6 Tools To Make Pressure Washing Easy

Residential grade gas pressure washers like the one pictured above have become very popular tools for homeowners in the last twenty years or so.  Typically pumping between 2 and 3 gallons of water per minute, and producing between 2000-4000 psi, a quality gas powered washer can be purchased anywhere from $250-$500 at most home improvement stores.  The uses for these machines are numerous ranging from house washing to paint stripping.  Though new washers typically come with all accessories required to go to work, below are six inexpensive accessories that will make your pressure washing projects easier, quicker, and more efficient.

  1. Spray Wand Quick Connect

The aluminum male nipple with the black plastic sleeve screws on to the threaded piece that your spray wand hose typically screws to.  The brass female quick connect threads onto the bottom part of the spray wand hose and connects to the aluminum male nipple that is threaded on the pump.  The purpose of these accessories is to not only make disconnecting the wand hose quicker, but also eliminates the need to screw and unscrew parts to remove the spray wand from the machine, greatly reducing the risk of stripping the threads on the wand hose and pump.

2.   5-in-1 Hose Nozzle

This 5-in-1 hose nozzle has worked great for me.  I built my own pressure washer a few years ago and only had a few tips for it that I ended up losing due to having nowhere to store them.  I figured I would give this 5-in-1 a try but I did not expect much from it.  I have been pleasantly surprised by how well it works.  It adjusts from 0, 15, and 40 degree spray angles and also has a soap and flush mode.  Adjustments are made by simply depressing the button on top and rotating the head to the desired spray mode.  It has all the functions that I need for my pressure washing jobs and has held up very well.

3.  Garden Hose Quick Connect

The brass part with the male nipple on the left in the picture simply threads into the threaded part of any garden hose while the part on the right threads onto the part of the pressure washer pump that the garden hose typically threads onto.  The piece that threads onto the pump does not need to be removed from the pump once installed, greatly reducing the chance of ruining any component of the costly washer pump.  To make this quick connect even more effective you can buy a hose to dedicate to your pressure washer that way you will never have to screw or unscrew a hose when pressure washing again.

4. Quick Connect Wand Extension

This quick connect wand extension gives you an extra 33 inches of reach for cleaning eaves, gutters, and high windows.  It is a great compliment to the fifth tool mentioned below.

5.  Gutter Cleaning Attachment

This attachment has a nice bend with two heads that shoot water to either side for blasting leaves, dirt, and debris from gutters.  Coupled with the wand extension above, this setup will allow you to clean gutters safely from the ground opposed to dangling off of a ladder.

6. Pivoting Coupler with Nozzle Tips

The pivoting coupler with quick connect and spray nozzle tips allows you to adjust the spray angle to wash those hard to reach areas.  Though I discussed my love for the 5-in-1 nozzle earlier, it can be helpful to have the smaller individual tips for times when you need to access areas in tight spaces.

For additional product reviews, pictures, and specifications as well as pricing simply click on the product link or picture in this post.

For a ton of great information and comparisons of pressure washer models and brands check out this article from bestdrillreviews.com.

Thank you very much for reading.  Please be sure to like, comment, share, and follow tool-school.com.  Have a great day!

Jake with tool-school.com

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PVC YOU LATER: Cheap/Easy DIY Kids Time Capsule Project

I recently stumbled upon an ad for a time capsule being sold as a product for kids by the Smithsonian.  Though pricey, I liked the idea because it reminded me of the time capsule project that my dad spearheaded with me when I was a kid.  Our time capsule did not look as futuristic as the one sold by the Smithsonian, but I am certain that it offered the same amount of excitement and entertainment.  Though I liked it, I did not order the Smithsonian’s time capsule kit, what I did was run to the hardware store and buy the components needed for me and my little ones to make our own.

The PVC time capsule project will typically cost around $20 depending on the components that you already have that are not uncommon to have around the house.  The materials needed for this project are as follows:

1- 2ft x 4″ piece of PVC pipe (2″ or 3″ could be used) (about $9)

1- 4″ PVC drain cap (about $2)

1- 4″ PVC cleanout plug (about $4)

1- 4″ PVC hub x female adapter (about $6)

PVC cement and primer or all in one (price varies)

If you decide to use a smaller diameter pipe, the price of the build will decrease.  All named components are pictured below.

Assembly

I do not actually glue/cement the pipe together in my pictures and video but the glue/cement process is critical to the finished water-tight product.  For instructions on how to glue/cement PVC pipe together click here.

