Monday, October 18, 2010

Winterizing your Home

October is the time of year to get your home ready for winter. That way when it's cold and snowy outside you can sit inside or grab you skis and head out without worrying about your home.

1.Get your fireplace or wood stove ready

  • Have your chimney cleaned and inspected.

  • Buy or cut your firewood. Always make sure it is dry and split and stored in a dry area with easy access to your home.

  • Have fire starter and matches or a lighter on-hand to light the fire.

2. Furnace Inspection

  • Remove flammable material from around the furnace.

  • Inspect and clean your furnace and install new filters.

  • Stock up on furnace filters and change monthly during heavy winter use.

3. Caulk and Weather stripping

  • Ensure that doors and windows are air tight and if they aren't, caulk and or weather strip them. If you are able to seal a window or door that will not be used during the winter, cover with plastic to increase insulation and prevent drafts.

4. Check and repair your Roof as necessary

  • Check your roof for missing shingles, shakes or damaged material.

  • Check around vents for damaged material or cracked caulking.

  • Also make sure you have extra roof cement in case you need to make emergency repairs.

  • Install gutter heat tape to prevent ice dams and frozen gutters, if that is a problem at your home.

5. Close foundation vent

  • If your home is equipped with foundation vents, close them when the weather turns cold and then reopen in the spring when the weather warms up.

6. Outside watering system

  • Make sure to drain all outside lines that are not insulated.

  • Make sure electric sprinkler valves are drained (including the anti-siphon valve).

  • If you use a ball valves outside make sure the are left in the open position or well insulated.

  • If you have some lines that have water in them during the winter, use electric heat tape and insulate to prevent freezing.

  • Also, I drain all my garden hoses and then re-coil them on their hose racks with the nozzle installed on the end. I do not connect them to the hose bib. This way if there is a fire I will connect the hose to the hose bib and be able to use it to put out the fire.

  • Make sure to insulate all outside hose bibs if they are not the "frost free type".

7. If you leave your home for an extended period of time during the winter. If you are a second home owner or a local headed to a winter vacation.

  • Turn off and drain all water. If you do not have a "DRAIN AND WASTE VALVE", have one installed by a plumber to make this job easier. If you have an electric hot water heater, turn off the electrical circuit that feeds it when you turn off and drain the water from your home.

  • Open all faucets and flush all toilets.

  • Add RV anti-freeze to all drains and toilets. Do not forget the shower and washer drains. Drains: 1 cup, Toilet bowels: 4-5 cups, Toilet tanks: 2 cups.

  • Set your thermostat at 50 degrees

8. Miscellaneous Winter prep Tasks

  • Contract for snow removal service. As you will not be able to find anyone to do the work after a big storm if you did not have a contract

  • Install snow stakes to mark anything that you do not want the snowplow to hit, such as curbs, flower bed,s steps, etc.

  • Check to make sure your flashlights, oil lamps and other emergency supplies are in good working order. Also stock up on batteries for flashlights, radios etc.

  • Check the anti-freeze in all of your vehicles and make sure there is an ice scraper, tire chains (and know how to install them) and a shovel in each of them.

  • Make sure your snow blower is in good working condition and you have a gas can with STA-BIL and gas in the can. Make sure you use STA-BIL with your gas or it will lose it's octane in about 30 days. So if your gas is without STA-BIL it will not start your blower.

9. Now you can sit back and enjoy the winter

  • Wax and tune your skis.

  • Check out your snowshoes and bindings

Friday, September 10, 2010

Keeping Your Asphalt Driveway In Top Shape

Maintaining and repairing your driveway on a regular basis will help ensure many years of service. Fortunately most driveway maintenance is a job that homeowners can do themselves. Although not difficult, it can be messy when it comes to applying the sealer. Be sure to wear old clothes and a pair of shoes that you can throw away when you are done.

The first step in maintaining your driveway is to see what problems you will need to repair. Take a slow walk across and down your driveway. If you see impressions left by car tires or tilting, or buckling or cracking, then you will need to call in an asphalt driveway contractor to rebuild it. Unless your driveway is very old and has been neglected, you'll probably see minor cracks, crumbling and small chuck holes. These problems can be repaired by the average do-it-yourselfer. If your driveway has large cracks and potholes, these repairs will need to cure before you apply the seal coating. This may take several days so plan accordingly.

