4 Signs That it’s Time to Call for Help with Your DIY Project

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair    by: ITC

1. Stress

Getting stressed out? Stress is a contributing factor to a lot of household injuries, and possible damages. For example, below is sign #2, –a direct contributing reason to get stressed out. Signs 3 and  4 are direct possible results of being too stressed out to do your project efficiently. So before you start freaking out, relax, and call a friend, or a professional, to lighten the load. Read more…

Top 10 Tackiest DIY Design Projects

Filed Under: Crafts, Do it yourself, Redecorating    by: ITC

10. Self-Designing a Room –With all Matching Furniture

When you purchase a complete bedroom furnishing set, your house will start looking like it’s a showroom. In addition to being boring, and extremely visually hefty, it’s an indication that you do not care about an individual sense of fashion since you have let others perform your decorating job, by letting some place such as a furniture store create it for you. Read more…

7 Ideas for Easy DIY Kitchen Remodeling

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair    by: ITC

Whether you are looking to remodel your kitchen for yourself or for resale, there are a few helpful tips that can spice up your kitchen.

1. Check for coupons to Home Depot on auction sites like Ebay. Many times, you can find coupons that give you 10-20% off items. One caveat is that you need to check the feedback of the seller first to make sure they are honest about the coupons. Read more…

Etsy is Great for a DIY Craft Lover!

Filed Under: Crafts, Do it yourself    by: ITC

Do you find yourself thinking of ways you might make money online? If you have a talent for creating craft items, Etsy could be the perfect meeting of your talents and your desire to make some extra cash. My friend has a passion for making jewelry. She was able to transform her passion into a steady source of income. She started out making jewelry for friends and family. Then one day at the mall, a woman asked where my friend had bought her necklace. Read more…

Our Favorite HGTV DIY Shows

Filed Under: Do it yourself, TV    by: ITC

Painting the living room or laying down a new tile floor in the bath may appear simple, but the reality is that it’s not nearly as easy as it looks. This is where home improvement TV shows have carved out a terrific niche. These programs offer detailed instruction on how to accomplish these tasks correctly. They also shed light on common mistakes and dish up advice on how to avoid the same pitfalls. Read more…

Basic DIY Plumbing: Toilet Trouble?

Filed Under: Home repair, Plumbing    by: ITC

I’ve been a plumber for several years and cannot tell you how many times I have walked into home improvement stores like Lowes or Home Depot only to find a customer, despondent about a leak that their toilet has sprung. As a plumber I would always suggest hiring a professional rather than doing it yourself, but in tough economic times, sometimes homeowners have to take matters into their own hands. Let me provide you with some insight into why your toilet might be malfunctioning.

Most toilet leaks come from a few common causes. Your toilet may suffer from one or it may have a combination of problems. One of the most common sources of leaks for toilets is the wax seal. The wax seal is a gasket made of wax that is on the bottom of a toilet, where it rests on the floor. Often, water on the floor or on the ceiling below the toilet is a sure sign that you have a problem with the wax seal. To fix this problem you need a new wax ring and T-bolts which you can find at your local hardware store.

First, turn off the water supply to the toilet. Next, flush the toilet and soak up as much of the water as possible from the toilet bowl itself. After you do that, loosen the T-bolts, disconnect the supply tubes, and lift the toilet off the floor. Position the toilet so that it is upside down and proceed to scrape off the wax seal from the bottom of the toilet as well as from the floor. After you have done this, place in the new wax seal and connect everything back up the way it was and install the new T-bolts. Turn the T-bolts 5 and 1/4 turns being careful not to over tighten the bolts. Turn the water on and flush the toilet.

Inspect the toilet, the floor, and the ceiling below for leaks. While labor intensive, performing this repair yourself would save you a couple of hundred dollars easily on plumber costs. The second most common leak source is caused by flowing over the overflow tube. If you have this problem, you will need a new fill valve. There are two types of fill valves. One has a big floating ball and arm, and the other has a float on the valve itself. Bother are interchangeable. You will need to buy a new fill valve at your local plumbing supply store.

