Q. How does the new EPA regulation regarding lead-based paints affect me and my property?
A. If your home was built after 1978 there isn’t any lead-based paint in your home so the regulation does not apply to you. However, housing, child care facilities and schools built before 1978 are impacted. According to the EPA, a hazardous condition exists when lead paint dust is present on a floor to the extent of 40 micrograms (1 millionth of a gram) in a square foot area. Another way of expressing it is if a square centimeter lead based paint chip were ground into dust it would (by EPA standards) contaminate 25 square feet of floor space.
Effective December, 2008, EPA regulation required that individuals receive from the service company doing the work, the EPA brochure entitled Renovate Right - Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers and Schools before renovating six square feet or more of painted surfaces in a room for interior projects or more than twenty square feet of painted surfaces for exterior projects. In addition effective April 22, 2010, any contractor working in a home built prior to 1978 that has not been certified lead free and where they might “disturb” any painted surface must be trained and certified by the EPA. The EPA is requiring the “proper” containment and clean-up when 6 or more (20 for exterior) square feet of lead based paint will be “disturbed” in a home. We are fully trained and certified by the EPA. For more information or to receive a copy of the brochure please call or e-mail our office. Additional information can also be obtained from the EPA at 800-242-LEAD (5323) or www.epa.gov/lead.
Q. What is the PA Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act?
A. The Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act ("HICPA") was adopted by Pennsylvania's General Assembly in October, 2008, and signed by the Governor as Act 132 of 2008. The law was effective on July 1, 2009 and established a mandatory registration program for contractors who offer or perform home improvements in Pennsylvania. The statute also established minimum insurance requirements for contractors; required contractors to provide their registration number in their ads and contracts; establishes required contract terms for home improvement contracts; prohibits unfair business practices; and creates a criminal penalty for home improvement fraud.
Anyone who owns or operates a home improvement business or who offers, performs, or agrees to perform home improvements in Pennsylvania must register with the Office of Attorney General unless they fall within two exceptions: small contractors (less than $5,000 of work in a calendar year) and large retailers (net worth or more than $50 million).
PA consumers can obtain the official registration number of any contractor from the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection by calling toll-free within Pennsylvania 1-888-520-6680. Registration does not imply endorsement. Please know that Mr. Handyman of the Western Main Line is registered and our registration number is PA4719.
Q. I want to put in a new garden, how do I find out where underground electrical and gas lines might be?
A. PA state law requires everyone (contractors and homeowners) to call PA One Call’s 811 number before beginning any work where digging is involved. The contractor or homeowner should call the 811 number three business days before the excavation work begins. The utility companies will locate and mark the position of any underground electric and natural gas lines and easements. The service is free for residential customers.
Q. I keep my dryer lint trap clean and the heating element is okay but the dryer it doesn’t seem to be venting well and the clothes take a long time to dry, what could be wrong?
A. If you use a “dryer sheet” to add fragrance or reduce “static cling” that may well be the culprit. Dryer sheets cause a film to clog the mesh of the lint filter. You can’t see the film but running water onto the filter will show that it is there; the water won’t flow through. The clog blocks the flow of air, slowing the drying process and can cause excess heat to build up and possibly burn out the heating element prematurely.
To remove the film and keep your dryer working for a very long time (and your electric bill lower), simply take the filter out and wash it at least every six months with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush (or other brush).
Q. How do I stop woodpeckers from putting holes in my wood siding?
A. First and foremost, if one hole is found, repair the damage immediately. Once woodpeckers see a hole they think it is a safe area and the holes will actually attract more woodpeckers. Unfortunately there is no commercial repellant that works effectively. However any kind of streamer-like object that moves in the wind and especially a shiny object that reflects sunlight in a random pattern, will work best to scare woodpeckers into finding a more secure place to nest.
Q. How do I remove driveway sealer or paint from my new synthetic plastic deck?
A. If soap and water doesn’t work, there is a product called Safety Klean by Prosoco that should do the trick. Do not use paint remover, petroleum or acid based products as they may stain or actually damage the deck.
Q. How can I avoid soap build up on my glass shower doors?
A. Apply a thin coat of car wax to the doors, let the polish dry, then buff doors. Water and soap will slide right off, just like it does on your car! Don’t use the wax on the shower floor, as it is very slippery!
Q. How can I remove the adhesive left from old non-slip appliqués that I removed from my tub?
A. Spray WD-40 on the adhesive, let sit for a few minutes then wipe the adhesive off with a paper towel.
Q. What is the difference between caulk and grout?
A. Grout is used to fill the spaces between ceramic tiles. When dry it has the texture and character of cement. It should only be used between products of the same type, usually ceramic or stone tile. It should not be used at the seam between tile and any other product, especially wood or wallboard. Products respond to heat, cold and humidity in different ways and grout is not flexible and will crack and fall away as different pressures are exerted by the different products it is attached to.
Caulk is a very flexible sealant and is ideal for filling the gaps between different types of products. It usually comes in tubes and is applied with a caulk “gun”. Caulk comes in a variety of colors, and types for different material and uses. A thin, well applied bead of caulk between the last row of tiles and the floor or tub will provide the same look as grout, but will remain flexible and attractive for years.
Q. What is the “pitch” of my roof?
A. Pitch refers to how steep the angle of your roof is. If you look at your roof from the side you will notice it is usually a triangle shape. If you draw an imaginary horizontal line between the edges of the roof (where rain gutters are usually located), and measure 12 inches (along the horizontal line) from the edge of the roof (by the gutter), the pitch is how many inches the roof rises in that one foot span. The “pitch” is expressed as x-12, meaning the roof rises x inches for every 12 inches across the imaginary horizontal line. A 0-12 pitch roof would be flat; a 12-12 pitch roof rises 12 inches for every 12 inches across forming a “right” angle
Have a question for Mr. Handyman? Email us!
Did You Know...?
(Answers can be found elsewhere on our site!)
- 1. Who invented the flashlight?
- a) Joshua Lionel Cowen of Eveready, 1899
- b) Professor Timothy O'Brien of Harvard University, 1903
- c) James Keener Harding of Rayovac, 1905
- 2. How high off of the ground should a curbside mailbox be (according to the USPS)?
- a) Thirty-six inches
- b) Forty-two inches
- c) Forty-eight inches