DIY: Cleaning Your Fireplace

Feeling the heat and hearing the noise of the burning wood from the fireplace in your house can be very relaxing. However, the soot deposits it leaves behind eventually condense to create a creosote, a toxic and tarred substance, in the chimney. You should clean your fireplace regularly. To do so, you can use a homemade or commercial cleaner. You must sweep the fireplace, apply the cleaner inside it and scrub it.

Consider using commercial cleaners. You can use standard household cleaners in the fireplace. You can also buy cleansers specifically manufactured to clean chimneys.

  • Ammonia can work well as a cleaner, but it may be very strong for brick chimneys.
  • You can apply an oven cleaner in the fireplace. This product can be very useful when a lot of burnt material accumulates in the chimney.
  • Stop by your local hardware store and look for chimney cleaners. These products may be less strong for your fireplace. If you use chimney cleaners, such as the Quick n ‘Brite brand, you should probably dilute them before using them, so be sure to read the instructions.

Make a homemade cleaner. If you are allergic to chemicals, you can use a homemade cleanser. You can usually make a cleaner with items that you can find in the kitchen.

  • You can combine 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar with water to make a good quality homemade cleaner.
  • You can also mix equal parts of vinegar and water to make a cleaner. Then, place it in a spray bottle to apply it.
  • Mix between two to three tablespoons of dishwashing liquid with 1/2 cup of baking soda. Create a paste with this mixture to obtain a good quality homemade cleaner.

Make sure you have a multipurpose spray cleaner. Before applying any cleaner, apply a multi-purpose cleaner to the fireplace. An aerosol cleaner, like 409 brand, that you can buy in most supermarkets, will be very useful for this purpose.

  • If you are going to use a commercial cleaner, make sure that the cleaner you choose does not interact negatively with the multi-purpose spray cleaner.

Get a small broom to sweep the fireplace. You must sweep the fireplace quickly before scrubbing it, so get a small broom. You can find small brooms in most stores.

  • Search the aisle for pet products. Often brooms and small pickers are sold to clean cat litter. You can use these brooms to clean the fireplace.

Get an abrasive tool. You must use this tool to scrub and remove debris from the chimney. A scrub brush or abrasive sponge is very useful for cleaning a chimney.

  • You can buy these products in most supermarkets and hardware stores.

Clean the chimney

Protects the area surrounding the fireplace. Use an old apron or clothing to protect yourself from dirt or debris. Spread a tarp or newspaper on the floor around the fireplace. Keep this in mind because you will get dirty when you clean the fireplace and removing soot from clothing or carpeting can be difficult.

  • If you do not have a tarp to put on the floor, use old clothes or towels that you no longer use. Make sure they are garments that you do not mind discarding as they are likely to be ruined during the cleaning process.

Remove waste from the chimney. Before cleaning, you must get rid of old leftover wood and other waste. Put on some cleaning gloves and remove the debris.

  • If there is any wood that you can use again, save it for later.
  • You may have to use a vacuum to vacuum loose debris.

Sweep the chimney from the top to the bottom. Take the small broom and use it to sweep. Thoroughly sweep any dust or ash from inside the fireplace.

  • It may be useful to sprinkle ground coffee on the ashes before cleaning. Doing so allows the ashes to acquire a more solid texture to prevent them from dispersing in the air.
  • Also sweep the entrance to the chimney, as it probably also has ashes.

Spray the fireplace with a cleaner. First you must use the multipurpose cleaner. Spray the inside of the fireplace with a light coat of this cleaner. The purpose of this procedure is to wet the area, whereupon the cleaning process begins.

  • Make sure to wet the inside of the fireplace completely before continuing.

Use an abrasive tool to clean the fireplace. Use the cleaner you have chosen, whether it’s homemade or commercial. Wet the abrasive tool with the cleaner and start scrubbing.

  • Do not rub too hard because the brush is already abrasive. Apply the liquid in circular motions until the chimney is completely covered.
  • If there are hard-to-reach cracks in the fireplace, use a toothbrush to clean these areas.

Let the cleaner settle in the fireplace. If the fireplace has only slight stains, it will be enough to wait between 10 and 15 minutes. If the fireplace is very stained, wait at least 30 minutes.

  • If you are going to use a commercial cleaner, read the label carefully. There may be specific instructions on how long you should allow the cleaner to set.

Remove the residues that have accumulated in the chimney. The cleaner will loosen dirt and debris from the fireplace. Once this happens, you can easily remove the residue by scrubbing and cleaning the chimney a little.

  • Wet a cloth with warm or hot water from the tap.
  • Remove the stain. It should leave easily.
  • Generally, after doing so, you will have finished the process. However, you may need to clean the chimney for a second, or even a third time, if it is heavily stained or damaged.

Clean the glass of the chimney

Wet a cloth with water. Before starting, make sure the fireplace is off and cool to the touch. Use a cloth that you do not mind discarding after cleaning. If you wish, you can use paper towels instead of a cloth.

Dip the damp cloth in the ashes. Use the ashes of the fireplace. Make sure you cover the area completely, as this will help eliminate the soot on the glass, even if it seems contradictory.

Rub the glass with the cloth. You should rub hard to perform a good cleaning. Keep rubbing until you have removed all the soot or discoloration.

Clean the glass with a microfiber towel. Once it’s clean, remove all streaks or residue with a clean microfiber towel.

