Saturday, December 26, 2009

Rockwell Reciprocating Saw Review - Video

By Mark J. Donovan

In this video I review a reciprocating saw from Rockwell that has active vibration canceling technology built into it. The Vibrafree technology reduces vibration by up to 70% compared to other anti vibration technology associated with reciprocating saws.

Readmore »»

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Avatar-3D Review - Out of this World!

By Mark J. Donovan

Today my son and I went to see Avatar-3D. To put it simply, we were blown away. This is without a doubt the most impressive movie ever produced. The visual effects were literally out of this world. My son and I both commented we wanted to go back and live in Pandora (the subject planet in the movie) after stepping back into the cold and ugly winter of New Hampshire.

The visual effects of Pandora are similar to scuba diving on a reef. This is in part due to the fact that you are wearing 3-D glasses while watching the movie. As is the case when diving on a reef, all of the visual senses are intensified by observing the many odd creatures through goggles that magnify the shapes and colors.

We also agreed that the characters and plot were also well developed. In addition, there were no cheesy scenes of cute characters doing silly things to get a laugh from the audience. It is not a cartoon or an over-the-top movie about cuddly characters. This was a serious movie that told an epic story of two cultures clashing over a planet rich in minerals, history and knowledge. Yes there were a few of the typical Hollywood cliché messages sprinkled in, however they were relatively subtle and did not detract from the movie.

I plan on seeing this movie again, tomorrow. If you have not seen the movie yet, all I can say is - it is a must see. Readmore »»

Rockwell Tool Review Videos Coming

New Tool Reviews on a Reciprocating Saw and Random Orbital Sander on their Way

By Mark J. Donovan

I have recently been asked to conduct a couple of tool reviews on some new vibration cancelling tools from Rockwell Power Tools. The tools are a new reciprocating saw and a random orbital sander. I should get the tools by early next week and I plan to put them through their paces immediately.

I anticpate releasing the new video reviews between Christmas and New Years, so stay tuned. These are two tools that every DIY homeowner should have in their tool box. Readmore »»

How to Caulk a Shower Stall Video

Simple Tips on Caulking a Shower Stall

By Mark J. Donovan

Last week I was able to try out some new caulk from DAP on a shower stall caulking project. I did a short video on it, so check it out below.

In the video I show a few simple tips on how to caulk a shower stall. All you need to do it right is some silicone based caulk, a caulking gun, a utility knife, a rag, and some masking tape.

It is important to remove all of the old caulk prior to installing new caulk as silicone caulk sticks well to everything except itself. Use a utility knife to help cut away and scrape out the old caulk.

After removing all of the old caulk and cleaning up the shower pan with a rag, I then apply masking tape just above and below the seam I want to caulk. This helps to get a fast and clean caulk line.

Once the masking tape is applied I then apply a bead of caulk in the seam. When applying the caulk it is important to go at a steady rate so that you do not apply too much or too little caulk.

After applying the caulk, I then use my finger and a moist paper towel, and run it along the bead of caulk.

Finally, I remove the masking tape to achieve a fast and clean caulk seam. After 24 hours I was using my shower again.

Readmore »»

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

First Major Snow of the Season

By Mark J. Donovan

Today we had the first major snow of the season here in southern New Hampshire. We got about 7 inches of heavy wet snow. Fortunately I had prepared the snow blower last week. I checked the oil, cleaned the spark plug and filled the tank.

Due to the weight of the snow I made two passes with the snow blower, once earlier today, and then one final pass after the snow had stopped. I also used the roof rake to take the snow off the roof eaves. The snow was extremely slushy and wet. By taking the snow off the roof eaves I should be able to avoid what would have been the inevitable ice dams. I was particularly concerned with the roof over my garage / bonus room. The roof shingles are in rough shape and I had hoped to have them replaced by now. Unfortunately the roofing contractor that I had lined up 8 weeks ago has been dragging his feet on getting onto the jobsite. Now there is a thick blanket of snow on the roof that probably won’t be melting anytime soon. It will most likely be spring when he arrives on the scene.

After raking the snow off the roof eaves, my son, wife and I shoveled the decks and walkways. Did I tell you already that the snow was heavy :) ? The trick with heavy wet snow is to go slow and steady and take breaks when you need to. Rushing this type of work is what causes many of a folk to drop dead of a heart attack.

In the process of shoveling the snow, I had to run inside to get another pair of gloves. In the process of removing my boots I literally ripped the upper portion away from the bottom part of one of my boots. The boots were supposedly a high quality boot. So much for that. I guess I will be asking for some new boots for Christmas.

With the snow shoveling and blowing complete, its’ now time to focus on the website ( and answer some of today’s questions. Readmore »»

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Buying Extension Ladders

Helpful Tips on Buying Extension Ladders as Length is not all that Matters

By Mark J. Donovan

Buying extension ladders involves a little more thought than just finding one long enough. Questions on how will it be used, where will it be stored, how heavy are you, and how strong are you are questions that should first be answered. Buying extension ladders involves a number of considerations.

First and foremost you need to decide upon whether you want to buy a fiberglass or aluminum extension ladder. Answers to the above questions can help you choose between the two. For example, fiberglass extension ladders are the choice of professionals when it comes to working around power lines. Fiberglass is not a good conductor of electricity and thus why fiberglass extension ladders are used by cable and line workers.

Another consideration is how strong are you? Aluminum extension ladders are much lighter than fiberglass extension ladders, and so for many homeowners the aluminum extension ladder is the ladder of choice. Aluminum extension ladders are not as strong as fiberglass ladders and thus it is important to also consider the weight limit when buying extension ladders.

When buying extension ladders it is obviously important to consider length. Make sure you do not buy too short of an extension ladder. An extension ladder should extend several feet above the highest point you want to reach as you should never plan on standing on the top two or three rungs when it is fully extended.

Finally, you need to consider storage of a ladder when buying extension ladders. Fiberglass extension ladders are susceptible to ultraviolet sunlight and thus they should be protected with plastic or some other material if they are to be left outside. Aluminum extension ladders hold up better if left outside.

So when buying extension ladders consider all of these factors first. You’ll be safer and happier for doing so. Readmore »»

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Silent Majority Will Save the United States

By Mark J. Donovan

As I watch the United States rapidly march towards a third world socialistic society, I keep asking myself what happened to our great country and is there any way we can save our nation before it goes over the precipice. The optimist in me suggests the sensibility of the silent majority will eventually rule the day, however the pessimist in me sees an unbridled fervor on the left that has never been seen before, at least not in the United States history.

As I watch the democratic socialist party work to permanently enslave our children into debt and euthanize the elderly, I find myself repeatedly asking the simple question, why. And the single one word answer that is repeatedly whispered back to me from the depths of my own mind is the word, power. Yes, power is truly what this is all about. The leftist socialist government that is currently in control of the United States and its citizens is out to attempt its own version of a utopian fantasy. However their reach for power is not limited to the United States. It is much broader in scope. It is for global domination, a one new world global order. This may sound cliché and conspiratorial in thought, but history has shown repeated examples of similar attempts at global dominance. Fortunately, and what makes me optimistic, is that none has ever succeeded, at least for very long.