What to Buy

If you have cracks you will need to purchase crack filler which typically comes in a caulking tube or a pour bottle. Chuck holes require asphalt cold patch which comes in a bag similar to redi-mix concrete. To complete the job you will need a good sealer. Sealers usually are sold in a "Good" "Better" "Best" selection. Just like paint, it's best to purchase top-quality material...the job will last longer, look better, give better service and in the long run save you the time of having to re-do the job sooner.

Tools for the job

Squeegee/broom for sealing + Detergent + Trowel + Masonry Chisel + Machinist's Hammer + Stiff Bristle Broom + Garden Hose w/Pressure Nozzle + Wire brush + Oil Spot Primer + Asphalt Driveway Cleaner + Gloves + Shovel + Safety Glasses + Tamper or 4" x 4" x 6'.

Safety Precautions

When working with asphalt materials, avoid prolonged contact with skin and excessive breathing of fumes. When chipping or chiseling old blacktop wear safety glasses. Keep all materials away from high heat or open flames. Be sure to read all manufacturer's instructions.

Repairing Cracks

It's important that cracks be filled properly to prevent water from getting under the slab and causing more serious problems. If the crack is less than 1/2" wide, it can be filled with asphalt cold patch. The most important thing to remember when you are repairing cracks is that the crack must be completely cleaned or the repair will not hold. For narrow cracks, sweep out all the dust and dirt that you can. You may need to use an old screwdriver and wire brush to loosen. Then use your garden hose and spray nozzle to "blast" away any dirt that remains deep in the crack.

Be Sure To Wear Safety Glasses When Doing This Job!!!

If any area being repaired is covered with oil or grease drippings it must be scrubbed with a driveway cleaning agent and thoroughly rinsed. Cracks over 1" also need to be thoroughly rinsed. Cracks over 1" also need to be thoroughly cleaned and then filled with asphalt cold patch.

Pot Holes

Pot holes are repaired with asphalt cold patch which is a heavy duty stone and asphalt mix. First dig out any loose material and dirt down to a solid base. Then undercut the edges so they slope in slightly to provide a "key" for the patching material. Next clean all dust and debris from the hole and surrounding areas. Clean off any oil or grease that might be surrounding the hole. If the hole is very deep it should be filled within 4" of the top with gravel. be sure to tamp the gravel before filling the hole with patch. Apply 2" of cold patch and tamp, then apply the remaining 2" and tamp. Now add enough material to form a slight mound and tamp again. The patch should be rolled which can be done by placing an old piece of plywood over the area and then driving over the plywood slowly back and forth. If you have repaired any major holes with asphalt cold sealer, you will have to allow the patch to cure before sealing. This typically would be 12 to 36 hours, although some products take as long as 30 days. Check the manufacturer's label.

Seal Coating

After all crack and pothole repairs have cured, it's time to seal your driveway. The entire driveway surface must be clean before you apply sealer. This includes dust, dirt, grease, oil, and debris. Sweep the driveway. Remove grease and oil spots with cleaner and detergent. Rinse thoroughly and squeegee water from any puddle spots. Allow the driveway to dry.

Using the squeegee/broom, apply the sealer to a small area at a time . Don't spread the sealer too thinly. Allow small cracks and weathered areas to "drink" the sealer. If you have a sloped area, you can sprinkle the area with sand before the sealer dries for better traction. Allow the sealer to cure according to the manufacturer's instructions. Block the end of the driveway with empty cans (add water to keep them from blowing away). You may want to rope off the sides as well to keep anyone from walking across the area.

Now sit back and enjoy your beautiful driveway.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Winter Weather Tip - Installing Tire Chains

Winter Weather Tip - Installing Tire Chains

Information on putting on snow chains. Video above provides the basic steps.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tips for Super Looking Wood Deck and Siding

Whether your wood deck, fence or siding is new or old, you want to protect it. If you want your wood to look as natural as possible, we recommend the SUPERDECK Transparent stains. There are many different products on the market but we feel that this product is one of the best, because it is a linseed oil based product. Here at Mountain Hardware we will suggest that you use an oil based product to protect all exterior wood surfaces. I feel that a linseed oil based product is best for preserving and protecting wood from the damage due to weather and the sun. Also, Mountain Hardware's beautiful location in the mountains means that we are able to carry products that cannot be sold or used at the lower elevations. This way you get the best product for your home here.

