Renovation & Design

Renovation & Design

Tiers of joy

Marc LaBossiere
November 20

Renovation & Design

Put an end to that slippery shower

Question: We moved into a new home two years ago. Please advise me on how to clean my shower tile floor without making it slippery. My husband and I are in our 70s. Thank you very much. -Terri

Answer: Into a spray bottle combine 2-cups white vinegar and 1-tablespoon of Dawn dish soap. Use the steam from a hot shower to your advantage by cleaning the shower floor shortly after use. Choose a non-scratching abrasive pad (this is key to making the job easier), spray the floor with a liberal amount of the solution. Scrub with the pad and then rinse with water. For badly stained shower floors, consider using Iron Out occasionally. Use vinegar and dish soap for regular cleaning.

Question: I have an Aida cloth, counted thread cross-stitch picture I had been doing. Other things came along, and it’s been 10 or 12 years since I’ve worked on it. I took it out of the pillowcase, it’s been stored in, and found there are four or five small yellowish spots on it, no more than 1/2 cm across. It has been on a wooden frame all this time, and the top edge of the fabric, where the fabric wound around the wooden dowel of the frame, has a yellowed stain on it as well. I assume the part that was touching the wood has absorbed something from the wood, varnish oil perhaps. The spots weren’t visible when I put it away but must have discolored over the years while it sat wrapped in its pillowcase, in the closet. Any thoughts, advice or help you can give me will be most appreciated! Thanks so much! -Brenda

Answer: If the stains were caused by varnish, they are likely permanent. If the stains are caused by rust (or other), gently scrub with Dawn dish soap and water, rinse. If the stain remains, pour a half teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide and half teaspoon household ammonia onto the stain. Wrap the cloth in plastic and leave for 12 hours. Remove and blot with water. Repeat until the stain is gone. Another option is soaking the stain with white vinegar. Dab until the stain is gone.

Question: My family loves raspberries, they are healthy and delicious. Is it important to wash raspberries before eating them? -Neha

Answer: Raspberries are one of life’s special gifts to us! They are high in Vitamin C and A, iron, potassium, calcium, folic acid and ellagic acid. They contain no fat, cholesterol, or sodium and if that isn’t enough, they are high in fiber. While some people oppose the practice of washing raspberry because they are such delicate little creatures, most experts agree that giving raspberries a water rinse just prior to consumption is a great idea.

Extra Tip: If you are planning to freeze raspberries; rinse them with cold water and pat dry. Place them on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the berries to a freezable container and store them in the freezer. Great for ice cream toppings, jam, or smoothies.

Helping the Planet: Here’s a tip from my relatives whose summers, down under, are blistering hot; minimizing oven-use is an imperative. Don’t pre-heat your oven: Put cookies in (middle and bottom shelves) at the same time as you turn on your oven (350 degrees). Regular cook time: 12-15 minutes; in heating oven 13 minutes. Imagine how much energy could be saved worldwide if ovens weren’t pre-heated. Cheers -Rowena

I am a huge fan of Norwex and often use microfibre cloths because I love their products so much. It is my goal to make an effort to use less chemicals and make a difference on our earth by using environmentally friendly products. — TJ

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Have a great suggestion or tip? Please send an email at: info@reena.ca. Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: reena.ca.

Reena Nerbas
November 13

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Renovation & Design

Turn up the HEAT

Laurie Mustard
November 13

Renovation & Design

Telepost adjustment can get your home back on the level

Question: I have read your articles in the Free Press about telepost adjustments and was wondering if the prime directive in this process is to keep the beams straight/level? I live in River Park South in a 1,500 square-foot bungalow with a partially developed basement, that was done using a floating wall system. It was built in 1990 and I am the original owner. I have noticed, over the years, that the perimeter foundation seems to have settled as the beams are arched and higher in the center of the basement. We have some doors that are jamming upstairs and minor cracking. I have made some very small adjustments to lower the posts, but it doesn’t seem to have made much if any difference! Any thoughts on this? Thanks, Grant S.

