Category Archives: Tips

How Hard Is It To Install A Water Softener DIY?

A water softener system can be installed in a few hours if you have some experience in home improvement projects and plumbing. If you follow the manufacturer-supplied installation instructions exactly as they are laid out you should have no problems installing a water softener system yourself.

Armed with your manufacturers guide and a step-by-step installation guide (optional), you should have no problems providing you have the correct tools and hardware on hand.

water softener

There are a few types of water softener systems, which may affect the task at hand:

  • Timer Regenerated- The softener regenerates based on a timer.
  • Meter Regenerated- This water softener regenerates by using a meter that keeps track of how much water is used.
  • Manually Regenerated- This type of water softener has a lever that allows you to regenerate the system whenever you want.

Considerations When Installing Your Water Softener:

  • You might need to purchase some piping components and solder to hold them in place because they will not be supplied with the water softener. You may also need to purchase some other plumbing tools that are required for the installation process.
  • A drain is needed for the recharge process of the water softener system. A standpipe, floor drain, or a utility sink could all be used as a drain for your water softener system. A drain should not be located more than 30 feet from the softener system and the line should not be higher than 8 feet above the floor.
  • Some of the major manufacturers of water softeners systems will not honor a warranty request if you do the installation yourself. You should check with your manufacturer before installing it to make sure this will not be an issue for you.
  • Make sure that all of the parts are included in the box with your water softener system and all of the tools that are required before you get started. Make sure you read the instruction manual carefully and that you understand the instructions, some manufacturers will write their manual in a very technical way making it a little difficult to complete a DIY installation. A great resource to ask questions if you’re stuck is
  • You will have to turn off your main water supply which could be near the road. Always make sure your gas or electric is turned off to your water heater before you start the installation process. When you have attached your pipes to your water softener turn the water on just a little bit to make sure all of the fittings are not leaking and are secure. Make sure all of your pipes are working correctly by turning on all of the faucets in your house.

  • Your water softening system should be installed in an accessible place close to the brine tank so that it can be refilled on a regular basis. It should be protected on a level that it will not freeze or get damp. Most softeners come with a 10 foot power cord but you will need access to a standard 120v, three prong, and grounded outlet.

Note: some larger, hole whose systems will be more complex and may require a local plumber for installation; the best advice here is to call around and get a few quotes before committing to a contractor.

Bouncing Back’s Garage Organization Ideas for Under $50

Bikes, Skates, and Other Wheels


Bicycles, skateboards, scooters, and rollerblades– wheeled possessions can get underfoot and land you on your possessions or bang up the automobile. Protect your paint job (not to mention your backside) with these crafty storage options for your garage:

  • Hoist bicycles to the rafters with a rope-and-pulley system (starting around $40) that makes it simple to raise the bike and lock safely in place. When you’re ready to ride, release the lock and lower your bike to the garage floor. You’ll need an hour or 2 and fundamental devices to secure the pair of pulleys to ceiling joists and thread the ropes. (Comparable hoists are available for kayaks or small boats; beginning around $25.)
  • Avoid unintended skateboard “techniques” with a specially created wall rack that makes it easy for children to disconnect helmets and skateboards together; starting around $20. Protect this one to wall joists in less than an hour.
  • Keep scooters and bikes out of the way with tool hooks installed on a length of 1-by-6-inch lumber. You’ll pay $3 for each pair of vinyl-coated screw-in device hooks and $1 per foot for lumber. You’ll need only an hour or two to secure the lumber to wall joists and screw the hooks into location along the board.

Sporting Products


Active pursuits require a great deal of equipment that ends up in the garage. These organizers help clean up all those sports balls, rackets, bats, gloves, clubs, fishing rods, and other outdoor fun-related goodies:

  • Combine rounds and bats on a convenient cake rack geared up with hangers that hold gloves too; starting around $35.
  • To keep your garage organization from going downhill, tuck away two pairs of snow skis, poles, and boots in one convenient steel ski rack; $45. Securing this rack to wall studs assists it hold the weight of the devices. If you can’t place it on studs, utilize wall anchors for a secure installation. You can do the job with or without anchors in an hour or two.
  • Make a port for your fishing pole by suspending two wire racks from your garage ceiling about 5 feet apart, then threading the rods through the openings. Use racks left over from a task or buy a 4-foot-by-16-inch vinyl-coated wire shelf for less than $9, and saw it in half crosswise (or clip with bolt cutters) to make two 2-foot racks. Snip extra wires where you require larger slots to accept pole handles or reels.



