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:
“It’s no longer necessary to give up your home’s good looks for a more institutional-looking appearance just to achieve a safer, more usable house,” says Eric Kozak of Premier Care In Bathing, leading makers of walk-in baths. “You can age in place and retain the style that makes living in your home comfortable and safe, and maintain your independence at the same time.”
With more than 78 million baby boomers growing older in the United States, aging in place - and how to do it well - is a hot topic for many homeowners. If you’re planning ahead or thinking it’s now time to update your home to accommodate changing needs, keep a few things in mind:
Kitchens and baths are commonly the most challenging rooms in the house for people, like many seniors, with mobility issues. Updating these rooms can go a long way toward helping you stay in and enjoy your own home for as long as possible. "Bathrooms, in particular, pose safety issues. Falls are one of the leading reasons seniors must go into nursing homes and most home falls occur in the bathroom," Kozak says.
When renovating your bathroom, focus on the important elements, including low-level entryways, accessible grab bars, easy grip faucets and showers with safety screens. Other elements include safer, slip-resistant flooring; brighter, more flexible lighting; and safe access to the shower or bathtub.
Walk in showers
Stepping in and out of a tub or shower is one of the riskiest times for people with mobility challenges. Appropriately placed grab bars - now available in designer colors and textures - can help improve safety in these high-risk areas. Another option that’s high on safety and style is to replace a current shower or tub with a walk-in shower like those now offered by Premier Care In Bathing, whose walk-in bathtubs have made bathing safer and more convenient for thousands of Americans with mobility issues. The walk-in showers are a good option for wheelchair users or in rooms where a full-size tub is not practical.
Two size options, 48 inches and 60 inches, ensure convenience and luxury. A waist-high, folding screen, designed with proprietary technology, keeps water inside the shower and not on the bathroom floor. From the waist up, you can add your own decorative touch with the shower curtain design of your choice, hung on a gracefully curved rod like the ones found in quality hotel baths. Dual Delta showerheads provide the option of an overhead shower or a hand-held shower, and a safe and relaxing folding seat. Installation can often be done in just a day or two
Replacing A Lamp Socket
The do-it-yourself project we will discuss today is pretty easy to do and can actually make your home a lot safer. We were once paid $55,000 to partially rebuild a fire-damaged condominium that had exploded into flames when a short circuit occurred in a frayed lamp cord. Fortunately, the owner was away at the time and was not injured. But, she lost just about everything she owned, family photos, personal records, memorabilia, her wardrobe, furniture, clothing... everything.
Insuring that electrical appliances are in good condition is important. And, repairing a frayed appliance cord is a good way of doing your share to insure home safety. On the other hand, when it comes to working on electrical appliances there can be dangers especially if you aren't careful. For example: If you replace a lamp cord with an undersized wire, overheating can occur and a fire can result. Other simple mistakes can be disastrous too. As you make the electrical repairs that we suggest in this article, be sure that all connections are tight and snug. A loose electrical connection can promote arcing and a fire can result.
Here's another: Lack of proper insulation between the electrical contacts and the surrounding metal socket housing can result in a short circuit that can ultimately cause a fire. No, we aren't having second thoughts about suggesting an electrical task. We think doing these kinds of repairs are important, but we would like you to be acutely aware of the importance of being extremely careful when working with electric appliances. It's easy to prevent an electrical repair from backfiring once you realize what things can go wrong. So, read on and learn another trick or two.
With a lamp there are two parts that are known to wear out every once in a while and which must occasionally be replaced:
1) the cord
2) the light bulb socket
In this article we will focus on a socket replacement, however, this is an opportune time to replace the cord as well.
Replacing a light bulb socket and switch is easy. Don't try to repair just the switch. You won't save any money, and it may cost even more. Also, it doesn't make any difference which style switch you select. There are three basic types to choose from: Pull chain, Push-push, and Twist. Keep in mind that a switch is a switch when it comes to "which type." We suggest that you be the judge. There is, however, another consideration when selecting a switch. That is whether it simply goes on and off or provides low and high intensity on positions. Some folks call it a "3-way switch". Probably because it has three positions: off, on low, and full on. The wires are connected the exact same way regardless of which switch you choose. But, the 3-way is a little more expensive than the standard type. Also, if you select the 3-way switch, you will have to provide the more expensive 3-way bulbs.
Once you have decided on which switch you will use the hardest part of the job is over. Now it's time to begin disassembling the lamp. Most lamps are built pretty much the same way. Quarter-inch threaded tubing travels from the base of the light socket to the bottom of the lamp. The tubing screws into the socket at the top end of the lamp and relies on a nut and washer at the bottom end to hold the entire lamp together kind of like a multi-piece totem pole. Often, a layer of felt conceals the connection at the bottom of the lamp. During the repair don't discard the felt. It not only conceals the connection, but also prevents the lamp base from scratching your table.
