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Maintenance Tips

Table of Contents


  1. 1 Table of Contents
    1. 2.1 How to reset GFI outlets to restore power to kitchens and bathroom outlets
    2. 2.2 Electrical FAQs
    3. 2.3 Smoke Detectors & CO2 Detectors
    1. 3.1 How to Maintain Garbage Disposal
    2. 3.2 How to reset Garbage Disposal
    3. 3.3 How to unclog Garbage Disposal
    4. 3.4 Troubleshooting Garbage Disposal
  4. 4 HEATING & AIR
  5. 5 How do I change my furnace filter?
    1. 5.1 How do I turn on my gas furnace for winter?
    2. 5.2 How to prepare your house for winter
  6. 6 LAWN & GARDEN
    1. 6.1 How to kill crabgrass
    2. 6.2 Lawn & Garden FAQs
    3. 6.3 How to fertilize your lawn
    4. 6.4 How to reduce weeds in your lawn
    1. 7.1 How to patch a door knob hole in a wall
    1. 8.1 How To Control Insects, Pests and Rodents
    2. 8.2 Get rid of Ants 
    3. 8.3 Get rid of Skunk OdorDeer-proof your Garden 
    4. 8.4 Get rid of RaccoonsGet rid of Fleas 
    5. 8.5 Get rid of RoachesGet rid of Gophers 
    6. 8.6 Get rid of Snails and SlugsGet rid of Mice 
    7. 8.7 Get rid of SpidersGet rid of Rats 
    8. 8.8 Termite Control
    1. 9.1 A great and cheap way to clear your shower or bathroom sink.
    2. 9.2 How To Unclog Your Sink (Before Calling the Plumber)
    3. 9.3 I put the wrong soap in the dishwasher, now what?
    4. 9.4 What not to flush down the toilet.
    5. 9.5 Plumbing FAQs
  10. 10 SPRINKLER
    1. 10.1 How to replace a sprinkler head
    2. 10.2 How to lubricate your noisy Garage Door
    3. 10.3 How to winterize Sprinklers
    4. 10.4 How to fix a Garage Door that won't close
    1. 11.1 How to maintain your Garage Door Opener
    2. 11.2 How to program you Garage Door Opener
    1. 12.1 Cleaning a Range Hood Filter
  13. 13 How to clean and maintain a Dishwasher
    1. 13.1 How to clean your Microwave
    2. 13.2 Reverse your Ceiling Fans for winter
    3. 13.3 How to clean Dryer Lint
    4. 13.4 How to cover Airconditioners
    5. 13.5 How to stop refrigerator water leaks
    6. 13.6 How to change the Gasket on you refrigerator
  14. 14 CARPET
    1. 14.1 How to remove stains in your Carpet
    2. 14.2 How to fix torn Carpet
    3. 14.3 How to fix Damaged Pile Carpet
  15. 15 FIREPLACE
    1. 15.1 How to work a fireplace Damper
    2. 15.2 Gas Fireplace troubleshooting
    3. 15.3 Gas Fireplace operation
    4. 15.4 How to clean a fireplace
    5. 15.5 How to fix a stuck Fireplace Damper
    1. 16.1 How to clean gutters and downsprouts
    2. 16.2 How to caulk Windows for winter
    3. 16.3 How to seal Driveway
    4. 16.4 How to install a fence
    5. 16.5 Troubleshooting exterior paint problems
    1. 17.1 How to test Fire Extinguisher


How to reset GFI outlets to restore power to kitchens and bathroom outlets

Electrical FAQs

The below Electrical FAQs are provided by Ace Home Improvement. To quickly navigate to the topic of choice, use the following keyboard shortcut to open your browser search bar. CTRL + F

Could I just throw away my old recyclable batteries?

No, laws require that they be recycled. This includes Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium Ion (Li-ion) and small sealed Lead (Pb) batteries. You can look for a battery recycling seal on the rechargeable batteries found in cordless power tools, cellular and cordless telephones, laptop computers and camcorders.

What is a time delay fuse?

Time delay fuses are used on circuits where appliance motors have initial surges of electrical power when the motor starts. This initial surge might blow a regular fuse.

I need a circuit breaker, but I don't have it with me. Are they all the same?

No, it's best if you bring in the old breaker and match it up. If you know the name of the brand of service box, we could also match it that way.

I have a circuit breaker that tripped. Is this dangerous?

Usually the problem is simply an overload and you only need to run fewer appliances on the circuit. However, if it is not overloaded and it keeps tripping, you should suspect a short. Also, look for a defective cord, socket or plug.

Is it all right to replace a fuse or circuit breaker with a larger one to prevent them from blowing or tripping?

In most cases the answer is no. They are designed to blow at certain levels to protect equipment and for fire safety.

What is the difference between a floodlight and a spotlight?

The floodlight will have a broader light pattern, while a spotlight will focus on a more narrow area.

Do 4-foot fluorescent fixtures come in different wattages?

Yes, the most common are 25-, 34- and 40-watt bulbs.

What is the advantage of a halogen bulb?

It provides brighter, cleaner light. However, it consumes lots of electricity and gets very hot. You should ensure that it stays away from draperies, bedding, clothing and hanging plants.

Do I need to buy a special bulb for my garage door opener?

It's best to use a rough service bulb.

What's making the tubes in my fluorescent light flicker?

Wiggle the tubes to make sure they are properly seated. Replace any tubes that are dark or have damaged pins. Replace the starter if there is one. The ballast may also be going bad.

The dryer plug will not fit the receptacle in our new house. How can I remedy this?

In most new homes, there should be four-prong dryer and range receptacles. If you have a three-prong power cord, you will need to change it.

What is a polarized plug?

One prong is bigger than the other. This feature is designed to make sure that a 110-volt plug is never put into a socket that is not a 110-volt outlet.

Will a three-pronged plug adapter protect me against electrical shock when I use it in a two-prong receptacle?

Only if the wall plate screw is grounded.

What do I need to buy for a basic electrical tool kit?

We recommend the following:

    • Needle-nose pliers
    • Insulated screwdriver
    • Combination tool
    • Utility knife
    • Keyhole saw
    • Continuity tester
    • Neon circuit tester
    • Fish tape
    • Electrical tape
    • Wire connectors

How do I test a switch to see if it is working?

I recommend using a continuity tester. First, shut off the electricity going to the switch and remove it. Touch the tester leads to both of the switch's terminals. If the switch is working properly, the tester will light up when the switch is on and go out when the switch is turned off.

What type of switches will I need to turn a light on from two different locations?

You will need a three-way switch at each location. A three-way switch will have three terminal screws on it.

What is the easiest way to test an outlet?

Use a receptacle analyzer. Leave the power on, but make sure nothing is plugged into any outlet on the circuit, and turn off all switches on the circuit. Now, plug the analyzer into the outlet. A series of lights will tell you if the outlet is wired correctly and working.

My extension cords are always getting tangled. Is there anything I can use to store them?

There are a variety of cord storage reels available.

What do numbers on electrical cable mean?

They refer to the number and types of wire inside the cable. For example, 14-2 means the cable has two 14-gauge wires inside. 12-3 G means the cable has three 12-gauge wires plus a bare ground wire.

How large of a cord should I use when wiring an appliance?

Use cords with 16-gauge wire for appliances pulling less than 15 amps and 12-gauge wire for appliances pulling up to 20 amps.

What do the colors of the plastic insulation mean on wires?

They are designed to indicate their use, but be careful because they are not always hooked correctly. Hot wires, those carrying current at full voltage, are usually black, red or white with black marks. Neutral wires are usually white or gray. Ground wires are usually either green or bare copper.

I am installing a ceiling fan; do I need a special electrical box?

Yes, special saddle boxes are designed for hanging heavy fixtures-up to about 50 pounds. Since a ceiling fan moves, these boxes are good for about a 35-pound ceiling fan.

When my house was built, they did not install a doorbell. Is there an easy way to solve this?

Yes, there are wireless door chimes.

What is a ground fault interrupter?

It's a safety device that shuts off the power if a wire in an outlet develops a leak that could electrocute someone. This hazard is so serious that the National Electrical Code requires all new homes be equipped with them in the bathroom, kitchen, workroom, outdoor, basement, garage and swimming pool circuits.

What is a transformer?

It's a device that changes the voltage. In most home usage, it reduces the voltage for use on low-voltage equipment, such as thermostats, doorbells and low-voltage outdoor lighting.

If there is a short in the line, where should I look for it?

Search for loose taped wire; also look for worn fabric insulation on old wires and check any terminals that have multiple wires since one of the wires may have slipped off.

How do you figure amperage?

It's watts divided by volts. For example, a 1500-watt heater (divided by) 120 volts equals 12.5 amps.

What is Underwriters Laboratories?

It is a non-profit organization that tests and approves electrical products. Look for "UL" labels of approval to help ensure appliances are safe.

My doorbell doesn't work, do you know what's wrong with it?

There are three components to the doorbell; the button, the transformer and the bell itself. First, look for any loose wires throughout the system. If all the wires are connected, test the doorbell button by removing it and touching the two wires together. If this makes the doorbell work, you have a bad button that is easily replaced.

I've bypassed the doorbell button, and the doorbell still did not work. What's the most likely problem?

Check the transformer. You will have to find it. It might be in the attic, but it can be anywhere. You just need to trace the wire. If it makes a humming sound when the button is pushed, your problem is probably the chime. If it doesn't make a sound, change the transformer to see if that's the problem.

Do all of the outlets in my kitchen need to have ground-fault circuit interrupters?

No, if the first in the series is GFCI, then all are protected.

Is there a light switch that I can use to replace one in my house?

Yes, but is it a single pole or is it a three-way switch. A three-way switch is one that is used when a light is controlled by more than one switch.

What does gauge mean?

Wires have size numbers that express their diameter. These are even numbers from 0 to 18, and smaller numbers indicate larger diameters that can carry more power.

I am putting a couple of more outlets in my garage. Can I use 14-gauge wire?

While 14-gauge wire is the minimum for most house wiring, it can only be used for 15-amp circuits. Number 12-gauge wire is recommended for general home use. There is often a chart on boxes of wire that will show you recommended gauges for specific applications.

I am running an underground cable in my lawn. What should I use to connect the wires?

You can use waterproof wire nuts if you do not have a waterproof box.

I need to install a receptacle for my kitchen range. Is it okay to use one designed for a dryer?

No, they may look similar, but they have different features. Make sure you check the manufacturers' label to ensure you are buying one that is rated for the proper amperage.

Do I need a special lamp for this droplight?

Use a rough service bulb. These heavy-duty bulbs will take rougher treatment and water droplets.

I have a water pipe in an unheated garage. How can I protect it from freezing?

Wrap the pipe with heat tape, which comes in different lengths.

What type of wire should I use for a 220-volt outlet?

The best choice is a three-wire cable with a ground. Also, make sure it's rated for the amperage you need.

What type of switches will I need to turn a light on from three different locations?

Two of the locations will use a three-way switch and the other location will need a four-way switch.

How do I troubleshoot a fluorescent fixture that doesn't light?

It's probably not the bulb because they rarely go bad all at once. Wiggle the tube to make sure it is seated. Replace any damaged lamp holders. Replace the starter. Check the switch and outlet box to make sure it is getting power.

What's causing my fluorescent fixture is hum?

The ballast probably needs to be replaced. Another sign of a faulty ballast is black tar-like substance oozing from the fixture.

How do I know the size ballast I need for a fluorescent fixture?

