OnTheHouse Express

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Making Your Climb Safe!

The first decision to be made is the height of the ladder to use. You should never use a ladder that is too short for the job at hand. If a short ladder forces you to use the equipment in an unsafe manner, you risk serious injury from a fall. Choose a ladder that allows you to complete your task safely.

  • Stepladders are the most common ladder used around the home. Smaller step ladders may be used indoors to reach higher cabinets or to hang pictures on the walls. Stepladders are often used to elevate the user three or four feet from the ground. These types of ladders use wider treads (steps) for stability and usually fold for easy storage.
  • If you must reach high on the sides of your home for painting or up to the gutters and roof, extension ladders are a good choice of climbing equipment. Extension ladders may fold down to the length of one section for storage, but can be extended to reach many feet. Unlike stepladders, extension ladders must be propped against walls or other sturdy surfaces for support.

The second decision, which is just as important as the type of ladder, is the material used to make them. Originally almost all ladders were constructed from wood, but today”s customer can select from a multitude of materials such as wood, aluminum, and fiberglass. Aluminum and Fiberglass are the most common ladder materials found in the marketplace today.

  • Aluminum ladders are valued for their durability, lightweight feature, and resistance to climate. However, any metal ladder can become a hazard when used around electrical sources. Aluminum ladders are ideal for indoor usage when electricity is not being used or for outdoor projects away from power lines.
  • Fiberglass ladders are non-conductive, which makes them a better choice for use around electricity. Fiberglass ladders come in a variety of colors that often tie in to duty ratings.

The final decision to make is the load that will be used on the ladder. Ladders are rated by duty ratings that indicate to the user the total weight of the user plus the weight of their tools and equipment that the ladder is designed to carry. The following are the different ratings found in the marketplace today:

Type 1AA – 375lbs.

Type 1A – 300lbs.

Type 1 - 250lbs.

Type 2 – 225 lbs.

Type 3 – 200lbs.

Make sure that you select a ladder that will accommodate you and your equipment safely. Remember, safety should always be the most important factor when selecting a ladder. Ensure you use the right climbing equipment, under the right conditions, and have adequate duty rating to accommodate your needs. For more information on different ladder types and finding a dealer near you, please visit our website at www.louisvilleladder.com.

Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips

. If you haven't run your lawn mower this season, you probably soon will. It's that time of year again - spring has sprung and lawns are sprouting. Whatever mower you might use, you always should be certain that it's clean, properly lubricated and adjusted for safer, more efficient operation. Following are a few lawn mower general maintenance tips that we think you will value.

Things sometimes go haywire when a gas-powered machine is stored for a long period of time. The fuel deteriorates, a glaze builds up on the inside of the engine and rust sets in. So, one of the first things you will want to do this spring is drain the fuel tank and fill it with fresh gas. High test is best - at least 87 octane - because it will burn cleaner. By the way, we suggest that you have a plastic gas container. They don't rust or dent. And, don't buy a big container. A small one will have to be filled more often, but you won't have to worry about leftover fuel that will deteriorate in storage after the end of the season. Even 30-day-old gas might affect engine performance.

There is a special additive that you can mix with your gas that will dissolve the glaze that builds up on the internal parts of the engine. Its use can have you on your way to a quick start in no time. This additive is available at automobile-parts houses and garden-equipment stores everywhere.

Even more important than the fuel is the engine oil. You can sometimes get away with old fuel, but never, never, never, go more than one season without an oil change. Drain out the old and put in the new. Using old oil will wear out an engine faster than anything else. Tiny particles of metal and grit buildup in the oil change it from a lubricant to a sticky, gritty sanding fluid. If you don't want to pay for a premature overhaul, lubricate your gas engine every season or after every 25 hours of use. Check the owner's manual to find out what kind of oil is needed. Normally, SAE 30 is used.

The solution to rust buildup begins with cleaning and oiling your mower before storing it for the winter. Wet mud on the handle, housing and other components will turn to rust in no time. After the engine cools, use a bristle brush to remove excesses. Spray the housing, shroud, handles and cables down with WD-40. Use caution here. When cleaning the inside of the housing make absolutely sure that the spark plug wire has been removed from the spark plug and that it is positioned so that it cannot come into contact with the plug during the cleaning process. The engine can be started if the blade is manually rotated. Something you would do when cleaning the housing. This would be kind of like cranking up an airplane engine by turning the propeller.

You can easily clean the spark plug with a tiny file made for that purpose. However, for a dollar or so that must be spent, it makes a lot more sense to replace it. Best performance results when fresh fuel is ignited by a new spark plug in a well-lubricated engine. If you don't have an owner's manual, contact the manufacturer. You can have one mailed or you can download one from the Internet.

