OnTheHouse Express

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Family Handyman
Family Handyman

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Grip-Tite Wrenches




Rebuilding Together
Rebuilding Together


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Premier Care In Bathing

Aging in place can be done with style and grace

"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.

That tile floor that you adored in your 40s can be a slip hazard when you reach your 70s. In fact, any hard bathroom floor surface such as linoleum, vinyl or tile can put you at increased risk of slipping and falling. Carpeting might be a better option, one that is slip resistant and warmer and softer on the feet. Many manufacturers now offer materials that are attractive and able to repel moisture. If installing carpeting isn’t practical for you, use area rugs with sticky backing to help ensure safe footing in high traffic areas, like in front of the commode, sink and bathtub.

Aging eyes not only need more light to see, they need better quality light, especially at night. Avoid dim lighting; older eyes need several times more light than younger eyes to see well, experts say. Increase the amount of light in your bathroom and consider using naturally brighter bulbs like compact fluorescent bulbs, which are also energy-efficient.

Be aware of glare, as well. Bright lights bouncing off all-white bathroom surfaces can create glare that makes it difficult to see and navigate for older people, especially at night when they may not be fully awake. If your bath is all white, paint the walls a light color in a finish that will help reduce glare. Use area rugs on white floors to help break up the expanse of white and reduce glare.

"Boomers aging in place will find more options than ever before to do so with style," Kozak says. "Safety should be your first concern, but you can also enjoy good style and beautiful design as well."

Visit www.premier-bathrooms.com or call (800) 578-2899 to learn more.

Refinishing A Hardwood Floor

. About a decade ago we received the following irate letter from a flooring contractor:

Thank you so much for your article regarding "Do It Yourself Hardwood Floor Refinishing." I became aware of it when one of your readers tried doing it himself at your suggestion and ended up in frustration. I get a call about once a week from people who have tried doing it themselves. They waste several days and several hundred dollars, and then have to call me in to finish the job. I think your article is misleading. You don't tell your readers that the right kind of equipment can't be rented. And, that the work is backbreaking even for the most skilled. You also forgot to tell the folks about the ripples, chips, chatters, troughs, digs and other maladies, which are inevitable from an inexperienced assault on a hardwood floor. I have spent over 20 years perfecting my sanding technique, and have never seen a do-it-yourself job that looked professional.

Here's how we answered: Based on your description of yourself (as a hardwood floor finisher), we have to admit that we are glad that our frustrated hardwood floor refinishing do-it-yourselfer called upon you to solve his problem. Even though he found the job to be more than what he expected, apparently he found someone who is capable of doing a good job. Unfortunately, we don't agree with your attitude about our do-it-yourself readers. We would rather consider giving them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to learning ability and physical prowess. We can't attest to why your customer was unable to succeed, but our hat is off to him for giving it his best.

We agree that refinishing a hardwood floor is not for the weak of heart. But, our critic would have you believe that sanding is the hardest work known to man. We disagree. We both love hardwood flooring. Its rich look and low maintenance make it one of the preferred floor finishes.

Wood and water don't mix. So don't use hardwood in bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens.

Refinishing a wood floor an interesting process. All it is sanding and painting, but it can be messed up if you aren't careful.

The first step is to empty the room. Not just the furniture... everything. The dust created during the initial sandings is substantial, so what you don't remove will have to be cleaned inside and out. Whether you do it yourself or have it done by a contractor, you will have to dust the entire house once the job is complete. Tape all cabinet doors shut. Tape shut all doorways and openings to other parts of the house. And, if you have central heating, don't forget the return-air registers.

There are two levels of refinishing: going down to bare wood and cutting away all imperfections or lightly screening the finish and adding a couple of touchup coats. Since doing the former will prepare you for both, that's the process we will tackle.

You will need a drum sander, an edge sander and a buffer. Supplies such as sandpaper, finish coat, applicators, and thinner can be purchased at a hardwood flooring supply center. You probably won't be able to rent a toe-kick sander, which is nothing more than an edge sander that fits under the cabinet toe kick. If there are cabinets, get a paint scraper and a sanding block. The last inch or so under the toe kick will have to be done by hand or with a small disk sander.