There can sometimes be several pieces between the socket and the bottom of the lamp. We sometimes see lamps in as many as a dozen pieces. Although there are usually only one or two sections, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to photograph your lamp before you take it apart just in case.
***Caution: Don't begin until the lamp has been unplugged and the bulb and lampshade have been removed.
If you intend to replace the cord as well, carefully remove the felt cover from the base of the lamp. Use a razor blade to help peel it off. This will expose a threaded tube with a nut on the end through which the lamp cord travels. If you do not intend on replacing the cord please skip the previous step. To replace the socket, remove the setscrew at its base. Then, use a screwdriver to pry the socket shell from the base cap. Simply wedge the screwdriver into the seam between the two pieces and gently pry. With the outer shell out of the way remove the (cardboard insulation sleeve to expose the two electrical connections. One will be copper colored, the darker of the two and one will be silver colored, the lighter of the two).
Loosen both screws and release both wires. You can now unscrew the base cap from the threaded rod. At this point, if you are replacing the cord, pull it out of the lamp. Disassembly is now complete. To make the repair all you have to do is reverse the disassembly process. Keep in mind that the wire lamp cord must be carefully reconnected. The wire that attaches to the silver post is the neutral side of the connection. The neutral wire on a lamp cord is identified along its entire length, usually by ribs, indentations or square corners on the insulating jacket. And, that's all there is to it.
Installing a frost-proof sillcock
Growing up in the West, except for the occasional trip to the mountains for a day or so of frolicking, we saw little snow. As children, we associated snow with fun and pleasure. It wasn't until later, that less pleasurable aspects of snow, such as shoveling and dealing with ice dams, came to light.
We then became familiar with a device that we had never before seen... a frost-proof sillcock. We learned that a sillcock is an outdoor water faucet or "hose bib." What we had yet to understand was how a hose bib could be frost-proof. After all, on those rare occasions when the mercury dipped low enough to be a threat, we simply wrapped the hose bib and adjacent pipes with rags to prevent the pipes from freezing and, thus, bursting.
A sillcock is just another name for a hose-bib. It is called by that name because it is typically located just above the "sill"... the board that is anchored to the top of a foundation. It also is mounted to the "header joist" which in some parts of the country is referred to as the "sill." In other regions, it's called the "rim joist."
The pipe that supplies water to the sillcock has a shut-off valve located in the basement some distance in from the exterior wall. Thus, when the weather gets cold, the valve can be turned off and drained to prevent a burst pipe. Although it's a reasonably good means of prevention, it can be somewhat inconvenient. And what happens when one forgets to close the shut-off valve and drain the pipe? The consequences can be disastrous.
Enter the "frost-proof sillcock." It looks much like your run-of-the-mill hose bib except for the vacuum breaker that sits atop the valve. When a frost-proof sillcock is turned off, air rushes into the sillcock through the vacuum breaker to break the seal of water and help the residual amount to drain.
What is more amazing is what one can't readily see. Unlike a traditional hose bib where the valve stem is an inch or two in length, the valve stem for a sillcock is 6 to 30 inches long. Thus, the valve is well within the exterior wall and protected from the cold and freezing. What's more, you don't need to worry about whether you remembered to close the shut-off valve, since one isn't required.
Installing a frost-proof sillcock is reasonably simple especially if you have previous experience soldering. Besides the sillcock, you'll need a torch, solder, flux, a flux brush, fine sandpaper or steel wool, a copper tubing cutter and a rag. Start by removing the existing sillcock. Close the shut-off valve and drain residual water from the faucet. Adjust the tubing cutter to surround the pipe and tighten the handle while rotating the cutter around the pipe. Remove the old sillcock and position the new frost-proof one in its place. Check the length of the supply line, make a pencil mark and... using the tubing cutter... cut the pipe again to correspond with the length of the new sillcock.
Use fine sandpaper or steel wool to polish the end of the water supply and the inside of the copper fitting at the end of the sillcock. Apply a small amount of flux (soldering acid) to both the end of the supply line and the interior of the fitting at the end of the sillcock, and join the two. Next, light the torch and, with the torch in one hand and a length of solder in the other, apply the tip of the flame to the fitting at the end of the sillcock. Be sure that the sillcock valve is open all the way to prevent damage to rubber gaskets from the heat. Place the tip of the solder at the joint between the pipe and the fitting and continue to apply heat until the solder is drawn into the joint. Move the tip of the solder around the joint and remove the flame to prevent the pipe from overheating. Use just enough heat to cause the solder to flow. Immediately after removing the flame, use the flux brush to apply a small amount of flux around the entire joint.
Turn the torch off and allow the fitting to cool. Use a rag to remove excess flux, and clean the joint. Finish the job by fastening the sillcock flange to the exterior siding with a couple of screws. First, apply a generous bead of caulk between the siding and the flange for a good waterproof seal. Turn on the water supply (once and for all) and flush the new sillcock before turning it off.
Food has drug like effects on your body
Therefore we need to break the stranglehold the food industry has on most of us. Do it if not for yourself, for your kids spouse and friends.