Keep the fireplace clean

Choose dry wood. Dry firewood burns better than other types of firewood. It also tends to produce less smoke, which reduces stains inside the chimney.

  • Make sure that any firewood you buy is dry or cured.
  • If the firewood is not labeled, ask someone at the store where they sell it.

Clean out the fireplace weekly. Doing so will reduce the process of sweeping and eliminating waste when you clean it. However, take certain precautions. Make sure the embers have dried at least 12 hours before vacuuming.

Use water to put out the fire only in emergencies. The fire in the fireplace should burn naturally. If you throw water on it, the ashes will form a paste that will be difficult to clean. Only use water in case of emergency.

  • If a fire starts in your home, you should immediately call the local emergency number. Even if you think the fire is under control, professional firefighters should check the house to make sure the fire has completely died out.


Many of the substances described above are toxic, so always use plastic gloves throughout the cleaning process.

How to Clean a Chimney

Lighting the chimney leads to the accumulation of soot and creosote, a flammable and sticky substance that can cause a fire if it is not removed. Hiring a chimney cleaning professional can be expensive, but if you use your fireplace frequently, consider buying some tools so you can clean your chimney yourself. This article provides instructions on three methods to clean chimneys, as well as tips for doing it safely.

Get ready to clean the fireplace

Determine if you need to clean the fireplace. You should clean it at least once a year, especially if you use it frequently.

  • Take a flashlight and go inside the fireplace. Use a pencil or a plastic knife to remove the creosote that accumulated in the fireplace. If it has a width of 1/8” or less, it is time to clean it.
  • If you can clean your fireplace once a year, do it in the fall, before the burning season begins. Otherwise, it does not make sense to light your fireplace during the winter.

Look for animals inside the fireplace. If it has been a while since you last used your fireplace, look for any signs of animals before doing so. Birds, squirrels or raccoons love to nest inside them, especially in the colder months. Light a flashlight, look for the animals, take necessary steps to remove them.

Measure the density of the chimney. To clean the fireplace, you must use the right tools. Measure the chimney from the bottom to the top. You can climb a ladder and measure it from the top.

  • Determine the size and shape of the flue. It must be square or round, or measure between 6” or 8″.
  • Determine the height of the chimney. If you are guessing, it is better to overestimate, so you can have extra rope and make sure you brush the chimney well, reaching the entire surface.

Buy the necessary cleaning supplements. Go to a hardware store and buy all the materials you need to clean the fireplace:

  • A chimney brush, rope or plastic. Use the measurements to buy the appropriate size.
  • Chimney brush extensions can help you clean up completely. Alternatively, you can buy a rope designed for chimney brushes, or a string system.
  • A wire brush.
  • Plastic or cloths to use inside your house.
  • A high ladder to reach the ceiling, if you plan to clean it from the top down.
  • A broom and dustpan.
  • Mask and protective glasses

Dress appropriately. Use old clothes that do not matter if you have to throw it away later. Cover your hair with a bandana. You can use work gloves to protect your hands. Wear a mask and protective glasses to prevent dust from entering your eyes and mouth.

Prepare your house for cleaning. Place cloth or plastic around the fireplace, spread it around your living room. Use sheets to cover your furniture. Wrap all your carpets.

Removes moisture from the fireplace. Locate the moisture inside the fireplace and use a small brush to clean it. Take it out of the fireplace and separate it with a piece of cloth so that it does not obstruct the brushing of the fireplace while you proceed to clean the fireplace.

Cleaning the chimney from the top down

Prepare the ladder and climb to the roof. Assume that the roof is a safe place to step on, and that you feel safe being there, hold the ladder next to your house. Place the brush, next to the other tools, on your shoulder and climb the ladder.

  • If you are afraid to climb the ladder or stand on the roof, clean the fireplace from below using the method below.
  • If you’re not sure about the quality of your roof, or if you’re leaning and you’re not sure you can maintain the balance, use another method.

Brush a section of the pipe. Place the brush inside the fireplace. Using up and down movements, start cleaning it. Add an extension to the rope if you cannot reach easily. Continue until you are finished.

  • If you use a rope, join that part with the brush. Hold the end of the rope and go down along the chimney. Go up and down while you’re cleaning the entire surface.

Clean the lower part of the chimney. Use a small brush to clean the bottom that you have not cleaned.

Alternative methods

Clean the chimney from the bottom.

  • Attach to other sections.
  • Add the first piece of the pipe to the brush.
  • Insert the brush into the fireplace. Use up and down movements, starting at the top.
  • Add another section of the pipe to extend the brush to the top of the chimney.
  • Continue in this way until you have cleaned the entire surface.

Use a polishing system

  • Buy a rope polishing system to brush the fireplace. Join two strings to the brush, one on the top and one on the bottom, and brush from top to bottom.
  • Attach the polishing system to the brush. Ask for the help of a friend or family member on top of the roof.
  • The person on the roof must hold one part of the rope, and leave the other, with the brush in between, while waiting for another person to hold the rope.
  • Work with other people, use the rope to brush from top to bottom, brushing the entire chimney.

Final work

  • Clean the entrance to the fireplace. In the final part of the fireplace, usually located in the basement, where you will see a small door that leads to that part. The creosote and the soot stay there. Use a small spatula to separate it.
  • Use a brush and a dustpan to clean the remains of the fireplace. Empty the rest in a dumpster.

