Home Improvement

Getting Rid of Earwigs Naturally

Getting Rid of Earwigs Naturally
By Paul T. McCoy

Beliefs about earwigs are certainly not true. They said that earwigs got its name because it enters the human brain through the ears. Earwigs are not dangerous and they do not enter the brain. They are insects that crawl in your house especially if you have stored fruits and vegetable - earwigs are attracted to them.

Earwigs do not reside inside your home. They just crawl inside your home. To prevent them from entering your home, check your windows and doors of any opening that serves as their entry point. Earwigs like moist and damp places. They hide in dark areas outdoor. To avoid earwigs around your home, take away logs, leaves and other dirt. If the infestation is serious, putting stones around the house may help. Bird baths and bird feeders may also eliminate earwigs because they eat them. If earwigs are destroying your plants, a can of vegetable oil or bacon grease can eliminate them.

Using pesticides may help eliminate them, but you need to let them in first before killing them. Here are other ways of eliminating earwigs in your home.

    • Keep green plants away. Earwigs like plants, fruits and vegetables so it is best to keep plants away from your home. Earwigs infest your plants and if you happen to take the plants inside your home, you are also taking the earwigs with you. Earwigs can destruct your home and furniture. Watering your plants is also favorable for earwigs because they like damp and moist areas. Spraying water with soap can eliminate earwigs from the plants.

 

    • Make use of vapor lights. Avoid using white lights because they attract earwigs but if you want to catch them - then using white light is advisable. Place a can with soapy water under the light so earwigs will fall into it and drown themselves.

 

    • Use paper traps. Dampening a newspaper with water or vegetable oil is effective in catching earwigs. Roll the newspaper with a rubber band and place it where earwigs are frequent. Earwigs will crawl inside the newspaper and will die there because they cannot bring themselves out anymore. Throw away the newspaper every morning and remember not to use them as compost for your garden.

 

    • Dry moist areas in your home. Check all areas in the house such as pool, ponds, bird bath and fountains. Dry them to avoid earwig infestation. Since earwigs are attracted to moist and damp, they will stay away from these areas thus eliminating them around your house.

 

    • Boric acid. Use boric acid to naturally kill earwigs. Applying them in your home can be very effective in getting rid of earwigs. Apply boric acid on areas where earwigs pass by like windows, doors, holes, floor, etc. While boric acid is effective in killing insects, be careful in using them because it can be dangerous for children and other pets in the house. Apply it in places that are not accessible for children and pets. If you need to store them, place them where they can't be easily reach.

 

    • Maintain your house clean. A clean house will not just prevent earwigs but other insects and pests as well. Make sure that your house is clean to avoid pest's infestation. Also, after eliminating the earwigs, maintain the cleanliness of your house so they won't keep coming back.

 

  • Eliminate earwig's hiding place. This includes the areas such as log piles, leaf or trunk debris, and stepping stones in your garden.

Although earwigs are not dangerous, you should be careful not to touch them because their bite can be very painful. They usually hide on daytime so use your traps at night when they go out of their place. In some cases, earwigs can be advantageous in the garden because they kill other insects in the garden such as snails, aphids, and other night pests. They do not cause any disease but is really creepy to look at. There are a total of 22 types of earwigs only in the United States. They eat fruits, vegetables, insects and molds. Sealing the cracks and holes in your home can prevent them from going in and affect your living.

It can be tough to identify the insect that is bothering you. Contact HonorGuard Pest Management to get help with identifying and eliminating pests.

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How To Get Rid Of Centipedes In The House Effectively

How To Get Rid Of Centipedes In The House Effectively
By R Crawford

In order to get rid of centipedes in the house it is necessary to follow a 2 step process that involves humidity and food supply. Centipedes are invertebrates with an exoskeleton, multiple pairs of legs and inhabit most parts of the world. There are about 3000 known species of centipedes with legs ranging from 15 to over 300.

