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Gutter Brush

Top 10 Reasons for Gutter Protection

Top ten reasons to use the Gutterbrush simple gutter guard as your home’s rain gutter protection system.

(1) Climbing a Ladder Can Be Dangerous: A significant number of people fall from ladders every year. Serious back, head, neck, bone, and soft tissue injuries are often the result of those falls. The GutterBrush Gutter Guard minimizes your need for climbing a ladder in the first place and thusly greatly reduces the chances of suffering any ladder related injuries.

(2) Helps Keep Water Flowing Through Your Rain Gutters: When your home’s rain gutters or eavestroughs become clogged with leaves, they can actually do more damage than not having rain gutters at all. With The GutterBrush Gutter Guard, normal weather patterns and the principles of gravity and surface tension cause leaves and debris to drift to the ground. Unlike gutter protection appliances like gutter helmets, gutter guards, and gutter leaf guards rain water filters through the GutterBrush Gutter Guard and continues to flow freely into your rain gutters or eavestroughs and downspouts.

(3) Helps Prevent Frozen Rain Gutters and Eavestroughs: During cold weather standing water in rain gutters can freeze into heavy beams of ice. Rain gutters and eavestroughs are sometimes damaged because most are not built to sustain that much weight. Also, during the day, the ice begins to melt, thus soaking the fascia. At night, the water refreezes and pushes the fascia outward. The GutterBrush Gutter Guard keeps water flowing away from your house and can prevent ice from forming in the first place.

(4) Helps Stop Wood from Rotting: Standing water is one of a home owner’s biggest challenges. If rain gutters and eavestroughs do not function properly because they are frozen or full of debris, your home’s soffit and fascia boards will absorb rain water and start to rot causing the need for very expensive repairs. The GutterBrush Gutter Guard prevents this from happening by maintaining an unimpeded flow of water through the rain gutter channel and out the down spout.

(5) Avoid the Expense & Danger of Rain Gutter Cleaning: Cleaning rain gutters and eavestroughs is expensive and dangerous work. Whether doing it yourself or paying to have your rain gutters cleaned, installing the GutterBrush Gutter Guard can provide relief on both counts. Protect your home and avoid ladder related injuries with the GutterBrush Gutter Guard.

(6) Helps Keep Your Landscaping Beautiful: Clogged and saturated rain gutters and eavestroughs can threaten your expensive landscaping. Rain has nowhere to flow except off of your home’s roof and onto plant life below. An uncontrolled flow of water will drown plants, erode soil, and create increased expenses for you over the life of owning your property. While gutter leaf guards, gutter helmets, and gutter guards can become clogged with leaves and debris the GutterBrush Gutter Guard maintains an unimpeded flow of water through the rain gutter channel and out the down spout without damaging landscaping or eroding soil.

(7) Helps With Pest Control: Most clogged rain gutters and eavestroughs are generally damp, dark places filled with rotting leaves and debris. This is just the environment insects and several types of mice seek out and often find entry points into your home through gaps in soffit and fascia boards. Just like gutter protection appliances such as gutter leaf guards, gutter helmets, and gutter guards, the GutterBrush Gutter Guard prevents this situation from occurring.

(8) Helps Protect Your Foundations: One of the key contributing factors to the stability of your home depends on the ability of the soil to absorb rain. Builders construct homes to stand up to soil conditions assuming that drainage systems carry water away from the home. When rain gutters, eavestroughs and gutter protection devices like gutter leaf guards, gutter helmets, and gutter guards fail, water moves toward the foundation. When soil becomes saturated, leaks can occur, and cause the foundation to shift or crack causing both a dangerous and costly situation. The GutterBrush Gutter Guard can prevent this from happening by maintaining an unimpeded flow of water through the rain gutter channel, out the down spout and away from the foundation.

(9) Helps to Prevent Mold and Mildew in Attics and Crawl Spaces: Attics and crawl spaces have much in common with rain gutters. They are awkward to clean and work on. If water is kept away from these places there is no worry about fixing what years of mold and mildew can damage. The GutterBrush Gutter Guard can prevent costly mold and mildew from developing by maintaining an unimpeded flow of water through the rain gutter channel and out the down spout.

