Fix a Stuck Window

 

Reasons for a Stuck Window

Fixing a stuck window is not difficult as windows can become stuck for different reasons:
  • Timber framed windows may warp in wet, humid conditions.
  • A stuck window can become difficult to open from a build-up of dirt or too many layers of paint applied over many years.
  • Check around the window, both inside and outside the house to see if there is any obvious cause for the window sticking.
For example, is there a nail or screw driven into the window frame or a lock stopping the window from opening?   All that may be required is to remove these and the window will open.

How to open a stuck window

Method 1

  • Use a utility knife or paint scraper and run the edge of the blade around the edge of the window and window frame, inside and outside the window.
  • Check if the window now opens.

Method 2

  • Take a hammer and small block of wood.
  • Lay the wood against the window frame and with the hammer GENTLY tap the wood around the window frame to free up the window.
  • Check to see if the window opens.
 

Method 3

  • With an sash window (lifts up/down) use a crowbar (also known as a prybar).
  • With a block of wood see if you can pry open the window using a crowbar to gently lever under the lip of the window.
  • The purpose of the block of wood is to prevent damage to the window frame.
 

Stuck Window Preventative Maintenance

Option 1 – Build up dirt in the window track

Often a stuck window is due to a build up of dirt in the tracks over the years.  This is a simple fix.
  • Open the window as far as it will go.
  • Take a tooth-brush or similar hard bristle brush, household cleaner and clean any dirt and grime in the window channels. Allow to dry.
  • Spray the window channel with a silicone lubricant spray. Let the spray dry.
  • Check to see if the window now opens and closes freely.
To maintain the window opening and closing easily clean the window tracks once or twice a year.

Option 2 – Build up of layers of paint

If you have a stuck window it may be caused by a build-up of layers of paint over many years.  You will need to strip back the layers of paint in the window. Tools required:
  1. Paint stripper and paint brush to fit the width of the window channel
  2. Rubber gloves
  3. Dust mask (to avoid breathing in fumes)
  4. Cleaning cloth
  5. Sandpaper
  6. Undercoat and topcoat paint with brush and paint clean-up liquid
Steps:
  • Open the window as far as possible
  • Put on rubber gloves and dust mask
  • Brush on a paint stripper along the window channels.
  • After the required waiting time for the paint stripper to work, scrape off the excess paint and dispose of correctly.
  • Sand the channels to remove any loose paint.
  • Check to see if the window now opens and closes freely.
  • Allow enough clearance for reapplying an undercoat and top coat of paint to the sanded surface.
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Remove mold

remove mold In this post you will about mold, how to remove mold, why it is important to remove mold and steps to take to prevent mold.  Left untreated, mold can become a health hazard.

What is Mold?

Mold is a fungus that requires ongoing dampness or moisture to grow.  Mold usually occurs only in those areas that are constantly damp or moist, or where there is poor ventilation.  The key to preventing mold is to keep the inside of your home dry.  Mold spores travel through the air and land in wet areas where they can go about reproducing.

Why should you be concerned about damp mold?

If walls become stained with mold and are left untreated over time the mold will be difficult to remove and eventually may cause wood rot and structural damage. If left untreated mold can also affect people’s health. Some years ago, I helped my daughter moved out of a home which was built in 1893 in the state of Victoria, Australia.  There was the smell of mold in cupboards, and I could see mold on the bathroom walls.  Obvious signs of mold were easy to deal with.  However, it was not until moving day that my daughter discovered, a large patch of mold had formed on the underside of her latex mattress.  The mold on the mattress was treated immediately.  Mold can cause respiratory problems, allergies and other serious health problems if left unchecked. 

What can you do to prevent mold growth?

The key to preventing mold is to maintain a dry, warm home with good ventilation as dry surfaces do not promote mold growth.  Undertake the following checks on a regular basis, particularly in winter or humid conditions during summer:
  • Look up at ceilings and if you see blackish specks or a discoloration in the ceiling this may indicate a leak in the roof. If you climb into the roof cavity you may be able to find the source of the leak and take the appropriate action to have it fixed.
  • If condensation or dampness forms on the inside of windows or glass doors used a towel or cloth to remove the damp.
  • Are there any signs of black mold forming in grouting around the shower and bath in bathrooms? This is caused by continuous damp air during showering or bathing.
  • Is there a smell inside kitchen cupboards when opened? Include other cupboards in the house and garage. If there is damp in the cupboards you will smell mold which indicates mold is growing.  Check curtains and blinds for mold as they can brush up against damp windows.

