow.
  • Switching to a permanent or HEPA filter can reduce waste and keep the spread of illness-causing bacteria, mold, viruses and pollen in check.

While you’re at it … if you have ceiling fans installed in the house, get out the ladder and switch the direction of the blades to winter mode, or a clockwise direction, which moves warm air near the ceiling down through the living space.

2. Maintain Your Water Heater

As with any other main system in your house, doing a check-up on your water heater before the winter season can save you time, money and frustration.

  • Turn down the water heater from the factory – set 140 degrees F to 120 degrees or lower, reducing energy costs and preventing any potential scalding or water burns.
  • Flush the tank by turning off power from the fuse box and turning the thermostat to “pilot.” Turn off the cold water supply and attach a hose to the valve drain at the bottom of the heater, running the hose to a bucket or trough. Open the drain value and allow water to flow for five to seven minutes. Let the water stand in the bucket and check for mineral deposits. Continue draining until the water is clear, adding cold water to the heater, if needed. Unhook the hose, close the drain valve, turn on the water supply and let the tank re-fill. Remember to bleed air by opening up the hot water faucet in the house. Once the water is hot, it’s safe to turn the power back on from the fuse box.
  • Replacing a tanked water heater with a tankless water heater can save you this step, save money, and can also qualify you for a tax credit.

3. Get the Fireplace Ready

Whether you have a fuel-burning stove or an insert, make sure your fireplace is in running condition.

  • Examine the doors and gaskets of the wood stove or fireplace insert for a tight seal.
  • Have the chimney cleaned by a professional chimney sweep.
  • Buy wood or fuel in bulk, a supply for at least half of the winter season, if not more.
  • Check grates for damage and replace if needed.
  • Check the pilot and natural gas supply on inserts.

While you’re at it … get out those sweaters and dress warmer for the colder weather. “Personal heaters” such as fleece vests and jackets, long-sleeved shirts and cozy wool or cotton sweaters can add up to four degrees of warmth directly where it’s needed. Who knew?

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next winterizing project. From heaters to hoses 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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[DIY Project] How to Convert An Old Record Player Into A Coffee Bar

How to Turn a Record Player Into a Coffee BarRepurposing furniture is one of the most satisfying and self-accomplished thing an avid DIY-er can do, myself included. My husband and I were thrilled at the prospect of making a personalized coffee bar for our new apartment, perfect to house all our tea and coffee essentials. Coming from a fairly handy family, it just so happens that my dad had the perfect piece of furniture…an old record player with loads of character. With a little help from him [and all his power tools] we turned this dated record player into a fun and functional coffee bar.

First things first, we assembled our tools and materials….

Tools & Materials:

Then we got to work transforming our soon-to-be coffee bar. You can see what it looked like before (let’s just say my dad had other plans for it before I got ahold of it…hence the green spray paint). Then, see the painted and waxed pieces ready for assembly. [Note: a few key steps are left out of the gallery, but read about them in the steps below].

The Steps:

  1. Clear and Spray Paint the Hardware: use your screwdriver and pliers to remove hardware, such as handles, hinges, etc. All the removed hardware was then spray painted with glossy black paint.
  2. Flush Cut the Wood: for removing wood pieces precisely and accurately, use a vibrating saw. For this piece of furniture, the bottom piece where the lid lifts up was removed (see the lid picture above). In addition, the back of the cabinet was removed and a new panel was installed (see how in next step).
  3. Cut and Mount Louwon Board: a new back for the cabinet was installed, made from Louwon. In order to get a precise piece, a paper template was placed and a handheld power jigsaw (or band saw) made the exact cuts. Then the board was put in place and attached with an air nailer. [Note: for this coffee bar there is actually a secret compartment in the bottom right compartment, so that back part was carefully cut out and a new bottom was installed to make a shelf for more storage].
  4. Paint the Doors, Frames and Coffee Bar: the lattice frames, two doors (from the top lid and front right), as well as the coffee bar itself, were painted thoroughly with Annie Sloan paint and then sealed with Annie Sloan wax. This paint is easy to apply and only takes one well-covered coat. The beauty of it is the shabby-chic look it portrays.
  5. Reupholster and Mount Door Inserts: the old door inserts were removed, as were the old fabric panels by unscrewing from the lattice frames. While the lattice frames were painted and drying (as seen in the picture above), new leather panels were measured and mounted to the insert boards with contact cement. After the leather panels dried and the lattice frames also dried, the panels were screwed back into the frames.
  6. Reattach the Doors and Frames: the doors and frames were reattached to the coffee bar with their respective hardware. Then voila! The completed coffee bar!

A Word From Me (the author):

Although your next DIY project probably won’t entail turning a record player into a coffee bar, there are many ideas out there for repurposing old furniture into functional and stylish pieces for your home. Check out Pinterest for a little inspiration! That said, some of the tools and applications from this project can definitely be used for yours. Simply let us know what tools you are looking for, because we do daily rentals out the wahzoo! And please comment below if you have any great ideas for DIY upcycles or your own projects to share.

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How-To Remove Your Dead Tree in 6 Simple Steps

How-To Cut Down Your Tree in 6 Simple StepsIn addition to providing beauty and increasing your property value, trees keep the air and water clean, hold soil in place, and give you and your family a shady spot to enjoy a sunny day. It’s a tough decision, removing a tree from your property, but if the tree is old and dead, taking it down helps keep your yard and the surrounding area safe. No one wants an old dead tree falling into a neighbor’s yard.

There are a number of reasons why you’d want to cut down a tree besides it being already dead. Is the tree healthy? Is the trunk damaged? Is it leaning to one side or dead on only one side? Is it interfering with power lines? Is there enough space around the tree for more growth? And finally, is the tree stunting the growth of nearby trees? Depending on the answers, you may decide to take the tree down.

Tree removal can be a job best left to a professional arborist, one who is fully insured, licensed and certified by the state in which the tree lives. However, depending upon the size of the tree and the scope of its demise, do-it-yourselfers can handle a successful tree removal with ease. Below are the six steps of how to do it.

Step 1. Prepare for the fall. Determine the direction the tree leans naturally, because this is the direction you want the tree to fall. Make room for the fall by clearing away anything in the way, making sure the tree won’t hit anything of value like a fence, car, power lines, house or other structure. Keep helpers and family out of the way. Remove any of the lower tree branches with a handsaw or a chainsaw.

Step 2. Choose two escape routes. Determine two ways to get away safely from the base of the tree as it falls.

Step 3. Make the undercut. Using the chainsaw, make a V-cut at a 90-degree angle on the side of the tree in the direction it is leaning, about one quarter into the circumference of the tree.

Step 4. Begin the backcut. On the opposite side of the undercut, start cutting the tree about two inches higher than the V-cut. As soon as the tree starts to fall, turn off the chainsaw and hurry away using the safer of the two routes.

Step 5. Remove limbs. Once the tree is on the ground, move from the bottom of the tree to the top, cutting branches on the side opposite from where you are standing. Then cut the tree trunk into pieces.

Step 6. Clean up. Feed the cut branches into a wood chipper. Use a stump cutter to grind the stump into wood chips. The wood chips can be recycled into your landscape.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next home improvement 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. We’d love to help you with all your landscaping needs!

