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 Newsletter Articles - 3rd Editions

“A Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide To Fixing Tile Grout In Just 5 Quick & Easy Steps!”

Here’s a list of tools you’ll need to complete the work:

* Grout Saw (This is not a power tool! It’s a small, inexpensive utility knife-type tool)
* Sponge
* Pre-mixed grout
* Utility knife
* Grout sealer (good idea)
* Small brush

Note: All the tools and supplies listed here are available at your local home store.

Step 1: Identify the areas that need to be fixed. Problem grout will look crumbly, cracked, or it will be permanently stained.

Step 2: Working on just one section at a time, take your grout saw and remove the grout. Do this with a back and forth sawing motion. Be sure to remove all of the rotted and stained grout. If the grout lines are too tight for the grout saw, use your utility knife. Once the grout is removed, clean the grout lines with the brush. Be sure to brush away all the grout particles and dust.

Step 3: Let the cleaned and exposed grout lines dry for 1 hour. Now it’s time to fill the joints with your pre-mixed grout(follow directions on carton). One of the easiest ways to do this is to wet your finger and force the grout into the joint. Don’t be afraid to use as much grout you need to bring it to the level of the existing grout. Just be sure the joint is smooth and there are no gaps in the grout.

Step 4: It’s OK if you get excess grout on your tile. When the excess grout begins to dry, you’ll probably see a whitish haze on your tile. Simply take a damp sponge and gently wipe away the excess grout. Just be sure not to disturb the grout in the joint. You’ll probably notice the whitish haze within an hour of applying the grout.

Step 5: Let the new grout dry for at least 48 hours before exposing it to moisture. Also, it’s a great idea to seal the grout after it’s dried. To seal your grout, simply wipe or spray on your sealer and let dry.


“The Right Way To Plant A Tree In 6 Easy Steps!”

Ever consider planting a tree? Here are a few good reasons why you should… they provide shelter and shade, they add form and structure to gardens, they encourage wildlife, and once they’re established, they require little attention. And of course, they pump fresh oxygen into the air for us to breathe!

Step 1: Using a spade, dig a hole in the ground at least twice the size of the tree’s rootball. You’ll want to slant the sides of the hole inward and make sure that the bottom is flat. Your hole should be deep enough so that when the rootball is placed in it, the top of the ball sticks out approximately 1/4 inch above the ground.

Step 2: Now you need to measure the depth of the rootball. To do this, hold your shovel against the rootball and mark the spot on the shovel where the rootball ends. Now, place your shovel in the hole to determine if your hole is deep enough for the rootball.

Step 3: Lifting the tree by its rootball, carefully place the tree into the hole.

Step 4: Now that the tree is in the hole, remove any grass or other debris that may have fallen in the hole. Fill the hole in with the soil that was removed from the ground. Do not add anything to the soil at this time. You’ll want the tree to adapt to the existing conditions. Also, you’ll want to break up any clumps of soil. Important… during this time, be extremely careful not to disturb the rootball.

Step 5: To protect the tree, you will need to build a dirt “doughnut” around the tree. This dirt barrier will prevent runoff. Once the tree is established, remove the barrier for proper drainage.

Step 6: Now that the tree is securely in the ground, it’s time to add several inches of mulch, such as pine bark or pine straw. The mulch will help the soil retain moisture. Important… be sure to keep the mulch at least 3-inches away from the tree trunk. Why? Because mulch can sometimes spread insects, fungus, and disease.

Watering: Depending on your weather conditions, give new trees at least 10 gallons of water ever few days until the tree has been established.

"3 Techniques You Can Use To Remove Unwanted Wallpaper!"

Have you ever looked at your wallpaper and said, "What in the world was I thinking," and wondered how you'd get it off?

Removing old wallpaper may seem like a tedious job, but it is necessary if you want to repaint or repaper your walls.

The three most common methods used to remove wallpaper are scrape & peel, steam, and chemically treat. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. Let's take a closer look.

Steaming -a handheld electric steamer consists of a boiler and a perforated metal plate. Steam from the plate penetrates the paper and loosens the wallpaper glue.

The Technique. Start at the top of the paper and hold the steamer with one hand against the wall for about 30 seconds. With your other hand, using a wallpaper knife, remove the paper on the wall. Work your way down the wall. You should position a large metal tray nearby to place the steamer in when you're not using it.