You need to know how many bulbs there are and how long they are. However, make sure you check the starter before you change the ballast. In fact, you may want to replace the whole fixture.

How do I check the starter in the fluorescent fixture?

Older, delayed-start fluorescent lights flicker when they first light up. If this lasts more than a couple of seconds, make sure the starter is seated by pushing it in and turning clockwise. If the ends of the tube light up and the middle does not, the starter is bad. Remove it by turning counterclockwise.

The tubes in my fluorescent light are graying near the ends. Does this mean they are wearing out?

Working tubes usually have a gray tinge on the ends, but dark gray or black is a sign that the tube is failing.

My fluorescent fixture does not seem to be putting out as much light as it used to. Could the tube be failing?

If the entire tube is dim, it may simply need washing. Try removing it and wiping it with a damp cloth.

Which color of wire nut do I need?

Check the package. It will tell you what size and how many wires each color of nut will hold.

Is there a special extension cord for my window air conditioner?

Yes, you need to use a major appliance cord. A regular extension cord doesn't have heavy enough wire to safely conduct the necessary current.

Is there a special receptacle I should install outside?

Yes, there is a special box with a cover designed to protect. In addition, the receptacle should also have ground-fault circuit-interrupt protection.

What is the difference between an extension cord rated for outdoor use and a standard one?

The outer coating of the insulation on the outdoor-use cord is weather and sunlight resistant.

Why are electric heaters limited to 1,500 watts?

Because anything over that would exceed the safe amp rating of most wiring and would present a fire hazard.

What tool should I use to strip the plastic sheathing off wire?

A combination tool has openings that fit different sizes of wire. When a wire is put into the correct one and pulled, it will remove the covering without damaging the wire.

Is there a tool for removing the outer sheathing on cables such as Romax?

A utility knife will work, but an inexpensive cable ripper is designed for the task and will not damage the wires inside.

How do I use a wire nut?

Strip off about 1/2" of insulation from the wires you want to connect. Hold these wires next to each other and twist clockwise. Screw on the wire connector using only your hand strength. Make sure no bare wire is exposed.

I need to run some wire through my wall. Do you have any suggestions?

Instead of trying to feed the wire through, use a fish tape. This tool is a small wire on a reel that is easier to feed through. Once you have fed it through the wall, attach the wire and pull the tape back through.

I have some slots left on my circuit breaker box that do not have breakers in them. Can I add more circuits?

You need to see how many amps your box is rated for and then look at the existing circuits to see how many total amps are already being used. If you have not reached the maximum, it's possible to add more, but it's best to have a professional do the work inside the box unless you have the specific knowledge.

How do I connect a wire to the terminal on my light switch?

Bend a stripped wire 180 degrees by bending it over the tip of needle-nose pliers. Wrap the wire clockwise around the screw so that it will stay in place as you tighten the screw. Don't over tighten and make sure there is no insulation under the terminal.

I think there is a short in a wire running to one of my rooms. Is there some way to test it to find out?

A continuity tester will let you know if there is a short. It is a tool that includes a battery so that it can supply a low-voltage current to devices and wires to see if there is a complete circuit.

I have low-voltage outdoor lighting. Can I add additional lights?

You will have to look at your transformer to determine what its maximum wattage is. Most bulbs are 4 watts, but they come in different wattages. You will have to add up what you are currently using.

My dusk to dawn light doesn't go off and remains on all day. Do I need to replace it?

First find the sensor and see if it is being obscured by something. If not, you can probably just replace this sensor.

Is replacing my thermostat an easy project?

Yes, simply remove the old thermostat from the wall. Next, disconnect each wire and mark it so you can keep track of where it was connected. Attach the new thermostat to the wall and attach the old wires.

I want to run a new wire to install some additional outlets. Do I have to run these wires through the wall?

You can use surface wire channels that allow you to run the wire on the outside of the wall and still maintain an attractive appearance.

What is a voltage tester?

It's an inexpensive tool that tests for live current. It can save your life. To use a voltage tester, simply plug its leads into a receptacle, or, if the cover plate is off, touch them to the screw terminals of the device. If current is present, the tester will light.

I have some tools that have three prongs, but the outlet I want to use has only two prongs. Can I safely cut the extra prong off?

No, the third prong is the grounding prong. If you cut it off or use a plug adapter that is not grounded, you will disable a feature that is designed to protect against electrical shock.

Why do some appliances and tools only have two prongs and no grounding prong?

These products are "double-insulated" and do not need the added protection of a grounding plug. You can plug them into ungrounded outlets and still be protected. I've noticed that some outlets have a T-shaped neutral slot. What does this do? It identifies the outlet as a 20-amp grounded receptacle and it should be used only on 20 amp circuits.

What is BX cable?

This is a trade name for an armored cable that wraps the wires in a flexible metal sheathing.

Is it easy to replace a faulty plug?

Yes, start by snipping off the original plug. Slide the cord into the new plug, strip the wires and connect them to the proper terminals. For lamps and small appliances there are quick-connect plugs. The snipped wire is inserted and a small lever is closed, which holds and pierces the wire to make the connection.

Can I add additional outlets to an existing circuit?

You need to figure the current circuit load in watts to see if it can handle additional use. The National Electric Code is 20 percent less than maximum. This means a 15-amp circuit has a safe capacity of 1,440 watts. A 20-amp circuit limit is 1,920 watts, a 25-amp circuit's limit is 2,400 watts and a 30-amp circuit has a safe limit of 2,880 watts.

How can you recognize a socket used for a three-way lamp?

This socket will have a regular contact tab inside, which all sockets have, plus another raised contact point.

Is there a nightlight that will come on automatically when it gets dark for use in my bathroom?

Yes, it's called a photoelectric nightlight.

I know there are fluorescent plant lights that stimulate plant growth, but do they make these bulbs for standard lamps?

Yes, there are incandescent models that screw in.

I am going on vacation. Are there any easy-to-use products that will turn my lights on and off so it looks as if the house is occupied?

Yes, there are a variety of timers that simply plug in.

Do you have something I can use to insulate and repair cords and wire with?

You can use heat-shrink tubing. It's designed to fit something half its size in diameter.

Is it okay to use an extension cord with a fuse on it rather than a surge protector for my computer?

No, a surge protector has components that trip before a spike in electricity damages your electronic equipment.

Do I need special tape for wiring?

Yes, you should use electrical tape.

How much energy do compact fluorescent light bulbs save?

Most estimates are 70 percent, which means that over the life of the bulb you can save as much as $100.

Smoke Detectors & CO2 Detectors

Why does the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend that home smoke alarms be replaced after 10 years?

Like all devices with electronic components, smoke alarms have a limited effective service life. As electronic devices, smoke alarms are subject to random failures. In 10 years there is roughly a 30% probability of failure before replacement. After 15 years, the chances are better than 50/50 that your alarm has failed. That is too big a risk to take. Replacing alarms after 10 years protects against the accumulated chance of failure, but monthly testing is still your first, best means of making sure your alarm will work.


Source: NFPA 72; 2007 Edition page 72-118; Section Paragraph 5(b)

Why do smoke alarms chirp intermittently?

The "chirp" will only be caused by issues surrounding the battery or miss-wiring. However, a homeowner may confuse the chirp with an intermittent alarm. Try and get the homeowner to be specific as to what they are hearing. A “chirp” will have a higher pitched tone and sound in equal intervals about once every minute. An intermittent alarm will be random, sound usually for several seconds and have a lower pitched tone. Any of these situations can cause unwanted chirps:

  • Battery Pull-tab is Still in the Alarm 
    The battery pull-tab must be removed after AC power is provided to the alarm.

  • The Battery Drawer is Open 
    The battery drawer must be completely closed for the battery to make contact with the terminals.

  • Low Battery
    As the battery in a smoke alarm becomes weak, the smoke alarm will "chirp" about once a minute to alert you that the battery needs to be replaced. Note: Only the alarm with a low battery will chirp. No signal is sent through the interconnect wire. The other alarms will be silent.

  • Tip for Builder Service Managers 
    During extended periods prior to occupancy where power is off, Builder Service Managers who maintain new homes prior to sale should be sure to open the battery drawer on alarms to keep the battery from draining. If power is restored temporarily (e.g. to show the home) the alarm will chirp if the drawer is open. The alarm now senses there is no battery.

  • Battery is Present but Part of the Terminal is Obstructed
    The battery may not be fully making contact with the terminals in the alarm. Check to be sure the battery pull-tab or some other obstruction is completely removed.

  • A Different Device or Appliance
    Security systems, monitors, carbon monoxide alarms, and other devices have similar low battery or alert signals.

Why do I hear the low battery "chirp" if the battery is new?

Any of these situations can cause a low battery chirp:

  • Does your smoke alarm have a separate silence button? If so, the button may have been pressed by mistake. The alarm will now "chirp" once a minute for up to 15 minutes.

  • Are you sure it's the smoke alarm? Other devices have similar low battery chirps or warning tones. The source of a single chirp is often hard to pinpoint. Be sure to check wall outlets that may have other devices like carbon monoxides alarms in use.

  • Even "new" batteries may not be fresh. If batteries are stored, especially in cold areas like refrigerators, they lose their charge more quickly. Always check the freshness date on the package when buying new batteries.

Why can smoke alarms go into alarm when no smoke is present?

Any of these situations can cause unwanted alarms:

  • Cover or Sensor Chamber is Covered by Dust or Dirt
    Alarms may look clean, but dust can accumulate inside the cover, especially in newly built homes. Gently vacuum smoke alarms regularly using the soft brush attachment. Be sure electricians install the provided dust cover to keep alarm clean during construction.

  • Insects Covered or Clogged the Sensor Chamber
    Clean the smoke alarm with the soft brush attachment on your vacuum.

  • Alarm was Triggered from Another Part of the Home
    In a system of interconnected AC or AC/DC alarms, the unit triggering the alarm is in another part of the home - smoke may be present, but you can't see it.

  • Power Interruptions to AC/DC Smoke Alarms
    Smoke alarms may alarm briefly when power is interrupted, then restored. Power interruptions are common in areas where utility companies switch grids in the early hours of the morning.

  • A Loose Electrical Connection on AC or AC/DC Smoke Alarms
    In AC or AC/DC smoke alarms, a loose hot wire connection can intermittently disconnect power to the smoke alarm. The effect is the same as a power failure. When power is restored, the units may alarm briefly. Note: A loose or disconnected neutral wire may cause the alarm to chirp or go into alarm. For residential applications, connecting stranded 18 AWG wire from the smoke alarm to solid 14 AWG wire can be difficult. Be sure wire is making a reliable connection.

  • When the Furnace is Turned on for First Use:

    • Oil and residue is present on and in furnaces and ductwork from the factory to protect the metal surfaces. This can cause smoke to be emitted for a period of time and possibly set off smoke alarms.

    • Dirt, drywall dust and construction debris is often present in ductwork. First use of the furnace can cause fine particles to be blown through the house possibly causing nuisance alarms. This is why the homeowner may be in the house for several months without incident and why nuisance alarms tend to increase during the Fall.

  • Humidity
    Ionization smoke alarms are more susceptible to nuisance alarms when placed near a bathroom or other potentially high humidity area.

  • Near Cold Air Returns
    Smoke alarms placed near a cold air return are more susceptible to nuisance alarms because dusty air can be blown through the alarm sensing chamber.