At some point innate human natural survival instincts click in and the silent majority stands up and roars. How soon the silent majority reacts to an overreach in power is a function of how fast and hard their way of life is threatened. Today’s democratic socialist party is smart and understands they have limited time to get the noose around our children and seniors necks. No better example of this is the current 1 Trillion dollar health care legislation bills that are being pushed through the house and senate on late Saturday evenings, when news outlets and citizens are paying little attention to their government. Like history’s other corrupt power grabbing politicians, they underestimate human nature. Even though the citizens maybe a little late recognizing what is going on, they eventually do. And when they do, like all corrupt leaders their time is up.

I am hopeful that before the democratic socialist party attempts to sell Alaska to China to pay down some of the United States debt, as well as to prevent Sarah Palin from running for higher office, that the citizens of this great country will see the democratic leadership for what it is. The 60’s generation extremists still looking for that one final trip, where they and everyone else in the world is singing Kum Bay Yah. Readmore »»

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Raking Leaves in New Hampshire

By Mark J. Donovan

I spent the better part of today raking leaves up at my home on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. I had been told there were a lot of leaves in the yard, but I was still shocked at just how many were on the ground when I arrived upon the scene today. The entire lawn was completely covered in a dense layer of leaves.

As I raked the leaves today, I came to the conclusion that due to all of the rain we had had this past spring and early summer there must have been an increase in leaf production on the trees this year, if not in the quantity of leaves at least in the size of the leaves. For years I have piled raked leaves in the same location. This year the pile was 2x the normal size before I decided to stop piling the leaves in this spot.

I also broke one leaf rake in half, and heard the second one crack as I wrapped up the job. The leaves were dry, but just the sheer volume was too much for my rakes to take.

I also noticed that my gutters were completely stuffed with fallen leaves. Consequently, I found myself up on the ladder digging out leaves from the gutters as well. I then had to use a leaf blower to blow the leaves off of the deck and then finally clean them up with my rake.

Suffice it to say it was quite the project. But it is done and I actually enjoyed the fresh air and exercise. To boot, the yard looks great and the home is finally ready for the onslaught of another New Hampshire winter.

Readmore »»

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ceramic Tile Shower Maintenance

A Properly Maintained Ceramic Tile Shower Can Keep Its Beauty Indefinitely

By Mark J. Donovan

Installing a new ceramic tile shower can really make a master bathroom suite shine. However, regular ceramic tile shower maintenance is crucial for maintaining its beauty. If not properly maintained, a ceramic tile shower can quickly become laced with mold and mildew, showing up particularly on grout lines.

Ceramic tile shower maintenance is fairly simple to do, although it does require some discipline. First and foremost, it is imperative to wipe down the ceramic tile shower walls and floor after each use. You can use a towel or a squeegee to do this, but whatever you decided upon as a tool, it is critical to use the tool after each shower.

The second major ceramic tile shower maintenance item you need to do is to seal the ceramic tile and grout periodically, typically once every year or so. Grout and certain types of ceramic tile are porous. Consequently they can absorb moisture. Moisture will undoubtedly lead to mold and mildew growth, thus the imperative to seal the grout and tile. There are many grout and tile sealers to choose from and they are easy to apply to a ceramic tile shower. Simply wipe on, wait a couple of minutes, and then wipe off any excess material.

So if you want to maintain the beauty of your new ceramic tile shower, make sure you become disciplined in proper ceramic tile shower maintenance. Readmore »»

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Window Blinds Reduce Home Heating Bills

By Mark Donovan

There is a new window blind on the market today that could potentially lower your home heating bills by as much as 35%, according to the manufacturer SolarChoice Heat.

The window blind is a passive heating system that consists of a series of vertical vanes that are actually hollow. As the air is heated in the vanes, it rises out the top of them and draws cold air in from the bottom. In summary, these new window blinds take advantage of the sun’s energy by transferring the sun’s thermal energy to the home.

See "Green Window Treatments That Reduce Home Heating Bills" to get a full description and review of this innovative and green home technology product. Readmore »»

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Going Throttles Up on

Starting in November HomeAdditionPlus is Priority One

By Mark J. Donovan

Well after 5 years of running and on a part-time basis, I have decided to go full throttle. Starting this month I will be dedicating all of my working days to these two websites in order to bring site visitors more helpful DIY home improvement information.

I have been stunned by the rapid growth in site traffic to, particularly over the past couple of years. In addition I have been impressed with the amount and quality of questions coming in from site visitors. As a result, I have decided that for the benefit of my site visitors, and for the pure enjoyment I get from answering their questions, I want to dedicate myself full time to both and

I want to personally thank my site visitors for their continued support and interest in and, and I look forward to helping them and others in my future endeavors with these two sites.

Throttles UP!!!

Mark Readmore »»

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Installation of Motion Sensor Lights in Anticipation of Halloween

My Home is now Protected and Secured from Midnight Goblins

By Mark J. Donovan

Over this past weekend I installed motion sensor lights on the exterior of my home. The old conventional lights had been looking a little drab and long in the tooth, so I thought in anticipation of Halloween this coming weekend, it was a good time to replace them.

Motion sensor lights are great for providing additional security to your home. Though an exterior light cannot prevent an intruder from entering your house it can give them pause when the lights flash on. Typically that pause is long enough to make them think twice before burglarizing your home. In addition, motion sensor lights are convenient for automatically lighting up the walk way for would-be trick-or-treaters, and keeping the teenagers away from the pumpkins after midnight.

The motion sensor lights were very easy to install. They have the same wires as do conventional light fixtures. The only real issue I had was adapting the mounting brackets to the electrical boxes, and this issue was more about the boxes than the light fixtures themselves.

After installing the motion sensor lights I put them in “Test mode” and set their sensitivity level to a range of about 50 feet from the house. I did this to prevent passing street traffic from accidently trigger the lights. After adjusting the sensitivity level I put them back in “Normal mode” and that was it.

So hopefully this Halloween weekend will be free of any teenage midnight goblins searching for pumpkins. Readmore »»

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 Releases its New "Asphalt Driveway Paving Bid Sheet"

By Mark Donovan announced today its new "Asphalt Driveway Paving Bid Sheet".

Fall is a great time for putting in a new asphalt driveway. If you are considering putting in a new driveway, this bid sheet will quickly teach you what you need to know for hiring a paving contractor that will install a quality driveway. Readmore »»

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Top Two Home Remodeling Projects

Home Remodeling Projects that offer High ROIs and Improve Living Standards

By Mark J. Donovan

The top two home remodeling projects are bathroom and kitchen remodeling projects. Why you say? Well first, they provide excellent returns on investment. Most future home buyers love to see updated kitchens and bathrooms, and are willing to pay for them. So normally you can expect to recover most of the costs of your kitchen or bathroom remodeling project within a year of completing them.

The second reason why bathroom and kitchen remodeling projects rank one and two, respectively, is that they make us feel better. Let’s face it, all of us enjoy feeling good and kitchens and bathrooms are two spaces we normally do enjoy. Kitchens and bathrooms are places we spend a lot of our free time in and they have effectively become our two sanctuaries from the day to day turmoil of our busy lifestyles.