However adaptable they may be, they always need a moist environment to survive because they lack the waxy protective cuticle of insects or spiders. Hence their preference for rocks, piles of leaves or vegetation, wood and so on. At spring time they come out for reproduction and at fall they are lured into houses seeking warmth and food. Because of their need for moist, they are usually fund in parts of the house that mimic their natural environment like basements, kitchen basins, washing machines or laundry rooms.

The common house centipede is called Scutigera Coleoptrata and like all centipedes is a predator. The house centipede is 1 to 2 inches long and has 15 pairs of legs developed in several molts from an original set of just 4 legs when newly hatched. Other larger centipedes like the tropical Scolopendromorpha are born directly with 21 pairs of shorter legs and flexible segments, can reach gigantic size up to 12 inches (30 cm) and feed on mice, lizards, frogs and even tarantulas, while the house centipede has a rigid segmented body with long and fast legs and feeds on other house pests. Unlike other species of centipedes, the house centipede has good eye sight but catches its prey with the aid of antennae too.

Typical house centipede preys include ants, termites, bed bugs, spiders and cockroach nymphs as well as opportunistic kitchen left overs. They hunt at night and this is the time they are usually sighted. Over all the house centipede provides a good service in that it naturally preys on other unwanted house pests that are objectively far more hazardous than the centipede itself. Just think of the many germs and illnesses transmitted by roaches, fleas (including the historic bubonic plague through rat fleas), or blood feeding bed bugs. Centipedes are not after humans nor are they a health hazard like other pests, however there are 2 reasons why home owners want to get rid of centipedes in the house the moment they see one of them.

One reason is that their presence may be the tell tale sign that there is another infestation on which the centipede feed on. The other reason is just their appearance. Centipedes are quite revolting. Couple this with their speed and manoeuvrability and you have a horror movie like creature alive, right in the middle of your room. Unfortunately, as long as centipedes have no reason to leave, they will stay and multiply. So the solution to eliminating them is to give them a reason to leave.

How to get rid of centipedes in the house then? Tidy up the clutter in the bathroom, kitchen, basement and all known humid spots where centipedes rest. Use dehumidifiers and desiccators to dry up as much as possible the environment and allow for maximum ventilation. This way the centipedes will have a hard time in keeping their body moist and may want to leave.

In their presence is persistent it may be a sign that they have found a steady food supply on which to feed on. This means you may have more than just a centipede problem but also roaches, ants or any other bug enticing the centipede to stay. In this case you may need to follow a pest eradication procedure in 2 steps, both indoor and outdoor to get rid of all pests including the top of the food chain, the centipedes themselves.

Find out more on the procedure and how to get rid of centipedes in the house. Read more on how to get rid of centipedes in the house.

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Is Your House Full of Ants?

Is Your House Full of Ants?
By Shivraj Ghorpade

Easy Tips to Get Rid of All Kinds of Ants

Simple methods to get rid of different types of ants from your house

Ants are a problem that many people have. There is nothing more disturbing, annoying or embarrassing than having ants in your home. Furthermore, there are several different species of ants that can be dangerous to you or your family members, depending on which states you live in; and there are other ants that can do serious damage to the woodwork or carpentry in your home. Several different types of ants are listed below.

1. Fire ants are some of the worst kinds of ants that you can have in your home. Fire ants are found all over the United States, but the ones in the southern states, such as Florida, are the most dangerous.

Usually fire ants are found outside, but sometimes they can reside in the foundation and come up into the floor. You can tell if you have come onto a fire ant's nest. These ants are small and a dark red in color, but their bites can be painful.

Fire ants are very aggressive and when their nest is disturbed, they will sting in several times. In the southern states, fire ants can also be deadly, especially for children and unhealthy adults.

2. Carpenter ants are the most common ant problem that people have in the United States. Carpenter ants can do as much damage to your house as termites can. Carpenter ants are large black ants and reside in wood. They burrow tunnels in the wood and that is where they build their nests. When carpenter ants burrow their tunnels in the wood, this weakens the wood and causes it to rot.

