Fix Leaky Faucet

In your home, at the kitchen sink, the problem that is of most concern is some kind of leak.  If a leak is discovered in the cabinet beneath the kitchen sink, it is in your best interest not to ignore it or defer the maintenance, but, to evaluate the situation at your earliest convenience. To ignore the situation is to invite worse problems down the road.  If left unchecked, in the short term, it could result in the growth of mold and mildewPhysical damage to the cabinetry is what follows, as well as to the flooring and to whatever is directly below in the basement.  Deferred home maintenance is always more involved -which translates to more costly.

Remove everything from the cabinet under the sink and, with a good source of light, examine the sink drain to determine if it is leaking.  If it is not, examine the water supply shut-off valves behind the drain.  Examine the underside of the faucet assembly to determine if it is leaking.  That would include the hose sprayer connection on the underside of the faucet.

It is a good idea to get in the habit of consciously looking for evidence of moisture under the sink whenever you reach into the cabinet to retrieve something stored there.  Early detection is preferable.
After a leak has been discovered and remedied, always attempt to dry out cabinet areas using fans, if possible, to expedite the process.  If you can prevent the growth of mold and mildew you will be better off.

Often a worn faucet valve assembly (or faucet cartridge) will allow water leakage which will be evident on the top side of the faucet assembly.  A replacement parts kit is usually available for your make / model of leaky faucet.  Before disassembling the faucet, shut off both the hot and cold water isolating valves located under the sink.  If there are no isolating valves, locate the supply valves in the basement.  It may be necessary to close the main supply valve if no isolating valves are present.

Open the faucet to relieve and residual pressure in the lines.  To begin replacement of the single handle faucet valve, remove the ‘allen head’ set-screw and pull of the handle.  Pull off the shroud and unscrew the threaded retaining collar, etc., and the ‘horseshoe’ spring clip that retains the valve.

Pay close attention to the parts and the order in which they are removed for later re-assembly.

Insert the new valve and replace the parts in the order in which they were removed. The valve must be oriented so when the handle swings right the cold water is tapped and when the handle swings left, the hot water is tapped.

Restore the water supply and check for leaks and the correct hot / cold orientation.


For further information:

How much water does a leaking faucet waste?

How to Fix a leaky Faucet -parts breakdown.

How to Fix a Leaky Faucet -Denver.

Plumbing -from Latin Plumbum

Plumbing Basics

Plumbing Web

How to Caulk



There are three uses for caulk that come to mind.  One is for weatherization of your home.  Caulking around doors, windows, etc. will help to minimize the convective loss of heat and (the reverse) the infiltration of the cold air from the outside when the wind gets stiff.  Another use for caulk is as a sealant to keep water from infiltrating where it is unwanted and likely to do damage -around your bathtub /tile joints, for example.  Sometimes caulking is used merely for aesthetic purposes, such as by a painter, to fill cracks or joints in wood work before applying a protective coating (paint or other sealer). 

Be sure to consult a subject matter expert about which type of caulk to use for your application.  Considerations are: location, temperature, humidity, moisture, whether movement is expected in the joint material (how much flexibility is required), interior or exterior application.

The term caulking was originally a boat building term.  The term sealant is used for weatherization.  Mostly, the two terms are interchangeable today.



Home and Garden Tip: Get a ‘No-Drip’ caulking gun.  After you stop squeezing the handle, the material will cease to flow.  There are three (3) types of caulk -as with most things, cheap, middle of the road and higher end.  The prices range from about $1.50 to $5.00.  The low end stuff isn’t bad, necessarily.  It has a higher water content and is a little more difficult to work with if you are not familiar with it.  Caulk is water soluble.  A caulk has to be able to expand and contract without compromising the seal.  The higher end stuff contains less water and is better suited for filling wider gaps.  The caulk you lay out will shrink 3-5% as it sets-up (dries).



Trim the tube nozzle at a 45 degree angle with a sharp blade, being careful to keep your fingers out of the line of fire.  Cautionary Note: Gloves (as PPE) are always a good idea when using sharp blades. Be careful not to cut the nozzle so the opening is too large.   It is better to cut it small and cut it again if needed.  Then shave down the sides of the nozzle so the dimension is uniform on all sides.