So if you are contemplating a kitchen or bathroom remodeling project, fear not, you will be making a good decision on either of these two projects. Both make excellent financial and personal decisions. Readmore »»

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Housing Market is Still a Couple of Years away from a Rebound

Home Sales Fall Again in August

By Mark J. Donovan

Well after some improving home sales data in July it appears the home sales market is still in uncertain waters. The latest home sales report that came out from the National Association of Home Realtors earlier this month indicated that home sales fell in August by 2.7% from the previous month. In addition, the report indicated that the median sales price on existing homes fell to $177.7K, down 12.5% from August, 2008.

The home sales decline was pretty much universal throughout the country with the exception in the west where home sales increased by 2.7%. And though the total inventory of homes on the market fell a little to 10.8%, based on the current sales pace there is still an 8.5 month supply of homes on the market.

All of this news is discouraging, but quite frankly not surprising. With unemployment at 9.8%, and 17% if you count the folks that are no longer eligible to collect unemployment benefits, or have found only part time work, or have quit looking altogether it is no wonder why home sales and median home sale prices continue to drop.

Though I am optimistic in the long term, I believe the next 1-2 years will continue to show sluggish home sales. For one, it will take that long for the unemployment picture to significantly improve, assuming that we are indeed at the cusp of crawling out of the biggest recession since the great depression of the 1930’s. I also believe, that the American public will demand another “political change” in 2010 that will result in a balanced government agenda that will ultimately improve the emotions and spending habits of the consumer. Consumer spending and small business success are the two engines that will eventually turn the economy and the housing market around. When these engines begin to fire on all cylinders the housing market should begin to enter its next bull market. Readmore »»

Sunday, October 4, 2009

New Videos on Wiring a Combination Switch Outlet Circuit

By Mark J. Donovan

A visitor at recently asked how to wire a combination switch outlet circuit. After sending him instructions on how to do it, I thought I would create a couple of new videos on wiring up a combination switch outlet. One video shows how to wire a switch outlet where the switch controls both an external appliance and the outlet. The second video shows how to wire a combination switch outlet so that the outlet is constantly powered on.

See the videos below:

Switch Outlet Combo Circuit where Switch Controls an External Appliance and the Outlet

Switch Outlet Combo Circuit with Outlet Constantly Powered

Readmore »»

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pressure Wash House Siding

By Mark J. Donovan

Weather permitting, tomorrow I plan to pressure wash my house siding to prepare it for painting. Though I have a gas powered pressure washer that does a fantastic job, it is a tedious and wet project. I typically pressure wash my house siding every fall to remove the grime and grit from the home. Though the results are excellent, I find having to drag all of the pressure washer hoses around to be the biggest pain in the neck, particularly when I have to go constantly up and down the ladder to free tangles.

Since I plan on painting the house this fall, I also plan on removing the house shutters, and pressure washing them on the ground, and then painting them.

If I get can stay reasonably dry, I will film the project and post it on Readmore »»

Monday, September 28, 2009

Installed Overhead Shower Light

Brighten up your Shower Unit with an Overhead Shower Light

By Mark J. Donovan

After many years, I finally decided to install a recessed overhead shower light in our custom ceramic tile shower. All I can say is what a difference! And the kicker is it only took about $30 of material and 3 hours of work.

Before starting this project I first turned power off to the electrical boxes associated with this project at the main electrical service panel.

I installed the shower light by first finding the center of the shower unit, and then drilling a small pilot hole into the ceiling drywall. I then went up into the attic with my recessed can lighting fixture and found the drill bit hole. I then positioned the recessed can shower light so that it was centered over the drill bit hole and scribed a circle around the perimeter of the can light fixture.

I then used a utility knife to remove the circular drywall piece.

After creating the hole for the recessed can light I then positioned the can light into the hole and secured the can light to the ceiling joists.

To power the light, I brought power from another light fixture down to an existing switch that controlled another light in the bathroom. I also ran another Romex cable from the new can light down to the electrical switch box. Fishing wires down through a wall takes some time and luck. It took me quite a while to do this.

With the two Romex cables now fed into the electrical switch box, I connected the black wire associated with the power line to the top side of the switch.

Next, I connected the black wire associated with the can light Romex cable to the bottom side of the switch.

I then twisted all of the white, return wires, together using a wire nut.

Finally, I connected the ground wires together and connected them to the green screw on the switch. I then reattached the electrical switch to the electrical box and put the faceplate cover back on.

Back at the recessed can shower light, I connected the black wire associated with the Romex cable to the black wire in the can shower light. I then connected the corresponding white wires together. Finally, I connected the corresponding bare copper ground wires together.

I then screwed in a new light bulb, turned power back on to the circuit at the main circuit breaker panel and I was in business.

Our ceramic tile shower is now bathed in bright light provided by our new overhead shower light. Readmore »»

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Preparing to Pump out Septic Tank

By Mark J. Donovan

Last evening I prepared to have our septic tank pumped out. Basically this meant digging a rather large hole in my lawn to get access to the septic tank cover. The hole ended up being about 3’x4’, and about 1 foot deep, before all was said and done. Though I had the septic system design plans that showed specifically where the tank was located relative to the house, there is always some play in actually finding the septic tank lid.

The septic tank “honeywagon” is expected to stop by today and pump out the septic tank and inspect the tank for any problems. Assuming all goes well, I will have the septic tank covered by nightfall and the lawn over the septic tank reseeded.

If your home is on a private septic system, make sure you septic tank is pumped out periodically, usually once every 2-3 years for the average home and household size. It is important to pump the septic tank to prevent the drainfield from becoming clogged up by the sludge that normally sits at the bottom of the tank. If the septic tank is not pumped periodically the sludge inside the tank can build up and slowly work its way into the septic drainfield or even into your home. A clogged drainfield is not easy or cheap to repair, and a septic tank that backs up into your home is a stinking and messy affair. The risk of either is not worth the $200 or $300 for pumping the septic tank once every other year or so. Readmore »»

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cutting Down a Tree

By Mark J. Donovan

This weekend I spent some time cutting down some low hanging tree limbs and one large tree. The large tree stood at least 75 feet tall and was situated fairly close to the house. After using a tree pole saw to remove some of the larger limbs that were hanging on the side of the tree that faced the house, I pulled out the chain saw.

Before cutting down the tree, I tied a large 5000 lb test strap to it, and an adjacent tree, to help prevent the tree from falling in the wrong direction. I was able to ratchet the strap very tightly to create the pull I wanted on the tree.

I then started up the chain saw and took out a wedge of wood that went about ¼ of the way through the trunk of the tree. The wedge faced the direction of where I wanted to place the tree.

I then made a backcut on the back side of the tree, about an inch higher than where the wedge cut was made. I got nearly ½ ways through it when the tree started to fall. I held my breath for a few seconds as I watched the tree crash to the ground. The tree landed exactly where I wanted it to go, but the tip of it just landed shy of my above ground pool. Fortunately it missed it by a couple of feet.

