Sunday, June 20, 2010

Gutter Cleaning

We own a raised ranch which has it's pros and cons. One pro is that roof access is a cinch. Recently I realized that my gutters needed some serious cleaning. I first used a ladder to climb up to the gutter and used my hands to toss out clumps of gunk. But, I couldn't reach my front gutter with my 16 ft. extension ladder so I called my neighbor to ask if I could borrow his 24 ft. extension ladder. My neighbor is super-helpful, so instead of offering his ladder, he brought over his Toro Super Blower (which is also a CR best buy; Note: link is to "Ultra") and told me to try it out. He helped me get up on the roof and I tried it out. Sure enough, it did a fabulous job of blowing out leaves, sticks and gunk from the gutter. Some of the piles of gunk were so thick and heavy, I didn't think a blower could clear them out, but this one had little trouble.

As if to test out my work, less than an hour later, a thunderstorm rolled through around 5pm and dropped 0.36 inches of rain in about 5 minutes. One gutter showed minimal spill-over and the other was much improved. I think I still have a bit of cleaning work to do, but it's a great feeling to know I can clean-out my gutter so easily.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Catching a Mouse

The first time we had mice, it was a huge surprise. We had lived happily in our condo for 7 years without any trouble. Worst pest problem we had before was ants which cleared quickly after we laid a number of basic ant stations and kept the kitchen clean. But, when I asked around, everyone was surprised that this was our first mouse experience! Apparently, we're more becoming more normal with respect to mice---we bought a new house less than a year ago and already have our first mouse problem. But, the good news is (1) we killed the (hopefully only) mouse and (2) I'm 99% sure I closed off the entry-point.

Killing the mouse was more difficult than I thought. With our previous problem, I just bought a few of the basic, traditional traps, laid them where we saw the mice and---bang, bang---no more mice. What I've since learned is that the basic Victor mouse trap comes in two different styles. And, there's an even better trap available if you're willing to pay a few bucks more. Here's a picture of the three different types:

On the left is the one I bought recently. It's difficult to set and doesn't work very well because when it's set, the metal bar is applying pressure to a metal hook. A good bit of pressure is required to set it off. Our mouse licked the peanut butter off three of these without setting off a single one. The middle trap is similar in style, but uses a plastic hook. The rod slides off more easily and it's easier to hook on something solid like a piece of beef jerky (as shown) which the mouse would have to tug on to get off. But, my favorite is the one on the right (the Ortho Press 'N Set Mouse Trap) which is the one that got our mouse. You put the peanut butter in the center white cup and pull the lever back. The mouse can't get to the peanut butter without stepping on the red trip which sets off the trap. The mouse was dead 30 minutes after I laid the trap. Winner!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Caulks and Sealants

It looks like there are four types of caulk:
  • Acrylic Latex - for smaller cracks in dry areas - flexible, easy cleanup
  • Vinyl Latex - good adhesion, waterproof, also flexible and easy to cleanup
  • Silicone - excellent adhesion, long life, waterproof, not paintable, requires rubbing alcohol for cleanup
  • Butyl Rubber - heavy-duty, for outdoor applications, can fill large gaps with a backer rod (foam support rod)
Here are instructions on how to apply caulk correctly.