The Drawbacks. This technique can be tiring and tedious. Also, if the wallpaper has been painted over or there are multiple layers you will have to score the wallpaper with a scoring tool.

Peeling -If your wallpaper is fairly new (vinyl paper), you may be able to peel it off without having to use any removal tools.

The Technique. Start at the baseboard and peel the bottom edge of the paper up. To make this process easier, use a wallpaper knife to work the paper away from the wall.

The Drawbacks. Older wallpaper will not peel away from the wall. Also, if the wallpaper rips using this technique, it will make the removal difficult. Try to pull the paper up as a continuous strip.

Chemicals -Using a chemical paper stripper is the easiest way to remove wallpaper. There are many products on the market to choose from. The best, however, is an enzyme-fortified gel that is nontoxic and odorless. These gels can be found at your local hardware store.

The consistency is thick so that it will stick to vertical surfaces without running down to the floor. Most of these products must be mixed with water.

The Technique. The first thing you'll need to do is score your wallpaper with a scoring knife. One of the best ways to apply the gel is with a three-eighths inch nap paint roller. Or, you may have to use a special roller suggested by the manufacturer.

After spreading the stripper, wait 20 minutes for it to penetrate and dissolve the glue. The paper will begin to bubble up. When this occurs, use a scraper to loosen and remove the paper.



"Simple Tips To Clean Household Stains "

Candle wax: you can treat spilled wax on carpets and upholstery by placing a brown paper bag on the dried wax and running a hot iron over it. The bag will absorb the wax.

Pet stains: use a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar and blot the area. To remove the odor, use plain white toothpaste and an old brush to scrub out the odor.



"How To Pick The Best Ladder For Your Home"

Whether you need to change a light bulb, do some interior/exterior painting, or trim some tree limbs, having a safe and reliable ladder around your home is important.

If you're looking for the highest quality ladder at the best price, pay close attention to the following information.

The most durable and highest quality ladder is a fiberglass ladder. Here's why:

* They resist corrosion and rust.

* They do not conduct electricity (thank goodness).

* They are strong, sturdy, and require minimal maintenance.

* Most have D-shaped rungs , which are the safest and easiest on your feet.

* They are lightweight and easy to maneuver.

Fiberglass ladders can be found at your local home improvement store. The price range varies and sizes start from 3 feet on up.



"Wacky Uses For Common Household Items ."

Club Soda- is an excellent cleaner for diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Simply soak the gems in the club soda and wipe dry.

Chalk-will take away unsightly ring-around-the-collar. Mark the stain heavily with white chalk and the chalk will absorb the sebum oil that holds in the dirt.

Aluminum Foil- will clean starch off of an iron. Just run you iron over a piece of aluminum foil.

Apple Cider Vinegar-mix two teaspoons into a cup of water and drink to cure an upset stomach.

ChapStick Lip Balm-cut yourself shaving? Simply apply some ChapStick to the nick to stop the bleeding.

Tennis Balls-throw a couple tennis balls in the dryer to fluff a jacket or comforter.



"A Test To Determine If Your Money Is "Washing" Away!"

Unknowingly, your hard earned cash could be leaking right through your pipes.

If you think your water bills are too high, here's an easy test you can perform that will show you whether or not you have a leak in your water pipes.

If you're on a public water system, chances are you'll have a water meter on or near your property. In addition to telling you how much water you use, your meter can help you detect leaks.

The first step in detecting leaks is to find out how many cubic feet of water you've used. You can get this number by subtracting a previous meter reading from your current meter reading. That number will be how many cubic feet of water you've used. A cubic foot of water is 7.5 gallons of water.

Example : if your first meter reading is 006300 and a week later the second reading is 006400, you've used 100 cubic feet, which is 750 gallons of water (100 cubic feet X 7.5 gallons per cubic foot). That's an average of slightly more than 107 gallons per day.

Performing the test : to use your water meter to detect hidden leaks, turn off every plumping fixture in your house for a couple of hours. Don't forget to turn off the built-in icemaker! Again, make sure every water-related fixture or device is turned off.