How to remove mold

The following non-toxic solutions are suggested as I have found they are effective in removing mold. Vinegar is reported to be effective in killing 82% of mold, so it is well worth trying first.

Option 1 – 5% White Vinegar

  • Take a small spray bottle and pour undiluted vinegar into the spray bottle
  • Spray on the affected area and leave. Do not rinse
There will be a strong vinegar smell initially, but this should dissipate after a few hours.

Option 2 – Apple Cider Vinegar

  • Mix 1-part water to 2 parts Apple Cider Vinegar in a spray bottle
  • Spray on affected area and leave. Do not rinse.

Option 3 – Tea Tree Oil

  • Mix 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle.
  • Spray on affected area and leave. Do not rinse.
There will be a strong smell of tea tree oil initially, but this should dissipate after a few hours. Leave windows and doors open to allow in fresh air. Remember:  the key to preventing mold is to keep a warm, dry well-ventilated home.

DIY Tool Kit

DIY tool kit Buying your first DIY tool kit can be an exciting experience, especially if you have a specific project in mind. Here is a list of suggested tools to help you set up your own DIY tool kit.  Below the listed items you will find a brief explanation of what each tool can be used for. If you are on a budget purchase the items as required for each task. When I started doing my own DIY projects I started with some of the items in the tool kit suggested below as well as paint brushes, paint rollers and paint to give a flat at the back of my house a face lift before it was rented out. As you will see from the photos below, many are showing years or wear.  Some have been with me for a very long time.  

DIY TOOL KIT

  • Safety Glasses/Goggles
  • Hammer – claw hammer
  • Screwdriver Set
  • Multi-Grips
  • Pliers – Combination/Vise-Grip
  • Measuring Tape
  • Tool Box
  • Cordless Drill
  • Carpenter’s Level
  • Carpenter’s Square
  • Sharp Pencil and Sharpener
  • Hand Saw – general purpose/crosscut
  • Utility Knife
  • Ear Muffs or Ear Plugs
  • Clamps
  • Folding Work Bench  (if no suitable work area available)
 

Safety Glasses/Goggles

  • Safety glasses protect your eyes from any type of flying object, sawdust or other particles from hitting you in the eye.
  • If you wear prescription glasses, consider buying safety glasses that won’t make your prescription glasses fog up.
  • Check the safety glasses you purchase meet your country’s standards for eye protection.
 

Hammer

hammer There are a wide range of hammers on the market all suited to doing a specific type of job.
  • The most common all purpose hammer on the market is called a claw hammer.
  • V shape at one end of the steel head is used for pulling out nails
  • The round flat base at the head of the hammer is used to drive in nails.
  • Purchase a claw hammer that feels comfortable in your hand.
 

Screwdriver Set

screwdriver set
  • Purchase a screwdriver set for your DIY tool kit that includes different sized Phillips heads, flat/slotted head.
  • A screwdriver is used for inserting and removing screws into timber, steel and other materials.
  • Although not originally designed for  such a purpose a flat/slotted head screwdrivers are useful for removing paint tin lids.
  • When purchasing screws check the back of the pack to see that you have the correct size screwdriver at home.
  • Packets of screws usually state the type and size of screwdriver head required.

Multi Grips

multi grip pliers
  • Multi Grips are a very versatile tool and a must have in your DIY tool kit.
  • They are adjustable and can handle a multitude of jobs around your home and come in different sizes – small, medium and large.
  • Multi-grips have many different uses such as gripping onto pipes, nuts, removing the spindle from a tap.

Combination Pliers

combination pliers
  • There are many different types of pliers on the market each designed to do a specific type of job.
  • Combination/Vise pliers are used for gripping items, twisting, cutting wire and holding objects in place.
  • Over the years I have built up a number of different sizes and types of pliers that are in one of my tool boxes.
 

