How to Choose The Perfect Mouse Trap

Skill Level:

Shopping List:
Metal pedal mouse trap
Kill and contain mouse trap
Plastic pedal mouse trap
Electronic mouse trap
Live animal cage
Foam sealant
Wire cloth
Steel wool

1. There are several manufactured traps to help catch and kill mice that sneak into a home.
2. One of the oldest, but most effective traps is the metal pedal mouse trap. To set a metal pedal mouse trap, pull back the metal arm and place peanut butter on the metal pedal with a toothpick or a knife. You do not want human scent on the trap. Pull the kill bar back and latch the metal arm bar into the metal pedal. Place the trap perpendicular to the wall where mouse activity has been seen.
3. The kill and contain mouse trap is very similar to the metal pedal, but the trap is surrounded by a container. Place peanut butter in the bait cup and close it. Pull the trap set level and place parallel to the base of the wall. When the mouse is killed, the mouse is not seen and the trap is thrown out.
4. There is a plastic version of the metal pedal mouse trap that is equally as effective. To set this type of trap, simply press down on the spring-activated lever and place peanut butter in the bait area. The lever will clamp down on the mouse and kill it.
5. An electronic mouse trap is battery-powered and can be set along the wall. When the mouse enters the trap, it receives an electric shock powerful enough to kill it.
6. A live animal cage allows homeowners to lure mice into a cage with food. Instead of killing the animal however, it just traps the mouse. The homeowner can then get rid of the mouse as they see fit.
7. To avoid mice in a home, be sure to close any cracks or gaps in the exterior of the house.
8. Use a foam sealant in a crack, cover it with wire cloth and add another layer of sealant. This should form a solid barrier from pests.
9. Smaller gaps can also be covered with steel wool. Mice have a tough time eating through this material.
10. To ward off mice, use a repellent. There are a number of repellents available that give off a smell mice do not like.

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How to Install a Whole-House Water Filter

Shopping List for How to Install a Whole-House Water Filter:
– whole-house water filter
– ball valves, used to shut off water before and after filter
– solderless brass fittings, for joining cold-water line to copper pipe and filter housing
– copper pipe, for connecting filter to cold-water line
– teflon tape, for sealing threaded fittings
– plywood panel, used to attach the filter’s mounting bracket

Tools for How to Install a Whole-House Water Filter:
– pliers, for tightening plumbing connections
– pipe wrench, for tightening plumbing connections
– ratchet wrench and sockets, for fastening the filter’s mounting bracket
– close-quarter hacksaw, used to cut water pipes
– cordless drill, for screwing the plywood panel to the wall

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How to Restore a Deck

Shopping List for How to Restore a Deck:
– Wolman Deck Strip ASR
– Rust-Oleum Restore Deck and Concrete Cleaner
– paintable caulk
– Rust-Oleum Deck Restore 10x
– solid-color stain
– rosin paper or plastic drop cloths
– painter’s tape or masking tape
– 3-inch deck screws
– 9-inch Restore roller covers
– 4-inch Restore roller covers

Tools for How to Restore a Deck:
– hammer and wide-head nailset
– drill/driver
– mixing paddle
– oscillating multitool
– 5-in-1 tool
– garden pump sprayer
– pressure washer
– stiff-bristled push broom
– sanding pole fitted with 50-grit sandpaper
– garden hose
– caulk gun
– putty knife
– 1- and 5-gallon paint bucket(s)
– 2-inch sash brush
– 4- & 9-inch paint roller frames
– 4-inch chip brush
– rags
– sanding blocks
– painting pole
– rubber gloves
– mask

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How To Prevent Plumbing Sulfur Smells

Shopping List for How to Prevent Plumbing Sulfur Smells:
– Aluminum anode rod, used to replace magnesium rod in water heater

Tools for How to Prevent Plumbing Sulfur Smells:
– Wrench, used to remove anode rod from water heater

Steps for How to Prevent Plumbing Sulfur Smells:
1. If the sulfur smell is present in both the hot water and the cold water, call a licensed well contractor and have him or her treat the problem at the well.
2. If the odor is only in the hot water, replace the water heater’s sacrificial magnesium anode rod with an aluminum rod.
3. Sulfur smells are extremely rare in municipal water systems.

