113
votes
2answers
8k 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.
83
votes
16answers
25k 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 ...
66
votes
17answers
31k 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?
58
votes
18answers
32k 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 ...
54
votes
15answers
4k 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 ...
54
votes
10answers
13k 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. ...
48
votes
12answers
25k 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?
46
votes
9answers
34k 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?
41
votes
14answers
10k 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 ...
40
votes
11answers
10k 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 ...
35
votes
7answers
8k 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 ...
34
votes
4answers
18k 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 ...
34
votes
4answers
99k 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 ...
33
votes
6answers
46k 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 ...
33
votes
11answers
64k 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 ...
32
votes
8answers
13k 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 ...
32
votes
8answers
5k 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
32
votes
9answers
57k 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 ...
29
votes
13answers
7k 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 ...
29
votes
7answers
1k 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 ...
29
votes
6answers
60k 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 ...
29
votes
6answers
32k 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 ...
28
votes
4answers
36k 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 ...
27
votes
1answer
2k 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).
26
votes
5answers
23k 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 ...
26
votes
9answers
8k 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 ...
26
votes
7answers
6k 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 ...
26
votes
3answers
14k 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 ...
26
votes
4answers
4k 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
1answer
1k 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 ...
25
votes
11answers
4k 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?
24
votes
11answers
7k 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 ...
24
votes
4answers
12k views

Should I use nails or screws for hanging drywall on the ceiling?

I'm replacing water-damaged drywall on my ceiling and was considering using screws. Other than cost, is there any other reason I should use nails instead? Or am I too paranoid that nails won't have ...
23
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the best tool for cutting up scrap wood?

I have some wood left over from building a patio, mainly some planks. Normally when I'm creating firewood, I just use an axe a split the wood, but these are too long for that. I really don't want to ...
22
votes
14answers
36k 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.
22
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
22
votes
12answers
5k 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 ...
22
votes
10answers
24k 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 ...
22
votes
9answers
44k 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 ...
21
votes
20answers
5k views

What projects should never be DIY?

What are the most common DIY projects that you should not do yourself? What must be hired out? Edit: Just to be clear, what we're looking for here are the things that a regular homeowner might think ...
21
votes
9answers
95k 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.
21
votes
15answers
2k views

What is a humane, safe and clean way to dispose of a live mouse caught in a glue trap?

A glue trap in my garage caught a mouse. I consider it inhumane to let the mouse die in the glue trap. I am looking for a method to euthanize the mouse that meets the following requirements: Humane ...
21
votes
4answers
3k views

How to drive a nail in a confined space?

I keep finding myself needing to hammer nails in places where my hammer is too long to actually make the hammer head contact the nail. This isn't a situation where I need the leverage provided by the ...
21
votes
1answer
7k views

What does a “1 Gang” mean when talking about electrical boxes?

What does a "1 Gang" mean when talking about electrical boxes? Example: CARLON 1-Gang Metal Adjustable Electrical Box (Lowes.com)
20
votes
10answers
11k views

What are the most important things to check/do after buying a home?

We are in the process of purchasing a home that is over 20 years old. What are some of the most important things we should check/patch/do right away to make sure the home is running correctly and ...
20
votes
5answers
23k views

I added insulation to my attic rafters, but should I have left room for airflow?

I added insulation to my attic rafters and plugged the space between the outdoors and my attic with insulation. It lowered my heating bill by $150/month, but I've seen some information that I may ...
20
votes
5answers
25k views

Should I use steel or wood studs for basement exterior walls?

Related: When should you use metal studs? I'm planning on finishing my basement. (assuming all water issues are resolved) I'll be putting up a water barrier (tar paper) on all exterior walls, ...
20
votes
7answers
4k views

How can I repair rusty tools?

Should I use sandpaper to clean the rust from the tools (e.g. Needle-nose pliers), or can I soak them in vinegar or lemon juice? Would I be better off just buying new tools (which can be an ...
20
votes
4answers
10k views

Would you ever wire white and ground together?

I was replacing some outlets in my house with tamper-resistant ones, and came across one where the white and ground were wired together, as seen in this picture. Why? Is that okay or appropriate ...
20
votes
7answers
15k views

How do I run ethernet cable through a wall cavity?

I want to install an ethernet jack in an interior wall of one room. I'd like to run the cable up through the wall cavity (so it is hidden) into the crawl space and back down another wall to another ...

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