(10) One Less Thing to Worry About: Life is filled with many things to worry about but your rain gutter protection system need not be among them. Stop stressing about a potential failure of your rain gutter protection system and simply enjoy your home. The GutterBrush Gutter Guard is a guaranteed way to stop worry about your rain gutters and eavestroughs all year long.

Regrouting Ceramic Tile - II

. If there is one thing that we have learned in our many years as building contractors and home improvement journalists, it is that grungy tile grout is considered by many people to be the scourge of mankind. It is ugly and a pain in the neck to clean. And, recent studies by the U.S. Center for Disease Control report that certain types of mold can negatively affect one's health.

Appearance aside, tile grout serves an important purpose. It is a tiled surface's first line of defense against infiltration by water. It's the whole reason you installed tile in the first place - to protect the structural elements of your home from water damage. Although grout is only one part of the big picture, it's job is important. Cracks and gaps in grout are a sure sign that water is doing its one-two punch on the substrate which can be a real knockout on the pocketbook when it comes time to make repairs.

While grout helps prevent water damage, it is not the only source of waterproofing. A top quality tile installation will consist of a layer of straight and solid framing, a layer of building paper, a layer of mortar (we prefer floated mortar although precast mortar board is acceptable for a do-it-yourself installation), and finally the tile, grout and sealer. Therefore, if the tile or grout should ever develop hairline cracks (often not visible with the naked eye) there is a layer of protection below that will prevent damage. It is for this reason that we are strongly opposed to tile installed directly on wallboard -even if it is classified as "water-resistant." A shower constructed of tile glued directly to wallboard is, at best, a repair contractor's dream come true and, at worst, planned obsolescence.

Don't be a victim. Take control and you'll be money ahead. Start by keeping your grout clean. One of safest means of doing this is to use a solution that consists of one part distilled vinegar and one part water. Mix the two in a bucket and apply with a small brass brush or a toothbrush. The vinegar is a safe mild acid that will break down hard water deposits. For stubborn areas, spray the walls with vinegar and then cover the area with plastic wrap to keep it moist. This might be tedious work for a long-neglected shower, but will worthwhile.

If vinegar doesn't do the trick, try using hydrogen peroxide (the same stuff used on cuts). Here again, a bit of scrubbing will help cut the grease. If mildew is the problem, use the following solution: one-third cup of powdered laundry detergent, one quart of liquid chlorine bleach and three quarts of warm water. Add the bleach to the water first, then the detergent, and mix thoroughly. Even though the solution is mild, wear rubber gloves, safety goggles and have plenty of ventilation. For large areas, put the solution in a spray bottle and spray it onto the surface. Allow it to sit until the black mildew stains turn white (usually five to 15 minutes), but don't allow it to dry. Rinse with fresh water, dry and seal with a high-quality acrylic or silicone tile and grout sealer.

Once clean, if cracks are obvious or the grout is stained, discolored or just plain ugly, it's time to regrout. This process involves removing a small amount of the uppermost layer of grout and replacing it with a fresh new layer. Both appearance and waterproofing are improved.

When we first wrote on this subject over a decade ago, we recommended that a beer can opener be used to scrape away the upper layer of grout. Those were the days when it was easier to use our backs than our heads. Some years later we discovered a nifty tool called a grout saw - a small hand tool about the size of a toothbrush that consists of a handle attached to a small flat piece of steel covered with carbide particles. It is much more effective than the can opener and requires far less elbow grease. Now, thanks to modern technology, there is a lazy man's alternative - a power tool. A grout removal tool can be attached to a rotary tool to remove grout as effectively as your dentist grinds old fillings out of your teeth. Just be careful not to grind the edges of the tile.