3. Sugar ants are probably some of the most obnoxious ants that you can have in your house. These ants are also known as pharaoh ants or pavement ants. The fact that these ants are persistent in getting what they want makes them a serious household pest.

What makes these ants a particular nuisance is that they can smell anything that is a food protein and sugars. These ants will invade whatever food you have on your table or on your kitchen counter. Furthermore, these ants can also be harmful because they can carry the dangerous staphylococcus and pseudomonas bacteria.

4. Argentine ants can be a serious problem for you if you live in the desert Southwest. Argentine ants are a problem that does not only affect individual homes, but is also killing off the native habitat of the Southwest. Argentine ants can eat everything in sight.

How do I get rid of these ants?

There are many different ways to get rid of ants and you do not necessarily need to hire an exterminator to solve your ant problem. In some cases, however, an exterminator might be needed. However, exterminators are expensive and their chemicals are highly toxic. Try some home remedies first before you consider hiring an exterminator. Some remedies are listed below.

1. Hydramethylnon is a toxic chemical that is usually produced in granules and is a great way of getting rid of fire ants in your home. These granules are sold at your general store and usually under the brands of Amdro, Maxforce, or Siege.

2. To get rid of carpenter ants, you need to first need to locate their nest. There are several ways you can locate a carpenter ants' nest. The first sign that indicates that you have a problem with carpenter ants is if you see a carpenter ant wander somewhere on the floor.

You can also listen for the rustling of the ants in the woodwork. One of the best ways to get rid of carpenter ants is to set a sugar or honey bait. Carpenter ants like sweet things and will swarm around sugar or honey. When you see the carpenter ants swarm over the sugar, follow them to see where they come from.

Once you have spotted their nest, use a strong aerosol ant killer. There are many aerosol ant killers available, Raid being the biggest and best known brand. You can also drill holes in the wall where the ants' nest is and spray or dust ant killer directly into the nest.

A good powder that can be used to kill the ants is Sevin. But keep in mind that Sevin is highly toxic. If you have children, you need to keep them away from Sevin and you need to place something they cannot move in front of the ant's nest when you are applying the Sevin.

Once you have gotten rid of the carpenter ants, there are a few things that you can do to keep them from coming back into your home.

a. White gravel can be a natural barrier when it is lined around the home. The way white gravel works is simple. Carpenter ants like most dark places and the white gravel is dry and allows for good drainage. If the moisture is drained away from your home, the carpenter ants will not come in.

b. Boric acid is another great tool to make your home repelling to carpenter ants. Boric acid is not as strong as other acids and not as dangerous. Like with all acids, you should still take your precautions with boric acid. You should not consume it nor should you allow your children near it.

c. Hiring a professional exterminator is the last option if you cannot get rid of the carpenter ants.

3. Sweet and protein based baits are the best way to get rid of sugar and Argentine ants. Though the two species of ants have similar tastes, they are different and the ways to get rid of both sugar ants and Argentine ants are listed below.

I. Getting rid of sugar ants can be a daily affair. This is especially the case when sugar ants are the most active, which is during the months of March through September. There are several things that you can do to prevent a sugar ant infestation in your home during this time.

a. Keep your kitchen sink clean and dry. If there is one thing that sugar ants like the most it is a nice dirty kitchen sink.

b. Wipe down your counter tops with bleach every night. Keep your countertops clean and free of any sugar-based foods or other food proteins. Sugar ants like a dirty countertop as well. If you even spill a few grains of sugar during the summer months, sugar ants will find it and make themselves at home.

c. Mop your kitchen floor with bleach every evening during the summer months. Sweep your kitchen floor after every meal. The bleach will destroy the pheromone trails left behind from a scout sugar ant.

d. Vacuum your carpeted areas where food is consumed on a regular basis. This can be a good policy of not inviting sugar ants into your home.

e. Use strong garbage bags to line your kitchen garbage can and take the garbage out of the house on a daily basis to avoid sugar ants from coming into your kitchen attracted to your garbage. After taking the garbage out of your kitchen, use Arm & Hammer baking soda to deodorize the garbage can.

