The Family Handyman editor, Elisa Bernick will show you an easy and inexpensive DIY project to store wine glasses out of the way and easy to access.

If you’re in the market for a new heat pump, finding one that’s as energy efficient as possible is an important consideration, especially when you factor in that heating and cooling account for around 48 percent of the energy used in a typical household. To do that, look to the heat pump’s Heating Seasonal Performance (HSPF) rating.

Inspired by the oil crisis of 1973, the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) developed the HSPF for measuring the energy efficiency of heat pumps. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) of 1975 was enacted to help reduce energy consumption. Subsequent amendments to this act gave the Department of Energy (DOE) the authority to devise energy efficiency standards for various appliances, and eventually led to the HSPF rating for heat pump efficiency becoming the national standard.

Today, the HSPF rating is largely used to determine a heat pump’s energy-saving potential for cost and environmental impact.

What Is HSPF?

According to Mark Woodruff, Senior Product Manager of Ducted Outdoor Products for Trane Residential and American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning, HSPF is “a ratio of the heat output to electricity use over an average heating season, and the higher the HSPF the greater the energy efficiency.”

Specifically, it tells you how much heat energy, measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs), a heat pump will produce for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy consumed to generate heat. For example, a heat pump with an HSPF rating of 8.2 will output 8.2 BTUs for every kWh of input. In practical terms, the HSPF gives you an idea of the impact a heat pump has on your heating bill.

A new heat pump’s HSPF rating can range from 8.2 to 13. While the current minimum standard established by the DOE is 8.2, it is set to rise to 8.8 in 2023.

Why Is HSPF Important?

“When shopping for a new heating system, efficiency is of utmost importance,” says Woodruff. “An efficient system not only lowers your energy costs, it will also lower your impact on the environment.”

Because of the HSPF and related standards, American homes are consuming fewer fossil fuels today than in the 1970s, despite having more and larger energy-consuming appliances and devices. This translates into saving 2.52 quadrillion BTUs created from fossil fuels. Americans collectively have saved $2.5 to $12.2 billion on their energy bills since the standards were established.

How Much Does HSPF Really Affect My Heating Bill?

To determine the exact differences in energy efficiency between HSPF ratings, it’s helpful to convert HSPF to a percentage. To do this, start by dividing the HSPF number by 3.414 (the amount of BTUs in one kWh of electricity). This number is how many BTUs of heat energy is output for every BTU-worth of energy input. That number can then be converted into a percentage.

For example, a heat pump with an HSPF of 8.2 outputs 2.4 times (or 240 percent) the amount of BTUs than the energy it consumes, because 8.2 divided by 3.414 is 2.4. And a heat pump with an HSPF of 9 outputs 2.63 times (263 percent) the amount of BTUs than the energy it consumes, because 9 divided by 3.414 is 2.63.

Once you’ve determined how efficient each HSFP rating is, you can calculate the differences in energy efficiency by subtracting one figure from the other. So a heat pump with an HSPF rating of 9 is 23 percent more energy efficient than one with an HSPF rating of 8.2, because 263 percent (the percentage of efficiency for an HSFP 9 heat pump) minus 240 percent (the percentage of efficiency for an HSPF 8.2 heat pump) is 23 percent.

Is a Higher HSPF Worth the Extra Cost?

Heat pumps with higher HSPF ratings are typically more expensive, so you need to determine if what you’ll save on your heating bill is worth the higher upfront cost. This will largely depend on your climate, and how much energy is required to heat your home per year.

As an example, a 9 HSPF heat pump that’s 23 percent more efficient than an 8.2 HSPF heat pump may cost $1,000 more. So if you live in a cold climate, and it costs $2,460 to heat your home for a year with an 8.2 HSPF heat pump, and a 9 HPSF only costs you $2,000, the $460 annual savings will quickly pay off. On the other hand, the savings to your heating bill will take significantly longer to pay off if you live in a warmer climate that doesn’t require as much heat.

However, you may still be interested in a higher HSPF heat pump if your primary concern is reducing your carbon footprint. “Saving a few dollars every month on energy costs is something every homeowner can appreciate,” Woodruff says. “And if you could lower your home’s heating bill and lessen your impact on the environment at the same time, it’s a win-win.”