Sanding normally, a drum sander is used with a 60-grit paper to cut through the existing finish and down into a fresh layer of wood. When deep imperfections exist, a 30-grit paper becomes the first step, then the 60-grit. The sanding process is everything. Thirty or 36-grit are used to rough-sand, 60 and 80-grit are for medium sanding and 100-grit (and 120-grit on parquet) is used for fine sanding. Start with medium grit. It might take longer, but will reduce the chance of gouges. The grit used will depend on the condition of the floor. For each phase of sanding the sander is run in one direction with a second pass in a direction perpendicular to the first. This is done by pulling the sander into the center of the room from its perimeter. Sand from one side to the other and then from one end to the other. To eliminate cupping, the first pass is done at a 45-degree angle followed by the perpendicular passes.

Sanding at a 45-degree angle is somewhat more difficult than doing it in the conventional directions. However, sanding in different directions reduces the chance of unevenness. The drum sander is held so that only a small amount of wood is removed with each pass. This takes a sensitive but strong grip, patience and a little practice. An edge-sanding should follow each phase of drum-sanding.

Each sanding phase is followed by a thorough vacuuming. The sanding-vacuuming process is repeated until the 100-grit step is complete.

After the rough sanding, use a hammer and punch to set any nails that have surfaced (shiners). A thin coat of filler putty is evenly troweled onto the entire surface of the floor, filling all gaps, joints and indentations. Actually, two coats of filler are applied during the refinishing process; one after the rough sanding and a second after the medium. Some floors can be spot filled, however we like the idea of troweling. The filler can be water or lacquer-based, but we prefer water base. It is safer and dries more quickly. Once the filler has dried, you can begin the fine sanding. Here, the drum sander is used to perform a 100-grit fine sanding. With this completed, the drum and edge sanders can be returned to the rental company.

Finally, stain or clear finish can be applied. Selective staining can be beautiful. For example, you can stain the perimeter and leave the center area natural. The choices are limitless. Once the stain has dried, the area is vacuumed. Be careful. Don't tack the stain coat. Doing so will draw the stain out of the wood. The first coat of finish, which is applied with a cloth applicator, follows staining. When the first coat is dry, it is screened (mesh sanding) with an extra fine 180 mesh or 00 steel wool. Don't use steel wool if the finish coat is water, as rust can occur. The floor then is vacuumed and tacked (a tack cloth is used to get the surface extra clean). Normally, at least three coats are applied. We did six. The more coats, the thicker the finish and the better the protection.

Screening continues between each coat. Also, spot-puttying is done between each coat to eliminate flaws.

Three-quarter-inch thick wood floors can be refinished several times. Thinner hardwoods and parquet can be done a couple of times. Veneered floors can be screened but sanding is out. Doing so usually will result in a ruined floor. Even 100-grit sandpaper will cut right through most veneers.

For more information on hardwood floors and hardwood floor refinishing contact the National Oak Flooring Manufacturer's Association, P.O. Box 3009, Memphis, TN 38173.

Decorative Moldings Can Spruce Up Your Home

. For most of us, a home is the single biggest investment we will make in a lifetime. so, we spend lots of time, money and energy doing what we can to maintain its integrity and improve its value. It's no wonder that Americans spend more than $150 billion annually on home improvement and repair.

Are you maintaining, upgrading or both? Maintenance is necessary to preserve the integrity of a home by preventing damage from wind, water or rain. An improvement can be characterized as an upgrade that will enhance comfort, safety and/or appearance, but is usually not a necessity.

Some projects qualify for both categories. Take painting the outside of your home, for example. A fresh coat of paint (and the thorough preparation that precedes it scraping, sanding, patching, caulking & priming) will not only protect the shell from deterioration, it will do wonders for the home's "curb appeal" as well.

