Sunday, November 25, 2012

Preventing Dryer Fires


It’s been all over the media lately. News articles and television reporting have alerted us to the danger of dryer vent fires. The cause of these fires is usually lint that has built up over time and caused a blockage of the dryer vent. As clothes are dried, the moisture is displaced out of the clothes and into the vent where it mixes with dry lint and forms a paper mache like material. It then dries to form a hard blockage in the vent pipe which will not allow the hot air to escape. At this point, the blockage creates back pressure and overheats the dryer vent which causes the fire hazard. It is one of those things that is out of sight, out of mind until it happens. There are subtle hints that it is time for dryer vent inspection, cleaning and maintenance but unless you are aware enough to notice that the clothes are taking longer to dry or that your dryer seems hotter to the touch, you will probably miss the early warning signs. That is why it is so important to develop a regular maintenance schedule.

  • Inspect and clean the lint filter of your dryer before each and every use.
  • Post a small sign in the laundry room so that you won’t forget.
  • Schedule  inspections, cleaning and maintenance of the complete dryer vent system once a year.
  • Make sure that the dryer vent system maintenance is done by a qualified professional.
    You will have peace of mind knowing that the job was done right.
Also be aware that sometimes excess lint buildup is caused by the inferior design and installation of the dryer vent system. Long vent runs, vertical vents and vent systems with too many bends can create an unusual hardship on the efficiency of your dryer. Many times these systems require a blower assist fan to help solve the problem. The blower assist fan is a fairly simple installation that is located in the attic of your home. While the fan can be an added expense, it will be well worth it. When your dryer is operating at peak performance, it will use less energy. You will save money and recuperate the cost of the fan in no time.

Remember, with a little effort and by following the above suggestions, you will have  peace of mind knowing that you and your family are safe from dryer vent fires.
For more information and a short video, please visit our website:
www.nodryerfires.com

Friday, September 28, 2012

Finishing your patch


Finishing the patch can be somewhat tedious and time consuming but certain steps just have to be followed in order to reach the final goal of completing a quality patch that blends in with the surrounding area.

Whether the patch is big or small, the first step in the finishing operation is to tape the joints. If you are in a hurry and the patch is relatively small, a fast setting compound can be used. Using a 20-minute mud for example will allow you to move on to the next step quicker and shorten the total time necessary to complete the job. Mix only what you will use up within 20 minutes. If you have the time to allow for drying between coats, an all-purpose compound works best. It will allow you to take your time without worrying about the material drying up too fast during the application process. It is also easier to sand.

The type of tape being used is also selective. There are paper tapes as well as self-sticking open mesh. The difference is cost and ease of application.

Using a 6” wide putty knife, spread the taping compound over the joint and then imbed the paper tape by applying pressure with the knife blade. Do each joint separately, overlapping the tape slightly. If using the self-sticking tape, apply it to the wall first and then apply the compound directly over the top of it. Spread the material over the tape as smoothly as possible taking special care to completely cover the tape but not too thick. Try to keep the edges of the compound flush with the surrounding area. This will help to cut down on the sanding time between coats. After all joints are coated, let the patch cure overnight. Next, lightly sand the patch being careful not to sand so deep that the tape gets torn. At this point, you can switch over to the 20-minute compound for your second and third coats or continue on with the all-purpose compound allowing 24 hours between each coat. Use a 12” putty knife for the second and third coats. Center the knife blade on the joints and feather the edges as you go. Sand between coats and apply the compound as smoothly as possible. After the final coat has dried, lightly sand the main body of the patch. Now check the edges until smooth blending into the surrounding area. Check for small imperfections as you go and touch up as needed.

Now you are ready to apply the texture. There are many different texturing tools on the market, but a favorite for small jobs has to be the electric texture gun. It is light, easy to use and easy to clean. Pre mixed texture compound works best. It is more expensive than powder but it is cleaner with no lumps and won’t  jam your texture gun. Always mix the texture and try a sample on a scrap piece of drywall. Thin the mix or change the texture gun’s tip  until you are happy with the result. Then move on to your patch. Allow the texture to dry overnight and then lightly blade over the patch with a 6”-12” putty knife. It is very important to do this before painting as it will remove rough spots and will help to blend the patch into the surrounding areas.

