Archive for Scott

Fixing a Leaking Water Heater

While it may not seem like a huge deal if your water heater is leaking, it’s actually more of an issue than you may think it is. That small pool of water in your closet or garage can over time cause mold to grow and even result in water damage to your home. That leaking hot water heater may also indicate a much more serious and possibly dangerous issue; therefore it is crucial you act quickly.

Troubleshooting the cause of the leak should be your number one priority as it’s possible the leaking is actually from a different source such as water pipes or other appliances. If you’ve determined there’s no other possible source, the culprit is most likely the water heater.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer and want to try repairing or doing maintenance on your water heater to save some money, turning off the power is always the first step. With a gas water heater, simply turn the dial at the front of the water heater to “OFF”. On electric water heaters, you’ll need to turn off the correct breaker at your main circuit breaker panel, most often located in your garage.

Once the power is off, you’ll want to shut off the flow of cold water heading into the water heater by turning the inlet valve that’s located on top of the water heater to the “closed” position. If the leak is above this valve, you will need to follow the cold water inlet pipe until you see a secondary valve further down the line, sometimes it’s located on the outside of the house.

Once these two safety precautions are done, it’s time to investigate where the leak is coming from. Below are the most common areas for water heater leaks. Generally speaking, if your water heater is leaking somewhere from the top, the leak can be fixed. If you’ve determined the water heater has a leak near the bottom, the tank may need to be replaced.

  1. Pressure relief valve (TPR valve). Usually located at the top or top-side of a water heater, its purpose is to relieve excess pressure that may develop inside the tank. This part is known to fail over time.
  2. Inlet or outlet piping. Check the pipes and connections at the very top of the water heater.
  3. Drain valve. Located at the bottom of the tank, this simple valve is used for water heater draining and flushing.
  4. Water heater tank. This is the worst case scenario. If the actual tank is leaking due to corrosion or other internal problem, complete water heater replacement is the only real fix.

If you’re fairly repair savy, most water heater repairs are not too difficult. is a decent site for more troubleshooting advice and instructions on how to replace common water heater parts.

Installing a Fence Around our Pool

Being a parent is one thing that many people look up to as they grow up. As for me, am I was not an exception either, I really longed to be a mother, hold my baby and see it grow. I can say I was lucky to meet with my loving husband Paul five years ago, when we got married and began a family. Four years later we got our twin girls who have become a great source of joy to us and it’s always a good feeling to be around them.

Bringing up children is a noble task that every parent who loves her children takes seriously. I personally am concerned to see my twin girls healthy and safe. Since my twin girls Allie and Kristy like playing so much, I see to it that the environment they play in is safe from anything that poses danger to them. Recently, we noted that the in-ground pool at the backyard of our house was posing a big danger to my twin girls who like to go near the pool even by themselves. For this reason my husband and I have decided to take the responsibility of ensuring that our girls are safe and putting up a fence around the pool. By installing a fence around the pool we shall ensure that the kids do not go near the pool all by themselves, and therefore protect them from accidentally falling into the pool as they play. According to, a child can drown in as little as 20 seconds. While we always do our best to keep an eye on our girls, it’s simply not possible to do so every second of the day.

new-pool-fenceI discussed the various fence types with my husband and we settled at installing a life saver pool fence, since the safety of my twin girls leaves no room for compromise and they deserve the strongest and safest pool fence. The good thing with this type of fence is that, it is reinforced with solid poles and uses the strongest mesh available. This type of a fence is easy to remove by an adult for entertainment when the children are not home. The mesh provides many years of use in all weather conditions. The fence also has got self-closing and self-latching gate options which offer added security. The round-head fasteners and rounded edges, ensure there are no sharp edges

During the installation process, we hired a professional who did an excellent job and at a relatively low cost. After the installation, I feel so much relieved from the fear that my children are exposed to the danger of drowning since they cannot access the pool by themselves. Just as you cannot drive without putting a newborn in a car seat, or having them wear a top rated infant life jacket, you cannot have a pool around your home without a fence. An un-fenced pool is more dangerous to children than a loaded gun.

Starting an Organic Garden

my-gardenAfter moving from the city, into our new home in the suburbs, I decided to start an organic garden. Living in the city, I was forced to buy vegetables at the grocery store for my husband, 8 year old son, and my 2 year old daughter. I actually have some gardening experience, so I figured that an organic garden would not be too difficult.