When it comes to improvements, the most popular do-it-yourself projects are those that will add comfort, enhance appearance and add value for the least amount of money. Paint, wallpaper, landscaping and interior moldings top the list of improvements that lend the best "bang-for-the-buck." They are projects that most do-it-yourselfers feel confident to tackle, and the cost of materials (when combined with "sweat equity") is usually a fraction of what it would cost to have the work performed by a pro, which, by the way, might be the best, most cost-effective alternative for people that are home-improvement challenged.

If you've painted and papered your heart out and your thumb is as green as it gets and you're still looking for something to dress up the interior of your home, try installing decorative molding. Moldings also called interior "trim" are used routinely throughout a home's interior; around windows (especially wood), doors and at the base of a wall where it meets the floor (baseboard). There are various other locations where moldings can be used such as the ceiling-to-wall connection (crown molding), and midway up a wall (chair molding).

If you live in a pre-World War II home, chances are good that you have molding in most of these locations. If your home was built during or before the turn of the last century, crown molding, chair rail, wood wainscot (partial-height wall paneling) and other decorative moldings were standard equipment. Unfortunately, with mass production and the need to cut costs to produce affordable housing, decorative trim was eliminated.

Armed with the proper tools, a pry bar and hammer to remove existing trim, a measuring tape, miter saw, coping saw and some finish nails, you can convert your plain-Jane rancher into a baronial estate. The molding metamorphosis is remarkable. Moldings are available in many shapes, sizes and styles and are manufactured from many different materials.

During a trip to Europe a few years ago we witnessed local artisans fabricating moldings from plaster. Though once used pervasively in this country, wood and the new kid on the block, plastic, have all but replaced it. The type of material that you choose has everything to do with the finish you want to achieve. If you like the look of natural wood and plan to stain the material, choose from a host of hardwood species. If you plan to paint the moldings, choose more affordable paint grade material that can range from pine to foam-filled plastic. When using wood trim for a paintable project, paint-grade flexible plastic trim can be used in combination with the wood at curved or radius walls.

Tip: don't choose moldings or use them in areas that are not compatible with the architecture of your home. When in doubt, check with an architect, designer or visit your local library to brush up on the subject.

The first step is to decide where you will be installing molding and how much material will be needed. Always buy extra to account for mistakes that invariably occur. If you are satisfied with the existing door, window and base moldings, consider installing crown molding or chair rail.

Crown is used where walls meet the ceiling. Although it comes in various styles and sizes, consider creating your own specific look by layering and/or joining more than one piece of trim. Miter or cope joints with the appropriate saw. Always remember to measure twice and cut once. Crown should be nailed to the ceiling joist and wall studs. Install blocking between ceiling joists when installing crown parallel to ceiling joist.

Chair rail, used to protect walls from backs of chairs, makes a room look wider. It is also a means of separating wallpaper and paint or as a cap for a decorative wood wainscot. For a seamless installation, don't butt joints along straight runs; miter them at a 30-degree angle. Nail the chair rail to the wall studs.

If your door and window trim and/or baseboard need a lift, yank them out with a pry bar (being careful not to damage surrounding finishes) and replace them with fancier stuff. The sky is the limit when it comes to choices. The moldings that you use around doors can be used around windows and vice versa. Mitered corners is the standard, however butted corners or blocked corners can be used depending upon the style of trim selected.

Door and window moldings should be nailed to the edge of the jamb and to the framing, using finish nails.

Base moldings or "baseboard" are functional and decorative. They are used where walls meet floors to hide uneven edges. Like crown molding, base molding can consist of one piece of material or can be built up by using two or more pieces of trim. For example, an elaborate base molding can consist of a 3-to-4-inch rectangular base board, a sculptured base cap, and a quarter round base "shoe" where the baseboard meets the floor.

When it comes to sprucing up the old homestead, the possibilities are endless with decorative moldings.

If you plan to do lots of trim, consider renting a nail gun and compressor. It will make the job easier and produce superior results.

Radiant Floor Heating

. Comfort is something that more and more Americans aren't willing to sacrifice when it comes to their homes. Whereas once in our history it was a luxury to have indoor plumbing, today's quest is for a heated toilet seat.

