Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hiring the Right Contractor for Your Remodeling Project

Choosing a general contractor can be difficult when you have a HOME REMODELING project. You hear stories about bad contractors, but there are many reliable general contractors in the business. There are many things to consider when choosing a general contractor. Because a company is large or well known is no guarantee that they are reliable. Many large companies look for volume and do not offer customer satisfaction. The same applies to small contractors so choosing a general contractor presents a dilemma.

Referrals usually offer the best and safest means of finding a GENERAL CONTRACTOR. Getting a referral from a friend is usually the best way to go.

Search the YELLOW PAGES for local contractors. You should interview at least three contractors before making a choice.

Tell the contractor what you plan on doing and what you want the project to look like when finished.

Ask for a detailed step by step estimate in writing. Do not accept a verbal estimate. Make sure you have the total cost and time estimate in writing before you agree to any proposal. Never pay for an estimate. It is not good business for a contractor to charge for an estimate.

Do not reveal the amount of your budget to any contractor at this time.

Compare each estimate. Choose a CONTRACTOR that you feel comfortable with and find easy to talk to. Remember that communication between you and your contractor is the key to a successful job project. Lack of communication with your contractor may bring the job to a complete halt costing you time and money.

A good contractor upon your request will give you names and phone numbers of prior clients. You should call these clients to find out about the work ethic of the contractor. Ask if the referral client would use the contractor again.

When you make your choice of contractor ask for a step by step contract and pay schedule if he requires it.

Never give any money until both parties have signed the contract. Never pay full amount of the project up front. Payments should usually be made in increments of 1/4 the total amount due. If payment is requested it should be no higher than 1/4 of the total project to start. Further payments should be made at mutually decided phases in the project. The last payment should be made upon completion of the project.

Happy Home owners Remember there are good reliable contractors out there but it is up to you to find them and protect yourself.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Instructions for Changing a Light Switch

Parts of a Light Switch
Image Retrieved from Creative Commons Google Images

It is not hard to change out a light switch that is no longer working. Here are the detailed instructions:

  1. Turn the power off at the breaker box before you start work. Most breaker boxes are labeled as to the area of the house each breaker is connected.
  2. Single Toggle Switch Unscrew the cover plate from the wall. A single switch will have (2) screws; a double switch will have (4) screws and so on.
  3. Remove the bad switch by using a screwdriver to remove the (2) screws. One should be at the top and the other directly below.
  4. Pull the switch out as far as you can without pulling apart any other wires.
  5. Usually, if this switch regulates a light or receptacle ONLY at this point, it will have (2) screws on the side. Loosen these screws and remove the wires. You should have (2) black wires and (1) that is completely bare (not covered with insulation). Separate the switch from the wires.
  6. Use this switch (match to type) to purchase your new switch from your local home improvement store.
  7. Place the toggle switch on the OFF position on the new switch. This will show you which direction to place the switch. Reconnect the wires on the side. Make sure the bare wire is on the GREEN screw.
  8. Make sure your connections are tight. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN.
  9. Gently tuck the wires back into the wall box and remount the switch to this box.
  10. Replace the plastic cover plate and turn on the circuit breakersat the breaker box

Instructions for Changing a Doorknob

Image Retrieved from Creative Commons Google Images

Changing a doorknob is one of those chores that gets put on the back burner for later. However, changing a doorknob is not difficult and can be done in a matter of minutes.It is very easy to change a doorknob. When purchasing your door knob kit be sure you are getting the right door knob for the right door. You will want a key door knob for your entry and a button door knob for bath and bedroom.

  1. Remove the old door knob by first unscrewing the two screws that hold the striker plate that is on the side of the door close to the door knob.
  2. When you remove these screws the striker will not come out yet.
  3. On the inside part of the door knob there are usually two screws that are viable. If this is not the case, this means that the inside handle and hold cover plate must be removed to get to the tightening screws. If the screws are not visible, remove the inside handle and cover plate by using a paper clip unfolded to press into the small hole on the doorknob shaft. At the same time you press inward with the clip, pull on the handle, and it should come off. With a screwdriver you pop off the cover plate. After removing the plate you should see two (2) screw heads. Unscrew both of these and the whole door assembly will fall apart. Remove all parts including the striker.
  4. Parts to a door knob kit. Your new door knob kit has all new screws and replacement parts. Fit the striker to the side of the door first, and attach the two(2) screws. Make sure that the half round part of the striker faces toward the striker plate on the casing of the door. If you have a key lock, the key handle goes to the outside of the door. If using a privacy lock, the handle with the little hole also goes toward the outside of the door. The two pieces of the handle that are left will go inside each other. Align these to where the screw holes meet; insert long screws into these holes and tighten. If cover plate and handles are needed, replace by simply popping them back on. Snugly tighten all screws and you are finished.

