Items tagged with 'stuff around the house'
Our 5-disc DVD player / stereo system just stopped working one morning. It's chock full of borrowed DVDs of course...
Do your readers have a recommendation on electronics repair places?
We've had similar questions in the past, and the answer that often popped up was Lake Electronics on Central Ave -- and with good results, apparently. Unfortunately, Lake closed last year after 60 years in business.
So... anyone got a new suggestion for Martin? Please share!
Andrea asks via Twitter:
(+) Inherited antique chairs from grandmother. (-) One leg broke off in transit. Recommendations for repair services welcome!
A lot stuff these days is either not well made to begin with, or just so cheap, that it doesn't end up getting repaired. But it's worth it for something like this -- even if it might be hard to find a shop.
So, got a suggestion for Andrea and her chair? Please share!
One of our favorite new(ish) websites is The Sweethome, a testing/review/recommendation site for home products. (It's from the same people behind The Wirecutter.) What makes the site so good? Well, they pour a bunch of time and effort into reviewing products to find the one they think is the best, and then explain their choice in detail.
So we were interested see The Sweethome's recommendations for snow shovels, out today, the result of "over 25 hours of research (most of which was spent reading studies on shoveling ergonomics) as well as 19 total man hours of actual snow shoveling." Its pick isn't that surprising -- it also happens to be our snow shovel of choice -- but their recommendation of an aftermarket secondary handle for the shovel caught our eye.
From Doug Mahoney's recommendation of the Stout Backsaver secondary handle:
But while the True Temper is a good shovel in its own right, adding the Stout Backsaver really made a big difference. And not just for the True Temper; you can add one of these to just about any shovel you already have lying around for an instantly and vastly improved shoveling experience for about $13. As one tester put it, "this thing can turn any old piece-of-sh*t shovel into a decent tool." After testing was completed, everyone in the focus group asked where they could purchase one.
The whole review is worth reading/skimming if you shovel a fair amount of snow -- it includes discussions of different models, ergonomics, and a few interesting snow shoveling facts.
Jona asks via Twitter:
Hey @alloveralbany! know of any local painters in the Troy area?
Brownstone = high ceilings, looking for references, available in January, insured (this is all new to us).
We had a similar question last year, but things change. And maybe there are some suggestions for Troy-area painters, or painters with particular expertise in working on spaces with high ceilings.
Got a suggestion for Jona? Please share!
Elisabeth asks via Twitter:
Hey @alloveralbany -- can your readers recommend a good company that cleans heating / AC ducts? Thanks!
We were kind of skeptical of these services, but then we saw ducts get cleaned on one of those home renovation shows on HGTV and... there was a lot of stuff in there, which makes sense -- why wouldn't air ducts accumulate dust and dirt. (That said, it wasn't enough to prompt us to actually pick up the phone and schedule someone to do it. Oh, inertia.)
So, got a suggestion for Elisabeth? Please share!
Val asks via Twitter:
Ok, so thinking ahead, I don't see an Ask AOA on chimney sweeps. I'd love a name of someone in Alb who cleans & does masonry.
This may sound like one of those jobs from 1890 or something (and, you know, it was... and it wasn't also chim chim cher-ee). But it can be important for a modern chimney that still gets used. Residue builds up over time and it can be a safety issue.
So... got a suggestion for Val? Please share.
Emily emails with follow-up -- and a question (emphasis added):
A few weeks ago, someone asked for recommendations for a reputable home inspector who specialized in old homes (they specified farmhouses). As luck would have it, a few weeks later my husband and I found ourselves needing a reputable home inspector with experience looking at old homes.
Your readers' recommendations were unbelievably spot-on. The inspector we chose (Peter Shaming of Excelsior Home Inspections if I may be specific) was incredibly thorough, knowledgable and professional. He found things that had been missed on a previous inspection and even managed to impress the two engineer team of my husband and father-in-law which is not an easy task.
Well, with all that- one of the things he found was a small amount of old asbestos wrap around some ductwork in the basement. We would like to get it professionally removed and are looking for recommendations. Your readers gave us awesome guidance the first time, does anyone have any reputable and licensed asbestos abatement contractors they would recommend?
First off, it's great to hear those earlier answers were helpful. +1 to everyone who offered a suggestion.
Now, onto Emily's question: Have a suggestion for a good company to handle this asbestos issue? Or maybe your house also had a similar asbestos situation and you found away to address it without removal? Please share.
I'm looking for competent, reliable contractors to fix a moisture problem in our basement. I'm aware of two companies in our area: Adirondack Basement Solutions and Kinetic Basement Solutions.