Anything that you get the linseed oil product on, such as brushes, rollers and rags ,must be put into a metal bucket filled with water. Leave the items in the water for 1 WEEK ,then remove the items and let them dry. Once dry, you may put them in the trash the day that your trash is picked up or haul it to the dump yourself.

NEVER put items with linseed oil on them in the trash, as they may SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST. Use the above treatment method!



a. New wood. New wood will have a seal on the wood this is called a "mill glaze." This will prevent anything from penetrating the wood so it must be removed first. You can let your wood weather for about 4-6 weeks or you can use our WOOD brightener AND REJUVENATOR. This will remove the mill glaze.

b. If the wood is old, make sure there is no sealer left on it. A good way to do this is to do a water test. Put some water on the deck. If the wood turns dark, the deck is ready because the water penetrated into the wood. If the wood did not change color ,the wood is still sealed and will have to be removed before you seal it.

c. Clean the wood surface. This can involve just sweeping, brushing or washing with a garden hose. Also, we do carry a wood cleaner product. The important part is to let the wood completely dry before you apply the sealer. I feel 2 days is best.

Application Methods

A. The transparent products are very easy to apply. You can use a paint pad, brush, roller or a pump up garden sprayer. I do not recommend using a paint sprayer because it will be very hard to clean the unit after you finish.

Paint Pad: Works great on horizontal surfaces (deck and steps). We sell one that is 9" wide, the same as a roller, which also has a straight side edge to make it is easier to apply the product where the deck joins the house (you do not want to get this product on your walls if they are painted).

Brush: Brushing works the product well into all surfaces and will give you a smooth, even coverage. You can use either natural or poly bristles brush

Roller: Works great on rough surfaces. Use a short to medium nap roller.

Garden Sprayer: Sprayer works great on hard to paint surfaces such as a louver fence.


When you apply a linseed oil product to your deck, you need to apply and let it penetrate about 20 min and then do a back wipe. If you apply excess product on a flat surface such as a deck, it will just pool and could take months to dry completely. A back wipe means that you remove any excess material after the 20 min of dry time. A paint pad is the most common tool used to apply product to a deck. First, cut in all the gaps between the deck boards with a brush in the area you are going to work. Then install the pad onto the handle from your push broom (or we can supply you with a handle), this way you do not have to get down on your knees. Apply the product in an area you can reach with the pad on the handle, then stop and let it dry 20 minutes. Set your paint pad on the side of your paint tray to drain. You can either use this pad, a dry paint pad or rags attached to the pad to do the back wipe. After 20 minutes wipe off any standing product and move down the deck repeating this process (do not work yourself into a corner make sure you have a way off the deck!


Use the same methods as above (section under PREP paragraph B) to make sure the wood will allow the stain to penetrate the surface. You can use any of the application on siding. Also, on siding you will not need to do a back wipe, as when you over apply the stain, it will run off. If you are working with siding that has dramatic high's and low's like "T-1_11 you may want to brush in the low areas first, then apply with a Pad, or roller to the rest of the surface.

Drying Time

Keep foot traffic and pets off the deck until completely dry 1 to 2 days depending on the temperature and humidity.

Then you are ready to seat back and enjoy your deck this summer.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me, at Mountain Hardware 760-249-3653 or


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Water Softner and Filtration System

Water Softener

Do I need a Water Softener?

If you are not sure if you need a water softener, you can bring in a sample of your water (in a clean container) and leave it with us. We will test it and tell you what hardness it is.

Soft water is 0-1 grains of hardness

Slightly Hard 1-4 grains of hardness

Moderately Hard 4-7 grains of hardness

Hard 7-10 grains of hardness

Very Hard 10 + grains of hardness

Wrightwood's water per Golden State Water is on a average 24 grains of hardness.

Another way to tell if you need a water softener is if you find calcium deposits in your washing machine or dishwasher. These deposits form as the water evaporates, leaving the calcium behind.