With a little imagination, you won’t require specifically created storage to organize your tools.

  • Easily hang wrenches and bungee cords making use of an ordinary vinyl-coated wire tie-and-belt rack, readily available at huge box suppliers; $8.
  • Metal tools hold on to a magnetized rail, keeping items in view and simple to recover; starting around $30. Simply screw the rail to wall studs to securely hold the weight of the devices (it’s an idea you might be drawn to.)
  • Cushion and safeguard devices by padding your toolbox drawers with a soft, non-slip liner. The open-weave design keeps moisture away and prevents tools from rolling around. Enough material to line eight average-size drawers is $15. Simply cut the liner to length to fit and slip it into the drawer.
  • Organize little items– such as pencils, box cutters, and measuring tape– by stashing them in electrical junction boxes; about $2 each (complimentary if you have spares). Purchase a range of shapes and sizes and protect them to studs or pegboard.

Backyard and Garden Equipment

organized garage

Rakes, ladders, clippers, shovels, and sprays– a host of products keep your yard and garden looking lush and well-cared-for, but your garage? Not a lot. Keep your garden and landscaping devices organized with these novel storage solutions:

  • Transform an old cabinet into an awesome garage storage unit on wheels. Pursue an old four-drawer filing cabinet for a few dollars at a yard sale. Get rid of the drawers, turn it on its backside, and use a couple afternoons to use paint and pegboard sides. Less than $25.
  • Hold heavy tools, long-handled implements, ladders, and more. Long steel rails with extruded holes mount high on the garage wall and secure to studs. Arrange a series of hooks and pegs on the rail to hang huge devices. Two 48-inch rails cost $22.
  • Protect a wooden pallet to wall studs to develop a pocket for holding long-handled garden tools. To find complimentary wooden pallets, consult regional companies as well as online classifieds, such as Craigslist. Cost: Free.
  • Keep bottles of fertilizers, repellants, and lubes upright and easy to retrieve. A can rack ($15) prevents cans and bottles from tumbling off racks.

Benefits of Regularly Cleaning Your Chicago Chimney


Regularly cleaning your chimney has a lot of advantages. For starters, by cleaning the chimney, dirt such as soot and ash are removed. This allows smoke to get out of the chimney easily without some of it getting back into the house and choking residents. Professional chimney sweeps and cleaning services helps in improving air circulation and eliminating bad odors. One of the greatest mistakes you should avoid is cleaning the chimney without any professional assistance because you may incur accidents.

For instance, if there were nests built inside the chimney, without proper attire or preparation for the task, they may fall into your eyes. Additionally, you will waste a lot of time cleaning the chimney and in case you don’t do things right and cause damage to the chimney, you will have to spend a lot of money as well.

There are quite a number of reasons why you need to hire professional services for chimney sweeps and cleaning in Chicago. First, they are well experienced in sweeping and cleaning various types of chimneys. You may not know the difference in the chimneys and the procedures to follow to clean the chimney effectively. However, it is important that you hire one with several years’ experience since they are well versed with the procedure.

Another reason for hiring professional chimney sweeps and cleaning in Chicago: they guarantee you fast and effective results. Since they have knowledge on how to carry out the task, they will take the shortest time possible to clean your chimney and leave it sparkling. That aside, they also employ the use of advanced techniques and equipment to ensure excellent results. After cleaning the chimney, an expert will first carry out inspection before leaving.

They do this to make sure they have done a good job and their customer is fully satisfied. Working with a professional chimney sweep guarantees you 100% customer satisfaction. For quality assurance on chimney sweep services, only hire reliable services. In order to know whether they are reliable or not, you may consider looking through their customer reviews. These reviews contain information on feedback given by their previous clients. You can gauge the quality of services they offer by the number of positive or negative feedback given. Do not forget to inquire about their service costs. You need to work with reliable chimney sweeps and cleaning experts with affordable rates.

More information:

Staying On Budget When Building a Home

Budget Growth

Inevitably, any brand-new customer will ask me “Just how much will the job cost?” The response isn’t constantly straightforward and simple. You see, a house building budget plan, in both its creation and its upkeep, is more art than science.