Can you post a request on the web for readers to share their experiences with these companies, as well as any recommendations for others to contact?
There seem to be a lot of companies that advertise services to address this problem, but we get the sense that wet basements can be tricky. And sometimes fixing the problem goes beyond the basement itself -- to things like gutters.
So, got a suggestion for Anonymous? Please share.
My husband and I are looking for a good home inspector: someone who walks you through everything and explains things thoroughly. Specifically if anyone has experience with old farm houses, that would be preferable.
The specific "old farm house" part might be a little hard to find, but there are certainly home inspectors in this area that have plenty of experience inspecting old (and sometimes really old) houses.
So, got a suggestion for Cheryl and her husband? Please share. You'll win our respect and admiration if you're specific about what you're recommending a certain home inspector.
From the boring-but-important file: If you own a home and get a Basic STAR property tax exemption (and most people do) you need to register with the state tax department by the end of this year -- or lose out on the tax break for next year. Here's the online registration link.
The registration requirement is part of legislation for the most recent state budget -- it's aimed at cutting down on people claiming inappropriate exemptions. After registering this year, it won't be necessary to register again. As the state Department of Taxation and Finance explains: "based on the information provided in the registration process, the Tax Department will monitor homeowners' eligibility in future years."
The tax department announced this week that it's sent out 320,000 letters to homeowners getting the Basic STAR exemption in northern and eastern New York, so you'll probably get a letter soon, if you haven't already. (We got ours today.) The registration requirement doesn't affect the Enhanced STAR exemption for senior citizens.
The Basic STAR exemption exempts the first $30k of the full value of a home from school taxes, so it can be worth hundreds of dollars. It's available to owner-occupied, primary residences where the resident owners' and their spouses income is less than $500,000.
Our house was built in 1880 and has a Corbin lock on the front door. The cast iron box that fits inside the door has some broken sections so it's no longer functional. Our locksmith says that there were many different Corbin locks and it's almost impossible to find a match in a working lock... but the alternative is to get rid of all our antique hardware and replace it with a modern lockset. So naturally I want to try finding a replacement.
We weren't familiar with Corbin locks, so we did a little poking around on Flickr -- and some of the examples that turned up are beauties. We can understand the desire to either fix or replace it with something similar, especially on a Victorian-style or other older home.
So, have a suggestion for where Otis can find someone to either fix this lock -- or, more likely, a place that might sell a similar replacement? Maybe someplace that specializes in working on older homes? Please share.
image via Wikipedia
Scott asks via the Facebook:
I have a question for AOA: do you know of anyone around here that does battery recycling?
OK, so the answer to this question is: it's a little bit complicated. And you might have a suggestion that could help.
Christina asks via Facebook:
i'm trying to find someone who does window repairs in Schenectady. There seem to be plenty of companies willing to replace your windows - but none that I can find that do repairs. Anyone know of any awesome handyman service or window repair specialist they are willing to recommend? We have some casement windows that need repair - leaking water (in this torrential downpour rain we've been having). Thanks.
We've had a question before about fixing really old windows -- like, almost a century old. But Christina's question is a bit different. And it'd be great to help her find a way to fix rather than replace.
Have some insight? Please share!
Useful: The Lighting Research Center at RPI has launched a website with a bunch on information on lighting homes. The site includes patterns for lighting spaces, as well as details on different types of fixtures and bulbs.
That might not exactly light you up (oof), but lighting can make a big difference. Switching out the harsh ceiling light in the middle of a room for lamps can make the space feel a lot better.
The most interesting part of the site for us is the section that includes an interactive calculator for comparing the cost and energy use of different lighting sources in a room. The calculator lets you change the numbers around based on variables such as usage and wattage and anticipated life of the arrangement.
For example, the LRC figures lighting a small living room with incandescents costs on average $53 per year; with CFLs, it would cost $15; and with LEDs $21. (Even though LEDs are more energy efficient than CFLs, the bulbs themselves cost a lot more.)
image: RPI Lighting Research Center
Our driveway is in need of some attention this spring, can you recommend a good sealcoat/paving co. in Albany?
At some point during the summer crews starting moving through neighborhoods, knocking on doors pitching driveway fixing/re-sealing. We gotta admit we're skeptical of the "hey, we just did your neighbor's driveway" pitch (maybe unfairly). So some solid suggestions could be a help to Gary and others.
Got someone you can recommend? Please share!
Can you ask your readers where is a good place to find good top soil in the Troy, NY area.
