Well, it’s happened again!

26 06 2010

I don’t want to sound too repetitive but I have replaced more fascia and soffit. I was asked to clean the gutters at the home of young woman that lives next door to another of my clients. As I was looking at the gutters to be cleaned I saw and pointed out to her the rotted fascia. Looking closer I could see that the soffit immediately behind the rotted fascia was damaged also. I cleaned all the gutters on this home and found that when the gutters were originally installed there was not enough fall from the closed end to the downspout. With this type of situation the water just sits in the gutters and the trash, leaves and gravel from the shingles, just sit there and eventually build up so that when we have a big rain some of the trash washes toward the open end into the downspout. This causes the opening to get blocked then causing the gutters to run over. I think this gutter will drain now because when I put the gutter back up I lowered the downspout end making sure that there will be fall and the water will drain.

For a long time I have turned down fascia replacement when there was a long section of gutter with no seams. When you try to take down a long section of gutter it will try to twist and then bend rendering it unusable. It would really be easier to take down if I had about 3 people, one at each end and another in the middle taking it down. I don’t have that luxury to have 2 extra people standing around when I want to take down and put back up a twenty foot section of gutter. I gave it some thought while driving somewhere, that is when I do my best thinking, and came up with an idea and decided it was worth a try. I went to a local carpet store and got from them a 12 foot section of the cardboard spool that new carpet comes on. I took it to the home where the gutter needed to be removed and I removed the spikes in the middle, just enough to get the cardboard spool in the gutter. I tied string around the gutter and spool in several places along the gutter. After I was satisfied that the gutter was now rigid instead of flexible I took down the rest of the spikes and took down the gutter without damaging it. When it was time to reinstall the gutter I put it back up the same way. These are the things I like to do and report on.

I didn’t spend my whole week working on these gutters, I installed hinges on a king size bed. The hinges are on the outside of each side at the head. This allows the person making up the bed to be able to swing the foot to the side and make up both halves from the center of the bed. Who knew there were hinges for king size beds? I didn’t.

Well, until next time I hope your summer is going well. I know it is hot but just think… it’s better than February. Or at least it is to me.

Another mailbox post. More gutters.

9 06 2010

The trend continues. Another  mailbox post. (Someone ran over the post and destroyed it. Didn’t seem to hurt the box though.)

And more gutter-related problems. I replaced two fascia boards and one piece of soffit. Remember my warning about water running over the back of uncleaned-gutters? That’s what happened. It didn’t help that the shingles were a little short over the end of the gutter and the water migrated up the underside of the shingle and down into the soffit, rotting the fascia along the way. It’s not the fault of the homeowner that the water found this circuitous route to the ground. Most of the blame goes to the roofer who didn’t install shingles far enough past the sheathing on the roof.  The homeowner wasn’t aware until there was a problem. Then I cleaned gutters at another house. They hadn’t been cleaned in a long time. There was an 8″ oak tree growing from the gutters. And it wasn’t growing from 2009’s acorns.

I also repaired a cash drawer in a store in the mall this week. The task was an “orphan” job. There are plenty of people who could have done the repair. Most would have charged a great deal more than I did. I had to use my experience, ingenuity, and creativity to solve the problem.  That’s the way I learn best —  repairing or upgrading something  to the way it should have been built the first time!

I worked on the jewelry cases in another store about 2 weeks ago. I replaced mirrors and lid-stays on several units. The job was very labor intensive and took me 7 hours. The cases look much nicer now.

With all the rain and other things remembered

25 05 2010

In my last post I remarked that my work seems to come  in waves — if I clean gutters today, I will soon be called by someone else requesting the same service, and by another and maybe another before the cycle ends. This has, of course, happened again.  I recently replaced siding for 3 clients in a row. I have cleaned the gutters on the homes of 4 clients (and my OWN gutters twice) since March. Of course cleaning gutters is cyclic in nature. Nature set up that cycle some time before I started business. I replaced gear sets in 2 different garage door openers within 2 months of each other. The last time I replaced a gear set was about 3 years ago. I replace or repaired  mailboxes and posts 4 times this spring. The last time I worked on either the post or mailbox was about 2 years ago. I power washed a home for a client and within 2 weeks I cleaned a deck, then a patio, then another deck. I repaired 2 sets of bi-fold doors for 2 clients, on successive days. I have also done the annual tune-up on many lawn mowers this spring. (Again, law mower tune-ups are always cyclic!)