  • Smoke Alarm May Need to be Relocated
    If possible, install smoke alarms at least 20 feet from appliances like furnaces and ovens, which produce combustion particles. Alarms should be at least 10 feet from high humidity areas like showers and laundry rooms, and at least 3 feet from heat/AC vents and fluorescent lights whenever possible. In areas where a 20-foot (6 meter) distance is not possible – in modular, mobile, or smaller homes, for example – it is recommended the Smoke Alarm be placed as far from these fuel-burning sources as possible. The placement recommendations are intended to keep these Alarms at a reasonable distance from a fuel-burning source, and thus reduce “unwanted” alarms. Unwanted alarms can occur if a Smoke Alarm is placed directly next to a fuel-burning source. Ventilate these areas as much as possible.

What Levels of CO Cause an Alarm

Underwriters Laboratories Inc. Standard UL2034 requires residential CO Alarms to sound when exposed to levels of CO and exposure times as described below. They are measured in parts per million (ppm) of CO over time (in minutes). UL2034 Required Alarm Points*:


  • If the Alarm is exposed to 400 ppm of CO, IT MUST ALARM BETWEEN 4 and 15 MINUTES

  • If the Alarm is exposed to 150 ppm of CO, IT MUST ALARM BETWEEN 10 and 50 MINUTES.

  • If the Alarm is exposed to 70 ppm of CO, IT MUST ALARM BETWEEN 60 and 240 MINUTES.


Note* Approximately 10% COHb exposure at levels of 10% to 95% Relative Humidity (RH). The unit is designed not to alarm when exposed to a constant level of 30 ppm for 30 days. 



CO Alarms are designed to alarm before there is an immediate life threat. Since you cannot see or smell CO, never assume it’s not present.

  • An exposure to 100 ppm of CO for 20 minutes may not affect average, healthy adults, but after 4 hours the same level may cause headaches.

  • An exposure to 400 ppm of CO may cause headaches in average, healthy adults after 35 minutes, but can cause death after 2 hours.

How long do CO and CO/Smoke combo alarms last?

ANSI/UL2034 specifications have changed to require all CO alarms and combination smoke/CO alarms to have an end of life feature. This is an industry wide change. This requirement went into effect for any production beginning on August 1, 2009. All BRK/First Alert carbon monoxide alarms manufactured on or after this date meet this requirement. This information is stated on the original packaging, label on the alarm and the manuals.


Basic text reads “Replace alarm 60 months after installation”. This feature is a simple counter that begins working once the unit is activated either by plugging it in, hardwiring or inserting the battery. Then after approximately 60 months of operation the unit will begin to sound 5 chirps. See the individual CO product on the BRK website and click on the ”sounds” tab to hear this alert. This silence feature can temporarily quiet the End of Life warning “chirp” for up to 2 days. You can silence the End of Life warning “chirp” by pressing the Test/Silence button. The horn will chirp, acknowledging that the End of Life feature has been activated. After approximately 2 days, the End of Life “chirp” will resume. After approximately 2-3 weeks the End of Life warning cannot be silenced

What are recommended locations for Smoke Alarms?

Installing Smoke Alarms in Single-Family Residences

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), recommends one Smoke Alarm on every floor, in every sleeping area, and in every bedroom. In new construction, the Smoke Alarms must be AC powered and interconnected. See “Agency Placement Recommendations” for details. For additional coverage, it is recommended that you install a Smoke Alarm in all rooms, halls, storage areas, finished attics, and basements, where temperatures normally remain between 40° F (4° C) and 100° F (38° C). Make sure no door or other obstruction could keep smoke from reaching the Smoke Alarms. More specifically, install Smoke Alarms:

  • On every level of your home, including finished attics and basements.

  • Inside every bedroom, especially if people sleep with the door partly or completely closed.

  • In the hall near every sleeping area. If your home has multiple sleeping areas, install a unit in each. If a hall is more than 40 feet long (12 meters), install a unit at each end.

  • At the top of the first-to-second floor stairway, and at the bottom of the basement stairway.

IMPORTANT! Specific requirements for Smoke Alarm installation vary from state to state and from region to region. Check with your local Fire Department for current requirements in your area. It is recommended AC or AC/DC units be interconnected for added protection.

Alarm Placement-BRK Manuals



For minimum security install one Smoke Alarm as close to each sleeping area as possible. For more security, put one unit in each room. Many older mobile homes (especially those built before 1978) have little or no insulation. If your mobile home is not well insulated, or if you are unsure of the amount of insulation, it is important to install units on inside walls only. Smoke Alarms should be installed where temperatures normally remain between 40° F (4° C) and 100° F (38° C).






NFPA 72 (National Fire Code) Chapter 11 “For your information, the National Fire Protection Association's Standard 72 reads as follows:


11.5.1 One- and Two-Family Dwelling Units. Smoke Detection. Where required by applicable laws, codes, or standards for the specified occupancy, approved single- and multiple-station Smoke Alarms shall be installed as follows: (1) In all sleeping rooms. Exception: Smoke Alarms shall not be required in sleeping rooms in existing one- and two-family dwelling units. (2) Outside of each separate sleeping area, in immediate vicinity of the sleeping rooms. (3) On each level of the dwelling unit, including basements. Exception: In existing one- and two family dwelling units, approved Smoke Alarms powered by batteries are permitted.


A.11.8.3 Are More Smoke Alarms Desirable? The required number of Smoke Alarms might not provide reliable early warning protection for those areas separated by a door from the areas protected by the required Smoke Alarms. For this reason, it is recommended that the householder consider the use of additional Smoke Alarms for those areas for increased protection. The additional areas include the basement, bedrooms, dining room, furnace room, utility room, and hallways not protected by the required Smoke Alarms. The installation of Smoke Alarms in kitchens, unfinished attics, or garages is not normally recommended, as these locations occasionally experience conditions that can result in improper operation.”


California State Fire Marshal (CSFM) Early warning detection is best achieved by the installation of fire detection equipment in all rooms and areas of the household as follows: A Smoke Alarm installed in each separate sleeping area (in the vicinity, but outside bedrooms), and Heat or Smoke Alarms in the living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, hallways, finished attics, furnace rooms, closets, utility and storage rooms, basements, and attached garages.

Source: brkelectronics.com


How to Maintain Garbage Disposal

Here is instruction on how to best care for your garbage disposal. Click Here.

In the below video tutorial, viewers learn how to maintain a garbage disposal. When using the garbage disposal, always run cold water before using it. Put the debris one by one. Do not stuff it all in at once. When finished, turn the disposal off and let the water run for a while to wash all the debris down the waste line. Do not grind stringy items. It is fine to grind hard food waste. This video also talks about the common problems that people encounter when using a garbage disposal. This video will benefit those viewers who have a garbage disposal and would like to learn how to properly use it.

How to reset Garbage Disposal

If a garbage disposal isn't working at all, it may be because the reset button has been tripped. Find out how an overheating garbage disposal can trip the reset button with help from the president of a factory-authorized appliance service company in this free video on home appliances and garbage disposals.

How to unclog Garbage Disposal

Learn how to safely and properly unjam a garbage disposal unit with this interactive video from Ace Hardware. See several methods for removing jammed objects from the disposal and how to reset the motor. Click Here.

Troubleshooting Garbage Disposal


Stuck Flywheel / Disposal Will Not Run (makes a humming noise) 

If the garbage disposal won't turn on but makes a humming sound when you flip the switch, it won't do that for long. That means you have a stuck flywheel and the reset button on the unit itself or the fuse or circuit breaker in your electrical service panel will trip and turn off very quickly. The flywheel is stuck because something is lodged between it or the impeller(s) and the shredder ring.

  • To start the repair, turn off power to the garbage disposal at the electrical service panel.

  • Reminder: Don't ever put your hand down into the garbage disposal hopper (grinding chamber).

  • Take the offset wrench that came with the disposal unit and insert the wrench into the flywheel turning hole in the bottom of the unit. If you don't have the wrench you can pick one up from the hardware store that sells your garbage disposal.

  • Once the wrench is inserted, turn it clockwise to dislodge the stuck impeller or flywheel. When it dislodges, you'll feel the flywheel turn freely.

  • Another approach is to try and use a wooden broom-handle or similar wooden object to free the stuck impeller and flywheel from the top of the unit through the drain.

  • Place the broom-handle into the hopper and against an impeller. Use leverage to try and free the stuck flywheel. As before, when it dislodges you'll feel the flywheel turn freely.

  • Once freed, turn the power back on at the panel but don't turn on the disposal yet.

  • Go back to the disposal and press the reset button.

  • Run some tap water into the disposal and quickly flip the switch on and off turning the disposal on for a short burst. Turn on and off again quickly. That should spin the flywheel and the dislodged obstruction should be washed down the drain.


Leaking Garbage Disposal 

Leaks can occur at a number of places on a garbage disposer. Let's take a look at the most common:

Leak at the Sink Flange

  • Turn off power to the disposal at the electrical service panel.

  • At the disposer mount, turn the disposal to the left (counter-clockwise from bottom) to loosen and remove the unit from the mounting flange.

  • Tighten the three mounting bolts.

  • If the bolts are tight, the leak may be caused by failed plumbers putty. Loosen the bolts and push the sink flange slightly above the surface of the sink.

  • Force plumbers putty between the sink flange and the sink, going completely around the flange.

  • Tighten the mounting bolts drawing the sink flange tight to the sink surface. The putty will ooze out. Wipe away excess putty.

  • Reinstall the disposal and turn power back on at the service panel.

  • Check for leaks.

  • Leak at the Dishwasher Connection

    • Tighten the clamp on the dishwasher hose connected to the dishwasher inlet on the disposer.

    • Replace the hose if the hose is leaking.

    Leak at the Discharge Drainpipe

    • Check the bolts holding the discharge pipe to the disposal for tightness.

    • If that does not work, remove the bolts and the pipe and replace the gasket.

    • Reinstall bolts and tighten.


Slow Draining 

Slow draining of a garbage disposal can be caused by a number of problems.

  • Assuming you've given the disposal enough time to run and clear the garbage, you probably have a clogged drain line.

  • NOTE: Never use chemical drain cleaners with a garbage disposal! You will damage the disposal and since the chemicals probably won't work anyway, you'll end up with a sink full of toxic chemicals you'll have to hand bail into a bucket and flush down the toilet.

  • Remove the bolts holding the discharge pipe to the disposal.

  • Disconnect the drain trap and remove the trap and the discharge drain pipe.

  • Check for clogs or obstructions.

  • If none are found, the clog lies in the line going into the wall or beyond the vertical pipe going into the wall.

  • Clear the obstruction with a sink auger. 


How do I change my furnace filter?

The following instruction is provided by Ace to help you in replacing your furnace filter.  Your filter should be changed every 60-90 days.

How do I turn on my gas furnace for winter?


  1. Check your furnace filter to make sure the filter is clean (should be changed every 60-90 days).  (see how to change furnace filter)

  2. Switch your thermostat to "heat" so that your furnace will shift into heat production mode as soon as it is turned on. This will make it obvious as to when the furnace is operational.

    • If your furnace does not start up, proceed to the next step.

  3. Inspect your gas furnace, looking for a switch to turn it on and off. If you find an on/off switch, toggle it to the other position to see if it turns on. If you do not find a switch or there is no change when the switch is flipped, your furnace is turned off at the breaker. Return the switch to its original position (if you flipped it and the furnace didn't come on.

    • If your furnace does not start up, proceed to the next step.

  4. Open your circuit breaker box if you were unable to turn the furnace on by using a switch on the furnace itself. Use the breaker listing to locate the breaker that controls your furnace; it should be in the "off" position. Turn the breaker on and return to the furnace.

    • If your furnace does not start up, proceed to the next step, or call our maintenance department for assistance.