Americans come by their love of roses naturally. The nation’s first president, George Washington, grew them; a variety he named for his mother, the Mary Washington Rose, is still grown today. Roses grow in all 50 states. And in 1986, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the rose the national floral emblem of the U.S.

But anything this lovely requires a little work. If you grow roses and want those much-loved flowers to bloom, you’ll need to prune them.

“Neglecting to prune your roses will lead to unproductive shrubs,” says Oregon State University professor and extension horticulturist Amy Jo Detweiler. Pruning roses promotes new growth and flowering, helps maintain plant health, and on some species encourages repeat blooming.

Detweiler says proactively pruning roses and removing old wood allows the plant’s roots to put all its energy into new growth, producing healthy shoots and vigorous blossoms.

When to Prune Roses

There’s no universal answer for when to prune your roses. Detweiler says it depends on the type of rose you’re growing.

Hybrid tea, grandiflora and floribunda are what we think of as long-stem roses. Detweiler says these should be pruned every year in the spring, just as the buds begin to swell and break dormancy. But climbing roses, hardy shrub roses and the elegantly named Old Garden roses (any rose variety that existed before 1867), should be pruned only after they have flowered, which may be late spring or summer.

If you grow miniature roses, these can be tip-pruned (pinched) several times a year because they bloom on new growth.

Tools for Pruning Roses

For roses, buy a pruning tool called a bypass pruner, Detweiler says. “They cut like scissors and will not crush the stem,” she notes. “For larger branches, use bypass loppers or a pruning saw.” Protect your hands with a thick pair of leather gardening gloves. You can buy gloves made specifically for rose pruning.

One nice benefit: You can use the same tool no matter what kind of roses you grow or your level of experience. Just make sure the blades are sharp. And in-between plants, spray the pruner with rubbing alcohol to prevent the spread of disease.

How to Prune Roses

Each type of rose can be pruned in a specific way. Detweiler offers these general tips that apply to all varieties.

  • Pruning simply means to cut away the unwanted parts of your plant. Work to remove all dead, damaged or diseased branches. If you see discoloration on the cane — which is simply the rose’s woody, pliable stem — prune below that area so only healthy canes remain.
  • Remove canes that are crossing or rubbing each other to increase air circulation. This improves light for the plant and helps to minimize disease.
  • Make the pruning cut at a 45 degree angle, the same angle as the bud, about a 1/4-inch above an outward-facing bud. The bud left below will grow outward and increase air circulation.
  • The center of the stem is called pith. You want to prune back to see a white center. If the center is discolored, prune back further.

Long-stem roses

To encourage repeat blooming of your long-stem roses, remove the spent flowers, ensuring that rose hips — the rose’s rounded fruit — do not form.

Aggressive pruning will encourage larger blooms, but fewer of them. Canes thinner than a pencil can be removed, leaving three to five of the healthiest stems, 12 to 18 inches from ground level.

Climbing roses

You can likely picture a “climbing rose,” but the phrase isn’t exactly accurate. Roses need to be secured to an arbor or trellis; they don’t just attach themselves and climb. But that’s how we identify them.

Remove the oldest canes here, leaving five to seven healthy ones. Because these canes can be long, you may need to remove them in sections.

Old Garden and hardy shrub roses

As their name implies, hardy shrub roses are a tougher lot, requiring less pruning and maintenance. Here, Dettweiler advises removing the older, less productive stems, and no more than one-third of the total plant. Avoid severe pruning on Old Garden roses so you do not disfigure the plant.

What Happens If I Skip Pruning?

“Plants will self-prune if left alone, but the process is long, drawn out over several (growing) seasons, and results in less vigorous shrubs and flowers,” Detweiler says.

If you’ve been slacking, there’s still hope. “The good news is that even a neglected shrub can be rejuvenated after pruning,” she says. “If you are properly pruning, you will be maximizing the plant’s ability to deliver healthy, showy blooms.”

The housing market is red-hot right now, sparking a trend among home buyers to skip home inspections to nab their dream home ahead of other offers.

“We are seeing this in nearly all of the markets we serve — with low inventory, buyers want to secure the home of their dreams,” says Joe Tangradi, vice president of technical services for HouseMaster. “Skipping an inspection seems like a way to expedite the sale.”