Begin by turning off the water and disconnecting the splash tube. Flush the toilet and soak up all the water from the tank. Unscrew the nut under the fill valve on the outside of the toilet tank and remove the old fill valve. Install the new valve, making sure the height is correct. Put the valve into the hole in the bottom of the tank, tightening the nut on the outside as you go. Replace the supply tube and turn the water back on. Flush the toilet and check for leaks. Finally, take the tube that comes with the new valve and connect it from the valve to the overflow tube.

Another problem that frequently makes a toilet leak is a leak from the connection between the tank and the toilet bowl. In this case, you will need to purchase a new spud washer and new tank bolts. Occasionally, this problem arises from a cracked toilet bowl in which case you will need a new toilet. In order to determine this, the first thing that you need to do is to find out where the leak originates. Ask yourself if it leaks all the time or only when someone flushes the toilet. If it leaks all the time rather than only when someone flushes it, this is a sure sign that the tank or the bowl is cracked.

Examine each closely looking for hairline cracks where water may seep from. If you do find a crack, you are out of luck and will have to replace the toilet completely. Otherwise, this is probably a problem with the spud washer. To change this, you will once again need to shut off the water supply and flush the toilet. Next, loosen the bolts that connect the tank to the bowl. There are usually two or three of these depending on the model.

After that, remove the supply tube. Pick up the tank and remove it and the washer that is at the bottom of the tank. It is usually made of rubber and will have a spongy feel to it. Replace this washer with the spud washer you bought and place the tank back onto the bowl. Place the new bolts in and tighten gently, but do not over tighten. Replace the supply tube and turn the water back on. Again, check for leaks. Occasionally leaks originate from the supply tube. To fix this, you simply need to purchase a new supply tube and switch it out with the old one.

Another source of leaks in toilets is leaking inside the toilet from the tank to the bowl. The problem stems from the seal inside the tank called a flapper. To diagnose this problem, place a few drops of food coloring into the tank and wait for a couple of hours. After a couple of hours, check the bowl. If you see any of the food coloring in your toilet bowl, you can be assured that you have a leaky flapper.

To fix this, you will need to purchase a universal flapper. Most flappers are the same, although American Standard has their own design. Step one is to turn off the water to the toilet. Next, remove the old flapper by taking the chain off the lever and removing the flapper from two hooks at the bottom of the overflow tube that are attached to the flapper.

Install the new flapper and turn on the water. Try flushing the toilet. If it does not flush or does not flush with enough volume, adjust the chain length from the lever to the flapper. Test flush again. Hopefully with these tips, I have armed you with the knowledge to tackle the most common cause of toilet leaking and have hopefully saved you hundred of dollars in plumber fees.

Don’t Call a Maid! DIY House Cleaning

Filed Under: Cleaning, Do it yourself    by: ITC

It is almost the end of the year, a time when many people prepare to do some major cleaning in their homes. They are ready not only to vacuum and dust, but to go through their closets, drawers, and other storage spaces and decide what they want to keep, what they want to toss, and what they want to reorganize.

They also make a mental inventory to help them decide what purchases they will want to make during the new year. However, this kind of in-depth cleaning which is only done once or twice a year can be a daunting, time-consuming, and stressful undertaking. If you are nodding your head in agreement, take heart! What follows are some tried and true tips to make this big task a little bit more manageable. Don’t forget that many hands make light work!

Invite your family to join in. You might divide the house into rooms with each person assigned a different area to work in. Or you may all pitch in together, which can often be fun as you discover items you squirreled away months ago and subsequently forgot about. If your family is hesitant to help, remind them that you all live in the house together! Unless you live alone, every member of family should be involved to some extent. Giving family members a choice about what they want to do can make them more likely to help cheerfully. Perhaps someone wants to wash the windows or organize the garage.

Maybe someone would prefer to clean up the kitchen or sweep the floors. Whatever it is, giving options is likely to increase the level of your family’s participation in the process. Not only will the work go faster, but your family will feel a spirit of togetherness and unity when joining together for the common good of all. Even young children can be involved in some way in this work. Can your little one do some dusting? Help organize her room? Assist you in weeding the garden? Children are often eager to be a part of the real work of adults. Assigning chores to your children not only benefits you, it also is good for them.