  5. Light your pilot light if your furnace doesn't use an electrical starter. Turn the pilot light's valve to the "off" position to clear any excess gas, then turn it to "pilot" to prepare to light it. Hold down the pilot button (if a red pilot button is present) or press the valve control in to release gas, then use a fireplace match or grill lighter to light it. Turn the valve to the "on" position once it has been lit.

  6. Adjust your thermostat to the temperature that you want or switch it to a different mode if you don't wish to use your gas furnace to heat your home at the moment.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_6570826_turn-gas-furnace.html

How to prepare your house for winter

Windows and Doors

  • Check all the weatherstripping around windows and door frames for leaks to prevent heat loss. Replace weatherstripping, if necessary.
  • Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay. Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity.
  • Check for drafts around windows and doors. Caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping.
  • Inspect windows for cracks, broken glass, or gaps. Repair or replace, if needed.

Lawn, Garden, and Deck

  • Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires to prevent iced-over or wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem.
  • Aerate the lawn, reseed, and apply a winterizing fertilizer to promote deep-root growth come spring.
  • Ensure rain or snow drains away from the house to avoid foundation problems. The dirt grade — around the exterior of your home — should slope away from the house. Add extra dirt to low areas, as necessary.
  • Clean and dry patio furniture. Cover with a heavy tarp or store inside a shed or garage to protect it from the elements.
  • Clean soil from planters. Bring pots made of clay or other fragile materials indoors. Because terra cotta pots can swell and crack, lay them on their sides in a wood carton.
  • Dig up flower bulbs, brush off soil, and label. Store bulbs in a bag or box with peat moss in a cool, dry place for spring replanting.
  • Remove any attached hoses and store them away for the winter to prevent cracks, preserve their shapes, and prolong their life. Wrap outside faucets with covers to prevent water damage.
  • Shut off exterior faucets. Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to protect against pipe bursts.
  • Inspect decks for splintering, decay, or insect damage and treat, if needed, to prevent further deterioration over the winter.
  • Clean leaves, dirt, and pine needles between the boards of wooden decks to thwart mold and mildew growth.
  • Inspect outdoor lighting around the property. Good illumination will help minimize the chance of accidents on icy walkways at night.
  • Check handrails on exterior stairs to make sure they’re well secured.

Tools and Machinery

  • Bring all seasonal tools inside and spray them with a coating of lightweight oil to prevent rust.
  • Weatherize your lawn mower by cleaning off mud, leaves, grass, and debris.
  • Move your snow blower and shovels to the front of the garage or shed for easy access.
  • Prepare the snow blower for the first snowfall by changing the oil and replacing the spark plug.
  • Sharpen ice chopper and inspect snow shovels to make sure they’re ready for another season of work.
  • Make sure you have an ample supply of ice melt or sand on hand for steps, walkways, and the driveway.

Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning

  • Inspect the firebox and flue system to ensure that they’re clean of any soot or creosote and that there aren’t any cracks or voids that could cause a fire hazard.
  • Check fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may be warped, worn, or rusted. Consider installing a Chimney Balloon into the flue to air seal the area tightly.
  • Clean or replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum efficiency and improved indoor air quality.
  • Clean your whole house humidifier and replace the evaporator pad.
  • Bleed valves on any hot-water radiators to increase heating efficiency by releasing air that may be trapped inside.
  • Check that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
  • Remove air conditioners from windows or cover them with insulated liners, to prevent drafts.
  • If you have an older thermostat, replace it with a programmable unit to save on heating costs.
  • Install foam-insulating sheets behind outlets and switch plates on exterior walls to reduce outside airflow.
  • Make sure fans are switched to the reverse or clockwise position, which will blow warm air down to the floor for enhanced energy efficiency and comfort.
  • Flush a hot water heater tank to remove sediment, and check the pressure relief valve to make sure it’s in proper working order.
  • Examine exposed ducts in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces, and use a sealant to plug up any leaks.

Gutters, Roof, and Drains

  • Check for missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace, as necessary before you get stuck with a leak.
  • Check for deteriorated flashing at the chimney, walls, and skylights and around vent pipes. Seal joints where water could penetrate, using roofing cement and a caulking gun.
  • Check the gutters and downspouts for proper fastening, and re-secure if loose or sagging. The weight of snow and ice can pull gutters off the house.
  • Clean gutters of any debris. Make sure downspouts extend away from the house by at least 5 feet to prevent flooding of the foundation and water damage from snowmelt.
  • Clean leaves and debris from courtyard and pool storm drains to prevent blockages.
  • Ensure all vents and openings are covered to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from getting inside to nest in a warm place.
Source: www.bobvila.com


How to kill crabgrass

In lawn care, the best way to get rid of crabgrass is with nice thick turf and healthy soil. Kill crabgrass with tips from a professional landscape in this free video on lawn care tips.

Lawn & Garden FAQs

The below FAQs are provided by Ace Home Improvement.  To quickly navigate to the topic of choice, use the following keyboard shortcut to open your browser search bar. CTRL + F

What do the three numbers on the bags and boxes of fertilizer mean?

They represent the percentages of plant nutrients by weight. Just remember "up, down and all around." The first number represents the nitrogen, the second represents the phosphorus and the last one represents the potassium. These numbers are always expressed in the same order.

What is a good all-around, multi-purpose fertilizer?

A 12-12-12 helps promote growth and is good for all vegetables, flowers, fruit and nut trees, shade trees, evergreens and shrubs. A 1-1-1 ratio (10-10-10,15-15-15, 20-20-20, etc.) is widely used at the time of lawn establishment, but established lawns generally respond better to fertilizer ratios high in nitrogen. Two of the more common complete fertilizers used by homeowners for flowers and vegetables are 10-10-10 and 5-10-10. A high phosphorus fertilizer such as 6-18-6 is often recommended for vegetables when transplants are set out.

When should I apply fertilizers to plants and trees?

Don't apply liquid fertilizer at the same time you plant. Some root hairs will break, and the fertilizer will burn them. Wait two to three weeks after planting before you fertilize. In general, apply fertilizers to plants at the beginning of the growing season. For deciduous trees, fertilize when leaves appear; and for evergreens, when it turns cold. Shrubs do not require much fertilizing.

Can I spray my fruit trees from the ground?

Yes, a hose-end tree sprayer will do the job, but will often end up applying the chemical to other surrounding plants and the lawn. Consider using a ladder and a regular hose-end sprayer or pump sprayer.

How do I plant grass seed?

Start with top-quality grass seed. Work the soil up a little with a rake. If you are overseeding consider using a slicing machine. Evenly sowing larger areas by hand is difficult, so use a spreader. Cover the seeds by raking a little soil over them. Fertilize and mulch only if it's on a hillside. Use very little mulch. Water, water, water.

How often should I fertilize my lawn?

In early spring, apply a fertilizer with a pre-emergent herbicide. About six to eight weeks later in late spring apply a fertilizer with a post-emergent herbicide. In late summer, apply a fertilizer with insect control. In early fall, apply fertilizer to stimulate root growth. In late fall, apply a winterizer fertilizer that builds resistance to the cold and provides nutrients to extend the green period in the fall and green up quicker in the spring.

When is the best time to plant grass?

In late winter or early spring as soon as weather permits. Another good time is around Labor Day.

What is the difference between a round-point and square-point shovel?

Round-point shovels are used for digging, while most square points are used for scooping.

Is there any advantage of a metal leaf rake over a plastic leaf rake?

A metal rake usually has more spring and is better suited for large areas. It is easier to clean around flowerbeds, shrubs and bushes and does not rake up essential thatch in a lawn.

Can I repair my pump sprayer that has quit working?

Usually, this is the result of damaged seals in the pump. Most manufacturers sell a repair kit. In addition, the sprayer will not work if the tip is clogged and needs cleaning.

When should I prune?

Typically, it's best to do this trimming when the plant is dormant before it is budding.

What is the difference between a two-cycle and a four cycle-engine?

With a two-cycle engine, you will have to mix oil with the gasoline. Four-stroke engines tend to be more efficient and usually require less maintenance.

I need a tool to trim my evergreens.

Anvil pruning shears work well on light foliage. For heavier cutting, a lopping shear with more leverage will be needed. For other trees, a bypass shear provides a cleaner cut that those trees prefer.

What size of string do I need to buy for my string trimmer?

This varies greatly. You either need to bring in your old string or know what brand and model you have. If you don't know, we can make a guess. If we are right, you won't have to come back. If you have an electric trimmer, it's probably .064 and if you have a gas trimmer it's most likely .080.

Are lawn mower blades specific to particular mowers?

Yes, you need to know the brand, width of the cut and whether it is a mulching mower. Some blades come with adapter kits that allow them to be used on different brands.

What is the best way to water a lawn?

Once a week for an extended period (slow watering) rather than more often for shorter periods of time. This allows moisture to go deeper into the soil.

I have a good hose but it has a small break in the middle. Can I patch this?

Cut out the bad section and connect the two lengths with a hose mender. Simply slide on the compression fitting and screw on the connector. There are also replacement male and female hose couplers that can replace damaged ends. The plastic ones are easier to use.

Which is better, rubber or vinyl hose?

Rubber hose will last longer and will not kink as easily. However, it is heavier and more cumbersome to handle.

When is the best time of day to water?

Some people mistakenly believe that daytime watering can burn their grass, but the best time to water is actually from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If that is not possible then morning or early evening.

When do I apply insect controls?

These can be applied anytime there is a problem. However, a preventative application for surface insects should be made in late spring. The best time to attack insects below the surface is in late July and early August. This application should include watering the lawn before and after the application to ensure the insecticide gets down to the root zones where the grubs are active.

Do you have a grass and weed killer that can be safely used around a flowerbed?

There are many brands, but they will all harm flowers. You can try to shield the plants from overspray, but the best way is to simply pull the weeds.

What is the difference between annual, perennial and biennial weeds?

Annual weeds, such as crabgrass, germinate from seeds each spring. After maturing, they drop seeds before dying. These are the seeds that germinate the following year. Perennial weeds, such as dandelions, do not die at the end of growing season. They may lay dormant in the winter, but will become noticeable in the spring. There are also biennial weeds, such as thistle, which grow vegetation in the first year and then flower and die the second year.

When should I plant flower bulbs?

Planting times vary, but as a general rule, earlier in the fall is better than later. Bulbs need to establish strong root systems, before the frosts of winter set in and the bulbs enter a new cycle in preparation for spring blooming. Remember to plant bulbs in an area that drains well and water newly planted bulbs to help those roots get going.

In fertilizer what is nitrogen needed for?

It's the up. It promotes plant growth and greening, thus providing more foliage, color and density.

In fertilizer what does phosphorous do?

This is the "down" number. It stimulates cell building and root growth and is particularly beneficial in helping seedlings, flowers and vegetables to develop.

In fertilizer what does potassium do?

It assists plants in forming starches and proteins, thus promoting plant hardiness, disease resistance and a tolerance to drought and cold. It's the "all-around" number.

What are micronutrients?

These are nutrients, such as sulfur and iron, that plants need in tiny amounts. Generally, micronutrient deficiencies are not common because organic matter and most soils and fertilizers contain sufficient amounts.

What are special-purpose fertilizers?

Some fertilizers are designed for certain uses or types of plants such as citrus food, rose food or azalea food. For example, azalea fertilizer has been specifically formulated to acidify the planting medium. Packaging of other fertilizers for specific types of plants is often based more on marketing then reliable research. Pick the most inexpensive product that supplies the correct amount of needed nutrients.

