Friday, December 6, 2019

Eagle Butte
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Home Improvement Tips


Floyd Braun

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you, your families and homes. Although this week started with a bit of snow, you can complete tasks that can save you money on home and auto expenses.

Water heater maintenance: Draining and flushing out sediment (tools needed: flathead and Phillips screwdrivers, garden hose, and channel locks in case you need it to turn on the drain)

Shut off the cold water supply knob on the cold water intake, then turn off the power. Remove the lower cover and turn your thermostat all the way down with a standard screwdriver. Connect a garden hose to the spigot valve at the bottom of the water heater. Then run the hose into a floor drain, sticking the hose 4 to 5 inches into the drain, or simply run the hose to the outside of your home.

Turn on the hot water from the nearest faucet, and turn on the spigot valve — you are now draining the water heater. Run until no water comes out. Now, turn off the hot water outlet valve and turn on the cold water inlet valve. This will flush out the sediment in the bottom of the tank.

Run until the water is clear. Turn off the drain spigot valve and disconnect the hose, then turn on the hot water valve and allow the tank to fill. Listen for the tank to sound full — you can also touch the cold water pipe to feel water running in. You will know when your tank is getting full when cold water comes out the faucet you opened.

You can now close the faucet and continue to fill. When full, set your thermostat to your desired and safe setting, between 105-120 degrees. Put the cover back on, turn the power on and start heating the water.

Rodent control

The most important part of rodent control of mice and rats is to remove their food sources. A rat can smell a meal from up to 100 yards away. I suggest doing the following for preventive measures:

Clean under and behind your appliances.

Feed your pets indoors. Leaving food and food bowls outdoors is the same as putting up a sign for rodents that says, “Come live at my house. I will feed you here.”

Fill holes around gaps in the home where pipes and wires enter from the outside. Fill with pest resistant, fire-rated spray foam or steel wool.

Keep your grains, like flour and rice, off the floor and in secured bins.

If you see mice, rats or damage, use traps of your choice along the base of interior walls. If you use a trap that requires bait, I find peanut butter works well. Use as little as possible and check your traps daily. For exterior control, use a pet and child-safe bait station and put them out every 40 feet along the wall. Use recommended bait for the station.

If you have a home with a crawl space, or a mobile home, you can also put bait stations just inside the crawlspace against the interior wall or foundation.

Toilet repairs, part 1 (tools: crescent wrench, Phillips screwdriver, flat head screwdriver, disposable rags, scissors or knife. Parts: universal toilet bolts, toilet flange, wax ring, bath caulk/caulk gun, or squeezable tube)

If your toilet needs a new wax ring where the toilet meets the sewer pipe, it’s an easy fix. If you have a standard toilet, a standard wax ring and boot set will do. If you have a highboy/disabled toilet you will want a low clearance wax ring.

Your first step is to turn the valve handle one quarter to the right, which will turn the water off. If you are unsure if the water is off, simply flush the toilet — if you hear water filling the tank, the water is still on. Turn the valve until the water stops. If the water will not stop, discontinue this project and call a plumber to replace your valve.

Once the water is off, disconnect the supply line from the bottom of the tank with your hand, which should only be hand tight. Remove any remaining water in the tank with a small cup.

Next, remove the caulking around the base of the toilet, this will make picking up the toilet easier. Remove the nuts and washers from the bolts, and pick the toilet straight up and set aside.

Note the bolt placement so you know where to put the new ones in. Next, remove the old wax ring  with a rag. It will pull off from the flange on the floor. Clean up any debris. Clean off all the old wax and see if the flange is in one piece. If it is, remove the old bolts and install the new bolts, they should slide into the slots. If the flange is broken, remove the set screws and remove the old flange and replace with the new flange, putting the screws back in.

Next, install the new wax ring as shown in the manufacturer’s instructions. Now carefully set the toilet down over the new bolts. Press the toilet down until it is flush with floor. Screw in the new nuts until tight, but not over tight as you can crack the toilet.

Hook up the water line, turn on the water and apply a new bead of caulk to the toilet base between the toilet and floor.

Auto Care

Read your car manual to locate the oil and transmission dipsticks, find the power steering, coolant and brake fluid reservoirs, and read whether your vehicle needs to be running or be in neutral when checking the transmission fluid.

Check if your fluids are low, and if they are, add more per the manual.

With engine off, check your belts for tears or crack, and replace any damaged belts.

Check your hoses–  you should see nothing coming out of them. If you spot a leak, replace it the hose.

Types of oil

Some types of newer cars start easier in the cold if they run on synthetic oil. When the temperature falls below zero, start your engine every four hours — this will also keep your battery from failing.

Keep tires at recommended air pressure. If you buy new tires two at a time, put the new tires on the rear. After at least 200 miles, rotate them the front. This allows for maximum control in the rain. Low tire pressure can cause uneven wear or cause tire failure.

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