The material list says to get a 2ft long piece of 4 inch pipe but the length of your capsule is totally your preference.  I would suggest cutting the pipe down to 14 or 16 inches, but that is just my preference.

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Black arrow-Drain (end) cap Red arrow- Threaded Hub x Female Adapter Green arrow- Cleanout plug

Step 1

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Apply primer to the inside of the end cap and one end of your pipe, then apply glue to both in the same manner and press and hold the end cap onto the pipe firmly for about 5 seconds.

Step 2

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Using the same primer and cement application process as step one, apply both to the non-threaded female adapter end and the opposite end of the pipe from the end cap. Insert pipe into female adapter end and hold firmly for about 5 seconds.

Step 3

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Lastly, thread the cleanout plug into the threaded hub and voila! You are now the proud owner of a homemade time capsule. It is not a bad idea to wrap the clean out plug threads in Teflon tape for added protection against water intrusion.

Finished Product

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I really like this project for a variety of reasons.  It is cheap, fun, and customizable.  Your kids will not only enjoy the build and burying of the time capsule, but they can also have fun painting and drawing on it as well.

Another reason I like this build is that the time capsule can serve as a water-tight vessel for other applications as well.  In the past I have used this same design to serve as dry storage for my welding rods and it works great.

My absolute favorite use for this water-tight container in the past outside of a time capsule is easily its function as dry storage when boating, fishing, or canoeing.  The 14″ long by 4″ diameter tube is great for storing wallets, money, cell phones, and keys while on the water.  Even better is should it be accidentally knocked out of a boat or fall out of an overturned canoe it will float, so the recovery of valuables or personal belongings is only a matter of paddling to it and hoisting it back in your vessel.

Regardless of how you and your family use this little contraption I am certain that you will have a great time completing this project together as my dad and I did, and as my daughters and I will do.  With that being said, I have linked to a few time capsules and dry storage products below that do not require as much effort for those not as motivated to DIY.

Smithsonian Time Capsule

$12 Time Capsule

Welding Rod Dry Container

Dry Box for Boating/Water Activities

Thank you very much for reading.  If you found this post to be informative, useful, or entertaining please be sure to like, comment, share, and follow tool-school.com.  Good luck with your projects!

Jake

How to Glue/Cement PVC Pipe

I apologize for my posts being somewhat PVC-centric lately, the stuff is just so cheap and versatile so it is hard to stay away from sometimes.  I am not attempting to insult anyone’s intelligence, but I wanted to post a quick video of how to properly join PVC pipe and fittings together using PVC primer and cement.

Step 1 – Check the fit of the components to be joined.

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Step 2 – Prime/Prep/Clean areas to be joined.

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Step 3 – Apply cement to the inside of both components being joined.

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Step 4 – Insert pipe into fitting and hold in place for about 5 seconds so that the cement/glue does not force pipe out of fitting.

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Step 5 – Allow 15 minutes cure time for handling and about 2 hours before putting the pipe into service.

Here is a video of the same process pictured above.

PVC cement/primer combo packs can be purchased on amazon for under $10 as shown in the following link.  Oatey PVC cement and primer pack.

Thank you for reading.  Please be sure to like, comment, share, and follow tool-school.com!  Have a great day.

Jake

It Pays to be Trashy…..

If you do not believe it pays to be trashy I urge you to check the Kardashian family bank account and get back to me.  Do not let that discourage you though, you do not need a nationally televised reality show to make money being trashy too.  Actually, not only can you make money, you can make money while helping the environment in a multitude of ways.  So how does one make money while simultaneously becoming an environmental hero by being trashy?  The answer is simple, recycling.

trash pile

Over the past 6 years I have made between $3,000 and $4,000 in my spare time by selling metals to various scrap yards in my area.  I kind of got into the practice of selling “junk” for money by chance when an in-law of mine asked me to remove a bunch of old metal from his yard and take it to sell at a local scrap yard.  I agreed and was sort of astounded when I left the recycling center with over $200 cash in my pocket.  I was hooked.

For probably the next two years I did not pass a piece of metal on the side of the road or at the edge of someone’s yard without stopping and loading it up in the back of my truck.  I also checked the “free” section of Craigslist daily for people offering free scrap metal for its removal.  I can not count how many washers, dryers, microwaves, and refrigerators I have loaded into the back of my truck and taken to the scrap yard, but I have counted plenty of extra money from doing so.  I have even been able to buy a brand new utility trailer using money earned strictly from selling scrap.