What are the advantages of synthetic fertilizers?

They're faster acting than organic making them a good choice for aiding plants in severe distress from nutrient deficiencies. These fertilizers, which come as dry, granular pellets or water-soluble products, also provide even, consistent feeding.

What are the advantages of granular pellets?

They are usually less expensive than their organic counterparts. They can be applied by simply spreading them around plants or using a spreader to apply them to a lawn.

What are time-released granular pellets?

These controlled-release fertilizers provide consistent feeding for three to nine months, depending on the product. The fertilizer granules are coated with a permeable substance. With each watering, a bit of fertilizer diffuses through the coating and into the soil. Advantages include the need for fewer applications and less of a chance of burning the plant. However, they do not provide as quick a boost and they cost more.

What are the advantages of water-soluble fertilizers?

These dry or liquid concentrates must be diluted in water before application. They are applied with a hose-end sprayer or a watering can. They are relatively expensive, but they are easy to apply and provide even feeding. They are easy to use, especially on container plants. There is no risk of burning a plant as long as you follow label directions for dilution, and the nutrients, in solution, are available to plant roots immediately. They are less practical than the solids for large-scale use because of their greater cost and because they must be reapplied more often (their nutrients in solution leach through the root zone more rapidly).

What are the advantages and disadvantages of organic fertilizers?

The word "organic" simply means that nutrients contained in the product are derived from a once-living organism. Most are high in just one of the three major nutrients and low in the other two. Their major advantage is adding bulk to the soil. Except for manure, the organics generally release their nutrients over a fairly long period. However, the potential drawback is that they may not release enough of their principal nutrient at a time to give a plant what it needs for best growth. Because they depend on soil organisms to break them down, most organic fertilizers are effective only when the soil is moist and warm.

How much ground will lawn fertilizer cover?

Lawn needs are usually based on nitrogen needs and vary from 1 to 6 pounds needed per 1,000 square feet per year. Specific amounts depend on the type of grass. Leaving grass clippings on the lawn usually reduces this number by 1 pound.

I have some bare spots in my lawn. What do you recommend for starting grass growth?

There are lawn patching products that are specifically formulated for these situations. It is a mulch that contains seed and fertilizer. You apply the mulch to the bare spot and keep it watered.

I want to fertilize my lawn and prevent crabgrass, but I just seeded my lawn. What should I use?

There is a product specially formulated as a pre-emergent that prevents crabgrass but allows grass seed to germinate.

Do you have an ice melter that will not damage concrete or adjoining grass?

Yes, one option is a product that uses a specially formulated corn derivative.

What is lawn thatch?

It's a layer of stems and the crowns of dead grass just above the soil. While clippings decompose quickly, thatch decomposes slowly. When it builds up, it creates a problem. Either use a de-thatching machine or a core-aerating machine to fix the problem.

How short should I cut my grass?

About 2" or 3", but never more than about 1/3 of its length.

I used a shade-tolerant grass seed in a shady area, but I am still having trouble getting the grass to grow.

Make sure you keep this area well watered, and do not cut it as short as the rest of the lawn. In addition, rake the leaves in the winter. If you still have a problem, you may have to trim the branches on a tree that is blocking the light or cover the area with mulch.

On long-handled tools, such as a shovel, what is the advantage of the more expensive ones?

The higher-priced sho vels have a sturdier construction and have better materials. For example, the composite handles are less likely to break.

Should I buy a long-handled or short-handled shovel?

A job's limited space may require a short handle. However, a long handle supplies more leverage and allows you to work in a more upright position. As a result, a long-handled shovel is usually a better choice.

What are the advantages of shovels with curved handles?

These are called back savers because they allow you to work without bending over.

What sizes of wheelbarrows are there?

For general use around the yard, there are 3-cubic-foot and 4-cubic-foot models. The heavy-duty 6-cubic-foot model is designed for commercial use.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of drop spreaders and broadcast spreaders?

A drop spreader allows for precise applications, such as along flower beds, but it typically takes a little longer and requires you to make sure that you do not put too much or too little in one area. Broadcast spreaders are quicker and require less precision.

Which are better, plastic or metal trashcans?

Most people prefer the heavy-duty plastic models because they do not bend or get out of shape as easily. However, metal cans make good storage containers for things such as birdseed, when you want to protect the contents from mice, rats, squirrels and insects.

What type of pump sprayer do you recommend?

For the homeowner, the plastic ones are often a good choice because they will not rust. Some of these have metal wands and tips, which are stronger, more durable and easier to clean.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of anvil and bypass pruners?

Anvils provide one blade that is pushed up against a flat surface. These are less expensive and are good on dried wood. Some experts also believe evergreens also prefer this type of cut. Bypass pruners allow you to cut larger branches (up to about ?").

What are compound pruners?

These use a mechanical action so the tool does more of the work. It requires less effort and force.

What do I use to cut branches more than 1"?

Loppers are used on small trees and bushes up to 2" in diameter. They are essentially oversized pruners and are also available in compound models. For larger branches, you will need a saw. These come in a variety of styles. Essentially, you need to pick one that will allow you to get at the branches.

What's the best way to trim large branches with a saw?

About 6" to 1' away from the trunk of the tree, cut about halfway up through the branch. Next, cut down from the top. Finally, cut off the stub at its collar on the trunk.

How do I take care of my pruning tools?

Simply keep them clean and wipe them down with light oil. Oil their pivot points and blades and keep them sharp.

What is the advantage of composite handles on an ax or maul?

These cost a little more than wood-handled versions, but they are stronger. This can be particularly important if you have a tendency to overstrike, which can break a wood handle. In the past, wood handles were easier to replace, but new composite designs make these easy to fix as well. Some people say they prefer the feel of wood and that it creates less vibration.

I am trying to decide which is better for me - a gas or electric chain saw.

Gas chain saws can be used anywhere and are more powerful. Plus, they come in larger bar sizes. Electric chain saws must stay within the limits of an extension cord.

What should I look for when buying a lawn mower?

For a mulching or self-propelled mower, you need plenty of horsepower. Look for one that has a 5- to 6-horsepower engine.

How do I maintain my mower after each use?

After each mowing, wait until the engine cools and then use a hose to spray the clippings and grass debris that may be clinging to the underside of the mower deck. Some people recommend that you get your blade sharpened about once a month.

What about annual maintenance on my mower?

If you are going to store your mower for the winter, disconnect the sparkplug and drain the fuel from the tank. Then, reconnect the sparkplug and run the engine until it runs out of gas. This keeps aging fuel from going bad inside the engine. In the spring, change the oil in the mower if you have a four-stroke engine. In addition, replace the spark plug, fuel filter and air filter.

How should I trim?

Most people use a power trimmer that spins a nylon line. Try to keep it at the same height as your mowed grass. Remember cutting grass too short can damage it. And always remember to wear protective eyewear and heavy clothing on your legs.

What is an edger?

This tool provides a vertical cut into the soil, to create a clean line between a lawn and a flowerbed, driveway, sidewalk or some other structure. The fastest models are powered models. A non-powered edging tool looks like a shovel with a small blade shaped like a half moon. You can push the blade in with your foot so that it slices off a thin piece of turf, leaving a clean, straight edge of soil along the edge of the lawn.

When buying a trimmer or edger, should I buy gas-powered or electric models?

If you can reach every corner of your yard with a 150' extension cord, you should consider an electric model. They typically cost less, are quieter and require less maintenance. If you have a larger yard, then a gas-powered model may be better.

Is there a power tool that I can use to trim evergreens with?

Yes, there are electric hedge trimmers. They come in different sizes. The larger units are more powerful, but do not buy a model that is too heavy for you to handle.

Which is better, an electric or gas leaf blower?

A gas blower provides mobility and is more powerful.

Are there tree-trimmers you can use from the ground?

Yes, pole tree trimmers typically extend 12' to 20'. Shears with a pulley and rope can cut about a 1" diameter branch, and saws are used on branches up to about 6". For these and larger branches, you may want to consider a chain saw.

How big of a snow blower do I need?

Most consumers buy a single-stage model, which has a rubber paddle that reaches to the ground. People with driveways that are wider than two cars may want to consider a two-stage model. These can throw snow farther because they have an intake and an impeller that throws the snow. However, these do not always clean all the way to the surface of the drive.

I need a glove to work in chemicals.

Use a neoprene-treated glove. It is chemical resistant.

I need a glove to work in the yard.

If you are using tools or equipment such as a rake, ax, shovel, lawn mower or string trimmer, you should consider a leather glove. It will offer comfort and protection while a standard canvas or cloth glove can be your choice if all you want to do is keep your hands clean.

What's a better choice in edgers: electric or gas?

Since all gas-powered equipment is noisy, some people prefer the electric models. The cordless models have run times of about one hour, which is generally sufficient for homeowners.

What should I consider in a leaf blower?

It's best to buy a blower that can be reversed and also used as a vac. This allows you to sweep up the leaves, and some models even have a mulching feature.

Are cordless electric hedge trimmers a good choice?

For general use they are more than adequate, but most only offer run times of less than one hour. Some corded models are more heavy duty.

Is there a sprinkler that I can restrict to a small rectangular area between two buildings?

Yes, an oscillating sprinkler can be set so that it will direct water to a specific area. There are also pattern sprinklers.

What is an impulse sprinkler and what are its advantages?

It will water a large area with minimum evaporation.

I have a large area to water, but I don't want to be bothered with moving the sprinkler.

Use a traveling sprinkler, it moves under its own power along a track of hose and has an automatic shutoff feature.

I notice there is quite a price range in hoses. What do I get for my money?

The less expensive hose is not reinforced. Medium-priced hoses are usually 5/8" and have some reinforcement in the walls. Higher-priced hoses have more reinforcement and are usually made with rubber.

What is a soaker hose?

It is a hose that is blocked at the end and moisture seeps through its walls. It can be weaved through a garden to provide water directly onto the soil.

How do I rid my lawn of moles?

You must first get rid of the food source - grubs, sod webworms and some beetles. Then you can use either a toxic cartridge that "smokes" their holes or a toxic pellet that you place in the burrows.

I have roaches in a basement room. What do you recommend?

There are both room foggers and roach bait.

Do you have anything that can clear an outside area of flying insects?

There are electric insect foggers and, for smaller areas, there are outdoor foggers that come in an aerosol can.

My neighbor's dog is killing my evergreen. He comes to the same spot everyday.

Apply a dog and cat repellent.

Wasps have built a nest on our patio. How can I get rid of them?

There are sprays that have a range of 20' so that you can stand far away and still be effective. Some sprays leave a foam so that returning pests will also be killed.

What do you recommend for eliminating mice in the house?

There are a variety of traps, or you can use pellets that you can place in the area.

How can I keep rabbits out of my garden?

There is a galvanized fence that is 28" high.

How do insecticides work?

There are basically two types: systemic and non-systemic. The systemic is absorbed by the plant and makes it poisonous. The non-systemic provides a coating on the outside of the plant.

I have bugs damaging my plants. What insecticide should I use?

It's difficult to tell unless you can identify the bug. There are books to look through, and many insects are illustrated on the bottles of insecticide.

When do I apply pre-emergent herbicides?

These are applied in late winter or early spring before seeds begin to germinate.

When do I apply post-emergent herbicides?

These are used on weeds that are actively growing and should be applied in mid spring. Another excellent time is in early fall.

Why should I use mulch in my beds?

It retains moisture in the soil, reduces the growth of weeds, protects ground temperature, prevents erosion, attracts earthworms, enriches the soil and adds to the beauty of the planting.