Cutting the tree down was the easy part, however. I spent about an hour limbing the tree and cutting it up into firewood length (aka bucking). I then had to stack the wood, haul away the brush and then rake the yard. Suffice it to say, it was an exhausting day. That said, the yard looks a lot brighter now that the tree is gone. Readmore »»

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tips on Maintaining Air Conditioners

Extend the Life of your Air Conditioner by Maintaining it Regularly

By Mark J. Donovan

An air conditioner is a godsend during hot and humid summer months. By providing periodic air condition maintenance your can extend the life of your portable air conditioner and prevent unforeseen negative surprises. Summarized below are a few simple air conditioner maintenance tips that can extend the life of your air conditioner.

Clean the Air Filter regularly. If you use your air conditioner daily during the summer months, clean the air filter once a month. If the air conditioner is used periodically then clean the air filter at the end of the summer.

Clean the condenser coils at the end of the summer season using a steel brush or by blowing compressed air onto them. Make sure the dust and dirt do not end up at the bottom of the air conditioner as this may impact the performance of your air conditioner.

If the outside air temperate is below 60 degrees, check the front condenser coils for ice buildup. If there is ice buildup, turn the air conditioner off and wait until the outside air temperature is warmer. Who needs air conditioning anyways at 60 degrees? Most folks will opt for turning up the heat at that temperature.

Do not cycle the air conditioner on and off abruptly, as this can shorten the life of the air conditioner. Wait a few minutes after shutting the air conditioner off before turning it back on.

Finally, when storing the air conditioner store it in a location where there is no chance for mice or birds to crawl into it and create nests. Small rodents can chew through insulation and wires and destroy an air conditioner in one off-season.

With these simple tips you should be able to extend the life of your portable air conditioner.
Readmore »»

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cutting Tree Limbs

Exercise Caution when Cutting Tree Limbs

By Mark J. Donovan

Last weekend I decided to cut down a large Oak tree limb. The tree limb was approximately 8 inches in diameter and was about 25 feet off the ground. The limb extended out about 30 feet out and impeded the lake view from my home.

Since I was nervous about using a chainsaw at the top of a ladder I decided to instead use a tree pole saw. Though it was slow going I made excellent progress cutting through the tree limb, at least until the saw blade became pinched in the sagging tree limb.

After spending about 15 minutes trying to remove the saw blade from the pinched tree limb, I decided to get a long length of rope and throw it around the end of the tree limb. After positioning myself away from where the tree limb would fall, I began to pull on the rope. After just a couple of pulls the tree limb gave way. Initially it just pivoted at the point that I made the cut. However, just after the branch went vertical it separated from the tree and went cart wheeling over towards the water and my 12 foot row boat. In the process of cart wheeling, the tree limb ripped the rope through my hand and fingers. Fortunately I did not have the rope wrapped around my hands. However, the speed in which the rope slide through my hands created rope burns on my right hand. In addition, the root of the tree limb (again 8 inches in diameter) landed in my row boat, crushing the metal bow seat.

So what’s the take away in this experience? First, when cutting a large tree limb branch, cut from the top to make sure the saw does not bind in the cut. Second, if you are going to attempt to pull down a hanging tree limb make sure you are not underneath it and that the rope is in no way wrapped around your body parts, nor tangled under your feet. Finally, make sure there is nothing in the area that you value. In my case I am very fortunate not to have lost my hand and my boat it this project, but I will have some permanent scars to remind me of this experience. Readmore »»

Monday, August 10, 2009

Why is My Dehumidifier Freezing Up?

By Mark J. Donovan

A dehumidifier contains heating and cooling coils and fins. Warm moist air, such as in a basement is drawn over these coils and fins by a fan that is in the dehumidifier. As the warm air is drawn over the coils the water vapor condenses and collects on the cooling coils and fins. The condensed water vapor then drips off of the cooling coils and fins, and into either a drain pan or a drip hose that flows into a sink, bucket or sump pump well.

During the process of condensing the water vapor, the water vapor normally produces enough heat to prevent the cooling coils from freezing up. However when there is a lack of humidity in the room or the temperature is too cool in the room, there is the potential for the dehumidifier to freeze up. The threat is exacerbated if the cooling coils are covered in dirt and dust.

To prevent the dehumidifier from freezing up there a few things you can do. First, if the humidity is low then turn off the dehumidifier. Alternatively you can cycle the dehumidifier off and on every few hours. This will allow the cooling coils to warm up and melt any ice that could be forming on them. Second, you can raise the temperature in the room to lower the risk of ice formation in the dehumidifier. Third, make sure the cooling coils and fins are free of dirt and dust. Finally, make sure the dehumidifier is up off the floor of the basement or room. Warm moist air rises and cool dry air falls. By raising the dehumidifier up off the floor the dehumidifier will work more efficiently and it will have less chance of freezing up. Readmore »»

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Save Energy with a Humidifier

Reduce this year’s Winter Home Heating Bills with a Humidifier

By Mark J. Donovan

One way that you can save energy and reduce your home heating bills during the winter is to use a room or whole house humidifier. Ideally the relative humidity level within the home should be between 30 and 50% for maximum comfort. During the winter months, however, besides being cold the air is typically very dry. When the air is extremely dry within the home it can feel even colder. Consequently there is a natural tendency to raise the thermostat setting. Raising the temperature in the home, however, exacerbates the problem as it helps to make the air even drier.

A room or whole house humidifier can resolve this problem by increasing the humidity levels in the home, so that the thermostat can be set to a lower setting and yet you still feel warm. An example of this situation is during the summer months, when the air temperature may be only 75 degrees but the humidity level is above 65%. You feel hot, even though the temperature is only mildly warm. Conversely if the temperature is 75 degrees and the air is extremely dry you may feel that the air is actually cool and crisp feeling.

If the humidifier is set too high during the winter months, you may begin to notice water droplets on your windows. If this occurs, then you need to lower the humidifier moisture output.

So save on energy and reduce this year’s winter home heating bills with a humidifier. You’ll save money as well as feel more comfortable. Readmore »»

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Building a Patio Using Concrete Pavers

By Mark J. Donovan

Last year I put in a patio underneath my elevated deck using concrete pavers. The patio overlooks the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in central New Hampshire and makes a great outdoor living space for getting out of the sun and reading a book or surfing the net.

The particular concrete pavers I used came in 3 or 4 shapes and had a slightly washed out look, which was the look I was aiming for.

To install a patio using concrete pavers, we had to initially remove the existing dirt and replace it with several inches of sand. We then compacted the sand and then began the process of laying out the concrete pavers.

The concrete pavers were installed such that we went back and back filled in the required cut pieces of concrete pavers. After completing the installation of concrete pavers, we then swept in more sand to fill in the gaps and create a rigid patio surface.

Once the concrete paver patio was complete we backfilled around it with topsoil, planted some grass seed, and began enjoying our new outdoor living space. Readmore »»

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sanding a Deck with a Palm Sander

Sanding Deck Edges with a Palm Sander is Slow and Tedious

By Mark J. Donovan

Due to the fact that it rained shortly after I put a coat of deck sealer on my deck back two years ago, I have found myself sanding my deck to restore its look and to prepare it for a deck stain. If I can offer one word of advice, it is to make sure there is no rain in the forecast for at least 24 hours before applying a deck sealer. My deck remained tacky for months and the sealer began to peel as soon as it finally dried.

