How To Repair Potholes In Your Asphalt Driveway And Prevent Them From Returning In The Future

Asphalt driveways are popular among many homeowners due to their low-cost and ease of installation. However, potholes can temper the enthusiasm felt for asphalt driveways, and they can also cause damage to vehicles and become a hazard for pedestrians, too. Fortunately, repairing potholes isn’t difficult and can be accomplished by a homeowner using a few tools and materials. Below is what you need to know about fixing potholes in your asphalt driveway:

Repairing potholes in an asphalt driveway – Tools and materials needed

  • Crusher run – sometimes known as stone dust, this is the leftover fine particulate matter that occurs as a result of rock crushing operations.

  • Asphalt cold patch – this material comes bagged and is a mixture of fine aggregate and asphalt; as the name indicates, it does not need to be heated before use.

  • Tamping tool – this tool consists of a handle attached to a heavy, steel plate that serves as a packing implement.

  • Shovel or spade – either will work, but a spade is easier to use with steep-walled potholes.

  • Circular saw with asphalt blade – the blade can be purchased at most home improvement stores.

  • Eye protection

  • Ruler

Repairing potholes in an asphalt driveway – Step-by-step procedure

1. Locate, identify, and remove problem material – a pothole occurs whenever the driveway’s base of support is weak in one particular area. If the underlying cause isn’t addressed, then the pothole is likely to return after repair.

That means you should take some time to dig into the pothole and locate the weak area that lies beneath the asphalt. With your shovel or spade, dig down into the pothole and look for signs of material variances in composition and density. For example, be on the lookout for rotting wood, such as that from a tree stump or old structure.

Regardless of what you find, you need to dig out all the problem material with your shovel and discard it. Any remaining material will settle and possibly begin a chain-reaction of subsidence that leads to another pothole.

2. Fill the hole with crusher run – After you have removed all the problem material from the bottom of the pothole, you are ready to begin filling it with packed crusher run. Begin by packing the bottom of the hole with a tamping tool to form a solid base of support. Next, empty a bag of crusher run into the hole and spread it into an even layer using your shovel. Use the tamping tool to pack the crusher run down until it is flat and firm.

Add another bag of crusher run and pack it down on top of the first layer; continue adding and packing until the top layer of crusher run is two inches lower than the top of the neighboring asphalt surfaces.

3. Square-off the edges of the pothole – To ensure a strong, clean joint between the asphalt cold patch and the surrounding driveway surface, you need to cut down the edges with a circular saw equipped with an asphalt blade. Be sure to wear eye protection when using the saw and follow the manufacturer’s directions to prevent injuries or damage. It isn’t critical to measure the cut as long as you remove the jagged edges on all sides of the pothole.

4. Add asphalt cold patch - Once you have squared-off the edges of the asphalt with the saw, you are ready to top off the repair with asphalt cold patch. Pour the contents of a bag of cold patch into the pothole, and spread it around inside the hole with your shovel. Make the layer of asphalt about an inch and a half deep, then pack it down to a depth of one inch. Add another one and a half inch deep layer and pack the second layer down to a depth of one inch. If you measure and pack correctly, the pothole should be filled with cold patch and be flush with the surrounding surface of the driveway.

Most cold patched driveways should be ready to drive on immediately, but be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions before attempting to do so. In addition, wait a few weeks before making turns or cuts with your wheels on top of the cold patch, or you may gouge it.

For more information, or if you’d like to leave the job to the professionals, call a local paving company like Curtis Paving Vancouver

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5 Chimney Dangers You Should Know

Building a cozy fire in your fireplace on a cool day can create a romantic and delightful atmosphere. However, fireplaces can become a serious hazard if you don’t know how to use one properly. If you have a fireplace in your home, you need to know these five common chimney dangers that can cost you your home or life.

Structural Damage

Loose bricks, cracks, bumps and other damage can affect how well your chimney works, including how well it eliminates dangerous carbon monoxide. Like any part of your home, your chimney needs routine maintenance. Depending on the age of your home, you should have your chimney inspected about once every two to five years. During the inspection, the technician can spot and repair any dangerous damage. Expect to pay about $60 or $80 for an inspection, but the price may be higher if repair is necessary.

Layers of Creosote

As smoke passes through your chimney it creates a black buildup known as creosote. This substance is highly combustible, which is why your chimney needs routine cleaning to prevent explosions and fires. The best time to clean your chimney is whenever it needs it. You can clean fresher, thinner layers of creosote yourself with a flat wire brush or special chemicals. However, if the creosote has become glazed, it’s best to call a professional. You can spot glazed creosote because it either looks gooey or shiny (once it dries). Glazed creosote occurs when layers of creosote stack up quickly, and it is extremely hard to clean.