Hold the caulking gun at a 45 degree angle to apply a bead of caulk to the joint you are about to seal.  Run your wet finger down (or across) the bead to smooth it out.  Always have a bucket of water with a clean rag to clean your finger and any spillage or smears.  The sealant should flow like a wave (ahead) in front of your finger without emerging (oozing) from the left or right side of your finger.  If it does, you have laid out too heavy of a bead.  For that possibility, only lay out about a couple feet at a time.  Once you are well practiced you can expand on that.

When caulking exterior surfaces -do not use clear caulk.  Clear caulk will attract and collect pollen and dust and will eventually turn brown. It is best to caulk using white or any other color and paint over it.  Item of note:  When you do use clear caulking -it will be white when applied and be clear when dry.

When caulking outside, be cognizant of the temperature and humidity -to be able to be able to judge how long a bead you can lay down and be able to work it in before it begins to dry up too much.  The surface of the house may be considerably hotter than the ambient temperature.  Caulk on a hot surface begins to evaporate rapidly.

Once it begins to dry, if you don’t have it right, you lost your chance to smooth it out, possibly requiring removal and rework.  The technique of running your finger down (or, across) the bead at a 45 degree angle and not having so much caulk on there that the material oozes out from the sides of your finger is sound technique.  Except for the fact that the skin on your finger will wear down rapidly and be of no use until it heals.

Your finger is adequate when caulking a bathtub or shower. If your job consists of hundreds of feet of caulking, your finger isn’t the right tool for the job.  Gloves won’t work.  Rubber gloves will wear out quickly.  Instead, cut a clean cotton rag into 4″ square pieces.  Soak one with water and use it pulled tightly over your finger.  Rinse it often in the bucket and it will give you the same smooth finish your bare finger will -with sacrificing your fingerprint.

More info:


How to Save Energy

Weatherization Programs

Tighten Up Your Home

Caulking Teak Decks on Boats

Sikaflex Description and Review

Silicone SealantsA Reference

Caulking a Bathtub

To restore the beauty of your tile bathtub or shower unit, replace the old caulking sealant at the top of the unit where it meets the tile.  This is a normal part of home maintenance and usually needs to be done annually, if not more often.

To defer this maintenance is to invite water infiltration behind the tile, which will damage the wall board behind it.  Old mildew damaged caulk can no longer be relied upon.  Its sealing properties have been compromised by the presence of mildew.


To remove caulk, cut along bead with a utility knife.  make two cuts -one as flat as possible along the surface of the tub and another held at about a 45 degree angle.  The objective is to try and remove the old caulk all in one piece, to the extent possible.  It is unlikely that it will all come out in one piece. There are tools available that are generally a one-time use variety that work fairly well for removing caulk.  Use a straight razor blade to remove any residual caulk from the surface of the tub and tile.

To get rid of any remaining mildew, add about 6 oz. of bleach to a gallon of water and with an old toothbrush, scrub out the joint with the bleach solution.

Use a new sealant specifically designed for kitchens and baths.  You can go with a straight silicone caulk -either clear, white or a color -or, there is a product by Hercules called ‘Plumber’s Caulk’ that I have had success with in terms of how long it lasts.  It is advertised as ‘siliconized.’  I find it easier to work with than straight silicone.

I always clean the surfaces to be caulked with rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball or rag.  I want the surface to be as clean as reasonably achievable so the caulking will adhere to both surfaces.  I do not like doing things twice if I can avoid it.  If the surfaces are not adequately cleaned and the caulk does not adhere properly, it then falls in the category of re-work.  There is nothing worse in my view.

Place a bead of caulk into the joint -no larger a bead than is necessary.  Trim the nozzle to the appropriate size.  There are different techniques to finishing the bead of caulk.  One is to use a soapy water solution to smooth the bead with your wet finger.  Another is to apply the bead in front of the nozzle -effectively pushing the nozzle along while squeezing the caulk out in front of the nozzle.  With practice, one can lay down a nice bead that doesn’t require your finger.

Additional references:

Sealant -WIKI

Caulking -WIKI

Shower Pan

Anode Rod

It is possible to extend the useful life of your hot water heater by replacing the anode rod, also called the sacrificial anode or water heater rod.  It is designed to attract corrosive elements rather than have the corrosive elements attracted to your tank causing water heater corrosion.
The tools needed are minimal -a 1-1/16″ socket wrench, an extension for leverage, a pair of Channel Lock pliers, and perhaps a light hammer.  Replacing the water heater anode is a normal home maintenance item that could prevent premature water heater failure.

