OnTheHouse Express

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Family Handyman
Family Handyman

Grip-Tite Wrenches
Grip-Tite Wrenches

New England Arbors
New England Arbors


Rebuilding Together
Rebuilding Together


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Tahoe Creamery

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Sun Heat


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Premier Care In Bathing

How to Prevent Hazards in the Bathroom


These stories are sad, but not surprising because the bathroom is one of the most dangerous areas in a house. A small area with frequent water use makes it a prime location for injuries from falls. And for older people the bathroom can be a real hazard.

“Falls are the leading cause of death from injuries among older persons and the death rate from falls continues to climb. Each year, one in three Americans age 65 and older fall and almost a third of them need medical treatment as a result,” according to the AARP.

“Research shows that 75 percent of household accidents happen in the bathroom,” says Karen Grassle, spokeswoman for Premier Care in Bathing. “It is crucial, especially for older individuals, to create a bathroom that is both accessible and safe.”

For most elderly, remaining in their home to live an independent lifestyle is extremely important. And a safe home environment can be possible if the bathroom is assessed and if need be, renovated to fit their needs. Installing grab bars, non-slip rugs and bright lights is a great start, but the bathtub is one of the most important components to consider.

Regular bathtubs can become more difficult to use as we age. To avoid injuries while still remaining independent, you might want to consider putting in a new tub that is specifically designed for use by those with limitations.

Premier Bathrooms, a company that specializes in walk-in bathtubs, disabled bathrooms and assisted bathing products, has a range of tubs that are safer and easier to use. One thing you should look for when shopping for a new tub is how you will be getting in and out. This is when a lot of fall-related injuries occur and it is important that the entry and exiting process can be done safely and with ease.

The Cambridge tub, for example, allows you to simply step in through its convenient side entry door. Once in, you can sit comfortably on the contoured bath seat, turn the handle to seal the door and run the water. Once the tub is filled to your satisfaction press the button and you will be gently lowered into the water. When you have finished your bath, simply press the control once more to lift you back to the seated position and get out of the tub.

Another fully accessible option is the Washington model that has a built-in seat lift. The user sits in the seat outside the bathtub; the seat lifts the user’s legs over the side of the tub, rotates and lowers them into the bath. This is a safer option for seniors who want to remain independent in their home. The Washington model is compatible for people of all ages who need the use of a wheelchair.

Whether you and your spouse are aging and you want to remain independent in your home, or you have parents and you’d like to help them live more comfortably, consider making the bath a safe and secure place that will remain free from accident and injury. For more information on walk-in tubs or to schedule a complimentary consultation, call (800) 578-2899 or visit www.Premier-Bathrooms.com. For inquiries in Canada visit www.premierbathrooms.ca or call (888) 596-4909

Cleaning Screens and Other Spring-cleaning Tips

. Spring is an important time of year for home dwellers. It's when we get a chance to shake the winter dust out of our pillows and mattresses and begin the process of cleaning our home inside and out. If you have a regular routine, the process can be easier and even fun. We have a pressure washer that makes cleaning everything outside a breeze. We use it to clean spider webs from beneath the eaves, dirt from the walls, especially at the trim over doors and windows, windows, screens, doors, patios and walks, patio furniture, the barbecue, statuary and more. The trick is to start high and work down. Begin at the roofline and work your way to the ground. Start at one corner of the house and work your way around. Don't use too much pressure. You won't want that powerful spray to take any paint off. Be sure to use detergent with the pressure washer. Most have a feature that mixes cleaners and other concoctions into the pressurized spray.

A pressure washer will do a good job by itself, but the addition of detergent and a little elbow grease will result in a cleaner, brighter result. If you have a one-story home, a short pole with a scrub brush on the end will allow you to do most of the cleaning with both feet planted squarely on the ground.

This is the one time of year when you will appreciate having a full hip roof. That's the kind that has an overhang all the way around. You can reach everything that needs cleaning with your feet on the ground. If not, you will need a ladder or scaffolding of some kind to reach additional stories or those areas where the siding is farther from the ground, like at dormers, copulas or gable ends. A gable-wall is where the wall extends up to the peak.

Tip: Someone once told us that the only difference between a single-story home and its multistory counterpart was the stairs. Granted stairs are good exercise, but, if you have a choice, get a treadmill instead. Owning a single story home is significantly more cost-effective. Take for example the cost of maintenance. Everything you do to maintain a multistory home costs more. Once you've pulled out the pressure washer, there are a couple of things that you'll need to be careful with including screens, foliage and fabrics.

Whether your screens are made of copper, steel, aluminum or nylon, you will need to use caution during cleaning. Older metal screens have a tendency to rip and, old or new, aluminum and nylon screens can easily be stretched out of shape. And, they don't bounce back. Once a screen is stretched, it stays that way. After the screen has been removed, lay it on a flat surface and wet it thoroughly. Use a sponge of soft bristle scrub brush to wash both sides. While the screen is drying, clean the window frame and wash and dry the window itself. If you don't have a pressure washer, use a stiff bristle brush to clean the grooves and tracks in the frame. Once the window is clean, reinstall the screen. Plants and shrubs should be protected during the cleaning process. Press wooden stakes into the ground around fragile plants and drape a lightweight plastic cover over the stakes. This will prevent surrounding activity from unnecessarily breaking limbs and branches.