Sure, it’s simple to state the project is a brand-new 2,000-square-foot house that will cost $200 per square foot to develop. But what does that represent? Will it be the home you desire? Does it factor in all the intangibles and tricks that any house construction project has? And you can certainly overlook any cost-per-square-foot standard if it’s an addition or redesigning project. Dealing with an existing house, specifically one that’s a little older, has its own set of rules.

Having stated that, the best technique to recognizing costs for your certain project and location is to talk with several designers, designers and builders. Each will probably offer you a different “number,” so you’ll have to drill down into the detail of exactly what that number suggests. Simply keep in mind that the devil is in the information.

  1. Identify the job. Will it be a brand-new home, an addition to your existing house, a kitchen or bath remodel or some combination of these? Each has its own budgeting approach. While a basic “per square foot” cost may work for a new construction project, it definitely won’t work for kitchen area and bath remodels. And for something like an addition or remodeling to a historic house, throw out any sort of cost standards. The best technique to developing a budget plan for tasks like these is to talk with experts with experience.
  1. Identify the pieces within your budget. Clients frequently don’t determine all of the pieces of the spending plan. Sure, the largest piece may be the construction expenses, however there will be many other costs. They can consist of land costs, legal charges, moving, decorating, landscaping, impact charges, architectural fees, permit expenses and financing costs. At the outset, recognize all of your possible costs and assign each a value. It would be a shame to finish the house however have no cash left for landscaping or furniture.
  1. Know thyself. If you simply need to have that beautiful variety that costs as much as a new luxury vehicle, do not budget plan for the generic range from the local appliance shop. Consider exactly what you truly want and how you actually desire to make use of the house you’re creating, and see to it you have actually budgeted for it.
  1. Be ready to splurge. In the spending plan, permit for the couple of places where you’ll want to spend lavishly. For instance, the kitchen backsplash is a location you might wish to do something really special and remarkable. If you spend a great deal of time in the kitchen area, the backsplash is something you’ll see several times a day for years. Even if it costs a significant amount, permit yourself to spend lavishly a little on something you’ll delight in.
  1. Have a plan. A sure way of breaking your budget is to defer decisions or, as they state in Washington, “kick the can down the roadway.” Building has started and you have not made almost enough decisions about what tile, what plumbing components, what trim, and so on. The contractor starts pressuring you to deciding or, worse, just does something without your input. You might discover yourself tearing out work or, even worse, have to live with something you actually do not such as because you don’t have the time or cash to change it.

The very best way to avoid these nightmare situations is to have your architect and/or designer prepare an in-depth set of illustrations and make all your decisions before starting building. Then, don’t alter your mind. It’s much easier stated than done, however preparing a strategy and sticking to it is the finest method to stay on track.

  1. Have a contingency. Like other laws of nature, the law of a construction job is that “stuff happens.” It might be a problem with the bearing ability of the soil or uncovering decomposed wood when preparing to develop the addition. The finest way to deal with the unidentified is to permit a contingency in the budget.

The best approach is to begin with a higher contingency, say 15 % to 20 % and after that slowly lower the contingency as you go through the task phases. When you first start the design, you’ll have a line product in your budget for a, say, 20% contingency. After the drawings are done and the pieces of the task are determined you may lower the contingency to 10%. As you you go through construction, you’ll be able to minimize the contingency even more so that when building is total the contingency is zero.

You don’t have to spend that contingency. If it isn’t really made use of, consider it found cash that you can save. That’s a terrific way to feel great about remaining on track and can be found in under budget plan.

  1. Beware scope creep. A sure method to bust your budget plan is the feared “While we’re it we may also …” You might validate it by saying “it’ll just be a couple of hundred dollars,” once you do that a couple of times, you’ll have added a bunch of work and will absolutely blow your spending plan. Keep in mind that you made a plan and stay figured out to adhere to it.
  1. Consider tradeoffs. Sometimes it’s difficult, if not impossible, to pass by that genuinely amazing product that you find during the job that’s not in the spending plan. When this happens, take a look at your spending plan and what you have left to achieve, with the objective of minimizing the expense of something else to afford this new discover. Is there a part of the work, such as painting a few spaces, that you can do yourself? Maybe you can utilize carpet in lieu of hardwood in the visitor bedroom. Get what you want and remain on track by moving budgeted quantities from one pocket to another.