When and how do I apply mulch?

Summer is the best time. Applying in the spring slows the soil's ability to warm naturally. Course mulches should be applied 3" to 4" deep and fine mulches 1" to 2" deep. It should be wet thoroughly after application. One cubic foot of course mulch should cover about 3 to 4 square feet of space.

What is the difference between a standard sheet of plastic and a landscape fabric?

A landscape fabric lets water through while preventing weeds from growing. While plastic will stop weeds, it does not allow moisture penetration. Cutting small holes for your plants prevents weeds from growing in the bed but still allows your plants to get moisture. A sheet of plastic could be used if you are trying to keep anything from growing in an area, such as under a deck.

Is there anything I need to do to winterize a young tree in my yard?

Some people recommend that you use a wrap to help prevent frost damage.

How do I compost?

Compost converts waste material into a fertilizer. Bins should be almost 30 cubic feet to ensure they retain enough heat to spur composting. Choose a location for your bin that is partially shaded. A pile can contain leaves, grass clippings, prunings, straw, spoiled hay, coffee grounds, eggshells, paper and wood ash. Remember, you should add about equal parts of green material (nitrogen), like fresh grass clippings and food scraps, to one part brown material (carbon), such as leaves. Keep it as wet as a wrung-out sponge and aerate your pile by stirring it once a week. You can layer in manure, garden soil and commercial fertilizer to speed bacterial action. You should have finished compost in about three months.

How close should bulbs be planted together?

Groups of bulbs make a much nicer show. To create greater color impact in the garden, plant clusters of same-color flowers together in blocks or "bouquets." Generally, larger bulbs should be planted 3" to 6" apart, smaller bulbs 1" to 2" apart.

How do I transplant flowers?

First, dig a hole a little larger than the plant's rootball. Put your hand over the rootball and turn the container over. Now, you can gently pull off the container with your other hand. Set the rootball in the hole, cover with loose soil, press down firmly and water thoroughly.

How long will it take to replant flowers?

If the soil is well prepared, you can plant a flat of about 36 flowers in about 30 minutes.

What is a perennial?

These flowers will survive winter and return the next summer. If you plant perennials, you will not have to replant them next year unless you want to move them to a new location.

What is an annual?

These plants last one season and die out.

How do I plant a tree?

For best results, choose at least a 5' tall tree. Select a site with enough room for roots and branches to reach full size, and don't forget to avoid overhead and underground utilities. Prepare the area by loosening the soil three to five times the diameter of the root-ball. Dig a hole in the middle set the root-ball even with the ground level. Then water the soil. If the tree will not stand up in the wind, stake it down. Spread a 2" or 3" layer of mulch on the prepared area, but do not put any mulch within 6" of the tree trunk.

What tools do I need to spread mulch?

If you are using bags of mulch, simply pour the mulch out and spread it with a rake. If you have had a pile of mulch delivered, you should use a pitchfork specifically designed for picking up mulch. Use it to put the mulch in a garden cart or wheelbarrow to take it where you want to spread it.

How to fertilize your lawn

Choosing the appropriate fertilizer is an important step in getting your lawn, shrubs, trees, flowers and veggies looking good. Learn about the fertilizer numbering system and see great results.

How to reduce weeds in your lawn

The below tips are provided by Lou at Ace Home Improvement.

Control unwanted foliage to keep your lawn looking beautiful

I'm not entirely sure how it came to pass, but it would seem that having a lush, green lawn says something about a homeowner and his or her castle. Admit it, at some point in time, you have had "lawn envy!" Surely you've driven past a neighbor's home, wondering how they got their grass to look so good. "Is it some special seed blend? A secret fertilizing plan?"

While the neighbors may have a few tricks up their sleeves, that can't stop you from getting a lawn that is deep green, lush and long-lasting. But, to do this, you'll have to get rid of those pesky weeds.

Weeds really detract from the look of the lawn, but there's hope if you treat them properly. First, give the lawn a good raking and pull out any dead patches or excess build up of thatch. Treat your lawn with Ortho Weed-B-Gone Lawn Weed Killer (Ace no. 7102908 for 1-pint concentrate). This product will eliminate many of the most common "problem weeds," including clover, chickweed, oxalis and it'll even do a pretty good job on 'ol Creeping Charlie or ground ivy (these are the same thing). This product is rain-resistant in just hours and it won't harm the lawn.

Keep in mind, you will get a little grass kill by using the Weed-B-Gone, but once the weeds are taken care of, you can loosen up the soil and reseed the area. Then watch your lawn thicken up and look great!

Often times, really tough weeds get into the cracks in sidewalks, driveways and patios. If you need to tackle these and there is no surrounding vegetation (like grass you want to keep or a flower bed), it's best to use a total vegetation killer such as Round-Up Season Long Grass & Weed Killer (Ace no. 7136104 for a 1.33-gallon ready-to-use container). Many Ace stores are also carrying a new product called Concern (Ace no. 7116320 for a 32-ounce spray bottle), a fast-acting non-selective weed killer that uses a soap blend to kill nearly all weeds in just hours. What's more, Concern targets plant tissues and doesn't move through the soil, so nearby vegetation is pretty safe. You can replant after about two days.

Important tip: All of the aforementioned products should be used with caution. Be sure you read all labels, adhere to all applicable safety precautions and use the products as they are intended to be used.

Once you've got your lawn weed issue under control, start up your four-step fertilization plan and bring your lawn to life. Before long, the neighbors will be wondering how you do it! If you have additional questions about lawn care, ask the helpful folks at your neighborhood Ace Hardware store or feel free to e-mail me at asklou@acehardware.com.

Take care,


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How to patch a door knob hole in a wall

The following instruction is provided by Ace to help you in patching a hole in your wall caused by a door knob.  

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This short video will show you quick and easy steps you can take right now to prevent rodents from invading your home.  Click Here. 


A great and cheap way to clear your shower or bathroom sink.

Utilizing inexpensive tools can really go a long way!  See below.

How To Unclog Your Sink (Before Calling the Plumber)

Two tips you can try to unclog your sink ... BEFORE making the call to the plumber.

1. Here's a natural remedy provided by thegoodhuman.com

2. Below is a video giving additional options and instructions

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I put the wrong soap in the dishwasher, now what?

What to do if the Wrong Soap was Used

So you used dish soap instead of dishwasher soap? If you did, you know the result; lots and lots of soap suds that just won't stop. So what do you do?

This is easy to fix, if you know what to do; and we do. First scoop out as much water as you can and dump it in the sink. Next add a cup or two of white vinegar and run the dishwasher for a short time. Now scoop out more water.

The vinegar cuts the foaming action of the soap. You may have to repeat the process to eliminate the suds because some soapy water remains inside the pump and hoses.

Also, if you poured it into the soap dispenser, wash that out by hand to get all the dish soap out.

Source: AcmeHowTo.com

What not to flush down the toilet.

What shouldn't you flush down the toilet?  Here's a list of 24 items you should never flush.

  1. Band-Aids – Made out of non-biodegradable plastic. Toss them in the trash.

  2. Condoms – Bad news for septic tanks and sewage treatment plants. Condoms gum up the works.

  3. Cotton Balls & Q-Tips – Contrary to popular opinion, these don’t magically break down once flushed. They gather together, eventually clogging pipes.

  4. Food – Compost or trash it. Food can clump together and cause clogs.

  5. Facial Cleaning Pads – Thicker than toilet paper and thus can cause problems.

  6. Dental Floss – NOT biodegradable. Will wrap around small clogs to make them even bigger.

  7. Hair – Clogs pipes in no time. You know how you constantly have to unclog your drain because of the hair in it? Imagine that, but on a much larger scale.

  8. Dirt – Dump it outside, not in the toilet.

  9. Dryer Sheets – Made out of synthetic materials, not biodegradable.

  10. Prescription Medicines – Destroys bacteria and contaminates groundwater. Bring meds back to pharmacies for disposal.

  11. Grease & Fat – Congeals once it cools down, filling pipes with a solid mass that blocks pipes.

  12. Pesticides – Destroys the good bacteria used to break down waste at treatment plants.

  13. Baby Wipes – Too thick, can cause clogs.

  14. Cleaning Wipes – Ditto.

  15. Disposable diapers – Other than the fact that they were giant, disposable diapers are made out of plastic. Throw them in the trash if you have to use them.

  16. Cat Litter – Would you pour sand in your toilet? This is basically the same thing, but filled with potentially toxic cat feces.

  17. Tampons and Pads – Trash can is best here. These items are too thick for toilet plumbing.

  18. Cigarette Butts – Full of toxic chemicals that can pollute waterways.

  19. Chewing Gum – Can literally gum up the works.

  20. Nail Polish & Remover – Toxic.

  21. Dead Pet Goldfish – Not necessarily bad, but can cause problems with clogging or could introduce disease into septic system.

  22. Cosmetics – Potentially toxic and harmful to wastewater treatment plants and septic systems.

  23. Paper Towels – Do not break down like toilet paper. Too thick for plumbing pipes.

  24. Toilet Scrubbers – Do I have to say why?

So what’s left to flush? Just toilet paper (made from 100% recycled paper, of course) and human waste – that’s it. What would you add to the list of things you should not flush down the toilet? Are you guilty of using your toilet as a trash can? It’s time to change that behavior. It’s bad for you, the planet, your utility bills, and our water supplies

Source: thegoodhuman.com

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Plumbing FAQs

The below Plumbing FAQs are provided by Ace Home Improvement.  To quickly navigate to the topic of choice, use the following keyboard shortcut to open your browser search bar. CTRL + F

What does it mean when a faucet is said to have 8-inch centers?

The faucet mounts with the fixture holes set 8 inches apart. It's important that you buy the right size faucet to fit.

What is plumber's putty?

It is a sealing putty used for a variety of tasks including to seal basket strainers, garbage disposal rims and tub drains.

I don't have enough room under my sink to get the faucet nut off.

A basin wrench is a tool designed especially for that.

What is the purpose of pipe joint compound or tape?

They reduce friction in assembly and provide a watertight seal.

Which is better for sealing - Teflon(TM) tape or thread joint compound?

They do the same job, but Teflon(TM) tape is easier to work with and makes a cleaner joint.

What kind of solder do I use on a water line?

Health codes require lead-free solder.

Do you recommend plastic pipe cleaners and primers?

These are applied to a pipe and fitting before applying the solvent weld glue to ensure a strong bond. Their use is always a good idea, especially if it's for a water supply line or the connection is going to be somewhere that will be difficult to get to in the future.

What does flux do?

It cleans the surface prior to soldering. It prevents the oxidation of the metal. And it allows the solder to flow freely.

Is there a wrench I can use that will not damage the brass, aluminum or other soft material?

Yes, a strap wrench grips the pipe without teeth.

What is the difference between PVC and CPVC plastic pipe?

CPVC can be used on hot and cold lines, while PVC is for cold water only. PVC is usually used as a drainpipe.

How should I cut plastic pipe?

Any fine-tooth saw will work, but make sure you remove any burrs.

What is the proper way to join galvanized pipe to copper pipe?

You should use a dielectric union. This will prevent electrolysis from occurring, which deteriorates the copper tubing.

Is 1/2" CPVC and 1/2" PVC the same size?

No. CPVC is measured by O.D., which makes its sizing similar to hard copper. PVC is measured by I.D., which makes its sizing similar to iron pipe.I am not getting enough hot water from my gas water heater.The thermostat may be set too low, otherwise the burner is probably not burning correctly. If that's the case, it's best to call a service technician.