Once everything is off, take a meter reading. If the reading changes, a leak exists. If the leak is a plumping pipe in your attic or walls, most likely you would have seen water dripping from the ceiling or damp spots on the walls and floor. If, however, the leak is in another area like a crawl space, it might require a bit of investigation.

To determine if the pipe between the water meter and the main shut-off valve where water enters your home is leaking, simply shut off the main water supply valve at the house. Then check to see if the water meter continues to show that water is being used. If that's the case, you'll need to contact a leak detection service. Using the latest technology, they'll be able to pinpoint the leak for repair.



"Easy-To-Do Outdoor Furniture Cleaning & Maintenance Tips ."

As you spend time outdoors with your family, you'll probably want your outdoor furniture to look nice, clean, and well maintained. Here are some tips you can use to keep your outdoor furniture clean and in good working order:

* Aluminum, wrought iron, and steel furniture: should be cleaned with mild soap and water. On non-textured surfaces, you can apply car wax to maintain the furniture. On textured surfaces, apply baby oil or mineral oil. For aluminum, occasionally spray an oil lubricant on chair swivels or glides. To remove rust from steel or wrought iron, simply sand the area, wipe clean, and apply touch-up paint.

* Outdoor wicker: should be vacuumedgently or cleaned with a soft bristle brush. Be sure to clean it periodically with a mild detergent and water, then rinse thoroughly and let it air dry.

* Outdoor seat cushions: should first bevacuumed. Clean by sponging with a mild detergent and warm water, then rinse the cushions thoroughly. If your cushions have mildew, fill a bucket with 1 gallon of water, 1 cup of bleach, and a squirt of mild detergent. Test for colorfastness, then scrub with a soft brush and rinse.

* Umbrellas: to clean umbrellas, use a brushto wash with mild soap and water. Spray the joints of wire frames with silicone. If you have wooden framed umbrellas, use a wax or furniture polish to maintain the wood.

* Plastic furniture: should be cleaned usinga mild detergent and warm water. You can clean the surface with a sponge to remove any dirt build-up. Hose down the furniture and let it air dry.



"5 Ways To Make Your Front Door Safe From Intruders !"

Studies show that most burglars enter through the front door. By following these 5 safety tips, you can help ensure that your front door will be safe and secure from intruders.

* Your door should be solid core (not hollow) and strong enough to withstand being kicked in.

* Use a high-quality dead bolt. It should be solid metal and should penetrate 1.5 inches into a metal strike plate, the piece of hardware that receives the bolt.

* The strike plate should be secured to the doorframe by a minimum of six 3-inch screws.

* Install a peephole in the front door. If you already have one, encourage your family to use it.

* If you have windows within two feet of your doors, install a door lock that cannot be reached if an intruder breaks your windows.



"How To Lower Your Utility Bills By Giving Your A/C Unit A Tune-Up In Just 4 Steps :"

With rising utility costs, your power bill may be higher than ever this year. You may not know this, but there are several simple things you can do to improve or maintain the cooling output and efficiency of your air-conditioning unit. With just 30 minutes worth of tune-up work, you should be able to cut your cooling costs by 5-10%.

In an air-conditioner, the Freon in the system draws the heat from inside your home and expels it outside through the outdoor coils in you're a/c unit. For maximum efficiency, it's important to have as much outdoor air as possible blowing through the a/c coils. More airflow can draw more heat from the coils so your a/c unit can provide more cooling output, using less electricity.

Step 1: Shut off the power to your a/c unit. Do this at the main breaker panel.

Step 2: Remove the sheet metal screws on the outdoor cover of your a/c unit and then remove the cover. Next, spray off the cover with water from your garden hose. This will clean and dislodge any debris that could restrict airflow. Be sure to spray the cover away from the a/c unit!

Step 3: Check to see if any of the condenser coil fins are bent. If so, you can straighten them with the tip of a sharp knife. It's important that the coils are straight so the a/c fan can properly draw in fresh outdoor air. Now, you can replace the outdoor cover and be sure to tighten all the screws.

Step 4: Check to make sure that shrubs are at least two feet from the a/c unit. Also, clear any debris away from the unit. Keeping the a/c unit clear will help maintain maximum airflow.

By following these four simple steps, you can help ensure that your air-conditioner will run at peak performance throughout the warm summer months.