If working with a gas fired water heater, turn the gas valve to ‘Pilot’ -if an electric model open (turn off) the circuit breaker.  Turn off the water supply to the tank and open a faucet or two to relieve pressure. It is a good idea to drain a pail or two of water from the tank.  If you don’t, when you begin to remove the anode the water in the lines will drain back to the tank and leak out the anode fitting.
Remove the old anode being careful not to allow movement of the tank, which might cause damage to the piping.  Depending upon how much headroom there is above your tank, you may have to bend the rod slightly to get it out.

Place a wrap of teflon tape on the threads of the replacement anode and install it.  If you had to bend the old rod to remove it, you might have to do the same with the new one.  I had to shorten mine by about 6″ to get it in.  Tighten ‘snug tight.’

By draining a bucket of water from the tank, sediment accumulation will be minimized.  If this is not done regularly, a thick layer will build up over time.  The build-up of sediment decreases efficiency as you are paying to heat the sediment in addition to the water. Drain a pailful every month or two.

As always, wear your PPE to prevent mashing your knuckles and getting foreign objects in the eyes.

Additional Resources:

Cathodic Protection

Anode Know How

Anode Evaluation


Roof Moss


One item under the Home Maintenance banner is Moss Removal from the roof. In some parts of the country it is a regular roof maintenance item.

There are several products on the market for cleaning the roof of moss.  If you’re in a hurry, there are commercial products available -try and find one that is harmless to your roof, of course, but also to the vegetation (shrubs and and lawn) adjacent to the house and garden.







What I did first was to take a stiff push broom, or the like, and dislodge the larger growth, leaving only the smaller stuff on the  surface of the shingles.   If untreated, it will make a return appearance.  Apply the solution in accordance with the  manufacturer’s instructions and rinse it all down.

If you’re not in a hurry there is another, more benign method I used to kill moss on my garden shed roof.  It had a pretty official  looking growth of moss on the north-facing side.  I brushed off the larger growth that was easily removed and went up there with a box of Tide Powdered Laundry Detergent.  I spread the Tide all over the upper elevations of the  roof and went away.  Meanwhile, the rain dissolved the Tide and it ran down over the entire roof, killing the moss.  I did it in the autumn and actually forgot about it.  By spring the roof was moss-free and clean.

The video talks of the effect copper has on roof moss, algae and lichens.  A copper strip (approx. 3″ wide) can be tucked under the shingle cap course -to run the length of the roof to thwart the growth of moss.  It works in a similarly to throwing Tide on the roof.  The results take time.  Copper is an expensive way to go but, once installed, should solve the problem without having to revisit.

Regarding Roof Safety:  Falls from roofs injure and kill thousands of people annually.  Roofs are slippery and when wet, even more so.  It cannot be overly stressed the importance of sturdy shoes and practicing situational awareness.  Ladder Safety comes into play as well.  Before you attempt going up on a roof, go over your job plan and think about what could go wrong.  Take preventive measures.  Always utilize Safe Work Practices.  A fall from a roof of 11 feet will only give you a 50:50 chance of survival.

Further on-topic information:

Falls from Roof Statistics

Asbestos Roof Shingles

Roof Repairs

Slate Roofs

Roof Cleaning Institute of America

How to Make an Organic Garden

How to Make an Organic Garden

With Compost …

To compost -or, to make a compost pile, is to turn once living things into a soil conditioner, weed preventer, fertilizer.  It’s taking those things, putting them together in a ‘compost pile’, managing the process so they decompose and leave you with a great result.   Home compost is a key, critical component to your organic garden.  It is easy enough for anyone to for their home garden, even with limited space.

How it works
By taking specific brown and green material and mixing them together and allowing the millions of microbes in the soil to break down the material results in a fertilizer rich in nutrients that the plants need to thrive.

Sponsored Ads

Compost Happens
You don’t need a lot to make it work.  You do need a few things to make it a little neater and easier to manage.  You can buy a fancy bin or start with something as simple as a roll of chicken wire (or hardware cloth) that you form into a circle and fill with your material.  The browns and the greens need to be in balance.  The brown material is stuff that has already begun to decay -like straw and shredded leaves. The browns are a good base layer to put down.  The ratio of browns to greens should be 3:1.  Fall is a good time to start making compost with the abundance of brown leaves.  It is important to have adequate air circulation which is why a trash can is not suitable.  If there is no air it will start to smell.If there is plenty of air circulation there is no smell and it will not attract animals -which is one of the concerns people have about compost piles.