Use a brush to sweep the remains and clean the cloths. Empty what’s left over in a dumpster.

Dispose of soot and creosote according to local laws. Since these are flammable substances they may not have to be thrown into the dumpster.  Check with local laws before disposing of soot and creosote.


  • Call a professional if you do not feel safe during the chimney cleaning process.
  • Do not step on the roof if it is in wet condition.
  • Be careful not to absorb the soot or creosote and clean your skin after having contact.
  • Do not operate flammable materials during the chimney cleaning process.

How to Clean Floor Vents

How to clean the floor ventilation ducts

No matter how clean you keep your home, the floor ventilation ducts will accumulate dirt and dust which becomes difficult to remove over time. This accumulation may be hard to clean, especially when dirt or dust has built up in the crevices and spaces of your ducts. If your floor ventilation ducts are ready for you to clean, you can do it effectively using a dishwasher or manual methods.

Use a dishwasher

Determine the composition of your ventilation ducts. In most cases, metal ventilation ducts can be cleaned in the dishwasher. Avoid washing the vents that are painted since the heat of the dishwasher can cause the paint to come off. You should not use your dishwasher to clean:

  • Wood ventilation ducts that are especially susceptible to intense heat. Never clean wooden floor ventilation ducts in a dishwasher, unless otherwise stated in the product care instructions.
  • Plastic ventilation ducts since the heat of the dishwasher can cause them to become deformed and ruined. Cleaning them by hand is safer.

Turn off the duct fan, heat, or air conditioner. If you leave your home ventilation system on while cleaning the ventilation ducts, the blower could ignite and expel dust and dirt in the air. This will only cause dirt in the pipes to spread throughout your home.

  • Dust and dirt that gets back into the air can irritate your eyes and lungs when you clean.
  • If you have sensitive eyes or lungs or if you suffer from allergies, you may need to wear protective glasses and a dust mask.

Clean the dust and dirt that comes out of the duct. Cleaning the dust and dirt that comes out of the duct will prevent it from falling on the floor when transporting your ducts to the dishwasher. You can do this easily with a vacuum equipped with a tool to check for cracks or by cleaning the ventilation ducts with a clean, damp cloth with water.

  • You do not have to be especially careful when cleaning the dirt that comes out of your ducts. Passing a damp cloth or vacuum a few times should be enough.

Remove the floor ventilation ducts. Most floor ventilation ducts are secured with standard screws. Use a standard screwdriver to loosen the screws and remove the ducts you wish to clean. Keep a damp cloth or vacuum cleaner on hand as dirt and additional dirt may have accumulated behind the duct.

  • You are likely to find more dirt and loose dust behind your ducts. In most cases, swiftly passing the vacuum cleaner can clean them.
  • You may want to put something, such as a newspaper or old fabric, on the floor or under the wall vents and next to the ducts on the floor. In this way, you will remove additional dirt and you will have a place to put the ducts that you removed.


Insert the ducts and turn on the dishwasher. Organize your ducts in the dishwasher without stacking them one on top of the other. Avoid using dishwashing detergent. These products are made for tableware and cutlery and are not suitable for ducts.

  • The shortest cycle of your dishwasher should be enough to completely clean the floor ducts and it will not be too strong for them.

Replace the ducts after washing them. Be careful when removing the ducts from the dishwasher. Immediately after the dishwasher cycle, they may be hot. Check your ducts to make sure they are clean and, if so, use a screwdriver to secure each one back in place.

  • If your ducts are still not clean, you may want to run them through the dishwasher for another short cycle or clean areas that are hard to reach with a cotton swab and kitchen soap.

Clean the floor ventilation ducts by hand

Turn off the ventilation system in your house. Every time you clean the ventilation ducts, you must turn off the heat, air conditioning or fan in order to prevent the ventilation system from starting and throwing dust and dirt into the air. This will cause the dirt in your pipes to spread throughout your home.

  • Even with your ventilation system turned off, your home’s natural airflow and your efforts to clean can cause dust to permeate the air. For this reason, you may want to wear protective glasses and a dust mask.

Clean the dirt and dust that comes out. Using the vacuum tool which can reach cracks can help you remove dirt from corners and spaces in your duct. If you see lumps that seem to be loose, but you cannot suck them up, take a damp and clean rag and clean them out.

  • If your ducts are not very dirty, doing a superficial cleaning can be enough to restore your ducts and make them good as new.
  • You do not have to be very careful with this superficial cleaning. Ducts that are very dirty will need a deep cleaning with soap and water. When you vacuum and clean, the objective will be to remove the dust that is loose.

Take out your pipes. To prevent the dirt behind your ducts from spreading or rising to your floor, put something, such as a tarp or newspaper, to catch the dust. More often, the ventilation ducts are installed using standard screws. Take a standard screwdriver, loosen the screws and remove the ventilation ducts.

  • Dirt and dust often accumulate behind the ventilation ducts. Use the tool to clean cracks on your vacuum in order to clean any type of undesirable accumulation.
  • When you finish removing each duct, place it on the floor covering. This will help you to contain the dirt that remains on the ventilation ducts.