Real estate insiders acknowledge this “new normal” fueled by the highly competitive state of the market. Compass broker associate and attorney Carol Solfanelli sees it in San Francisco, where she works. “If a buyer has an inspection contingency in a multiple offer situation, 99 percent of the time, this buyer will not prevail,” she says.

Although you may be tempted to opt out of a home inspection to close on the house your eyes (and wallet) are set on, you’d be hard-pressed to find an expert who agrees.

“People are literally negotiating away home inspection contingencies on the street,” says Tom Kraeutler, The Money Pit podcast host and 20-year veteran of the home inspection industry. “But buyers are really playing with fire. It’s very risky because there’s an awful lot you don’t know about that house.”

Reuben Saltzman, a licensed home inspector and president of Structure Tech Home Inspections, agrees. “My advice is to never, ever skip the home inspection,” he says.

Before you make an offer on an uninspected house, make sure you’ve carefully considered what negotiating away a home inspection contingency is costing you and how you might mitigate the risks. Here is an overview of the risks associated with foregoing an inspection, and some alternative solutions to avoid a severe case of buyer’s remorse.

The Hidden Costs of Skipping a Home Inspection

As with any major purchase, buying a home requires a significant amount of due diligence to protect your interests and make an informed decision. A thorough, professional home inspection is a fundamental piece of the information puzzle. It’s nearly impossible to gain a complete and accurate overview of the home without it.

Here are a few of the main issues you may not learn about when you waive your right to a home inspection:

Unknown safety hazards

Without a home inspection, you may not learn about pressing safety issues that should addressed before closing. “Home inspections take several hours to conduct, and many safety issues will only be identified in the course of a normal home inspection,” Saltzman says. “This includes concerns such as electrical hazards, fire hazards and carbon monoxide hazards.”

Kraeutler remembers an inspection where he found an animal nest blocking the chimney on the roof. The current occupant attributed her constant nausea to her pregnancy. It turned out she was being slowly poisoned by carbon monoxide pumping through her home’s heating ducts.

“There have been many instances in my career when I have found major safety problems in a house,” says Kraeutler. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone in for an inspection and there was a new furnace being rolled into the house before I was done, because I had found a situation that was so dangerous that it had to be taken care of immediately.”

Need for expensive repairs or replacements

You may think that major structural or maintenance issues requiring extensive (and expensive) work would jump out at you. But according to Saltzman, “Most of our larger, more serious home inspection findings are a surprise to the buyer.”

Many problems that might give a home buyer pause are hidden by nature or by design, and it takes an experienced home inspector to suss them out. Solfanelli has a laundry list of deal-breaking problems that have come to light during home inspections, from leaks painted over to brick foundations potentially costing more than $100,000 to replace.

“Home inspection is a forensic analysis and it takes years to develop these skills,” Kraeutler says. “If you have a professional who has carried out a lot of home inspections, you’re going to get information you wouldn’t get any other way. It’s not only knowing how houses are built, but also knowing how they fall apart.”

These discoveries are crucial to discovering a house’s true condition and deciding whether or not any major repairs or replacements are worth the investment.

No maintenance plan for the home

“Unlike vehicles, homes don’t come with a maintenance manual,” says Saltzman. “When you get a home inspection, you’re not just getting a professional honey-do list. Home inspectors also give advice about the future maintenance needs of a home to help make sure the new owners are well-educated. Because, after all, not everyone reads Family Handyman.”

Knowing what big jobs may be coming in the next five to 10 years makes it easier to create a financial plan and be ready for them, like roof repairs or replacement, or a new furnace. “Sometimes telling home buyers when to expect a repair is almost as valuable as finding major defects, as it allows you to budget,” says Kraeutler.

Tagredi agrees. “A home inspection provides a home buyer with the information they need to consider in the overall home purchase equation,” Tagredi says. “For example, a home that is selling at a lower price but will require major repairs in years shortly after the buyer’s move in may not be the right house for them. A better option may be to pay a bit more for a home with updated systems and elements.”

