Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Polymer-Wood Hybrid House Siding May Have Legs

A New Composite House Siding Could Be the Wave of the Future in Home Siding?

By Mark J. Donovan

Some argue that a new polymer-wood hybrid house siding product is better than any other type of home siding product on the market, less real wood or brick. The new polymer-wood hybrid house siding product is certainly more attractive and sturdier than vinyl siding. It is also cheaper than real wood siding.

Polymer wood hybrid house siding, on the other hand, is more expensive than fiber cement board, at least initially. A manufacturer of polymer-wood house siding, however, argues that their product does not require the initial priming and painting, as well as the periodic painting and maintenance, that fiber cement board house siding does. Thus over time, the manufacturer argues that polymer-wood hybrid house siding is cheaper. Hybrid polymer-wood house siding is also available in a variety of colors so there are plenty of choices for the homeowner. Alside’s Revolution Composite siding, for example, is available in 9 different colors.

Polymer-wood hybrid house siding is not meant to be installed by the diy homeowner or untrained carpenter. The proper installation of polymer-wood hybrid house siding requires new installation methods and special training.

Hopefully this latest composite house siding product will hold up better than some of its predecessors. Other composite house siding products have been shown to attract mold and mildew, swell, and delaminate over time.

Monday, November 22, 2010

HomeAdditionPlus.com among Top DIY Home Improvement Video Channels

Three separate and independent articles recently ranked http://www.homeadditionplus.com/, and its associated video channels, as one of the top home improvement video destinations on the internet.

“Clean-cut and coherent, Donovan’s straight talking approach is easy viewing…” reports Amy-Mae Elliott of http://www.mashable.com/.

Similarly, Leslie Baird of http://www.helium.com/ reported HomeAdditionPlus.com’s Youtube channel as one of the best DIY and Home Improvement channels on the internet.

Also, miamercado of http://www.blogher.com/ stated relative to HomeAdditionPlus.com that “These tutorials not only show you which tools you need, but how to properly use them, so you don’t have to find a channel with a "How to Sew Your Fingers Back On" video.”

"It’s fantastic getting this type of positive feedback about http://www.homeadditionplus.com/ and its associated video channels. It takes an incredible amount of time filming, editing, and posting home improvement videos, and to hear positive responses from the diy home improvement community and media is just terrific news”, said Mark Donovan, Founder and CEO of HomeAdditionPlus.com.

For more information on HomeAdditionPlus.com and its associated video channels please see:




Friday, November 12, 2010

Electrical Insulation Gasket Pads for Electrical Outlets and Switches

By Mark J. Donovan

One way you can eliminate cold drafts from your home this winter is to install electrical insulation gasket pads underneath your outside wall electrical outlet and switch covers. Outside wall electrical switch and outlet boxes are notorious for letting cold drafts into your home due to the fact that fiberglass batt or rolled insulation is often not installed correctly around them.

Electrical insulating gasket pads, or electrical insulation pads, are inexpensive and easy to install. For safety purposes first turn off power to the electrical outlet or switch at the main circuit panel. Next remove the electrical outlet or switch cover plate. Then, using a circuit tester or digital multimeter, test the electrical switch or outlet to make sure power is indeed shut off to it.

Next remove the appropriate cutout section from the electrical insulation gasket pad and place the pad over the surface of the electrical outlet or switch. Reattach the electrical cover plate, turn power back on to the switch or outlet, and your cold drafts associated with your electrical outlets and switches are history.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Deck Flashing from Everflashing

By Mark J. Donovan

I recently had a chance to check out some perimeter and ledger deck flashing products from Everflashing. Everflashing offers a variety of deck ledger and perimeter flashing products in hot dipped (G185) galvanized, stainless steel and aluminum. Their deck flashing comes in 1-1/2” and 2-1/8” profiles and is available in 5, 8 and 10 foot lengths. Their aluminum flashing comes in several colors and is approved to be used with wolmanized L3 Lumber.

Based on their unique shape and construction, decking boards are sandwiched in between a tongue and groove slot integrated into the deck flashing product. Not only does this unique design protect the ledger board and home from water infiltration but also helps to hold the deck boards in place.

Everflashing deck flashing products can be purchased at lumber stores as well as on line. For more information on ledger and perimeter deck flashing from Everlasting visit www.everflashing.com.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Repairing Copper Supply Line Pipe

By Mark J. Donovan

Copper pipes are commonly used in residential plumbing applications. Occasionally a copper supply line can burst. It is particularly common during winter months when water can potentially freeze in the pipes due to the loss of heat in the home. Repairing copper supply line pipes requires some basic tools and skill in soldering / sweating pipes. Tools required include a copper pipe tube cutter or hacksaw, a propane torch, sandpaper, a stiff brush, a half round file, rag, and some steel wool. For materials you will need the necessary copper pipe and fittings, lead free solder, and flux.