How else can you spoil yourself? Here's a sampling of some items that you might want to add to your remodeling "to-do" list:

  • A ceiling fan that can turn itself on and off and adjust its speed automatically according to the temperature of a room.
  • Motion sensors that turn a light on when you walk into a room and off when you exit.
  • A smart thermostat that can be programmed to fire up the furnace in just enough time for your home to be toasty when you jump out of bed and then turn off just as you head off to work. This same thermostat will activate the furnace just before your afternoon return home and will shut the heating system down again at bedtime.
  • Tired of ice-cold floors in the kitchen or bathroom? Have you considered electric radiant task heating?

What's fueling this phenomenon? Affordable technology. Once reserved for the rich and famous, home automation and electronic devices that improve personal comfort are fast-growing segments of the home-building industry. Even price-conscious high-volume builders are incorporating this technology into new home construction as a means of attracting buyers.

Thus, what many builders once tagged an "upgrade," can now be found as "standard equipment."

There's a bonus to many of these techno upgrades-energy savings. That's a good thing for a couple of reasons. It helps our environment and your pocket book. You get the best of all worlds: increased comfort, decreased energy use and less expense.

Of the comfort items referred to earlier, the one that is least known, yet becoming the most popular is electric radiant task heating. Who enjoys getting out of a warm bed in the middle of winter to stand on a cold floor? Radiant floor heating has been around for ions. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it routinely. And certainly it is no stranger to many American homes. However, there is a difference between the traditional whole-house boiler-driven radiant systems and electric radiant task heating.

The traditional system consists of a network of pipes that are encased in a home's concrete floor. Hot water supplied by a boiler is circulated through the pipes to deliver a uniform and comfortable source of heat. One of the benefits of radiant heat is that the floor is warm. Thus, cold surfaces such as tile and stone, are toasty when you walk on them in bare feet.

Electric radiant task heating is not a whole-house system. Rather, it is designed to be used in specific areas of a home, such as a kitchen or a bathroom.

Here's how it works. A system of small electric cables is installed in the mortar below tile or stone. There are many systems available depending upon the installation configuration. Individual cables and a system of cables encased in a fabric matt are most popular. Larger electric cables can be installed in a concrete slab for a room addition with a concrete floor.

If the thought of tearing up your stone or tile floor is more than you can bear, don't fret. There are systems that can be retrofit below the subfloor (above the underfloor insulation).

A professional tile setter generally installs electric radiant task heating systems and a certified electrician will complete the hookup to the power source and install the controller. Programmable thermostats, such as those discussed earlier, are a popular option with these systems. Let's get one thing straight. Electric radiant (resistance) heating is NOT an energy-efficient or affordable means of heating a home. Electric radiant task heating systems are not intended to heat an entire home; just a few spaces. Just how much electricity do these systems use? At 100-percent power, an average system will use 12 watts per square foot. A typical bathroom with 30 square feet of tiled area will use 360 watts when run at full power. That's slightly less than four 100-watt light bulbs. The real savings is not having to crank up the whole-house furnace when all you want to do is get your bathroom or kitchen warm. Studies have shown that when your feet are warm, the rest of your body feels warm.

Thus, electric radiant task heating allows you to feel comfortable at a lower air temperature and heats the specific rooms where you spend the most time.

For more information on electric radiant heating systems, contact the Radiant Panel Association at 970-613-0100.

Saving energy with zone heating


While any supplemental heat source (fireplace, corn/pellet stove, space heater) will help you accomplish this saving, the problem become safety and efficiently. The number one cause of house fire in the USA every winter is space heaters. The cord gets frayed, the unit gets knocked over, someone lays combustible material too close and a tragedy occurs.

The Original SUNHEAT electronic infrared zone heater cannot start a fire. Infrared heat waves are like the sun’s rays. They transfer heat to the body and objects they come in contact with. Infrared heat lamps transfer heat waves to copper cylinders. A high velocity fan pulls air from the room into the heat exchanger.  The air passes through a washable filter, around the copper cylinders and back out into the room at 125 cfm (cubic feet per minute). The air temperature is now 120° warmer or between 180° and 190°. The result is safe, soft and comfortable infrared SUNHEAT.