Next the green ingredients -they are things that are fresher, not dried, like grass clippings, which are excellent.  Kitchen / food scraps are another green component, as are banana peel, avocado peel, tea bag, cucumber peelings and egg shell.  Egg shells are excellent because they are high in calcium. Also include garden plants that are finished, house plants, flowers and coffee grounds.  Manure is great -although it is brown.  If from an herbivore it is good -like chickens, horses, and cows.  They are considered green because of the high nitrogen content.

The pile must be big enough to begin decomposing.  It should be about three (3) feet wide and three (3) feet high and three (3) feet deep.  That will provide the ‘critical mass’ -the pressure that will begin the decomposing process.  If you are a very enthusiastic compost maker, and you turn it every week, you will have a finished product in about two (2) months.  Also, the composting process requires some moisture -not soaking wet, but damp all the time.

The area in the center will begin to get hot.  You may see steam rise from it when you dig into it.  That stuff is becoming finished and needs to be  moved to the outside.  Move the other stuff that hasn’t cooked yet to the inside.  That is what is meant by ‘turning.’  If you are the ‘Let compost happen’ sort and never turn it -it will take about six (6) months.

So, the process is to build it up in layers, turn it once a week and add more layers.  Add water and turn it over.  You can do it all at once if you have enough ingredients or, continue to add layers until it is full.

The finished product can be used to lay a 1/2″ layer on top the garden soil. The compost heap may be used to mix into the soil when transplanting spring plants.  Just mix in a couple of handfuls into each hole.  It is a most excellent fertilizer that your tomato plants will love.

The use of compost rather than chemical fertilizers to nourish your plants is what enables you to label your garden as organic.  The plants in the forest thrive naturally due to the annual / continual composting of the leaves that drop, along with all the other natural matter that lies on the forest floor.  To Make an Organic Garden is to ditch the chemical fertilizers.  To do so is to go back to growing the way nature intended -which is more healthy for you, the eater, and more sustainable for the planet.

Do you have any thoughts on this or experience with it (good, bad, or funny)? If so, why not share them by commenting below.  Also, if you like this, please share it on Facebook or another social media -buttons are at top and bottom of page.  We do appreciate it.  As always, thanks for coming by.

Other noteworthy resources:

Fertilizer (or fertiliser)


Organic Fertilizer

Selecting a Compost Method

Making a Composter

Chainsaw Safety

Chainsaw Safety Part One

Chainsaw Safety

Starting up a chainsaw can be a safe thing but can also be dangerous.  Understand a chainsaw is a tool for professionals.  It can be used by non-professionals but you need to know what you’re doing and you need to work safely.  A chainsaw is a very dangerous piece of equipment if used improperly.  It is designed to go right through a tree easily.  It will obviously do extreme damage if it comes in contact with any body parts.

After a thunderstorm, or a natural disaster like a tornado, hurricane or flood, there is often the need to clear debris away from homes and property.  This discussion centers around the homeowner who might find himself using a chainsaw for the first time -or who may only seldom use a chainsaw.  Understanding proper safety features of the machine, proper technique, and the safety gear (PPE) available for protection is paramount in preventing serious injury or death and becoming more productive.  All are discussed in an OSHA document on the topic.

This discussion is not intended for professionals.  Professionals receive proper safety training and are qualified to use a chainsaw, unlike the homeowner who, without proper training and qualification places himself at far greater risk than a professional who uses a chainsaw for a living.  It is incumbent upon anyone using a chainsaw to understand that pros wear proper protective gear and sometimes do suffer serious injuries.  Don’t be a hero.  Buy personal protective equipment (PPE) and use it.  An old adage: There are old chainsaw operators and there are foolish chainsaw operators.  There are no old, foolish chainsaw operators.  Any seasoned chainsaw operator will tell you that complacency is a killer.  Stay focused at all times.  Do not attempt to use a cellphone while operating a chainsaw.  As silly as that may sound, I know a person who was injured by his saw kicking back.  he took it in the forehead.  Root cause: complacency, no PPE, talking on his cellphone.  (Foolish chainsaw operator).


Chainsaw Safety Part Two

Before you start a chainsaw there are a couple things to do. First, read and understand the owners manual.  In one manual reviewed, there was 23 pages dedicated to safe, injury free operation.  All that before getting into mixing the gas and starting the engine. Secondly, do as the professionals do.  Perform a head to feet check.  This is all part of a comprehensive chainsaw safety program -whether for homeowners or seasoned professionals.