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How to Install an Indirect Water Heater on a Boiler

Tools List:

Water pump
Propane torch
Pipe cutter
Adjustable wrench
Pipe wrench pliers

Shopping List:

1” copper pipe
½” copper pipe
Ball valves
Shut off valves
Circulator Pump
Thermostatic mixing valve
Relief valve
Water temperature sensor
Sensor relay
Sand cloth
Pipe dope

1. Turn off the main power switch on the boiler and the main water supply to the boiler.
2. Hook up a hose and water pump to the boiler’s draw off valve to drain down the water in the boiler. If possible, pump the water into a utility sink or extend the hose outdoors.
3. Find a spot for the new water heater. Use shims and a level to make sure it is sturdy and level.
4. Find a workable place to tap into the boiler to connect the boiler to the indirect water heater via the heat exchanger coil- preferably just below the water line to avoid any potential for sludge near the bottom of the boiler.
5. Dry fit 1” copper pipe connections from boiler to the heat exchanger coil input. Be sure to place a ball valve shut off at the tap point. Place a Y-Strainer after the ball valve to act as a filter and flush point. Use appropriate adapter pipe fittings, pipe dope and plumber’s tape to connect piping. Make sure all connections are level.
6. Before soldering any copper pipes, be sure to use sand cloth and flux on all the connections.
7. Solder the connections with solder and a propane torch.
8. Break the connection to the boiler draw off valve. This input will now serve as the return for the heat exchanger coil and a draw off.
9. Dry fit 1” copper pipe connections from the heat exchanger coil output to the input of the boiler. The pipe run should include a circulator pump, a purge valve, shut off ball valve and a second purge valve in that order.
10. Solder the connections with solder and a propane torch.
11. Break the connection to the main water supply into the boiler using a pipe cutter. Be sure to have a bucket ready to catch any excess water.
12. Dry fit ½” copper pipe connections from the main water supply to the cold water input at the bottom of the indirect water heater. Use appropriate adapter pipe fittings, pipe dope and plumber’s tape to connect piping. The pipe run should include a tee coupling to reconnect the new run to the boiler. Include a shut off valve after the coupling into the boiler. Extend piping off the middle portion of the tee coupling. Pipe should extend to the indirect water heater and include a draw off valve at the cold input. Additional pipe should also be connected to the thermostatic mixing valve.
13. Break the connection from the boiler to the main hot water feed into the home using a pipe cutter.
14. Dry fit the ½” copper pipe connections from the output on top of the indirect water heater. The pipe run should feed to a relief valve, the thermostatic mixing valve and connect to the main hot water feed into the home.
15. Solder the connections with solder and a propane torch.
16. Attach a temperature sensor to the indirect water heater.
17. Attach an electronic relay to the boiler.
18. Make the electrical connections from the temperature sensor to the relay on the boiler and the circulator pump.
19. Turn the main power switch on the boiler back on.
20. Turn the water supply valve back on.
21. Use the purge valves to eliminate any excess air in the system. You’ll need a bucket to catch the water.
22. It will take some time for the water heater tank to fill and heat up.

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How to Patch Small Holes in Walls

Putty knife
Jab saw

Shopping List:
Spackle putty kit
Joint Compound
Small piece of drywall
Piece of scrap wood
Drywall tape

1. For small cracks and holes, Tom recommends a patching spackle that can be applied easily using a small putty knife. Spackles are generally applied in one coat and then lightly sanded before repainting.
2. For a larger hole, Tom uses an adhesive metal patch that can be cut to size for reinforcement.
3. He uses a putty knife to spread a thin layer of joint compound over the metal patch. Tom suggests building up many thin layers of joint compound with adequate dry time in between, rather than building up the joint compound too heavy and risk cracks.
4. Later in the workshop, Tom shows another technique for patching a larger hole using a spare piece of drywall. Using a utility knife, Tom cuts a square piece of drywall larger than the hole he needs to patch.
5. He then traces that piece over the hole and cuts the outline on the wall using a jab saw.
6. Tom inserts a piece of scrap wood in the hole to act as reinforcement and screws it down using a drill/driver. He then screws the drywall patch to the wood using a drill/driver.
7. Tom tapes around the perimeter of the drywall patch using drywall tape.
8. Finally, he covers the entire patch with a thin layer of joint compound. Just like on the other patch, he recommends many thin layers of joint compound versus one heavy one.

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How to Install a Pull-Out Kitchen Faucet

This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey shows how to upgrade to a faucet and sprayer in one.