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Improve Your Existing Turf with Slice Seeding in 7 Easy Steps

Slice Seed Your Lawn in 7 Easy StepsEspecially if your lawn turf was planted years ago, re-planting with today’s improved grass varieties can help your mature lawn resist disease and insect damage, making it stronger and more adaptable to the changing conditions of your yard due to landscaping, sun and shade.

One of the best ways to make dramatic improvements to your lawn in short order is by slice or slit seeding. Conventional and over-seeding are great for helping to thicken an existing lawn. Use slice seeding to make direct contact with the soil for the seed to germinate quickly. The technique literally slices into the soil, creating rows for the seed to fall into, all in one motion.

Steps for Slice Seeding

Step 1: Prepare your yard. Slice seeding is designed to work on the existing turf and soil. Remove any large rocks or debris from the area and mow the lawn to about 1-inch in height, which gives new seedlings the best start.

Step 2: Determine the condition of your lawn. If the thatch is too thick to establish new seed, use an aerator to reduce the layer before seeding. This allows the equipment to slice easily through the thatch and into the soil.

Step 3: Crank up the seeder. The slice seeder cuts vertically through the grass and thatch, into the soil, dropping seed in the rows cut behind. Run the slice seeder over the entire area to be seeded.

Step 4: Add a starter fertilizer. A good fertilizer with slow release nutrients will feed the new seedlings and help develop the plant and its roots.

Step 5: Water, water and water some more. New grass requires gentle watering frequently for short periods of time. For the first 3 to 3 1/2 weeks, do “light, frequent” watering three times a day (morning, noon and evening) for approximately 10 – 15 minutes, while establishing plants. Use a sprinkler system or a water hose that comes closest to natural rainfall, to avoid washing seed away from the soil surface. After your turf grass is established, switch to “heavy, infrequent” watering one or two times a week to a depth of 4 to 6 inches, which takes around 45 minutes. Consider using automatic timers to make watering easy.

Step 6: Stay off the grass. Avoiddislodging the shallow roots of new seedlings, which stops any new growth completely. Do not walk on new grass and keep dogs and other animals away too. It’s a good idea to cordon off any sections of lawn that were slice seeded until it matures.

Step 7: Mow when the height is right. Wait until new grass blades are 2.5 to 3 inches high before making your first cut. When the blades reach around 4 inches, mow back to three inches; avoid removing more than 1/3 of the total blade length. Only mow as your lawn grows, which could mean every four or five days in the spring. If the lawn dries out stop mowing all together, until adequate moisture returns.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next lawn and 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. We’d love to help give your lawn an upgrade!

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9 Easy Steps to Keep Outdoor Lighting Bright

9 Outdoor Lighting Repair TipsOutdoor lighting for your home and yard is not only a practical design feature that keeps stairways, porches, patios and driveways bright during dark hours, but it adds style to your home’s exterior appearance. However, malfunctioning lights can signal neglect to neighbors and passersby, putting your property in potential danger. Luckily for homeowners, a few easy do-it-yourself steps are all you need to keep outdoor lights working correctly. So, get out the ladder and let’s begin!

Outdoor Lighting Maintenance

  1. Always turn off power
  2. Dismantle light fixture
  3. Clean out debris from around and inside with a brush, or blow it out with an air gun
  4. Wipe any grit and dirt away with a cloth or damp sponge
  5. Tighten any loose components on the inside of the fixture
  6. Replace all burnt-out bulbs; consider using energy-efficient lights
  7. Tighten screws on covers or lids
  8. Refocus light projections, if applicable
  9. Reset timers, if applicable

Troubleshooting Common Repairs

  • Survey for broken fixtures or light stakes (in the case of landscape lighting) and replace
  • Check for exposed wiring and re-tape
  • Intermittent lighting signals a connection issue; corrosion may be to blame
  • If all the lights are out, the cause could be an electrical short, a bad fuse or breaker
  • Dim bulbs indicate improper voltage

A DIY Fix for Corroded Light Fixtures

  • Trim an emery board with scissors to fit into the fixture
  • Remove the bulb
  • Lightly file the contacts in the fixture with the emery board
  • Spray the contacts with automotive ignition sealer to prevent future corrosion
  • Replace the bulb
  • Turn on power and check lighting

Leave Electrical Work to the Professionals

Diagnosing and repairing challenging problems with outdoor lights or an exterior lighting system is a challenge best left to a professional. Any electrical system – and the repairs made to them –must comply with specific electrical codes, which needs expert experience. Find a professional whose electrical experience includes exterior lighting and can resolve issues specific to outdoor systems such as voltage and corrosion.

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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Clean Exterior Windows, Doors and Trim Like a Pro

3 Simple Exterior Home RepairsMake a Great First Impression. Cleaning your exterior doors and windows is a sure-fire way to get your house noticed. Add a paint job for the trim and you’re well on the way to that oh-so-desirable curb appeal, transforming a nice-looking house into a beautiful home your visitors will admire. It’s surprisingly effective to clean doors and windows with a few readily available tools.

1. Clean Exterior Windows

Use a good ladder to reach high windows, taking care to observe safety first.

Step 1: Lightly soap up a strip applicator, a handheld sponge or hog-bristle brush with a little dishwashing liquid and water, then clean dirt and grime off without scratching the glass.

Step 2: Wipe the window clean with a squeegee that’s sized appropriately for the pane. Simply pull it over the window in one direction, wiping off the squeegee blade with a lint-free rag at the end of each stroke.

Step 3: Use a damp, wrung-dry soft rag, like a chamois, to dry off corners and any place the squeegee won’t reach, without leaving streaks.

Clean Window Tip: Get rid of stubborn mineral stains without scratching the glass by gently rubbing them with fine 000 steel wool or a cleansing powder that contains oxalic acid (such as Zud or Barkeeper’s Friend).

2. Clean Exterior Doors

Clean wood, steel or fiberglass doors with these same steps:

Step 1: Mix equal parts water and vinegar, or the same dishwashing liquid you use on the windows in a spray bottle. Start by spraying the entire doorframe — top and all — then wipe the frame with a soft cloth to remove dirt, dust and fingerprints. Continue by spraying the door itself and wiping dirt and grime away with a clean cloth. Thoroughly dry the door to prevent any water damage after cleaning.

Step 2: Clean the door’s windows or a complete glass door the same way you would clean the exterior windows, using appropriately-sized tools. If you’re cleaning a sliding glass door, remember to vacuum the tracks and wipe them clean with a little multi-purpose cleaning spray and a dry cloth.

Step 3: Clean locks, handles, kick plates and other hardware by applying a brass or steel polish with a soft cloth, then wiping the hardware dry with a clean rag.

Clean Door Tip: Clean tough grease and stains without damaging the door by applying mineral spirits to a cloth or sponge, then using it to scrub away the stains on the door, wiping the surface clean with a rag.

3. Paint Exterior Trim

If your exterior trim could use a fresh coat of paint, consider using an airless paint sprayer. This tool comes with a variety of features to help you achieve a crisp, clean, painted finish, without the effort of using a roller or a brush.

Easy, Economical, Quick and Versatile. Once you clean and tape around the trim to be painted — to protect other painted surfaces — the accuracy of an airless sprayer lets you paint up to four times faster than rolling or brushing, which means you can be done with your trim job in a jiffy! And you’ll also get an even coat of paint on the trim.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next DIY dream. 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. We’d love to help you make your home be a stand-out on your block!