Answer: Straightening, rather than levelling the main beam in a home, by carefully adjusting teleposts, should be the focus of proper remediation. Minimizing the unevenness or bumps in the beam over the individual columns will help prevent sticking doors and wall and ceiling cracks above.

Because of the recent, persistent dry weather we are experiencing in our area, inquiries like yours have been constant. Some reprieve came after a couple of rainy spells in the late summer and early fall. But, seeing the expanding visibility of our river banks in the last couple of weeks reminds me that the severe lack of precipitation is continuing. While the limited rainfall has restored the colour to the parched lawns, it appears that the moisture has not penetrated deep enough into our expansive clay soil to stop settlement of many homes. Due to this, adjustments of teleposts is a very common recommendation of mine to help prevent the escalation of wall and ceiling cracking, and other movement-related issues in our homes.

Because most homes that are not built on deep concrete piers, commonly known as piles, will settle at various times, the columns supporting the main beams in the floor structure are adjustable. Due to the extra dry soil, which has shrunk visibly, even older homes that have been stable for decades are once again sinking. You are correct that most of this movement will be around the perimeter of the home, due to the weight of the foundation, exterior walls, and roof. That area is quite reliant on environmental factors for its stability, while the footings under the middle of the house remain largely unaffected by the weather. So, the downward movement of the perimeter foundation is often in contrast with the lack of movement under the main beam in the middle of the home. This will often create bumps in the beam, directly over the footings and teleposts, and warp the beam, itself. The manifestation of this in the home is normally cracking in the walls and ceilings and/or floor and interior door movement.

You appear to have hit the nail right on the head with your description of the main objective for the type of maintenance required to partially correct this situation. Because the house has settled, often in one direction, the perimeter of the floor will no longer be level. One side of your home is likely higher than the others, and often will slope to one corner. To try and level a main beam which is no longer the same height at both ends is not practical. So, the "prime directive", as you eloquently describe it, is to attempt to straighten the beam. This may be possible by simply lowering the individual teleposts by varying amounts, depending on the severity of the settlement. As you have observed, the most visible movement is often seen near the centre of the floor, which will require the most telepost adjustments.

The adjustments are typically done with a large wrench slid over the flattened portion of the threaded rod on top of the metal post. This may have to be hit with a large hammer for the initial couple of rotations, but then become easier as the initial stress is relieved. As you have observed, small adjustments will have little visible effects, and multiple adjustments may be required. You should continue to do these slowly, no more than a half-rotation at a time and no less than a week or two apart. Adjusting the posts more quickly may cause more dramatic floor and wall movement, and can lead to larger and more severe cracking. Gradually lowering the posts will slowly allow the beam and floor joists to return closer to their original position, while taking the stress off the walls and doorways above.

Measuring the current position of the floor perimeter, and the main beam, is the most critical and often difficult part of the process. Unless you have a single main beam, visible in its entirety and at both ends, this may require specialized equipment and professional assessment. If you can see the majority of the underside of the beam, and it is visibly unobstructed, a simple laser level may be used for this purpose. It can be installed at one end, slightly below the beam, and used as a straight line to determine the amount of upward movement currently seen at each telepost. These measurements can be used to guide the amount of adjustment needed at each interval, which can be further evaluated as the beam is slowly straightened over the following weeks or months.

Attempting to return the main beam, or beams, in your home to its original position, by adjusting your teleposts, should only focus on its straightness. Significant lowering of the high areas above these metal columns may require multiple adjustments, but will help minimize future cracking and floor movement in the house, above.