II. One of the best ways to control Argentine ants is to prevent them from getting into your home. All Argentine ants need to get into your home is a small hole in from the outside that is one millimeter wide. Check all your windows and doors. Make sure that the seams of your window frames are tightly sealed with caulking.

Make sure that mosquito netting on your window screens are properly fitted and not torn. Place good weather stripping on the doors and windows to keep these invasive ants from just walking in and making themselves at home. Other ways you can get rid of Argentine ants are as follows:

a. Talcum powder can be used to get rid of Argentine ants because for some unknown reason, these ants do not like talcum powder. After this powder has been dusted throughout the house where Argentine ants nest or enter, not only will it get rid of these pests, but also keep them from coming back.

b. Maxforce ant-killing granules can be spread around the home to effectively kill Argentine ants.

Other innovative ways of getting rid of ants

Some companies have come with some solutions that do not require any insecticides or other toxic chemicals.

1. PestRepeller Ultimate is one device that is available which its maker claims gets rid of not just ants, but other pests, such as insects of any kind, spiders, and rodents. This device uses a sound of a specific pitch that it is inaudible to the human ear, but to insects and rodents the sound that this device generates is unbearable.

2. Vinegar can be another way to get rid of and repel ants without using any toxic pesticides. Ants do not like the smell of vinegar.

3. A big pot of boiling water can be like the nuclear bomb to an ants' nest, provided you know where the ants' nest is. All you need to do is to pour the boiling water over the entire nest and make sure it goes into the tunnels and it will kill all the ants on contact. You can intensify the effect by adding boric acid and cornmeal to the boiling water.

There are many ways to get rid of and control the ant problem in your home depending on where you live.

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How to Unclog Garbage Disposal

How to Unclog Garbage Disposal
By Chris M. Malcolm

Some of the reasons why a garbage disposal gets clogged include food or debris thrown into it which stops and prevents the fly wheel from moving and doing its job. The fly wheel is the mechanism that spins and grinds the food inside the disposal. Here are some tips on how to unclog garbage disposal.

1) Before anything else you have to make sure you have all the materials and equipment needed to do the job. You need a hex-head wrench, a flashlight and a broom handle or a wooden spoon.

2) You need to turn off the power of the disposal before you start working on it. This is for both ease and safety purposes.

3) Often the problem lies in the blades of the garbage disposal being being blocked or something. So using a flashlight, take a good look at the it through the sink drain to see if there is an object or objects blocking the blades. If indeed there is such an object there, use a pair of pliers, a tong or any appropriate tool to get hold of the object and then remove it to unclog garbage disposal.

4) A hex-head wrench normally comes with a garbage disposal. However, in cases where you can't seem to find it, a hex-head wrench that fits into the hole at the bottom will suffice. Now, you need to insert the hex-head wrench into the hole and turn it in a back
and forth manner. Keep doing this in order to manually get the flywheel moving and turning so it may free itself from any obstructions.

5) Now, grab a wooden broom handle or a wooden spoon or fork handle and insert it to the disposal again through the drain sink. Use it to turn the flywheel manually until you think and feel it can move as freely as possible.

6) Get the broom or spoon handle off the disposal then turn the power on to test it out if your efforts worked to solve the problem.

One way of determining whether a garbage disposal is clogged or not is to turn its power on and off. If it is clogged, you can easily hear a humming sound but the it's not working and the blades are not turning. If you can not hear a humming sound even if the power is turned on, then the problem is more than just clogging.

Always remember also that it normally have a reset button. It can be found at the bottom of the disposal and it's usually a red button. Always try resetting your garbage disposals first before doing any other repairs or unclogging procedures.

And never place your bare hands inside any garbage disposal. The blades in there are sharp and even if the power is turned off and the blades are immobile, they still can easily cut through your hands.