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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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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How to Clean Your Pool and Hot Tub in 5 Easy Steps

How to Clean Your Pool in 5 Easy StepsDo you remember the television character Fred the Baker and his line “Time to make the donuts”? It’s a classic commercial for regional coffee chain Dunkin’ Donuts – named one of the top five in the ’80s. Well, Fred and his trustworthy work ethic became so popular that his “Time to make the donuts” catch phrase earned a place in pop culture as the quintessential expression for the drudgery of repetitive chores. So, you’ll get it when we say, “Time to clean the pool!”

Easy Pool and Hot Tub Maintenance

Let’s make maintaining the pool or hot tub less of a chore this year. These days in fact, automatic pool cleaners are available from your local hardware store. These cleaners (whether vinyl, concrete or fiberglass) can easily remove dirt, twigs, leaves and debris from any in-ground pool or spa. They work with the existing skimmer, pump and filter, and they can save you from the drudgery of vacuuming for years to come. Or, if you prefer to do the maintenance yourself, try these easy tips for keeping your pool or hot tub perfectly crystal-clear.

1)   Trim, Skim and Vacuum

Trim back trees or bushes near your pool or hot tub that can shed pollen, blossoms or leaves onto the surface. Skim the water surface to remove floating debris and empty the skimmer basket. Vacuum slowly across the water, overlapping areas like you would when mowing a lawn. The average pool requires 30 minutes of vacuuming. Use a nylon brush (or a stainless steel brush for concrete) to brush away any algae off the sides.

2)   Drain, Scrub and Cover

Every three months, drain the hot tub of water. Then, clean thoroughly with a mild cleaner, avoiding anything that’s too abrasive, which can damage the acrylic shell. Remember to clean the hot tub cover too. Use a cleaner made for vinyl or a weak chlorine solution and let it air-dry before re-covering the hot tub.

3)   Adjust Chemistry

The correct chemistry for a pool or hot tub is critical to keeping the water clear and safe. Test the chemicals weekly. Adjust pH first if needed or “shock” the water by dissolving chlorine and/or and alkalinity increaser in a little water, then pour it in.

4)   Backwash, Clean and Add Chlorine

Every week, redirect water flow into the filter by backwashing dirty water into the filter bag or to the storm drain. If the pool has a cartridge-type filter, remove it for rinsing and reinsert. Hot tub filters are cleaned in a similar way. Next, shut the filter system off, close the skimmer valve and clean out the hair/lint catcher of a pool pump. Empty the contents of the basket in the trap and reinsert. Finally, add chlorine to the pool using a floating container, which holds chlorine sticks or a chlorinator (the tube-like tank next to the filter that slowly introduces chlorine into the pool automatically). Use the amount recommended on the packaging.

5)   Check Levels

Finally, check the water level in the pool or hot tub, refilling if necessary. In general, pool and hot tub design provides for convenient, at-home maintenance. Remember to consult the product manual when choosing chemicals and cleaning agents. With consistent care, you can change, “Time to clean the pool” to “Time to have some fun in the pool!”

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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Give Your Home a Thorough Spring Cleaning with These 4 Weekend Projects

It is that time of year again, time to unpack your warm-weather clothes and do some around-the-house Spring Cleaning. So open up your windows, let a little light in and get ready to get dusty! This year’s winter was pretty rough, with an exorbitant amount of snow, ice and slush, all inevitably tracked into your home. Not to mention all the other dirt, grime and mess that has probably built up over the past few months. Well, since sunshine re-energizes us all, channel some of that inner motivation and get to work cleaning and breathing some much-needed life back into your home this spring!

household spring cleaning1. All-Around Cleaning Spree

Begin your spring cleaning by giving your whole house a touch-up. This means cleaning your toilet, shower and sinks, sweeping, dusting, vacuuming, basically all those fun things you just love to do, eh? Then, if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can go a little more in-depth and wash your windows, clean ceiling fans and light fixtures, etc. Taking the time to wipe away all the grime will literally make your home sparkle, so the result is well worth it.

2. Organizing Those Messy Closets

closet organizationNot sure about you, but sorting and organizing closets is always therapeutic for me. At least once a year it is a good idea to get rid of the old and make room for the new. With the weather finally warming up and the seasons changing, not only does that mean packing up and putting away winter sweaters, boots, scarves, etc., but even better, that means getting out your warm summer outfits! And while you’re doing a wardrobe switch-out, you might as well reorganize wayward boxes, files, and all sorts of other things that have most likely accumulated. File folders, storage crates and designated boxes really help with this I’ve found. Everything has a home as I like to say, so make a place for things and it will be much easier to find what you’re looking for later on.

carpet cleaning3. Clean Your Snow-Stained Carpets

As briefly mentioned already, winter probably did a number on your carpets, so now is a good time to think about deep cleaning them. It isn’t a difficult feat, one we’ve already outlined in a prior post. There are several heavy-duty carpet cleaners you should consider when determining which is best for your floor, and keep in mind that lighter carpets stain more easily, thus stains are more apparent, so they require greater cleaning strength. Find a full range of carpet cleaners here.

redecorate for spring4. Redecorate and Liven-Up Your Home

Spring means fresh and new, so give your home a little life by rearranging furniture, repainting select rooms, switching out decor (i.e. pillows, pictures, curtains, etc.), upgrading fixtures or changing up your style altogether. If you need a little inspiration, check out some of the posts we’ve written recently with specific DIY project how-to’s.

I’m sure there are many other Spring Cleaning projects, so tell us in the comment section below what some of yours are, we would love to hear them! And as always, let us know what questions you have, or if you need advice on which tools will help you effectively complete a project.

About the Author

Heidi Hudnall is the current Marketing Coordinator at Runyon Equipment Rental. She graduated from Butler University in the spring with a double major in International Business and Marketing, a minor in Spanish, departmental honors distinction and cum laude. She specializes in all things internet marketing, with an emphasis on content creation, website maintenance, blogging, social media, lead tracking and marketing strategy.

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Tackle Spring Clean-Up in Your Yard with This Handy Checklist

spring clean-up checklistFor the gardener and do-it-yourself landscaper, springtime is nature’s way of giving you a little breathing space, a moment to reflect on how your yard creations are holding up through the tests of weather and time before the real growing season begins. Once you clear away winter’s debris, mulch or dead twigs, you can decide where to focus your efforts. Whether it be thinning out crowded areas, filling in bare spots or preparing your yard for new growth, buds and blooms. Here’s what you’ll need to start your spring clean-up and give your yard a fresh start.

Gather all the necessary tools…

If you’ve got a lot of clean-up to do, and you like trying out different kinds of equipment, consider renting a soil conditioner attachment. You can grade, soften, mix, level, rake, remove debris as well as pulverize and prepare seedbeds, remove entire lawns and weeds, all with this one tool that attaches to a Bobcat. Sweet!