Wrong Burning Fuel

The only fuels you should be putting in your fireplace are appropriate firewood and burning logs. Appropriate firewood is seasoned, which means it has minimal moisture. Unseasoned firewood isn’t as effective and can cause a lot of smoke. Don’t try to accelerate the fire with charcoal or lighter fluid. They expel dangerous gasses and flammable vapors into your home. Garbage is also not an appropriate burning fuel. Items like cardboard and paper allow particles to fly into the air, which may catch fire to your home. Other pieces of garbage, such as plastic have dangerous chemicals, which can be released into the air when burned.

Improperly Used Damper

Another major danger when using your fireplace is an improperly used damper. The smoke from the fire needs someplace to go, which is why you have a chimney in the first place. However, when you aren’t using the fireplace, the chimney becomes a major source of air leaks. Dampers are used to close the chimney to stop leaks. Using the chimney with the damper closed, however, causes the smoke and dangerous gasses to enter your home. You have to keep the damper open while using the fire. Even after the fire is out, don’t close the damper again until the ashes are cooled.

An Airtight House

Typically, an airtight home is a good thing, but when you are using a fireplace, it can actually become a threat. A lot of devices in your home pull oxygen out of the home and expel it outside, such as bathroom fans. However, if your home is airtight, this creates a problem. The bathroom fan pulls air out of the home, but the home needs fresh air to replace it. If your home is airtight, the home may pull air from the chimney inside the house, which means it’s also pulling carbon monoxide into the living space. An air exchanger can equalize the pressure to stop this from happening.

Having a fireplace can be a wonderful experience, especially during the cold fall and winter months. However, if you use your fireplace incorrectly, it can become a serious threat to your home, health and life. If you need your chimney inspected, repaired or cleaned before you can start using it, contact a technician in your area today.

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4 Myths About Insulation You Shouldn’t Believe

When it comes to myths about your home, numerous ones abound. With everything from myths about plumbing to myths about how to take care of your lawn, it seems like there are more myths about home care than there are about Greek gods! When it comes down to it, however, there seems to be an extreme proliferation of myths about insulation. These range from anything from myths about insulation causing dampness to your home to myths about an inability to insulate older homes. Throughout the course of this article, you’ll learn about 4 myths about insulation you shouldn’t believe.

Insulation Causes Dampness

Dampness is not caused by insulation; in fact, dampness is a problem that insulation can directly solve, especially dampness that is the direct result of condensation. If your walls become warmer due to the installation of insulation, the fact of the matter is that condensation will be less likely to become a problem in your home, not more likely.

There is one exception to this rule. If your home is close to the water on the coast, then you will benefit from having an empty wall cavity. For everyone else, however, filling your wall cavity with a bit of the pink stuff will serve to stop condensation.

You Can’t Insulate Older Homes

This is perhaps one of the most common myths regarding home insulation. Where does this myth come from? It most likely arises from the fact that many older homes do not have wall cavities. However, this is not to say that you cannot insulate your older home. Older homes that do not have a wall cavity can have insulation installed in them. For example, insulation can be installed on the outside or inside of the home. In addition to this, it is possible to create wall cavities inside of homes that do not have them. There are numerous ways to install insulation in your home, even if your home is a bit older.

Junk Works As Insulation

Not only is this a myth, it is a myth that can turn dangerous. Many people believe that if they leave a bit of junk, trash or rubbish laying about their apartment or loft, these things will retain heat that is pumped out by their electric heating boiler. This isn’t true. None of these items – or trash – are going to retain heat that is pumped out of your boiler, and you will be left just as cold as before you dumped all of the junk into your room; and now you have a messy loft or apartment! This can also be a dangerous fire hazard. It is never recommended that you leave items laying haphazardly across the floor.

Double Glazing Your Windows Is Better Than Insulation

Double-glazing your windows is recommended and is a highly effective means of insulating your home; it is also far more effective than a single layer of glaze on your windows. However, it is no substitute for insulating your home. The fact of the matter is that most heat that is lost through the home is not lost through the windows, but out of cracks and seams that are present in your walls and roof. The best bet for you to create a well-insulated home is to install insulation in your home’s wall cavities. It will be guaranteed that you will see a significant drop in the price of your monthly electric bill.