I used an orbital floor sander on the main body of the deck to remove the old deck sealer, however I have had no choice but to use a small palm sander on the deck edges. Though it is working it is a slow process.

I am using the same 36 grit sandpaper that I did on the main body of the deck. As a matter of fact, I am using the same pieces of sandpaper. I have simply cut small wedges out of them to fit the palm sander. The palm sander has a surface area of about 4”x4”.

With a little luck I will wrap up the deck sanding today and will stain it when there is a 24 hour window of dry weather. Unfortunately, in the northeast lately dry weather is as rare as a blue moon. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Readmore »»

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Where is Summer?

By Mark J. Donovan

Yesterday when I was closing the front door to my home it dawned on me that I have yet to swap out the glass panel with the screen panel on my storm door. I also remembered that I have yet to install the window air conditioners. That’s how cool and rainy it has been here in New Hampshire for the past month or so.

One cannot help but question the theory of “Global Warming” when on the last day of June, you realize that the last time you experienced a warm summer day was last September. Could we be entering a “Global Cooling” period? With a sample size of only a few months, relative to the billions of years that Earth has existed, it would be almost as irresponsible as the suggestion of Global Warming based on a few decades of data. Instead, it is probably just as accurate to say that we have hit a period of rainy bad luck, or are experiencing the weather oscillations effects of El Nino or La Nina.

Whatever the case, it is time for me to install the screen in the storm door, and put in the air conditioners. If I have learned anything in life, it is that change is constant and that one day I will wake up to a hot, sultry morning in the not too distant future. And who knows, I may find out that I won’t be pulling out the air conditioners until mid October this year.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed for some warm, summer weather to arrive soon. Readmore »»

Monday, June 22, 2009

Eliminate Squeaky Door Hinges

By Mark J. Donovan

Squeaky door hinges can be a real annoyance, however with 5 minutes of work you can eliminate them.

To start with, make sure the hinges are all fastened tightly to the door frame using a screw driver.

Next, remove one hinge pin at a time from each door hinge and wipe it clean with a rag. To remove the hinge pin you will need a hammer and small thin screwdriver. Just slide the thin screwdriver into the base of the hinge, underneath the hinge pin and tap it up and out with your hammer.

Now, lubricate the hinge pin with a little oil or WD40. You can even use Canola oil in a pinch.

Next, lubricate the door hinge itself with a little WD40 or oil and wipe it clean with a rag. Note, make sure you place a rag underneath the door hinges before applying any oil to the door hinge. Otherwise you may leave an oil stain on your flooring.

Slide the hinge pin back into the door hinge and repeat this process for the other remaining hinges.

With any luck your door should be squeak free after lubricating all of the hinges. Readmore »»

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Will 3-way light bulbs work with a Dimmer Switch?

3-Way Light Bulbs and Dimmer Switches

By Mark J. Donovan

3-way light bulbs are constructed with 2 filaments in then. The filaments operate at different wattages. 3-way light bulbs work in special lamps that are designed to control which filament(s) are turned on in a 3-way light bulb. When the lamp is switched once the lowest wattage filament is turned on to create a dim light. When the lamp is switched a second time just the highest wattage filament is turned on to create a medium light. When the filament is switched a third time both filaments are turned on creating maximum light.

With a wall dimmer switch there is no way to send a command to the special 3-way light bulb lamp fixture to switch between the different filament settings. As a result the 3-way light bulb effectively does not work with a dimmer switch. In addition, having a 3-way light bulb in a dimmer switch is pointless since the dimmer switch itself will control the level of the brightness.

When using a 3-way light bulb in a lamp that is connected to a dimmer switch all that the dimmer switch will do is control the brightness level for the particular filament setting the lamp is set to. Readmore »»

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rain Eroding Soil from around the Foundation

By Mark J. Donovan

Roof rain runoff can play havoc with your yard, particularly around your home’s foundation. If left unchecked the roof rain runoff can cause deep gullies in the soil near the home's foundation. Besides the fact that the gullies are unsightly they also end up acting as conduits for water to penetrate into your home’s basement.

The simplest way to resolve this problem is to install gutters along the roof edge. Gutter down spouts can channel the water away from the home in a controlled and directed way to prevent erosion and the threat of water penetration through the foundation.

However not all folks are pleased with the sight and maintenance required of gutters. An alternative to installing gutters to prevent rain from eroding soil around the foundation is to use mulch or crushed stone around the foundation. The mulch or stone not only prevents erosion but also dresses up the area around the foundation. When used in conjunction with small trees, bushes and plants the mulch or stone can act as a great landscaping base. Readmore »»

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Discount Granite Countertops

Granite Countertops Provide an Unmatched Beauty to a Kitchen

By Mark J. Donovan

When designing a new kitchen many people elect to use granite countertops due to their beauty, timelessness, and low maintenance. Granite countertops are also highly resistant to heat and scratches. High end granite countertops however are pricey and can cost upwards of $100 per square foot. This said, discount granite countertops can provide much of the same charm and functionality as higher end granite countertops.

Granite countertops are grouped into different categories based on factors such as their colors, patterns, and thickness, as well as where they are quarried. Higher priced granite countertops are usually associated with ornate colors and patterns and are made from thicker slabs, e.g. 1.25” or 3cm. Discount granite countertops are usually made from less popular colors and patterns and are thinner, e.g. ¾” or 2cm.

So for the homeowner willing to accept a less popular color or ornate granite slab, discount granite countertops may be an option. The only installation tip that should be consider is to mount the discount granite countertop on a more rigid surface to better support the thinner granite slab. As a matter of fact, some granite countertop manufacturers pre-fabricate discount granite countertops at their factory by laminating the thinner granite slabs to a plywood underlayment. By pre-fabricating the discount granite countertops at the factory they save on manufacturing costs, shipping costs, and risk of product damage. Much of these savings get passed onto the homeowner to enable a very cost effective countertop solution. Readmore »»

Monday, June 1, 2009

Installation of Inexpensive Garden Fencing

By Mark J. Donovan

Every year as I plant my garden, I wrestle with the idea of replacing my old garden fencing or living another year with it. Due to the voracious appetites of wood chucks I am forced to have some fencing around the garden. And due to the tenacity of these not so little creatures I need to install the fence approximately 6 inches into the ground to prevent them from digging under it.

This year I decided it was time to invest in a new fence, but being a fiscally conservative type of person I did not want to spend a great deal of money on it. Heck, why should I spend $100 or more on fencing if I am only going to save $50 dollars on fresh vegetable purchases, if I am lucky.

As a result, I have decided to try this year a plastic type of garden fencing that is 36 inches tall. In addition, instead of using wooden tomato stakes for the posts I decided to use green, four foot high metal stakes that I picked up from the local home improvement store.