Measuring Tape

measuring tape
  • A retractable measuring tape is a very useful for any type of measuring.
  • It can be used for working measuring a length of wood, finding the centre point of a wall when you wish to hang a picture.
  • Purchase a 5-8 metre/16-26 ft retractable tape.
 

Tool Box

tool box
  • A small tool box like the one above is a great starter for your DIY tool kit as it keeps all your tools in one place.
  • There are a wide range of different styles, sizes and types of tool boxes available depending upon your budget.
  • A small plastic or metal tool box will comfortably store most of the above items in your tool box and keep them all in one place.
  • Tools tend to get lost if left lying around.
 

Cordless Drill

cordless drill
  • Start with a cordless drill in your DIY tool kit as they are lighter to hold than an electric drill.
  • An 18-volt cordless drill is a very useful tool to have for drilling into materials such as wood and plastics
  • The battery recharges within a few hours.
  • Purchase a cordless drill that includes a selection of different size drill bits and screwdriver bits included.
 

Carpenter’s Level

carpenters level
  • Purchase a 600mm (24in) level which is a good size general-purpose level to have around the home.
  • For example it is very useful when hanging picture frames or photos to ensure the item hangs level horizontally and vertically.
 

Carpenter’s Square

carpenters square
  • When cutting timber a carpenter’s square is used to ensure you cut along a straight line.
  • When purchasing a square check it for accuracy.  Ask the hardware store for a piece of scrap timber.
  • Take the square you wish to buy and a sharp pencil.
  • Place the square on one side of the timber, draw a pencil line across the width of the timber.
  • Flip the square over  and check that it is square along the first pencil line.
 

Sharp Pencil and Pencil Sharpener

pencil and sharpener
  • Ensure you use a sharp pencil with a point to ensure a fine line is drawn along the material being marked.
 

Hand Saw

hand saw
  • A hand saw is essential in your DIY tool kit if you are cutting timber.
  • Purchase a combination saw that cuts both across the grain and along the length of the grain.
  • Saws are measured by the number of “teeth per inch” (tpi).  The more teeth per inch the finer the cut.
  • A saw with 24 tpi (teeth per inch) will finish with a finer cut to the edge of the timber.
  • A saw with 8-10 tpi will cut faster but leave a rough finish to the edge.
 

Utility Knife

utility knife
  • A Utility Knife is a very useful addition to have in your DIY tool kit.
  • It has a sharp, retractable blade that is easily replaced.
  • A utility knife can be used for cutting plasterboard, cardboard, cutting out grout around tiles, cutting rope.
 

Ear Muffs or Ear Plugs

 
  • When you start using power tools of any kind add ear muffs or ear plugs to your tool kit.
  • It is important to get into the habit of wearing hearing protection every time you use a power tool.
  • Purchase either ear muffs or ear plugs that feel comfortable when you try them on.
 

Clamps

clamps
  • There are a wide range of clamps on the market such as screw clamps, mitre clamps, G clamps, power clamps and more.
  • For your DIY tool kit start with two clamps about 300 mm (12 inches) long.
  • The clamps will hold work pieces in place and stop the work piece from moving.
 

Folding Work Bench

  • If you don’t have room or access to fixed bench a folding work bench is very useful to have.
  • It can be folded and put away, or taken away from your home.
  • When I am cutting timber or other material I secure the material by clamping it to the work bench.
  • Once the material is clamped I can then undertake cutting, drilling, sanding or any other task without the material moving.
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Tool Safety

tool safety first

When working with both hand tools and power tools I take tool safety seriously.

Why?  In the early days when I missed striking the nail with the hammer a few times and hit my thumb instead, or the hand saw blade slipped and nicked my hand, I very quickly learnt to concentrate.

When working with both hand and power tools always stay 100% focused on what you are doing as a lack of attention may cause a serious injury.

Tool Safety Tip #1

According to an online source 65% of eye injuries occur around the home?  This stat did surprise me indeed.

[Image source:  https://blog.safetyglassesusa.com/wear-safety-eyewear]

Wear safety glasses or goggles when using both hand tools and power tools to protect your eyes from dust, debris, splinters from wood, glass and other objects.