Insulation is one of the best things you can do to save energy in your house, but don’t be fooled by the number of myths that abound regarding insulation!

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Drainage Field Soil Maintanance – Reducing Sodium Binding Concerns

Septic systems with tanks and drainage fields are common in rural areas. In most country areas, it is too expensive to lay sewage pipes to accommodate all homes in a town or city. If your home has a septic tank, then you likely know about maintenance practices. A yearly inspection by septic services is required to make sure the septic tank does not contain any cracks or leaks, and the sludge will also be measured so a timely cleaning or pumping can be scheduled. However, you need to understand that your septic tank is not the only thing that needs to be maintained and monitored. The drainage field does too, because soil issues will sometimes pop up that will stop water from draining properly. Water can then flow back into the tank or into your home and you will see toilets overflowing, backed up sinks, and gurgling drains. To understand how one of these soil issues can happen and to learn how you can avoid it, keep reading.

Sodium in Your Water

Your septic system allows water, sewage wastes, and general types of debris to move into the septic tank on a regular basis. All solid wastes will sink to the bottom of the tank where bacteria will decompose the materials into a thick scum. The water remains on the top of the tank and it is forced into the drainage field once all of the waste materials fall away. The water will still contain some compounds though, that have been dissolved in the fluid. These minerals and chemicals will then drain through the soil with the water at the end of the drainage field. Unfortunately, some of the substances will interact with the soil and may even change it over time. This occurs when sodium is dissolved in the water.

Sodium is a very common element that is most often seen as a salt compound. It can enter your waste system in a variety of different ways. The sweat released from your body contains sodium, and many water softeners contain salt to displace hard minerals in the water. Sodium chloride is used to change the taste of your foods, and many alkaline cleaners contain salts. Some shampoos, body washes, and other personal cleaning products contain salts as well.

Avoiding Sodium Binding 

All of the salts that are added to your waste water will interact with the soil in your drainage field. Specifically, the salt causes the sand and clay particles in the dirt to bind together. This causes the earth to clump up and much of it will actually repel water instead of absorbing it.

You can easily avoid this issue by trying to stay away from cleaners, shampoos, and other products that contain salt. Read packages to avoid common salts like sodium chloride, sodium chlorate, sodium hydroxide, sodium carbonate, sodium hexametaphosphate, and sodium sulfate. Opt for basic soap cleaners instead or natural products. This will help to reduce sodium in your water so you can still be free to use water softeners and salt to make your food taste better.

Water Softener Changes

If you want to be extra cautious, you can invest in a water softener system that does not force sodium into your water. Most home water softener systems use osmosis and an ion exchange process so that salt molecules change places with hard calcium and magnesium particles in your water. This is likely the system you have.

A reverse osmosis softener may be a better option for you. This type of softener forces water through a cellophane-like membrane that contains very small holes. The openings catch all of the various minerals and contaminants in your water. Only the water can move through the membrane, and this leaves you with clean, fresh, and sodium-free water to use. 

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How To Safely And Properly Change A Metal-Halide Bulb In A Light Tower

Light towers are indispensable to oilfield rental operations because they permit the time-sensitive work of mineral extraction to carry on around the clock. However, like any piece of lighting equipment, from a flashlight to a stadium floodlight and everything in between, light tower bulbs will eventually fail and require replacement. Replacement isn’t complicated, but it isn’t as casual as changing a table lamp bulb in your home; that’s why you should understand the correct procedure for changing these high-wattage, metal-halide bulbs. Below is a guide to the tools and materials needed as well as a step-by-step procedure for removal of the old bulb and installation of the new one:

Tools and equipment needed

  • Screwdriver or nut driver in the appropriate size

  • Metal-halide bulb

  • Cotton gloves

  • Adjustable wrench

  • Isopropyl alcohol in 91% concentration or higher

  • Microfiber towel

  • Liquid glass cleaner

  • Safety glasses

  • Infrared thermometer

Step-by-step procedure

1. Make your personal safety a priority – even though changing a bulb may seem mundane, it can be hazardous if you don’t approach the task with caution. The electrical generators used in light towers can produce hundreds of volts with large numbers of amps; accidental contact with a power terminal can have fatal consequences. In addition, metal halide bulbs generate thousands of degrees of heat and can cause serious burns. These same bulbs can also suddenly and violently explode, sending glass fragments flying. Don’t allow yourself to be injured or killed, so be sure that working safely is always paramount when changing bulbs.