When you mix soap and hard water (anything over 8 grains per gallon) it makes a sticky substance that clings to everything; your skin, clothes, dishes, plumbing fixtures and of course, your hair .... which will have a sticky substance in it and will be very hard to rinse out. If your clothes come out of the washer looking dingy or your dishes come out of the dishwasher spotty or with a film on them, think about getting a water softener.

A water softener will also add life to your hot water heater . The heating costs can be up to 30% less with no scale build up on the elements and on the bottom of the tank.

How to select a Water Softener

When looking for a water softener, you should consider:
  • the amount of grain removal (the higher the hardness, the higher grain removal unit you will need),
  • the type of regeneration it should be... (DEMAND TYPE),
  • the warranty on the tanks and on the valve head.

Sizing a water softener

First off , you need to understand how a water softener works. It trades hard minerals (calcium-magnesium) in water for soft minerals (sodium) in water. Inside the softener, there are a bunch of magnets called ion exchange resin. They are little chemical magnets that do the trading. The more chemical magnets, the higher the capacity. The capacity is the amount of gallons a softener will exchange (soften) before it needs to regenerate(recharge) itself.

We recommend a Water softener with 32,000 or greater grain removal capacity for a normal family.

Demand Type

Metered regenerated is the type we recommend. These softeners regenerate by keeping track of how much water you actually use. This type of unit will save you money in usage of salt and less water use.

And of course the price and knowledge of the sales person.

When deciding on a water softener system for your home, you will want to understand that it will NOT filter your water, it will NOT remove bacteria or nitrates and it does not make the water "healthier" to drink.

Also, you want to be concerned when you have a water softener that you DO NOT water your plants inside or outside with soft water. You need to use your un-softened water for plant watering, otherwise your plants may not thrive.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Painting Like a Pro

  1. Remove all items possible out of the room so you do not have to start and stop painting. If you are unable to move the items out of the room move them to the middle of the room.
  2. Cover all flooring and furnishing left in the room. You can cover flooring with red rosin paper, cover items left in the room with plastic or canvas drop cloths.
  3. Start by looking at the project area. Look at the walls for areas that need repair work. Areas that have peeling paint, holes, or wall damage. Make all these repairs first making sure to let the repaired areas dry before priming per instructions on the repair product applied.
  4. Remove all electrical outlet covers switch plates and door knobs. This will make it a lot faster with out having to mask these. This is also a good time to replace the electrical outlet cover and switch covers. Be careful not to let children in the room with these covers removed. Also do not lock you self in the room because the door handle have been removed (no, I have not had this happen to me.)
  5. All repaired areas will need to be primed. If you are changing colors you may need to prime the entire area. Remember that the primer can be tinted toward your top coat color. Just ask us when you are buying your primer. Make sure to let the primer area dry per the instructions on the can do not rush it.
  6. Finally the top coat of final color coat. Make sure to have all supplies you need before you start. Have brushes and roller or paint pads for each color this will save you washing applicator during the job. I always start at the top and do all the cut in parts first, the corners, window and door jams and then the walls.
  7. Never completely use all the paint in the can. When you used about 1/2 the can of paint add paint from the next can and stir together this will prevent and minor color variations, this is called boxing the paint.
  8. I always paint a sample of the paint on a clean paint stir stick and label it as to where this color goes and what sheen it was. This way in the future if I need more of the same color I have a sample and the details.
  9. A new program we have here at Mountain Hardware is to be able to put some of your paint in a spray can. We put your exact color in the can so this is what you can use as touch up. It can be water based or oil depending on you paint. If it is water based you can spray this touch up paint inside the house with no odors. This is great for the kids rooms, hallways and doors that always need touch up.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Questions about painting.

How to pick the correct color.

1. If you are looking at bright color (lots for color) chose a lighter shade than the one you picked. Because when you coat all the walls the room will close in. The lighter color will still give you the same feeling but also keep the room from closing in on you.

2. How to match the current color you have on you walls. Just bring in a sample of the color on you wall. It must be 50 piece in size clean and smooth with this we can color match with a computer to match your color. Another idea is to bring in you old can of paint no matter how bas it look we should be able to get a color sample from it. Also we may have you color saved in our color computer if you have bought the paint from us before.

3. If you have a color sample from another paint company or from a magazine, piece of cloth, pillow or what ever we may be able to color match you color for you. If you like we will save the color in our computer with the job description so we can recreate the color for you anytime.