Safety glasses should be worn even when using the lawnmower or whipper snipper/brush cutter outside the house.

Accidents can happen unexpectedly and quickly, so always protect your eyes when working with any type of tool

Tool Safety # 2

Items like jewellery, rings, long hair, sandals and loose clothing can easily get caught up in power tools.

remove jewellery, rings,To reduce the risk:

  • Remove jewellery and rings.
  • Ensure your clothes fit snug against your body to avoid any part getting caught in fast turning tools.
  • Wear closed in foot wear – boots, joggers with rubber soles. Footwear like loose sandals (flipflops, jandals, thongs, etc) can be a trip hazard or if a sharp object falls to the ground and hits your foot it may cause an injury.

tool safety first

  • Tie long hair tie it well back behind your head, out of the way of fast moving power tools. A hair net serves this purpose very well.

Tool Safety # 3

When using any type of power tool, wear ear muffs or ear plugs to protect your hearing from being affected from the noise.  Both types are effective in reducing the noise.

ear muffs or ear plugs

Tool Safety # 4

Protect your lungs and skin:

  • When sanding (hand or electric) use a dust mask to reduce the risk of breathing in dust particles.
  • When using toxic substances such as a paint stripper protect yourself from inhaling fumes by wearing a dust mask and the appropriate gloves to protect your skin.
  • Always use the most appropriate dust mask for the task at hand.

dust mask

Tool Safety # 5

Avoid the risk of electrocution when drilling holes in walls:

  • Use a scanning or sensor device to check for electrical wiring in walls and ceilings.
  • Scanners can also detect timber studs in walls.Scanners are also useful for finding water pipes within walls.

     

Tool Safety # 6

When replacing saw blades, router bits or drill bits always turn off the power to the tool being used.  As an added precaution remove the power tool’s plug from the wall.

remove power point

The reason for this is to reduce the risk of accidentally knocking the starter switch which in turn activates the blade or bit.  If the tool accidentally turns on, it may cause injury.

Tool Safety # 7

Check your home and work area is fitted with a safety switch or earth leakage breaker at the main meter box to the property.

safety switch, earth leakage breaker

The reason for this is that if a power tool (or electrical appliance) develops a short in its electrical wiring the safety switch is triggered at the main meter box which turns off  the power to the house immediately.     A safety switch therefore reduces the risk of anyone in the home receiving an electrical shock.

I have had both an electric drill and kettle develop electrical shorts, so having a safety switch is essential in every home.

If you are not sure whether your home is fitted with a safety switch, ask your local licensed electrician to check and install one.

Tool Safety # 8

Use one extension lead instead of multiple leads connected to multiple tools.

The reason for this is the more electrical cords lying on the floor the easier it is to trip over one of them.

If using just one extension lead, then you know which power tool is being used at any given time.  In an emergency it is much quicker to turn off one power point instead of multiple.

use one extension lead

 

Cordless Drill

cordless drill A cordless drill is ideal to start with if you are new to DIY projects around your home, as they are light easy to use. There are of course other types of drills on the market from electric hand drills, hand turn drills, stand-a-lone bench drills and floor-stand drills. This post will provide information on cordless drills and their advantages and disadvantages.  

What is a drill

  • A drill is a multi-purpose tool used to perform different tasks
  • They can be used for drilling holes in a variety of different materials such as wood, metal, plastic, tiles to inserting screws.
  • With the right accessories attached a drill can also be used to sand, buff, stir paint and strip paint and rust.
 

Parts of a drill

Drills are made up of different components, the purpose of each is discussed below.

cordless drill

Drill Handle

  • Is gripped whenever using the drill.
  • When the operator presses the start switch it activates the drill motor action.
  • When the start switch is released it stops the drill
 

Motor

  • Cordless drill motors range from 14.4 volts to 18-20 volts.
 

Variable Speed

  • A drill with a variable speed means the speed of the drill can be adjusted according to the task.
  • If drilling a hole in timber or metal the drill needs to work at high speed.
  • When inserting a screw, a slow speed is required to avoid stripping the screw head.
 