Instructions for Refinishing a Pine Floor

Refinished Pine Floor
Retrieved from Creative Commons Google Images

Refinishing wood floors is a project for a determined craft person, but is well worth the effort in beauty and money savings. Pine is a soft wood, unlike oak flooring. Oak is much harder because of the closeness of the wood grain. When finishing or refinishing pine floors keep in mind that it is a soft material and requires a soft touch.

  1. Before you start refinishing your wood floor make sure you have your tools and supplies collected and placed together conveniently. Clear the entire floor or room area of furniture and any wall decorations or hangings. Close all doors to other rooms to protect from the dust. The dust will go everywhere during the sanding process.
  2. Before you sand check the floor for nails or screws that protrude above the surface. Soft wood contracts and expands causing nails and screws to come up or loosen. Secure any loose planks with nails or screws and fill with quick drying wood putty.
  3. When planning to sand your floors try to project three to four days of good weather. With your belt sander, begin with at least a #80 grit sandpaper if you are refinishing. If the wood is new, start with a #100 grit sandpaper.
  4. Start sanding at one end of the room with your machines in front of you and move backwards slowly to the other end of the room. You will need to get a feel for the machine. The reason for going from one end of the room to the other is that when you do short segments your sanding streaks will show when the stain of finish is applied. When you get to the end of the room you should have about six (6) feet of floor between the machine and the wall. Turn the sander around and sand this small area. Continue working in this manner until the floor has been completely sanded. On a refinishing job check your belt sandpaper for varnish buildup on the roll.
  5. When the room has been completely sanded change the sanding belt to a #150 grit. Sand the room again in the same manner as before. As you will see by this time this machine does not get close to the walls and corners. You need to use a hand operated disc sander. Use the same type grit sanding disc as the belt machine. When you change grit type on the belt sander, do the same on the disc hand sander.
  7. Finish sanding the floor for the third time with a #220 grit sandpaper until the floor is smooth. Vacuum the floor with the floor with a good shop vac to pick up dust from the cracks. Get the floor as clean as possible before you start the finishing process!
  8. If You want to choose your wood stain color and test it on another piece of flooring to be sure about your color. Brush the stain on the floor with a brush and wipe with a cloth after 10 minutes of drying. This keeps the stain even and smooth. Do the complete room in this manner. Allow the floor to dry for 24 hours with no traffic in the room.
  9. Apply the first clear coat of finish with a fine bristle brush or a sheepskin applicator. After the first clear coat allow to dry for at least 24 hours. You will notice that when the finish is dry it will feel very rough. With a hand orbital sander and find grit (#220) sand the floor lightly but do not take off the stain. This will take off the roughness. DO NOT OVER SAND! Wipe with clean cloth!
  10. Add another clear coat in the same manner as described above. More coats of finish means a brighter shine. Always sand between coats of finish to remove the roughness of the previous coat. After the third coat of finish the sanding should be faster and the floor should be very smooth. Apply as many coats as you desire using the same steps as above.
  11. Allow the final WOOD SEALANT coat to dry at least 48 hours before allowing traffic on the floor.

Installing a Light Fixture to Your Ceiling Fan

Wires Hanging From the Canopy

Adding a ceiling fan light fixture to your room will add beauty and an additional light source for your convenience. This procedure is not hard and well worth the effort. Make sure the power is off before you begin your project and observe all safety precautions listed in your light fixture kit.

  1. Adding a CEILING FAN LIGHT fixture is an easy project that should take no longer than thirty minutes to one hour at most. This is an easy procedure for anyone. Before working on anything electrical turn off the power at the switch or at the breaker box.
  2. Looking at the ceiling fan where the light fixture should be installed there is a cover plate. This plate is called a canopy. The canopy is mounted with screws on the side. Generally there will be two or three screws. This canopy also has a plastic cover in the center.
  3. Remove the side screws to release the canopy.
  4. Wires hanging from the center of the canopy If your new light fixture comes assembled, remove all glass. The center of the light fixture should have a tube with a nut and washers. Remove both the nut and washers and set aside.
  5. Remove the plastic cover on the center of the canopy and place the canopy on top of the light fixture where the little tube is located. The canopy should thread downward or slide down.
  6. Replace the washers and nuts back on the tube and tighten the canopy onto the light fixture. Tighten snugly, but do not over tighten. The new light fixture should be prewired with a switch and two loose wires, one black and one white with protective wire nuts at each end. The light fixture with the center tube should be hollow. Pass the two wires through this hollow tube and pull gently.
  7. On the ceiling fan where the canopy was attached you should be able to see the inner workings of the ceiling fan wires. There should be two wires, one black, and one white, that are loose and sometimes marked for light fixture. Pull these wires down. These wires should be insulated at the end. Remove the insulation cap. If there is no bare wire showing, use the wire strippers to remove 1/2 inch of insulation on each wire. Connect the white wires together and the black wires together. Twist the exposed wires and cap both sets of wires.
  8. Carefully tuck these wires back into the ceiling fan. Attach the canopy back on the fan and insert the screws. Gently tighten the screws, do not over tighten.
  9. Interesting ceiling fan light fixture Replace all glass covers on the light fixture and insert light bulbs of 60 watts or less. Be sure that all screws that tighten the glass covers are snug. Tighten only by hand. Connect an extension chain to the light switch and turn on the electricity. Restore power to the light switch or breaker and your ceiling fan light fixture should be fully functional.

