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Newsletter Articles - 6th Editions


"The Most Efficient Bulbs For Outdoor Lighting"

Standard light bulbs and other bulbs designed for indoor lighting are usually not a good bet for outdoor lighting fixtures. Some of the most efficient bulbs on the market are called rough service (RS) bulbs.

They are a little more expensive than standard bulbs but offer better support and bracing for the filament inside the bulb, extending their life. They withstand jolts and vibration much better and hold up well under the elements. You can find rough service bulbs at home centers or hardware stores.



"How To Fix This Common Plumbing Leak In Less Than 10 Minutes"

It’s always a good idea to give your copper water lines a routine inspection for leaks. A small plumbing leak now could spell disaster in the future.

Most minor plumbing leaks usually occur at the elbow joint on a copper water line. If you’re not familiar with the elbow joint, it’s the piece that connects two pieces of copper line together.

If you discover a small leak at the elbow joint, the first thing you’ll want to do is shut off the water at the main valve. You’ll also want to turn on nearby faucets. This will drain the leaky pipe. Next, completely dry the pipe. Using 120-grit sandpaper, sand around the leaky joint. Sanding will remove excess solder and prepare the surface for repair.

Now, apply soldering flux around the whole joint area. Using a propane torch, heat the joint until the old solder melts away. Next, add new solder to the joint until a shiny ring of solder shows all around the joint.

Finally, let the pipe cool for five minutes. After the pipe is cooled, turn the water back on and do a final inspection for leaks. If you still have a leak, you’ll need to remove the elbow joint and replace it with a new one.



"Is Your Drinking Water Safe for Consumption ?"

Worried about the safety of your drinking water? Tap water can contain harmful contaminants like lead, chloroform (a carcinogen), arsenic, mercury, and other metals. For most homeowners with children, lead is the contaminant of greatest concern. It can leach into water from pipes and plumbing fixtures.

There are several types of water filters on the market, ranging from inexpensive pitchers to high-tech, under-sink devices. Most are effective at improving taste and smell, but deciding which one to buy depends on the impurities you want to remove and your budget.

* Pour-through pitchers-most pour-through pitchers contain carbon filters which can remove substances that effect taste and smell. They're also effective at removing chloroform, a by-product of chlorine that may cause cancer. Other pitchers use ionic exchange resins which are effective at removing arsenic, lead, mercury, and other metals. Pour-through pitchers are the simplest and least expensive devices, costing about $20 plus an additional $50 to $75 per year for replacement cartridges. Their main disadvantage is their limited water capacity.

* Faucet-mounted filters-like pour-through pitchers, these filters can either be carbon-based or use ion exchange resins. These units run $20 to $40, and the replacement cartridges cost $50 to $100. Though their cartridges must be changed regularly, they do not have to be changed as often as those in pour-through pitchers.

* Countertop models-countertop models connect to the faucet with a tube. Like faucet-mounted systems, they allow you to switch off the filter when you don't need it. These devices cost more, up to $200. Their main advantage is they can purify more water than faucet-mounted filters before requiring a filter change.

* Under-sink system-these models must be professionally installed by a plumber. Most use a filtration method called reverse osmosis, which removes most contaminants. These devices are expensive, typically more than $500 plus installation and replacement filters.

The local water company can provide you with a report on what type of pollutants may be in your water. If that report is not available, you can contact an accredited company to test your water. To specifically test for lead and arsenic, you can obtain a testing kit for about $20 at www.leadtesting.org . It's a good idea to make sure the filter you purchase has the NSF International seal of approval. NSF is a non-profit group that certifies water filters. To help find a unit that will work best for you, check out the NSF website at www.nsf.org/Certified/dwtu .

Source: Wall Street Journal



"Dispose" of the Smell

Garbage disposals will sometimes emit a foul odor, typically caused by food particles that have not been completely flushed through the drainpipes.