Clean your ducts with warm water and dish soap. Use a dishwashing tool, such as a scrubbing brush or sponge, to clean the duct strips and other narrow crevices. Moisten the tool with water, apply soap and clean each duct. After the metal or plastic ventilation ducts are cleaned, you can dry them in the air or with a clean and dry cloth or a paper towel.

  • If the dirt in your vents is resistant to the soap scrubbing treatment, you may first need to soak them in warm water with soap for a few hours or overnight.
  • Wood ducts are easily deformed by excess water or by soaking them too much. Use a clean, damp cloth to clean it of the dirt and then dry the wood quickly and completely.

Put the ducts back into the corresponding openings. Now that everything is clean and dry, your ducts will be ready to return to their associated spaces. Place each duct in its place, one at a time, then use your screwdriver to secure all ducts.


Maintaining Your Roof

Inspect your roof at least once a year.  If you have gone through all the effort of putting a new roof on your house, be sure to do a regular inspection to keep it in good condition.  It’s best to inspect it during warmer months but it’s also good to inspect it after a rainy period to check for leaks or other problems.  It is very important as a homeowner to take out a ladder and carefully check the roof, especially in areas where strong winds and bad weather occur.

Look for cracked caulks or rust on the flashing.  Metal is quite susceptible to inclement weather.  Examine any exposed flashing to look for signs of wear and put caulks on affected areas.

Find doubled tiles.  Well-placed tiles should remain relatively flat throughout their lifetime, but bubbles will begin to form and will bend upwards at the edges as they wear out.  This should not be a problem in a roof’s early years, unless some of them have been installed improperly.  It is a good idea to check them and replace any tiles that appear to be loose.

  • Hammer any loose nail or remove it and use a new one to secure the tiles.  Save the roofing glue in case you have to do patching later and add a little hear and there as needed.  Seal any flashing that you see protruding with glue.

Eradicate moss from your roof.  Moss is the ruin of the existence of a roof.  Moss houses moisture and can reduce the lifetime of your roof tiles.  Remove the dead moss with a broom and consider applying a commercial “anti-moss treatment” to the roof.  This treatment will cost about $30.

  • For a natural alternative, spray your roof with baking soda.  Some anti-moss products have copper oxide or zinc which is harmful to ground water, not to mention pets and other animals. Spraying baking soda in areas prone to moss build up keeps moss at bay.

Look for asphalt granules in gutters.  When you tiles begin to wear out, you will see that the small protective beads of the tiles come off during rains and end up in the gutters.  This is a sign that the tiles are reaching the end of their lifetime and you will need to replace them soon because they will not be able to withstand the UV rays of the sun.  Start planning a roof replacement.

Watch for early signs of drip.  Inside your house, pay attention to the sign of possible leaks. It’s best to find them as soon as possible before any serious structural damage happens to the house. If you have a leak, think about having a roofer perform an assessment to determine what arrangements should be made.  Search for:

  • Peeling paint
  • Wet or dark areas on the ceiling or around fireplaces
  • Water spots around any duct


  • Have tarps on hand in case the weather suddenly changes before you can replace the roof.  Tie them together to make sure they’re secured.
  • Use a high-strength magnet (or rent one) to make sure there are no nails left in the grass.  They can end up deflating tires or damaging mowers.

Repairing Concrete Floors

Despite strenuous efforts to give concrete a good finish, sometimes the finished product has significant imperfections. Surely neither a carpet placed on it nor a vinyl floor will cover all imperfections, so making a repair that corrects the problem is the best option for both the builder and the homeowner.

Calculate the scope of the problem. Possible problems may include:

  • Ridges or mounds left by builders.
  • Cracks due to expansion or contraction. The properly installed concrete must have joints that prevent these unpleasant cracks. In the case of a 4 inch thick slab, the joints should have a separation of 8 to 12 feet. If the joint is not enough or is placed incorrectly, cracks may occur.
  • Waste like pieces of wood sticking out of the concrete while it is still malleable.
  • Damage caused by heavy objects that have fallen on the block before it has finished setting.
  • Elevation of the surface due to improper finishing or freezing temperatures during the curing process. Elevation occurs when parts of the concrete surface come off.

Use a measuring tape to determine the length and width of the area to be repaired if it is not self-evident. This can include mounds, depressions or ridges. You can disguise the small surface areas with shallow irregularities with a “floor leveling compound”, instead of lifting and replacing the existing concrete.

Chop the surface of the concrete to remove all “lift” in the material, and to create a rough surface so that the cement mix will bond well. If the work is small, a chisel hammer will suffice, but for larger repairs it will be better to use an electric hammer or even a jackhammer.

Clean dust and debris from the area you have chopped. This way the new material will have a solid surface to adhere to.

Mix the cement and sand you will use to fill the area you have chopped. Mix the dry ingredients first, using a ratio of 1 part of cement (type I or II) to 2 ½ parts of “clean” masonry sand.

Add a liquid latex binder or polymers to dry the cement / sand mixture, using enough to wet the material and bring it to a consistent but malleable state. Note that some binding agents are applied directly on the patching area, such as glue, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Wet the area where you will apply the new material with fresh and clean water. Do not flood the area, but make sure that all surfaces are wet, as this helps in the adhesion of the new cement mixture, as well as preventing it from drying too fast. Dry surfaces simply “remove” moisture from the cement mix too quickly, which will cause it to contract, and eventually break.

