Benefits of Choosing Non-Toxic Paints

The benefits of non-toxic paints are found in a quick look at what is in “traditional” paints.

Many commercial paints contain up to 10,000 chemicals, over 300 of which are known toxins; 150 of those are known to cause cancer.

There is a dangerous subcategory of these chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOC) that can leech out of paint for years. VOCs have been shown to cause breathing problems, headaches, eye irritation and nausea.  Some have even been linked to higher incidents of cancer.

VOCs are unstable carbon-based compounds that vaporize into the air easily. This process can last for years. Most people don’t realize it, but they may be surrounded by the very chemicals that are making them sick.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to paints with VOCs. These paints are identified as low-VOC or no-VOC paints. In fact, most major paint manufacturers have begun making paints that have very little or no harmful chemicals.

Finding these types of paints is as easy as asking your paint retailer, or checking labels closely. There are several companies that now have a green seal on their paints. These seals are designed to tell consumers that this is a healthier paint than the traditional types. In addition to paint, there are also natural, oil-based wood finishes that can be used to stain and seal wood without bringing toxins into the home.

In Europe, the move toward low or no VOC paints has been going on for some time. In the United States, many companies have begun selling “nursery” paints. These are paints that have few VOCs, specifically designed for childrens’ rooms.

Because all of these paints are water-based, they clean up more easily and are better for the environment. There is little or no odor while painting and no odor afterward.

There are several companies that specialize in only healthier paint alternatives.  Many produce paints made from natural ingredients that don’t contain any VOCs and are entirely non-toxic. In fact, many of them also have essential oils in them that give them a pleasant scent.

Some of the larger paints companies offer zero-VOC paints. A paint that has less than 5 grams per liter of VOCs can be called zero-VOC. While these paints are not made from natural ingredients, they don’t leech out toxins into the environment. Because these companies’ products are easy to find, you can simply visit your paint retailer and ask them for paints in the zero-VOC lines.

Using healthier paints is easy. All you have to do is take the extra moment to find them. You, your family and the planet will be a healthier for it.

And for assistance with all of your home’s painting needs, Handyman Matters stands ready to help.  Contact them by calling 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find a location in your area.


Handling Clogged Shower Drain Problems

Because the shower is one of the most commonly used areas in your house, the drain in that area is more prone than others to become clogged.  Hair and soap scum are the usual culprits, and can cause your shower to take up to half an hour to fully drain.

It is not especially difficult to fix a clogged shower drain if you are having a problem. Just follow these simple dos and don’ts.


• Check your stopper or trip lever

Your shower and tub area may have either a stopper or a trip lever to open and close the drain.  You should check to see if either of these are partially closed before you do anything else.

• Use a plunger

If your drain stopper is open and functioning properly, try using a plunger.  Most people only associate plungers with unclogging toilets, but they are also very effective on shower drains.

To proceed, make sure there is enough water over the drain to cover the bottom of the plunger’s head.  Use an old towel or rag to block the opening of the overflow outlet.  With the plunger covering the drain, use a pumping motion down and up at least five times. The pressure created should dislodge the clog.  Repeat the attempt several times before moving onto the next method.

• Try a plumber’s snake

If you have tried plunging, but the water still will not go down the drain, you can use a simple tool called a plumber’s snake.  This is a long and flexible cable made of steel that is wound around on a handle.

To use the snake, remove the overflow or trip lever plate using a screwdriver.  Push a three-foot length of the snake down the opening.  As you push, twist the handle. This helps move the head of the snake along.  Continue to push and twist as you push and pull the snake back and forth.  This will break up the clog.  Before you remove the snake, run a bit of water to see if the clog is gone.  You may need to work at the clog for a while until it is fully dislodged.


• Use a liquid clog remover

Do not try to remove a clog using a caustic drain opener.  It may actually eat through the clog, but it can be dangerous to use and can damage your pipes.  It is especially harmful if the chemical does not immediately dissolve the clog and sits there for hours.

• Never use boiling water

Do not pour boiling water down the drain to melt the clog.  It can damage sealants or rubber gaskets before it clears out the drain.

For help removing shower clogs, contact Handyman Matters at 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find a location in your area.