To get rid of the odor, first put a stopper in your sink. Fill the sink halfway with lukewarm water. Add four tablespoons of baking soda. Pull out the stopper and turn on your disposal so the sink can drain. The water will flush out the disposal and remove any trapped food particles. The baking soda will absorb any remaining odors.



"How to Repair a Doorknob Dent in Your Wall and Prevent Any Future Damage!"

When it comes to the walls in our homes, it seems they are always getting beat up. Doorknobs often cause the most common and recurring damage, especially when the kids fling the doors open with reckless abandon!

There are several methods of repairing a damaged wall. You can use joint compound or a patch of new sheetrock, but here's a much easier (and permanent) fix for you.

It's called a wall-guard plate . A wall-guard plate is a hard plastic disk that is 5 inches in diameter. It's tough enough to withstand any doorknob crash.

These plates run about $3-$5 and can be purchased at any home-improvement store. Once you get your plate, carefully remove the loose bits of sheetrock from the damaged area. Then simply remove the adhesive backing of the plate and press it to the wall over the dented area.

The plate will cover the damaged area and protect the wall from any further damage! That's it! If you like, you can even paint the plate the color of your choice!



"2 Simple Ways to Reduce Harmful Bathroom Mold !"

Bathroom mold can cause a host of sinus and respiratory illnesses. To help prevent mold from forming, leave your shower door/curtain open when it is not in use. Also, run the exhaust fan while showering and for 15 minutes after showering is over. For added protection, you can squeegee excess water from the tub and walls.



"Is the Air in Your Home Safe ?"

You might find this hard to believe, but studies have shown that indoor air can be more toxic and hazardous than the air outdoors. One easy and inexpensive way to improve the quality of air in your home is to regularly replace your furnace filter. Replacing the filter once or twice a year is not enough. Not only will you have unhealthy indoor air, but also you could be shortening the life of your furnace.

If your furnace filter is dirty, unhealthy microscopic particles can be released into the air in your home. A dirty filter can also block the airflow in your furnace, causing the motor to overheat.

To keep your furnace running right and the air in your home clean, inspect your furnace filter every month. Hold it up to the light. If you cannot clearly see light through your filter, replace it with a new filter. If you do not replace your filter every month, replace it at least every three months.

Here are the most common types of furnace filters:

* Panel filters -this type is a 1-inch filter made from fiberglass. These filters are used in approximately 85% of homes, but they do little to minimize the amount of unhealthy particles that are released in the air. These filters mainly protect the furnace fan. They cost about 50 cents each.

* Reusable panel filters-these filters are designed to be washed and reused. Washing them, however, cannot get them completely clean, which can restrict airflow. They also do very little to catch small particles.

* High efficiency pleated filters -this type is designed with an electrostatic charge that catches small particles and allergens like mold, pollen, dander, smoke, etc. 99% of the unhealthy particles found in a home are less than one micron in size. These filters are 30 times more effective at catching those particles compared to panel and reusable filters. One of the top high efficiency filters on the market is 3M's Filtrete furnace filter.

The other type of filter on the market is the HEPA filter, which blocks sub-micron particles. HEPA filters do not fit every furnace type and often require installation by a licensed heating and air contractor.

Installation tip -when you install your new filter, make sure the arrow on the filter edge is pointing towards the blower motor. If the filter is installed backwards, it will decrease efficiency.

Furnace filters can be purchased at your local home improvement store.



"Is It Oil? Is It Latex? Save Yourself from a Painting Nightmare !"

Before you put a fresh coat of paint over a previously painted surface, it's important to know what type of paint was formerly used.

For most homeowners, it's not so easy to tell the difference. There is, however, a simple test you can use that will help you determine what type of paint was previously applied.

The paint test -you can test the paint by applying a small amount of denatured alcohol to the surface you're intending to paint. Using a cotton ball or cotton towel, rub a small area of the surface. Because latex paint is dissolved by alcohol, the paint will soften, become tacky, and possibly come off on the cotton ball or towel. If the surface is unchanged, you have oil-based paint.

Note: you'll want to do the paint test in an inconspicuous area.