Once the upper crust has been removed - usually about an eight of an inch, vacuum away all the dust and rinse with fresh water. Next, mix up a batch of new grout to a consistency of cake icing and apply it using a rubber grout float. Hold the float at about a 45-degree angle to the tile and, working in a diagonal direction to the tile, force the grout into the joints. Excess grout should be wiped off or "struck" using a damp sponge and fresh water. Wring the sponge out frequently to keep the tile clean and free of wayward grout. In short order, the grout will begin to dry and a haze will develop on the tile. This haze can be polished away with a piece of cheesecloth. The final step, sealing the grout and tile, can't be performed for about a week until the grout has had time to cure and dry. Use a high quality tile and grout sealer. We like one with a silicone resin. Epoxy is the best and should be used for added water resistance where tile is glued directly to wallboard or where extra stain resistance is needed, such as with kitchen counters.

Cleaning Mildew from Various Surfaces

. First, there was nuclear waste, then came contaminated ground water. Polluted streams, rivers with fewer fish and oceans with oil slicks followed. There's radon, carbon monoxide gas and more.

Inside pollutants can be almost as dangerous as any of the others that we just mentioned.

Mildew might seem like a docile organism to some, but for many, it has a number of consequences. An allergic reaction to mildew spores can result in an extended hospital visit. At best, mildew is a nuisance. So, with that in mind, this week's offering includes our old standby formula with a few new twists. But, first a bit about where the black, fuzzy stuff comes from.

Mildew and mold spores are everywhere. And your home can be a primary breeding ground. Condensation and humidity are the culprits. If you live in a humid area, you are destined to have mildew. That's because humid air ends up causing damp surfaces and that is exactly where mildew settles. In other climates where the relative humidity is lower, there is still a chance of growth. Condensation can occur in the desert, perhaps not to the same extent as in the Florida Keys or in New Orleans, but it can occur anywhere. And where there is moisture in the air or on ceilings and walls - or even in walls and ceiling and below floors - mildew can, and usually does, settle in. Look out you sod busters, mildew is everywhere just waiting for enough humidity, condensation or puddled water to get-a-growin'. Go ahead, don't dry off the walls after showering and see what grows there.

One can battle mildew by eliminating the feeding ground. Keep the house dry and mildew will not find a damp surface upon which to grow. You keep the house dry by circulating the air; by exhausting damp air in bathrooms, at the stove and in the laundry or wherever water vapors appear. In that way, condensation can't occur. Opening windows after a shower helps as well. In very humid areas a dehumidifier is a must. But, if you have a portable one, be sure to empty the drain pan. Also, don't forget the drain pans in your air conditioner and refrigerator. Swamp coolers work best in extremely arid locations. If you live in a warm humid climate and you have a swamp cooler you can count on having mildew and mold year round.

As promised, here's our famous all-purpose mildew cleaning formula followed by a couple of neat alternatives:

For outdoor mildew removal mix a quart of liquid chlorine bleach and a third of a cup of powdered laundry detergent into three quarts of hot water. Stir until thoroughly mixed and place in a spray bottle.

For counters, shower walls and for the bathroom in general, use one and one-half cups of bleach mixed with one gallon of water.

For mildewed clothing, use two tablespoons of bleach in one quart of water (or soapy water). We like the soapy water. Be sure the fabric is colorfast.

On painted surfaces you can use the outdoor formula. However, you might have sensitive paint. If so, use one and one-half cups of bleach and a third of a cup of powdered laundry detergent in a gallon of hot water.

For wood, plaster, plastic and metal surfaces - indoors or out - mix vinegar with borax. What a cleaner. Mix as much borax into the vinegar as you can. Keep mixing until the borax will no longer dissolve. Scrub this onto the surface and watch it get clean.

Tip: If you go to a janitorial supply store to get your spray bottle, you will be in for a surprise. The bottles and sprayers are sold separately. It's the same spray unit, except that with the shorter bottles the drawtube on the sprayer is cut shorter. The bottles in the janitorial supply store are a little bit sturdier than the ones you find at the grocer or at the hardware store. The big surprise is when the bottle is filled and you start squirting. It's amazing. You can set a janitorial grade sprayer to hit a spot from across the room.