Take a “spoonful” of cement mix from the mixer with a “tipped mason’s spoon” (or some other appropriate tool). Place the mixture inside, or over the patch, and push it hard to remove all air bubbles.

Level the wet surface with the mason’s spoon, leaving it slightly higher than the adjacent edges, to allow it to settle and contract. Allow to dry and harden for an hour or so, depending on humidity and room temperature.

Smooth the area with a steel finishing spoon when the patch material is consistent. This will flatten and soften the surface and cause the cement paste or cream to “rise” to the surface. If the surface is very large and deep, you can smooth it with a magnesium paste to get more cement cream up. This paste or cream is the material that forms the surface of the finished block.

Let the concrete “settle” or harden for an hour or two more and then finish smoothing it. At this point, you may need to splash a little water on the surface to delay drying, in addition to making the finishing process easier. Use the edge of the spoon to “shave” or scrape the splashes of mixture close to the finished surface. Another good choice of materials to repair are hydraulic cements. They usually settle in less than 30 minutes.

Clean the tools and remove all excess material.


  • Mix enough cement and sand to finish the entire patch in one go.
  • For smaller areas, you can buy fortified polymer material or dry pre-mix to patch concrete.
  • To fix the high points on a concrete floor that will be covered by another floor, you can use a grinder equipped with a masonry grinding wheel.
  • Once the repair is done, keep it wet for a few days, if possible. Use a lot of water.
  • Protects the repair of direct sunlight. A cardboard box will suffice.
  • High lime cement is more flexible and may be more appropriate for repairing concrete.

How to Build a Fence

Building a fence on your own and not hiring someone to do it can be very economical, whether you want to make a small decorative fence for your garden or a strong barrier between your pool and the outside world. The meticulous planning is the key to building a solid barrier that will remain for a long time.

Decide on the basics

Learn the lingo.

  • Posts are vertical support beams that are embedded in the ground.
  • The rails are the horizontal supports on the posts.
  • The planks are the main material of the fence and can be horizontal or vertical. They are placed on the posts and rails.

Think about what materials you will use, depending on the purpose of the fence.

  • If it is to give privacy to the backyard, it would be best to use tall wooden boards.
  • If it will not allow the pet to escape, a stretch of pickets will provide a good combination of fresh air and ample protection.

How high will it be? Privacy fences should be at least six feet (1.80 m) to avoid the curious, while barriers to contain pets or livestock may be approximately four feet (1.20 m).

Determine the length and angles of the fence. Place poles at the corners and use them to draw a line on the exact place where the fence will be built.

Take the right measures

Establish the separation between posts. Generally, between six (1.80 m) and eight (2.44 m) feet away, depending on the type of fence and the terrain on which it will be installed.

Mark the spaces with stakes. Take your time to carefully evaluate their positions, because if you do not align the posts properly, the stiffness of the entire structure will be affected.

Use a hole digger to make the pits of the posts on each stake marker. To have a strong fence, bury the posts 1/3 of its length. This will be the depth you will need for the holes.

Treat the lower third of the posts with a protective seal to prevent damage from the underground moisture. Let it set during the night so that the wood becomes saturated.

Fix the posts

Place some shovels of dirt or gravel in the holes of the posts and insert them at an angle of 90 degrees from the ground. Move them around carefully so that they settle.

Check the angle of the posts with one level and point them with stakes. The corner posts should have additional support on both sides.

Tamper the earth or concrete in the holes so that the posts are firm. Leave the props for at least two weeks so that the posts stay in place.

Make a mound of dirt or concrete around the base of the pole to avoid standing water.

Place the rails and boards

Nail a top and bottom rail along the fence posts, horizontally. Measure a distance from the top of each post to determine where to place the bottom rail to keep it straight.

Place central rails. There may be one or more, depending on the style of the fence.

Nail the boards to the posts or rails, depending on the style of the fence. You can do it on only one side of the rails or alternating in designs.

Place a door

Locate a place and size for the door (if any). Generally, these doors are 40 inches (1 m) long.

Make holes and place reinforced posts on each side. Use the method of applying gravel and tamping to make them as robust as possible.

Measure the entrance, cut 2″x4″ (5×10 cm) square shaped pieces and start to screw them to each other.

Place a hinge or support bracket to the bottom 2″x4″ (5x10cm).

Continue to build the frame, placing hinges or clamps and corner clamps in the process.

Place the door in the empty space to make sure it fits. If you see fit, prop up the hanging posts with more supports to make sure it can hold the weight.

Place the hinges on the hanging post with long-lasting lag screws.

  • The side you hold the door on will determine where you want it to open.
  • Once the hinges are firmly in place, install the handle and the latch on the other side.

Finish the fence

  • Apply several layers of wood sealant to protect the fence.
  • Paint the fence and the door with stain in a color that complements the environment or that provides a colorful design.


  • The most important thing is care and precision, measure twice and cut only once!
  • When nailing the rails, measuring each post can be a great waste of time. Save the effort by measuring a stick with the desired length and then using it to measure and mark each post.
  • Usually fences are built around properties, make sure you are not invading your neighbor’s property before proceeding with the construction.
  • Approximately one third of the total length of the posts will be underground, that is, if the fence is to be six feet high (1.80 m) the post itself should be 9 feet (2.7 m) and the hole should be three feet (90cm) deep.
  • When you make the door frame, drill holes for the bolt heads on the vertical parts to achieve an aligned connection between the frame and the door.