Home Improvement Tips

Tips from Amy Devers, co-host of DIY to the Rescue.

Amy Devers

  • Save those fake pre-approved credit cards you get in the mail — you can use them as glue spreaders or shims.
  • When driving screws into dense hardwoods, lubricate them with wax or soap to prevent stripping the hole.
  • Double-sided carpet tape works great for temporarily fastening templates without leaving screw or nail holes.
  • If you happen to ding your wood in the course of a project, use a wet cloth and a clothes iron to steam out the dent.
  • Save that old electric carving knife. It’s the perfect foam saw for upholstery projects.

Tips from Karl Champley, co-host of DIY to the Rescue.


  • When painting a surface that needs to be primed – new drywall or wood – tint the primer to match the finish coat, reducing your painting project from three coats to two.
  • Sand the face of the hammer head with sandpaper to help the hammer grip the nail and prevent the nail head from slipping.
  • Wrap paint rollers and brushes in a plastic bag between coats to keep them full of paint and prevent them from drying out.
  • Don’t try to work with electrical or plumbing projects you are not confident about. It often costs more to repair later and can be dangerous.
  • When drilling though ceramic tile or natural stone, place masking tape on the surface. This makes marking the tile easier and helps the drill bit stay in one place.
  • When building or renovating your home, always print a budget breakdown. If you’re not sure how to do one, invest in a professional estimator or quantity surveyor to do it for you. The printout will show you the cost of every trade, nail and screw, giving you an accurate figure to base your budget on. This information is great for comparing quotes as you will have done the homework and know the costs!

Tips from Amy Matthews, host of Bathroom Renovations.

Amy-MatthewsCreate space and style in a small bathroom by adding niches in the wall and shower area.

1. With the walls open, find a space between two studs that is free of electrical and plumbing.
2. Cut a 2×4 for the top and bottom of the niche and attach to the studs.
3. Cover with drywall or cementboard, mud and tape, and then paint or tile to finish.

Now you’ve created an out-of-the-way shelf space for clean towels or products, or for a fun design element: add a recessed light to the top of the niche and place a favorite decorative item below. For the shower, measure the height of your bath products so the niche becomes a custom shelf.

  • Save money by shopping at your local re-use center. You can find great pieces of granite or marble left over from larger jobs, that are just the right size for a bathroom countertop.
  • If there’s a custom tile that you love but your budget won’t allow you to cover the entire bathroom with it, use it as an accent tile and purchase lower-cost field tiles. You’ll save money and still get the look you want.
  • If you’re soldering copper in a tight area and you’re a little nervous about burning the house down (never a good idea), place a nail plate behind the pipe so the flame hits the metal and nothing else.

Tips from Paul Ryan, host of Kitchen Renovations.


  • If you have a paint roller that’s too dirty to use anymore, use it to clean the gutters on your house. Using an extended handle, slide it along the gutter to remove the debris and leaves.
  • A level can be very useful as a cutting guide for your circular saw. To use one, line it up so that the saw blade is in the right area. Clamp it into place and you’ll have a good solid surface for the saw bed to ride along.
  • To repair a nail or screw hole in drywall, use a screwdriver with a rounded end on the handle. Press the end of the handle into the screw hole. The pressure creates a divot. Fill the divot with spackle or drywall compound and you’ll have a nice smooth surface.
  • When planning a budget for a home improvement project, add 10 to 15 percent for surprises. You never know what you may find until you start a project.
  • When changing blades in a utility knife, wrap the old blade in tape before you throw it away. This will cover the sharp edges of the blade to protect from injury when packing down the garbage or taking out the trash.

From Chris Babcock, co-host of Restoration Realities.

  • Chris-BabcockExpect the unexpected. Just when you think there isn’t termite or water damage, it’s there. Have the patience to work through these issues and anticipate that budget costs will change.
  • Educate yourself before diving in. The reason so many projects are left uncompleted is a lack of understanding of how it goes back together. Explore the history, structure, codes, safety and aesthetics before you decide to tear apart the house over the weekend.
  • Don’t skimp when it comes to replacing the work that needs to be restored. Buy the right tools and materials for the job. That will ensure that the original integrity will be restored.
  • Play the part of a good detective. When working on a historical project, look for “ghosts,” or old remnants of the past such as old wallpaper, paint marks, or even molding and trim pieces. These will help you in restoring your project to its original character.
  • Regularly scheduled maintenance is key to preservation. Keeping the outside elements away, such as water, wind, cold and heat, is the key to maintaining a treasure from the past.