Cleaning can be more fun when you know what works best. The cleaning concoctions in this article can be made for about a tenth the cost of commercial mildew cleaners. Now, you can be mildew-free while saving money.

Water Heater Maintenance

. If you're like most people, chances are good that you don't appreciate the convenience of hot water at the tap until there is none. This can be especially true when in the middle of a hot shower things turn cold, very cold.

Generally, a water heater is one of the most reliable appliances in a home. With regular maintenance it can provide years of service. Besides keeping you in hot water (something we know a lot about), a good maintenance program can quiet a noisy water heater, lower your utility bill and extend the life of the water heater. And who can't stand to save the cost and aggravation of yanking out a water heater and installing a new one that will do essentially the same thing that the old one did? It's not like buying a fancy new appliance with lots of buttons and gadgets that will please and entertain you. A water heater is a water heater.

It's essentially a large thermos bottle that consists of an outer housing, a tank and a burner assembly. Have you ever wondered how your water heater does its job? Cold water enters at the top of the tank and flows through a plastic pipe called a dip tube, which delivers the cold water to the bottom of the tank where the burners are located. The heated water rises to the top of the tank where it flows out when needed. As hot water is drawn from the tank, more cold water enters the tank to be heated. The water is kept hot with a layer of insulation that is sandwiched between the tank and the outer housing.

Corrosion presents the biggest threat to a water heat. The water's chemistry combined with the high temperature creates a corrosive environment that can attack the tank, requiring its replacement. To prevent the tank from deteriorating, water heaters come equipped with an anode rod. The rod, also known as a sacrificial anode, is made of aluminum, zinc or magnesium. It attracts corrosive elements to keep the tank from deteriorating. The anode eventually will deteriorate completely, instead of the tank.

To maintain this protection, the anode rod should be inspected at least once annually, more often where water is more corrosive. The anode rod can be inspected by removing a hex-head nut located at the top of the water heater. Once removed, the anode might consist of little more than a stub of wire, evidence that a new one is needed. Replacement anodes aren't a standard stock item at many hardware stores or home centers, but can usually be found at a plumbing supply store. An anode will need to be replaced every five years or so.

After the anode, sediment at the bottom of the tank is the next biggest threat to your water heater. Sediment reduces the efficiency of the burner, which raises your utility bill. Sediment also is a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause your hot water to smell like rotten eggs. And, as if that isn't enough, sediment is usually the cause of the rumbling sound that makes a water heater sound like a locomotive.

The most effective means of dealing with sediment is to get rid of it by regularly flushing the tank. This is done by connecting a garden hose to the drain valve located at the bottom of the tank, opening the valve and allowing water to flow for several minutes.

Here's a problem that might hit home. If during the first few minutes of a hot shower the water suddenly turns cold, you likely have a broken dip tube. That's the plastic pipe that delivers cold water from the top of the tank to the bottom near the burners. A cracked or broken dip tube will cause cold water to mix with hot water at the top of the tank and, consequently, result in cold water at your shower or faucet.

Ironically, your water heater is still flush with hot water. This can easily be solved by turning off the cold water supply to the heater, removing the water supply and nipple and broken dip tube and replacing it with a new one.

Although generally reliable, a controller/thermostat will fail from time to time causing the water temperature to vary erratically. The controller can be replaced without replacing the entire water heater, at a fraction of the cost. While the controller can be replaced by a do-it-yourselfer, this is something that you might want done by a pro. The safest and most energy-efficient setting for a thermostat is between 120F and 130F. A temperature setting less than 120F could allow potentially fatal bacteria to propagate within the tank. A higher temperature setting can deliver scalding water.

All water heaters have a temperature and pressure-relief valve that is designed to prevent the water heater from exploding. Some manufacturers suggest testing the valve every six months or so by raising and lowering the test lever on the valve. This should produce a sudden burst of hot water from the drain line connected to the valve. More frequent testing can reduce the chance of a leak caused by mineral and corrosion buildup. However, if a leak results immediately after a test, simply operate the test lever several times to free lodged debris that might be preventing the valve from seating properly.