Cleaning Aluminum Siding

To clean aluminum siding, choose a dry and windless day. The first thing to do is look for signs of mildew, curling and necessary repairs. Once you have determined what cleaning method to use, try to work as much as you can under the shade. Water pressure cleaning is a good technique for ordinary dirt and grit, while mold requires cleaning with a bleach or vinegar solution.

Choose the cleaning method

Look for loose or rotted pieces. Replace any that show signs of rot. Reclaim the those that are loose. Avoid pressure washing until you have made these arrangements.

  • Pressure washing loose or rotted pieces can cause water to seep through the lining and the back wall could absorb it.
  • If the aluminum cladding needs repairs and you do not feel capable of doing them, call a specialized professional.

Check for mold; Look for gray, green or black spots. Examine to determine if there are ruts. Look especially at the north side of the house and anywhere that does not receive much sunlight.

  • Eliminating mold requires more powerful cleaners. Even pressure washing will not stop the mold from coming out soon after.

Put on work gloves and rub the surface. Then look at the gloves to see if they have a light-colored powder.

  • Consider pressure washing if you find signs of chalk or embedded dirt.

Clean the lining with a brush and cleaning products

Get an extendable brush for coatings. Choose one that can range between 8 to 20 feet. As an alternative, you can attach a car cleaning brush to an extendable rod for paint rollers.

  • You can buy a specific extendable brush to clean linings or use a long pool brush.

Mix a cleaning solution in the bucket. Make sure that the brush head easily enters the bucket you choose.  Fill the bucket with hot water and a biodegradable detergent, guided by the product label. If necessary, add 3/4 cup of bleach or vinegar for every gallon of water.

  • Add bleach or vinegar if the coating shows any sign of mold.
  • Do not mix bleach with any product that contains ammonia.
  • You can use a specific cleaner for coatings, liquid dishwashers or a cleaner like Spic and Span.

Test the cleaner first in a small area. Wear gloves if the solution contains bleach or an aggressive cleanser. Moisten a clean white cloth in the solution, rub a small area of ​​the coating and see if it is powerful enough to do the job.

  • You can try different mixtures until you find the right power to clean the siding.
  • Adjust the mixture as needed, following all safety instructions for the product or cleaning products you choose.
  • Use eye protection if indicated by the product instructions.

Protect any plants near the cleaning area, if necessary. First, water the bushes, grass and other plant life near the house, and then cover them with tarps or plastic. Once you have finished cleaning, remove this cover and water the plants again.

  • Protect the grass and other plant life if you are using bleach or a chemical cleanser.

Moisten the siding with a spray bottle, if desired. Fill the bottle with the solution and moisten a portion of the liner about 20 feet wide for its total height. Let the solution settle a few minutes before brushing that area.

  • Pre-wetting the coating will reduce the subsequent rubbing time.

Brush the coating. Dip the brush in the bucket of the cleaning solution. Start at the bottom and go up.  Rub the lining to the sides, advancing and receding. Re-wet the brush when necessary.

  • The coating under the part you are cleaning must remain moist. Rinse it while you work so it does not dry out and come in contact with the dirty solution that is leaking from above.

Soak the siding with a hose. Put the hose in the jet position and soak the area you just brushed. Start at the top and go down.

Clean with water under pressure

Choose a pressure cleaner. Look for a cleaner that produces a pressure of at least 2,000 psi (pounds per square inch). You may have to pick it up with a van, minivan or pickup, and you need help loading and unloading it. Talk to the rental agent about how to connect and operate it and consult all the necessary security measures.

  • You can rent a pressure washer at home improvement stores.
  • If the cleaner does not come with nozzles, you will have to get them separately. You will need nozzles between 15 and 25 degrees.

Cover the area. Spread tarps, old sheets or plastic on the floor. Cover any nearby vegetation.

  • If the siding is sprayed, the covers will protect the floor from the paint flakes.

Protect yourself. Wear eye protection, sturdy shoes and long pants. Follow all safety precautions for the make and model of the pressure washer. Also, read the instructions for the methods of handling, blocking or shutting down.

  • It is vital that you protect yourself properly. The jet of a pressure washer is very powerful and dangerous. Its force can cause many types of serious injuries.
  • If your house was built before 1977, or if you do not know for sure if the paint on your siding has lead, give it an analysis. You can ask the local health department to provide you with safety instructions.

Coupling the 15-degree nozzle. Do not use settings below 15 degrees, and above all do not use a zero-degree nozzle with a pressure cleaner.  Make sure you fix it properly.

  • If the nozzle is not properly fixed, it may pop off when you turn on the cleaner.

Turn on the pressure washer. Attach the washer to a normal garden hose and attach it to an outside water supply. Start the engine.

Practice using the cleaner from a couple of steps away. Go closer until you find the most appropriate point. Apply the water horizontally or at a slightly downward angle.

  • Use the cleaner with caution, as it may leave marks on the coating or take off finishes.

Rub the coating or raise the pressure, if necessary. If a low-pressure wash does not work, rub the coating with a soap solution and continue with a low-pressure rinse. Alternatively, you can do a test wash with a 25-degree nozzle in a not very visible area. Make sure that no damage occurs before proceeding with the cleaning.