With all the rain lately you need to make certain your gutters and downspouts are clean and allow water to flow freely. If anything impedes the flow of water. the gutters will back up. Then the water will spill over the top, front, and rear of the gutter. And that gravity thing can be pesky. Water coming over the front isn’t necessarily bad; it goes straight to the ground. But if it backs up and gets under the shingles and inside the soffit you will have problems. The water will rot the fascia (the vertical board to which the gutters attach) and the soffit (the horizontal board you see when looking up from the ground at the gutters). Water can even get into the house and run down the walls. That is bad! It can cause rotted wood, mold inside the wall cavity, compromised insulation, etc. Clean your gutters to help avoid these problems! Or of course, call me and I’ll clean the gutters for you!

I recently did a fun job for a client :  I bought an inexpensive pump and connected it to 2 rain barrels. The pump brings water to plants in her garden. Prior to the  pump she was relying on gravity feeding the water. (Gravity was a good thing there!) The problem is that some of the plants are higher than the lower half of the rain barrel. To water those she had to use a watering can. Now she walks around with a garden hose and can reach the entire garden. With the rain we have had for the last week,  I imagine her rain barrels are running over and the pump isn’t getting much use. That will change before the summer is over.

This is not a plug for the company, but I install a lot of Life Alert Emergency Response Systems in the homes of people around the Triangle. Most of these systems are located in the homes of elderly or disabled people.  If you buy one of these systems I might be the guy installing it. Say hello!

Have a nice summer, have lots of fun, and call me to do the things that you don’t find so much fun!  We can make a great team maintaining your home or business.

I am getting spring fever and so should you.

13 03 2010

I have been writing about this for several months but it is time. UNC-TV is having their winter/spring festival to raise money so it is time for you to hit the yard or garden. There is a lot of work to do out there so don’t waste these beautiful days we have been having. You should have put fertilizer on your cool season grass on valentines day and it should already be making your grass greener, maybe even requiring you to mow it. If you have been mowing or if you will start soon try to mow it before it gets too tall and don’t bag it. Mow it and let the clippings lie on the ground. They are full of the expensive fertilizer you just put on that grass. If you leave the clippings they will break down and fertilize the grass again. If you bag the clippings and send them to the landfill, that will be such a waste.

It is time to cut your ornamental grasses and put them in the compost pile. You still have time to prune the hardwoods in your yard. If you have the time you need to rake last years leaves out of your garden areas.  It is also time to fertilize your garden and then top coat it with compost, pine straw or leaf mold. I personally don’t care for pine straw. It takes a long time for pine straw to break down. It is also hard to dig where there may be several inches in the soil. So stick with compost or leaf mold. I agree that triple shredded hard wood looks nice but I have written about that earlier. Just look down the page and you will see my post. I have trimmed all my grasses and they are in the compost pile now. Speaking of compost, do you? I know I am obsessive about compost but when it breaks down it looks SO good. I top coated several area in our yard today with compost. That rich dark black compost is last year’s (2008) leaf crop mixed with grass clippings gathered from donors located in the neighborhood. I also save vegetable scraps and coffee grounds from local coffee shops. Coffee grounds are considered nitrogen or “green” in the compost pile. Leaves are considered “brown” or carbon. My compost piles are a little larger than they should be making it harder on me to turn them. They need to be turned about once a month so that the moisture is spread and the turning allows oxygen to get mixed in. If the compost pile has the proper mix of green, brown, moisture, and oxygen the leaves or carbon will break down in about 8 weeks. If the pile is not turned the pile will eventually break down anaerobically, without oxygen. I prefer the pile get turned and if you need lessons in compost pile turning I conduct classes free, here at my home. I promise if you take the course you will get a passing grade and you will sleep well that night. For the sleeping well some individuals may need some nsaids for the pain and tired muscles. But most people will get over it quickly. Call soon and make an appointment for compost training.

