A Special Edition of


Tom Bobotas

Remodel Sales Associate


For the past few years, we have offered our newsletter readers monthly homeowner tips from Tom Bobotas of our remodeling team. He has many years experience in home repairs, fabricating custom wood products, construction and has been an incredible asset to our remodeling team.


We would also like to thank Tom for lending his time and invaluable knowledge to all of our readers, clients and SandStar team. It is truly appreciated and we have all grown a little wiser this year!


If you have missed any of of Tom’s helpful tips from this past year, below is a compilation of 2018.


December 2018:

DID YOU KNOW… there are many items in our homes that we take for granted until they cease to operate properly?

Lock and entry sets are a prime example. We use them multiple times a day, every day and we don’t tend to notice the assembly coming loose or the slightly misaligned striker and plate. Both of these scenarios are likely due to loose screws caused by vibration and torque.

We recommend that with both a slotted and Phillips head screwdriver in hand you inspect and tighten hinge and door knob screws. You may also want to have a rag and dry lubricant handy to spray on the hinges as preventative maintenance as you make your rounds. To quote an old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Until next month I hope you enjoy the season and various festivities!

November 2018:

DID YOU KNOW… performing your own renovations may prompt the need to apply for a building permit and even require engineering review?

If you are inclined and capable of some larger renovations like replacing your exterior doors or windows it is likely that a “building permit by owner” should be applied for. The biggest reason is because of where we live; Hurricane Central.

Doors with or without glass, sliding glass doors and windows must be installed/fastened and inspected in accordance with current regulations. They must also conform to minimum wind and thermal requirements which vary by regional location. Non-impact resistant glass will require a storm shutter with an inspection as well. Don’t take any chances.

Check with your local code enforcement office. Don’t worry, they don’t bite and they are willing to answer your questions.


October 2018:

DID YOU KNOW… it’s a good idea to replace your screen door hydraulic closer on a regular schedule?

Consider changing them every one to three years depending on exposure to the elements to ensure proper operation. Non fully closing and latching pool cage screen doors is a safety issue given that, combined with the cage, they are the barrier (fence) that prevents unwanted visitors to the pool. It is suggested that the heavy duty versions be used to provide adequate strength against our common stronger breezes. The closing swing of the door may need to be adjusted with a screwdriver to increase or decrease the speed and strength after installation.

Your screen doors should operate smoothly and fully with the sound of a striker catching the latch. To potentially prolong the life of the closer lightly spray the piston shaft with a dry silicone lubricant.


September 2018:

DID YOU KNOW… your accordion storm shutters require cleaning and lubrication much like your windows (see February’s Tip). As we progress deeper into this year’s hurricane season it may be a good time to ensure their proper operation, just in case. You’ll need a vacuum, rags and a can of dry lubricant in spray form. Start by using the vacuum to clean out the larger debris in the bottom track of the window or door. Next, wipe down the track to remove any dust or built-up grime (you may need to vacuum again). Now that the track is clean, go ahead and spray the track with the lube. If you can easily reach the upper track, go ahead and clean and spray it as well. Last thing to do is operate the shutter(s) a few times.

They should now work a bit smoother. One down…and on to the next one. Let’s hope the “apple a day” adage applies to hurricanes.


August 2018:

DID YOU KNOW… your smart phone can help you maintain your home? Technology is a wonderful thing and your phone is one piece of technology that we are never without. So take advantage of your personal assistant. Use the calendar function to set reminders of filters changes for your air handler and refrigerator filters, smoke detector batteries or water softener salt.

Take it a step further, specify a re-occurrence for yearly, quarterly, etc… and add the model number or sizes of the products to be changed. Voila! A reminder and the specific information all in one place. No more buying the wrong part, having to return to the store or searching for the part information to begin with. And don’t forget to use the camera to take pictures of those replaceable parts for a visual reference. Your phone can assist you in so many ways so take advantage of your phone’s functions.


July 2018:

DID YOU KNOW… the simple task of labeling each circuit breaker in your panel can save you aggravation? With labels you can easily determine which switch to turn off or on should you need to replace a fixture or reset the circuit. This is especially important if another occupant of the home is working on a computer (and has spent hours on a project without saving…but that’s a different conversation) and you turn off the wrong circuit breaker. I’ll guarantee you do not want to be in that position.