Teaching them how to accept and follow through with responsibilities is an invaluable life lesson. Everything from feeding pets to sorting the laundry and folding clothes, or matching socks while others are doing more intensive cleaning, are valuable contributions to the work of the family that children can do. Does your child have his or her own room? Cleaning up the room, putting toys away, or taking out the trash are just some of the ways your child can become involved. Sometimes it can be hard to know where to begin with this big cleaning job.

A good rule of thumb is to start at the top of your house and work your way down. Not only is it a good idea to start at the top of the house, but you will also want to start at the top of each room. This means you clean the ceiling, walls, and windows before doing the furniture or floors. Cleaning in this way will allow dust that falls from the upper areas to collect below before you vacuum the lower parts of the room, including any furniture. If many people are helping you in one room, just remember to do a final vacuum of the furniture and floors when everyone is finished. It’s tempting to be a scavenger and hold onto everything you find.

Don’t do it! If you have not used something for more than a year, it is unlikely you are going to find a use for it now or in the future. Those clothes in your closet that have dust on them because it has been so long since you wore them need to be given away. Bite the bullet and get rid of them. Many people are reluctant to throw away things because they are sure that at some point down the road they will find a use for those items. However, unless you are able to device some kind of accounting or tracking system in which you itemize each of those knick knacks and other objects of interest, chances are you won’t remember that you have them.

Make a pile of those things and have a yard sale. You will make some spending money, and someone else who might have a use for those things now will reap the benefits. Divide and conquer: planning out a strategy for achieving your goals over a period of time will help you accomplish things in a timely manner. Remember you won’t finish this monumental task in one day, even if you have an army of helpers.

Make a realistic schedule for each day which includes what cleaning will be done. Within a week, depending on the size of your house and how many people you have helping you, you will have finished your work. Then you can sit back, look around at your fresh, clean, organized house, and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

The Basics of DIY Gardening

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Gardens    by: ITC

If you’re trying to create a garden on a budget, you can either hire an inexpensive landscaper or, even better, you can do it yourself. This is the way to go if you want to be creative and get just what you want. All you need, besides enough time and a willingness to try, are some basic guidelines and you’re on your way. A green thumb doesn’t hurt, but you may just surprise yourself and develop one along the way!

Some preliminary work does have to be done. You need to plan out what you’re going to spend on what items. Don’t forget that you’ll have expenses beyond those of the plants you choose. Your garden will have to have such things as a watering system, paving in places, artistic focal points, and fences. Of course, you also need the tools with which to garden, so if you don’t already have them, they must be factored into the total cost.

Planning your design is also important. Since you’re on a budget, you might want to have just one or two consultations with a professional landscaper who can give you ideas for the layout of the garden. Or you can just meander through home and garden centers or peruse home and gardening magazines and get your ideas from there. Checking out house tours to see what others have done is also a good thought. Be sure to do your comparison shopping while you’re buying your materials.

Check around at local garden stores to see who’s offering the best buys. It might pay to go to several, or it could be best to just shop at the one that seems most appealing and ask for their bulk rates. There’s also the internet, of course. There are lots of gardening supply places online, and that offers you the possibility of easy comparison shopping. Right there, too, will be easily accessible reviews and comments on how to create your best garden, and there may be some dialogue going on about problems you’re going to face in yours.

Don’t forget that you’re investing time as well as money in your garden, and time is money. Decide on a target date for your garden’s completion. Then decide on how many hours per day or week you can give to this project. You want a well-balanced life, but you do have to live up to your agreement with yourself on this if you want a nice garden in time for the season. Maybe you can get family and friends involved, too, which makes work and play one and the same thing. Then you’ll all feel a sense of accomplishment because you’ve stuck to your timetable and now have a beautiful place to relax and socialize together.

How to Make Your Decor Child-Proof

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair    by: ITC

Most people think the presence of children in the home means you have to furnish it in early orange crate to withstand the wear and tear of little feet and the disarray caused by grubby little hands. This is not really the case. When children are considered, your decorating skills need only a few minor adjustments and your home can still be worthy of a spread in Better Homes and Gardens. Many people are not familiar with the techniques of child proofing as you decorate.