  • Continue with a high-pressure wash, knowing the risk that you can damage the test area.


  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is no longer recommended for tasks such as washing siding, due to its extreme power and the risks it poses to people, animals and the environment.

Repairing a Roof Leak

Minor leaks can be fixed without the help of a roofing professional. The following steps will teach you to identify problems and make repairs for flat roofs, shingles and wooden shingle roofs. If you want to work on your roof, you must do it on a day when the roof is dry to prevent accidents.

Fix the tiles

Check that there is no damage to the roof material, directly above where the drip is coming from. This is probably easier to find on a flat roof, but leaks can enter the roof of the house at a good distance from where the roof damage actually is.

  • If your roof is slanted, inspect the areas on the roof that are higher than where the leak enters your house.
  • If you have an attic, inspect it with a flashlight to look for water spots, black spots and mold.
  • Use a hose to run water on different sections of the roof and ask someone inside the house to notify you when you see a leak.

Look for damaged, bent or missing tiles near where the leak comes from. Also look closely for exposed roof tacks.

Straighten folded back tiles. In cold climates, you may have to soften the edges of the tile with heat, with an electric hair dryer. Using a torch or other items with open flame is not recommended, as asphalt shingles can be flammable, and regardless of the weather or whether they are fire resistant or not, excess heat will ruin the shingles.

Rearrange the tiles that were folded backwards after straightening them. Do this with a generous amount of cement for asphalt or composite roofs around the exposed edges.

Replace damaged tiles. If the tile is removed from the roof without much effort, breaks or simply falls apart, you have to change it.

  • Remove the tile by lifting the edges and check the nail.
  • Scrape the area below the tile to remove any remaining roofing cement.
  • Use a sharp blade to smoothly round the back ends of the new tile.
  • Slide the new tile into place and hammer a 1¼ inch galvanized roof nail in each top corner. Then cover the head of the nails with roofing cement.

Roofing roll for roofing

Look for cracks or bubbles in the roof material.

Restore the bubble. Cut a line in the middle of the bubble with a blade, but do not cut the roof felt (substrate) underneath.

  • Squeeze or absorb any liquid that is inside the bubble. The area needs to be completely dry.
  • Use a generous amount of roofing cement under the loose roofing material and press it.
  • Place galvanized roofing nails on each side of the repaired bubble.
  • Cover the entire top with roofing cement, including the nail heads.

Damaged wooden tiles

Divide the damaged wooden tiles with a hammer and chisel.

Slide the chisel under the damaged tile and remove the pieces.

Use a saw to cut the ends of any nail that cannot be removed. Work around the nails if you cannot cut them without damaging the good shingles.

Cut a tile approximately 9.5 mm (3/8 inch) smaller than the old tile using a fine tooth saw.

Slide the new tile into place and hammer it with 2 galvanized roofing nails.

  • If the old nails that you could not remove are in the step, use a hacksaw to make a cut on the tile so that it fits properly around the nails.

Place the tiles with a set of nails, then seal them with putty.


Inspect the areas where the surfaces connect, such as the chimney or vent pipes.

  • Look for damage to the putty and reapply putty where necessary.
  • Remove the damaged or deteriorated putty so that the new application can stick with the roof or the exposed surface.
  • Use a spatula to remove the old, loose putty.
  • Clean and dry the area.
  • Cut the end of the tube from the putty and spread it on the same line, applying it to the crack with an applicator. Let it dry.

Larger repairs will be necessary if there is damage to the exposed surface, around the chimney or at the base around the ventilation pipes, as they may have to be changed completely.


  • Use a piece of replacement aluminum or copper foil for an emergency.
  • The sealant must be compatible with the roofing material and be completely waterproof. Polyurethane or silicone putty usually gives durable waterproofing results. Putty or latex sealants, synthetic plastic is not recommended.

Pressure Washing Your Vinyl Siding

Periodic cleaning of vinyl siding helps maintain the value and beauty of the exterior of your home. A pressure washer machine is the ideal tool for cleaning using a spray coating, eliminating soil and dirt. Most pressure washers are easy to use and take little effort to work. All the materials that are needed, including the pressure washer, can be purchased or rented at your local hardware store. For you to do this successfully, you have to prepare the surface, select and use the proper pressure settings and practice how to use the machine. Read the following for specific instructions on how to pressure wash vinyl siding.

Select the appropriate equipment and settings. A gasoline or electric pressure washer, with a normal pressure of at least 3,000 PSI, and a flow rate of at least 4 gallons per minute, will provide enough strength to clean the difficult areas that must be reached to clean the vinyl surfaces. Adjust the low-pressure nozzle to 25 degrees. Add a suitable cleaning solution (for example, mild detergent) to the tank.

Test the spray in a small area to get used to its power. You can increase or decrease the power of the jet, adjusting the configuration of the nozzle or the distance at which you have your hands off the ground.

Work constantly, pressure washing one section at a time from bottom to top and sweeping from left to right. Always make sure the nozzle is pointing down at a 45-degree angle to minimize the amount of water that gets behind the siding. Excess water can lump.

Rinse the coating with fresh water. Work from top to bottom to avoid scratches, and rinse the area within 5 to 10 minutes of cleaning, before the detergent dries.


  • Point the nozzle at an angle and use the distance jet to clean glass windows.