  • Most important is the hard hat (where your brain is housed).  If the tip of the saw gets caught or sticks on something, it can ‘kick back’ which places an extremely powerful force on your arms that you will not be able to control.  The hard hat will protect you if it comes straight up at your head.  Ideally, your body should not be squared off directly behind the saw.  Position yourself so if the saw kicks back it’ll go to the side of your head.
  • Next is eye and face protection.  A flip-down mask protects the entire face as well as the eyes from flying chips and dust.  ANSI approved safety glasses are acceptable.
  • Ear muffs are excellent, but warm in the summertime.  Chainsaws generate very high decibel sound that will damage your hearing: In the short term you may will experience buzzing or ringing that may go away in time.  Repeated exposure will cause permanent damage. Use either approved ear muffs or approved ear plugs.
  • Wear long sleeves or a good heavy coat and / or arm guards.  Arm guards have Kevlar woven into the fabric and will stop a chain from cutting your arm and causing a lot of bleeding.
  • Use heavy work gloves with Kevlar backing o protect your hands.
  • Common injuries are to the forearm and wounds to the back of the hands, as well as leg wounds.  Protect legs with chainsaw chaps.  The chain is typically going at about 60 mph.  The chaps will stop the chain before cutting into your leg.  Your blue jeans will not.
  • Wear good hard-sole work shoes or boots with steel toes.  Not sneakers and not flip-flops.

A chainsaw does not leave a clean wound.  It leaves a jagged, ugly wound and it is very difficult to stop the bleeding.   Think about where chainsaws are used.  You might use it in your backyard.  However, what if you’re up in the woods cutting a Christmas tree of cutting firewood.  If you’re by yourself and the saw comes back at you -you could bleed to death.  For that reason, it is unwise to work alone.  Use the buddy system.

Safety Features
Modern chainsaws are designed with safety features to help protect the operator.  The anti-kickback chain and the chain brake are two of the most important.  If a kickback occurs, your wrist will strike the chain brake and the chain will stop, theoretically before the chain strikes your head or other body part.


Tree Trimming
When trimming a tree -the rule is never raise the power head of the saw (the engine assembly) above shoulder level.  If above your shoulders, you can easily lose control of the saw.  Chainsaw Safety GearIf pruning above your shoulders use the old style pole pruner to reach up and trim 10-12 feet high.  Today there are motorized models on the market -either gas or electric.  The gas model has the engine down low so the operator can maintain control.  Bear in mind that what you cut overhead is coming your way -branches and sawdust.  Wear your PPE.

The non-professional is discouraged from attempting to climb a ladder and/or tree and operating a chainsaw.  Many people fall from trees and ladders due to the awkward positions they find themselves in while trying to manipulate the chainsaw.  If you must, use an approved fall protection harness.  A better idea is to call in a professional who has a trained eye toward identifying hazards -especially electric lines.

If a saw is not properly maintained, it becomes a hazard in itself.  Take it to a qualified repair shop for proper servicing.


Important resources for further information:

Portable Ladder Safety Tips

How to Fell a Tree

Chainsaw Fuel Mix Ratio


How To Mix Mortar

Author’s Note: Here is a video I found to be useful. The text, which follows includes my own experience, learned while working with my father (the bricklayer in the family).

 How to Mix Mortar

Do you have a small stone or brick project in mind at home?  The following is a discussion on how to mix mortar for stone, brick or tuckpointingHow to Mix MortarFor small projects, a bag of ‘Ready Mix mortar’* is the way to go.  Ready Mix mortar, for our purposes today is a bag of cement and sand already mixed in the proper proportions. It’s simple.  It’s quick. It’s clean.  It can be mixed in a wheel barrow in a matter of minutes. 

All that is needed is to add water and mix it up with a shovel and/or hoe.  Ready mix can be purchased at your local mason supply house or someplace like Lowe’s, Home Depot or Menard’s.  (I like to deal with the locally owned businesses whenever I can).  Just ask for a bag of pre-mixed brick mortar, or for stone, pre-mixed ‘portland’ cement.

*Note: The term ‘ready-mix’ is usually reserved to describe ready-mix concrete -the stuff you see being delivered by the big trucks with the rotating drums.

For larger projects, however, it is more cost effective to mix the ingredients on site.  A cement mortar mixer (we always called it a ‘cement mixer’) is used for mixing on site for larger quantities.  Delivery of a load of mortar sand is required.  That would create quite a clean-up chore -too much for a smaller project.