Complete the spring yard clean-up checklist:

  1. Prune dead and damaged branches back to live stems and clip off wayward shoots to an intersecting branch. Summer-flowering shrubs should be pruned before the plant buds. Wait to prune spring-flowering plants until after blooms fade.
  1. Trim overgrown evergreens back, starting from the bottom of the tree trunk to eliminate dead branches and encourage an appealing tree shape.
  1. Cut back flowering perennials to a height of 4–5 inches and ornamental grasses to 2–3 inches, which encourages new growth.
  1. Thin crowded beds by digging up perennial bulbs. Instead of throwing them away, divide the extra bulbs, leaving at least three stems per clump, and transplant them in other areas of the yard.
  1. If rose bushes are winter-damaged, cut back to 1 inch below the blackened area. Remove older woody canes on climbing rose bushes, fastening younger canes gently in place with jute twine or Velcro fasteners.
  1. Rake out fallen leaves, dead foliage and annuals, as well as spent mulch to prepare for a new layer once your planting is finished.
  1. Spread an appropriate fertilizer for existing plantings on the soil’s surface so that April showers can carry it to the roots.
  1. Inspect any drip irrigation lines and repair if necessary.
  1. Give beds a clean edge with a shovel or a weed eater.
  2. Remove damaged grass turf to prepare for spring seeding. It’s also a good time to test the soil’s pH and add an appropriate fertilizer, if needed.

And finally, feed the compost pile! Dump all debris, cuttings, foliage and last season’s mulch into your compost pile, and you’re done…at least until it’s time for spring seeding! And as always, for questions and comments please visit our website or leave a comment in the section below. Happy yard cleaning!

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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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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The 4 Secrets to Beautiful Tile Accents in Your Home

The 4 Secrets to Beautiful Tile Accents in Your HomeTile is a beautiful thing. At first glance tile can seem like an expensive accent for your walls or floors. Not to mention, a time-consuming, specialized do-it-yourself job to boot. The good news: making a stylish upgrade to your kitchen or bathroom with a tile backsplash or floor makeover adds value to your home, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money or time doing it. The secret: embellish your living space with beautiful tile accents.

When it comes to tile, how do you make creative choices? Here are a few tips:

1. Create a focal point around cooking areas in the kitchen or in back of a bathroom sink.  Mix and match different tile colors, textures, metals, glass and ceramic, or use more expensive tile along with more affordable options, to create a pattern. Consider the look of the counter – intricate backsplashes look great with solid countertops. On a floor, create a tile “rug” in the center of an entryway or in front of a backroom counter.

2. Accent the entire room by wrapping it with the tile backsplash design, which can help make a small space seem larger. In the same way, wrapping a floor with a tile border can look pretty spiffy.

3. Use affordable tile in unusual ways. Place tile vertically or on a diagonal. Simply by changing the orientation of inexpensive subway or field tile, you can give it a modern look.

4. Plan your design, right on the wall or floor by prepping the surface to be tiled with a layer of white thinset. Once it’s dry, draw the design with pencil. Even easier: splurge for tile that’s sold already in pattern.

Gather your tools for the job. Here’s a list of all the tools you may need for tiling a backsplash or a floor in the kitchen or bathroom:

Follow these steps for a beautiful tile project. Regardless of the type of tile project you decide on, the following steps will start you on your way.

Step 1: Prepare the substrate. Substrate is the surface to be tiled and can be made from drywall, cement board, plywood or other type of backing. Tape, plaster or mud the substrate seams so the surface is smooth. After this work is complete, make sure the surface is free of dust, oils or residues to guarantee a strong adhesive bond.

Step 2: Plan tile design. Draw the design with pencil, directly on the prepared surface to be tiled, or snap chalk lines to be used as guidelines, measuring to determine the best location to start tiling. Allow full tiles to be places in areas that draw the most attention and hide cuts in corners and under cabinets.

Step 3: Apply mortar. Spread adhesive with the flat side of the trowel, flip the trowel over to the notched side and double back over the area to remove any excess. Cover the entire surface with a medium-thick layer of adhesive.

Step 4: Install tiles. Begin installing full tiles or tile sheets, working off of the countertop surface, or one corner of a floor and move up or out.

Step 5: Make cuts. Make cuts to fit tiles around electrical, cabinets, light fixtures, toilets or bathtubs, and then fit the tiles into the design.

As always, contact us with any questions on your tile projects, or comment below. We’re here to help!

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Give Your Furniture a Fresh Look with a Little Paint, New Hardware and Glaze

Bedroom Dresser MakeoverOkay so we have all built our custom headboards by now right? Good! Still got the bug to make changes in your bedroom, how about freshening up your dressers and night stand? This dresser makeover pin is the perfect starting point. This DIY-er re-finished her dresser, along with a couple of night stands. Now this is a somewhat in-depth project with many steps, but seeing your like-new redone furniture will make the effort well worth it!

First things first, prep and paint your furniture.

You’ll need a drill to remove all hardware from the drawers. Then, remove the drawers as well. Grab your sander and fine grit sandpaper, ideally 220, and smooth out all the surfaces you plan on painting. You don’t want to do too much sanding, you are just trying to get a nice, smooth surface that is ready for paint. Once you’ve sanded, paint your little heart out — a couple coats of primer and then a couple coats of your color of choice.

Dress up your dresser with new hardware.

Before you put your drawers back in you’ll need to address your hardware. So if you’re replacing them, now is the time to get your drill and put your new hardware on. But why not take that old hardware and refinish it like you did your dresser? Find an old board and use your drill to fasten all your hardware to the board so that while you paint everything stays in place and gets a nice even coat of paint. While you wait for everything to dry, look back at your before pictures and compare the difference so far — pretty amazing huh?

If you’re feeling fancy, get out the glaze.

If you’re feeling fancy, now is the time to give your refinished dresser not only a new look, but a new feel! Glazing is a really great way to give a rustic flair to an otherwise plane jane piece of furniture. Grab your sander and that fine grit paper and sand away, again. Tedious maybe, but you are ensuring that you will have the best finish possible, one that will last for years to come. Now with your accent color, paint the insets of the dresser. Once you’ve done that, line the drawers up and start glazing. You will want to glaze them all at the same time in an effort to keep the glazing pattern consistent. Once it has all dried and you are happy with your new finish, seal it with a clear coat. You can spray the sealer on the faces of the dresser and paint it on all the large flat surfaces.

After all is said and done, you are going to have a beautifully re-finished dresser that changes the whole mood of your room. Enjoy your restful oasis while you can, because spring is just around the corner, and we all know that after this winter it will be hard to stay inside except to sleep! Happy refinishing!

*photo courtesy of Thrifty Inspirations
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How to Pressure Wash Your Home Exterior Prior to Painting

Pressure Wash Your Home's ExteriorProperly preparing the outside of your house for paint is extremely important. All exposed painted surfaces develop a layer of electrolysis dirt film, and most cleaners cannot penetrate this film. This is where degreasers come in handy for removing film when used with a pressure washer. Shipp Cleaning Systems carries a product called CREST, which has surfactants that penetrate static films and all dirt without harming the surface. If the electrolysis film is not removed before painting your house, the paint will not bond to the surface, causing premature chipping. CREST cleans away all grime, dirt, and films.

Pressure Washing: as easy as 1, 2, 3

1. Most portable pressure washers have a chemical injector hose that goes directly into the CREST container. With the chemical tip on the wand, this will spray out at either a 1-10 ratio or 1-15 ratio depending on the machine. This dilution is good for medium-to-heavy dirt on a home. If the dirt is light, the CREST may be pre diluted by half in a bucket.