 The Honeywell thermostat on the back of the heater monitors the temperature of the air coming into the unit and when the air reaches the desired setting the infrared heat lamps turn off. The fan still circulates the heat stored in the unit, maintaining the room temperature, but because the heating elements are off less electricity is used, thus saving money.

Another benefit of infrared heating results from the way the heat is transferred. Most supplemental heaters including fireplaces and pellet stove get the air so hot they break up the moisture in the air and cause the heat to rises like steam from a pot, i.e. heat rises. The process dries out the air, removing the humidity from the room and in the process dries out your skin, throat and nasal passages. The infrared heat waves transfer warmth to the water molecules in the air. The heat is carried in the molecules to the objects and bodies in the room. The result is a soft, comfortable heat that warm floor to ceiling and wall to wall.

What make the Original SUNHEAT better than some other infrared heater on the market? The Original SUNHEAT is built to last for many heating seasons.

  • Heavy duty rolling caters make the unit portable. It can easily be rolled from room to room.
  • There is a one and a half pounds of pure copper, the more copper the greater the storage capacity. The longer the heat in the copper can be used to maintain the room temperature the less time the infrared heat lamps are on, using less energy and extending the life of the heat lamps.
  • Six industrial grade heat lamps put out a tremendous amount of heat up to 120° other infrared heaters use fewer lamps and produce less heat.
  • The quieter, 12volt, high velocity fan circulates the air, in the room, at 117 to 125 cfm. This new fan has a life expectancy of 150,000 hrs. Other heaters use fans with a shorter life expectancy and a lower cfm. The velocity of air impacts how big a room you can affectively heat.
  • SUNHEAT has developed flat, 12 gage, neoprene covered power cord. The higher gage cord delivers maximum power to the critical elements. Other power cords sometimes feel warm to the touch, an indication that energy is lost in the cord. This proprietary cord features a flat 45° plug that lays flat against the outlet to insure a safe positive connection.
  • The MADE in USA Cabinetry that is dovetail constructed. The top is solid oak. The side panels are formaldehyde free Pure Bond MDF, a composite material, utilizing reclaimed wood fiber. Pure Bond MDF is stronger and resists warping better than veneers or plywood. The stains and finish is Becker Acroma water based UV cured; no solvents or VOCs. This ultra hard finish is top quality furniture grade, designed resists denting and water rings. The environmental friendly cabinet meets CARB 2 regulations and is LEED compliant.
  • To complement any décor there are four designer colors; Black, Mahogany, Black Cherry and Golden Oak.

There are plenty of companies jumping on the bandwagon now that infrared heaters are becoming more popular. There are some making claims to be like SUNHEAT. There are many things we could say to refute these claims. The most impressive and important thing we can say is; half of all sale of the Original SUNHEAT come from referral and repeat customers. SUNHEAT customers are proud to tell others about how much the save on the heating costs, how much the love the way it heat and the safety they enjoy. Many SUNHEAT customers come back and purchase a second or third SUNHEAT for other areas of their home or office. If you choose to become a SUNHEAT owner you will join the hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers who benefit from safe, soft, comfortable heat.

For more information go to www.sunheat.com

Let’s talk about insulin


Think of it as the doorman at your favorite nightclub can’t get in unless he opens the door for you. Well turns out this guy works better in the morning and later in the day gets tired and falls asleep at the door.

This is why insulin works better in the AM and as the day goes on it loses it’s ability to do it’s job effectively.

Now sugar has to stay in the blood stream causing a host of health problems including Diabetis arthritis, Circulatory problems and cancer.

So if you really want to effect weightloss eat most carbs in the AM. Then switch to nutrient dense foods free of pesticides. Pay a few more dollars for organic veggies it is worth not ending up with dementia or alzymers.

Remember most pesticides are neurotoxins.

Choose to live healthy.

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