Sunday, August 12, 2012





Drywall patching can be fairly simple. The trick is to take your time making sure each step is as close to perfect as possible. This way, you will be pleased with the final result.

Any part of the process that is ignored can cause problems with the next step finally leading to a poor outcome. Always use a drop cloth below your working area to catch any falling debris. Not only will this protect your flooring but will make cleanup alot easier too.



Small patches – Depending on the size of the patch, you may have to remove the surrounding material in order to expose a sound surface. If the patch is relatively small, you may be able to just scrape off the loose material surrounding the repair and then just fill it with a patching compound of your choice. There are many products on the market but I prefer lightweight. It is easy to use, doesn’t shrink and easy to sand. The main thing to keep in mind is to keep the patch as small as possible. This is especially important when patching holes caused by picture hanger nails or screws. If the patches are too big, you will be left with a horrible looking wall after it is painted. First remove any loose material. When left behind, fuzz, drywall paper, old spackle or paint chips can effect the final outcome. Next apply the patching compound. Remember to keep the patch as small as possible. This can be accomplished by using a very small putty knife. And now the most important part of the process. Using your thumb, wipe off the excess patching material surrounding the  hole. This will keep your patches small and less noticeable after painting.



Large patches – Using a level, outline the area with level and plumb lines. You have a couple of options. Either locate existing wood backing (studs, plates or blocks) or install your own. Next cut along the lines with a retractable knife blade. It is best to just score a line first and then make a second and even third pass in order to cut completely through the material. Remove the old material and check the thickness. Drywall comes in various thicknesses so make sure that you are replacing it with the same size material. Now clean up the edges of the cut out to insure that the new material will be flush when installed.

Mark and cut a new piece of drywall to fit your cut out. It is advisable to cut the new piece about an 1/8” smaller than the cut out to ease in the installation of the new piece.

If your cut out was made over existing wood backing, you are now ready to install. If backing is needed, you can install a floating backing. Using a 1”x 2” or similar material, simply measure the cut out and install a slightly longer piece inside the opening using drywall screws to hold it in place. Now attach the new material to the wood backing using drywall screws. Make sure that the screw heads are slightly countersunk into the drywall surface to insure a smooth patch.



Stay tuned for our next tip on finishing your patch.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dryer Vents and Fire Hazards






The major cause of excess lint buildup in a dryer vent system is lack of cleaning and maintenance. Many vent systems have not been cleaned for 5 – 10 years if ever. This is an extreme fire hazard and should be addressed immediately. Another cause is inferior design or installation of the dryer vent system. Long vent runs, vertical vents and vent systems with too many bends can create an unusual hardship on the efficiency of your dryer. In fact dryer manufacturers recommend a total dryer vent length of no more than 14 feet, deducting 2 feet for each 90 degree bend. There are countless homes throughout the United States, including many new homes, that do not adhere to this specification. Builders, contractors and inspectors are either unaware or have completely overlooked the dryer vent system. Many times these systems require a blower assist fan to help solve the problem. The blower assist fan is a fairly simple installation that can be located in the attic of your home. While the fan is an added expense, it will be well worth it. When your dryer is operating at peak performance, it will use less energy. You will save money on electricity and gas and recuperate the cost of the fan in no time. But the most value you will receive is the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your family is safe from dryer fires.

For more information, please see our video at :
www.nodryerfires.com

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Time for Spring Maintenance


With spring approaching, it is a good time to start thinking about home maintenance and repair. While there are many things on the to do list, one item that is often neglected is your wood fence which should have a yearly maintenance schedule. This maintenance is very important to prolonging the life and beauty of your wood fence. Ignore it and your fence will crack, peel and twist to the point where replacement of some if not all of it’s components becomes necessary. A few replacement boards may not be a huge expense, but when it becomes necessary to replace boards, rails and posts, this can become quite costly. In some cases, the entire fence may have to be torn down and re-built. But with proper care, these expenses can be avoided. The following is a quick yearly checklist that will help your fence last for many years:

  1. Moisture is your fence’s biggest enemy.
      A. Redirect any water from your sprinkler system away from your fence, even if it            
           means relocation of your sprinkler heads. Sprinklers should be directed away
           from your fence in the same way that they should be directed away from your
           house. This initial cost will save you a bundle by avoiding future costs.
      B. Remove all grass and weeds that come in contact with any part of your fence.
          These can hold moisture against your fence causing mold and mildew and
          eventually the wood will begin to deteriorate.
          A good weed-eater can be your best friend.
  1. Inspect for loose boards. Replace and re-nail as needed.
  2. Tighten all loose bolts and screws. Pay special attention to gate hardware. It gets the most use.
  3. Finally, clean all surfaces. Remove loose paint with a wire brush or pressure washer. Make sure all surfaces have dried and re-seal, re-stain, or re-paint. There are many good products available. Check with your local hardware store.

If you do find it necessary to replace portions of your wood fence, consider first replacing the posts with galvanized metal. There are many types of post brackets available that make it easy to attach the wood fence and you won’t ever have to worry again about wood fence posts rotting and eventually breaking off. Another advantage of metal fence posts is not having to worry about damage caused by a weed eater. Of course you can always build a new fence using vinyl products. Vinyl fences come in various designs, textures and colors and are virtually maintenance free. Just wash them off once in a while and they will look new for a long time. 

Please visit our blog for weekly tips:
www.mikekellyconstruction.blogspot.com
And as always, if you would like more information, please visit:
www.mikekellyconstruction.ws

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Longer Life for Your Refrigerator




Like most products, the lifespan of your refrigerator can be greatly extended with simple maintenance. The first item on the maintenance list of things to do and the top priority should be cleaning. This not only includes the interior of the refrigerator walls but also all plastic door shelves, glass covers, crispers and even the rubber door seal.
But above all, it is most important to clean the underside of the refrigerator where the condenser motor and coil are located. This is the favorite spot for lint and dust to accumulate which can make your refrigerator work harder than it has to causing the motor to overheat and eventually can shorten the lifespan of a very valuable and sometimes very expensive appliance.
It may look intimidating but it is really quite simple. The first precaution is to unplug the refrigerator. Then remove the ventilated cover at the front bottom. This piece usually just snaps on and off. Next using a long brush ( a dryer lint brush works well ), gently clean the lint and dust that has accumulated on the underside of the refrigerator. Finally  vacuum everything that has been cleaned. It is that easy. A good rule of thumb is to do this every 6 months. Take care of your refrigerator and it should last a long time.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

No Maintenance Patio Covers


Your new wood patio cover has just been installed and it is beautiful. But while the natural beauty of wood is undeniable, there are also many drawbacks. It must be protected from various weather conditions. Acceptable methods include paint, stain and other various sealers (clear or colored). So you invest a little sweat equity and
Do-it-Yourself. But even after all of your hard work, the sun dries and bleaches it and the paint peels. Before too long you start noticing cracks. These cracks allow moisture to be absorbed like a sponge and the wood starts to twist and warp. The nails start pulling out allowing the wood to move even more. Now what? A little maintenance should fix the problem. Right? You make a trip to the hardware store where you purchase wood, nails, spackle, caulking and paint. At checkout you are thinking “wait a minute, I already paid for all of this material once”. You replace a few components, re-nail, spackle and caulk, and re-paint as needed. But the problem still exists only to repeat itself over and over again. You ask yourself why did I ever have this thing built with wood? This continual maintenance is killing me, not to mention draining my bank account. If only I would have built an Alumawood shade structure.

There are many benefits to using Alumawood:
  • The embossed texture simulates real wood.
  • A variety of designs are available. Choose lattice or solid top. Choose rafter styles.
  • Other options include architectural columns and railings, ceiling fans and post lights.
  • Offered in a variety of colors to compliment your stucco or wood finishes.
  • It is virtually maintenance free. Just rinse it off once in awhile.
  • Never paint again. Paint will not chip, crack or peel.
  • Fire retardant.
  • Termite proof.
  • Possible tax rebates through the Energy Star program.
  • Peace of mind.

Another big advantage for using Alumawood is the option to install solid roof panels versus the need for a plywood surface and separate waterproof roofing material when building with wood. Alumawood solid roof panels are insulated which not only adds an additional cooling element but also reduces noise especially during a rain storm.