If you discover you have latex paint, you can paint over the surface with latex. The same is true with oil paint. If you discover you have oil paint and want to apply latex or vice versa, you'll have some prep work to do. To paint oil over latex or latex over oil, you'll need to lightly sand the surface. Be sure to remove any gloss finish. Next, apply a primer latex primer if you're applying latex paint and oil primer if you're using oil paint.

After the primer has properly dried, you can now apply your new paint to the surface! The denatured alcohol, paint, and primer are all available at your local home improvement store.



"Create Your Own Self-Watering System for Household Plants"

Plan on being out of the house for a few days? If so, you won't need to call a friend or neighbor to water your indoor plants because we're going to show you how to set up your own self-watering system! All you need is water and a wick.

First, fill a container with water. Then cut a piece of nylon clothesline long enough to connect your container of water to your plant.

Before you leave, soak the wick for thirty minutes. Next, water your plant thoroughly and let it drain. Put one end of the wet rope into the container. Take the other end and push it about a third of the way into the plant's soil.

Now raise the water container onto an inverted pot or another platform. The container must be higher than the pot so gravity can do its job and supply your plant with water.

For larger plants, you can use more than one wick. Just be sure to space them evenly throughout the pot.



"How to Choose the Perfect Area Rugs for Your Home"

When done right, area rugs can add a nice touch to any home. They're great for bringing furniture groupings together, making rooms look more appealing, adding a "warm" feeling to a room, and hiding unattractive carpet. Knowing how to choose the right area rug is the key! Let's take a look at your options.

Room-size rugs-If you're considering an area rug for a larger room, the first thing you'll want to do is measure the room. After you've measured, subtract three to four feet from the length and width. Using that measurement, find an area rug that fits closest to those dimensions. The trick here is to have a border of flooring showing around the area rug.

Dining room rugs-Measure your dining room table. Using those measurements, find a rug that is four feet longer and wider than your table. Do this to be sure the rug extends beyond the chairs when they are pulled away from the table.

Hallway runners-Typically, a hallway runner should be four to six inches narrower and foot to foot and a half shorter than the hallway.

Scatter rugs-These types of area rugs work great for small spaces like in front of a door, in a bathroom, next to a bed, in front of a fireplace, etc. You can even place a scatter rug in a walk-in closet for more appeal!



"How To Give Your Kitchen Or Bathroom A Stylish New Look This Weekend !"

Here's an easy improvement you can make to your kitchen or bathroom install a snazzy new faucet! A new faucet will give your a kitchen or bathroom a real lift. And yes, it's really as easy as it sounds, especially if you choose a faucet with pre-attached copper supply tubes. Here's everything you need to complete this job:

* New faucet and mounting hardware

* New gasket

* Pliers

* Basin wrench

* Screwdriver

To make things easy, before you get started, remove cabinet doors that are in your way and hook up a work light so you can see exactly what you're doing.

Step 1-Turn off the water at the main supply source. Unhook the water supply lines and move them out of the way. The first real task is to remove your old faucet. Using your basin wrench, unscrew the faucet mounting nuts which hold your faucet to the sink. If you have trouble removing the mounting nuts, use a spray lubricant like

WD-40. Now lift out the old fixture and thoroughly clean the mounting area.

Step 2-Install the new gasket beneath the faucet and position the faucet through the holes in the sink, making sure it's straight with the edge. Press down firmly.

Step 3-Secure the new fixture to the sink by fastening the mounting nuts and washers.

Step 4-Using your pliers, re-attach your supply lines to your hot and cold water supply. After the supply lines have been securely re-attached, turn the water back on and check the connections for leaks.

That's all there is to it! Follow these five easy steps and you'll have a beautiful new faucet for your kitchen or bathroom!



