Monday, November 29, 2010

How to caulk tubs, showers, sinks and more.

Knowing how to caulk well is one of the most important home maintenance tasks every homeowner should learn.  When it comes to keeping water away from areas where it can do a lot of damage a well caulked joint is essential.
Caulking is not difficult but it does take some practice.  One of the most important things to remember when applying caulk is, MORE is NOT better.
You will need:  Caulk gun, tube of appropriate caulk (see below), scraper, small container of water (latex caulk) or mineral spirits (silicone caulk), rag for clean up
  1. Buy a decent caulk gun, you will be glad you spent a few extra dollars.  Here is one that I like. It is relatively inexpensive and readily available at your local Ace Hardware. (Caulk Gun) Integral to the tool is a cutter for snipping the tip of the caulk tube and a metal rod to pierce through the seal on the caulk tube through the tip.
  2. Buy the correct type of caulk.  Look for bathroom and kitchen caulk which contains some silicone.  You want caulk that can stand up to water.  Most caulk containing silicon is un-paintable so be aware of this if you are caulking in areas you would like to paint.  There are some bathroom/kitchen caulks that can be painted, just look at the label.
  3. Remove all old caulk and be sure the area is clean and dry.  You can use a putty knife, a utility knife or scraper to remove ALL of the old caulk.  Caulk will not stick to caulk so be sure you do a thorough job.
  4. Cut the tip off of the caulk tube at a 45 degree angle.  Be sure to cut off  just a little bit of the tip, you want to start with the hole as small as possible and if you want a bigger bead of caulk you can make it bigger later.   With caulking more is NOT better, you want to just fill the joint not over-fill it.
  5. Put the metal rod into the tip of the tube to pierce the internal seal and install the caulk tube into the gun.
  6. Have a small container of water or mineral spirits nearby. If you are using 100% silicone you will need mineral spirits.  You can use water if you are using latex caulk or kitchen/bath caulk that says it can be cleaned up with water.
  7. Start at one end and slowly and steadily apply a bead of caulk along the joint/gap, don't worry if you have any breaks in the bead, when you spread it out later you can fill those in.
  8. Using the tip of your finger (you can wear latex gloves if you'd like), smooth and spread the caulk, if necessary apply some more caulk to your fingertip to fill in any gaps that are still left.  Remember the goal is to simply seal the joint or gap, don't over do it.
  9. Clean up with water (latex caulk) or mineral spirits (silicone caulk) on a rag.

If you live in the Denver Metro area and are interested in learning these skills in a workshop environment with hands-on practice please visit  for a complete list of available classes along with a calendar of current days and times.  Calendar

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Clothes Dryer Fire Safety & Maintenance

A posting on Facebook prompted me to do some research about house fires that have been caused by problems with a clothes dryer. A young woman was concerned when she awoke to find her dryer hot to the touch although she had not done any laundry since the day before.  
 We often hear stories about clothes dryers’ catching on fire and it is a legitimate concern for home owners.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration:
  • Annually, 12,700 clothes dryer fires occur in residential buildings resulting in 15 deaths and 300 injuries.
  • Eighty percent of clothes dryer fires in structures occur in residential buildings.
  • “Failure to clean” is the leading factor contributing to clothes dryer fires in residential buildings.
  • The 2 leading items that are ‘first ignited’ in a dryer fire are clothes in the dryer and lint and dust.  These 2 items account for 56% of fires.
  • New home construction trends place clothes dryers and washing machines in more hazardous locations away from outside walls such as bedrooms, second-floor hallways, bathrooms, and kitchens.
Things homeowners should be doing to reduce the potential for fire:
  • Clean your lint filter after EVERY load of laundry.
  • Inspect your lint filter for rips each time you use it. If you see any rips, replace immediately.
  • Never put synthetic materials such as rubber, plastic, foam, or pieces of cloth that have been used to sponge up flammable liquids in the dryer, even if previously washed.
  • Clean the lint out of the exhaust pipe and the rear of the dryer regularly.
  • The exhaust pipe should be as short as possible and have limited bends to allow for adequate airflow.
  • Disconnect, clean, and inspect the dryer duct and venting every couple of years
  • Never let your clothes dryer run while you are out of the house or asleep.
  • Have gas-powered dryers inspected by a professional annually to ensure that the gas line and connection are intact.
  • Outside wall dampers should have a covering that will keep out rain, snow, and dirt. However, do not use wire screen or cloth of any kind to protect the exhaust opening.

For the complete report issued by the US Fire Administration go to this link: 

Friday, November 5, 2010

A simple way to unclog your drain

I noticed the other day that my tub was draining slowly and realized it was time to clean it out once again.  I have shoulder length hair so it clogs up the drain and I find a need to clean it every month or so.
If your tub drain seems to be running slowly it is most likely caused by a build up of hair in the drain and trap.  Once hair gets caught on the drain then shampoo, conditioner, soaps and lotions start to build up on the hair.  The cycle repeats itself until the water no longer flows freely down the drain.
There is a simple way to clean your drain and here are some quick steps.
    Step 1: You will want to buy this nifty tool.  I got mine at my local Ace Hardware it is called a "Zip It" and is easy to use.

    Step 2:  Next you'll need to unscrew your drain stopper to give you access to the drain.
    Step 3:  Insert the 'zip it' tool into the drain

     Step 4:  Pull out the clog
     Step 5:  Replace the stopper

    If you want to learn more about your plumbing consider signing up for Plumbing 101  through Workshop for Women 
    We'll cover basics of your home plumbing system focusing on toilets, faucets, tub, showers and drains. After the class you will be able to troubleshoot, repair or replace your toilet, faucets and drains and be able to troubleshoot problems with your tub and shower and water heater. You will also learn what maintenance tasks are required to keep your plumbing system working smoothly preventing water leaks from damaging your home.

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Lighting a water heater pilot light

    Click on the title above or on this link here Home Information Source Blog to be taken to a step by step process to re-light the pilot on your water heater.

    This is my other blog which contains information for all homeowners.

    Judy Browne