When I started, I chose a decent sized spot in the yard. I’m not huge on maintenance but have made the mistake before of making a garden too small and crowded. I figure, better to be safe.

Because I was going organic, and I was not going to be using fertilizer, I would need to make a compost pile according to the advice of the nutritionist. It is the compost that enriches the soil. I got a bucket from my garage, and started collecting leaves from the ground, weeds, and grass clippings. Luckily my husband mowed the lawn the day before so I was all set.

One I made my compost, I added it to the soil. Because the plants need to be nourished without fertilizer, I knew that I would need a great deal of compost. Next, I planted my seeds and waited for them to grow.

After a couple weeks, I started to notice a few weeds in my garden. I pulled up the big ones, however, I wasn’t too concerned with the few clovers that I found.

For the next few weeks, I took the kids outside to play, while I checked on my garden, and watered it regularly. There were a few days where it was really hot, so I went outside twice to water the garden. I did not want my growing organic vegetables to dry out and die. There were also a couple days that it rained all day. After those rainy days, I took Michael and Kayla outside to play, and we didn’t water the garden. Too much water would have drowned it, and we never would have been able to enjoy fresh vegetables.

The first plants to come up were my cucumbers and tomatoes. The cucumbers did not need much work, just some love and care. The tomatoes did need some work. I had to add a tomato cage, so that the tomatoes would grow upwards. I had to wrap the vine up the cage.

mmmm-tomatoAfter the first month of working on my organic garden, I was finally able to pick some vegetables to feed to my family. When my husband tasted his tomato, he said, “Honey, I cannot believe how juicy these tomatoes are”. I was happy that he could tell the difference between my organic tomatoes and the ones that I bought at the supermarket. To be honest, I’m pretty proud of myself and it’s allowed us to eat healthier, but I’m definitely not thinking to become a nutritionist or something.

I spent the rest of the season caring for my garden by watering it and removing any weeds that threatened to destroy my garden. At the end of the season, I was proud to say that my family enjoyed fresh vegetables for months.

Essential Outdoor Power Tools

The standard method of taking care of the lawn, many years ago, was pushing a manual rotary style lawn mower around. We have come a long way from that labor intensive way of keeping the grass at bay. This does not even mention the other ways of trimming, cutting, raking and generally keeping the yard looking as close to golf course quality as possible.

string-trimmerEssential power tools for outside of the home run the gambit from items to use on the grass, shrubs, and trees as well as in the garden. A short list will include:

  • Lawn mower. Whether electric or gas powered, rotary or circular, walk behind or riding, these are a basic tool.
  • Edge trimmer. This is used to keep the walkways, sidewalks and pathways neat and clean.  Electric or gas powered, this tool rides along the edge of the path and, using a blade or string, creates a break between the grass and the cement.
  • String Trimmer.  This is used to deal with hedges, bushes and many people call it a ‘weed whacker’ because of the strong polyvinyl string that whirls at great speed and actually cuts or whacks the natural material to be cut.
  • Leaf blower.  This is used to assist in cleaning leaves and yard debris off of driveways and sidewalks.  It is also used to move dirt around when setting up gardens. Electric or gas powered, they are often frowned upon more than gas powered mowers on an early Saturday morning.
  • Chainsaw. This will be necessary for yards with thick bushes or hedges and or trees that will need cutting back occasionally. Gas powered, electric or battery powered, these are just the thing for thicker branches.
  • Cultivator.  This is a small rotating tine unit that is just right for working in a garden.  It is able to get between rows and is great for turning soil in any confined space that a larger one would be unable to fit.
  • Wood chipper. While not necessarily essential, a wood chipper is invaluable if you have many trees on your property. There are various sizes of these handy units for breaking limbs and other yard debris down into a mulching composition. Anything from thin, pencil sized twigs to one and two inch limbs can be reduced to a landscaping material that is a natural insulating product.

For help in selecting the best types of these tools, be sure to check out a site like Garage Tool Advisor or Consumer Reports.

Types of engines and electrical safety notes.

chainsawMost of the lawn mowers and wood chippers will have a standard gas motor.  These will have separate locations to fill the oil reservoir and the gas tank.  They will also have air and fuel filters.   Keeping the oil changed, replacing the gas and checking the spark plug after each season will be appropriate to help keep them in working order.

The smaller motors will be two cycle engines which require the careful mixing of oil with the gas.  Replacing the solution after each season is also recommended.