Home Inspection as a Bargaining Chip

Besides offering a potential home buyer valuable insights into the true condition of a home, a home inspection can also figure heavily into negotiating the final selling price and other related costs. The caveat, of course, is the bargaining value of an inspection decreases significantly in a competitive real estate market where there may be multiple offers on the table.

When given the option between a bid contingent on a home inspection and a bid that isn’t, most sellers will snap up the latter. The main consequences of forgoing an inspection for your real estate negotiations are:

  • One less bargaining tool. You can leverage inspection results during negotiations for the selling price and/or closing costs, justifying a lower offer with defects uncovered during an inspection. With no inspection in hand, you give up what can sometimes be an important bargaining chip.

  • Surrendering a legal contractual out. Home inspection results that turn up major issues offer a way to legally back out of a contract that includes a contingency clause, taking your earnest money deposit with you. Without an inspection, you are essentially buying the house “as-is” with fewer ways to walk away if things turn sour.

To reap some of the benefits of a home inspection when dealing with a seller who is reluctant to grant one, Saltzman suggests a compromise.

“Consider making an offer that is still contingent upon a home inspection, but make it clear that no negotiations will take place after the home inspection,” Saltzman says. “For the purposes of the real estate transaction, the home inspection will only be used to help the buyer make sure that there are no huge issues that they can’t get over.” This way, you can still back out if deal-breaking issues come to light.

Home Inspection a Non-Starter? What You Can Do Instead

If you absolutely must negotiate away a home inspection contingency, there are some ways to mitigate your risk as a home buyer that do provide limited insight into the true state of the property.

  1. Ask to see any recent inspections done on the property. “The only time a buyer I represent would consider foregoing a property inspection (which I do not recommend) would be if a seller has done their own contractor and pest inspections with contractors I know who are reputable,” says Solfanelli. “As long as inspections have been performed which highlight the risks, the buyer has at least been informed.”

  2. Schedule a walk-through. “Many home inspectors are willing to charge a flat rate for these walk-through consultations, also called walk-n-talks,” explains Saltzman. “These consultations are done during showings, where the home inspector shares their professional observations with the potential home buyer.” He warns, however, that walk-throughs are not home inspections and will not reveal defects that a full inspection would. “We don’t use any tools other than a flashlight, and our time in the home is very limited,” Saltzman says.

  3. Have a savvy friend take a look. If you have a friend or relative who is knowledgeable about construction, ask them to give the house a once-over. Keep in mind, however, that as much as a person may “study up” to spot red flags, nothing can match the experience of a licensed home inspector. “You may have a handy uncle or aunt who really knows their stuff,” Kraeutler says. “But it takes years and hundreds of home inspections to be able to notice problems an experienced inspector routinely finds.”

You’ve Bought a Home Without an Inspection. Now What?

You may have already purchased your home, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to have it inspected.

“It’s still wise to have a home inspection after you’ve closed on the home,” says Saltzman. “It’s critically important for all homeowners to be aware of safety and maintenance issues in the home, especially now that they own it. For this reason, the number of home maintenance inspections that we do for existing homeowners continues to increase every year.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and maintenance inspections show homeowners where to find that ounce.”

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the PPP Extension Act of 2021 to extend the deadline for Paycheck Protection Program loan applications from March 31 to May 31. The bill passed overwhelmingly, 415-3, riding a wave of support from business groups and trade associations. The bill has been sent on to the Senate, where it needs 60 votes to pass.

While the initiative to extend the PPP deadline has bipartisan support, the bill faces some difficulty. A group of Senate Republicans introduced their version of the legislation that limits how the Small Business Administration can allocate PPP funds.

“We hope the Senate will move the bill quickly, that no one will stand in the way, that no one will block it,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “We are not going to end this week without passing an extension and I’m confident that once again we will get the job done.”

Following the passage of the PPP Extension Act in the House, a coalition of nearly 100 hundred trade associations and chambers of commerce sent a letter to the sponsors of the bill, thanking them for their “bicameral leadership and swift bipartisan action.”

“Nearly one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the continued liquidity challenges of the small business sector are acute, especially for those businesses limited by dramatic capacity restrictions and other critical health and safety protocols in place to protect the public, consumers and workers from COVID-19,” the letter says.