Always keep these tips on how to unclog garbage disposal to keep yourself safe and to get the job done as efficiently and quickly as possible.

Are you looking for more information regarding unclog garbage disposal? Visit http://www.magicplumbing.com/ today!

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Cleaning a Clogged Sink Drain

Cleaning a Clogged Sink Drain
By Chris M. Malcolm

The sink is one of the most important parts of the house. It is where we do hygienic activities such as washing our hands and cleaning our plates. Without it, then our household wouldn't have an ideal system wherein waste water can easily exit within your house's premises.

A clogged sink drain is perhaps every family's worst nightmare. We must remember that there are two recommended methods to solve such problem.

1. Using a plunger. The most important thing that you should about your plunger is the size of its suction cup. Make sure it is big enough to fit on the opening of your hole or else it will be deemed ineffective as water will simply escape from it, thereby lessening the suctioning effect.

a. You must first fill the clogged drain with water. The amount of the water depends on the size of your plunger cup; make sure it covers it fully, not letting any air escape.

b. The rim of the plunger's cup must be coated with some petroleum jelly in order to allow the seal to tighten once you insert it inside the blocked drain.

c. If there are any small openings where in water or air rushes out, make sure you cover them with any wet rags. Doing so will create a sort of vacuum that strengthens the suctioning effect of your plunger.

d. Pull the plunger forward and backward in order to create the suction. One or two dozen strokes would most likely work.

e. Repeat the process to your clogged sink drain and check it to see the effects.

2. Using chemicals. Before using chemicals, make sure that the drain is not completely blocked. If it is, then you must refrain from using such or else there is the possibility wherein the harmful agents might splash on your skin and harm you physically. Also, it is a must that you do not overuse the chemicals unless you want your pipes to experience severe corroding.

a. Check your room beforehand and make sure that it is well-ventilated.

b. Safety first. Wear gloves to protect your eyes and face protectors to shield your eyes from any possible chemical sting.

c. With your bottle of chemicals in hand, make sure that you do not perform any careless mixing in order to avoid unwanted reactions which might not only destroy your pipes, but your skin as well. Learn to read labels and make sure that it is the right chemical you are using.

d. After pouring chemicals on your clogged sink drain, refrain from looking down directly into the drain so that you can avoid any sting or toxic fumes that resulted from the chemical reactions of the agents and whatever it is that is blocking your sink.

If there is something you will need to remember in performing the task of cleaning your clogged sink drain, it is that you must be aware of specific safety measures. Always remember that is still your safety which is more important.

Are you looking for more information regarding clogged sink drain? Visit http://www.magicplumbing.com/ today!

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Clearing a Clogged Sink

Clearing a Clogged Sink
By Chris M. Malcolm

At some point in the life of your pipes and fixtures, you will have to deal with a sink that drains slower than usual, sometimes it won't even drain at all. If this problem only happens to one certain sink, then you have a clogged sink. Compared to a clogged sewer, it is easier to clean a sink drain. Here's how to do it yourself.

Let's begin with the simplest way to unclog your sink: boiling hot water. Although this is only effective if you have metal pipes, pouring down boiling water directly down the drain can dissolve the clog and clear the drain pipe. Boil about a gallon of hot water in a large kettle or use a tea pot. Pour the water directly onto the drain and not on the porcelain. Never use hot water to unclog a sink if you have PVC pipes because hot water can soften these pipes, causing joints to loosen.

When the boiling water was not able to help or if you have PVC drain pipes, you need to use a plunger to fix a clogged sink. First, you need to know that there are two types of plungers, then cup plunger and the flange plunger. For unclogging a sink, you must use a cup plunger. The flange plunger is to be used on toilet bowls because they are specifically designed for it. For hygienic reasons, you do not want to mix the two. When you got yourself the right plunger, seal the sink overflow outlet with a piece of duct tape. The sink overflow is located at the top of most lavatories. For a kitchen sink, remove the basket strainer if it has one. You also need to remove the drain stopper in a lavatory sink. After doing this, fill the sink halfway with water. Then try to clear your drain pipe using quick, sharp plunges. Be careful not to break your sink though.