I am looking forward to cleaning our banana plants. They really look unkempt but I have been told they stand a better chance of surviving our winters if they are left alone since the killing frost and freezes from last fall.

I am really surprised that more of the thousands of you that read these tidbits don’t comment more. Maybe I am surprising myself because I explain this information so well that there is nothing left to question. You know I don’t charge to answer questions.

It’s been a while.

6 03 2010

It’s been a very busy winter and I am not complaining.  As usual I have done a variety of unusual jobs for the last couple of months.  As I said earlier or at least thought it, my jobs seem to run in waves, meaning if someone calls and ask me to clean their gutters then I will be called to clean 2 or 3 more within 2 weeks. It seems strange to me that this phenomenon happens. Maybe I will start recording these events, just for my own knowledge.

Since January I have taken up a room of shag carpet, worked multiple times in a historic building in Apex, clean gutters, repaired a garage door, diagnosed a leaky dishwasher, moved a couple of clients into Abbottswood, hung blinds as window treatments in a new condo, repaired low voltage lights and dug a 3 foot hole in the basement of a commercial building and installed a sump pump. These are not all the jobs I have done but I don’ t serve No-Doze with my writings and you get what I mean,,,I hope. I may come back with more detail about some of the more interesting or oddities of some of the work I have done. I like doing different jobs each day. It keeps me from getting bored and it also keeps me on my toes learning how to do some of the things I get myself into.

You know the curtains hanging from the ceiling of a doctors office or emergency room, maybe I know too much about emergency rooms. These curtain hang from little wheels or carriers that run in a track. I had to replace several of these carriers recently. When originally installed the wrong screws were used to install the track and the screw heads would catch the carriers. The operators of the curtains would pull harder and in some cases would complete the task, close or open the curtain. In other cases the operator would pull and the chain from the carrier would break. Once several carrier chains were broken then I was called to correct the errant carriers. The repair was slow and very labor intensive but completing the repair was necessary and rewarding because I discovered why they were failing and corrected that also.

I have a client that about once a year I have to go on her roof and run my clean out snake down the sewer vent. This vent gets clogged with who knows what and her sinks sounds like a bubble mower when she runs water down the drain. I just run the snake in, hit the clog a couple of times, run the snake down a couple of feet more and do it again and it is clear. No more bubble sounds.

I will try to keep you updated better in the future so that you will not have to read about so many of my exploits at once. You will be able to spread the joy over a longer time.

You can also check in with me and tell me what you think or ask questions about some of my jobs. Don’t forget to cut your ornamental grasses now, mulch with composted leaf mold and general clean of your landscape and garden areas.

It’s almost time to work on your lawn & garden.

25 01 2010

If you have cool season grasses Valentines is coming up. This time to fertilize your grass you might want to consider a fertilizer with a pre-emergent weed killer in it. I always look for an ingredient to kill or stop the emergence of crabgrass. Crabgrass is easy to identify, it looks like a crab you might see at the beach or on the sound side. Crabgrass will spread and take over choking out your fescue. Crabgrass will not hurt your bermuda or any of the warm season grasses,,, as far as I know. This will be the last time you give your cool season grasses any nourishment until Labor day, September. I don’t bag my grass clippings and they fall on the lawn and fertilize the lawn on a slow and continuing basis.

About 1 week or maybe 2 weeks after Valentines you will need to mow down your liriope. I usually set my lawn mower deck as high as I can and mow all the liriope. I also pick up the clippings and put them in the compost pile. It only takes a couple of months and they look like soil or mulch.

