Visit our forum for helpful tips and advice from other do-it-yourselfers! Click here.
Have an idea for our next newsletter? Send it our way!
Would you like to advertise on the On The House website or e-newsletter? Click here to tell us more!
To unsubscribe or change your subscription preferences, click here.
On The House Express is brought to you in part by:
We recently attended the 61st Annual National Hardware Show and Convention in Las Vegas, Nev., where hardware manufacturers from all over the world come to show off their wares to retailers. We got to see, touch and experiment with the latest and greatest in home improvement tools and products of all kinds.
There were more than 3,500 exhibitors and the choices were endless.
Note, however, that most of the items listed here are not yet in stores, but all are currently available on the Internet.
The DripCatcher is nothing more than a standard clear plastic paint bucket — except the top rim of the bucket has two lips instead of one. There is about a half-inch space between the lips. The paint brush is wiped against the inside lip. Paint that spills over the edge runs down into a trough (between the lips) and drains back into the bucket. Even a youngster would have trouble getting paint drips on the outside of this bucket. The product sells for about $5.
For more information go to www.dripcatcher.net.
Cutting out for a plug or switch box when installing a new sheet of drywall can be a heartbreaker. If you have ever installed wallboard you know that properly measuring for a wall plug cut-out can be confusing at best.
Someone has finally come up with a solution. It's called the HandyMark™ and it takes all of the guesswork out of marking electrical boxes. Snap this tool onto the electrical box, hold your wallboard in place, press against the area of the electrical box and the Handy Mark perforates the back of the wallboard with six pinholes. Connect the dots, cut the line out and there is perfect alignment between wallboard and receptacle.
For more information go to www.HandyMark.net.
Over the years, we have seen dozens of ways to store tools on a ladder. And so far, we have never used one that really worked. However, we found a tool bag that solves the problem. It's called the Ladder Pack and when we first saw it we thought it was a conventional canvas tool bag. Much to our surprise, when we picked it up, we discovered it was hollow.
It is a canvas tool bag with a soft carrying grip and gobs of assorted-size pouches all the way around. It's sort of pyramid-shaped just like the top of a ladder. Fill the pouch with tools, fit the hollow atop your ladder, and go to work. It even has a hammer loop and a drill pocket.
For more information go to www.wagic.com.
Ever have a garage sale? Didn't you hate having to go through the process of making up a sign big enough for everyone to see? Well, three sisters have solved the problem. Yes, they have created signs in a bag that come with a fold-up metal frame that has legs that you can stick in the lawn. The sign kit also includes a multi-colored pinwheel. Unfold the frame and stick it in the lawn, slip the sign over the frame and insert the pinwheel shaft into the hole in the sign.
For more information go to www.sassysigns.com.
This one is called the waterbroom. It's an all steel broom that has wheels where the bristles normally reside. The handle is a hollow pipe and the top end of it has a hand grip and a place to attach the working end of a garden hose. Turn on the water and a high pressure spray "water brooms" your porch, walk, patio or driveway. This one is kind of expensive, selling for over $125, but worth it if you have lots of concrete to keep clean. The spray is pretty forceful (water is internally mixed with air).
For more information go to www.watermiser.com.
Swimming Pool Tips
A dip in a swimming pool is an effective way to cool off on a hot and humid day. Be advised, however, that owning a pool involves more than sipping a beverage while basking in the sun on an inflated raft.
Regardless of its construction; above-ground, in-ground, fiberglass, vinyl or plaster, a swimming pool requires regular care and maintenance to ensure safe and healthful swimming conditions. This regular maintenance, which keeps the equipment operating at peak efficiency, also will extend its useful life and save big bucks in repairs and/or replacement. Well-maintained equipment even can result in a friendlier utility bill because the equipment won't have to work as hard, and can be run fewer hours each day.
Support equipment generally consists of a drain, surface skimmer, pump and filter, and can include solar collectors and a heater. Whatever filter you select must be kept clean. Excessive back pressure, which can be monitored by a gauge on the filter, is a sure sign that the filter needs cleaning.
Back-washing the system is generally not enough to give the filter a good cleaning. For example, a diatomaceous earth filter should first be back-washed and then taken apart so that all of the filter grids can be washed with a degreasing product, fresh water and a nylon brush.
And, although a sand filter doesn't need to be recharged, it's a good idea to pour a degreaser into the top at least once each season. For cartridge filters, install a new cartridge and follow the maintenance instructions provided in the owner's manual.
One of the most highly underrated, yet most important aspects of pool maintenance is water-balancing. Properly balanced water not only provides a safe and healthful swimming environment, but preserves the integrity of the pool and equipment, as well.
Green water is a frequent problem. This is a sign that the pH needs to be adjusted and the pool water needs to be "shocked." This process has nothing to do with electricity. It involves an extra dose of sanitizer to help kill bacterial and other organic contaminants, and is the first line of defense for keeping algae from getting started.
Algae is probably the most common threat to pool owners. It results in green or brown stains on the interior of the pool. It also can cause the water to change color, and pool surfaces to become slippery. Reducing the pH to 7.2 to 7.6 and the total alkalinity (TA) to 80 to 100 parts per million (ppm) will help combat the condition. Also, the pool water might need to be diluted with tap water. Low TA causes fluctuating pH and excessive corrosion and staining of equipment.
Bleached hair and bathing suits are a sign of excessive available chlorine. This typically can be treated by adding sodium sulfite, sodium bisulfite or sodium thiosulfate. Once the water is conditioned, maintain free available chlorine in the range of 1.0 to 3.0 ppm. For those who have a pool-maintenance service this is not a concern since the maintenance professional will start up the pool at the beginning of swim season and make frequent checks thereafter. Those who don't should take a sample to a pool chemical-and-supply retailer. The company generally will test the water for free, or for a nominal fee.
For more information about how to care for your pool, contact the National Spa & Pool Institute at 2111 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria, VA 22314. Their telephone number is 703-838-0083. They are a pool industry trade association that offers easy-to-follow information on pool care and chemical safety.