Installing a Privacy Fence

Installing a fence will add the necessary privacy to your property. There is a wide variety of options for every budget and aesthetic taste. The following guide will teach you how to install a wooden privacy fence, although other options are also explained and discussed.

Before building your fence

Check the rules of the neighborhood. Before building a fence, it will be important to determine if you are allowed to build. If you build a fence in a place where it’s not allowed, you could get a fine and you’ll have to take down the fence. Before building, consult the rules of your local neighborhood or those of the neighborhood association regarding the construction of fences.

Check the city codes. Frequently cities have rules about fencing. You will need to find out what they are before building one. Some cities require permits to build a fence of any height, others only for those that exceed a certain height. Find out if you need a permit or if there are any other restrictions for your construction.

Get a permit. If you find out that if you need a permit, get one before building. It usually costs a little money and can be obtained from your local Municipality or from the Planning Department.

Choose your materials. It is important to decide what type of fence you want. There are many different types of materials, all with different benefits and drawbacks. You will need to consider how much time you want to spend or keep, how much money you have to spend on building the fence, and how long the fence should remain at your location.

A wooden fence is the most common. It lasts between 5-20 years, depending on the type of wood (for example, cedar will last longer than pine) and are relatively cheap. But wooden fences can be difficult to clean if paint is placed on them.

Vinyl fences will last many times longer than wooden fences, they can last a lifetime if you use quality vinyl. They can come in a variety of colors that should not fade over time and are easily cleaned if you put paint on them. However, they are slightly more expensive in terms of initial costs.

Brick is an option if you do not like the look of vinyl or wood fences, or if you feel the need for something stronger. You can use real bricks or you can use “concrete block”. The concrete block can then be covered with clay or plaster for a more “southwest” look. Concrete blocks can also be placed perpendicular to each other to create a patterned look on your wall. However, any type of masonry construction will be much more expensive than the other options, although it will last longer than wood.

Farm fences or green fences are a good option if your city is very restrictive with permits or if permits are very expensive. They are also good if you prefer more green plants in your garden, instead of fences. You can plant Arvovitae, a green shrub that grows three feet a year, put it on an iron or chain fence and bind ivy on it, or plant more standard hedges like holly.

Place the posts

Find the location for the posts. Use thread tied to stakes, determine the perimeter of your fence and mark the location of the corners, also measure and mark the locations of the intermediate posts (if necessary). The distance between posts depends on you but take into account that the normal space is 8 feet from center to center. Mark all locations with spray paint or stake holes.

Dig the holes for the posts. Use a hole-making device and dig holes at least ¼ to ⅓ of the height of the planned fence. Be sure to follow the rules stipulated in your permit, because many cities have rules about the depth of the hole. You will not want to hit a water pipe!

  • You can use a manual excavator or a motorized drill. You can rent both at your local hardware store.

Place gravel. You should put a couple of inches of gravel at the bottom of the hole, to provide drainage and make sure the posts do not rot.

Place the posts. Use 4×4 poles at your preferred height (factoring in the depth of the hole) and place them one at a time. This may require someone else to help you.

Pour quick drying concrete. Before placing the concrete, use a pole scale to ensure the pole is vertical and double check the height to make sure it is the one you want. Pour the concrete, mix it with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions and continue using the scale while pouring it to make sure it stays straight.

  • Alternatively, mix the quick-drying concrete in a bucket or wheelbarrow and then pour it.
  • You could still use thread to make sure the posts are aligned with each other.

Continue placing the posts. Place all the posts before continuing with the next step.

Build the fence

Measure and cut your railings. These are the boards (we recommend the 2x4s) that are placed between the posts, aligned perpendicularly. You will adhere the main boards of the fence to these. You must measure and cut them so they fit between the posts.

  • You will probably need two to three rails, depending on the height of your fence.

Create the frame of your railing. Then take a 1×4 board and cut it so that it is the same height as the posts. Mark the places in the wood where you want your railings to be. With this mark, nail the 2×4 directly to the end of the bottom and the top (and possibly the center) of the railings. These rails should be perpendicular with a turn of 90 ° of the 1×4 board, with a look similar to a T (if you look from one side, you should see the side of 1 “of the 1×4 and the 4” of the 2×4 ). Do this for each end of the railing.

Fit and adhere the frame. Fit the frame between the posts and secure it from the inside edge on the posts using screws.

Adhere the external tabs or posts. Use slats or posts the width you prefer, but they should not be thicker than 1 “. Clamp or screw them using a spacer between each board to ensure that they are even and that the space between them is slightly less than their width. Continue along the entire length of the fence.

Adhere the inside of the slats or posts. Now attach the boards on the inside of the fence. These should be placed so that they cover the openings created by the outer boards.

Add a door. You may or may not want to add a door to the fence to create an entrance to the patio.

Add the final details. Now you can paint or stain your fence as you wish. You can add a decorative layer or plant shrubs along the base.


  • You will usually receive a copy of the local rules and regulations when you apply for the permit.
  • The posts, the frame and the boards must be made of pressure-treated wood.
  • Only build along your property.
  • The materials to build the fence and doors are available at most hardware stores and home improvement stores.
  • Only galvanized nails should be used for pressure treated wood. Coated screws, stainless steel nails or other corrosion resistant fasteners should be used with cedar because galvanized will discolor cedar wood.