Most often their knowledge of decorating begins and ends with the pages in the magazines found in the doctor’s waiting room. You just know those interior decorators aren’t even acquainted with those little energetic beings we call children. Child -proof decorating is a term I coined when I found myself the mother of mobile, drooling, destructive little beings that none the less I loved dearly and had no intention of replacing just to improve the décor in my home. I gave my alternatives some serious thought and decided there had to be a way to make my home attractive without the furnishings providing a constant hazard to my children and my peace of mind.

I think my efforts are successful and are worth sharing with you. Grab a cup of coffee and while your children are napping let’s talk child-proofing for the decorator 101. First you need to look at the furnishings you already have. Just how safe are they for someone who might stand all of two foot six inches tall and has a curiosity factor as large as all outdoors. Do they have sharp corners that can make a fall a seriously dangerous thing, do they feature glass panels or high gloss wood surfaces that will break or show every ding and scratch?

Remember your goal is to up the safety factor while you increase your peace of mind. Materials that are more durable and need minimal care like iron or stone rate more than a second glance when replacement furnishings are considered. Remember it is easier to herd cats than to stay ahead of the destructive factor of a healthy child and you do not want to spend every waking hour supervising their play. Child-proofing doesn’t have to be an orientation into early ugly. It only needs to be clean and safe.

A quick coat of paint, non-toxic of course, does wonders to brighten up your place and will let you scrub the cookie drool from a teething child off the woodwork without worrying about lead toxicity. Articles can be found in a number of interior decorating magazines describing the many non-toxic choices for paint on the market today. A little research is called for here. You can quickly add more color and comfort by choosing bright accent pillows and patterned rugs. Anything sporting small beads, threads, buttons or other parts that a curious child can break off and put in their mouth should of course be avoided. Look at it all from a child’s point of view when deciding what could provide a choking hazard.

Children are natural explorers and it is up to the parent to police the room ahead of time eliminating anything that can fall into the category of a dangerous temptation. As soon as they get control of their legs, children want to climb. That means entertainment centers, shelves, and statues need to be secured so they cannot tip over if they attract the curiosity of a climber. Try to keep table surfaces free of objects that can be pulled onto the floor. Replace bulky table lamps with track lighting or swags anchored to the ceiling. You will still get all the light you need and you will eliminate the possibility of a head injury caused by a falling lamp. The cord from a table lamp is too great a temptation to expect any child to resist.

Another economical and safe lighting choice would be installation of a lighted ceiling fan. This will increase air circulation in the home, helping to eliminate a cold layer of air at the floor level in the winter, and provide plenty of illumination without adding to the hazard level. Reduce the visibility of stains on the furniture from spilled food and drinks by choosing patterned slipcovers for your furnishings. When an accident happens it will take only moments to strip the cover off and replace it with a clean one while you wash the soiled item.

Rips or snags in the material on the couch or that favorite chair cease to be a visible problem and you will have less stress in your life. For the time being, when the children are little, valuables or breakable knickknacks need to be stored out of sight and out of mind. As they get older children will become more careful and more trustworthy. Then you can reintroduce these items for display. In the meantime, you will save a lot of yelling and tears by elimination of the temptation in the first place.

A quick trip to your neighborhood hardware store will provide your choice of chain covers or cable covers to prevent children from playing with the wires connected to lamps, computers or entertainment centers. These covers make your room seem neat and tidy while preventing your child from pulling on them or chewing on them. Remember safety is your mantra here and the average toddler has no concept of what is safe to touch or chew and what is not. Finally finish up your decorating redo by selecting either one large area rug or several small ones to place in the areas of highest foot traffic.

Area rugs prevent the inevitable spills and wear and tear from permanently harming the hardwood flooring or the more expensive carpeting underneath. Little feet can produce a lot of damage but an area rug can be easily cleaned or replaced at a minimum expense and preserve the beauty of the floors in your home. This will provide you with minimum stress and a happier home in the end.