These features should make Alumawood your first choice when selecting a patio cover.
After all, you shouldn’t have to worry about your patio cover after it is built. Just enjoy it.

For more information, please visit:
Please visit our blog for monthly tips:
www.mikekellyconstruction.blogspot.com



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Termite Damage

The thought of having termites can create a lot of stress. After all, you have worked very hard to pay your mortgage and maintain a beautiful home, only to watch as the termite damage becomes more and more obvious. You would like to just ignore it with hope that they will just go away but there is no denying that the signs are there and the problem is getting worse. First you notice small piles of what appears to be sawdust but there has been no woodworking done in the area. What is it? Termites. They leave a visible trail of digested wood (sawdust) as they work to destroy your home, garage, shed or any other wood structure that they can. What can you do to stop them? There are many pest control services that can treat this problem. Some use a chemical spray to treat the foundation and stop the termites from transitioning from the ground into the walls of your home. If the problem calls for drastic measures, they will tent your house and then release a chemical fog treatment. Of course you will have to move out of the house for a while, pack up some of the furnishings (dishes, utensils, etc.), and don't forget the pets. There are also termite control systems for the do it your selfer. Available at your local hardware store, these systems consist of stakes which release chemicals into the ground and capture jars where you will find the dead termites. Recently, orange oil has become quite popular and has proven to be successful in controlling termites. It is chemical free which means that you will not have to leave your house as the treatment is applied.
Whatever treatment you choose, something has to be done to control the termites and stop any future damage. In an effort to help minimize the possibility of future termite damage, you must address some of the reasons why termites gained access to your structure in the first place. Any wood that comes into contact with the soil can create a termite tunnel to your house. This can include wood fence posts that are attached to a fence rail which is then attached to the house. A wood deck can also be a transfer point for termites to move from soil to wood.
Once the termites have been brought under control, you will have to address the damage that has already been done. This may involve the removal and replacement of various wood components that are no longer structurally sound. This may include siding, studs, sills, joists and plywood subfloor. If replacing siding, I suggest using a cementious siding. Unlike wood, this type of siding is not very appealing to termites and after all the work that has been done to solve your termite problem, you certainly want to do everything possible to avoid having to do it again.
For more information please visit our website:
http://www.mikekellyconstruction.ws

Friday, January 6, 2012

Prevent Dryer Fires


It’s been all over the media lately. News articles and television reporting have alerted us to the danger of dryer vent fires. The cause of these fires is usually lint that has built up
over time and caused a blockage of the dryer vent. As clothes are dried, the moisture is displaced out of the clothes and into the vent where it mixes with dry lint and forms a paper mache like material. It then dries to form a hard blockage in the vent pipe which will not allow the hot air to escape. At this point, the blockage creates back pressure and overheats the dryer vent which causes the fire hazard. It is one of those things that is out of sight, out of mind until it happens. There are subtle hints that it is time for dryer vent inspection, cleaning and maintenance but unless you are aware enough to notice that the clothes are taking longer to dry or that your dryer seems hotter to the touch, you will probably miss the early warning signs. That is why it is so important to develop a regular maintenance schedule.

  • Inspect and clean the lint filter of your dryer before each and every use.
  • Post a small sign in the laundry room so that you won’t forget.
  • Schedule  inspections, cleaning and maintenance of the complete dryer vent system once a year.
  • Make sure that the dryer vent system maintenance is done by a qualified professional.
            You will have peace of mind knowing that the job was done right.

Also be aware that sometimes excess lint buildup is caused by the inferior design and installation of the dryer vent system. Long vent runs, vertical vents and vent systems with too many bends can create an unusual hardship on the efficiency of your dryer. Many times these systems require a blower assist fan to help solve the problem. The blower assist fan is a fairly simple installation that is located in the attic of your home. While the fan can be an added expense, it will be well worth it. When your dryer is operating at peak performance, it will use less energy. You will save money and recuperate the cost of the fan in no time.

Remember, with a little effort and by following the above suggestions, you will have  peace of mind knowing that you and your family are safe from dryer vent fires.
For more information and to see the video, please visit our website @:
http://www.mikekellyconstruction.ws