If even the plunger fails, it's time to the auger. For work in a sink, use a sink auger or a canister auger, sometime also called a drum auger. With the stopper or drain basket removed, insert auger cable into the drain. Keep on extending the cable until you feel it against the clog then extend around twelve inches more. Tighten the set screw and turn the crank handle of the auger. Use firm but gentle pressure. When you feel the clog clearing, extend more cable until you've worked through the entire blockage. Repeat this a few time over and flush with hot water when water begins to flow through the drain. A plumbing snake can also be used in place of the auger.

Using the auger usually clears most clogs. However, a clogged sink can be severely blocked that you may need the assistance of professional plumbers. When all else fails, it's time to hit the phonebook and look for plumbing companies. Many reputable businesses offer plumbing services at very affordable prices. They may also help you with other problems other than a clogged sink.

Are you looking for more information regarding clogged sink? Visit http://www.magicplumbing.com/ today!

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Tips for Fixing Nail Pops in Drywall

Tips for Fixing Nail Pops in Drywall
By Sarahbeth Kluzinski

It is very common for screws in drywall to become loose overtime. This bubbling, blistering, or bumpy effect in walls is caused by the drywall pushing out the screw or nail heads as it shifts. This is referred to as nail pops in the drywall industry. Generally, this is a sign that your walls might be in need of fresh drywall work and paint.

For premature nail pops, you can sometimes repair them without professional assistance. For larger or more complex jobs, a professional drywall contractor is the best resource since they retain all the proper tools, equipment, and training. If you would like to fix a few nail pops around the house on your own, continue reading to learn some tips for doing just that!

Nail Pop Repair

To repair nail pops in your drywall, you will need a few supplies. You may have most of these materials on hand already, and anything you do not have can be found at your local home improvement or hardware store. Here is what you will need:

  • Stud Finder (optional)
  • Hammer (or nail punch)
  • 2 Drywall Screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Drywall Mud
  • Drywall Knife
  • Sandpaper (200 grit is fine)
  • Paint and Primer

To get started, be sure you have all the necessary tools and supplies so that you don't have to stop halfway through to make a trip to the store. Once you have everything you need, start by locating the framing around the area with nail pops. Use your fingers to tap the wall until you can hear a solid reverberation instead of a hollow one. You may also use a stud finder. Once you find a sharper sound, tap each side to ensure it sounds hollow. If this happens, then you have located the framing.

Next, use the drywall screws to re-attach the loosened drywall to the framing. Place each screw 2 to 3 inches above and below the nail pop. Then use your hammer to depress the nail pop back into the wall. Do this step gently as to not put a hole or dent in the wall.

Use the drywall knife to scrap away any excess drywall material that has flaked or crumbled off. Then use the drywall mud to cover the screw heads in the wall. Two coats should do the trick. Follow the instructions or look for online tutorials on how to apply drywall mud.

Last, use your sandpaper to sand the drywall mud until it is even and smooth. Then just finish the job with a fresh coat of primer and paint.

Call Bittner Drywall at 317-292-7408 for Indianapolis drywall repair and installation service. They are experienced drywall contractors who offer a wide range of residential and commercial drywall service, including repair, replacement, installation, new home construction, metal stud framing, custom drywall texture, grid ceilings, and much more.

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Common Types of Drywall Screws

Common Types of Drywall Screws
By Sarahbeth Kluzinski

When it comes to hanging drywall, there are certain tools you must use to get the job done right. The same rule applies for even the tiniest detail, like drywall screws. There are several options for drywall fasteners, but not all of them are good choices. The most effective nails and screws are the ones that provide a sturdy, long-lasting hold, while at the same time allowing for the proper amount of countersinking. Continue reading to learn about a few of the most common and effective drywall screws, and how they are applied in drywall installation.