2. With the chemical tip on the wand and the injector hose in the CREST solution, you are ready to apply the cleaner on the surface from the bottom up. Apply from the bottom up to avoid clean streaks. Also apply to the dry surface, do not pre-wet with just water, letting the chemical be the first thing that touches the dry surface will do a much better job of cleaning. To avoid wasting cleaner, move quickly and evenly, applying a film of CREST over a section of about 30 running feet at a time. DO NOT LET THE SOLUTION DRY ON THE SURFACE! Change tips to a 15-degree, 20-degree, or 25-degree tip. Now pressure wash from the bottom up. This is the cleaning step. By cleaning from the bottom up the pressure washer water is the first thing to hit the chemical as it sits on the surface. If you clean from the top then down the water that cascades down will wash off the chemical cleaner before it is hit with pressure. Hold the tip of the wand approximately 18″ from the surface. This is the action that cuts and cleans. Take your time and spray evenly.

3. Finally, rinse the area from the top down. Make sure CREST is completely and thoroughly rinsed off ALL surfaces including windows and shrubbery. It will take approximately 1 gallon of CREST, at full strength, to clean a single story, 1500 sq. ft., house.

Helpful Hints:

  • Spraying: The chemical spray tip will spray cleaner out as a mist, not at pressure. After applying cleaner, the 50-foot hose will contain cleaner. By putting the 15-degree tip on the wand, you will get chemical at full pressure for about 8 to 10 seconds. Use this time to apply cleaner to eaves and hard-to-reach areas.
  • Protect your plants: Always spray down shrubs and plants with water before cleaning. This layer of water helps prevent “brown tipping” of leaves of plants by incidental cleaner contact. CREST is biodegradable.
  • Sprayer Tips: The tip of the wand should be held at 18” from the surface. The 15-degree tip has a smaller fan pattern that cuts hard-to-clean surfaces.
  • Spray Patterns: Always apply from bottom up to get a good, even cleaning. It will eliminate streaking and blotching the surface. Clean from the bottom up. Otherwise, cleaning from top down will dilute cutting ability as runoff water rinses cleaner away. Rinse from top down to insure all cleaner is removed.

About the Author:

Chuck Shipp is the president and founder of Shipp Chemical Co., Inc. His company has been in business for 35 years, and he has 40 years total experience with industrial and janitorial cleaning. Chuck writes and lectures on cleaning in the hardware and equipment rental industries.

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Bedroom Makeover: 4 Custom-Made Headboard Ideas

I think we can all agree that winter can end any time now and that it’s getting a little tiresome to stay inside all the time. Feels like you are looking at the same old stuff over and over. Instead of lamenting about the weather and boredom, get busy and do a low-budget and super fun bedroom makeover. There are so many things that you can do to change things up with just a few tools and a few hours of your time. Compiled below are a few awesome custom headboard ideas from Pinterest. Each is accomplishable, even if you don’t have a construction or craft background. Think of the challenge as a good thing. You may even learn a new skill to use over and over again!

Upholstered Headboard

This Upholstered Headboard can update and change up a room quite a bit. The creator went for the “belgrave” shape but you can choose from so many here! I personally love the “Cavendish” & “Eccleston” shapes, if I get the chance to make a headboard I will pick one of these shapes no doubt. And the beauty of this project is that you can get it done with just a few supplies: a circular saw and a jigsaw. I love that this girl is not only doing the project, but she already owns the tools mentioned. Talk about inspiring, her husband hassled her about her ability to make the headboard, and she nailed it. Not only did she nail it though, but her husband was IMPRESSED!

Tufted Headboard

This Tufted Headboard transforms a room and offers a comfortable, serene look and feel, and who doesn’t want that in a bedroom? This is a simple project that can go smoothly if you plan your work and work your plan effectively. First things first: gather all the supplies you would need. For this project you are looking for: plywood, a saw, tape measure, sharpie, carpenters pencil, drill and drill bit, spray adhesive, foam, batting, fabric, and lastly buttons. After you have gathered all your supplies you can get down to business and create your luxurious new headboard. It’s pretty amazing what can be accomplished with a little time and energy.

Headboard Shelf

What about something a little less traditional like a Headboard Shelf? Consider a functional headboard that can altar the whole tone of your boudoir without breaking the bank, or your back! You need so little to complete this project: a 1×10, 1×8, 1×6, shelf supports, wood screws, finish nails, crown molding, stain, a drill and a jigsaw. When you get all your measurements, remember to measure twice and cut once. It can be tricky to get it right at first, but it’s important you cut accurately. Once you get everything assembled and stained, get it mounted. Then, voila! You have a handy, yet attractive new addition above your bed, the perfect spot for your favorite trinkets, pictures and decor. 

Repurposed Door Headboard

A Repurposed Door Headboard will instantly add character to your bedroom. For this project you’ll need an old door, crown molding, paint, fabric, nailhead trim, glaze, a nail gun or drill and a jigsaw. This headboard creates a serious change with major attitude. The possibilities are endless with this upcycle, it just depends on how intricate you want to make it.

Have any questions about these four projects, or if you’ve built, altered, or repurposed your own, let us know in the comments below!

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

How to Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets to Perfection

Paint Your Kitchen CabinetsCould your old and outdated kitchen use a little TLC? Just like adding a backsplash can liven up your space, painting your cabinets adds color and dimension, recreating your room into one you really enjoy cooking and entertaining in. And the good news, this project is incredibly affordable, especially when you choose it over replacing your cabinets all together. Read on for step-by-step instructions on how to paint your kitchen cabinetry, breathing a little life back into it this spring.

Assess the project and gather supplies.

Depending on how much cabinetry you have to paint, you may need more paint and primer, and the amount of time it takes you to complete will vary. You should also consider your cabinetry’s material type, whether it be wood, laminate or metal. This can change the process concerning whether it needs sanded and what you use to paint the surface.

Also, if you want to switch out the hardware on your cabinets  after painting everything, getting it all done in one go, then you’ll need to coordinate the paint color with knob style, color, size, etc.

As a general list of supplies, you will obviously need paint, primer, paper to cover the counters and backsplash, painter’s tape, scrubbing sponge or cleaning cloth, degreaser, tack cloth, orbital sander, drill (or screwdriver) and paint applicator i.e. paint sprayer and/or paint roller. Once you have all your supplies, it is time to start prepping.

Prepare for paint.

First things first, remove all the cabinet doors, drawers and hardware. It may be a good idea to number corresponding cabinet frames and doors/drawers to be sure you put them back in the appropriate place once you’re all done. Next, set up a paint spraying station outside or on your porch, namely away from valuables in your home. Or, if you decide to paint indoors, you could lay a canvas or plastic tarp on your floor and set saw horses on top to lay your cabinet doors on, being sure this paint area is away from furniture and fixtures. We suggest going outside though.

After you’ve designated an area specifically for painting the cabinet doors and drawers, you’ll want to clean all cabinet surfaces and the doors thoroughly, removing any built-up grime or dust so that the paint can adhere well. This is the step where degreaser, a scrubbing sponge and tack cloth come in handy. Now if your cabinets are plastic laminate or metal, then obviously the next step is not applicable, but if you have wood cabinetry, as is most common, the next step is very important.

Once everything is cleaned, it is time to sand. If you are only giving the cabinets a facelift, you may not want to sand inside the cabinets, inside the drawers or on the backside of the doors, but that is up to you. All the doors will need sanded, on both sides (if you plan to paint both sides that is), and so will the front of the cabinet frames and on the front of the drawers. If there is already paint on the cabinet surface, just rough it up a tad so the new paint will adhere firmly. If there are shiny areas on the cabinets, sand these well, and if there are paint flakes in certain areas you’ll need to sand down to bare wood. The goal is to create a purely flat surface for the paint to adhere to, so keep this in mind as you go.