"Hardwood Floor Repair"

Need to replace damaged hardwood flooring? It's not as hard as you may think. If the boards are square-edged, use a hammer and chisel to remove the damaged boards. Then simply nail down your replacement boards. If you have tongue and groove planks, use a circular saw to remove one-half inch of the center of the board. Next, remove the remaining pieces away from the tongue and groove. When you install the new board, remove the lip below the groove and insert the new board into the old tongue. Finish by nailing into place.

Source: Associated Press



"How to Patch Unsightly Dents in a Metal Door "

Metal doors are durable and provide great home protection. They are, however, quite susceptible to dings and dents. Patching those dents is easier than you may think! Follow these simple instructions and your metal door will look as good as new.

Tools needed for this job: 80-grit and 120-grit sandpaper, premixed patching compound and 3-inch putty knife. You can find all these supplies at your local home improvement store.

Step 1-Scrub your door, removing all dirt and debris. Once the surface is clean, gently sand the dented area(s) with 80-grit sandpaper. Sanding the dents will allow the patching putty to bond to the door.

Step 2-After you've finished sanding, use your putty knife to apply the patching compound to the dents. Apply a nice even coat and smooth out the edges. For deeper dents you may want to apply a second coat of compound.

Step 3-After the compound has had time to dry, use your 120-grit sandpaper to sand the compound and smooth the edges.

Step 4-Once the dents are patched, prime your door and apply a fresh coat of paint to the entire door surface.



"Dust Out-of-Reach Fixtures Without Leaving the Ground"

Dusting fixtures like ceiling fans, canned lighting, and other objects can be quite a chore. To dust these hard-to-reach places, use a paint roller on an extension handle. Simply wrap a dryer sheet around the roller and secure the sheet with rubber bands. Now you've got yourself a handy duster that will make the job ten times easier!



"No More Drips"

Want to prevent drips when you're painting or staining? Instead of wiping your brush on the side of the can, which will fill the rim and run down the side of the can, try this tip:

Take a thick, heavy rubber band and wrap it vertically around the can so that the band is in the center of the can opening. When you dip your brush into the paint or stain, wipe it against the rubber band. The excess paint or stain will drip back into the can without dripping on the floor or making a mess.



'Unique Tip for Cleaning Outdoor Lighting Fixtures !"

If you have outdoor lamps or other outdoor lighting fixtures, you know what a pain it can be to clean them.

Instead of trying to delicately maneuver your hand into the glass and getting a sore wrist, try this cleaning method:

If you don't already have one, pick up a 2-inch foam brush at your local home improvement store. Spray glass cleaner onto your fixtures and, using your foam brush, scrub the lamp glass clean! This technique will make it easy for you to give your fixtures a beautiful sparkle and shine!



Tales from the Vaults of: "Remodeling Nightmares"

"I decided to try my hand at laying a ceramic tile floor. After each step, I carefully rinsed the mortar-based adhesive from the tools and the bucket and dumped it down the sink. All went fine and the floor turned out beautifully. The next day, however, the drains were clogged. We had to call a plumber to clean all the hardened mortar and grout out of our pipes. I should have cleaned everything in buckets and dumped it outside! My new nickname around the house? 'Concretia'."

"A friend of mine rounded up a group to make some much-needed repairs on his storage shed. We each picked out tasks and got to work. The sawhorses were in use, so I suggested we do our cutting on the flat bottom of his 16-ft. johnboat. We had only sawed a few boards when we discovered a long saw cut through the bottom of the boat. Needless to say, our fishing trip that summer was cancelled."



"The Perfect Spring Home Improvement Project :How to Easily Create a Dazzling, Low-Cost Backyard Path !"

If the prospect of transforming an ordinary yard or garden into a beautiful masterpiece excites you, you're going to love this feature! Just think how exciting it would be to walk through your yard or garden on an enchanting stone or gravel path! You're sure to be the envy of the neighborhood!

Now before you get started, consider what type of path you want to install-gravel or stone? Gravel is less expensive than stone and it's easier to install. Gravel works well for moderate foot traffic. Stone, on the other hand, provides great color and texture. Stone is heavy, durable and will give your yard or garden an exceptional look.