Changing A Broken Dryer Heating Element

Locating the Dryer Heating Element

If your dryer does not heat but everything else is working, this problem can be solved easily. It is usually the heating element that is not working. Most dryer elements are very easy to change out. Remember, safety first! Unplug the dryer.

  1. Most front load dryers have a heating element that is in the very back of the dryer. Move the dryer to a large open area where you can do the work. Lay the dryer down on the front side on the floor.
  2. With a screwdriver or a nut driver unscrew the back panel of the dryer which usually has ten to twelve screws. Gently remove the cover and set aside. The heating element should be a small square panel located about a foot above the bottom of the dryer. This square panel is a 3 1/3 inch by 31/2 inch square. With coils inside that look like small springs.
  3. Wires inside the heating element This box should have two screws holding it in place. There should also be two wires, or electrical connectors attached to this box. Remove each one and label them where they were taken from. Inspect the box after removing by looking inside to see if any of the inside springs are loose or broken. If they are you need to replace the heating element.
  4. You can purchase a replacement heating element at your local appliance dealer. Be sure to take the serial number and the make of the dryer with you. The replacement part should cost between $50-$65.
  5. Place the new heating element on the dryer being careful not to drop it. Reconnect the two wires exactly as they were before you removed the old heating element. You should have marked them in step three. Secure the screws to make certain the heating element does not move.
  6. Replace the back cover panel and tighten screws. Place the dryer upright and back into position against the wall. Plug in the dryer and turn it on. You should have heat. If you have heat...Well done! Let the dryer run for a few minutes to break in the new heating element.

Painting Unfinished Furniture

Unfinished Dresser and Stool

Painting unfinished furniture is very simple and offers an inexpensive means to furnish your home. You choose the colors and make it work to suit your style! It just takes a little time and a few days. Just make sure to plan to paint on a bright sunny day. Never paint in the rain or in heavy humidity.

  1. Prepare an area for painting by putting down a tarp or other floor covering before you paint.
  2. Before you PAINT you should sand the wood with fine sand paper or use a fine steel wool.
  3. Be sure all wood surfaces are clear of dust and steel wool particles. Use a water base primer paint. A good brand would be Kilz primer water base. It is sold in any hardware, home improvement, or paint store.
  4. Applying primer Prime the furniture with one coat using a fine bristle brush. Allow to dry for 24 hours. Kilz primer will dry quickly but it must be completely dry before proceeding to next step.
  5. Before applying second coat of primer, sand with fine grit sandpaper to remove all rough surfaces. Clean the furniture of any dust and apply second coat of primer. Let dry for 24 hours. It important to sand furniture between coats to remove any wood stubbles or rough edges.
  6. Paint your furniture with a water based acrylic paint. Let dry for 24 hours. When completely dry sand again and clean surface.
  7. Painted chest Repaint furniture with acrylic water base paint. By this time the furniture should be about ready but you may repaint up to four coats if you desire.
  8. You may use oil base paint if you prefer. Follow the preceding steps substituting the oil base paint for the water base paint. Oil base paint will be more durable and longer lasting. However you will need to allow twice the drying time between coats. Most oil base paints made today are lead free.

Simple Instructions to Backwash a Spa Filter

Davey MPV with B unions

Backwashing your spa is a simple procedure that will extend the life of your infiltration service and keep your water clean and sanitary. You should BACKWASH your filter at least once a month.
  1. Before you backwash your SPA FILTER, locate the on and off switch for your spa filter pump. Turn the filter to off position. Look for a round valve either by the pump or on the filter. This valve will have a handle that lifts up and down. Most of these handles can be pressed down and turned to the backwash position indicated on the valve.
  2. Next, turn on the filter pump. The water flow will be going in the opposite direction into the filter cleaning out all accumulated debris. Let this run for at least one minute. You will see that the water at the beginning will be cloudy and then will turn clear. When the water turns clear turn filter pump off.
  3. Go back to the valve and press the handle into the down position. Move it to the SPA position or back to the original position before you started cleaning the filter.
  4. Hot tub at sunset Turn on the filter pump. This should complete the procedure. Now that you backwashed the spa you may need to fill the spa with water back to your desired level. You should BACKWASH YOUR SPA at least once per month.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hello Do It Yourselfers!

Welcome to Sam's DIY Guide! If your are looking for helpful hints, detailed instructions, or shopping recommendations Sam's DIY Guide is your source. Come on in and look around.