The formula for mixing a good mortar for most projects is a solid three parts sand to one part cement.  The mortar mixers on experienced masonry crews measure their sand by the shovelful.  Non-professionals should opt for the ‘bucket’ method.  That is 3-1/2 five (5) gallon buckets of sand to one bucket of cement.

For Ready Mix, simply empty the bag in a wheelbarrow, add a little water and mix away.  Always add water sparingly.  Start out with a stiff mix and add a just a little water at a time to reach the desired consistency.

For most stone and brick projects the consistency of the mortar is kind of like whipped cream (except for the obvious difference in weight).  You don’t want it too dry of too soupy.   A good test is to get some on your trowel, give it a couple taps on the side of the wheelbarrow and turn the trowel upside down.  If the mortar sticks to the trowel while it is upside down, it is good mortar. 

For tuckpointing , it can be a little stiffer. 

Understand that it’s better in every instance to have it a little drier.  If too wet, it is difficult, if not impossible to use in some cases.  If too dry, a splash of water can be added and mixed up for the proper consistency. 

Typically, the mortar is not used up fast enough to avoid it beginning to ‘set-up’ in the pan.  When necessary, it can be ‘tempered’ as described above by adding water.  You should expect to have to temper the mortar from time to time -more frequently on a hot day.

The bag that packages the ready mix will give a guideline on the water to cement ratio and is a good guideline. Start out with less and add as necessary. If you do get too much water into the mix (everybody does from time to time), you can ‘dry it up’ by adding a small amount of cement and sand in the proper proportions (approx. 3:1 sand cement). 

Bear in mind, if you are trying to stiffen up the mix, the sand should be dry, as is the cement.  You won’t achieve the desired result if you add sand that was just rained on by that passing cloud.

Another point that cannot go unsaid.  Brick mortar contains a mixture of sand and cement as stated above. Cement can cause harm to your eyes and skin.  Cement dust should not be inhaled.   The bag that packages the ready mix will list all the precautions that should be heeded to protect one’s health.  Always wear proper PPE, whether mixing cement or for any number of other home projects.  

The hands and eyes top the list of most common injuries.  Hopefully, you will learn from others’ mistakes and wear your gloves and safety glasses.  

These guidelines regarding how to mix mortar are flexible, as you may have noticed.  The main points are the proper ratio of sand: cement, and not to get it too wet. If you screw it up, set it aside and mix another batch.  You’ll be in good company, as we’ve all been there.

If you have found some of this information to be useful, please ‘Share’ it, or ‘Like’ it so others can find it, as well.   Social buttons found on each page, in the left margin.  As always, thank you for spending some time here.

The following are some additional resources:

History of Cement

Brick Mortar

Portland Cement

Lime Mortar

Mortar (masonry)

Eye Protection


The TacomaDome is the worlds largest wooden freestanding structure.  According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, enough people suffer eye injuries every month to fill the TacomaDome beyond its seating capacity.  (30,500/mo.)  What is startling is that 90% of those injuries could have been prevented by using proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) -namely ANSI approved safety glasses (according to the US Dept. of Labor).

Our eyes are the most fragile organ in our body.  There are dozens of hazards in the workplace -which includes work we do at home and in our gardens. The hazards include:

  • sparks
  • chemicals
  • flying particles
  • splinters in the eye

Normal eyeglasses are not enough.  Nail guns and staplers will shatter normal eyeglasses.  Normal eyeglasses add to the hazard by shattering when hit by an object.  ANSI Z87 is the stamp that must be on the glasses.  Do not gamble with cheap look-alike glasses that will not offer adequate protection.  Also, proper safety glasses will always have side shields.  All ANSI Z87 safety glasses will protect from nail guns, staplers, etc. at point blank range.

Impressive, isn’t it?  Equally impressive is the fact that ANSI Z87 glasses often cost less than $7.00.  Seven dollars for something that will protect our eyes from a 16 penny nail fired at close range.

It is important to choose the appropriate eye protection for the task.  Welding, handling chemicals, using grinders or a lathe requires more appropriate eye protection.  Working in a dusty area or where there is a high concentration of airborne particulates would require the use of a Safety Goggle.  For the majority of work simple ANSI approved safety glasses will protect your very precious, very vulnerable eyesight.