After sanding, vacuum up all the dust and paint chips, ridding the cabinets of any excess debris. Then you should apply an even coat of primer. This will ensure your cabinets resist stains and water, and it provides the paint a good base. As will be true for the paint, make sure one side of a door, for instance, dries before flipping it over and doing the other.

It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get colorful.

For your cabinet doors you can use a paint sprayer (if you are doing so outside that is), but for the cabinetry frame you’ll obviously have to use a paint roller or brush. If you are only doing the front of your drawers use a brush, but for the whole drawer a paint sprayer works more quickly and efficiently.

First, paint your cabinet doors, only the first side, paint your drawers, then start by working inside out, painting the inside of the cabinets, if you choose to do so, and working your way out to the face frames. Then you’re able to go back outside and flip your dried doors to paint the other sides (if applicable). Working in this fashion gives you the most time, allowing the doors and drawers to dry while painting inside, thus eliminating your wait time. This said, you should wait about four hours between coats.

A few tips while painting: always apply thin coats, cover all areas, especially overlapping paint sprayer passes, try to avoid leaving brush strokes, don’t lay on paint too thickly or overwork the brush/roller, avoid creating air bubbles. You generally only need to coats of paint, so after painting the first, lightly sand again, and then lay your second.

Put on the finishing touches.

After all doors, drawers and frames are completely dry, to the touch, you can begin reassembling your cabinetry. Screw the hardware back on [this is where you install new hardware if desired], then put the drawers back in place and screw the doors back onto their respective frames (note: this where the numbering system comes into play). And then, you should be all finished, voila, a brand new kitchen to enjoy for years to come.

For more information on how to use a paint sprayer, its benefits, etc. check out this post. If you have other questions about painting your cabinets, any step in the process, specific types of materials and supplies needed, etc. be sure to contact us or comment below. And happy kitchen DIY-ing!

About the Author

Heidi Hudnall is the current Marketing Coordinator at Runyon Equipment Rental. She graduated from Butler University in the spring with a double major in International Business and Marketing, a minor in Spanish, departmental honors distinction and cum laude. She specializes in all things internet marketing, with an emphasis on content creation, website maintenance, blogging, social media, lead tracking and marketing strategy.

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Install a Tile Backsplash in Your Kitchen for a Fresh New Look

How to Install a BacksplashSpring is almost here, and with it a chance to transform various rooms in your house! This week the focus is on your kitchen, with a few projects that give the heart of your home a fresh new look. Now, as with any DIY project, a little work is to be expected, but it’s time to bite the bullet and just do it, because these ideas really make a difference. The first is installing a backsplash. You can be as elaborate, or as simple as you want with this. The beauty of a backsplash is that it can add color and texture to your space, all in one swoop. Keep in mind however, that the next project is painting your cabinets, so if you want to do both you should consider coordinating colors and styles prior to buying supplies for either.

First, gather your supplies.

Then, it’s time for prep work.

Before buying your materials i.e. tile, grout and tile adhesive, you must measure the dimensions of your backsplash area. You can determine the square footage by multiplying the length of the area by the width.

Once you buy all the material you need, then it is time to get your hands dirty. Lay down cardboard or plastic tarp to keep your countertops from getting dirty or damaged. Then, put on your handy safety goggles and gloves, shut off power to all outlets within the backsplash area and remove the outlet covers.

Clean the pre-backsplash surface with warm water and give it a few minutes to dry. Then, you’re ready for the fun part!

Next, precision is key when laying backsplash tile.

Apply tile adhesive with your trowel, being sure to only cover a small area at a time. This prevents it from drying out. However, be sure you do this in the very center of the area you are laying with tile. You can position the tile by using a twisting motion and then pressing down firmly to make sure it adheres properly.

Add the remaining squares of tile in a methodical pattern around your starting piece, using spacers if necessary. Also, if you need to cut a section of backsplash tile, measure the length and width required, use a tile cutter to score it and a tile saw to cut away the area that will show.

When tiling around outlets, be sure the edges will be hidden under the cover once it is screwed back in place.

Finally, complete the job with finishing touches.

Once all the tile is laid, be sure to wipe off any excess adhesive and ensure the lines between are cleaned and ready for grout. Once the adhesive sets completely, remove spacers if applicable, then prepare for grout application. Mix grout in a bucket per the manufacturer’s instructions. Use a rubber float in a 45 degree angle to the tile joints, working into the lines between the tiles in a sweeping motion.

Then, once you allow the grout several minutes to dry, use a damp sponge to wipe off any excess. Repeat this until the backsplash area is visibly clean. Wait several hours before removing haze from the surface, once the grout is entirely dry and cured. Use a clean cloth, such as a cheesecloth, to wipe it clean. Over the next several days, mist the backsplash surface evenly with cool water. Replace the outlet covers once all the grout is dry.

As a final measure, you may consider using a pH neutral sealant to protect the grout from water and stains. In addition, mildew-resistant caulk applied at the base of your backsplash, where it meets the countertop, is a suggested preservation measure as well.

About the Author

Heidi Hudnall is the current Marketing Coordinator at Runyon Equipment Rental. A graduate of Butler University with a double major in International Business and Marketing, Heidi writes articles that outline seasonal projects and answer frequently asked questions, making your DIY lifestyle more fun and easier than ever before.

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9 Ideas for Your Perfect DIY Bathroom Remodel

Feel brand new! Refreshing a room in your home –especially a bathroom- can be as easy as updating drawer pulls or a shower curtain, to installing new cabinetry, tearing out tile and starting all over again. Whatever your creative ideas –and your budget- can handle, here are a few ideas you can do in as little as a weekend to make your bathroom feel brand new. Below are nine ideas and tips for how to conquer a bathroom makeover.

DIY Bathroom Remodel - sink

1. Put some thought into your potty area.
Make sure you’ve got everything you need for your remodel – paint, plumbing fixtures, tile, tub, toilet and special orders – before you take a hammer or Sawzall drill to your bathroom, so you can use it all the way up to the day you start the project. Your family will thank you! Plus, with all you need on hand you can estimate the extent of work, such as moving the plumbing lines or running new lighting wires, more accurately.

2. White is the new black.
If you’re going to install new sinks, tubs or toilets, even surface tile, consider purchasing them in white. Manufacturers produce and sell more white bathroom fixtures than any other color, so they cost less than those potentially special-order varieties. Add splashes of color with low-cost accents, such as paint, furnishings, artwork, towels and other accessories.

3. Go to town with paint.
Bold enough to transform a room, yet practical enough for a weekend project, paint is great for freshening up a bathroom. Mold- and mildew-proof primers and paints are not only good for walls and ceilings, but for refinishing cabinet doors and hardware or towel racks and other fixtures. There are even options for painting over tile and other ceramics. Create a spa environment with watery blues, greens and neutral colors; even white does the trick. Use an airless sprayer for overall coverage and protect any painted designs with two coats of clear polyurethane. Learn more about using an airless paint sprayer here.

4. That old thing is new again.
Repurposing old furniture for a bathroom adds personality, not to mention, storage with character. Turn an existing sideboard or dresser into a vanity by cutting a hole in the top for a drop-in sink and faucet. Add a freestanding chest of drawers for storage. Install vintage shelving in smaller bathrooms. Comb salvage yards for vintage tubs, sinks, countertops, flooring, benches and other unique finds.