The installation was a breeze. All I did was pound the stakes around the perimeter of the garden and then attached the plastic garden fencing to the stakes. The stakes come with little tabs that can be bent to hold the fence in place, however I found 4 inch plastic tie wraps did a better job.

In addition, I elected not to bury the fence this time. Instead, I chose to have the fence sit only 30” high and then folded the bottom of the fence outwards from the garden. My hope is that the wide fence tab that this creates, will make it nearly impossible for the woodchucks to attempt to dig or crawl under.

The beauty of this type of fencing, versus the metal garden fencing material is that I can easily take it down at the end of the gardening season and roll it up nicely. You cannot do this with the metal fencing.

So we will see how the garden works out this year and I will report my findings in the fall.

Stay tuned……….. Readmore »»

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Exploding Cedar Mailbox Post

By Mark J. Donovan

A few weeks ago I replaced my old pressure treated mailbox post with a new and more attractive, prefabricated cedar mailbox post. When selecting it from the bin at the local home improvement store I noticed that all of them had knots and hairline cracks running the length of them. I chose one with a minimal hairline crack and chalked up the cracks as more of an aesthetic imperfection rather than a structural one. I was wrong!

Last night my daughter asked while standing at our front door, why was the mailbox lying on the ground? After getting over the initial shock of seeing my new mailbox post lying broken on the ground, I looked closely at the post and did not observe any types of marks on it that would give any indication that it was hit. What I did notice, however, was that that the post had calved on the hairline crack that I had observed when I purchased it. Apparently the 20 mile an hour wind gusts we had during the day were too much for it.

What was even more annoying was that the cedar post splintered as if it exploded. Consequently it was virtually impossible to marry the two halves back together.

So, I will find myself removing the post, and the 100 lbs of concrete that it is set in, this weekend. However this time I will replace it with a traditional pressure treated mailbox post. Readmore »»

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Installing Baseboard Trim with Existing Carpet

By Mark J. Donovan

Question: I want to replace my baseboard trim in one of the rooms in my home, however I do not want to replace the existing carpet. I want to know if I can replace the baseboard trim without having to pull up the carpeting and have it re-stretched back into place after I install the new baseboard trim.

Answer: The carpet is held in place by carpet tack strips. The baseboard trim does not hold it in place. It is possible, however that when the baseboard trim was installed, it was installed prior to the carpet. Sometimes finish carpenters will install baseboard trim about a quarter inch off the floor if they know carpet is to be installed. This baseboard trim installation technique is mainly for aesthetics, however carpet installers use this gap to push any excess carpet material underneath the baseboard trim. The baseboard trim, again, is not holding the carpeting in place.

So you should be able to replace the old baseboard trim without having to lift the carpet. Simply use a nail punch to push the finish nails through the existing baseboard trim. Then remove the old trim from the walls. Next, pull out the old finished nails from the wall and your ready to install the new baseboard trim.

The new baseboard trim can sit flush onto the carpet edge and between the wall and the existing carpet tack strip. Readmore »»

Monday, April 27, 2009

No Water Coming out of Frost Free Outdoor Faucet

By Mark J. Donovan

Question - I have a frost free outdoor faucet that is not working. There is no water coming out of my outdoor faucet. I tried to turn it on this spring and no water comes out of it. We did have some frozen pipes this past winter for a few hours one day. Do you have any ideas on why it may not be working?

Answer: Frost free outdoor faucets can be a little tricky. There are faucet nuts and washers that can sometimes fail, or become loose, and can cause the faucet to leak. Sometimes outdoor faucets can be installed wrong, e.g. leaving the valve system in the pipe while sweating it into your plumbing system. This can lead to a failed outdoor faucet.

Regarding your question on the frost free outdoor faucet not working. Your situation sounds a little odd. If you had a frozen pipe situation then I would think the faucet may have a leak.

I only have a couple of thoughts on this situation:

First, make sure you do not have an internal shut off valve inside the home that provides water to the outdoor faucet. Frequently even frost free outdoor faucets have inside shutoff valves for added protection.

The second thought I have is that if the faucet was old and rusty, the handle may not actually be connected/engaged with the valve stem any longer. If this was the case you could turn the handle and the valve would remain closed. Readmore »»

Friday, April 17, 2009

How to Buy an Unfinshed Home

By Mark J. Donovan

Question: How to I go about finding an unfinshed home to buy?

Answer: I have purchased two homes in the past that were unfinished. The first was a spec home that the builder left the upstairs unfinished. This type of spec home was fairly common in the New Hampshire area back in the 1980s. Many builders offered these type of starter homes to consumers. Though unfinished they did qualify for occupancy permits and banks gave out mortgages for them. Typically in an unfinished home the downstairs is completely finished and there is a bedroom. The upstairs is shut off via a door at the top of the stairwell. The upstairs contains insulation in the floor, and depending upon what you negotiate, insulation and studding can be completed in the upstairs. Typically limited rough electrical wiring is also fed to the upstairs.

The second unfinished home I purchased I actually negotiated with a builder who was building a development to not complete the upstairs.

From a builder's perspective there is an advantage of building an unfinished home to a committed buyer versus building a spec home with no committed buyer. In today's housing market I would locate a builder and ask him about such an option. Sometimes builders are hesitant to build unfinished homes for a couple of reasons. First, buildable land is becoming increasingly scarce. Second because the buildable land is scarce the cost of it is high. Consequently many builders are hesitant to build an unfinished home because they want to maximize the amount of money they can make on a piece of property. However, with the state of the current housing market builders may be more willing to accept an offer to build an unfinished home.

So if you have interest in buying an unfinished home check with your local builders and town building inspector. Readmore »»

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Laminate Flooring Installation

By Mark J. Donovan

I recently decided to update my kitchen flooring and decided upon laminate flooring. I elected to go with laminate flooring due to a number of factors. First laminate flooring installation is relatively easy to do. Due to the fact that laminate flooring is a floating floor it simply snaps, or interlocks, together. Yes, there is some preparation required before installing it, and a foam pad may need to be installed on the subfloor if it is not already attached to the underside of the laminate flooring pieces, but otherwise it is straight forward to install.

The second reason I went with a laminate flooring installation is that laminate flooring is an extremely durable product. It is almost impossible to scratch or ding, and in a kitchen where silverware, plates and pans occasionally get dropped I felt it was a much better alternative to vinyl, tile or wood.

There are two downsides to laminate flooring that are important to consider. Laminate flooring is constructed via a plastic type surface covering a print (e.g. wood, stone, etc), which is then backed by a wood product. With some brands of laminate flooring a pad is also attached to the back of the wood surface, eliminating the need for a separate pad to be installed on the subfloor first. Though small liquid spills are okay landing on the surface of the laminate flooring, it is important to wipe them up quickly. If liquid works its way in between the joints, and/or to the underside of the laminate flooring, it will swell and become damaged.

The other downside is the sound of laminate flooring when you walk on it. It has a hollow sound when you walk on it. This I believe is due to the fact that it is a floating floor. It does take some time, but after awhile you do get use to the sound.