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How to Create Simulated Panels with Molding

4-5 hours

Under $100

Skill Level:

Tools List:
Miter saw
23-gauge pin nail gun
Measuring tape
Caulking gun

Shopping List:
1/16” x 1 3/8” primed finger jointed base cap molding
23-gauge headless pin nails
Wood glue
Wood filler
Fine grit sandpaper
1×4 scrap wood for a gauge block

1. Measure the height of the space between the chair rail and the baseboard using a measuring tape.
2. The base cap molding frame should be centered all around the room. An easy way to measure, take two pieces of 1×4 and place them against the top of the baseboard and the bottom of the chair rail. The distance between the two blocks is a good height for the frame.
3. To get the horizontal measurements of the frame, measure the entire width of your wall. Divide the measurement up evenly and allow for spacing between each frame. Using a piece of 1×4 as a gauge block between each frame is a good way to separate the frames evenly.
4. To cut the vertical portion of the frames, set the stop on the outfeed of a miter saw and place the base cap molding just beyond the stop.
5. Set the miter saw to a 45-degree angle, hold the molding tight to the saw and make the first cut. Repeat the process for the necessary amount of vertical sides.
6. Reverse the angle of the miter saw to the opposite 45-degree angle.
7. Set the outfeed stop to desired length for the horizontal pieces, press the molding firmly against the miter saw and make a cut. Repeat the process for the necessary amount of horizontal sides.
8. Take two vertical molding sides and two horizontal molding sides and create a frame.
9. Use wood glue to connect each corner and a 23-gauge pin nail gun with headless pin nails to tack all of the connections together.
10. Be sure to remove any excess glue immediately with a rag. Repeat the process for the necessary amount of frames.
11. Let the frames dry for ten minutes.
12. Lay out the frames in place using a piece of 1×4 as a gauge block to set the spacing from the chair rail, the baseboard, and between each frame side by side.
13. Use wood glue and a 23-gauge pin nail gun with headless pin nails to tack up the molding frames to the wall.
14. To finish off the look of the frames, fill in any holes with wood filler. Then sand it down using a fine grit sandpaper.
15. If there are any imperfections between the inside and the outside of the frames in relation to the wall, fill in those gaps with caulking using a caulking gun.
16. Paint to desired color.

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How to Build a Rain Barrel

Shopping List for How to Build a Rain Barrel:
– 1×6. Get 10 treated 8-footers for the slats, lid, and floor.
– 5/4×4. Get three treated 8-footers for the interior battens.
– 1×4. Get one treated 8-footer for the decorative batten.
– 1×3. Get two treated 8-footers for the decorative battens.
– 4×4. Get one treated 6-footer.
– 1¼-, 1½-, 2-inch deck screws
– door-pull handle
– square plastic trash bin
– downspout diverter kit
– ½-inch stainless-steel pan-head screws to secure the landscape fabric.
– landscape fabric or window screening

Tools for How to Build a Rain Barrel:
– miter saw
– bar clamps
– drill/driver
– ⅛-by-3-inch drill bit
– combination square
– kit-supplied hole saws

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How to Install Surface Mounted Downlights

2 hours

$200 – $300

Skill Level:

Tools List for Installing Surface Mounted Downlights:
Wire nuts

Shopping List:
Surface mounted LED light fixtures
Dimmer/Wireless dimmer

1. Find the necessary breaker on the main electrical panel and turn off the power.
2. Remove current light fixtures using a screwdriver and unscrewing the wire nuts to the connections.
3. Tie in recessed light plate to recessed electrical box using screws and a screwdriver.
4. Connect fixture wires to corresponding power wires. Splice the wires together using pliers and cover with wire nuts.
5. Snap in and twist surface mounted downlight to the recessed light plate.
6. Repeat steps 2-5 as necessary depending on the number of lights.
7. Surface mounted downlights can be controlled using a dimmer if the homeowner chooses.
8. To install a dimmer, remove the current light switch by unscrewing the faceplate with a screwdriver. Remove the electrical connections with a screwdriver.
9. Reconnect the electrical wires to the new dimmer switch and screw the switch plate on using a screwdriver.
10. If using a wireless dimmer system, mount the remote control dimmer to the wall. If there is an existing three-way switch system, remove the second switch. Place wire nuts on the wiring and tuck them away in the wall. Install the wireless remote in place of the existing switch.
11. Turn the necessary breaker back on at the main electrical panel to turn the power back on.

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