To repair a copper supply line you must first turn off the water to the damaged pipe and drain the pipe. Any water left in the pipe will make sweating the joint impossible.

After draining the copper supply line pipe, use a pipe cutter or hacksaw to cut out the damaged section.

Next, use the half round file to clean any burrs off of the cut ends of the pipe. Then use the sandpaper, steel wool and rag to clean the first couple of inches of each section of pipe.

Next cut a length of replacement copper pipe to fit the gap that was removed in the supply line. Make sure to clean each end of the replacement copper pipe section with sandpaper, steel wool, and a rag. Then apply flux to the inside of the two couplings that will go on either end of the repair. Likewise apply flux to the ends of each pipe section.

Place the couplings into position over the ends of the replacement copper pipe section and then slide the other ends of the couplings over the cut ends of the supply line pipe.

Finally, sweat, or solder, the copper couplings in place using the propane torch and solder. Make sure to use lead free solder when sweating plumbing joints. When sweating copper pipes always heat the surface of the copper joint prior to applying solder to it. The solder should immediately flow around the copper fitting when the fitting is hot enough.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Building Smaller Houses Post Recession

With an Economy that still Languishes Home Builders are Now Turning towards Building Smaller but Still Amenity Rich Homes

By Mark J. Donovan

Since the collapse of the housing market in 2006 home builders, such as Toll Brothers, have been wrestling with how to attract new home buyers. Their most recent post recession solution has been to shrink the size of their new homes while preserving as many of the luxuries and amenities as possible. The results to date seem to indicate that they might have found a viable recipe. With construction costs down from $170 to $100 per square foot, and prices starting at under $220K for their new 2,000 square foot floor plans, initial sales in Las Vegas, Nevada seem to be brisk.

So where are they getting the costs savings, besides shrinking the size of the home? The answer seems to be in the reduction of finished features and fewer internal walls. For example, by reducing the size of baseboard trim or eliminating some types of finishes altogether and allowing the homeowner to add these amenities later, they are able to save costs in the construction of the home. Likewise, by eliminating some internal walls and halls, they are creating larger open spaces within the home and are relying on the homeowner’s choice of furniture to partition the home into different living areas. Other builders are following Toll Brothers moves and seeing similar success.

The jury is still out on whether or not the construction of smaller houses is the long term solution for the American dream and home building market. However, regardless of the long term outcome, it is without a doubt a positive sign to a see a free market and industry clawing its way out of a long and ugly abyss.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Skylight Design and Position Considerations

By Mark J. Donovan

Skylights can provide natural lighting to a room. They can also provide some level of warmth if chosen and positioned carefully. By carefully considering skylight design and construction, and the placement of the skylight(s) within your home or room, you can maximize these two major benefits.

When selecting a skylight make sure to fully understand the energy performance rating assigned to the skylight relative to your climate, as well as its position within the home.

The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) tests, certifies, and labels skylights, as well as doors and windows, for their energy performance. There are a number of factors they evaluate in the energy performance of skylights including, (1) heat gain/loss via U-factor (the rate at which a skylight conducts non-solar heat flow), solar heat gain coefficient, and air leakage, and (2) sunlight transmittance. Skylight design features that influence the energy performance include glazing, general construction and materials, and operation.

In regards to positioning a skylight in a home or room, a skylight facing a southerly direction will provide the most warmth, however the warmth could be excessive during the summer months. When positioning a skylight in a southerly direction consider including skylight shades or shade trees to help combat the solar heat during the summer months. A skylight west-faced positioned will provide afternoon natural light and warmth. A skylight east-faced positioned will provide morning natural light and maximum heat gain. A skylight faced in a northerly direction will provide relatively constant lighting but minimal heat gain throughout the day.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Stop Cold drafts and Dry Air in your Home This Winter

By Mark J. Donovan

If there are major temperature differences in your home during the winter months there could be a number of factors causing it. Also, if the air in your home feels very dry during the winter months, it is most likely caused by warm moist air exiting your home and cold dry air infiltrating it.

First and foremost check for air leaks around your doors and windows by running your hand around the perimeter of the door and windows frames. If you feel cold air drafts, then install door and window weatherstripping.

Second, check the heating and cooling system. Make sure it is running properly and has been serviced in the past year. Also check the duct work if you have a hot/cold air HVAC system. Improperly working or designed duct work is a leading cause of cold drafts in a home.