As I mentioned earlier, laminate flooring installation is relatively easy to do, however it is important to make sure the subfloor is level and free from any lumps, bumps or warping. We also found it best to remove the kitchen cabinet toe boards and install the laminate flooring right up to the base of the cabinets. We then trimmed the toe boards and reinstalled them. Likewise, we chose to remove the original baseboard trim and replace it with new baseboard. The alternative is to install quarter-round onto the bottom of the baseboard trim to cover the edge of the laminate flooring.

Our laminate floor has really dressed up our kitchen, and hopefully it will provide us with many more years of service compared to our previous vinyl floor. Readmore »»

Saturday, February 28, 2009

How to Fix a Kitchen Cabinet Spice Rack

By Mark J. Donovan

Well for the second time in as many years I fixed the kitchen cabinet spice rack in my home. This time I fixed it for good!

As usual we paid an arm and a leg to have so-called professional kitchen cabinet installers hang the kitchen cabinets in our home several years ago. As is fairly typical with remodeling contractors, the work was sub-par, and in particular the installation of the spice rack. To begin with the spice rack was installed too low in the kitchen cabinet. Second, the spice rack itself was racked, meaning it was not a perfect rectangle. The weight of it caused it to sag on the outside edge furthest from the hinges. Consequently the spice rack rubbed up along the bottom inside of the kitchen cabinet.

A couple of years ago, I adjusted the spice rack by loosening the hinges and sliding the rack upwards. The holes for the screws were slotted to allow for this type of adjustment. However, even with the slotted holes it was insufficient to significantly raise the spice rack.

So today I chose to remove the spice rack altogether and re mount the hinges another ¼ inch higher. I also squared up the spice rack using a very small thin strip of wood (actually a 2” length of a new paint stick). While holding the outside corner of the spice rack up, I screwed and glued this small piece of wood to the back upper corner of the spice rack. By doing this I was able to keep the spice rack square. I also made sure the screws were of such a length that they did not penetrate all the way through the spice rack paneling.

So with the strip of wood installed, and the spice rack itself reinstalled in the kitchen cabinet, my kitchen cabinet spice rack now works properly and does not rub along the bottom of the kitchen cabinet. Readmore »»

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My Freeze Alarm Prevented Frozen Pipes

By Mark J. Donovan

This past Saturday morning at 5:30am I heard what I thought were chimes ringing. I wasn’t sure where they were coming from, however I knew we had some outside the home and figured it was them that were ringing. Anyways, I got up at 6:00am and decided to do a little work on my website A few minutes later I heard the sound of my wife’s cell phone ringing.

After rummaging through her purse I found the cell phone and answered it. It turned out our Freeze Alarm was calling us from our Lake Home to tell us we had a temperature alarm situation.

Immediately I considered the possibility that we ran out of oil at the lake house and that the furnace had shut down. I confirmed this fact after finding the last bill we received from the oil supply company was 3 months ago.

I promptly called the oil company to make an emergency refill. My wife and I then jumped into the car and raced north. We arrived at the lake home to find the tank full and a bill on our door. However to get the furnace running again I needed to bleed off the air in the oil pipe first.

After getting the furnace running again, my wife and I discussed what would have happened if we had not had the freeze alarm call us. She had been planning to order oil in the following week, however by running out of oil, the furnace would not have restarted on its own. If the freeze alarm had not called us we would have been oblivious to the loss of heat in the home and we would have had frozen pipes. The FA-D2 Freeze Alarm saved us a small fortune in water damage and cracked pipes. Readmore »»

Building a Crown Molding Shelf

Instructions on Building a Crown Molding Shelf

By Mark J. Donovan

If you have some scrap crown molding lying around your workshop, you might want to consider putting it to good use by building a crown molding shelf. A decorative crown molding shelf is ideal for displaying various collections of knickknacks or even small trophies. Not only is a crown molding shelf a beautiful accent piece to a room, it is also very inexpensive and easy to build.

Required Materials for Building a Crown Molding Shelf

To build a crown molding shelf all you need is a few feet of crown molding and a piece of 1-by material, such as 1”x3” or 1”x4”, depending upon the style and size of crown molding you are using to build the crown molding shelf. A little wood glue is also helpful.

Required Tools for Building a Crown Molding Shelf

To build a crown molding shelf you need a miter saw, and preferably a finish nail gun, although a hammer and finish nails will also work.

Building a Crown Molding Shelf

To build a crown molding shelf use your miter saw to cut a length of crown molding stock the desired length of the shelf. The ends should be cut at a 45o angle. Note that when cutting crown molding it is important to position it on the miter saw upside down so that when it is hung on the wall it will sit properly.

Next, cut a couple of side rails out of the crown molding stock. The length of the crown molding side rails is determined by how far out the crown molding shelf will penetrate outwards from the wall. Again, a miter saw should be used to cut 45o angles on the edges of the side rails to form the 90o corners associated with the front piece of the crown molding shelf. The back ends should be square cut to the desired depth of the crown molding shelf.

Once the three crown moulding pieces have been cut, glue and nail them together.

Next, cut a section of 1-by stock to fill in the top gap of the crown molding shelf. You may want to use a table saw to create an angled groove along the top of the piece of the 1-by material if you want to display plates on the crown molding shelf.

Now fasten the 1-by material to the inside area of the crown molding shelf frame, again using glue and nails.

After the glue has dried, sand, prime and paint the crown molding shelf.

To hang the crown molding shelf on the wall, it is best to use a small block of wood that you fasten to the wall, and into wall studs. The crown molding shelf can then rest on top of it, with the block of wood sitting inside the crown molding shelf cavity and flush up underneath the flat shelf piece. You can then use a few nails to fasten the crown molding shelf to the block of wood.

For information on installing wood crown molding see’s “Installing Crown Molding Ebook”. Readmore »»

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Foam Crown Molding

Foam Crown Molding is Easy to Install and Low Cost

By Mark J. Donovan

Crown molding can improve the look and value of your home like no other type of decorative molding. Installing crown molding can be complicated and very expensive, however for those on a budget and who have limited carpentry skills, foam crown molding maybe just the ticket. Foam crown molding (a.k.a. Styrofoam crown molding) is inexpensive, easy to install, is moisture resistant, and will not shrink or warp.

Foam crown molding comes in a variety of different profiles and can easily be installed by one person. In addition, unlike wood crown molding, no expensive tools are required to install it. Some foam crown molding manufacturers actually sell stock that already has mitered edges or comes with boxed corners.

To install foam crown molding, simply cut it to length, apply a construction adhesive to the back of it, and stick it to the wall. After the construction adhesive has dried you then apply spackling to hide the seams.

Once the spackling has dried you can immediately paint the foam crown molding, as it comes ready to paint. No priming is required. Just apply a latex paint over it and your crown molding project is complete. You can also pre-paint the foam crown molding prior to installing it to make your work even easier. All you need to do is touch it up with a final coat of paint, after the spackling has dried.

So if you want to add some elegance to your home consider foam crown molding. It’s affordable, easy to install and will increase the value of your home.

For more information on Installing Crown Molding see’s “Installing Crown Molding Ebook”. Readmore »»

Cutting Crown Molding Angles

Cutting Crown Molding Angles Requires the Right Tools and Skills

By Mark J. Donovan

When it comes to installing crown molding much of the success depends on cutting crown molding angles correctly.