Choose the Right Screw for the Right Job

Drywall screws are a little more expensive, but they do provide a stronger hold. There are many drywall fasteners that come in the form of a Philips head, but they are not all the same in terms of performance and value. The screw you choose will largely depend in the drywall application you have in store, but also on the quality of screw you are looking for. Here are four of the most common drywall screws used to hang gypsum:

  1. Self-Drilling - Also used as pan head screws, these are effective for metal stud framing.
  2. Course - These have course threads that securely fasten drywall to its studs.
  3. Fine - These screws have smaller heads and finer threads that work well to secure gypsum board.
  4. Trim-Head - Use these screws to attach wood trim over drywall.

You May Also Need Drywall Nails

There are also several types of drywall nails that are effective for fastening smaller parts to a larger base. In fact, there are 3 specific type of drywall nails that are commonly used in drywall installation. These common gypsum board nails include:

  1. Drywall Nails - These are standard nails used to attach drywall to wood frames. They are designed with a large head and a barbed shank, giving them a stronger holding capacity. Some are even sterilized to protect against oil and dirt.
  2. Cupped-Head Nails - These have rounded heads that allow for easier countersinking and a smooth, flat finish. They are commonly used to secure drywall to wood framing. They require to use of joint compound to cover the exposed head.
  3. Cement-Coated Nails - These nails have a resin-coated shank that is smooth. This allows for stronger holding power. Their common application is to secure drywall to wooden framing.

Professional Drywall Installation

It is highly recommended to hire a licensed contractor for drywall installation and repair. They have the proper training, experience, and resources to provide professional drywall service in a convenient time frame. You don't want to make the mistake of injuring yourself or damaging your property if you have never hung drywall before!

Call Bittner Drywall at 317-292-7408 for professional drywall installation in Indianapolis, Indiana. They offer a wide range of commercial and residential drywall services, including metal stud framing, new construction, space conversions, and much more. Call 317-292-7408 to request an estimate for Indianapolis drywall installation, today.

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The Basics of Caulks and Sealants

The Basics of Caulks and Sealants
By Mirna Khoury

Most folks don't shop for caulks and sealants like they do for bathroom fixtures, but considering the job that caulks are expected to do and their high visibility, it might not be a bad idea. The problem is, there are an awful lot of caulks and sealants on the market, so choosing among them is difficult. Caulks basically do two jobs in the bathroom: seal against moisture intrusion and provide a pleasing joint between fixtures and wall finish materials. For the most part, careful detailing will minimize the reliance upon caulk for both functions, but there are still instances when it is necessary.

Types of caulk

While there are about a dozen types of caulks available for residential use, caulks for use in bathrooms fall into three basic categories: latex, acrylic latex (sometimes with silicone), and silicone.

Latex caulks are easy to apply and easy to clean up because they're water based and hold paint well. I like to use them when painting with latex paint because they are cheap and fill cracks and holes easily, and can be painted over almost immediately. However, they aren't very water resistant or flexible, so they're a poor choice for general-purpose applications in the bathroom.

Acrylic latex caulks are more flexible than regular latex and are usually available in a fungicide-treated version for bathroom use. The fungicide gradually leaches out of the caulk over the course of about 5 to 15 years, helping to prevent mildew growth for that period of time. These caulks are a bit more expensive than plain latex caulk, but they are paintable and work well as a general-purpose caulk, which makes them worth the extra money. There are also siliconized versions of acrylic latex caulks, but the percentage of silicone is so low (typically less than 2%) that the caulk's performance is not appreciably altered. Most caulks that are tinted to match stock colors of different manufacturers fall into this category.

Silicone caulks in tub-and-tile versions that contain a fungicide are available, and though they cost considerably more than acrylic latex caulks, their durability and flexibility make them good performers in the bathroom environment. They do have some drawbacks, however, including the fact that they are difficult to work with: They set up fast, need a well-cleaned substrate to stick to, and are hard to form into a smooth bead. Silicone caulks aren't generally paintable either (even the so-called "paintable" ones), though the clear and white formulations cover most situations that you'll encounter in the bathroom. I've also noticed that some silicone caulks tend to get dirty easily, and when they do get dirty they are hard to get clean again.