Remove fabric covered pads and other cloth or cloth-covered items from harm's way. Although most patio furniture pads are made to withstand attack by water, chances are they will last a lot longer if they aren't inundated with water and detergent.

Finally, be careful when using ladders, scaffolding and heavy equipment such as a pressure washer. Anytime you work with equipment that sprays anything, you should wear eye protection and protective clothing. And when it comes to ladders and scaffolding, make sure you have a helper to steady things.

Gym Time

. I’m always perplexed when someone asks me this question.

If you are like most of us, a hard working professional with a commitment to financial security, no one ever asks how do you find time to go to the bank?

There is I think a basic misunderstanding of saving and investing, versus spending.

If you go to the bank, or invest time online with a broker then shift funds into your IRA or other retirement fund, people say you are investing in your future.

Now if you go to the gym they say your spending time there. This creates a fundamental shift in attitude where you start to feel guilty, and we get discouraged in our attempt to change to a healthier lifestyle. It so often feels like this time is a luxury that we can’t afford, spending time at the gym.

Think instead that this is an investment in your future, the amazing changes happening at the cellular level as your body starts to become more efficient and opens new metabolic pathways.

Exactly the same as if you are investing in a new exciting upstart company.

The rewards can be huge!!!

So let’s all change our attitude if not for ourselves do it for our kids.

Live strong and long.

For more fitness tips and to order a copy of my ‘Living Proof’ DVD, go to www.overthehillfitness.com.

Building Deck Stairs


If you have plans to build a deck that will have more than one level or will be more than about 15 inches above the ground, you'll need stairs. Stairs can be one of the more challenging aspects of a deck-building project. We can remember when, as young apprentice carpenters, the "stair layout and construction" part of our curriculum created both excitement and anxiety for our group of budding carpenters.

When building stairs, you not only need to be a good craftsperson, but, in many cases, you need to have a solid background in both math and geometry, as well. However, as you will learn, not all stair-building projects need to be complicated.

There are many things to be considered before you build a set of stairs: The stair type (the layout or design); the "total rise" (the vertical distance from the origin of the stairs to the top surface); the "total run" (the horizontal distance that the stairs cover from the face of the first "tread" (the surface you set foot on) to the end of the last tread; and the construction method (how the stair parts are to be assembled).

Before running off to your local lumberyard to buy stair material, you'll need to know a few "stair" terms to make a material list. You already know that the element that you set foot on is called a "tread." "Stringers" support the treads. The "riser" is the vertical board that is located between treads, except in the case of "open-riser" stairs where, as the name implies, no riser is installed. One other term that you might find useful is "landing." It's an area at the bottom of, top of, or between flights of stairs. In the case of a deck, a landing can be large enough to be a "mini deck."

Although the straight-stair type is among the most popular and easiest to construct, it is just one of many layouts. Open-riser ladder, L-shaped, T-shaped, U-shaped, switchback and winding are some of the others. You might employ one or more of these types depending upon the lay of the land and/or how elaborate your deck design is.

No sense in skimping when it comes to stair width. Not being small guys we like stairs of ample width, no less than 36 inches and, in some cases, up to 48 inches. For safety's sake, building code requires that tread and riser dimensions are consistent for the length of the stairs. In general, code requires that a unit rise (the dimension from the face of one tread to the face of the next) not exceed 8 inches. Code also requires that the unit run (the dimension from the face of one riser to the face of the next) not be less than 9 inches. Since codes can vary from location to location, it's a good idea to check with your local building department.

Code aside, when designing stairs for comfort, a good rule of thumb is the sum of unit rise and unit run should be 17 to 18 inches.

Unless you like bouncy stairs, we suggest that you build them using three stringers, one at both ends and one in the middle. A stringer consists of one continuous piece of lumber that runs from one level to the next. Depending upon the desired appearance, a stringer can be cut or notched in a saw-tooth fashion or remain solid. If you will be using a cut stringer, you can cut it yourself or you can often find precut stringers at you local lumberyard. In either case, the treads are nailed to the top edge of the stringer.

If you, like many folks, are afraid of making a mistake when cutting a perfectly good piece of wood with a cut stringer, a solid stringer might be the way to go. Instead of resting on the stringers, the treads are attached to cleats or metal brackets that are fastened to the stringers below the tread. Most do-it-yourselfers find it easiest to work with solid stringers because, instead of having to measure twice and cut once. All you need to do is measure twice.

To maintain the safety and stability of the stairs, it is imperative that the bottom of the stair stringers be placed on a solid, well-drained surface such as a pad of concrete or compacted gravel. If the stringers consist of something other than pressure-treated lumber or redwood, a small piece of either type of this material should be used between the bottom of the stringer and the concrete or gravel to prevent rot.

The stringers should be anchored to the concrete pad using anchor bolts and a pressure-treated kicker or a galvanized angle iron bolted to the inside of the stringer. Risers and treads can be constructed from the same material used for decking.

When planning your deck stairs, don't forget to include a handrail. Though not always required by code, a handrail is practicable, it improves safety and appearance.