As mentioned earlier selling scrap metal for extra money is not the only perk to the practice, it is also a big help to the environment.  Recycled metal requires far less processing in order to get it into a useable state than new ores of the same metal require.  This streamlined processing results in far less energy being used to achieve the same result.  According to the American Geosciences Institute, recycled iron and steel requires about 72% less energy to refine than that of the mining and processing of raw iron ore, and there is an 80% reduction in energy use with recycled lead versus newly mined and processed lead.  The AGI also states that in 2017 the amount of aluminum recycled in the United States saved enough energy to power over 7.5 million homes compared to the amount of energy that would have been used to mine and process the metal from raw aluminum ore.

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Pictured above are a few metals commonly sold at metal recycling centers.  These metals are aluminum, brass, iron, copper, and batteries that contain lead.  Nonferrous metals (metals that do not contain iron such as copper, brass, aluminum, and lead) are usually the bigger money makers per pound, while ferrous metals (metals containing iron) are typically paid for by the ton.  To differentiate between ferrous and nonferrous metals simply place a magnet on the metal, if the magnet sticks to it, it is ferrous, if the magnet does not stick to it, it is nonferrous.  Magnets are attracted to iron and as stated above, nonferrous metals do not contain iron.  Recycling prices of different metals can fluctuate often and vary from state to state, country to country, and continent to continent, the environmental benefits from recycling metals however is consistent world wide.

For recycling locations near you click the link to access Earth911’s recycling center database, it is a very useful resource Earth911

If you are interested in helping the environment and making some extra cash check out this tool for help in differentiating between ferrous and nonferrous metals.

 

Thank you for checking out my site, if you found this article to be informative, helpful, or entertaining please be sure to like, comment, follow, and share.  Thanks again!

Jake

Ten Things to Look for when Buying a House.

 

Let me begin by stating that I am not a home inspector, licensed contractor, or engineer, but I have completed the educational requirements needed to become a licensed home inspector, an avid home improvement project undertaker, and a buyer or several homes.  With that being said, below are ten things that need to be thoroughly inspected before purchasing a home in order to avoid unwanted surprises and unforeseen home improvement expenses after purchasing your new home.

  1. Brick/Siding/Exterior Protection

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A home’s exterior can often alert you to bigger problems involving other structural features of a home.  The stair-step cracking and pulling away of the brick pictured above is indicative of foundation issues below the home.  Whether brick, vinyl, or wood, inspect the exterior of a home extensively to ensure that it is providing adequate protection from the elements, not rotten, not termite infested, and structurally and aesthetically sound.

2. Roof

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New roofs are expensive.  I recently paid about $7000 for a 33 square re-roof job completed using architectural shingles.  Information on the age of a roof is often included in the information packets offered by real estate companies when selling a home.  Regardless, be sure to perform at minimum a visual inspection of the roof from the ground, but if at all possible safely access the roof for a walk around inspection.  Typically an asphalt shingle roof has a life expectancy of 15 years, an architectural shingle roof 20-25 years, and a metal roof 25-40 years.

3. Floor Joists

jakes subfloorless hall

Hopefully you are not looking to buy a home in which the floor joists can be inspected from inside like pictured above.  If you are looking at a pier-and-beam house do not, I repeat DO NOT agree to purchase it if it can not be inspected from below.  Take it from me and my experience, you can miss so many structural, electrical, plumbing, and foundation issues if the crawlspace of a home is left uninspected.  Do not think that hiring a home inspector will take care of this either, by law home inspectors are not required to go underneath a home to complete an inspection if a crawlspace access door or hole is not a certain height and width and many older homes do not have access ways that meet these criteria, leaving the area “okay” to go uninspected.

4. Subfloor

rotten subfloor

Unfortunately subfloor issues are not always as obvious as the one above.  Subflooring is supported by the floor joists from below and will almost always have some type of finished flooring covering it above.  Sagging or soggy areas in flooring are indicative of subfloor issues but again, inspecting the house from the crawlspace below is often the best method for spotting subfloor issues and further supports my claim for it being absolutely necessary before agreeing to purchase a home.

5. Attic/Rafters

attic

Be sure to access the attic of your potential home in order to get information on  number of the homes systems and components.  Inspect the rafters and flooring for water and pest damage, the roof for past, present, and potential future leak indication, proper ventilation,  and be sure that the attic is adequately insulated for the area in which you live.  It is common for wiring and hvac ductwork to be run in the attic so you will want to be sure to inspect both for function and safety issues.  Purchasing a house without a thorough inspection of its attic would be like buying a car without starting its engine.