Working with caulk

An open tube of caulk is a bit like Pandora's box, and it's hard to keep the mischief contained in it from spreading everywhere once it's opened. Part of the problem is that caulking is often approached as almost an afterthought. But a few simple steps will make caulking less of an annoyance and improve its appearance and performance.

1. Prepare the surface. Silicone caulk especially doesn't adhere well to dirty or contaminated surfaces, whether they are new or old. Old caulk should be removed from tubs and sinks, and all surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned of old soap film and dirt before recaulking. In severe cases, this may mean cleaning with a detergent, which should then be cleaned off with a water-soluble solvent, such as isopropanol, and allowed to dry. Rubbing alcohol also works well on soap film.

2. Prepare the caulk. Caulk should be worked at around room temperature, so cold tubes should be warmed up before using them. Different-size joints require different-size tip openings, but in general the smaller the tip opening the better. Many caulking guns have an integral nipper for cutting off the tip, but a sharp utility knife or shears do a better job because they are more accurate and leave a cleaner cut. A 45´┐Żangle cut allows the tip to be held against the joint without scraping out caulk, but a straight cut works well too, depending on the type and size of joint being caulked.

3. Tool the joint. I've pushed caulk in front of the tip, and I've pulled caulk; in some cases, you don't have a choice. In either case, the idea is to avoid leaving voids and to inject enough caulk into the joint. Outlining the joint with masking tape makes it easier to clean afterward and guarantees straight joint lines. Immediately after the caulk is applied, it will need to be tooled, which will help improve adhesion, remove air pockets, and smooth the joint surface. Special caulking finishers, plastic spoons, and even tongue depressors work better than fingertips for tooling the caulk and leave a smoother and moreprofessional-looking finish. And having a couple of rags handy to wipe up excess caulk from hands and tools will help to keep it under control.

4. Clean up. If you've used masking tape to outline the joints, be sure to remove it before the caulk begins to skin over. Most caulks indicate on their labels the appropriate solvent for cleanup.

Mirna Khoury is co-owner of Bathroom Wall, an online resource that covers all aspects of bathroom designs and bathroom design ideas and bathroom furniture. Visitors to Bathroom Wall will be met with invaluable do it yourself guides and historic information with tips about the most cost effective ways of decorating a bathroom.

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Blocked Drains and Clogged Toilets

Blocked Drains and Clogged Toilets
By Topher Marcin

If you have faced a clogged toilet, you are not alone. Each year, more than one in five Americans cope with a blocked toilet and 70% surveyed recently agreed that clogs trigger a real headache.

The survey commissioned by the Scott´┐Ż Clog Clinic, an authority on common-sense solutions for avoiding stopped-up toilets, found that if a few proper steps are taken, consumers can avoid most clogs.

As part of its survey of toilet blockages, the Clog Clinic found that:

Going down the drain. Twelve percent of people have dropped a toy ball down the pipes, while 6% have flushed a fish.

Who did it? 37% of respondents maintain that no one takes responsibility for clogging the toilet in their home.

Away from home. 30% say they have experienced a clog in a restaurant, 24% at work, 22% while at someone else's home other than in-laws, 14% while visiting in-laws, 12% during holidays at their home, 11% while entertaining guests and 2% on a date.

Take the plunge. To unclog a blocked toilet, 87% of consumers use a plunger to free the pipes (and 92% own one). Only you can prevent clogs. 45% "completely agree" that they can prevent toilet clogs by using a septic-safe toilet paper.

Those with older Toronto homes, septic-tank systems, low-flow toilets, and people who own a boat or RV are most at risk of clogs and Toronto plumbing issues.

The first line of attack to prevent toilet clogs is to use a septic-safe tissue such as Scott 1000 ct or Scott Extra Soft.

Clogged drain? Call the Best Toronto Plumber.

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