Note: Central a/c units require periodic professional maintenance like Freon pressure tests. Your a/c unit should be professionally maintained every two years to reduce costly repair problems.



"The Seasonal Maintenance Planner For Summer"

One of the best ways to help preserve your home's value and avoid major repairs is by performing regular maintenance tasks each season.

In this article, I'll list several easy summer maintenance tasks you can perform around your home.

Porch & Patio-Hose down brick or concrete patio surfaces. Replace any broken bricks and patch concrete cracks with filler. Clean your barbecue or grill. If you have a screened-in porch, give it a good washing. Repair any holes in the screen with a screen patch. Lubricate patio doors with oil or WD 40. Before bringing out your patio furniture, make sure it is clean from any dust or dirt.

Siding-If you have wood or composite siding, check the siding and trim around windows and doors for holes, dents, and gaps. If you find any holes, you can repair them with wood filler or according to your manufacturer's recommendations. If your home's siding needs to be replaced entirely, summer is the best time for this type of project, as it's a one-to-two week job.

Inspect For Termites & Other Pests - Inspect your basement or crawl space, eaves, and attic for termites, carpenter ants, and other wood pests. Look under the eaves for wasp or hornet nests. Handle wasp or hornet nests with care. If you see signs of wood damage or you're concerned about removing a nest, call a professional exterminator to prevent any costly damage.

Inspect Door & Window Locks - Make sure your home is safe and secure. Oil any sticky door and window locks. For added security, consider installing outdoor lighting.

Maintain Lawn & Garden Tools - Sharpen blades, change oil, and replace filters on the lawn mower. Make sure weed trimmers are in good condition. Oil garden tools and sharpen blades.

Repair & Seal Driveways - Summer is a great time to renew the surface of asphalt driveways with a sealer. You'll also want to repair any cracks in concrete driveways as soon as possible to reduce any further damage.



"How To Replace An Electrical Outlet"

There may be a few situations where you'll need to replace an electrical outlet.

For example, your current receptacle may not match the décor in your room or the color of your walls or it may be old and unreliable, making it a fire hazard.

Whatever the case may be, replacing an electrical outlet is a fairly quick and easy job.

Before we get to the step-by-step instructions, here's a list of tools and materials you'll need to complete the job.

Materials: Outlet receptacle, outlet receptacle plate, and electrical tape.

Tools: Screwdriver, needle nose pliers, voltage tester, and utility knife.

CAUTION: Before you begin this project, be sure to turn off the circuit you will be working on. Locate the breaker and turn it off. If you have a fuse box, completely remove the fuse from the panel.

1. Use your voltage tester to verify that the power has been turned off to the outlet you are replacing. If the tester glows, the outlet still has power going to it.

2. Remove the old outlet plate and pull out theold receptacle from the workbox.

3. Disconnect the wiring from the old receptacle.

4. Now let's attach your new receptacle. If you have two black wires, attach both black wires to the gold screws on the new receptacle. If you have one black wire, attach the wire to a gold screw and tighten down the unused gold screw. The black wires are "hot" wires.

5. Attach the one or two white wires to the silver screws. Again, if you only have one white wire, tighten down the unused silver screw. The white wires are "neutral" wires.

Note: When tightening the screws, loop the wires so that they wrap around the screws in a clock-wise direction.

6. Now take out your electrical tape and wrap the screw heads so that the tape covers the screw heads on both sides of the outlet receptacle.

7. Bend the wires in a zigzag pattern so that they easily fold into the workbox and push the outlet receptacle into place. Tighten the two screws that hold the outlet in position.

8. Install the new receptacle plate over the outlet.

9. Switch the breaker back on (or re-insert the fuse). Use your voltage tester to make sure the installation was done properly.



"How To Cut Your Water Bill By Up To 10% ! "

You can slash your water bill by using a device called a showerhead water restrictor.

Its unique design will save you hundreds of gallons of water each year and cut your water bill by 5% to 10%.

You can purchase the restrictor at your local home improvement store.



Take the first step to fulfilling your dreams. 

Give us your ideas and we will turn them into reality.


B&B Contractors
10 Greenhill Road
West Chester, Pa 19380
Phone: 610-696-0294

E-mail us at: bbcontractors@verizon.net

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