basic maintenance and repair projects every homeowner needs to
The complete photo guide to home improvement you find on
Also household solution
simple and effective products are fun and economical. We think you
will be happily surprised with the results, and much more...
All in one
place for the first time,
parents can find answers to the many questions that come up
all through a childhood.
Dealing With Home
Not every emergency can be prepared for, but if you live in an area prone to
hurricanes, floods, earth quakes, or
tornadoes, you should have basic
emergency supplies on hand, and your family should be aware of what steps to
take when disaster strikes.
Hurricanes. The National Hurricane Center recommends that those
living in low-lying areas have an evacuation plan. Find out about the best
routes from your local police or Red Cross chapter. Also plan for emergency
communication, such as contacting a friend out of the storm area, in case
family members are separated. Listen to the radio or TV for warnings; check
your emergency supplies, and fuel the car. Bring in outdoor objects such as
lawn furniture, and close shutters or install plywood before the storm
arrives. Unplug appliances, cut off the main circuit breaker, and turn off
the main water-supply valve.
Tornadoes. Have a place ready where you can take shelter--if you
donít have a basement, find a windowless spot on the ground floor, such as a
bathroom or a closet under stairs. As tornadoes usually happen with little
warning, know the danger signs.
Earthquakes. If you live in an earthquake zone, have all shelves
fastened securely to your walls, and store heavy or breakable items close to
the floor. During an earthquake, the safest place in your home (according to
FEMA) is under a piece of heavy furniture or against an inside wall, away
from windows or furniture that may topple.
Survival Tips. If you plan to ride out a storm, have basic emergency
supplies on hand, including flash lights and extra batteries, a battery-
operated radio, first-aid kit, extra nonperishable food and water, and
essential medicines. Turn the refrigerator to its coldest setting, and open
and close it only when absolutely necessary. Store drinking water in jugs
and bottles--and in clean bathtubs.
Severe storms are quantified by their potential for damage.
Temporary Roof Repairs. Itís natural to try to patch an active leak
but unwise to work on a wet roof in bad weather.
There are exceptions:
mainly, if the house has a low-sloped or flat roof that you wouldnít roll
off even if you slipped. When you can work safely, temporarily stem roof
leaks using roof cement (not roof coating). On standard shingles, flashing,
roll roofing, and even built-up flat roofs, pry apart the leaking seam, and
fill the opening with the thick tar. Then, push the shingle seam or flashing
edge back in place, and add another thick layer of tar. If a shingle tab
(the exposed section) has blown off, cover the area with tar, particularly
exposed nailheads on the shingle layers below, and weave in a cover
layer--if you donít have spare shingles, a piece of tarpaper or even a
plastic bag will work just be sure to overlap them.
Clearing Bottlenecks. To help prevent damage, it pays to regularly
check and clear gutters and down- spouts--particularly the S-shaped offset
fitting that directs water from roof overhangs back toward the building
leader board. These fittings typically are held in place with sheet-metal
screws, which you need to remove to gain access for cleaning that section of
To prevent gutters and drains from becoming laden with ice during the
winter, you can install UL approved electric heat cables. These are equipped
with built-in thermostats that trigger a power flow when temperatures drop
to the freezing point, keeping the gutters flowing.
Floodsyou should resist the
impulse, and drain the water slowly.
The natural impulse after your house is flooded is to remove as much water
as quickly as you can. .it after a major flood,
Pumping Out Water. The hidden danger is that the ground outside the
foundation wall is saturated and pressing against the masonry with the
potential force of a mudslide. In extreme cases, several feet of water
inside the wall pressing in the opposite direction may be the only thing
preventing a collapse. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA), you should wait until water on the ground outside begins to drain
away before pumping out the basement. Even then, you should reduce the level
only 2 or 3 feet the first day. Remember, donít use a gasoline-powered
generator or pump inside the house because it releases deadly carbon
Sump Pumps. Check your sump pump; it can prevent major damage from
flooding. Many models turn on when a float rises along a wire as water rises
in the sump hole. If the sump has not kicked in recently, the float can
seize in place. Run it up and down a few times to make sure that the sump,
and everything else, wonít wind up submerged.
Foundation Repairs. Interior surface patches wonít work on
foundations because leaks have a wall of water behind them--sometimes
massive hydrostatic pressure from a yard of compacted dirt that has turned
to mud. But there is one material, hydraulic cement, that has the potential
to stem an active leak through masonry. The dense cement mix should be
forced into wet cracks, packed in layer after layer, and held in place with
a cover board. Even if water continues to flow, the mix will harden and
swell as it sets up. If you pack the crack tightly, the swelling mix fills
nooks and crannies and can stop the leak.
Fire Safetycan use against any type of
home fire. For fireplaces and stoves, use a special chimney extinguisher.
Most look like a road flare. You remove a striking cap, ignite the stick,
and toss it into the fire place or wood stove. It can suppress a fire in the
chimney by displacing oxygen needed for combustion with a large volume of
The most important fire protection is a working smoke detector. Next is a
fully charged ABC-rated extinguisher that you
Smoke Detectors. If your smoke detectors are battery-powered, change
the batteries on a set schedule. There are also hard-wired smoke detectors
that run off house current (with battery back-ups). Install at least one
smoke detector on every level of the home.
Chimneys. Have a chimney sweep inspect chimneys, even if you use a
fireplace only occasionally. Sweeps have the tools to dislodge hardened
creosote, a by-product of incomplete combustion that can reignite and start
fires. You can make an unlined flue safer with one of the masonry mix
systems that forms a fire-safe shell inside the flue or by running
code-approved exhaust ducts through the chimney.
Extinguishers. Mount extinguishers near points where fires may
start--one in the kitchen and one at the entrance to the utility room that
houses a gas-fired furnace, water heater, and clothes dryer. Check the
pressure dials to make sure extinguishers are charged.
Escape Routes. For maximum safety, particularly with children in the
house, make sure you establish an evacuation plan with two ways out of every
room, and walk children through the routes so they know what to do in an
Emergency Numbers. Post telephone numbers of local fire, police, and
emergency services. Use an extinguisher against small, spot fires, but donít
try to fight large, developing fires; leave the house.
| CONTACT |
Improvement FAQ and Information Archive|
| Household Solutions
Interior Design Articles |
DRYWALL AND PANELING |
PAINTING AND DECORATING |
MAINTENANCE | WIRING |