Materials :

Gravel: When working with gravel, you'll have several size and color options. Gravel sizes range from ¾ inch down to a powder. The smaller the individual pieces of gravel, the more comfortable it is underfoot. Where should you purchase your gravel? You can buy it from any landscape supply or directly from a quarry. As far as cost is concerned, you should expect to pay around fifty cents per square foot.

Note: When you have the gravel delivered, have it dumped on your driveway and not on your lawn to avoid harming the grass.

In addition to the gravel, you'll need a border around your path. You have three options: metal, stone, and brick edging. Metal edging gives an "invisible" look. It's available in green or brown, and it comes in 8-foot and 16-foot lengths at

a cost of $2 to $3 per linear foot. Stone edging is available in many styles and runs about $1 to $4 per linear foot. Brick edging costs $2 to $4 per linear foot.

Stone: For a stone path, the most common types are limestone, granite, sandstone, and slate. The stone should be at least

1-inch thick to avoid cracking. There are three categories of stone to choose from: steppers, flagstones, and cut stone. Steppers are approximately 15 inches across, very light and easy to work with. Flagstones are about 24 inches across, very versatile, and are more stable than steppers. Cut stone is the most expensive but easiest to make a tight fit. The cost for cut stone is around $3 to $9 per square foot.

Gravel path installation :

 The only tools you'll need for this project are a spade, a shovel and wheelbarrow. The first step is to clear your path. To do this, use your spade to remove the sod from your lawn or garden. After you've skimmed off the sod or cleared a path, the next step is to set the border.

Setting metal edging: metal edging should be 1 inch higher than the path. Anchor the edging with the metal stakes that are provided.

 Setting stone edging: for best results, fit the stones tightly, butting them close together. Stone edging should be placed on an inch of gravel and set together with a few whacks from a rubber mallet.

Setting brick edging: you can set the bricks one of two ways upright or at an angle with a "pointed" end facing up. When using bricks, you'll need to place them in 2 inches of sand. Then surround them with gravel and soil to lock the bricks in place.

After your border is set, lay down 3 inches of gravel on your path. No special sloping is needed. Simply follow the grade of your lawn or garden area.

Stone path installation :

Installing a stone path is similar to putting together a large, heavy jigsaw puzzle. As you would with a gravel path, skim the proposed area with a spade. Next, load in 2 inches of sand as a setting bed. Now, spread out the stones and create an eye-catching pattern. Again, no special sloping is required. Just follow the lay of the land. Once the stones have been set in place, you can finish your path by placing sand, soil or mulch in the joints.

Material sources :

Nowadays, larger home improvement centers will carry everything you need to make your own lawn or garden path. Everything from the tools, the border materials, sand, soil, gravel, and possibly even the cut stone should be readily available. If you can't find the gravel or stone you want at the home improvement store, your best bet is to use a landscape supply company or buy directly from a quarry.

This may sound like a pain-in-the-neck home improvement project, but once you're finished, your lawn or garden will look stunning! It's not nearly as hard as you may think! With a helper, you can complete the whole project over a weekend. And the results will leave you feeling very proud and satisfied with a job well done.

Source: The Family Handyman



"Quick & Easy Way to Give Your Tub an Exciting New Look !"

There are several reasons why you may want to change your tub spout. It could be leaky or the water flow could be restricted due to build-up or maybe you just want to give your tub a fresh look! Whatever the case may be, here are step-by-step instructions on how to replace your tub spout.

Before you purchase a new spout and begin the job, determine what kind of spout configuration you have. There are two basic types-threaded and slip connection. A threaded connection will screw onto a pipe that protrudes from the wall. A slip contains a set screw that is typically located under the spout near the wall.

To remove a threaded connection, turn the spout counterclockwise . Keep in mind it may require a little effort to remove! To remove a slip connection, first locate the set screw. You'll most likely need an Allen wrench to loosen the screw. You don't have to completely remove the screw. Just turn it a few times counterclockwise and the spout will "slip" off the pipe connection.

