Adventures in Power Washing

I am fortunate to live in an older home that presents lots of challenges and “repair opportunities” (Euphemism of the day). I am now attending to some badly neglected exterior painting.  I have learned that there is no way to get new paint to stick if you try to paint over oxidized or peeling paint. After scraping for a while realized that I would be scraping off old paint on this house for the next year so I sought out a better way.

Old oxidized paint

Oxidized and Peeling Paint on Wood before power washing

One option is power washing. I have never done much with power washers so I rented on from Timp rentals in American Fork. The rental costs $15 per hour or $60 per day.  After three hours I was done so I spent about $50 with tax and gas and saved myself untold hours of work and pain.  I had to play around with holding the wand the right distance from the surface, but it really is not rocket science. About 6 inches seemed to work right for me.

Wood after power washing

Clean Wood and well adhered paint after power washing

As you can see this method is not perfect. There are still a few spots where some cracked paint was not removed, but it is adhered well so once I prime and paint again I am thinking that it will look alright.  In some areas almost all of the old paint came off, but in other areas that were not as bad most of the paint remained after power washing.

It also worked really well on concrete.  If you have some old concrete it can look almost new again with a little power washing.

Even concrete that looks clean can look better after powerwashing

This concrete has been swept and washed, but still ugly

Overall, renting a power washer was money well spent! Give it a shot.

Best Plumbing Tool EVER

For years I have seen inspection reports come back with the complaint of “Slow Drains”. I assume this is a universal plague since I have the same trouble from time to time,  If you have an extra 3 bucks lying around I have to encourage you to buy one of these:

Slow drains can be a thing of the past

Best Plumbing tool ever

It doesn’t look like much but this simple tool will save you a lot of headaches and a lot of money as well.  Buy it once for less money than a bottle of Drano and you are set.

You insert the tool into the slow drain and the nasty looking hooks snag whatever is causing the clog, usually hair, and you gently pull it out.  I have left out the photos of clogs because I do not want to gross you out, but with 4 daughters in my house one shower drain took 4 efforts and a total clog weight of about 2 pounds! Not pretty but the drain flows nicely once again!

The funny thing is that the package says to discard the tool after use. I assume this is for liability reasons because cleaning off the hooks is a risky proposition. Be careful and you can reuse yours for many years.  I just saved the packaging and use it as a sheath to avoid snagging things.



Room Arrangement Tools

One of the best things you can do to make the most of your home is to rearrange rooms to fit their intended purposes.  It is amazing how long I have allowed my first attempt at a layout to become the only furniture arrangement used.  Since I hate to waste energy I decided to figure out the best tools to layout a room in the least amount of time.  So what I ended up with is the old graph paper method vs. vs.

Graph Paper

IMG_20130114_144221If you have any lingering issues from your childhood due to overly demanding art teachers this may be the best method.  From a therapeutic standpoint this is a clear winner.  You can invest as much time and energy as you like making each piece just the right shape and color.  Maybe hand building the perfect model room will provide you with the vindication you seek.  As for me, my only interest is being accurate and getting the job done, so I stuck with simple labels and skipped the detail work.  It was fairly quick and gave me some good ideas.  Still probably just a “C” from my art teacher.IMG_20130114_151954 The finished project is clear even though it lacks artistic value.  Special thanks to BJ Plumbing Supply in American Fork for giving me too much graph paper for my last sprinkler project.

IKEA Office Organizer has some fun online tools if you are looking for a nice 3D version of your room.  You give up a bit of flexibility over the graph paper method because their products are front and center, but you can always add place holders to make it work.  It would be better if ALL of their products were available, but you have to make do.  I only used the office planner, but they have specific planners for all sorts of rooms.  Start Here.  I think the finished product is good looking but it was far too time consuming for the reward.  My best guess would be a B+ from the art teacher, but I wouldn’t have had time to study for the math test!Ikea Office PlannerFun to play with but too time consuming.

Better Homes and Gardens Arrange-a-room

To be completely honest I did not have a lot of faith in this tool.  I had heard about it but could not find it on their website.  After searching for far longer than I should have, it showed up as a google ad in one of my on-site searches.  I am just wondering if BHG had to pay to get me there…from their own site.  To save BHG money you can go directly to the tool here.  The only downside is that you have to register, but the BIG upside is that you could save your entire house floor plan and edit it from any computer in the world.  The only negative comment I have is that there is no simple way to keep your walls square, other than eyeballing and tweaking.BHG1You start by choosing a basic room shape and then adjusting from there.  Next you can add furniture and arrange away. The furniture sizes are adjustable within limits, but the whole thing is very quick and by far the fastest method I have found for trying out furniture arrangements.BHG2 In my opinion the Better Homes and Gardens Arrange-a-room tool is the best option if you are trying to make decisions about where to place your furniture.  My old art teacher would probably only give me a “B”, but I would have time to get “A”s in all my other classes, so I am declaring the BHG tool the valedictorian of this furniture arranging class.