2. Turn off the electrical system and disconnect power cables – the first task when changing a bulb is to turn off and disable the electrical system in the light tower. While removing generator start/run keys is important, keep in mind that someone may have a duplicate key and use it to start the system. That’s why you should also disconnect the battery cable leading from the generator’s electric starter; this will prevent accidental startups from occurring.

3. Make the light bulb accessible – in most light towers, the bulbs are hoisted into position on a tower that can be readily raised and lowered. Never attempt to replace a bulb on a raised tower unless you have no other option; take the time to lower the bulb fixture to the ground where it can be safely handled.

4. Allow the bulb to cool before handling – as mentioned earlier, the metal halide bulbs used in light towers are both hot and susceptible to breaking. Permit the bulbs to cool completely before handling them; even a broken bulb can retain heat for a while. Use an infrared thermometer to measure the bulb’s temperature if you have doubts about its ability to be handled.

5. Remove the light fixture cover – most light fixtures use a tempered glass cover that protects the light from rain, snow and other outdoor elements; this cover will need to be removed before changing the bulb. Put on your safety glasses, and remove the screws securing the cover to the bulb housing. Carefully pull the cover away from the housing, being careful not to disrupt or tear the cover gasket, and set it aside in a safe location.

6. Remove the bulb – put on your work gloves and grasp the bulb by wrapping your fingers around the mid-portion; do not pinch the bulb or you may cause it to shatter. Turn the bulb counterclockwise to loosen it and remove it from the fixture once it is free of the socket. You may also need to remove the tip of the bulb from a restraint, so be aware of that possibility if your particular tower model possesses that feature.

7. Clean the inside of the housing and cover- once the bulb is removed, take a moment to wipe down the inside of the housing with a microfiber towel; insect carcasses, dust and other debris can shorten the lifespan of the new bulb or even obscure the light output in some circumstances. In addition, use glass cleaner and a towel to thoroughly clean the glass cover. Be sure to inspect the gasket that helps keep out debris and adjust it into its appropriate position if it has been dislodged.

8. Install the new bulb – when the housing is clean, you can install the new bulb. Verify before opening the new bulb container that the bulb’s wattage matches the specifications of the lighting unit; a mismatch could cause the bulb to burst upon use. Should the bulb contain fingerprints, a cause of premature failure, pour isopropyl alcohol over the glass and use a paper towel to remove the fingerprints. Allow the bulb to air dry before insertion.

Once the bulb is ready to install, put on gloves and insert the bulb into its socket and slowly turn it clockwise; if the bulb binds, stop and back it out a turn or two, then attempt to insert it again. Continue turning the bulb until it won’t easily move, then stop turning to prevent damaging the bulb or socket. Secure the bulb in its restraint, if the housing possesses such a feature.

9. Replace the cover – place the cover onto the housing, being careful not to dislodge the gasket. Insert the screws and tighten them until the cover is secured.

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How to Locate & Mark Boundary Markers Before Building a Fence

A line from a famous Robert Frost poem says, “good fences make good neighbors”, but it is equally true that a bad fence can make angry neighbors. That’s why if you are interested in building a fence, then you should be extra cautious to locate and mark the boundary lines before starting the project. Otherwise, you may end up having to tear down and rebuild a misplaced fence, which is a costly hit to your pocketbook.

Fortunately, it’s a fairly simple process of locating and marking fencing boundary lines; below is how you can inexpensively and easily do it yourself:

Tools and materials needed

  • Metal detector
  • Shovel
  • Wooden stakes
  • Fluorescent flagging tape
  • Mallet or sledge hammer
  • Plot plan for your property

Locate and mark boundary lines

1. Obtain a property plot plan. Plot plans are available from your provincial authority, which is often a tax assessing organization, and may even be available online depending on your province of residence.

A plot plan contains a lot of useful information for homeowners, most importantly the borders of their property. The plan may also include legal descriptions of the property as well as information about adjacent properties. Keep in mind that boundary lines as marked on a plot plan may not be accurate, so never rely on a visual representation of your property line when building a fence.

