Adjust the Grade of Your Home’s Foundation
It’s possible that the grade surrounding your home’s foundation has changed. A foundation can shift, changing the soil around it, and it’s even possible that weather conditions can erode and wear away the soil. It’s incredibly common—the foundations of newer homes move considerably over the first fifteen years. And it’s relatively simple to fix; a little know-how and the right tools and you can have your home’s grade perfected as soon as the ground thaws (Conveniently, the springtime is a terrific time to adjust your grade, because the rest of the lawn won’t have grown back fully, and you can re-sod or seed the areas affected). Even though it’s a simple enough job to do on the weekends, it’s also a very important job: an improper grade can cause water to runoff and congregate at the foundation; a simple spring rain storm could bring water in a home’s crawlspace or basement.
You will need several tools to do the job well. First, a handy spade shovel will help with the digging and a flat-nosed shovel will help to clear away dirt and level the ground. You’ll also need landscape string, brightly colored, and several stakes. A quality hammer or sledge to pound the stakes into the soil will also come in handy.
To begin pound a stake at the home’s foundation and affix the landscape string to it. Pound a second stake approx. ten feet away from the home’s foundation, and then attach a string level to the string and determine the correct height to tie it off. At the further stake, measure the distance between the string and the ground. If the distance is between ten and twelve inches, then the grade is fine. If it’s less, remove the sod and dig away the high areas. If it’s low (Sometimes there’s a negative grade that extends from the foundation to a few feet away, add dirt to correct the height.
Replace A Light Switch
It’s not every day you discover you need to replace a light switch. But it does happen. A light switch is usually reliable enough to continue to work for decades; most light switches see little-to-no hard, destructive use. If you do ever discover you have to replace a light switch, and you are concerned about working with electricity, know that it is a relatively simple and straightforward job that almost anyone can do with the right tools and a few minutes of their time. Here’s how…
You will need an appropriate style and size of screwdriver. Too big a screwdriver and you won’t be able to turn the small screws that are included with a switch, and too small a screwdriver and the extra space between the driver and the screw might cause the driver to scrape away at the metal, possibly stripping it out. You’ll also need a voltage detector, needle nose pliers, and the new switch. All tools you will find in the aisles at your local Ace Hardware.
To begin, turn off the power at the circuit breaker. Never, ever work on electrical appliances or components while the electricity is powered on. If the light switch is functioning, turn the switch to the on position and then the off position to determine if the electricity is off. Then, when the power appears off, unscrew the switch’s faceplate. Use a voltage tester on the wires supporting the switch. If there isn’t any electrical current coming to the switch, remove the screws that hold the switch to the wall. Take a picture on your phone or draw a picture to show the location of the wires at the back of the switch (It’s easy to forget the locations of the wires when it’s time to reassemble). Remove the wires from the back and keep all the wires separate. Reattach the wires in the same way as they were attached to the old switch. Reinstall the switch to the wall and the faceplate over the switch. Turn the electricity back on at the breaker, and test your work.
Electrical components and appliances can be dangerous if safety protocols are ignored.
Electrical: Run Wires Behind Walls
There are a number of reasons to run electrical wires behind the walls. Speaker system cables and television cords are primary culprits. And if you have any doubt as to your abilities to work around electrical devices, it’s best to leave electrical work to the expertise of an experienced electrician. And for actual power cables, such as the one that came with your television, you should never run the cable behind the wall, because these cables do pose a fire hazard (A terrific idea for the television cable is to have an outlet added directly behind the television by a qualified electrician). But for speaker cables and even the non-outlet cables such as HDMI and audio cables it’s a terrific project to run the cables through the wall and unclutter the space behind your media center.
You’ll need a quality stud finder and something to cut the hole to size, both of which you can find at your local King’s Ace Hardware. And if you have any questions about how the stud finder operates, speak with one of the Ace experts. You’ll also need a flex bit and a glow rod. If you’ve never heard of a glow rod, it’s a rod that glows in the dark and connects itself to other glow rods to form any length imaginable. You’ll also want a mud ring, which is a cover for the hole you plan to make and protection for the exposed drywall edges
First, you’ll drill your holes at the location best-suited for your project (Hole location likely will depend on the location of the studs). The holes should be sized to fit the mud ring. Drill too big a hole, and the mud ring is useless. Then attach your wires to the flex bit and feed them between the holes. Once your wires are in place, you can place the mud ring over the hole and secure the wires to the devices. It’s not a complicated project, and if you are a newbie to home improvement-type projects, it’s filled with lessons that carryover to the complicated ones.