“Thank you for extending the window of opportunity for pandemic programs to effectively impact the affected small business sector, especially those traditionally under-invested and underserved groups which must also be given the chance to succeed.”

The coalition, which includes the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, and the Associated General Contractors of America, also highlighted in the letter several issues that continue to plague the PPP:

“While we realize the Small Business Administration (SBA) is under tremendous time constraints and is struggling with internal resource issues, our members are highly concerned by the lack of progress on major Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) processing issues, including hold/error codes and application rejections due to Taxpayer Identification Number (“TIN”) issues or mismatches, in addition to many unresolved technical problems with the current PPP process. These delays and denials may put many applicants in danger of not making the March 31st authorization deadline.”

Understanding when and how to fertilize your lawn is a major component to maintaining a healthy, lush yard. Fertilizers give your lawn a healthier root system while eating up unhealthy nutrients. With some simple steps, you’ll be on your way to having a lawn that is the envy of the neighborhood.

When to Fertilize Lawn

Knowing when to fertilize your lawn depends on how often you plan to apply it. If you fertilize once a year, do it around Labor Day; that’s when lawns absorb the most nutrients. For biannual fertilizing, add a second application the middle of October.

There are exceptions to this timeline depending on climate and soil types, so adjust if your lawn is not retaining enough nutrients. In the spring, if you feel the need, spread a little fertilizer (half the normal amount) to help the greening process.

Best Time to Fertilize Lawn

Fertilizing in the morning allows the soil to take in the most nutrients, soak in the morning dew and take advantage of cooler temperatures. That’s the best time. Do not apply fertilizer on an abnormally hot day, not even in the morning. Wait until the weather cools back down to a normal temperature.

You can mow anytime after fertilizing with a granular treatment. With a liquid treatment, wait a day or two.


How Often to Fertilize Lawn

Over-fertilizing is a thing. If once a year is right for your lawn, stick with that and don’t get carried away. Fertilizer can be a valuable tool to keep a lawn healthy, dense and looking great, but it can also create environmental concerns if not used responsibly. Follow the label instructions on your fertilizer as each product has unique specifications and needs.

Picking the Right Fertilizer

Picking the right fertilizer depends on your lawn type and your end goal is. If you want to make your lawn greener and healthier, a product like The Andersons 16-0-8 Fertilizer with Humic DG is great for you. It contains methylene-urea that will give your lawn an even feed over eight to 10 weeks. It’s also safe for pets.

To control weeds like crabgrass, Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food For New Grass + Weed Preventer is a good option. For starting a new lawn, consider an organic product.

How Weather Changes Timing

Do not apply fertilizer before a heavy rain or on a particularly hot day. Rain will wash away some of the nutrients that should be absorbed by your lawn. Instead, hold off until the weather is a little more temperate and dry.

Thinking of replacing some of your out-of-date or worn furniture with something more modern and well made? Now is the best time to do it. And we mean, right now. Apt2B announced their Lucky Break sale, and the deal is too good to pass up. You get 17 percent off everything — no exclusions. Apt2B makes online furniture shopping fun, affordable and pretty dang easy.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Apt2B Lucky Break sale. (While you’re upgrading, check out the best interior paint colors for 2021.)

Don’t Miss out on the Apt2B Lucky Break Sale!

Starting March 23rd and running through March 29th, Apt2B is offering 17 percent off their entire website. That includes: sofas, sectionals, sleepers, bed, mattresses, chairs, tables, desks, rugs, lamps, decor and more. You can furnish an entire house with this sale, or just pick out a few statement pieces for an instant refresh for a high-end look for your home.

The sale even includes new arrivals. There’s no promo code required; just add the item to your cart and the discount is automatically applied.

Why do we love Apt2B?

First of all, Apt2B has a shipping window of three to five weeks for anything made in the USA. Excuse us while we pick our jaws up off the floor. Most furniture retailers are estimating a 10- to 12-week delivery window, or longer for custom pieces. Order your couch today and enjoy it in April, instead of waiting until summer.

Shipping is free. There are no hidden bulk delivery charges here. That’s a substantial savings when you calculate that some furniture retailers add an extra hundred dollars or more for each delivered piece.

