The answer: Follow these steps to take down wallpaper without harming walls. (When done, let the surface dry for at least 24 hours before painting or newspapering.)
Place a drop cloth at the base of the wall. In looping strokes, rub a scoring tool all over the wall.
Spray warm water onto the wall, dampening but not drenching the wallpaper. Let the water soak into the scored holes.
Scrape off the wallpaper with a putty knife, using firm upward strokes. If the paper becomes dry and difficult to loosen, spray sparingly with more water.
The answer: We've listed some common trouble spots. "Once you cover the gaps, your heating bill should be significantly lower," says Jennifer Colaizzi, a spokesperson for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Windows and doors may not be sealed properly. Shine a flashlight along the trims of closed windows and doors with a partner on the other side. If light is visible, there's a leak; apply caulk to these spots. For gaps larger than a quarter inch high underneath doors, install a door sweep.
Duct chases in attics and basements can be thoroughfares for cold air to enter your home. Patch any duct cracks with Mastic, a water-based adhesive available at home-improvement stores.
Attic hatches are easy places for warm air to escape from the house. Seal the perimeter of the hatch with a weather-stripping kit from a home-improvement store. If you have pull-down stairs, apply attic-stair covers for added insulation.
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How do I fix a loose strand on my wicker furniture?
The answer: You can repair an exposed strand in outdoor wicker pieces in just a few easy steps.
Rest a damp towel on any loose strands until they become soft and flexible. (This can take about an hour.) Next, reweave each exposed strand into the chair with your hands. Then, take each loose strand down with an exterior braid that is narrower than the chair’s weave to secure it in place, if necessary.
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I'm thinking about installing a sprinkler system. What factors do I need to consider?
The answer: Irrigation systems certainly can be worthwhile investments. Not only do they save time and effort, but they also can help conserve water because of their precision controls; many people overhydrate their lawns and gardens when they tackle the job by hand. However, since the initial cost can be significant, you'll want to weigh several factors in order to determine the type of irrigation that matches your needs.
A drip-irrigation system consists of perforated tubes that snake throughout a property, delivering water to small-scale vegetable, container, or rooftop gardens. There's also inground irrigation, in which subterranean pipes carry water to sprinkler heads. This alternative, which is more expensive than a drip system and requires professional installation, is designed to keep large lawns and foundation plantings hydrated. Companies usually charge per number of sprinklers. Depending on soil conditions, inground installation will cost $2,400 to $4,000 (including labor and materials) for the average suburban yard. For an additional charge, you may be able to run drip-irrigation lines off the system.
Inground irrigation can be operated manually, or you'll need to choose a controller, which determines when and how much water is released. If you live in a hot, dry area with water-use restrictions, you might want an ET controller (ET is short for evapotranspiration, the process that causes soil to lose water). Equipped with smart technologies such as soil sensors and Internet links to local weather stations, these controllers deliver only as much water as needed (automatically turning off when rain is in the forecast, for example). Certain municipalities even offer rebates on them.
Perhaps the most important decision of all concerning inground irrigation is choosing a contractor. This professional will be responsible for designing and installing the system, plus he or she will handle routine maintenance issues. In other words, this is the start of a long and lasting relationship. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations, or visit www.irrigation.org to find a certified professional in your area.