You can get stuff like top soil, mulch, and gravel from a garden center or one of the big hardware stores, but you're usually going to be buying it by the bag. If you have a bigger project, often the best way is to have it delivered to your house -- it can be both cheaper and easier. The truck comes to you and dumps the dirt/mulch/gravel in a a big pile.
So, we'll extend Mike's question a little bit to include mulch, gravel, sand, rock, all that sort of stuff. Suggestions for either garden centers or delivery? Please share. Bonus points if you can provide details about price or ease of setting up delivery.
The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schenectady County has a morning of spring gardening workshops lined up for April 6 (a Saturday). It looks like it could be a good way to get up to speed on starting a garden.
There are three classes in the lineup:
9-9:45 am: plant propagation ($10)
10-10:45 am: preparing your garden for spring ($5)
11-11:45 am: tool maintenance (including "weed whacker care") ($5)
Easy scan descriptions are after the jump. If you sign up for all three, the fee is $15.
The classes are at the Sustainable Living Center in Schenectady's Central Park (the greenhouses). Call 372-1622 for more info and registration.
We are looking to make the most of our house and would like to fully use the finished basement. In order to do so, we need to add an egress. Has anyone had this done recently, and if so, any recommendations on who to use?
Basically, an egress is a way to get out the basement in case of a fire. It's often a code requirement, especially if there's a bedroom.
So, have you done something like this? Is this a general contractor job, or does Zach need to find someone who specializes in doors/windows/basements? Please share.
We built a house and need a lot of painting done and you were the first place I went to for painter recommendations. You had a post about general contractors, but nothing about painters. Could you post a request for good interior painters?
Know of a good paint to suggest to Amy? Please share! And please explain a little bit about why that person is good -- attention to detail, fair price, whatever.
I have three small pieces of furniture that I am looking to have refinished. I have not lived in the Capital Region that long and don't know where to start looking for some place in the local area that comes recommended. ... Perhaps your readers might be able to recommend someone they have used in the past. One of the pieces also needs to be reupholstered eventually too...so any recommendations for reupholsters would be great too!
We had a re-upholstering question about a year ago -- and there were a few suggestions then. But this is the first time someone's asked about re-finishing.
So, have a suggestion for either one (or both) of Heidi's questions? Please share! (With details about why the place is good!)
Valerie asks via Twitter:
I have a few projects I need help with. Removal/replacement of deck, shoring up a porch, basement windows, kitchen counters. Also maybe wood window restoration and an indoor painter who can deal with removing lots and lots of nightmarish wallpaper.
If anyone is or knows a good general contractor please share. PLEASE.
This is a question that comes up all the time. And it's definitely worth asking around for referrals and talking with people about their experiences. A lot of contractors do a good job, but there are definitely some out there to avoid.
So, anyone have suggestions for Valerie? Please share!
Perhaps while enjoying a drink on his deck, Ewan emails (link added):
We just finished a deck, which is giving huge enjoyment. What it needs to be complete, though, is a really good Adirondack chair. I'd like to find one made locally, ideally by a craftsperson; ideally from ipe but I could live with other woods (not pine or cedar!). Anyone have suggestions? Thanks!
Got a suggestion for Ewan? Please share!
When we retrieved our recycling bin from the curb last week, we noticed that a milk carton had been left behind -- with not a can or bottle to keep him company. Hmm, we thought -- aren't those recyclable?
We mentioned the question on Twitter -- and the consensus was: yes... no... maybe. Other people had the same question.
So we did a little research.
Having successfully submitted his property tax assessment grievance with your help, Sean is back for more:
My wife and I just moved, but the one item that we couldn't manage was our piano. We're not related to any football players or bodybuilders, and there are more than one flight of stairs to contend with, so none of our moving posse felt comfortable taking on this challenge. So, that leaves us searching for an alternative solution. Do you or your readers have any tips for not only getting this thing out of our former residence, but into our new one as well?
Are there still piano moving services? Or any advice for Sean (aside from lift with your legs)?
photo: Flickr user
I always read the ask aoa articles and just bought a home with an in ground pool. I know nothing about pools, could you recommend someone local for service? I'm in Albany if that helps.
Or, if not a pool service, maybe a place where he can get some help learning about the stuff that needs to be taken care of.
Got a suggestion of Alex? Please share!
I am looking for a hard scape company that can terrace a hill for my parents. Any good leads on people that do that?
Any suggestions for Jim and his parents? Please share!
photo: Flickr user sleepyneko
It feels so much like May we keep having to remind ourselves that it's still only March.
And we're not the only ones who are confused. Outside the downtown office the tulips are already starting to sprout and trees are beginning to bud.