There is no substitute for practicing safety at all times.  Eye injuries are about more than some temporary pain, medical bills, days off from work and lost pay.  it’s about people losing all or part of their ability to enjoy the beauty we are surrounded by and often take for granted.

Today there are many choices when it comes to safety glasses.  Available are Prescription Safety Glasses,   Prescription Safety Sunglasses, Safety Bifocals, Safety Reading Glasses, over the glasses safety glasses and even Prescription Safety Goggles.

Other resources for further information:

OSHA Eye and Face Protection -Construction

Eye Protection Off the Job

Health & Safety in the Home, Workplace and Outdoors

Chimney Repair

The bricklayer in the video above is very good at what he does -just so you know.   Enjoy the video -of an artist at work applying mortar into the joints that were previously ground out.  He then ‘strikes’ the joints with a ‘jointer’ to finish the task.  Please hold the applause until his work is complete.  Below (on this page) is another video explaining tuckpointing and brick repair -on a wall, but the same principles apply to chimney repair.

Tuckpointing (or, Tuck Pointing) has historical significance in England but for all practical purposes, in the U.S. today, tuckpointing is the term used for repairing / restoring the loose mortar in a brick structure.  The term is interchangeable with repointing brickwork or ‘pointing’ -as in ‘pointing up’ a chimney or other brick structure (like a wall, for example).  Restoration of the mortar re-establishes the structural integrity of the wall or chimney and if done correctly, will preclude the infiltration of water and will add decades of life to an otherwise doomed structure.

From the time we are little kids listening to the tale of the Three Little Pigs, we get the notion that brick structures are impermeable.  Whereas bricks last much longer than houses made of sticks or straw -everything needs maintenance -including bricks and mortar.  Brick structures can last decades or even generations without much attention.  Eventually the side of the chimney or structure most affected by weather will require some ‘pointing up’.  If that maintenance is deferred, a slow downward spiral begins, spinning more rapidly with each passing year as water infiltration ever increases and damage increases exponentially.  Even mountains crumble into the sea.  In the Big Picture, we don’t own brick homes (although we pay dearly for them) -we are only the caretakers of them for the next generation who will inherit them.

A mortar joint is the ‘bed’ of mortar the brick is laid upon.  The ‘head’ joint is the vertical joint at each end of every brick (sometimes called a perp -for perpendicular).  Over time, from exposure to the elements, the original mortar joints may become cracked and loose, especially on the side facing the prevailing weather patterns.  Cracked mortar joints allow the infiltration of water, as do broken or cracked bricks.  Water infiltration is bad enough, but in winter it freezes and expands, causing damage and compromising the integrity of the brick structure.

Over time, the bricks in a chimney may become loose -typically from the top down.  Once that happens, tuckpointing is not an option.  The chimney must be torn down -at least to where the brick structure is solid.  That point is sometimes at the roof line.

When a brick becomes cracked or spalled it must be replaced.  A good mechanic can remove a cracked brick using a hammer and chisel without damaging the adjacent bricks.

Tuckpointing is not merely smearing mortar over a cracked mortar joint.  Done properly, the entire portion of the compromised mortar joint is cut back (partially or wholly removed) using a hand chisel or power grinder.  The joint should be cut back 1/2″ to 3/4″ or completely removed, if loose.  Once the bad mortar has been removed, the joints are cleaned of particles and dust.  New mortar is then ‘tucked’ into the joint using a trowel and ‘tuck pointer’ (not a pastry bag).  The mason then ‘strikes’ the joint (using a hand tool called a jointer) or ‘rakes out’ the joint, depending upon the original design.  (A  jointer is a steel hand tool that gives the joint a concave appearance and the rake removes about a quarter inch to recess the mortar).

When replacing brick, matching the old brick is sometimes a challenge and sometimes not possible.  Some of the new so-called ‘blends’ of brick are made to resemble the older brickwork that has been weathered over the decades.  So, look around -you may find something really close.

Matching the existing mortar sometimes requires adding dye to the new mortar.  Be aware that the new mortar dries a lighter shade than what you see before it sets up.  If color matching is critical, it is best to test some mortar on a couple of sample bricks.

Be sure to wear your PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) -eye and face protection and gloves when using a hammer and chisel and/or electric grinding wheels.  When using a grinder, a dust mask is also recommended.

Here are a few additional resources for information:

Tuckpointing Tools

Repointing Brickwork

Spalled Brickwork

Brick Mortar

Brick Trowel