146
votes
2answers
20k views

What is the purpose of these holes on my wire stripper?

I have been using this wire stripper for a while, but I have always wondered what was the purpose of those holes in the center and above LOOP, and those teeth on the handles.
106
votes
7answers
8k views

How to prevent heavy rainwater from jumping the gutter?

During heavy rain, the water collects from my second floor roof and runs onto the first floor roof as it should. The problem is that since all this water is now concentrated from the second floor ...
103
votes
19answers
48k views

Is there an easy way to measure the height of a tree?

I'm looking to get an antenna installed for Internet service that will need to clear some trees on my neighbor's property because it requires a clear line of sight to work. I really don't trust my ...
83
votes
17answers
73k views

When should I not use WD-40?

Looks like WD-40 can be used for lubricating just about any metal parts. Are there non-obvious cases where using WD-40 will be harmful to the stuff lubricated?
73
votes
18answers
55k views

How do I make a height adjustable desk?

Has anyone made their own height adjustable desk? I'm interested in making a computer desk that can easily be adjusted for either standing or sitting. The lift mechanism could be electric or ...
67
votes
12answers
34k views

Is there a case where nails are better than screws, from an engineering/structural standpoint?

Is there a case where nails are better than screws, from a structural standpoint? For instance: Say you used screws instead of nails on a backyard deck, when the design specifically called for nails. ...
62
votes
14answers
6k views

Are solar panels cost-effective?

Environmental issues aside, I'd like to know whether solar panels are worth it from a monetary standpoint? How long before payoff occurs? Pros & Cons? Is technology moving too fast, e.g. should ...
60
votes
13answers
49k views

How to remove screws with stripped heads?

I have wood screws whose heads are stripped from trying to remove them with a drill. The drill (or screwdrivers) can't grip the heads anymore. What can i use to remove these screws easily?
58
votes
9answers
88k views

How can I improve the water pressure in my shower?

I recently purchased my first home. It has two bathrooms and the water pressure in both is less than ideal. What are some steps I can take to increase the pressure?
57
votes
7answers
13k views

If metal expands when heated, how does heating a bolt loosen it?

If you're having trouble removing a stuck bolt, common advice is to heat the bolt up. But if metal expands when heated, wouldn't heating up the bolt just make it harder to remove? How does heating ...
55
votes
77answers
39k views

What are the tools that every Do-it-Yourselfer must own?

What are the tools that every DIY'er should have? This is a community wiki as there is no one right answer. Instructions: One item per answer (so they can be voted on - answers with multiple ...
54
votes
5answers
269k views

How can I add a “C” wire to my thermostat?

So, the spiffy new wi-fi thermostats want power on the C wire from thermostat, but the old thermostat doesn't have a C wire at it. What's the easiest way to add the C wire/24 volt to the thermostat ...
53
votes
14answers
23k views

What should I consider regarding LAN wiring before building a house?

I am planning a small house (4 rooms, 2 floors, no basement, no attic, 120 sq.meters) and I want to run a lot of LAN cables throughout because of poor WiFi experiences in my apartment. Because the ...
50
votes
7answers
193k views

Understanding Screw Sizes

I'm going to be building a workbench, so I've been 'screw shopping.' I need some explanation on the sizing of screws when they are advertised as (example) 6 x 3/4". I know that 3/4" is the length of ...
49
votes
11answers
22k views

Is there a trick to applying caulk using a caulk-gun?

Perhaps it is just me, but no matter how careful I try to be, any attempt to apply caulk or cement or anything with a caulking gun into a crack results in total mess. The main problems that seem to ...
47
votes
8answers
191k views

Should a washer go on nut side, or the bolt side?

Often I take something apart and when I go to reassemble it, I don't remember which side the washer was on. When there's only one washer, does it generally go on the nut side (pressed up against the ...
43
votes
14answers
213k views

Should I set fence posts in dirt, gravel, crushed rock, or concrete?