Tips from Ed Del Grande, host of Ed the Plumber.

  • Ed-Del-GrandeMake sure you and your entire family know where the main water shut-off valve is located and how to turn it off in an emergency.
  • Installing a whole-house water filter will not only give you great tasting water and ice cubes, but it can also prolong your plumbing fixtures from clogging up with debris saving you many costly repair bills!
  • To test for correct water pressure you can quickly attach a water-pressure test gauge to an outside sillcock or faucet, turn on the faucet and read the pounds per square inch you have in your home. Normal operating water pressure should be around 45 psi – 75 psi. Anything over 80 psi is considered too high by most building codes.

Tips from Lynda Lyday, co-host of Talk2DIY.

lynda_lydayProblem: What’s the best way to repair a crack in an acrylic and fiberglass shower?
Solution: First, check the warranty of your shower and if it’s still under warranty, don’t make repairs yourself because it will void the warranty.

1. Score the crack so the adhesive will stick.
2. Clean the area with a toothbrush and rubbing alcohol.
3. Apply the sealing paste and allow it to harden.
4. Sand until smooth and buff with buffing compound.

Problem: What is the best way to create an indoor waterfall?
Solution: Build a frame with 2×4 wood studs and finish it with green board drywall or cement backer board, to combat possible moisture leaks. Bury the pump in the well below. Cover with faux rocks. (You can get faux rock that’s poured from molds that look like rock, but much lighter to work with.)

Problem: What causes the water from a newly installed faucet to flow slowly?
Solution: Check the shut-off valve. Sometimes when replacing a faucet, it’s easy to forget to turn it all the way back on.

1. Make sure the supply line from the valve isn’t kinked. Get the proper length for what you need.
2. Check the aerator. Soak it in water and vinegar and poke through the filter holes with a toothpick to get all the deposits out. Even a faucet can be clogged.

Tips from Tim Hockenberry, host of Home Maintenance.

Tim-HockenberryAir Conditioner Maintenance & Spring Cleaning

It takes good airflow to cool your home efficiently and effectively. If you have an outside air-conditioning unit, you need to keep it obstruction-free and clean by doing some simple maintenance at least once a year:

  • Maintain a 2-foot space around and a 4-foot space above your condenser clear of plants, branches and debris.
  • Insert a common kitchen knife between the thin metal fins of the condenser and straighten out any bent fins. Slide the knife between any fins not evenly spaced to clean out debris.
  • Check to see if your unit is level. If necessary, carefully lift the unit and place pressure treated lumber or concrete stepping stones under it to level.
  • Disconnect the power to the condenser unit and spray off any additional dirt and debris on the unit with your garden hose.
  • Check all the ducts and vents for leaks. Patch them with heat-graded foil tape. Don’t use duct tape; it dries out and cracks. Despite the name, it’s not meant for ducts.

Tips from Dean Marsico & Derek Stearns, hosts of Rock Solid.

dyc indoors out 02Finding the Perfect Stone Materials for Your Home

1. Use a nearby quarry as your reference center — a place to find stone materials and obtain advice. If you want to do installation yourself, ask whether your quarry or stone yard offers classes. If you want to hire somebody, ask for mason recommendations. Also, if you have a lot of questions, go in off-peak hours – late mornings and late afternoons during the week, early mornings and late afternoons on Saturday.

2. Know the layout of the quarry. Start at the main office, get a map and ask for directions. The quarry can be expansive with its cutting shops, warehouses and displays spread over the yard.

3. Do your homework. Have some idea of what type of stone you want. Use pictures from magazines and books or visit other job sites for ideas. The more you know, the better you’ll be at decision-making time. Also, know what your project dimensions are, and ask the experts for help with ordering the right amount.

4. Know the stone. Don’t choose stone on looks alone. That could be a costly mistake! Know which stone is “right” for the project. Some stones are conducive to interior use, while others are best for outdoors. Some stone is cheaper but will cost you in labor time; more-expensive stone will save you time and effort. Many quarries will let you take samples home to help you make your decision.

5. Know what’s new. Don’t hesitate to ask what’s new. Newer products, like thin stone veneer and paver products, can often make your job easier.