Toxic gases produced by the burner should be safely vented through a flue pipe that attaches to the top of the water heater. Frequent inspections should be made to ensure that the flue pipe is aligned with the water heater exhaust port. Be sure that the flue is drawing properly by holding a match under the vent pipe. If the flame is drawn toward the vent pipe, it is drawing properly. If the flame blows away from the vent pipe, the flue is backdrafting, which could cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Check for an obstruction or damage to the vent pipe. If none exists, call in a pro to solve the problem.

How to Install Interlocking Floor

The recommended basic tools for installing laminate and engineered floors are usually: tape measure, jig saw, small square, hammer, tapping block, and pull bar or pry bar. The professional installer should also have a small table saw for ripping boards lengthwise, and a good power miter saw.

Laying out the floor in advance is the most important step. This will help to avoid having a very narrow board to fit in the last row. A good way to ensure having a starter board and a last board that are equal in width is to use the following formula: Measure the width of the room and divide that number by the width of the material being used. This will provide the number of full-width pieces that will fit. The leftover inches (less than one board) should be added to the width of a full board and divided by 2. This is the width of the starter board and the last board will be approximately the same.

Normally, the first row starts at the upper left corner of the room and continues across, but it’s a good idea to check the instructions that come with the individual product. Each board is clicked into the one before it, using a tapping block to seat it firmly. At the end of the first row, the last board will undoubtedly need to be cut to fit, and then tapped into place with a pull bar or pry bar.

The second row will normally start with the piece that was cut from the last board in the previous row. This will ensure a staggered appearance in the joints. Proceed as above. Nothing to it!

Jeff Van Horne, a hands-on General Contractor, developed the Lam-Hammer after trying to install laminate flooring in his own house. He had no problem till he reached the end of the first row, where he used the pull bar his instructions called for. After a few hours’ work and, in his opinion, not enough progress, he was thoroughly frustrated with the pull bar, and ended by putting a hole in the newly painted drywall.

There had to be a better way, and Jeff found it. He went to his workshop and came up with an odd-looking but highly effective tool – the first crude Lam-Hammer. The Lam-Hammer works on the principle of a dent puller, and with very little effort, pulls that last board in place. Best of all, there is no damage to the wall or cabinets or the new floor itself.

Since 2005, the Lam-Hammer line has expanded to include the original Standard, which works best on laminate floors; the Atlas, which is for engineered woods and hardwoods; the Titan – a special-order tool for unusually difficult floors; and most recently, the Lam-Hammer, Jr. The Jr was developed for the Do-it-yourselfer – it’s smaller, lighter, and less expensive, but works exactly the same way the professional models do. It is for laminates that are less than 7/16” thick – the kind of flooring that can be found at Lowe’s or Home Depot.

Professional installer Perry Wright, in a Floor Covering Installer article, says the Lam-Hammer is useful to him not only with floating floors, but “with all wood & laminate flooring installations, including nail- or staple-down and especially glue-down wood flooring. Its versatility is unmatched by any tool or combination of tools on the market…”

Extreme How-To’s Jeremy Hollingsworth says, “We actually cannot fathom how we would have installed this floor without the Lam-Hammer. Once you get to the wall, it is a must-have tool to tap it in the rest of the way…Completely impressed with this tool in every way…”

Flu-season Preparedness

Let’s consider a few facts first.

1.Vaccines inflame the brain, this is why most medical professionals including nurses, Refuse to take the same vaccinations they recommend to their patients.

2.For over 50 years studies have consistently shown that the elderly are significantly deficient in a number of important nutrients like 
-Vit C
-Vit E
-Vit D.

3. Vitamin D-3 does a lot more than build bones. This incredible nutrient stimulates a group of proteins called antimicrobial peptides. These peptides can inhibit or kill a number of viruses bacteria and fungi. So my suggestion eat right move and take some crucial supplements to boost your immune system.

Live long and keep mobile.

Karel Nunnink