The plain and simple is that there is no need to go through the process of turning one off, determine what it controls, repeat previous procedure for the second, third, etc.. but one time. If you need help call on a professional. We know which light switch to flip for a specific room so why not apply that to the electrical panel.


June 2018:

DID YOU KNOW… along with turning off your water while away from your home for extended periods (see May’s “Did You Know”) you can also realize some savings? It’s true. Don’t just turn off your water at the main, turn off the water heater circuit breaker at the electrical panel too. Why keep the water heated if you’re not home for a week or two or more? As recommended for the water valve, leave yourself a note on the counter, as a reminder to flip the breaker when you return and you’ll have hot water in an hour. The slight delay in hot water will yield savings on your electric bill and who doesn’t like that? As a side note, snowbirds, think about draining* your hot water tank before you leave to prevent the water from becoming stagnant. * Important! Be sure to fill the tank before turning on the circuit breaker… after all, you wouldn’t put an empty pot on the stove to boil.

Please check with a licensed plumber if you are unfamiliar with these practices but want to learn more.


May 2018:

DID YOU KNOW… it is best to turn off the water supply to your home while away for extended periods of time? Your weekend or vacation checklist should include …”turn off water” as the last “to do” item before you get in the car. Think of it as a free insurance policy. When you return home, unlock the door, drop the bags and turn on the water. No one wants to deal with leaks but it’s best to not be away if something goes wrong. Water can cause a great amount of damage to your home and belongings very quickly if not detected, so give yourself some peace of mind while you’re away. Remember; it’s simple and it’s free. If you are unfamiliar with the location or operation of your main shut off, your licensed plumber, contractor or handyperson can assist you. Have fun while away and safe travels!


April 2018:

DID YOU KNOW… some older toilets can use up to 7 gallons of water per flush? You might have one if it takes a long time for the tank to fill. The newer toilets nicknamed “low flow” (in order to conform to Federal Standards) only use 1.6 gallons per flush with others as little as 1.28 gallons. In plain English, a new toilet –  with every three flushes – can save enough water for one average length shower (18 gallons) not to mention the affect it has on your water bill. How about having the seat two inches higher? Two inches doesn’t seem like much but when you have back, hip, knee problems or, in general, have trouble getting up from a sitting position, this may help. Lastly, when planning to or having your toilet replaced be sure to replace or add the shut-off valve (see the March 2017 newsletter).


March 2018:

DID YOU KNOW… the gutters on your home can cause problems rather than prevent them? Regular cleaning (recommended 2 – 6 times yearly depending upon the proximity and size of foliage) can keep them working properly. Obstructions in the gutters and downspouts prohibit water flow forcing it to go where it may not be welcomed.

Remove any branches, leaves and gunk (technical term) with your hand or a scoop. Once all the obstructions are gone, flush the gutters and downspouts. You will likely need some type of ladder to accomplish this task so please exercise proper ladder safety with an assistant to spot the ladder or hire a professional.

Lastly, check to ensure the downspout diverts the water far enough away from the home, a minimum of 2 – 3 feet, and the next time it rains you can be sure your gutters are earning their keep.


February 2018:

DID YOU KNOW… whether you have painted aluminum or vinyl framed windows, you can keep them operating easily without much effort. Bare aluminum frames require a different tactic but they too can be improved. The procedure is easy. Once or twice a year (when you don’t mind having the windows open) with a spray can of Teflon or silicone based dry lube, spray the rag and wipe down the tracks of the window sash. With crank-out windows be sure to run that rag over the weather stripping and carefully squirt some on the hinges and mechanism. The coating allows the friction surfaces to slide making the operation of the windows and weather stripping pliable. Bare aluminum frames, however, require a different tactic but they, too, can be helped.


January 2018:

DID YOU KNOW… not regularly using your garbage disposal or dishwasher can cause inconvenient problems or even worse, larger headaches.

So with the holidays and entertaining fresh in our minds, here is an example of what could happen:

You’ve spent hours preparing  the house and cooking for the party and the last item on the list is to load and run the dishwasher. The cycle starts and you are off to get ready, then you return from the bedroom to find water dripping from the door and flowing across the floor; an issue caused by the door seal failing.

Prevention begins by loading the dishwasher and running a cycle once a week or turning on the disposal (always with water running) for a moment or so to keep things limber and the gaskets lubricated. The adage, “A body in motion remains in motion” is good advice for everything considered and a mechanism which includes us as well.

A Happy and Healthy New Year to you all!