Apt2B works hard to manufacturer good quality furniture for a fair price. Some of their furniture is even made in the United States. Other good things? Lifetime warranty. Check! Hassle free 100 day returns. Check! Fabric swatches available before you commit. Check!

The pieces are truly beautiful. Apt2B’s style leans toward modern and mid-century modern, but there are classic pieces as well. There are thousands of pieces to fit any decor scheme.

Our Favorite Apt2B Finds

Scott Two-Piece Sectional Sofa

Screen Shot 2021 03 23 At 1.57.41 Pm

The Scott Two-Piece Sectional Sofa just might be the perfect sectional. It has sleek lines, but is still cozy with plush cushions and a 66-inch chaise section. Don’t like it in gray? It comes in 53 color and fabric options (including velvet) and has two leg finish options. Sectional shopping made easy.

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Aiken Coffee Table

Aiken Coffee Table

Need a coffee table that’s equal parts beautiful and functional? Look no further than the Aiken coffee table. The solid acacia wood warms up your living room while the drawer provides easy access storage for anything you want to hide. We’re looking at you remote controls and mismatched coaster collection. The open display allows for curated books or a basket tray. Looks good!

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Whitaker Desk

Whitaker Desk

2020 was the year we all realized the importance of a home office space. If you’re still hunched over a folding table, it’s time to upgrade to something way more ergonomic and stylish, like the Whitaker desk. The white lacquer finish has a slightly glam midcentury modern look, and the three drawers give ample space for stashing charging cords, notebooks and office supplies. The clean lines will blend nicely no matter where you put the desk, even in the corner of the living room.

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Westmont Nightstand

Westmont Nightstands

Something about matching nightstands instantly elevates a bedroom. Check out the Westmont nightstand with wire-brushed, solid Mahogany wood that’s stained in a classically beautiful black oak. The brushed steel base looks way more expensive than it actually is. English dovetail joinery allows for an easy pull on the drawers. You’ll use these nightstands for decades.

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Cosmo Bar Cart

Cosmo Bar Cart

A house just isn’t a home without a bar cart. The Cosmo bar cart’s circular structure easily tucks into any corner of the kitchen, living room or dining room. Two glass shelves hold wine, liquor, bottled water, glassware, snacks or even serve as a coffee cart if booze isn’t your thing. There are a million ways to style the cart, which features a luxe gold finish.

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To enjoy watching hummingbirds, you’ll need a healthy feeding station where they can quickly fill up. These jewel-feathered whirling dervishes eat half their body weight in bugs and nectar each day, according to the National Audubon Society. That’s the equivalent of visiting more than 1,000 flowers.

A feeder makes it much easier for them. Here are eight common mistakes you can avoid when putting out hummingbird feeders.

Forgetting the Ratio

The standard recipe for homemade nectar is four parts water to one part sugar, so two cups of water for every half cup of sugar or four cups of water to one cup of sugar. That’s it. Tap water is generally fine to use. If your water source is high in minerals, put it in a glass measuring cup and microwave until it boils. Hot water dissolves the sugar more quickly, and leftover nectar stores better (up to a week) in the refrigerator.

Trying Honey or Other Sugars

Honey and maple syrup have soared in popularity with “no sugar added” becoming a frequent selling point for cereals and sweets. With hummingbirds, though, the National Audubon Society advises sticking with refined sugar. Honey, when diluted with water, can cause fungus growth. Organic, natural and raw sugars might have levels of iron that could harm the birds. Say “no” to molasses, brown sugar or sugar substitutes as well.

Adding Red Food Dye

While the color red does draw hummingbirds, most feeders already have red or yellow on them. That’s enough to catch hummingbirds’ attention without potentially harmful dyes. If you want to draw more attention to your feeder, hang it near a hanging basket of hummingbird-friendly flowers, such as petunias.

Filling Feeders Only Once a Week

Plan to change out the nectar every three to four days. You may need to refill it daily in the peak heat of summer when birds need more hydration, and near the end of summer when hummingbirds are bulking up for migration. If you notice nectar turning cloudy, replace it immediately.

Topping Off the Nectar

It may be tempting to top off the nectar already in your feeder, but it’s important to empty it and clean it with mild detergent each time, according to the International Hummingbird Society. Refill with fresh sugar water.

