April, 2014 –
Spring Home & Garden
How to repair and replace window screens
Window screens can let fresh air into a home while preventing insects and outdoor critters from making their way inside. But screens are far less effective at keeping critters out of a home when they’re damaged. Addressing such damage is typically an easy do-it-yourself project, one that begins with gathering the right materials, including:* new screening, synthetic or aluminum* a rubber spline* a screen rolling tool* a razor knife or sharp scissor* measuring tape* masking tape* a screwdriver or an awlOnce those materials have been gathered, the process of replacing or repairing damaged screens is rather simple.1. Measure the area of the window to deter-mine how much replacement screening you will need. Remember to leave extra room in your measurements so you have slack to make the new screen fit taut. The measurement will also help you determine how much spline you will need.2. Remove the screen from the window frame. Some windows do not have removable screen frames, and you will have to work on the screen in its upright position.3. Use the screwdriver or awl to pry the edge of the existing spline that holds the screening material in the frame. Pull out the old spline and remove the damaged screening.4. Measure the new screening from a replace-ment roll. Lay the screening down on the frame, ensuring there is overhang on all sides. If necessary, use masking tape to temporarily secure the screening to the frame while free-ing up your hands. This also works if you must replace screening vertically and cannot remove the window frame and make repairs on a flat surface.5. Take a new piece of rubber spline and push it into the edge of the screen frame, secur-ing a corner of the new screening to the frame. Continue to press the spline around the perim-eter of the screen frame firmly into the groove with the screen rolling tool, which looks like a small pizza cutter. This effectively secures the screen into the frame.6. Continue around the edge of the frame, pulling the new screening taut as you go. This helps to keep it free of wrinkles.7. Once you have inserted the spline all the way around, cut it off from the spline spool and push in the edge.8. Use a razor knife or sharp scissor to cut off the excess screening, being careful not to dis-lodge it from behind the spline when cutting.9. Replace the screen in the window.In the case of small tears in a screen, a com-plete replacement may not be necessary. Home improvement stores sell screen patch kits. Some work by cutting out a piece of patch that is attached to an adhesive backing and sticking it over the hole. Other patches are small, woven wires that can be threaded through the hole in the screen. A really small hole can be mended with a drop of clear-drying glue.The same method of screen replacement can be used to replace screens on screened-in porches, aluminum doors or sliding patio doors. Just be sure to purchase replacement screening that will fit the dimensions.Patios, decks and outdoor entertaining areas often need some TLC. Homeown-ers looking forward to enjoying the warm air again often start their annual chore of readying such areas for the entertaining season in the spring, and cleaning outdoor furniture and entertaining areas is a big part of that process. Very often individu-als turn to pressure washing machines to clean such areas; while pressure and pow-er washers are effective, they also can be dangerous if homeowners don’t prioritize safety when operating these machines.Pressure washing machines come in many varieties, and not all are created equal. Smaller, electric-powered systems may be effective for cars and boats but ineffective at cleaning grime on a house or driveway. Pressure washers also may have hot or cold water supplies. Hot water can help cleaning detergents emulsify dirt fast-er and more effectively than cold water. The cleaning capacity of these machines is measured in cleaning units -- or the water pressure multiplied by the flow rate. The higher the cleaning units, the greater the cleaning power of the device. But more powerful tools also carry a greater safety risk, highlighting the importance users must place on safety when operating such machines. The following are a few safety tips homeowners can employ to ensure their next power washing project goes off without a hitch.* Clear away furniture and any obstacles from the area where you will be cleaning. You want the area to be free of tripping hazards or items that can be damaged by the spray.* Keep children and pets away from the area while the cleaning is taking place. Pressure washers are powerful, and highly pressurized water spray can cause injuries. Slips and falls on wet surfaces may occur, and high-pressure injection can happen when water and chemicals penetrate the skin and cause tissue damage.* Eye and ear protection should be worn at all times when working with a pressure washer. * Many pressure washers work better when used in conjunction with some type of cleaning solution. A combination of bleach and water will help loosen dirt and will require less pressure from the washer. * As you grow accustomed to the power of the washer, it is best to adjust the nozzle to a wide angle fan and the lowest pressure setting to see how effectively it cleans a given surface. Increase pressure accord-ingly as the project progresses. Making the water stream too narrow could cause damage. It takes time to learn the subtle-ties of the machine, so users should allow themselves ample time to grow comfort-able with the machine.* Keep the pressure wand 10 to 12 inches away from the surface that needs cleaning. Make small passes and check the cleaned area, adjusting the pressure and stream accordingly.* Begin in the farthest corner of a deck, driveway or patio and the highest spot of a home. Use slow, even sweeps with the pressure wand, being careful to maintain an equal distance from the tip to the work surface. This helps to ensure even clean-ing and reduces the chances of streaks and overlapping of the pressure spray.* When working on a home, avoid spraying the water at a steep angle under siding or directly into corners. Do not spray under the edges of window or doors. Use caution around dryer and attic vents as well. You may end up soaking the inside of the home or cause water damage unwittingly.* Always use caution when operating a pressure washer while on a ladder. The power of the device can easily compro-mise your balance. If ever you feel uncomfortable using the pressure washer, stop and consider hiring a professional. It is much better to make that investment rather than damage your home or risk injury.CAPTION: Pressure washers have vari-ous levels of power. Some may be effec-tive for washing cars, while stronger set-tings are often most effective at cleaning home siding.
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Prioritize safety when power washing patios and decks