We're happy to have ditched our winter coats and we'll take any excuse to break out the flip-flops, but we're wondering what all this unseasonably warm weather will mean for Albany's tulips -- and other the flowers and plants.
So, just bonus springtime for gardeners -- or (cue ominous music)... cause for crocus concern?
I am looking for someone to repair old windows (weight and pulley, 1920s type.) I know this is a good "do it yourself"-er, but I am not at all handy. Anyone out there have a recommendation?
There are a lot of houses/apartments in this area that still have these types of windows. And, speaking from experience, when they get stuck or broken, it is frustrating.
Got a suggestion for Maisie? Please share!
Doug asks on Twitter:
I need the best hardwood floor installer in the 518.
We'll expand Doug's question a little bit to include hardwood floor refinishing -- often companies do both installation and refinishing.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
Looking to green her thumb, Julie emails:
Do you guys know where I can get the scoop on some vegetable gardening classes?
A few ideas that occurred to us: Capital District Community Gardens has offered classes in the past. And we've also seen classes listed from the local branches of the Cornell Cooperative Extension. But we haven't seen specific classes listed for this year, yet.
Got a suggestion for Julie? Please share!
Frustrated, Andy asks via Twitter:
So @alloveralbany as I watch my Hulu stutter and stop, I wonder if you all know how to escape TWCs Internet hegemony... :)
For a while there, it looked like Verizon FiOS might provide some competition. But the roll out of the fiber service beyond a few spots in this area seems to have slowed to a halt.
Any ideas for Andy?
My husband and I are getting ready to move and need some small handyperson type jobs done around the house like fixing a small hole in the detached garage roof, putting some trim on our laminate floors (a DIY project which got waylaid), and small painting projects.
Know of a good handyperson or contractor who might be able to help Gretchen and her husband? Please share!
I would like to know if somebody can recommend a good, clean laundromat in the Latham- Troy area where we can wash a large, white comforter?
If have a suggestion for Jeff, great, please share. And if you happen to have a favorite laundromat outside the Latham-Troy area, we'd love to hear about that, too.
photo: Flickr user AlishaV
Update: The Drawing is now closed. Thanks for entering.
So we're nine days into the new year, and lots of people are working away at those resolutions. Or, you know -- not.
We've put together a little package to help someone out there get up off the mat and make some changes in the new year.
It includes help from a gym, a personal trainer, a house cleaning, personal organizing, delicious/healthy food and -- spa services. Here's the full list:
To help you get organized:
+ Neat Chic Organizing: 3 hours with professional organizer Cathy Dryden
+ Ecomaids: One Initial Service Visit --(includes kitchen, living room, dining room, entrance, hallway and stairs - retail value of $129.50.)
To help you relax:
+ Spa Virgo: A one hour Swedish massage and 30 min mini facial.
To help you eat well:
+ Honest Weight Food Coop : $100 gift card
To help you stay healthy:
+ Active Family Chiropractic: $200 gift card
To help you laugh more:
+ A gift certificate for you and 5 friends to see The Mop and Bucket Improv Company Underground at Proctors.
So there you have it -- a whole bunch or services to help get you healthier, more organized and more relaxed and have more fun in 2012. You can enter to win by answering one of the following questions in the comments:
What are you resolving to change in the new year?
Or, if you're not the resolution type:
What would you like to see happen in the Capital Region this year?
Important: All comments must be submitted by noon on Wednesday (January 11th 2012) to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly -- seriously, if you win, we want to give you your stuff) with your comment. The winners will be notified via email by 10 am on Thursday and must respond by 5 pm that day.
photo: Flickr user lucidtech
Michael asks via Twitter:
Does anyone have any reco's for a residential electrician in Albany?
Got a suggestion for Michael? Please share!
Explains FSC editor Christina:
Coined 'from scratch holidays', we wanted to dedicate most of November & December's content to various seasonal recipes for your holiday table, edible gifts and reflections on the holiday season as a whole. We have more to come, including radish toasts, DIY coffee creamer, beef jerky, dark chocolate covered candied orange peels, Kahlua marshmallows & hot chocolate set, fudge, cheese plate "class", free printable gift & canning labels and much much more! But first we have something exciting to share.
A few of the bits that caught our eye: the All Good Bakers recipe for cinnamon buns, as shared by Britin; and how to grow windowsill garlic greens, as explained by Dianna.
I'm going to schedule a home energy audit in the near future. I contacted NYSERDA and I was approved an audit award. Now I'm looking over the list of NYSRDA approved contractors. The Capital Region's list is long, and I don't want someone who's only goal is to pressure me into buying services and products I don't really need.