Installing your new tub spout:

Before you install a new threaded tub spout, give the pipe connection area a good cleaning. A wire brush will work great to clean the threads! After the threads are clean, it's best to apply Teflon tape. Why? The Teflon tape acts as a seal to protect against leaks. After the threads are clean and you've applied the tape, gently install the new tub spout.

For a slip connection, no cleaning is required. Just slip on the new spout and turn the set screw in a clockwise motion.

This is a simple fix any homeowner can make! You can find all the supplies you need at any home-improvement store.



"Bring Your Patio Back to Life !"

If you have a porch or patio, now is a great time of year to enjoy it! However, if your patio is coated with dirt, moss, or mildew, chances are you won't want to use it.

The best way to clean your patio is with a pressure washer and this nifty home-brew solution. Using a gallon of water, mix in two cups of bleach and a tablespoon of TSP. TSP is tri-sodium phosphate and can be purchased at any paint or home-improvement store.

Apply the solution and scrub the patio with a stiff brush. Leave the solution on for at least 10 minutes and then rinse it away with a pressure washer. Remember to protect your plants and bushes! That's all there is to it!



"Firm Up Loose Chair Legs !"

If you feel like you're one wrong move away from hitting the floor every time you sit down, there's hope, my friend!

Wobbly legs on kitchen and dining room chairs are an easy fix. Here's how:

Step 1 -Tag the legs of your chair so you can return them to the appropriate position. To do so, wrap a small piece of masking tape around each leg and label them accordingly. Example: for the left front leg, you can write LF, etc.

Step 2-After they have been labeled, take off the loose legs. Now it's time to handle the old glue in the joints. In order for the new glue to grip properly, the old glue must be completely removed which can be accomplished by scraping, sanding or filing. Just be careful not to remove any wood from the leg joints.

Step 3 -When the joints are clean, check the fit between the chair leg and the socket to be sure the joints fit nice and snug. If the legs are loose in the joints, you can tighten them by slipping in a few toothpicks when you are ready to glue.

Step 4-Time to glue. One of the best wood glues you can use is Titebond . Place a thin coat of glue around the joint surface. Too much glue will actually weaken the joints, so use the glue sparingly. Once you've applied the glue, re-attach the legs. Use a damp rag to wipe away any excess glue. Allow the legs 24 hours to dry before using the chair.

That's all there is to it! You can find Titebond glue at any home-improvement store.



"10 Quick & Easy Way to Skyrocket Your Home's Value !"

When it comes to selling a home, a great first impression is crucial. Many real estate professionals say a home that is attractive from the road will sell in nearly half the time it takes to sell a drab home.

1. Garage-Always keep your garage doors clean and closed. Bikes, toys, garbage cans, and lawn care items should be stored neatly inside your garage.

2.  Lawn- Don't just keep your grass neatly trimmed, edge your lawn as well. A sharp edge will give your lawn and home a well-maintained look.

3. Trees and shrubs- Trim back all trees and shrubs. Remove any dead plant life.

4. Shingles- Remove and replace any broken roof shingles. Even a few warped or missing shingles will give the impression your roof needs repair.

5. For sale sign- Keep your FOR SALE sign straight and facing the road. A sign that's leaning or faded will imply your home has been on the market for an extended period of time. That could suggest problems.

6. Doorknob-The doorknob and doorknocker on your front door should be sparkling! Any signs of age will take away from your home's appeal.

7. Mailbox- Your mailbox should match your home. For example, a $10 mailbox does not go with a $500,000 home.

8. Drapery- How do your drapes or blinds look from the outside? Many homeowners purchase window treatments based on how they look inside the home. Different colors and shapes in front windows can make a home look unbalanced.

9. Flowers- Plant colorful flowers in front of your home to make your residence come alive! This is especially important if your home is white or a dark color.

10. Sidewalk- Patch cracks in your sidewalk. Remove all weeds in and around your sidewalk. Also, sweep the walk and keep it free from dirt and debris.


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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