Ari Marantz is the owner of Trained Eye Home Inspection Ltd. and a Registered Home Inspector (RHI)(cahpi.ca). Questions can be emailed to the address below. Ari can be reached at 204-291-5358 or check out his website at trainedeye.ca.

trainedeye@iname.com

Ari Marantz
November 13

Renovation & Design

Pathways to goodness

Colleen Zacharias
October 30

Renovation & Design

Heat may be needed to prevent plumbing from freezing

Question: I was hoping you could suggest how to prevent a pump from freezing in winter. It is located in the crawl space at the end of the building, which is skirted with insulation panels. The water lines have heat tape, however the pump does not. We considered building on a heated area adjacent to the pump. Any ideas? Thanks, S. Sawich.

Answer: Preventing plumbing from freezing in a crawlspace in our frigid winters can be a challenge, but should be possible with proper insulation and a reliable heat source. Ensuring the area is properly insulated and sealed before installation of additional heating will be the key to prevent any problems.

Any time plumbing systems are installed in a crawlspace, especially if it is a building with occasional or seasonal use, risk of freezing is increased. Because the crawlspace is below the heated living space, it will be colder than the floor and rooms above. While the crawlspace may get some radiant heat from the building, it will still be substantially cooler. If there are areas in the crawlspace perimeter that have gaps or poorly sealed areas, cold drafts may cause unwanted freezing of plumbing fixtures and pipes, especially if you have copper supply pipes.

Unless the crawlspace has a good heat source, to warm the air and the plumbing, there is always a chance of freeze-up, especially on very cold days. Installing heat into this area may require tying into the existing ducting, if you have a forced-air system. Adding an additional duct to the furnace plenum may not be overly difficult, as long as there is proper access. If the ducts already run through the crawlspace, but have no direct duct or register for that space, it may be quite simple. Diverting heated air from another duct, or from the plenum, into the crawlspace should be straightforward for a licensed HVAC technician. If there are no ducts in the crawlspace, or if you have a different heating system, then other alternatives should be chosen.

One of the simplest methods to add a heat source to your crawlspace, regardless of your current heating system, is to add electric baseboard heaters. These inexpensive heaters may be installed by hanging them from the floor joists, or securing them to vertical columns or the perimeter walls of the crawlspace. Supplying them with power, and a crawlspace mounted thermostat, can easily be accomplished by a licensed electrician, as long as you have capacity and space in your electrical panel. If you have a 200-amp service there should be no issue, but it may also be possible with most 100 amp. panels, as long as you are not currently maxed out. Installing one heater near the pump should ensure your freezing concern is met. Adding baseboards in other strategic locations may also allow you to remove the heat trace cables from your existing plumbing pipes, as long as a couple of other provisions are taken into consideration.

Heating the crawlspace will only be completely successful if you have proper insulation and air sealing on the perimeter of entire area. Having older insulation may not be adequate to form a completely sealed area, which will withstand strong winds and bitter winter temperatures. Reinsulating this area with high density spray-on foam, or rigid extruded polystyrene, should allow you to seal it properly against the worst weather.

The dirt floor of the crawlspace should also be sealed with 6MIL poly, to further prevent moisture and air intrusion into the confined space. Upgrading these components in the crawlspace may be the most important part of the process to prevent future frozen plumbing.

The other consideration may be the reliability of the electrical supply to the building. Especially if this is a cottage or other remote property, which is only used periodically in the heating season, this concern must be addressed. If the electrical utility is subject to regular outages, electric heating in the crawlspace may be interrupted for extended periods. If this is more than a few hours, in the dead of winter, freezing pipes and pump is once again a problem. The solution would be to install some form of low temperature alarm, which would notify you if the temperature suddenly dropped in the crawlspace. This is a good idea even if you permanently occupy the home, just in case something else, like a tripped circuit breaker, happens. With modern Wi-Fi systems, this is something that could be readily installed, as long as you have an internet connection in the building.

While there may be other, simpler solutions to prevent the pipes and pump from freezing, like leaving a faucet dripping in the coldest weather, a properly heated and insulated crawlspace is the best choice. This will not only prevent a plumbing breakdown, it will also warm the floor above, making the living space more comfortable. The crawlspace does not have to be heated to the same temperature as the living space, but should be several degrees above freezing at all times. That way, you can reliably prevent frozen fixtures without a large increase in your Hydro bill.