Are all electric hot water heater elements the same?

There are three types: screw in, bolt in and clamp in. They all have different wattage ratings and can work on either 120 or 240 voltage.

There is water leaking from my water heater. What's the cause?

The pressure relief valve could be leaking. Try operating the valve to see if it will stop. It also might need tightening. A gasket around the heating element may need to be replaced, or the tank could be rusted out, which requires a new hot water heater.

What size water heater should I buy?

Most people base their purchases on the size of the storage tank, but a better method is to first estimate how much hot water you will need during the peak hour of use. This is referred to as the first-hour rating (FHR) on the Energy Guide label posted on new water heaters. Typical hot water use is:

  • Showering 3 gallons/minute
  • Bathing 15-25 gallons per bath
  • Shaving 1-3 gallons
  • Washing hands 1/2-2 gallons
  • Washing dishes 4-6 gallons
  • Running dishwasher 5-20 gallons
  • Running clothes washer 25-40 gallons
  • Cleaning house 5-12 gallons
  • Food preparation 1-6 gallons

What is the purpose of a pressure relief valve on a water heater?

This is a safety device that will open in case of high pressure or temperature.

What diameter trap do I need for my kitchen sink?

These are almost always 1-1/2 inches. The 1-1/4 inch traps are for bathroom lavatories.

What is the correct size of garbage disposal that I should put under my sink?

If you are replacing an existing unit that has worked well for a number of years, the old size should work fine. Otherwise, 1/3 horsepower will handle limited use once a day. A standard 1/2 horsepower will normally suffice for general use. Heavy-duty 1/2 horsepower units and larger are designed for a large volume of garbage.

What are the working parts of a toilet?

The refill valve, the flush valve and the trip lever.

How do I replace a damaged refill valve?

Turn off the toilet's water supply valve, flush the toilet and sponge out any remaining water in the tank. The refill valve is usually removed by turning a nut that holds it in place. When the nut is off, the refill assembly can be lifted out. Install the new assembly by following the manufacturer's directions.

You stock two sizes of supply lines. Which one will I need for my toilet?

The toilet supply line head is the larger of the two. The smaller ones are sink supply lines.

My toilet fills up every 10 minutes. What is the problem?

If the toilet flushes on its own, the flush valve is probably not seating properly and water is leaking from the tank into the bowl. This could be the result of the lift chain being tangled. If it is the valve, you can change the flapper. Scale deposits on the seat can be removed with steel wool or with No. 500 abrasive paper. Make sure you clean the valve seat. If it still leaks, the seat is damaged and you will need to replace it as well.

What does O.D. and I.D. mean?

This refers to the diameter of a pipe. Some pipes are measured based on their outside diameter, or O.D. Others are measured by their interior diameter, or I.D.

What do I need to do to repair my leaking faucet? Is it leaking from the handle or out the spout?

Most faucets are washer-type, and if these are leaking from the spout, you will have to replace the washer. If the seat is corroded, you will have to dress it or replace it.

If it is leaking from the handle, you may need to replace the O-rings, tighten the packing nut or replace the packing.

If a disk faucet is leaking, you will need to replace the O-ring. If it is leaking from the spout, you will need to replace the disk assembly. For ball-type faucet leaks, you may need to replace the cam assembly, the seat assembly and the ball.

Are all faucet seats the same?

No, you will need to bring in their old seat to match up with the new one. Each brand has its own design and thread.

How do I remove the seat?

Use a seat wrench, which has several sizes of square and hex ends.

What are the advantages of plastic supply lines?

They are less expensive, do not corrode, will not kink, are more flexible and are non-toxic.

My sump pump runs constantly. Do I need to buy a new one?

It could just be a bad switch that is easy to replace.

I just refinished my basement and I want to ensure that it doesn't flood. Do you have any advice?

You can buy a sump pump that has a battery back up. There are also high-water alarms.

Do I use the same type of glue for both PVC and CPVC?

No, CPVC requires special solvent cement that is different from cement used for other types of plastic pipe.

How do I join fittings to plastic pipe?

Use a solvent welding glue, which softens the pipe and fittings so they can melt together.

Can the fittings be removed after they have been glued?

No, they are permanently joined and cannot be taken apart.

What do the letters "K," "L" and "M" on copper tubing mean?

Type K is the heaviest. Type L is medium weight and used most often for water lines in homes. Type M is thinner and is used underground or for light domestic water lines if local codes allow.

I am getting no hot water from my electric water heater.

The high-temperature cutoff may have been tripped, which requires someone to press the reset. Otherwise it's probably a faulty heating element or thermostat, which can be replaced.

I'm not getting enough hot water from my electric water heater.

The temperature control may be set too low. Otherwise it's probably a faulty heating element or thermostat, which can be replaced.

The water from my electric hot water tank is too hot.

The thermostat may be set too high, or it may be faulty. It could also be a grounded heating element.

I am getting no hot water from my gas water heater.

The pilot light might be out, or you may have a faulty thermostat.

Is there any maintenance for a water heater?

Yes, you should test the pressure relief valve regularly and replace it if it fails to operate. At least once a year you should flush out the sediments. As long as a tank has a functioning anode, it should not rust. Therefore you should check the anode about once every two years. The fitting is usually on the top of the tank and it's often tight, so a torque multiplier is a useful tool. If you find 6" or more of the steel core wire exposed, or if the rod formed a hard, adherent calcium carbonate coating that prevents further corrosion of the sacrificial metal, replace the rod. There are segmented rods if overhead clearance is limited.

I think my kitchen drains are partially clogged because the sink drains slowly. What do you recommend?

First, try using a plunger. Second, try using a liquid drain opener, but use caution and read directions. Third, you can remove the trap. Be careful if you have used a liquid drain opener because there may be some in the trap. Fourth, if the clog is beyond the trap, there are drain augers that extend from about 15' to about 50'.

Do you have anything I can put in my drain line that will kill the tree roots invading the line?

There are root killers that contain copper sulfate.

What is the purpose of an aerator on a faucet?

An aerator diffuses the water to prevent splashing.

Is a trap necessary under the sink?

You need a trap to shut off odor (sewer gas) from coming into the kitchen and bath area.

Can I use plastic drain parts on metal drain parts under the sink?


In the long run, which is better - chrome drain parts or plastic?

Plastic will usually last much longer than chrome, but you have to be careful because it can be affected by some harsh chemicals in drain cleaners.

What is a check valve?

A check valve keeps water from returning to the sump pit or crawl space after the pump shuts off.

What is the difference between soft copper tubing and hard copper tubing?

Hard copper is rigid line used throughout the house. Soft copper is used where flexibility is needed, such as faucet supply lines.

What is a compression fitting?

This type of fitting squeezes a brass or plastic ring around copper or plastic tubing.

What is a flare fitting?

A connector is slipped over the end of a copper tube, which is then flared out using a special tool. The fitting can then be screwed into another fitting.

Can I solder soft copper?


How do I solder copper tubing?

Clean the inside of the fitting, clean the outside of the tubing, apply acid flux, heat the fitting and apply the solder.

Can I attach metal fittings and plastic fittings?

Yes, there are transition fittings that make this possible.

There is water seeping from around the base of my toilet. What do I need to do to solve this problem?

Your wax gasket is probably not working anymore. This is a simple problem to fix. You need to remove the toilet and install a new wax ring. While you have the toilet off, you should go ahead and replace the bolts. Otherwise, it could be a crack in your toilet bowl.

What do I do if there is a crack in the bowl?

If it is a small crack, you can try to repair it. Drain the toilet, dry it off, apply some Plumber's Goop and let it dry completely before refilling the tank. However, you may have to replace the bowl.

The toilet bowl is not filling up. What is the problem?

See if your toilet has an overflow pipe. If so, a rubber tube should go into it. It has a metal clip on it and sometimes it can come loose.

When replacing a faucet, I was told that I should put some putty underneath the faucet. Why?

This is a good idea to keep moisture from getting under the faucet and into the cabinet below.

I have a problem with the plumbing in my house making groaning and honking sounds.

It could be that you have lost your "air cushion." To get it back, turn the water supply off at the main valve. Turn on all the faucets around your home. Then turn on the main valve again and shut off each faucet. This should take care of the problem.

What is a supply valve?

This valve is under the sink or beside the toilet and shuts off the water to the faucet or toilet.

Is there an easy way to replace the seat?

There are glue-in repair kits, but not all kits fit all toilets. And you must follow the manufacturer's directions closely.

How do I replace the seat?

The flush valves are held to the tank by one large jam nut on the bottom of the tank. Installing a new valve usually requires removing the tank from the bowl.

How do I test to see if water is leaking from the tank into the bowl?

After flushing the toilet, let it refill. Now put a few drops of food coloring into the tank. If the color appears in the bowl after a few minutes, there is a leak.

Can I test to see if the leak is coming from the refill or the flush valve?

Yes. Shut off the water supply to the toilet. Mark the water level on the inside of the tank with a pencil. Check the water level in 10 or 20 minutes. If the water has fallen, you know the flush valve is leaking.

The water in my toilet seems to run constantly in my toilet.

If the refill valve is leaking, the tank overfills and the excess water runs into the overflow pipe and into the bowl.

How do I adjust this water level?

To adjust the water level on a conventional toilet tank, you simply bend the float arm down to lower the water level or up to raise it. Another widely popular valve has a pinch clamp that allows you to raise or lower the float.

What is a toilet vent?

It is a pipe that runs from the toilet drain to the outside, usually to the roof. This prevents air lock in the drain line.

How often should I change my furnace filter?

Normal time periods are one month to three months.

What is the advantage of the higher-priced air filters for furnaces?

They take out smaller particulates that are circulating in the air.

Will these higher-quality air filters last longer?

Actually, since they catch more particulates, they typically last a shorter amount of time. Always check the manufacturer's recommendations.

What can I use to keep outdoor faucets from freezing?

Install a frost-free lawn faucet that is angled down to drain. For existing faucets, you can use an insulating cover.

Condensation is dripping from the water line in my basement. What can I do about this?

Pipe wrap will solve this problem.

Do you measure the diameter of hard copper the same as soft copper?

No, you measure hard copper with I.D. (inside diameter). You measure soft copper by its O.D. (outside diameter).

How do you measure galvanized pipe?

You measure it by the I.D. (inside diameter).

How do you measure black pipe?

Using I.D. (inside diameter).

I have heat tape on my water line. What type of pipe wrap should I use over the heat tape?

Use fiberglass. Don't use foam wrap because the heat could melt it.

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How to replace a sprinkler head

How To Replace A Sprinkler Head

How to replace a sprinkler spray head.

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How to lubricate your noisy Garage Door

Have a squeaking garage door? This video will provide an idea on how to reduce those noise.

How to lubricate a noisy Garage Door

How to maintain a Garage Door

How to winterize Sprinklers

Winterization is an important part of maintaining a properly running lawn sprinkler system. Where you live plays a big part in which steps you will need to follow. If you live in a region that is temperate - i.e., it either never freezes or only freezes for an hour or two at a time when it does -there are far fewer steps involved when it is time to winterize your irrigation system.

In this how-to guide to winterization, we will take a look at the steps involved in winterizing your sprinkler system in a cold climate. As a part of that, we will examine two different methods for removing the water from pipes and sprinklers: using drain valves and the blow out method. Finally, we will outline what needs to be done for those of us in more temperate climates. When you have finished reading this article,you will have the knowledge necessary to successfully winterize your lawn sprinkler system - and you'll understand why most experts agree that a sprinkler system blow out is the most recommended method to use.