45% of Americans are obese. For the first time since lifespan has been recorded our kids will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. That .99c hamburger has hidden costs and ramifications that increases the price dramatically.
Take back control in your life, every time we support our local farmer or food co-op or farmers market or buy organic food. By scanning these purchases we actually get to VOTE against these Corporations who put their greed ahead of your health. Go out and get a copy of the new documentary film Food Inc.
Let us tackle the health care problem by each and every one of us being responsible for our lifestyle choices.
Change is often the most difficult thing to do, but through adversity we will emerge stronger.
Stay healthy and prosper.
Live long and keep mobile.
Attic Storage Space: A Valuable Hidden Asset
folding ladders or dedicated stairways.
Over the years, the role of the attic in home design has undergone changes. Many old and stately homes were designed and built with large attic storage rooms to archive family heirlooms. The attic was serviced by a dedicated stairway for easy access. When urban tract homes gained popularity, useful attic space was widely ignored by architects and builders. One or two car garages were considered to provide all of the storage space needed. However, many homeowners are finding renewed interest in the attic space. This is because homeowners have so many more things to store than ever before. With the growing prosperity of American homeowners and the ever-expanding supply of affordable home, lawn and garden maintenance tools, we find our garages are filling up and overflowing. The average homeowner now owns an extensive inventory of tools, mowers, edgers, weed eaters, vacuums, coolers, luggage, sports equipment, pressure washers, gardening supplies, etc., and the list grows longer each year.
In response to the ongoing need for more storage, even starter homes now have two-car garages, while the new standard is three-car garages (two for cars and one for storage). In addition, some builders are giving more attention to the attic space as potential storage space. They often deck a small area in the attic around the folding attic ladder. They recognize that many homebuyers are thinking ahead and see some attic storage as a plus for the home. Even the builders find this little storage space useful, as you will usually find some left-over tile, grout, and paint stashed up there when the house goes on the market!
A Well-Planned Attic Space A Poorly-Planned Attic Space
Plan Ahead for Walk-Around Space Add a Safety Railing for the Ladder Opening
Planning Ahead for Great Attic Storage
If you are having a home custom-built, or planning to do so in the future, then you have the opportunity to make choices that will insure that your attic will be roomy and useful for storage. You can work with the architect or builder to express your interest in having a more usable attic storage space. Following are some basic facts you should know about roof construction and how different types of roof construction will directly affect whether your attic space will be roomy or cramped, user friendly or inhospitable.
Hip Vs. Gable: The hip roof is slanted on all sides while the gable roof is slanted on two sides with the adjacent walls extending vertical up to the point of the roof. The hip roof costs less to build, but the gable roof gives the home more character. One compromise often used is to gable the front of the home and hip the back of the home, preserving character in front and conserving cost in the rear. Where the attic is concerned, the gable provides more usable space (see illustration above left). The gable roof is the best choice to give your home character and to maximize your usable attic space.
Low Vs. High Pitch: This choice is even more important than hip or gable. The roof pitch can make a drastic difference in usable attic space. If the roof pitch is too low, you may not even be able to stand up in the center, making your attic difficult to use. A low to moderate pitch will provide some walk-around space while a higher pitch attic of the same dimensions will provide substantially more space (see illustration above right). For example, the higher pitch roof illustrated above will require 30% more wood to construct, but will increase the walk-around attic space by 60%. There are other benefits to higher pitch roofs. These include more insulating dead air space and improved drainage, as well as aesthetic appeal.
Typical Trusses can Restrict Attic Access “Attic” Trusses provide Roomy Storage
Roof Truss Types: There are many variations of roof truss configurations. In general, the roof truss is a triangular frame of lumber with various vertical or diagonal members inside to add support and stiffness. Trusses are usually prefabricated at a truss factory according to a set of blueprints. Individual pieces of lumber are pre-cut, then assembled onto a template. Spiked metal plates are positioned at each joint, and then pressed into the wood. The finished trusses are then transported to the construction site.
Most truss configurations will result in an attic space that is a maze of vertical and diagonal members that you will have to step over if you want to move around in the attic (see illustration above left). In contrast, the “attic truss” configuration will create a central open area defined by evenly spaced vertical “wall” members and will allow you to walk around freely (see illustration above right). The floor can easily be decked with plywood all the way to the eaves, creating a large central room with triangular storage compartments down either side. The central area can be even sheet-rocked or paneled to form walls and a ceiling, creating a storage room or a “bonus room.”
In summary, if you are having a home custom-built you can optimize your usable attic space by making smart choices about how your home is built. You can have gables instead of hips, a high-pitched roof instead of low-pitched roof, and if your home will use roof trusses, you can specify “attic trusses” instead of the typical kind. Remember that with a little planning your attic space can provide hundreds of square feet of hidden storage space, making your home easier to organize and your garage neat and uncluttered!
For more information visit: www.bpghome.com