Making sure the electrical cords are not broken is the best you can do for the electric motors other than ensuring you follow any guidelines as far as lubrication is concerned.  Ensure the extension cord is UL listed, rated for outside and heavy duty enough for the equipment you are using.

The most essential outdoor tool is old tech.  It is a pair of safety glasses or goggles for any flying debris that does occur.


Adding Electrical Wiring to an Outdoor Shed

If you have decided on taking a power supply to an outdoor shed, you might need to decide whether to run it overhead or take it underground. Running overhead is quite a simple approach but exposes you to risks of accidental damage. The underground method is a bit complicated but it is a safer approach. The process involved in running a cable overhead includes using ordinary PVC sheathed cables and the spans need to be less than 10 feet. If it is longer than this, you will need additional support by wire and cable buckles. Underground-run cables are usually protected by PVC conduit. The cables are buried 18 inches below the ground and are attached together by straight connectors.

wiring-shedIt is important to have a dedicated outdoor socket for your shed so that you can avoid trailing long extension cords, which pass through open windows. It is also a safe method as it provides protection if you are handling electrical equipment outside. This will require a waterproof outlet with a ground wire and an indoor socket. Alternatively, you may choose to connect a separate GFCI indoor after installing an ordinary outdoor outlet.

I had a unique issue when running wiring to my shed. Because the shed is at the bottom of a sloped hill, cell phone reception is an issue because the shed also works as my workshop which I can spend hours in at one time. To remedy this, I installed a cell phone signal booster which is connected to an antenna at the back of the shed. I went from getting no reception on my phone to 3 or 4 bars. Something to keep in mind for those who have poor reception in their shed and spend a lot of time there. You can get more information about mobile phone signal boosters online.

Installation process

electricity-shedSupplying your outdoor shed with electricity can be quite a simple procedure. First, an electric panel service is run through underground feed wire. The UF wire is connected to a circuit breaker. Inside the shed, the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet and the wire are connected. You might decide to add light switch on another outlet. Of course, such a task requires electrical knowledge and basic building materials. Therefore, ensure you have general electrical knowledge and that your service panel is able to support another breaker. If you do not have any electrical experiences, do not attempt to wire your shed. It is best to consult the service of a professional electrician. It is also wise to check for regulations with the local building department in your area. Here are some basic steps:

  • Dig a deep trench of about 2 feet from the panel extending to the front of the shed. Roll the gauge wire into the trench. Completely bury the wire ensuring the soil is level for a neat finishing.

  • Run the excess wire from the rolled gauge wire by knocking out the slot located at the bottom of the panel, and then slipping the wire at the front of the conduit. This will leave room for the excess wire to hang free. Bury any exposed wire.

  • Ensure the power is still off as you cut and divide the wire into appropriate lengths. The black wire known as hot wire should screw well into the breaker. The neutral wire commonly referred to as the whit wire is screwed into the neutral bar. The bare wire should be able to screw into the ground.

  • Use a 1 inch spade, drill through the shed siding. Attach a PVC piece conduit of about 2 feet to another LB fitting.  Ensure you run the wire through a fitting.

  • Follow the manufacture directions in wiring the GFCI after the wire is inside the outdoor shed. In order to ensure the GFCI is protected for all the outlets, ensure the load terminals are connected to the wires.

  • In order to supply power, the final outlet and the switch must have a loop in between. The light fixture is located from this switch.


Installing electricity to your outdoor shed is a project worth carrying out for your own convenience and safety. The wiring work may require a complicated process but it adds protection for outdoor use of electrical appliances.

The Pool is In – Choosing a Ladder

So you’ve decided on a swimming pool and pump. Don’t forget to budget in a good pool ladder. Pool ladders help you to get into and out of pools safely and easily. Be it in-ground pool or above-ground pool, badly designed wobbly pool ladders are prone to cause accidents and can make you lose your peace of mind easily. A pool ladder might look like a simple attachment but there are lots of important factors that distinguish good ladders from poorly designed ones.

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Upgrading Your Adirondack Chair

The Adirondack chair is considered to be one of the most comfortable outdoor chairs available, but you can make it even more comfortable by adding chair pads. This type of chair was first designed by Thomas Lee in 1903 because he could not find an outdoor chair that he liked. The chair is well-known for its large armrests, wide seat and sloping backrest and is made entirely from wood, including the wood slate seat and backrest. Many people agree that these chairs are extremely comfortable, but purchasing the right chair pads can add extra cushioning.

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