Implementing any strategy to prevent frozen plumbing pipes, pumps, or other equipment in a crawlspace should rely on proper heating, insulation, and air sealing. Preventing cold air from getting into the area, and warming it to a reasonable temperature above freezing, will be the most reliable, long-term solution.

Ari Marantz is the owner of Trained Eye Home Inspection Ltd. and a Registered Home Inspector (RHI)(cahpi.ca). Questions can be emailed to the address below. Ari can be reached at 204-291-5358 or check out his website at trainedeye.ca.

trainedeye@iname.com

Ari Marantz
October 30

Renovation & Design

Discoloured towels likely due to cosmetics

Question: Last year I purchased new white towels for my remodelled bathroom. They are lovely, but after a few washes and they started sprouting grey blob-shaped spots, especially on the hand towels. At first, I thought it was my daughter’s toothpaste staining the towels when she wiped her face, but switching toothpastes didn’t help. The spots have also appeared on the bathmat; so, I know it can’t just be the toothpaste. With copious amounts of bleach, the spots can be faded or erased, but this needs to be done constantly or they re-appear. I have changed laundry detergents as well to no avail. Any ideas? — Darryl

Answer: Since the spots are mainly apparent on hand towels it makes sense they may be the result of a product your daughter uses. Bleach is found in cosmetic products other than toothpaste such as teeth whiteners and hair products. Benzoyl Peroxide for example is found in several products i.e., acne treatments may be the culprit. Consider investigating all of the products that she uses to help you determine the cause of discoloration.

Have you experimented by trading towels with her and observing whether discoloration is still an issue? Add a product such as washing soda to each load. Pour one quarter cup to each load to brighten colors and whiten whites. Using washing soda with hot water will also clean out the hoses in your washing machine.

Question: You mentioned preheating the pan for a homemade pizza. Should I also preheat the pan for a storebought, frozen pizza? Is this necessary to prevent a soggy pizza? I usually just place the frozen pizza on a pan (not heated), or directly on the oven rack. Cathy

Answer: If you preheat the oven before placing the pizza directly on the rack, you are choosing the best method for a crispy pizza result. Some people like me are not brave enough to put the pizza on the rack, in this case, you can preheat the pan before placing the pizza in the oven, but it’s really not necessary.

Question: Can you advise me as to why when frying or pickling garlic they turn green? How can I prevent this from happening? I read it is safe to eat green garlic, but it is unsightly. I have also read that it is due to immature garlic, so how does one buy it correctly? Perhaps there are many reasons for this occurrence. Thanks in advance, Mary

Answer: Garlic contains anthocyanins, water-soluble pigments that turn blue, green, or purple in an acid solution. While this colour transformation tends to occur more often with immature garlic, it differs among cloves within the same head of garlic. The garlic flavour remains unchanged and is totally edible and not harmful. Some other factors that may cause colour change include: a reaction to the acid found in vinegar, lemons, or onions; the material makeup of the frying pan or chopping knife; copper in your water; or using a salt other than canning salt for pickling. To prevent colour change, blanche garlic for 30 seconds or sauté garlic in butter or olive oil.

When purchasing garlic, look for dry bulbs, off-white in colour. The peel should be dry and shed easily. Take a moment, in the store, to smell garlic; it will carry no odour unless it is overripe (which you don’t want).

Everyday tips, for everyday challenges

— Stop clothes with thin straps from falling off hangers by sticking small felt furniture pads onto the hanger just beyond where the straps sit.

— To keep spiders or any other nasty surprises out of the shoes you store outside such as gardening shoes or work boots, place old stockings over the top of them. Make sure the stockings don’t have holes in them, and if they don’t fit snugly over the top, use an elastic band to secure them.

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Have a great suggestion or tip? Please send an email at: info@reena.ca. Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: reena.ca.

Reena Nerbas
October 30

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