How to Maintain a Furnace

Steps for How to Maintain a Furnace:

1. A homeowner should replace the furnace filter at least once per heating season, or more frequently in houses with pets. Remove the old filter, note the size, and replace with an identically sized filter.

2. A professional technician can check the efficiency of your furnace. This will tell how much fuel that you’re paying for is being used to heat your home. An older furnace should be around 80-percent, while a newer one may be as high as 97-percent.

3. A professional will also check and clean the combustion area and all safety devices that ensure the furnace will safely turn off in an emergency.

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How to Transform Your Landscape Using Existing Plants

This Old House landscape designer Jenn Nawada uses a homeowner’s existing plants and a few additions to transform the look of a house’s foundation.

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How To Add Kitchen Cabinet Storage

Shopping List for How to Add Kitchen Cabinet Storage:
– slide-out wire-rack basket, for under-sink storage
– slide-out wire-rack bin, for trash and recycling storage
– swing-out Lazy Susan rack, for blind-corner storage
– vacuum, used to clean out sawdust from inside of cabinets

Tools for How to Add Kitchen Cabinet Storage:
– cordless drill, used for drilling holes and driving screws
– reciprocating saw, used to cut out cabinet shelves
– jigsaw, used for modifying shelf to accept Lazy Susan storage rack

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Managing Heat Gain and Loss Seasonally

Shopping List for How to Manage Heat Gain and Loss Seasonally:
– chimney-mounted damper, used to seal in warm room air
– shrubs, used to shield central air-conditioning unit from sun

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Learn To Split Logs for Firewood

Steps for How to Split Logs for Firewood:
1. Don’t use an ax to split firewood. The narrow head will become stuck in the wood.
2. Short logs can be split into firewood using a steel wedge and sledgehammer, but it’s a slow process that requires two people.
3. A maul combines a sledgehammer with a wedge in one tool. It’s heavy, but does a good job of splitting logs.
4. A splitting axe is similar to a maul, but it has a narrower, lighter head that easily slices through logs.
5. Always stand the log on a short chopping block, never on the ground.
6. Keep the area around the chopping block clear and free of debris.
7. An electric log splitter provides an easy, quiet way to split logs, but it’s rather slow and has limited capacity.
8. Gas-powered log splitters can be rented for splitting virtually any size log.

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Tools You Can Use To Clear Away Fall Leaves

Shopping List for Clearing Away Fall Leaves:
– Paper leaf bags with cardboard collar, used to hold leaves for town pick up

Tools for Clearing Away Fall Leaves
– leaf rake
– plastic tarp
– portable leaf blower
– walk-behind leaf blower
– walk-behind power vacuum
– leaf vacuum
– hearing and eye protection

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How to Make a Grapevine Wreath

Shopping List for How to Make a Grapevine Wreath:
– Dried grapevines
– Metallic floral wire
– Dried leaves and flowers, such as eucalyptus, hydrangea, and thistle
– Fruits and berries, such as bittersweet, black elderberry, and kumquat

Tools for How to Make a Grapevine Wreath:
– Bypass pruners
– Wire cutters

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How to Stop Cold Air Leaks in Winter

Shopping List for How to Stop Cold Air Leaks in Winter:
– door sweep
– sash lock
– weather stripping
– foam-rubber backer rod
– temporary caulking
– outlet gasket
– minimal-expanding foam

Tools for How to Stop Cold Air Leaks in Winter:
– handsaw or aviation snips, to cut door sweep
– utility knife
– drill/driver


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How to Protect Plants for the Winter

Shopping List for How to Protect Plants for the Winter:
– 1/2-inch exterior-grade plywood, for sheathing the A-frame plant protector
– 2x4s, used to build frame for A-frame plant protector
– 1/4-inch x 3 1/2-inch galvanized carriage bolts, washers and wing nuts, used to assemble wooden A-frame plant cover
– small-diameter rope and cord, used to truss up plants
– 1 1/4-inch and 3-inch decking screws, for assembling and securing plant protectors
– metal-framed fabric plant tent with plastic tent stakes, used to protect plants
– burlap, used to protect rose bushes
– 1-inch-square wooden stakes, used to support burlap

Tools for How to Protect Plants for the Winter:
– small sledgehammer, used to pound in stakes
– drill/driver, for drilling holes and driving in screws
– portable circular saw, used to cut plywood, 2x4s and wooden stakes
– staple gun with 1/2-inch staples, used to secure the burlap to the wooden stakes
– utility knife, used to cut rope and cord
– 5/16-inch-diameter twist-drill bit, for boring holes for carriage bolts

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Adding Task Lighting To A Kitchen

Shopping List for How to Add Task Lighting to a Kitchen:
– Old-work recessed lights, used to replace existing ceiling fixtures
– Fluorescent task lights, for installation above and below the cabinets
– Junction boxes, used to house wire connections
– Armor-sheathed cable and cable connectors, used to power the new light fixtures
– Twist-on wire connectors, for joining the wires
– Interconnect cable

Tools List for How to Add Task Lighting to a Kitchen:
– Flat pry bar, used to remove old ceiling light fixtures
– Cordless drill and 3/4-inch-diameter hole saw, for drilling cable holes
– Drywall saw
– Reciprocating saw with metal-cutting blade, used to saw through hanger bar
– Wire strippers
– Screwdriver
– Oscillating multi-tool, used, if necessary, to trim the cabinet

Steps for How to Add Task Lighting to a Kitchen:
1. Turn off the power to the kitchen lights at the main electrical panel.
2. Disconnect the existing ceiling light fixtures and pry the electrical boxes from the ceiling.
3. Use a reciprocating saw with a metal-cutting blade to saw through the old hanger bar, then bend the bar out of the way.
4. Take the template from the new recessed-light kit and hold it over the hole in the ceiling.
5. Trace around the template and then enlarge the hole with a drywall saw. Repeat for the other recessed light.
6. Run a length of armor-sheathed cable from one recessed fixture to the other. Be sure to use an approved cable connector to secure the cable to the box.
7. Make the wire connections inside the fixtures’ junction boxes using twist-on wire connectors.
8. Push the recessed fixtures up into the ceiling, then engage the pressure clips to lock the fixtures onto the ceiling.
9. To install over-cabinet lights, start by removing the switch plate and switch from the switch box on the wall.
10. Cut a small access hole in the wall above the upper cabinets to expose the metal wall stud.
11. Drill a 3/4-inch-diameter hole through the stud and through the wall directly above the upper cabinet.
12. Run a length of armor-sheathed cable from the top of the cabinet, through the hole in the stud, and down to the switch box on the wall.
13. Screw a junction box to the top of the cabinet and feed the end of the cable into the box. Use an approved cable connector to secure the cable.
14. Run a second cable from the junction box on top of the cabinet, down the wall, and to the underside of the cabinet.
15. Install a second junction box to the underside of the cabinet. Connect the lower end of the second cable to the under-cabinet box.
16. Screw metal mounting clips to the underside of the cabinet, directly behind the face frame, then snap on the fluorescent light fixtures.
17. Install one light fixture under each cabinet. Join the fixtures together with interconnect cables.
18. If necessary, use an oscillating multi-tool to cut away part of the cabinet to allow the cable to lie flat.
19. Repeat Steps 16 and 17 to install fluorescent light fixtures on top of the cabinets.
20. Reinstall the light switches and turn the power back on.

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