2. Buy or rent your supplies and tools. Once you have your plot plan in hand, you can obtain the necessary tools and materials for the job. Below are a few considerations to keep in mind when obtaining certain items:

  • Metal detector—You don’t need an expensive or sophisticated metal detector for locating boundary markers; a simple machine is usually more-than-capable of finding the marker. A detector with discrimination features may speed up the process by eliminating trash finds such as nails, aluminum cans and other buried wastes, though it isn’t a requirement to have one.
  • Wooden stakes—The specific length of the stake isn’t particularly vital, though a 50-centimeter stake is an ideal size. Try to choose a length that permits you to hang your flagging tape high enough to avoid being a trip hazard.
  • Flagging tape—This thin plastic material is used for a variety of purposes in construction and can be purchased from hardware and home improvement stores. It is made in various colors, but the best choice for your needs is fluorescent orange, yellow or green. You probably won’t need more than one or two rolls unless your property’s area is large.

3. Search for boundary markers and mark them with stakes. With your plot plan in hand, use your metal detector to search for the boundary markers. The plot plan should guide you to within a meter or so of the markers, and the metal detector will help you locate the exact spot.

Boundary markers consist of long, metal pins driven into the soil. These pins are often a meter in length, and they will usually not be visible at the surface. Once you obtain a possible “hit” on a boundary marker with the detector, dig into the soil until you can visualize the object. As soon as you confirm the object’s identity as a boundary marker, drive a wooden stake into the soil directly above or adjacent to the pin. Continue searching for boundary markers with your detector and drive wooden stakes at all pin locations.

4. Flag the stakes. After locating all of the boundary markers and staking them, the next step is to flag the stakes with your flagging tape. Attach the the flagging tape to the first step with a square knot, and string it to the adjacent stake; tie-off the tape to each stake with a square knot.

Keep the tape taut as you pull it from stake to stake, and elevate it above the ground at least 50 centimeters so that it can be easily seen. Be sure not to pull the tape too tight, however, or you may dislodge or move the stakes.

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5 Tips For Spacing Your Water Wells On A Busy Farm

While the average home may only need a single well to supply all the family’s water needs, a busy farm needs thousands of gallons a day in peak production. Even the deepest well in an area with plenty of ground water usually fails to provide enough water all by itself. Installing multiple wells provides more water, and it also shortens the distance between the water source and your crops or livestock. Take care when spacing the wells to avoid drainage and contamination problems.

Check Local Restrictions

First, start your well spacing quest at the local Ministry of Environment or land management office. Each area of the country has different requirements due to the types of aquifers and soil composition, so the distances listed below are only rough guidelines. Follow the exact setbacks required by your local administration or you’ll end up facing fines and having some or all the wells condemned.

Mark Your Septic Systems

Septic systems pose the first danger to your wells. Even if you plan to use the water only for irrigating crops, E. coli and other fecal bacteria can kill your plants or spread disease to the consumers receiving them. Keep each well at least 100 feet away from both the septic tank and any part of the drain fields. If you have a closed and water-tight septic system that uses sunlight or air to speed up decomposition, you may be able to move the well closer, but only with specific approval from an environmental officer.

Avoid Both Livestock and Feed

Since you can’t put a well near human waste, it’s pretty obvious to keep the water source away from cattle and poultry as well. However, even feed can leave your well contaminated. Aim for:

  • At least 100 feet and preferably 250 feet between wells and any manure piles, feedlot pens, pig enclosures, or other sources of fresh and aged manure runoff
  • A minimum of 50 feet of border from feed storage containers like silos and bins, even if you use non-medicated feed and rarely experience a spill
  • About 500 feet between water sources and burial pits used for dead livestock

When you need hundreds of gallons a day for keeping five or six poultry houses running through a hot summer, it’s tempting to drill only a dozen or so feet outside the structures. However, you’ll quickly lose so many chickens from the bacterial contamination that it’ll cost you less to site the well further away and pay for extra pipes and pumps if needed.

Remember Chemical Runoff

Don’t forget to take a tally of the chemicals you use on your fields each year. From pesticides to herbicides, even organic farms end up with a lot of runoff during rainy periods. Keep your well above sloping fields and away from drainage ditches since these ditches gather and absorb a high level of chemical runoff. You can end up with a dangerous concentration of heavy metals or salts since many crop sprays rely on copper and potassium salts to kill pests or prevent disease.

Consider Property Boundaries

Finally, get a clear marking of your land’s boundaries from a surveyor before any water well drilling. All Canadian provinces set regulations on how close wells can sit to a neighbor’s property. Measuring twice before you drill is the best way to ensure your investment doesn’t go down the drain.

Farm wells still need to produce water that is drinking water quality or close to it for both plants and animals to thrive. The same mineral concentrations and bacterial contamination that makes water unsafe for people affects equipment and the rest of the farm too. Get your well professionally drilled and tested before you so much as water a single plant to avoid expensive mistakes.

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