Q&A / 

May 12, 2009 AsktheBuilder News And Tips

What's in This Issue?

Allergic to Well Water
Memorial Day Grill Out
Loft Bed for Six Foster Kids
Marshalltown Drywall Tools
Dock and Deck Cleaning
Who Killed the Dragons?
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Allergic to Well Water

My daughter Meghan, who runs the AsktheDecorator site (you might want to get on her newsletter list as she's working on an exciting project you'll want to know about - look at the bottom center of her home page to subscribe to her newsletter), is allergic to many foods and now we've discovered she reacts to the well water here in New Hampshire. Her skin swells up noticeably when it comes into contact with the water.

I had the water tested when I bought the house, getting the most extensive tests done that I could. All the reports came back that the water was fine. The water does have a slight sulfur odor, but that was deemed not a health issue.

My questions to you are:

Are you - or someone you know - allergic to well water, and if so, what have you/they done to correct the situation?

If you're on a well, what water filtration system have you used to make your water as pure as possible? What systems have failed you in the past?

I've contacted the Water Quality Association in Chicago THREE times to get information, and they have never followed through. I'm a member of the working press and have contacted their PR person to no avail. I want to write a column about this situation and even do videos, but they're avoiding me like the swine flu. It's crazy.

If you work with this association and have a magic decoder ring to get access to their members, let me know. Or, if you work for a water-purification company that is a member of this association, you should know that your dues money could possibly be spent responding to press requests. Heavy Sigh.....

If you can help Meghan and I through this situation, we would be eternally grateful.

Memorial Day Grill Out

I just assembled a new Weber grill for the lake house. Oh is it nice to cook outdoors again. This gorgeous Genesis EP-310 Weber grill is a dark green that matches the trim on my house. It's very handsome and can it cook food! I mention this in case you're on the fence needing to make a decision about a new grill for this summer. With Memorial Day just around the corner, you may find these bad boys on sale.

Mine has three separate stainless-steel burners, stainless grease shields so the burners don't get clogged with food or grease, wonderful cast-iron grates, and plenty of shelf space on the left to put down a platter or plate. It's a great grill. Mine is propane as we don't have natural gas here at my house. You can get them to burn natural gas. If you get one, let me know how you like yours. I LOVE mine!

Loft Bed for Six Foster Kids

Liz Blackfox emailed me asking,

"My daughter is taking in 6 foster children in a very short time. They need an "L" shaped loft. Two girls along one wall and one girl along the bottom of the "L". They are on very limited income and have little building experience. Would you please tell me where I can go to find some sort of plan to build such a loft? I have called two lumber stores but they said they have no such book or plans."

Liz, I believe I can help you. I have several columns that show you how to build a simple loft bed. You'll have to modify my plans slightly to make the "L" bend, but that's pretty easy to figure out. Check out these past columns

Marshalltown Drywall Tools

About five weeks ago, I received some drywall tools to test. I got an assortment of broad knifes, two different stainless-steel mud pans, a dust collector, a taping tool, etc. I've used Marshalltown tools for years, and still have a magnesium float that's finished countless yards of concrete sidewalks, patios and steps. It's a cherished tool of mine.

The quality of these drywall tools is simply astounding. They are well designed, not heavy, and can last generations if you treat them with care. I can tell you that when finishing drywall, the tools can make a huge difference. A low-quality tool will have you struggling. A great tool will enhance your finishing skills. I urge you to really take a look at all the tools Marshalltown makes for drywall. While you're there, take a look at all the things they make. You'll be surprised.

Dock and Deck Cleaning!

This weekend I'm going to clean and seal my wood dock as well as the steps that lead to the dock. I'll be using my Stain Solver, because it's absolutely non-toxic and will not hurt surrounding vegetation, the lake, the fish or anything in the water. You may want to clean your wood deck before a Memorial Day party.

To help you on this project, I've just had Roger make a price adjustment on our 16-pound size. See the link just below. This is the most common size ordered by folks who clean their decks. This size makes 40 gallons of cleaning solution. You'd be surprised how quickly you can use up even 20 gallons. So if your deck is smaller, you'll have extra left over for your laundry, tile grout cleaning or any other stain-removal job.

If you're interested, you need to act fast. Why? There are only 200 of these containers in the warehouse, and I don't know when the supplier can restock us. The first 200 people who order get the special price.   Ellen's ready to ship them to you now. You'll be amazed at how well Stain Solver cleans wood decking. Watch this past video of mine to see how I used it on an abused deck. I show you in this video why you should NOT use a pressure washer. The video has a corny opening, but cut me some slack. :->

Here's the video.


Don't hesitate. The sale will end on Friday afternoon, May 14, 2009.

Who Killed the Dragons?

At lunch today, Meghan, Brent and I were talking about the boat docks that were installed next to our Association beach. It's very expensive to take them in and out of the water each season. I thought that the boat owners might consider using bubblers to prevent ice from forming around the docks. A bubbler makes the water move enough that it can't turn to ice, even though the temperature of the water is well below freezing. The trouble with a bubbler is if it stops working, the super-chilled water can flash freeze very rapidly.

But Meghan commented, "They just need to get a dragon." We then got sidetracked into the demise of dragons. That brought to mind a conversation I had with my son Tristan back three months ago, as I was driving him back here from Burlington, VT, where he's in school. We were making our way down I-89 behind a huge snowplow through a mild snow storm and he quipped, "Dad, I think the snowplows of the future will have giant lasers on them that just vaporize the snow and dry the road at the same time. That would be so much safer." I agreed, but I'm quite sure that technology won't happen in my lifetime.

The dragon idea, though, has legs. All those knights in the Middle Ages really goofed up slaying all of them. Think of all the jobs a pet dragon could do around the house: melt snow, warm up the soil to do early planting, barbecue, preheat ovens, reheat bath water, replace space heaters - so long as he wouldn't set things on fire, etc. You can tell the conversations at our meals are quite stimulating.

Latest Columns

I'll have new columns, and hopefully a video or two, for you next issue!

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