6. Electrical

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It is not a good idea to go ripping covers off of electrical panels if you are not a professional, but there are a few things that anyone can look for safely to know if the basic red flags should be raised or not.  For instance you will want to look at the biggest breaker which is often at the top of the electrical panel when you open its door.  Make sure that the house has a 200 amp power supply if you want to use many of today’s modern appliances.  Older homes were often equipped with 60 amp power and later 100 amp power.  These breakers would not suffice in supplying power simultaneously to multiple appliances that are commonplace in homes today.  Another thing to look for is the type of electrical panel used.  Many homes that were built or wired from the 1950s-1980s were outfitted with electrical panels made by the Federal Pacific Electric Company.  These breakers are known to operate without issue for years, but become very serious fire hazards once they experience their first overcurrent or short.  It is best, and safest to steer clear of living in a home with a Federal Pacific electric panel.

7. Plumbing

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If your potential new home is off of the ground you can actually perform a very thorough inspection of the pipes and plumbing of the home before purchasing.  If the home is on a slab the plumbing inspection is pretty much relegated to piping that may be in the attic, connections, and the little bit of pipe that may be exposed at those connections.  Some things to look for are insulation on pipes, correct type of pipe for each application, and of course leaks and disconnects.  It is also a good idea to test every faucet, outdoor hose, sink, and bathtub to make sure that they are functioning properly in order to avoid surprise replacement costs.

8. HVAC System

As with the age of the roof, the age and type of a home’s hvac system is often listed in the information provided by real estate companies when selling a home.  Unless you are a professional hvac technician it can be hard to get a feel for the quality or remaining life of a system by just looking at it and running it for a few minutes.  with that being said, look at it, and run it for a few minutes.  By doing this you can at least determine if it is in working order or not.  Typically hvac systems have a life expectancy of 15-20 years, so if you are buying a home in 2018 and the hvac system was installed in 2000, you can be fairly confident that the system is at the end of its useful life regardless if it blows desert hot and blizzard cold.  Be sure to inspect all hvac duct work as well.  Ductwork is typically run in the attic or crawlspace of a home.  Check for leaks, damage, and proper insulation when performing the inspection.

9. Foundation

concrete foundation

Whether on a concrete slab, or a pier-and-beam style house, you will want to inspect the foundation for cracking, deformation, collapse, and level.  This can be a lot trickier with a home that is on a concrete slab opposed to on concrete piers.  Foundation issues from both types often show up in the form of wall cracks, unleveled or sagging areas in the house, and even by exterior issues such as the one shown in the first picture with the stair-step cracking and separating of the exterior brick veneer.

10. Appliances

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Be certain to look in, on, above, around, and behind all appliances, especially those with water connections and hard wiring to them such as washers, refrigerators, stoves, vent hoods, and ovens.  Inspect the water connections to the appliances as well as the area around them to ensure that there are no symptoms of past, present, or future water leaks.  Also be sure that hard-wired appliances are wired adequately and pose no risk of electrocution when reaching around them or fire due to exposed wire.  If the seller agrees to leave appliances with the home you want to be certain that they work and that you are not just being stuck with their unwanted trip to the dump.

It is impossible to list everything that needs inspecting when buying a home without writing a novel but if you keep these ten priorities in mind you will definitely be ahead of the game.  Do not hire a home inspector thinking that every issue will be addressed, some things you need to see and inspect yourself.  After all, there are lazy people in all fields, including home inspection, and the inspector is not the person that will potentially make the biggest purchase of their life and have to live in it.  As mentioned with the size of a crawlspace opening requirement, inspectors do have legal “outs” for some parts of inspections and if they take these paths you could wind up paying for it big time in the future.

Do not get me wrong, ALWAYS HIRE A LICENSED HOME INSPECTOR BEFORE AGREEING TO BUY A HOUSE, but also put some inspection work in yourself to ensure that you are not jumping into a money pit.  For those of you on the house market I have provided links to two books below that I would not buy a house without.  They are actually the two sources used as  textbooks for the home inspection course that I completed a few years ago.

Home Reference Book

Real Estate Home Inspection

 

Thank you for reading!  If you found this post informative, helpful, or entertaining please like, comment, follow, and share.  I appreciate the support!

Jake

 

 

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