February is a good time to prune your hardwood limbs that need to go for the benefit of the tree or the side or roof of  your home. If you have a chipper you can chip the limbs and put them in the compost pile. It will take these chips much longer to be broken down but your neighbor’s grass clippings will help once the mowing season starts and they are plentiful.

Help for Haiti

21 01 2010

Since the earthquake in Haiti there have been many people and agencies organizing at different levels to provide relief for the people there. My mother-in-law is one of them. She sent my wife information that Horne United Methodist Church in Clayton, NC  is collecting, sorting and shipping specific items to Haiti.  My wife forwarded the message to Jay O’Berski in Durham who rallied his friends in the theater community and collected A LOT of items. The Durham collecting point for the donated goods was Manbites Dog Theater. Thank you Ed and Jeff for your generosity. I volunteered to transport the donations from Durham to Clayton. I borrowed a truck from my friend Keith Burch. Keith owns Exit Reality First Choice in Raleigh and  has a large van  he loans to clients for moving when they buy a house through his business. Keith said very boldly that I could use his van. I used it to pick up the donations in Durham and this morning my mother-in-law and I delivered them to Clayton.  Thanks Keith. Thanks to all of you who shared the opportunity with others,  donated,  provided collection and processing sites,  loaded the truck, and provided a delivery vehicle.

You can read more about this project in the Durham Magazine and the Independent Weekly.

Low voltage lights in the garden or walkway.

24 11 2009

Several years ago I thought it might be nice to light the walkway from our driveway to the front steps. It was like walking into a cave except for the little bit of light that came from the neighbors home. Even the porch lights didn’t provide much help from the porch, down the steps, to the driveway, to the street where finally there was some help from the street light across the street. So for Christmas and birthdays I requested Lowes and Home Depot gift cards so that I could purchase the needed lights, wire, and power supply/timer. I have now installed these lights and it is amazing that I can now see how to navigate from the dark driveway to the steps and up to the porch. This project had 2 objectives: (1) light the walk & (2) learn more about low voltage lights and their uses. The project has moved along fairly quickly and I like the results. If low voltage lights are something you would like to add to your walkway or garden I would like to help. Give me a call or press Contact, or add a Comment and I will be glad to help you plan and implement your light needs.

The more I do…

23 11 2009

Occasionally one of the maintenance companies that I do work for will call with a situation that adds to my own knowledge base and tickles my imagination. I was recently called to work on a “slatwall”, the kind that clothing or book bags might be hanging on in a retail store. When I got there I found the slatwall that had escaped its captive environment sitting on the floor. I quickly realized  it was supposed to be sitting in a channel at the bottom and captured by another channel at the top. When I got it back in place I also realized there was nothing but those channels to help it stay in place. And it was too flexible to stay there on its own. It’s neighbor was doing it’s job, seemingly unaided by outside support. Why did this one give up? I don’t know. but I did manage to replace it and make sure it will not come back down. Now I am waiting for the maintenance company to call me to have me replace and repair the next unit over, then the next, and then…well, you get the idea. When I find an answer on how it is supposed to support weight, leveraged out 12″ to 14″ from the wall, and not fall I’ll let you know.

Fertilize fescue this week!

23 11 2009

If you have cool season grass, fescue, growing here in the U.S. this coming week is the second major holiday of the cool season to celebrate by fertilizing your lawn. The first is Labor Day in September, the second is Thanksgiving, and the last holiday of the cool season to fertilize your lawn is Valentine’s Day.  Cool season grasses like to have fertilizer when they can use it — during cool seasons. Another reason you apply it during the cool season is that the weeds that are ever-present in your lawn won’t get much help from it because many of them die back during the winter. The fescue uses the fertilizer and there isn’t  much left for the thuggish weeds in the late spring and summer.

Municipal governments and environmentalist would prefer you not put too much nitrogen close to the edges – near curbing or the driveway — where it can run off into the nearby streams and then into rivers. If you have questions, feel free to contact me.