Step 1 - Turn Off The Water

First things first: when the time to winterize your irrigation system rolls around, you'll need to shut off the water at the main valve before doing anything else. By necessity, the shut off valve for your sprinkler system needs to be located in a place where it can't freeze up; this should have been done when the system was originally installed.

Step 2 - Shut Down The Controller

Here'swhere things get a little less cut-and-dry. Automatic irrigation systems have a controller - or timer - that regulates when they turn on and off. Depending on what kind of controller you have, you may either choose to set it to "rain mode" or disconnect the power from it altogether.

Please note that you can always buy a more up-to-date, efficient controller or timer to save yourself a lot of time and money in the long run. www.SprinklerWarehouse.com offers the best selection and most competitive prices for lawn sprinkler system controllers on the market today.

Solid State Controllers:

A solid state controller usually have digital time displays and generallyuse up a lot less electricity and power than their mechanical counterparts. Disconnecting the power from your sprinkler system controller means having to reset all of its associated settings when spring returns - not necessarily the simplest task in the world.

Solid state controllers tend to use very little electricity, though, so leaving them on - but in "rain mode" - will not cause a major spike in your electric bill. Therefore, if you have a solid state digital controller, use the "rain mode" setting and save yourself a lot of frustration down the line.

"Rain mode" means that your controller stays on, maintaining its settings, programming and keeping the time - but the valves simply don't come on. They can save you a great deal of time when it comes to winterization.

Step 3 - Remove The Backflow Preventer And Take Care Of Risers

Next, you will need to remove the backflow preventer from your lawn sprinkler system. Once it's removed, drain all the water from it and store it someplace safe. Although you can always reinstall it once it's drained, that's usually a task best kept for the springtime.

While there's a chance that you'll be able to siphon water out of your irrigation system's risers, chances are that you'll have to pump it out.If so, a wet/dry shop vacuum is your best option; use duct tape to make the hose narrow enough to work properly.

Valves that are installed above ground should be drained of water and stored somewhere safe. Some people choose to use pipe heating cables on their backflow preventers and above ground valves. Keep in mind, though, that even when used properly such arrangements can fall victim to power outages and serious damages to your irrigation system can occur.

Removing A Backflow Preventer

As noted previously, removing your irrigation system's backflow preventer and storing it for the season is a smart move when you're completing the other steps involved in winterization. How do you remove a backflow preventer, though? With any luck, the one that you have is held in place with union connections. In this case, you'll just need to uncouple them on either end of the backflow preventer, just before the bends in the piping. Once it's removed, storing it will be simple. You can use insulation on the exposed ends of the pipe to keep them safe from harm -and to keep critters and debris from inadvertently getting in.

Ifyou don't have union connections in place, though, you're in for a little bit more work. The people who have the biggest trouble removing their backflow preventers are the ones whose system doesn't use union connections. In this case, you'll have to cut the backflow preventer out manually. It's definitely more work, but the good news is that once that's done, it's done. When spring rolls back around, you can reinstall the backflow preventer for your irrigation system using union connections; the next time you need to winterize your lawn sprinkler system, it will be considerably easier.

Step 4 - Removing Water From The Pipes And Sprinklers

Now comes the most important step of the winterization process: removing all of the water from the system's pipes and sprinklers so that it doesn't freeze, expand and burst everything. There are a few different ways of approaching the problem: using a shop vacuum to suck all of the water out (a very time-consuming and aggravating process), draining the water out via the system's drain valves or using air to blow all of the water out (also known as a sprinkler system blow out). Since using a shop vac is so inefficient, we will only take closer looks at how to use the drain valve method or the blow out sprinkler system method.

The Blow Out Method

Although we will be outlining how a sprinkler system blow out works, it is best to have a professional perform this kind of work for you. In fact, hiring a professional to conduct winterization work is the best way to go, if possible.

  • Get The Right Equipment - To conduct a sprinkler system blow out, you will need a very large air compressor. At minimum, you should use a 50 cubic feet per minute compressor to get the job done right. Anything smaller will make the job inefficient - and may even make it impossible. 

  • Make sure the compressor has a pressure regulator valve with an accurate gauge. If possible, try renting different sizes and kinds of air compressors until finding one that works the best - then purchase it so you don't have to rent it again every time you winterize.

  • Remove The Backflow Preventer - Most likely (and preferably) your backflow preventer will be located just after the irrigation shut off valve for your lawn sprinkler system. If you have an anti-siphon valve, remove the whole valve.

  • Connect The Air Compressor - On the downstream side of the system, connect the air compressor to the backflow preventer riser.

  • Turn On The Valves - Always turn on your valves one by one, using the automatic controller, when you blow out sprinkler system. Begin with the last valve - or the one at the highest elevation. Open manual valves by hand. If you've removed the anti-siphon valves, you will need to connect the compressor hose to the downstream part of the valve risers.

  • Turn On The Air Compressor - With this step, taking your time is key! Gradually increase the pressure without letting it exceed 50 psi. If the air coming out of the air compressor becomes dangerously hot, you may need to install a length of hose between it and sprinkler system connection, so be prepared.

  • Blow The Water Out - Keeping a close eye on the air pressure and temperature, allow the water to blow out. The first valve will generally take the longest; after that, things should proceed rather quickly. Don't allow air to blow out any longer than necessary - i.e., as soon as the water has been effectively blown out, turn off the air compressor.

  • Move On To The Next Valve - Turn off the valve that you just worked on, and proceed to the next one following the same steps. Repeat the same sprinkler system blow out as outlined above on each of valve circuits; with anti-siphon valves, remember to move the air compressor on to the next valve riser.

  • Repeat The Entire Process - For optimal results, perform the exact same blow out sprinkler system process again. Warning: do not turn off all the valves when the compressor is running - it could blow up your lawn sprinkler system.

  • Blow Out Main Line Section - If your irrigation system has a mainline section that is upstream from the backflow preventer, hook up your air compressor to the blow out fitting near the sprinkler system shut off valve; blow out the water through the backflow preventer riser.

  • Tie Up Loose Ends - When the sprinkler system blow out is complete, set the automatic controller to "rain mode" or disconnect power from it. Place threaded caps over the anti-siphon valve fittings, backflow preventer risers - over anything that might allow pests or garbage to get in.

Connecting The Air Compressor To The Backflow Preventer Riser

If you've never connected an air compressor to the backflow preventer riser on your irrigation system before, it's important to learn. Otherwise, winterization via blowing out the system will be impossible. Most of the time, you just need to look for a hose tap, quick coupler or hose bib that is after your irrigation shutoff valve and backflow preventer. You can connect your air compressor hose to this for the easiest, most straightforward time. If there is no tap or other convenient option present, install a tee fitting just past the main line. Then put a threaded metal nipple and cap on the extra leg; you can use this as a connection to the air hose. You'll want to use a metal nipple and cap because the pipe can get very hot at the point of the connection due to the speed at which the air is being blown.

Connecting the compressor air hose to the nipple and cap end of the tee fitting isn't always a cut and dry procedure; it usually requires a bit of ingenuity, and the precise size fitting that you will need to connect the compressor hose to the tee fitting depends on the model of air compressor you're using and other variables. It's safe to assume that a standard fitting won't do the job; a bit of trial and error is usually necessary. Once the right fitting is found, though, it's as simple as screwing the air compressor hose onto the tee fitting. The threads from the tee fitting should fit with the threads on the metal nipple - that will be your ultimate goal, anyway.Otherwise,another way of going about this process is unscrewing one of the test cocks and threading a male air hose fitting onto it. Simply attach the female end of the air hose to the male end of the line and you'll be good to go. A bit of trial and error is something necessary when the time to winterize rolls around, so don't be surprised if you have to make several trips to the hardware store to get everything working the right way. Be sure to organize all of the equipment and tools that you use to make the process easier next year.

Winterization For More Temperate Climates

The best news about how to winterize your irrigation system in a temperate climate is that the water does not need to be drained from underground pipes. It simply doesn't get cold enough to freeze that deep down in such climates. That means that you can avoid performing a sprinkler system blow out, having to use drain valves or using a shop vac to suction the water out.

As easy as it may be to winterize a lawn sprinkler system in a temperate climate, there are still steps that must be followed. The water supply must still be shut off (as outlined in section one) and you will also need to shut down the timer or controlleras well. As mentioned before, the timer may be set to "rain mode," especially if it is a solid state, digital display controller. Doing this can save you a great deal of timeand means that you won't have to reprogram the entire thing when spring rolls back around.

Gear-driven rotor sprinklers that are above ground must be drained, or the water can freeze, expand and damage them. If the water doesn't drain out on its own, a drain valve will need to be installed on the sprinkler supply line. Otherwise, you can remove the rotors and shake them out thoroughly; in that case, you should then store them for safekeeping until spring.

Above-ground piping will need to be insulated properly to ensure that it survives the colder time of year. Self-sticking foam insulating tape works the best for this kind of application. Similarly, foam insulating tubes work very well for this purpose.

A Note About Backflow Preventers

Whether you live in a temperate or a cold climate, you can save yourself a lot of hassle - and make winterization much easier- by insulating your irrigation system's backflow preventer. In cold climates, occasional late and early season freezes occur and can damage your equipment. Using a small amount of self-sticking foam insulating tape - without blocking the drain outlets or the air vents - should be sufficient. Otherwise, try using some R-11 fiberglass insulation. Wrap it around the backflow preventer, then use duct tape to secure a plastic bag around the whole thing. Don't secure it too tightly - just tight enough to keep it from blowing off.

The Drain Valve Method - Only if the blow out method is absolutely not a possibility.

In order to explain the process more clearly, we will highlight the pertinent facts and steps involved in using the drain valve method to drain the water from your lawn sprinkler system in small, easy to grasp sections below.

  • Location - It's critical to have properly placed drain valves. Basically, you will need a drain valve at every low point in your piping system. Additionally, a drain valve is needed at every high point that doesn't have a sprinkler so that air can escape; otherwise, the water won't drain.

  • Organization - If you're using manual drain valves, do yourself a favor and clearly mark down where each valve can be found on an easy-to-read chart. Keep the valves in a box and store it somewhere where it will be easy to find when it's needed.

  • Strategy - When your lawn sprinkler system was installed, optimally the remote controllers were placed just above the lowest point in a circuit. That way, you can install the drain valves at the same place as the controllers, making it much easier to winterize properly. About 1/4" of slope is needed per foot to drain the pipes effectively; in the best case scenario, you'll only need one drain valve per lateral.

  • Automatic Drain Valves - You can streamline your winterization process by using automatic drain valves. Assuming they are on the ends and the low points of your sprinkler system, automatic drain valves work to drain excess water when the pressure gets below 10 psi. Activate a station to release the pressure and to get the automatic drain valves going. You'll find that they save you a great deal of time and frustration when the time to winterize your irrigation system rolls around.

  • Water In The Valves - Since water won't drain all the way out of the valves, it will be necessary to remove them. Although it's possible to take them apart and dry them manually, it is not a practice recommended for the average, everyday DIYer. Choose valves with unions to make removal easier. After removing the valves, cap the ends to keep garbage and pests out.

Water In The Sprinkler Heads - Sprinkler heads with built-in check valves don't drain completely; neither do side inlet sprinklers. If you're unsure what kind you have, remove a sprinkler's cap to see if there's water down in the sprinkler body. If so, you'll need to remove it and shake it out thoroughly. Otherwise, you could try using a wet/dry shop vacuum to suck the moisture out.

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