Not Sterilizing the Feeder

At least once a month you should soak feeders in a bleach solution (one tbsp bleach per cup of water) before rinsing it thoroughly. Sterilizing the feeder helps avoid fermentation, mold or fungus that can harm hummingbirds. Some glass feeders are dishwasher safe. It’s always best to check the recommendations of your feeder’s manufacturer.

Placing a Feeder Too Low

It may be tempting to use a shepherd’s hook to integrate your feeder among garden flowers, or to keep it at eye level near outdoor seating. Don’t. Feeders should be at least four feet off the ground and away from tree trunks, retaining walls or steps where roaming cats and other predators can lurk and capture hummingbirds.

Sparking a Feeder War

A super-sized hummingbird feeder with several nectar ports might attract more visitors, especially more mild-mannered females. Unfortunately, males, in particular, can be fiercely territorial. One alpha male hummingbird can claim a feeder and doggedly chase all others away. Consider more than one feeder and place them in different locations.

A nipper holding a piece of tile | Construction Pro Tips
Image Courtesy of Shutterstock

What is a tile nipper? 

A nipper is a hand tool used to bite off small chunks of tile in order to cut along curved lines. A nipper resembles a pliers in that there are two handles connected at a pivot point. The main difference is that the jaws on a nipper have cutting edges. Nippers are used by tile installers most often on smaller jobs where setting up a saw or running a grinder is not practical.

How is a tile nipper used?

Remove as much of the waste-side of the tile with whatever tool you’re cutting the straight lines with. Clamp the cutting edges of the nipper down onto the tile and squeeze. The tile should break off right at, or just in front, of the cutting edges. Never start cutting right at the line; instead, work your way up to the line by incrementally removing the material in front of it. Nippers leave behind a jagged edge which can be cleaned up with a rub brick. Always wear safety glasses when working with tile nippers.

What are the different types of nippers?

Nippers vary in size. Some have extra leverage points which increases the power at the jaws. The cutting edges are made out of varying types of materials. A separate type of nippers is required for cutting glass.

What makes a good tile nipper?

  • Carbide cutting edge
  • Comfortable grip
  • Spring loaded handle

QEP makes a good nipper. 

Tile nipper tip:

Cutting a groove in tile | Construction Pro Tips

You can achieve a crisper cut line if you score first.

Learn more about cutting tile. 

What is a non-contact voltage detector?

A non-contact voltage detector is a device that can detect the presence or an electrical charge in a wire, cable, or piece of equipment without having to touch the object. Voltage detectors are primarily used by electricians and electrical technicians. They help confirm that an electrical circuit is turned off, so repairs can be made safely. Voltage detectors are also used to locate or troubleshoot faulty wiring and equipment. Most non-contact voltage detectors resemble a thick pen, and many have additional features like flashlights and infrared (IR) laser thermometers. Here are the basic components of a non-contact voltage detector:

  1. Battery Cap
  2. Pocket clip
  3. Voltage detection power button
  4. IR thermometer power button
  5. Non-contact, illuminating, voltage detection tip/sensor
  6. IR thermometer sensor
  7. Laser pointer
  8. LCD screen (For IR)
  9. (Flashlight not shown)

How is a non-contact voltage detector used?

When the device is turned on and held (within an inch or so) next to an electrical charge, a light will flash, and a warning chirp or beep will sound.

What are the different types of non-contact voltage detectors?

Most non-contact voltage detectors have a similar appearance and operate basically the same way. The biggest differences will be found in the additional options like, IR thermometers, flashlights, etc.

What makes a good non-contact voltage detector?

  • Ability to detect low and high voltage
  • Both sound and light warnings
  • Ability to toggle sound warning off comes in handy when working in environments like offices where people are working
  • Strong light that can be seen on a sunny day
  • Auto off to save batteries
  • Water resistant
  • Bright color so you don’t lose it
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Narrow tips fit in receptacles and can be more accurate when checking numerous wires.

Klein Tools makes a high-quality detector.

Non-contact voltage detector tip:

Always test that a voltage detector is working properly on a circuit that you know is “live” before confirming the circuit you’re working on is powered down.