Could you imagine trying to breathe through a dirty diaper? Well, that is kind of what it is like for a small gas engine when its filter gets dirty. The filter exists to protect the internal parts of the engine from garden dirt and dust and can easily become a mud-clogged mess. Service it every 25 hours or every season - whichever comes first. Make it part of your oil-change program. Dislodge dust buildup by tapping the filter. Some filters can be cleaned with a solvent; others must be replaced. Again, refer to your owner's manual.

With the plug and plug wire disconnected, the blade should be inspected and sharpened, if necessary. It is important to remove the blade. Never attempt to sharpen it in place. If you have a bench grinder, the task can be accomplished in a few minutes, whereas filing by hand can take up to 30 minutes. Hand-filing is much easier when the blade is mounted in a vise. Remember: a left-hand nut is used to hold the blade in place. Turn it clockwise to loosen it and counterclockwise for tightening.

Finally, power-propelled mowers have belts that wear. These should be checked and replaced if frayed.

Choose Life


The brain now shifts your body into a catabolic tailspin after age 40 because it is simply doing what it was programmed to do thousands of years ago.

Think about that the next time your sitting on the couch munching on some high fat artery-clogging snack, watching tv. The bochemical readout on your heart rate metabolism and resperation, now starts that catabolic downhill spiral that will put you on your grave on your midseventies.

Our technology has outstripped our biology.

So we suffer, we suffer with a life expectancy of 76.7 years when we are capable of lasting 120 years or more. We suffer a host of illnesses that are entirely preventable. We behave as though our upset stomach were the result of an antacid deficiency, our fatigue due to lack of caffeine.

Fitness doesn’t matter anymore, and unwanted fat will simply melt away by taking a pill. These notions are absurd.

Get up and move, break the power of addictions, only you can make that choice.

Are you ready to choose life?

Go to www.overthehillfitness.com (please link to the website) to learn more.

Troubleshooting Toilet Problems

. A toilet consists of a tank, a bowl (with some models these are one piece) and ball-cock and flush-valve assemblies which are, respectively, the fill and flush devices inside the tank.

Most people believe that a gravity-flush toilet works on water pressure. Not so. In fact, there is no single factor that makes for a full flush, but rather many components working in harmony. Often, when only one of these components fails to do its job, the whole operation falls apart.

The flush-related component that most of us are familiar with is the handle that triggers the flushing action. What happens beyond that is, for most, a mystery.

The handle is connected to a trip lever. When pressed, the handle raises it which, in turn, raises a chain or vertical rod that is attached to a stopper located at the bottom of the tank.
When the stopper is raised, water in the tank rushes through the large hole (the flush valve) at the bottom of the tank. It then travels into the bowl via the small flush ports at the underside of the rim of the bowl.

Then physics takes over. Gravity pulls (or siphons) the water in the bowl out through the trap and into the drainpipe. Once the tank has emptied, the stopper drops back into the flush-valve seat and the float ball (now down) triggers the ball-cock assembly to refill the tank with new water.

Water enters the toilet through the supply line located below and to one side of the tank and then through the tank-fill tube. As the water level rises, so too does the float ball. When the ball reaches a certain height, it shuts off the flow of water. If the water fails to stop running, the tank will not overflow because water will go into the overflow tube and then into the toilet bowl. This results in the irritating "running toilet."

This condition can be the result of several things. One of the most common is a float arm that is not rising to the proper height. The simplest method to correct this is to slightly bend the float arm downward.

Another common cause is a stopper that is not seating properly against the flush valve seat. Generally, this is due to deterioration of the stopper, or a flush-valve seat that is damaged or covered with scale. Stopper replacement or cleaning and repair of the flush-valve seat will usually solve the problem.

A cracked overflow tube and defective ball-cock valves also often are the culprits. While both of these can be repaired, often your best bet is to replace them. Some of the older ball-cock devices do not contain an anti-siphon valve that prevents water in the tank from being siphoned back into the freshwater system. All new fill valves contain the anti-siphon feature. In addition, the search for and replacement of parts can cost more and take significantly longer to replace than to replace the entire assembly.

If you suspect that your toilet is leaking, you can find out by using the food-coloring test. Place a few drops of coloring into the tank and allow the toilet to go unused for one half-hour. If, upon your return, coloring has shown up in the bowl, you have a leak. One of the aforementioned remedies should solve the problem.