Forward and Reverse Switch

  • Move the switch to the “forward” position the drill bit turns clockwise and bores a hole into the material.
  • Move the switch to the “reverse” position the drill bit turns anti-clockwise and lifts the drill bit out of the hole.
 

Chuck

The chuck is at the front end of drill where a drill bit is inserted and when tightened holds the drill bit in place. Cordless drills do not require a special key to tighten and loosen a drill bit so are called “chuckless” A drill’s chuck opening will come in one of two sizes – 3/8” or 1/2”. This is the maximum size a drill bit shaft will take when the chuck is fully open.  

Hammer Switch

  • A hammer switch is usually located at the top of the drill.
  • Move the switch to hammer to drill holes into masonry or concrete using a special masonry drill bit.
  • When the “hammer” switch is activated the drill works with a hammering/vibration motion.
  • When the “hammer” switch is turned off the drill functions as a normal drill.
 

Rechargeable Battery

  • Cordless drill come with a rechargeable battery and recharging station.
  • Remove by pressing the switch at the back of the battery and slide out.
  • Insert into charging station to re-charge.
  • Recharging can take 1 – 2 hours depending on the brand and quality of the battery
The following video provides a good explanation on the different parts of a drill.

Advantages of a Cordless Drill

  • Cordless drill is that it is completely portable and can be taken and used anywhere.
  • Will function for hours before the battery needs re-charging.
  • Cordless drills are user friendly and are ideal for a newbie to begin their DIY projects with.
  • Comes with a charging station which needs to be plugged into an electrical power socket to re-charge the battery.
  • It is handy to have a spare battery already charged if using the drill for hours on end.
 

Disadvantages of a Cordless Drill

  • Cordless drill batteries need recharging.
  • If you do not carry a spare battery that is fully charged, you will have to wait until the battery is recharged.
  • Not capable of the same heavy duty work as an electric drill e.g. drilling into concrete, stainless steel.
  • Is more expensive to purchase than an electric drill
 
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Drill Bits

drill bits

Drill bits come in different types and sizes.  The purpose of this post is to provide a brief explanation of the most common types of drill bits.  These are the most common ones you are likely to use around your home.

A good quality set of high speed and masonry bits will be an excellent starting point.

High Speed General Purpose Bits

drill bits

  • High speed bits are an excellent all round type of bit to use use when drilling into wood, metal, plastics and plywood.

 

Brad Point (wood) bit

bradpoint drill bit

  • If you are making furniture or using timber for different projects a brad point bit is useful.
  • The sharp point at the end makes it easy for pin-pointing exactly where the centre of the hole is.
  • Pressing the bit into the center point prevents the bit from moving.
  • The shape of the bit allows the edge of the bit to cut a smooth hole through the timber.
  • Attach a bearing to the bit at the point where a specific depth is required.
  • The bearing acts as a stop and prevents the bit going further into the hole.

Masonry Bits

masonry drill bit

  • Masonry bits are used to drill a hole into brick work, block work, concrete or other types of masonry.
  • When drilling into masonry material switch the drill to hammer mode.
  • Hammer mode allows the bit to cut into the material much easier.
  • When the drill is used in “hammer mode” the drill vibrates as it drill into the concrete, brick, etc.
  • When drilling is finished remember to switch the hammer switch back to standard drilling mode.

Spade Bits

Spade bit

  • A spade bit is used for drilling large holes in material such as timber and doors.  For example you would use a spade bit to drill a hole for a door lock or inserting a pipe through a hole.
  • The sharp point is used to mark the centre point of the hole to ensure accurate cutting of the hole.
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DIY Home Repairs

 

When it comes to DIY home repairs many people ask the question whether they should do it themselves.

As most people lead busy lives, the purpose of this post is to help you figure out whether some tasks are worth doing yourself, or whether it is more beneficial to pay a qualified trades person.

