At Home / DIY

We'll Have a Green Christmas with Cowboy Bob

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One of our KnowledgeBase writers, Robert Klar, otherwise known as Cowboy Bob, is a holidays enthusiast who would like to share some of his ideas about how to make the holidays an enjoyably green experience. He shares with us a few tips about LED lights that tie into the At Home article Christmas Light Safety. As for me, I greatly enjoyed walking through the Columbus Zoo's new LED Wildlights Display, sponsored this year by AEP with over 3 million brightly shining bulbs.

While we hope to inspire families to change out their traditional Christmas stings of lights with LED's this year, like Prince Charles has done for Buckingham Palace, the greater goal is to invoke a stronger, more broad use of the new LED technology in all light sources. After all, 6% of all electricity use in the U.S. comes from lighting sources. LED's are more than twice as efficient as compact fluorescents. So, look forward to watching how LED technology progresses in the coming years.

Happy Holidays!


Shower Rise

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Problems can occur with any type of renovation project.  Prior to installing our new three piece acrylic bathtub and surround, we determined that the existing locations of both the shower arm and tub spout were too low.  While we had hoped to keep the existing plumbing intact, we realized that we would need to redo the rough plumbing to relocate the shower arm and tub spout.

Since our house already had copper plumbing pipes, we decided to replace the existing tub and shower pipes with copper, rather than PEX or CPVC.  Even though I have done some plumbing in the past, I had reservations about soldering the copper piping and fittings.

Helpful Online Tools

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Whether you are a do-it-yourself pro or beginner, wouldn’t it be nice to have a little help when estimating the quantity of material that is required for your project? Preventing over- and under-ordering material and eliminating additional trips to the home improvement store will save you both time and money. Below are a few helpful online calculators and estimators that we have found.

Christmas Light Safety

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The more lights the better, right? Although lights are visually appealing and, personally, my favorite, the “Christmas Vacation” mentality can lead to a lot of problems if proper precautions are not taken. Christmas lights use a lot of electricity. Improperly installed, they can cause overloaded circuits and wires to overheat. Enough heat could be generated to eventually burn and ignite other items in the area.

Winterizing Your Home

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We have all performed the recommended winter car maintenance to ensure proper operation and have put our summer clothes away for the year.  But have we readied our home for the winter as well?  Preparing your home for cold winter weather not only contributes to your general comfort, but it can also contribute to keeping money in your pocket.

Bathtubs and Surrounds: Refinish or Replace

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As mentioned in the “Wallpaper Removal” article, my wife and I are currently in the process of updating our 1980’s home.  Concentrating on the kids' bathroom, we first removed all original wallpaper and selected updated paint colors and flooring.  Realizing that our dull, worn out, almond fiberglass tub was not going to fit in with our vision, we decided to look into the different refinishing and replacement options.  We also decided that if the tub was going to go, so to was the almond toilet and vanity.  Before I realized it, I was replacing everything but the rough framing.  While maintaining a positive attitude and considering our long term objectives, I began to tackle the project in my spare time while allowing the kids to use our bathroom.

Futuristic Receptacle

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One action that most inhabitants of developed countries take for granted every day is the ability to plug an electrical cord into an outlet and power up any kind of device, from a lamp to a washing machine to a laptop. While we could go on for days debating the status and future of the world’s energy sources and demand, this post is simply about what you plug that cord into.

Wallpaper Removal

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A few years ago, our family moved into a home built in the 1980’s. The home has a nice exterior, other than the overgrown landscaping, and the interior plan is functional; however, the decor is original and is in need of updating. While my wife is a big fan of 80’s music, she can do without the decor from that era, and was determined on updating everything during our first month in the home.





Residential Rain Barrels

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Rainwater can be harvested with large, sophisticated, complex systems, linked rain barrels, or a single rain barrel. A single rain barrel is typically installed under a downspout as a repository for the rainwater collected by the roof gutters.

Lessons Learned: Installing Laminate Flooring

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These are lessons learned from installing laminate flooring in my own home, along with my wife and a few friends. Laminate flooring is a relatively new and innovative product, well suited for home owners and do-it-yourself individuals who are looking for a weekend project. Fitting that description, my wife and I started our quest to redo our 12'-0" x 18'-0" family room.