Finally, check the insulation in your home. Make sure you have the proper amount of insulation in your home’s floors, walls and attic space as specified by the Department of Energy for your region of the country. In particular check the basement and attic space for air leaks as they are frequently the culprits for a drafty house.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Clean Air Filters in Furnaces and Air Conditioning Systems

By Mark J. Donovan

If you have a hot air heating system or central air conditioning system make sure to clean their air filters annually. Clogged air filters can reduce the energy efficiency of the heating or air conditioning system and can lead to more dust circulating in the home. In addition, clogged air filters can reduce your home’s furnace or air conditioning system from keeping your home at a comfortable temperature. Clean air filters also help to extend the life of HVAC systems. Replacing HVAC air filters is inexpensive and easy to do, so there are no excuses for not doing so.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Lead Education Training for Renovating, Repairing or Painting Pre 1978 Built Homes

By Mark J. Donovan

Last night I met with the company Lead-EDU in Manchester, NH. They offer EPA/HUD certification training courses for contractors on Renovating, Repairing and Painting (RRP) homes built pre 1978.

Homes built prior to 1978 could very possibly contain lead paint. The EPA has strict rules for home renovation and remodeling contractors on how to test and address older homes that may contain lead paint. Consequently, if you have a home built prior to 1978 and plan to have renovation work performed on it that may involve disturbing any of its existing paint, make sure to use a contractor that has received RRP certification. If you are a contractor and have plans to work on a home built prior to 1978 you are required by law to obtain this certification.

Lead-Edu provides lead education training and RRP certification classes and programs for contractors, as well as Lead Test Kits for conducting lead risk assessments. To learn more about Lead Education Training and RRP Certification visit Lead-Edu.info.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Prevent Ice Dams this Winter - Now

By Mark J. Donovan

Prevent ice dams this winter by inspecting your attic this fall for proper insulation. Check the Department of Energy’s website to see what the right amount of attic insulation is for your region of the country. Typically a home needs anywhere from R-30 to R-49 in the attic. By installing the necessary amount of insulation in the attic now you can prevent ice dams, and their damaging effects that come along with them, this winter.

Also make sure the soffit vents are not blocked and that the ridge vent or gable vents are in good working order as well. To prevent ice dams it is important that any warm air that may filter up into the attic from the lower living areas, and through the attic insulation, be quickly released from the attic. Having a good attic venting system will ensure this happens. Warm moist air that gets trapped in the attic can cause snow to melt and turn to ice on the outer side of the shingled roof. The melting snow that occurs can quickly form ice dams near the roof eaves when the attic and outside air temperatures drop below 32 degrees (F) in the evening.

See HomeAdditionPlus.com’s article on “Preventing Ice Dams” to learn more.

High Energy Bills are often Related to Window and Door Leaks

By Mark J. Donovan

Check your home's exterior doors and windows for cold drafts this fall. Much of the heat loss associated with a home comes from damaged or non-existent door and window weatherstripping. Weatherstripping can lose its resiliency and end up not forming a tight seal up against window sashes and door frames.

If your home's windows are old, consider replacing them with double pane low-E glass windows. Prices on replacement windows varies dramatically, however even the cheapest ones will do a better job of lowering your home energy bills than an old drafty window that does not close or open properly.

See HomeAdditionPlus.com's "Wood Replacement Window Installation" to learn more.

Likewise, if your doors are old, drafty and provide poor insulation R-value consider replacing them as well.

Exterior House Painting this Weekend

By Mark J. Donovan

Much of my past weekend was dedicated to exterior house painting. The paint on my family room addition house siding and exterior trim work had faded dramatically in the past year or so and was looking quite splotchy. So, with the weather still above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (just barely) I decided to make exterior house painting my weekend project. The previous weekend I had cleaned the house siding with a pressure washer and a house siding detergent so all conditions were right for tackling this project.

I started off my weekend exterior house painting project by first painting the house siding on Saturday. On Sunday I went back and painted all of the trim work. My biggest pain in the neck was shuffling around the heavy fiberglass ladder and positioning it so that it would not inadvertently tilt or slide over when I was standing on it.

After finishing painting the exterior trim on Sunday, I went back and used a razor blade to clean up around the windows. Finally I decided to caulk around the windows to reduce air drafts into the home. I had noticed while doing the exterior house painting that much of the old caulk had separated from the house siding and window frame. With the ladder already out and in place, it only took a few minutes to caulk the windows.

The newly painted house siding and trim work around the family room looks great. So much so that I have convinced myself that if weather conditions permit, I may elect to dedicate next weekend to exterior house painting too. The garage could use a fresh coat as well!