DIY Bathroom Remodel - sink and toilet5. Accent with architecture.
Using tile as an accent can add a punch of color in the right places. Even though glass tile can be expensive, you don’t need a lot of it to create a dazzling effect. Use a tile cutter to cut up larger tiles or break old tiles with a hammer to create your own mosaic designs. Apply colored gout quickly with a grout hand pump, adding an extra layer of design. Add interest to a wall by running a tile border vertically, instead of the usual horizontal accent. You can also add texture to walls by using beaded board. Use an air stapler to install panels, which look as authentic as individual beaded boards, are lightweight and less expensive. Think of the lighting as architectural interest, too – change outdated fixtures with new lights made especially for bathrooms and have a purpose. Recessed lighting over the shower for better illumination, Hollywood lights around a mirror for romance, even a floor or table lamp for a boudoir feeling.
 
6. Reflect a new image.
If your medicine cabinet looks like it belongs on the set of Mad Men, replace it by hanging a framed mirror or two, making the room seem larger. Some mirrors are made to tilt away from the wall, which adds functionality.

7. Daring demo.
If you plan to remove the floor, use a faster, simpler technique: rip up the floor from the underlayment – the layer of material next the subfloor. Set a circular saw blade just deep enough to cut through the floor covering and the plywood underlayment. Then cut into small sections, making removal easier. Afterwards, install a new underlayment of quarter-inch plywood or cement board and install the new floor on a clean surface.

8. Simple does it best.
Use basic tools like an air nailer, stapler or screw gun and make short work of easy updates like installing a new toilet seat, towel bars or toilet paper holder, replacing a standard shower rod with a curved one, adding pullout shelves to deep cabinets or changing out an old shower head with a new handheld sprayer. Even replacing the countertop is a simpler job with the right tools – if your vanity is in good condition.

9. Out of your comfort zone? Call a pro.
With any home project, do-it-yourself mistakes can cost you big time. If you need the help of an electrician, plumber, carpenter or mason for your bathroom update, call one. If you have questions or comments for us, please utilize our section below or the contact us page on our website. We’re here to help!

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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Find Air Leaks in Your House and Plug ‘Em Up Fast

Find Air Leaks in Your House & Plug 'em Up Fast Right now, you may be sitting in your cozy living room watching television, but wondering why your feet are freezing. Perhaps that perpetual draft in the family room has you always putting on a sweater, or three. If you’re feeling air leaks in your living space, imagine what’s escaping through your attic and basement! You may think your home is air tight, but the fact is, quite a lot of heat (or air conditioning) is leaking out through those little gaps and cracks all over the house, especially in unheated areas. This is costing your family precious energy, not to mention, big bucks. Sealing off air leaks is a relatively easy task to accomplish, once you find them. Below are 10 places you can look.

Common Places Prone to Air Leaks:

  1. Behind knee walls (i.e. the short, three-foot wall used to support roof rafters and open stud cavities)
  2. Attic hatch
  3. Wiring holes, such as those found around cable and phone wires
  4. Plumbing vent
  5. Open soffit (the box that hides recessed lights)
  6. Recessed lights
  7. Furnace flue or duct chase-ways (the hollow box or wall feature that hides ducts and chimneys)
  8. Basement rim joists (where the foundation meets the wood framing)
  9. Windows
  10. Doors

Once you determine where your house may be experiencing air leaks, you can look to a variety of methods for plugging up these leaks in the most cost effective and timely manner. Depending on where a leak is and the severity, there are certain options most suited, per below.

What Plugs Air Leaks Quickly?

  1. Caulk fills gaps best that are less than 1/4-inch wide, such as those cut around electrical boxes and cable wires, and can be used anywhere around the house. Use silicone caulk with nonporous materials like metal flashing and in places where temperature extremes exist. Acrylic latex caulk cleans up with water.
  2. Sometimes, you may need to remove old caulk before running a new bead. A sealant saw removes sealant, caulking and glazing putty as well as damaged acrylic or silicon sealants quickly, saving you time and effort.
  3. Low-expansion polyurethane foam in a can is great for plugging openings 1/4-inch to three inches wide, like those around plumbing pipes and vents in the basement or attic.
  4. Weather-stripping and foam weather-stripping can alleviate air leaks around doors and windows, including the attic access door, pull-down attic stairs and the inside door to a basement or garage. You can also seal the attic door with caulking, or you can buy a pre-insulated hatch cover kit. If a draft comes in at the bottom of a door, install a new door sweep.
  5. Unfaced fiberglass insulation stuffed into plastic garbage bags, a critical step for efficiency, can block air leaks behind knee walls, above dropped ceilings, soffits and open stud cavities. For large gaps, use scraps of drywall or pieces of reflective foil insulation.
  6. Aluminum flashing can close the gaps created between wood framing, metal flues and brick chimneys due to building code requirements. Seal the flashing in place with high-temperature silicone caulk.
  7. An airtight baffle can insulate recessed lights that are not labeled ICAT, for “insulation contact and air tight.” Look for the label next to the bulb; if you don’t see one, assume the light leaks. Remove the bulb, push the baffle up into the housing, and replace the bulb.

As always, contact us for more information if you are having an air leak problem, or comment below. Stay warm and cozy this winter, fix those leaks now before your energy bill gets too high!

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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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.

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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

Give New Life to Your Walls with a Quick and Easy Paint Job

Prep Your Wall for PaintNothing helps to improve or even maintain the appearance of a room like paint. A fresh coat of paint can transform the entire look of your living space, or just cover up eye sores, like nail holes and wear marks from shelves, picture hangings or absent light fixtures. It can also add value to your property.

For do-it-yourselfers, there’s almost nothing better to master than prepping for a paint job like a pro. Investing a little time in prep work can make painting faster, easier and more beautiful. So roll up your sleeves and find out how to avoid roller marks and spatters, and give new life to old walls.

Here’s What You Do:

  1. Remove all artwork, shelving, fixtures, nails, screw anchors, curtain rods, switch-plates, closet doors and whatnot from the wall surface – anything that can create obstacles for your paintbrush, roller or paint sprayer.
  2. To remove wallpaper easily and completely, use a wallpaper steamer.
  3. Decorative stickers, vinyl words or wall art is usually removable. Use an electric heat gun to gently lift them from the wall. Some brands can be re-applied; however, many designs that use intricate graphics may be ruined by the removal process.
  4. Spackle any nail holes, gouges or other imperfections that could rough up a smooth paint finish.
  5. Hand-sand small rough spots with sandpaper. For larger rough areas, try an electric sander.
  6. Once the walls are bare, clean them with a damp sponge or a dry cloth to remove grease build-up, dust and the like. Dirt and grime on the wall will keep paint from bonding, causing streaks and bubbles.
  7. Mask around windows, door frames, molding, built-ins and baseboards using blue painter’s tape. If you have a decorative design in mind for your paint job, blue painter’s tape is just the tool to use to map out the design on the wall. Tape out your design after you apply primer, if you use that step.
  8. Cover the floor and any furniture remaining in the room with drop cloth.
  9. Apply a primer to any sanded areas, especially larger ones, or simply prime the entire wall. Use a good-quality paintbrush to paint around windows and doors or for any finish work. Many paint brands now offer interior paint that includes a primer, which eliminates the need for a primer step. Either way, accomplish painting the larger areas quickly using a paint sprayer. To accommodate the room height, add a paint sprayer extension pole.
  10. If a second coat of paint is required, apply after the first coat has dried.

