Hammering a nail close to the edge of a piece of a board may cause it to split. This problem can be solved by using the nail to open up the split, them filling the crack with glue. Wipe off any glue that runs over. Remove the nail, then clamp board as the glue dries. To avoid these splits in the future, use a drill to bore a pilot hold.
How often have you been at the store, knowing you should pick up a filter, humidifier pad, vacuum bag or plumbing part, but don’t remember the size or the part number? A solution is to make up a Òparts cardÓ the size of a business card to carry in your billfold. Write down the part numbers on it for all your home or equipment parts that need regular replacement, and add to it as needed.
Whether they are architectural, engineering, electrical, or general contractors, most service providers in the building industry are honest. But disasters attract scam artists. Consumers must protect themselves.
- Beware “FEMA Certified.” This can signal a scam. FEMA does NOT certify or endorse any contractor.
- Get a written estimate. Compare services and prices before making a final decision. Also, read the fine print. Some contractors charge a fee for a written estimate, which is often applied to the price of subsequent repairs they make.
- Check references. Contractors should be willing to provide the names of previous customers. Call several former customers who had similar work done to make sure they were satisfied with the job.
- Ask for proof of insurance. Make sure the contractor carries general liability insurance and workers' compensation. If the contractor is not insured, the homeowner may be liable for accidents that occur on the property.
- Use reliable, licensed contractors. Call your local Better Business Bureau to inquire about a business before signing a contract.
- Insist on a written contract. A complete contract should clearly state all the tasks to be performed, all associated costs and the payment schedule. Never sign a blank contract or one with blank spaces. Make sure the contract clearly states who will apply for the necessary permits or licenses. Have a lawyer review the contract if substantial costs are involved, and keep a copy for your records.
- Get any guarantees in writing. Any guarantees made by the contractor should be written into the contract. The guarantee should clearly state what is guaranteed, who is responsible for the guarantee and how long the guarantee is valid.
- Obtain a local building permit if required. Permits may be required for site work, other than demolition, and for reconstruction. Contact your local government for permit information.
Make final payments when the work is completed. Do not sign completion papers or make the final payment until the work is completed to your satisfaction. A reputable contractor will not threaten you or pressure you to sign if the job is not finished properly.
- Pay by check. Avoid on-the-spot cash payments. The safest route is to write a check to the contracting company. A reasonable down payment is 30 percent of the total cost of the project, to be paid upon initial delivery of materials. Federal law gives consumers a three-day "cooling off" period for unsolicited door-to-door sales of more than $25.
- Canceling a contract. This should be done within three business days of signing. Be sure to follow the procedures for cancellation that are set out in the contract. Send the notification by registered mail with a return receipt to be signed by the contractor.
- Report problems with a contractor or fraud to your state Office of the Attorney General.
It is best to apply fertilizer when the soil is moist and then water lightly. This will help the fertilizer move into the root zone where it is available to the plants, rather than stay on top of the soil where it can be blown or washed away. Watch the weather. Avoid applying it immediately before a heavy rain system is predicted to arrive. Too much rain (or sprinkler water) will take the nutrients away from the lawn's root zone. Use the minimal amount of fertilizer necessary and apply it in small, frequent applications. An application of 2 pounds of fertilizer five times per year is better than 5 pounds of fertilizer twice a year. Calibrate your fertilizer spreader to be sure you know exactly how much material is being discharged in a given space. Follow instructions accompanying your spreader. When spreading fertilizer, cover ends of the lawn first, ten go back and forth across the rest of the lawn, using half of the recommended amount. Shut the spreader off before reaching the ends to avoik over-application. Apply the other half of the fertilizer going back and forth perpendicular to the first pattern. Dispose of fertilizer bags or containers in a safe and state-approved manner.