Armed with the correct knowledge and tools most people should be capable of undertaking basic DFIY home repairs and maintenance. For example:

  • changing a tap washer
  • clearing a blocked vanity pipe
  • cleaning gutters
  • painting walls
  • laying floor and wall tiles
  • changing a light bulb
  • fixing a stuck window or door
  • fixing a hole in a wall
  • measuring and estimating the amount of paint or tiles needed for a job
  • And… much more

Measuring success in DIY home repair is not just about saving money, but also the immense satisfaction you will feel in finishing a job, standing back and admiring your efforts.

To help you decide whether to undertake the task yourself consider the following:

  • Estimate how long it will take you to DIY the task compared to a qualified trades person then multiple your hours x 3 times your estimate.
  • Do you have the required replacement parts and tools needed, or will you have to purchase these?
  • Use the hourly rate you get paid in your full-time job as the basis for estimating your labour cost to complete the DIY home repair, plus add in the cost of purchasing the required parts.
  • Phone your local qualified trades person and get a quote for the tradie to fix the repair.
  • Armed with this information you can calculate whether it is cheaper to do it yourself or pay a trades person.

For example, if a leaking tap is caused by a worn tap washer, replacing a tap washer in a conventional tap is straightforward.

If you already have multi-grip pliers all you will need to purchase from your local hardware store, is a pack of replacement tap washers for around $5 – $7.

If you are a beginner it may take you around 20-30 minutes to dis-assemble the tap components, replace the washer and re-assemble the tap assembly.

[insert image]

However, if you engage the services of a qualified plumber the cost of replacing that worn tap washer will be significantly higher. For example, the plumber you may charge around $80+ per hour, plus call out fee, traveling time and GST. Once you get a quote or estimate from the plumber you can then decide whether to  “give it a go” yourself.

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How to Use a Drill

cordless drill bit

Tips for Using a Drill

The following steps will show you how to use a drill.

  • Use the correct size drill bit required for the screw or bolt being inserted.     TIP:  Drill a pilot hole first with a small bit.   This prevents a larger bit from moving when you start drilling.
  • Inserting a screw – choose a drill bit slightly smaller in circumference than the screw being inserted.  The reason for this is so the screw has material to grab as it is inserted.
  • Inserting a bolt – use a drill bit the same size as the bolt.
  • Hold the drill in your right hand if right-handed (left hand if left-handed)
  • With the left hand, open the Chuck enough so you can insert the round smooth end of the drill bit 1 inch (25mm) in between the chuck clamps.
  • Check the bit sits evenly between the clamps otherwise the bit will wobble when the drill is turned on.
  • Use the drill’s forward switch to tighten the drill bit into the chuck opening; reverse switch to loosen the drill bit in the chuck opening
  • Tighten the chuck by hand as far as you can so the drill bit sits inside the chuck without moving.
  • To finish tightening if you are using a:
  • Continue to hold the chuck while at the same time pressing the trigger switch until you feel the chuck go tight.
  • If the drill bit is not tight enough inside the chuck it will slip while drilling is in progress.
  • Repeat this step until it is tight.

Drill with a Chuck Key – after tightening the chuck as far you can by hand, take the chuck key insert it into the teeth at the side of the chuck and keep turning the chuck clockwise until you cannot turn it any further.

  • The bit should now be held tight inside the drill.Chuckless Drill – while keeping a firm grip around the chuck, press the forward switch on the drill.

How to Use a Drill

Once the drill bit is in place it is time to start drilling.

  • Check the variable speed is turned up (higher number) for general drilling.
  • Use clamps to fix your work material to a work bench or other surface to stop the material moving.
  • Working at waist level gives you better control over the tool being used.Use a small drill bit to provide a pilot hole, then move up in drill size to the desired finished size.
  • HOT TIP:  If a very fine edge is required on the surface use masking tape over the area being drilled as this help protect the edges of the finished hole size.
  • Hold the drill in a straight vertical line over the drill hole.
  • This is necessary to avoid the hole being drilled off-centre, or at an angle.Once the pilot hole is drilled, change your drill bit until the correct size bit is selected for the task at end.

 

Using a Drill to Insert a Screw

  • If using your drill to insert a screw adjust the variable speed control of the drill to a LOW SPEED.
  • The reason for this is to prevent the head of the screw or bolt from being stripped.
  • If stripped, you will have difficulty getting the screw in or out!