Give New Life to Your Walls

Now that your room has a fresh coat of paint, consider adding other decorative elements like crown molding to complete the new look. And for more on how to effectively paint your walls, read this post: Painting Walls in Your Dream Home Made Easy. If you have questions please contact us, and be sure to comment below if you have any of your own painting tips!

About the Author

Heidi Hudnall is the current Marketing Coordinator at Runyon Companies. She graduated from Butler University in the spring with a double major in International Business and Marketing, a minor in Spanish, departmental honors distinction and cum laude. She specializes in all things internet marketing, with an emphasis on content creation, website maintenance, blogging, social media, lead tracking and marketing strategy.

Categories: How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Make Doors Look New Again with 2 Fast and Easy In-Home Repairs

There’s no better time like the present to roll up your sleeves and find out how you can complete home improvement projects and repairs yourself. All you need is a plan and the right tools for each job. Besides taking care of nagging repairs like a leaky faucet, you’ll increase the beauty of your home with fast and easy in-home repairs, like refurbishing your doors.

Repair Your Doors

1. Refurbishing Interior Doors

Interior doors are usually made from wood and can be susceptible to seasonal changes in climate, which can cause squeaks or sticking. They also can be scratched from usual wear and tear.

What to Do:

  • Inspect the hinges for deterioration or loose screws.
  • If hinges look oxidized, add a lubricant to alleviate squeaks; work the lubricant into the hinge by opening and closing the door after application.
  • If the hinges are caked with old lubricant or dirt, tap out the pins with a hammer and screwdriver and clean with steel wool, then clean the pinholes with a small circular wire brush. Remember to place a shim under the door for support.
  • If screws are loose, place a wedge on the latch-end of the door for weight balance before tightening with a screwdriver.
  • If a door continues to stick, use a planer to scrape a small layer of wood off the offending edge:
    • Draw a line on the door at the spot where it’s hitting the jamb
    • If that spot is at the top or on the handle end, you can plane the door without taking it off its hinges. If the tight spot is on the hinge end or at the bottom, take the door off its hinges and set it on its side to plane.
    • Inspect the door surface for scratches.
    • Fill any scratches with door filler, such as a pencil, crayon or felt-tip pen-type product found at many local hardware stores. Find the shade that most closely matches your door and rub it into the scratch.

2. Restore a Front Door

Exterior doors are made from wood or metal and are usually exposed to the elements. After years of wind, sun, heat and precipitation, your front door and all its hardware may need an upgrade.

What to Do:

  • Inspect the door, hinges and hardware for damage, wear and tear.
  • If repair is required, take the door off its hinges and remove the hardware.
  • Place the door on saw horses and lay down drop cloths.
  • Strip off old paint. While latex paint may need a chemical paint stripper for this job (work outdoors or make sure you work indoors with adequate ventilation), most paint can be removed using putty knives, paint scrapers, sandpaper and a hand-held sander or belt sander.
  • If you want to finish the door as natural wood, remove all the paint, sand thoroughly and apply a natural product like mineral oil. If you’re re-painting the door, sand roughly until the door is smooth and ready for paint, removing all dust from the surface.

Be sure to stay tuned for two more posts similar to this one, part of our 3-part in-home repair series! And for questions or comments concerning this post, contact us or use the comment section below. Happy door maintaining!

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

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

3 Last-Minute Improvements to Keep Your Home Happy for the Holidays

With winter fast approaching, and December 21 the shortest day of the year, giving your home a little TLC can do wonders for your property value. There are three exterior improvements you can make to ensure happy holiday living: installing outdoor lights, spraying for pests and storing outdoor hoses. Each of these is easily accomplished and will help you mark another item off your fall checklist!

 

1.Install Timers on Outdoor Lights

An outdoor light timer is a convenient and efficient way to turn them on and off, especially when you’re not home. At the end of the day, the timer programs lights to turn on, and you won’t have to fumble for your house keys in the dark when you do get home. Later in the evening, the timer will automatically turn off the lights, saving you money on utility bills.

Nowadays you can find timer devices for your outdoor lighting that screw right into the light socket. These timers have simple settings for programming the light switch. After you’ve set the timer, install it before screwing in the light bulb, keep the light switch on and you’re good to go.

If you’re jones-ing for a more involved project, get out the screwdriver, voltage tester, wire stripper and electrical tape, and replace the ordinary light switch with a timer switch.

The Steps:

  • Turn off the main power supply to the outdoor lights
  • Unscrew and remove the existing switch from the wall box
  • Using a voltage tester, check the switch terminals for power
  • Remove the wires from the switch, cut them with a wire stripper and make a fresh area of exposed wire
  • To connect the timer switch, attach the black wire to the black wire on the wall box
  • Attach the white wire to the white wire on the wall box (the green wire on the switch is for grounding)
  • Tape where the two wires meet with electrical tape and insert the timer switch into the wall box, making sure the wires clear the edges
  • Secure the faceplate, then turn the main power supply on and check the switch

2. Spray for Pests

When outdoor temperatures plummet, ants, spiders, crickets and other outdoor insects take shelter inside. Homeowners can use indoor pesticides such as baits, dusts or sprays to keep pests at bay. But if you have youngsters living at home, the first defense is for a child’s safety, avoiding the use of pesticides inside the house whenever possible.

A good alternative for indoor pesticides is to use a perimeter treatment on the outside foundation of your house. Perimeter treatments form a barrier on exterior surfaces, which stop pests from entering in the first place. For a perimeter treatment to be effective, get it in place before insects start entering the house or garage. You may prefer to hire a local exterminator to get this job done. However, it’s also on the to-do list of most do-it-yourselfers.

The Steps:

  • Choose the kind of insecticide to spray: liquid or granule (note: if you are treating a hard, vertical surface, liquid sprays are best)
    • Liquid sprays can either be ready-to-use or may come in a container for use in a pump sprayer
      • Pump spraying is our preferred method – just fill it with your liquid insecticide
      • Ready-to-use liquid sprays attach to the water hose and mix in with the water as they’re sprayed
    • Granule insecticides are applied using a spreader (note: unless rain is forecast water the treated areas well after application)
  • Spray the entire foundation area around the house, behind steps, around decks or concrete slabs, in cracks and crevices, near window frames and in areas where utility wires enter the house
  • Include a 10- to 12-inch band of soil around the foundation
  • Apply insecticide anywhere insects are prone to gather: sheds, woodpiles and carports

3.Winterize & Store Garden Hoses

After you finish using hoses for the season, drain them of water. Turn off the water at the spout, then either use the spray nozzle or hold the hose vertical until every drop trickles out. It’s also a good idea to disconnect hoses from waterspouts, and then protect them with inexpensive foam spout insulators. Storage for garden hoses comes in three basic types: racks, reels and pots.

  • Racks: the space-saving, and often decorative, rack hangs on the wall and keeps hoses off the ground. Hoses are coiled around it by hand, but can be taken off and brought inside for the winter.
  • Reels: with reel-type storage, turning a crank handle easily coils the hose up, and it keeps the gardener less dirty. These practical units also have wheels to move around the yard with ease, or into the garage for the winter.
  • Pots: garden hose pots need to come with drainage holes and are a good option if they’re kept near a watering area. Pots can also be transported to a storage area for the winter.

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

Categories: Fall Checklist, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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