An insufficient flush is the result of several things: Faulty linkage between the flush handle and the trip lever; the tank stopper closes before the tank is emptied; the flush passages or "siphon jets" are clogged with mineral buildup or a leak exists between the bowl and the tank.

The repairs are not as difficult as one might think. Replacing one or both of these components can repair the faulty linkage between the flush handle and the trip lever. A tank stopper that closes prematurely generally can be corrected by changing the length of the chain or adjusting the rod between the trip lever and the stopper. Occasionally, a defective stopper is the cause.

Mineral-clogged flush passages can be opened by using a bent coat hanger. Insert the end into each of the passages to dislodge the material. Another means of dispensing of scale involves a quart of vinegar and some duct tape.

Turn off the water to the toilet and empty the tank. Next, use the duct tape to seal the flush passages under the rim of the toilet. Pour the vinegar into the flush valve and allow it to remain overnight. Remove the tape and use a stiff nylon brush to remove the residue that remains. Turn on the water and refill the tank.

A leaking tank is a sign of loose fittings or worn washers. A new washer or a modest turn of the wrist is all that is required.

A sweating toilet is not an indication that it has been working too hard, but, rather, is a sure sign of condensation. This condition can be corrected by installing a tank liner. The liner will act as an insulation barrier between the water in the tank and the temperature in the home.

For extremely cold climates, there are hot-water mixing valves that introduce a small amount of hot water into the tank. Also, there are toilets with trap heaters to prevent water in the trap from freezing.


Repairs on an existing unit may be the least expensive immediate option, but could cost the consumer more in the long run since older systems tend to break down over and over and consume more energy and drive up cooling bills more than newer systems.  However, there are times when simple repairs can prolong the life of an air conditioner, making immediate replacement a less sensible option.

To help consumers make an educated decision, consider the following tips from Bill Cunningham, a home cooling and energy efficiency expert with Lennox – a leading provider of home comfort systems. He suggests homeowners ask the following five questions before making the decision whether to repair or replace:

  1. Is the air conditioner on its last leg? Excessive energy consumption and frequent repairs are the trademarks of a worn-out system. If the air conditioner is more than 10 years old, replacing the aging system with a new ENERGY STAR-qualified system can save time, money, and headaches – and keep you cooler and more comfortable in the long run. If the system is less than 10 years old, routine maintenance is almost always the way to go. In fact, an annual check-up can significantly increase the air conditioner’s performance and extend the life of the unit.
  2. Are your energy bills going up, up and up?  While the cost of electricity is on the rise, an older, less efficient air conditioner may also be the culprit when it comes to high energy bills. By replacing an 8 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency rating) cooling system, which is much less efficient than the current SEER level allowed by law, with a 15 SEER system, homeowners can save approximately 47 percent on energy bills and up to $3,095 over a five-year period. Energy calculators, such as the one available here on lennox.com can help consumers compare the savings of different high-efficiency systems and determine whether to repair or replace an older unit.
  3. Is the refrigerant used in the air conditioner on the verge of extinction? Most older air conditioning systems use a refrigerant known as Freon (also known as R-22). Because Freon has been found to be ozone-depleting, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act is mandating that new air conditioning systems manufactured after 2010 use an environmentally friendly substitute like the chlorine-free and ozone-responsible R410A refrigerant. With the switch to R410A, the availability of Freon will eventually begin to dwindle and the cost of the outdated refrigerant will likely increase due to limited supplies, so consumers may want to go ahead and replace a system that uses Freon with one that uses the new refrigerant.
  4. Did your home feel like a steam room even before the air conditioner stopped working? A poorly operating air conditioner or one that is not properly sized for the home can contribute to excessive humidity. Leaky ductwork can also cause humidity problems. When making the decision to repair or replace, talk with a reputable home cooling contractor about the humidity problem to determine if you need to replace the existing system with one that is the right size for the home or if the issue can be resolved with repairs or duct sealing.
  5. Is the air conditioner still protected by a warranty? If the existing system is still under warranty, it may make sense to have the air conditioner repaired depending on the type of coverage the product warranty provides. If there is no warranty left on the existing system, consumers may want to buy a new system that comes with an entirely new warranty for added peace of mind.

Lennox Industries is a leading provider of customized home comfort systems, residential generators and indoor air quality products that are designed to deliver customized comfort, efficiency and functionality, with the most innovative and reliable features available. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy have selected Lennox as an ENERGY STAR Manufacturer of the Year four out of six years for its outstanding contribution to developing and promoting energy-efficient products. For more information about Lennox home comfort products, visit www.Lennox.com or call 1-800-9-LENNOX.