Does anyone out there have recommendation this area' listing?
Got a suggestion for Martin? Please share!
photo: Flickr user ActiveSteve
Mark asks via Twitter:
I've got a sidewalk that looks like this in two places. It's my front walk, not a city sidewalk. Any suggestions on who to call to repair it?
That looks like it could be a trip-and-fall waiting to happen -- especially as things get icy.
Got a suggestion for Mark? Please share.
With an eye toward the change of season, Jen asks:
How about a cheap furnace cleaner person (besides the big companies like DA Bennet) &/or who does home energy audits?
We'll tag general furnace tuneup/maintenance onto Jen's question (that reminds us, we need to get someone to do that...).
Got a suggestion? Please share!
photo: Flickr user C Jill Reed
I know you covered mice issues a while back but we have a wasp nest we can't reach with death spray and we're trying to find a good exterminator to come and destroy the little yellow jacketed ninjas who keep creeping into our house. Any suggestions?
A ninja infestation? Could be tricky.
Got a suggestion for Miriam? Please share!
photo: Flickr user DGriebeling
Jen (@albanyjen) asks via Twitter:
Perhaps @alloveralbany can help me find someone who reglazes tubs & tiles in the Cap District? or some DIY guidance?
We're guessing that companies/skilled tradespeople who do tile might also do some re-glazing (basically) -- or, at least, be able to offer a good referral.
Got a suggestion for Jen? Please share!
We've had our share of icicles at the Lerner household this winter -- and all the work involved with removing them, breaking up ice dams, and removing feet of snow from the roof has taken much of our free time. And we know we're not alone.
The Capital Region has seen its share of home, barn and sports dome collapses because of snow. The press had a field day with roof rake stories. And James recently asked for recommendations for contractors for roof snow removal.
So, I talked with local home inspector Lawrence McGann of Spire Inspections for some winter home maintenance tips... because belaying my husband as he digs away at snow on our roof was fun, at first.
James asks a timely question via the Twitter:
You guys have been very helpful with plumbers, electricians and mechanics. Ideas on good contractors for roof snow removal?
Got a suggestion for James? Please share!
With what we can only guess is the sound of running water in the background, Chrissy emails:
Does anyone know a good/trustworthy plumber in the Schenectady area or one is Albany that will travel a bit?
I have 2 toilets that are running constantly, a broken faucet, and a crappy old sink that needs replacing. After a crazy high water bill I am finally going to stop procrastinating about it but I don't really want to just pick a name from the yellow pages. The last time I did that I got a drunk Jerry Garcia look-alike that told me the reason my water suddenly smelled like rotting garbage was because I live in Scotia. Not entirely untrue, but I need someone with a more scientific? approach to plumbing problems. Any recommendations?
We called Crisafulli for an acute plumbing problem (broken pipe) awhile back. They responded promptly and fixed the problem, at what seemed like a fair price.
But there are a lot of plumbers out there. Know of a good one for Chrissy? Please share!
My tenant downstairs is victimized by one very persistent mouse. We have tried poison traps, glue traps, good old fashioned spring-loaded-*smash*-in-your-face mousetraps, to no avail. Either this mouse is a mensa-certified mutant, or I'm doing something wrong.
In any case, it has to go (please). Besides carefully storing food away, I'm considering an exterminator or letting my tenant adopt a cat; pets are a responsibility, but she would like to have one and found a feline online that could be a non-carpet-destructing mouser.
Any recommendations on exterminators? Or "exterminator vs. cat, the smackdown"?
The Capital Region has a lot of old buildings. And old buildings very often have mice. There's gotta some serious collective wisdom out there for dealing with the critters.
So, any tips or suggestions for Sebastien? Please share!
photo: Flickr user coxy
A bit freaked out, Anonymous emails:
I'd like to ask readers about local resources for getting rid of bedbugs.
Mostly looking for companies who will diagnose and get rid of them once you've identified that you have them. For example, are any bedbug sniffing dogs in the area? (That is the most absurd sounding question I've asked in awhile!)
Wondering, too, how anyone locally has dealt with the experience of having them, how they approached getting rid of them, and what they wish they had done differently.
We had a feeling this question might pop up eventually. And, frankly, it kind of gives us the willies.
In October, the Times Union declared that "bedbugs have officially infiltrated the Capital Region." The article mentioned a business in North Greenbush -- Northeast Pest Control -- that has used a bedbug-sniffing dog. (Just recently, the New York Times reported that people are starting to doubt the effectiveness of some of these bug finders.)
So, anyone have suggestions for Anonymous? Please share.