I have received conflicting advice about how to set wooden fence posts. Many web sites suggest setting them in a concrete cylinder. Someone at the local hardware store had seen posts set in concrete ...
41
votes
5answers
74k views

How can I fix electrical outlets that don't “hold” plugs that are plugged in to them?

In short, most of the outlets in my house have one working receptacle and one that any cord plugged in will immediately slip out of. Some of my outlets don't have any working receptacles (I hope I'm ...
40
votes
8answers
41k views

When I turn down the dimmer switch on my lights, do I actually use less electricity?

My wife and I have several lights on dimmer switches throughout our home. We generally prefer the ambient lighting provided by dimmed lights. I am curious, though, if we are saving any electricity by ...
38
votes
7answers
18k views

How can I speed up my slow hot water?

Our water heater (gas) is located in the garage. It is 25 to 30 feet away from the closest faucet, which I'm guessing is the main reason it takes so long -- a minute or longer -- to get hot water ...
38
votes
11answers
10k views

Is there a way to unscrew a light bulb that has broken?

The recessed light in my bathroom broke while trying to unscrew it, and only the metal collar remains. What is the best way to get that remaining part out?
37
votes
9answers
97k views

How do I run wires for a wall-mount flatscreen TV?

Like a lot of you, we have several wall-mounted LCD HDTVs in the house. The TVs have two wires -- power and HDMI -- running down the wall to the power outlet and cable box. I've historically been too ...
36
votes
9answers
12k views

Is the Electrician trying to scam me?

I own a home in California and was emailed by my property manager about an electrical problem with an outlet. The outlet was fixed according to the tenant but the repair man through the manager thinks ...
36
votes
10answers
16k views

Which way is up? (electric outlet)

My house has electric outlets in both orientations. Which one is correct? Should the ground hole be at the bottom or the top? OR
36
votes
2answers
10k views

What is the purpose of this Y shaped bit?

I have bought a bits set and there is this bit: It is a Y shaped bit, and there is a groove on the inside of the branches. The angle is approximatively 90˚ (a little more).
36
votes
8answers
81k views

Should I use a subfloor for a finished basement's floor?

We are refinishing our basement and have not yet decided what to do for the floors. Part of the basement will be tile, and we are all set. However, the rec room side is going to be carpet. The ...
35
votes
11answers
11k views

How do I secure my house against intruders?

What are some suggestions for securing your house from an intruder? Right now we have a GE Simon XT alarm system, but it doesn't cover breaking a window. We put some PVC pipes in the tracks of the ...
33
votes
9answers
29k views

Should old knob and tube wiring be replaced?

I have been doing some electrical work in my house and I noticed it has old knob and tube wiring that is still hot, should this be replaced as found or is it fine to just leave it? It seems really ...
33
votes
7answers
15k views

Why are there so many different types of screws (phillps/flat/hex/star/etc)?

Newbie question. Why is it that there's a bazillion different types of screws? Why can't we just always use one standard screw type? Are there advantages/disadvantages to the different types? Are ...
32
votes
18answers
19k views

How do I ensure the bathroom door stays open unless someone is inside?

When my windows are open, the wind can slam the bathroom door shut. I don't want this to happen when my cat is in the doorway (dead cat), or inside the bathroom with no one home (locked in with ...
31
votes
7answers
64k views

How do I drill a 2⅛ inch door knob hole over an existing 1½ inch hole?

I need to replace the door knob for this interior door: The door knobs I've found at the stores require a 2⅛ inch hole. Mine is only 1½: Did door knobs used to be smaller? Is there some place ...
31
votes
8answers
41k views

When drywalling a room, should I do the ceiling before the walls?

Is there any value in installing drywall (plasterboard) on the ceiling before the walls or does it not matter?
30
votes
13answers
9k views

Is there a technique to make a shower mirror fog-free?

We want to install a permanent mirror in a new shower, but hope to find a permanent way to prevent it from fogging up. I have seen gooseneck mirrors that hook up to the showerhead itself so as to run ...
30
votes
8answers
5k views

Is it worth spending extra to get a nicer circular saw?