Cutting crown molding angles correctly requires a quality miter saw and a coping saw. A quality miter saw may cost you a couple of hundred dollars, however a coping saw may only set you back ten to twenty dollars.

For most crown molding installation projects, cutting crown molding angles involves cutting 45o angles using a miter saw. By cutting two pieces of crown molding at 45o angles, a 90o angled inside or outside crown molding corner can be formed.

Since most walls are not perfectly square, coped angled crown molding cuts are also required. Coped crown molding angles are formed by the intersection of two ends of two pieces of crown molding. One of the crown molding pieces is butted firmly up against the inside corner using a square cut. The other crown molding piece has one of its ends cut with a coped crown molding angle so that this angled cut sits over the square-cut end of the adjacent crown molding piece. The visual effect is a perfect 90o angle inside corner.

When learning how to cut crown molding angles it is wise to practice on a few scrap pieces of crown molding first. Without this practice, you might find yourself spending an inordinate amount of money on wasted crown molding stock.

For more information on Installing Crown Molding see’s “Installing Crown Molding Ebook”. Readmore »»

What to Consider when Buying Crown Molding

By Mark J. Donovan

If you are planning a crown molding installation project there are several items that you should consider when buying crown molding.

Buying Crown Molding and Selecting the Appropriate Wood Species

When buying crown molding you first need to decide on what type of wood to use. Softwoods, such as Pine, are easy to work with, relatively inexpensive, and are available in a variety of crown molding profiles. The downside with pine is that it is soft, and thus can easily be dented, though sitting up high on a wall mitigates this issue. Softwood crown molding is also less stable and thus more susceptible to contracting and splitting with changes in temperature and humidity. Hardwoods, such as oak, on the other hand are more impervious to becoming dented and are more stable. However, they are more expensive.

Painting versus Staining Crown Molding

If you are planning to paint crown molding then Pine, or Poplar are better wood species for your crown molding installation project. They are cheaper than hardwood crown molding, and from a distance of several feet away from most eyeballs, no one will ever know the difference.

If, on the other hand you want that natural wood look, or a stained look, then a hardwood crown molding species is probably better for your crown molding project.

Selecting the Appropriate Crown Molding Lengths

When buying crown molding, have a sketch of your crown molding layout with you when you visit the local home improvement store. Ideally you should buy crown molding lengths that span the entire length of a section of wall, so that you reduce the number of scarf joints required. Also make sure the lengths of crown molding are not warped or twisted, and free from knots.

When Buying Crown Molding Purchase 10% Extra

When buying crown molding it is always important to buy about 10% extra to accommodate for waste. Specifically each piece of crown molding selected should approximately 10% longer than the particular wall length required.

For more information on Installing Crown Molding see’s “Installing Crown Molding Ebook”. Readmore »» Announces its Installing Crown Molding Ebook

The “Installing Crown Molding Ebook” teaches do-it-yourself homeowners how to install crown molding like the pros, as it unveils all the secrets to properly cutting and installing crown molding

Derry, New Hampshire - February 01, 2008 - announced today its latest product in its home improvement Ebook series, the “Installing Crown Molding Ebook”. The “Installing Crown molding Ebook” is the perfect instructional manual for the do-it-yourself homeowner who wants to quickly learn how to properly install crown molding and save a fortune on finish carpentry costs.

Though crown molding installation is not an art, it does require some upfront knowledge and practice so that expensive crown molding stock material is not quickly turned into scrap lumber. The Installing Crown Molding Ebook provides detailed instructions on every step in the process of installing crown molding and includes 28 instructional pictures.

Authored by a master craftsman, the Installing Crown Molding Ebook provides in-depth explanations and tips on how to properly measure and select crown molding stock, so that the DIY homeowner achieves a quality finished crown molding project.

It also unveils the secrets on how to cut crown molding properly. Unlike cutting baseboard trim, and door and window molding, cutting crown molding requires unique techniques to ensure it is cut correctly and material is not wasted. It provides detailed instructions how to make perfect mitered, coped and scarfed crown molding joints, and as with every section of the Ebook, detailed instructional pictures accompany the paragraphs to aid in quickly understanding how to make tight crown molding joints.

"Crown molding is an excellent way to accent a living room, dining room and even hallways. The Installing Crown Molding Ebook helps homeowners through all phases of a crown molding installation project.", said Mark Donovan, President of DIY “Crown molding stock is expensive and can quickly be turned into wasted money and time without first understanding how to properly install it. The Installing Crown Molding Ebook helps to prevent a small fortune in wasted material, and even more importantly, enables homeowners to achieve that finished crown molding look they desire without breaking the bank by having to hire a finish carpenter."

The Installing Crown Molding Ebook is priced at $19 and can be purchased online at Installing Crown Molding Ebook and is immediately downloadable.

For more information on Home remodeling and Home Additions, and Home Repair products and services see: and Readmore »»

How to Install Crown Molding Video

By Mark J. Donovan

I released a new video on How to Install Crown Molding a couple of weeks ago. It shows some great crown molding examples and includes instructions on how to cut crown molding.

Crown molding is an excellent way to turn an otherwise blah room into an elegant room. Crown molding is installed at the intersection point of walls and ceilings, and is an excellent type of accent trim for dining rooms, living rooms, hallways, and dens.

Readmore »»

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb Reduced Lifespan

By Mark J. Donovan

Compact Fluorescent light bulb reduced lifespan can occur for several reasons, but one of the chief reasons is due to turning the compact fluorescent light bulb on and off frequently. In particular, if the compact fluorescent light bulb is turned on for only 5 minutes at a time, the compact fluorescent light bulb lifespan can be reduced by as much as 85%.

In addition, voltage variations, or voltage spikes can also shorten a compact fluorescent light bulb lifespan.

Finally, as with any light bulb it is sensitive to mechanical shock. It is important to carefully install the compact fluorescent light bulb so that it is not banged or hit or dropped while transporting it or installing it. Readmore »»

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How to Seal a Concrete Patio Crack in Winter

I have a site visitor to asking how to seal a concrete patio crack in winter, and in a cold climate.

The concrete patio has about a 1" wide crack in it and when the snow and ice melt, water seeps through the crack, underneath the patio and into the basement.

My only recommendation is to keep the patio free from snow and ice, and put plastic and sand over the crack until warm, dry weather returns.

If anyone else has a better idea let me know so that I can pass along the tip.

Mark Readmore »»

Tips for Drywall Backing on Vaulted Ceilings

By Mark J. Donovan

QUESTION: Hi, I am looking for tips on drywall backing for vaulted ceilings.
Can you provide any advice?

ANSWER: Normally 1"x3" furring strips are nailed to the roof rafters/ceiling joists and the drywall is then fastened to them.

Furring strips help to provide a larger surface area for fastening the drywall to. Furring strips also help to ensure a more even ceiling and prevents the ceiling from cracking.

Furring strips should be installed on 16" centers, perpendicular to the roof rafters / ceiling joists.

Furring strips are also referred to as strapping. Readmore »»