I'm doing some small projects such as building a workbench, and I don't have a saw to cut plywood with. I've got a 12" compound miter saw, so I don't currently need a circular saw for anything other ...
30
votes
4answers
9k views

Are there ways to determine if a wall is load bearing?

Other than looking up blue prints, which many homeowners may not have, are there ways to determine if a wall is load bearing? Methods I can think of might include: Going up in the attic to check if ...
30
votes
2answers
6k views

Why are carpenters' pencils flat?

My assumption is that it's so they don't roll away. But if a carpenter spends the majority of his/her day working on a flat surface, a regular pencil wouldn't seem to have the tendency to get away ...
30
votes
1answer
2k views

How do I find and dispose of the dead body in my ceiling?

We're trying to track the origin of a very putrid smell in our condominium. We have a loft type home, which means two floors with a drywall ceiling between the first and second floor. I first noticed ...
29
votes
10answers
9k views

Is this cracking foundation under a jack post a problem that requires repair?

I am buying an already-built new home. I find this in the basement. The builder says it's okay, but I am really concerned. Is this really a big issue? What steps would be required to repair it? This ...
29
votes
6answers
160k views

When pre-drilling for screws, how do you determine the correct bit diameter?

Suppose I want to pre-drill for, say, a 5/16 screw. How do I determine the correct drill bit diameter?
29
votes
9answers
270k views

How can I paint over mold to prevent it from coming back again?

The source of the leak has been fixed, however the old mold keeps showing though the new paint.
29
votes
4answers
85k views

Why does my dishwasher back up into the sink, but running the disposal allows it to drain?

When my dishwasher runs the kitchen sink backs up. I have a two tub sink and only the side nearest the dishwasher with the garbage disposer backs up. Running the disposal for a few seconds causes the ...
29
votes
4answers
33k views

How do I fix a “water hammer” problem?

When I shut off a water faucet or right after the toilet tank refills after flushing, I hear a vibrating sound in my pipes. It last between one and two seconds. On the interwebs, I found out that it'...
28
votes
6answers
107k views

How do I wrap pipe threads with teflon tape?

When wrapping pipe threads with teflon tape (thread seal tape), what is the direction and recommended number of times to wrap the tape around the threads? Any other recommendations or tip/tricks when ...
28
votes
10answers
175k views

How long should I wait before plugging in a new refrigerator?

Today I received my new refrigerator, and I've been told not to plug it in until a couple of hours have gone by. Some people told me a couple of hours was enough, but others have told me up to 12 ...
27
votes
12answers
5k views

What are the “must do” tasks before winter hits?

I've had my furnace serviced in time for winter, but what other things should I consider doing before the snow and the ice come?
27
votes
4answers
3k views

How to future-proof a long cable run

I'm starting on a project that will involve digging a long (roughly 150-200 meter) trench from my house down to the road. The trench itself will be a considerable expense and so while the ground is ...
27
votes
10answers
68k views

Doors are sticky and noisy when opened?

For some reason, the doors in our house make a very loud "unsticking" sound when you open them. It's almost as if the paint isn't cured, since the sound seems to come from the contact area around the ...
27
votes
4answers
10k views

Should I agree to have more insulation added to my attic?

I have a 6 year old home with about 12 inches (R-30) of blown-in insulation in the attic. Recently door-to-door sales representatives for an insulation company offered a free inspection and quote to ...
26
votes
14answers
70k views

How can I get rid of a mouse in my house?

There is a mouse in my house. What's the most effective way to get rid of the mouse (and any "friends" it might have) and ensure that it doesn't come back.
26
votes
4answers
2k views

If DC adapters are so prevalent, why is AC used in construction by default?

I'm not sure if there's a better place to ask this or not. Why, at least here in America, is the standard electrical system set up for alternating current (AC) rather than direct current (DC)? I'm ...

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