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Aug
18
comment Why does my dryer duct have such a long vertical portion?
Hmm, I may have to get out the tape measure. I just installed a new run in my garage that vents out the side of the house, it has one 90* corner and an s-curve from two more so it sits flush along the ceiling and wall. 20' across the wall and about 5' down to the dryer makes this run about 10' longer than code given the elbows in it. Still much better than the one that came with the house, which apparently vents all that air into an uninsulated wall space and up to the apex vent.
Aug
18
comment Is there a way to unscrew a light bulb that has broken?
@NiallC. That's technically against code and has been for at least 20 years, but good reminder that many houses are much older than that.
Jul
30
comment What could cause a circuit breaker to trip when an exhaust fan is turned off?
@phil - The only thing I can think of would be to find a DPST wall switch. This can be wired to disconnect both hot and neutral for the fan at the same time, which will prevent the backloading as the fan spins down. DPST switches rated for 120VAC are not common, but DPDT switches (which have three positions and can be wired for on-off-off operation pretty easily) are, as they're used in commercial and industrial settings for a variety of jobs, primarily controlling, guess what, electrical motors.
Jul
24
comment Are there any cordless power tool systems that offer a corded option?
We'll have to agree to disagree, I'm afraid. I've pulled out my drill, popped in a battery sitting next to it - dead. Stick it in the charger, and it takes up to three hours for the smart charger to move to trickle mode indicating a usable charge. I've resorted to mounting the charger on my garage wall and keeping the batteries in it at all times when they're not being used. I've got an upgrade to the latest-gen Lithium cells on my Christmas list.
Jun
17
comment When to use holes instead of side terminals to wire an outlet
If you look at the warnings on those things carefully, they specifically tell you not to reuse the QuickWire clamps. Once you've inserted and released a wire once, you're side-wiring; that's a major reason they're pretty much gone in new switches.
Oct
16
comment What does this (electrical) value mean on my washing machine's back?
Keep in mind that this rating should take into account the 80% "working load limit" on electrical circuits; an appliance like a dryer rated for a dedicated 220VAC10A circuit should actually draw less than 1760W while running, though the breaker won't trip until current exceeds 2200W.
Sep
10
comment Any reason not to ground the sheathing of MX wire?
Lastly, think; what would the cable be dissipating that heat into? It's rare, but failures energizing older BX can make the stuff glow red (without popping a fuse, as we've covered). The BX would be clamped to wooden structural members, not far from paper-backed insulation. Expecting older BX to do the job of newer AC/MC cable is asking for a house fire.
Sep
10
comment Any reason not to ground the sheathing of MX wire?
@wallyk: No, no, and no. First, fuses/breakers are "slow-blow" for a reason; you don't want a fast trip for a simple overload. It can take up to a second for a circuit breaker to break at its rating. Second, as I said, energizing grounded armor may not ever cause the breaker to trip, if there's enough resistance between the short and the bus strip that less than 15A is flowing. It's the same reason house plumbing is no longer an acceptable ground; it may well be grounded, but real ground can only absorb so much current.
Sep
9
comment Any reason not to ground the sheathing of MX wire?
Perhaps the biggest omission of info in the last revision is that I assumed, due to the age of the house, that the BX was non-bonded. The OP infers this is not the "type AC" cable you are familiar with today; it has nothing identifiable as a "ground wire" or "bonding strip". This type of cable dates back to the turn of the last century, and if original to the house, was installed almost 20 years before grounding of receptacles became a code requirement. As such there is no rating nor guarantee that the armor will withstand current and in fact it can be a fire hazard to try.
Sep
9
comment Any reason not to ground the sheathing of MX wire?
What I was trying to say was not clearly communicated, and there is also a difference between "true" BX-class cable and what's normally used now (aka MC). I cannot delete this answer and start over, so I am editing.
Sep
3
comment What does this square icon mean on my Honeywell thermostat?
The fact that the thermostat is currently set to hold 82* per the OP's photo is the probable reason SmartResponse is off; it's not needed if the temperature control program isn't in use.
Aug
6
comment How do I raise light switches so my kids can't keep toggling the light?
Funnily enough, they make a product called KidSwitch that gives toddlers a way to toggle light switches that are out of reach. And @Kaz - you'd be surprised how long something like flipping switches can be fun for a young child. My 16mo daughter discovered the dimmer switch above and behind the living room couch, that controls a wall-mounted lamp. For weeks now, we'll be watching TV and the room will suddenly get brighter, then dimmer, then brighter...
Aug
6
comment How do I properly wire GFCI outlets in parallel?
Also called "EZ-Wire" or similar. Basically instead of curling the wire around the screw on the outside of the plug body, by turning the screw you loosen a plate on the inside of the plug, then you insert a straight, stripped wire into the back of the plug and screw it down. Most such designs allow for two wires per screw/plate, because this kind of design can easily handle it and because it's often called for.
Jul
16
comment When to use holes instead of side terminals to wire an outlet
... I might agree, but with these wider 20A or GCFI node bodies that are the case in point, there's usually very little wiggle room and so physical separation isn't possible. I've never closed up a box with any two switches or plugs visibly touching, but I don't think it's a bad idea to give the switch a wrap of tape.
Jul
3
comment Is it possible to collect rain water from a roof for drinking use?
@DA01 - In contrast to what you said, Texas just took a contract dispute with Oklahoma over water in the Red River all the way to the Supreme Court. Climate change and persistent year-on-year drought in the Southwest states has led to historic low reservoir levels. If you're trapping water on your own property, it isn't going into those reservoirs, which generally provide the water supply for cities and agriculture. I would think that the local and even State governments would have opinions on that.
May
3
comment What is the name of this tool? It almost looks like an Allen without the wrench
Yup. It just happens to be the 1/4" one, which is the standard bit shank size.
May
3
comment What are the tools that every Do-it-Yourselfer must own?
The only gripe I have about mine is that you need room to work; I have Kobalt's middle-of-the-road 8-inch linesman's pliers, and they're rather bulky for average household electrical work. I prefer my needle-nose pliers, which have all the same features including the "nutcracker" behind the hinge, but the longer nose makes working inside a J-box easier.
May
3
comment What are the tools that every Do-it-Yourselfer must own?
This, and a good drill, are the two must-own power tools for any homeowner. The last point on the list is critical; a nice long wood or demo blade will make mincemeat of that dead branch in your backyard, and the "trash tree" saplings that have gotten beyond the ability of your bypass loppers.
May
3
comment What are the tools that every Do-it-Yourselfer must own?
I prefer this one: milwaukeetool.com/hand-tools/utility-knives/48-22-1901. Beefy in the hand unlike the Kobalt folder, but because it does fold it's more compact. The gut hook, wire cutters and the one-handed flick open/close mechanism all make it a great general utility knife (though check your jurisdiction; the mechanism may make it illegal as a "switchblade" or "gravity knife".
May
3
comment What are the tools that every Do-it-Yourselfer must own?
@MikeB - An NCVT is a safety tool; it lets you know if the switch you're about to open up is still live because you turned off the wrong breaker. A breaker finder does exactly that; plug it into the piece you need to work on and scan the panel switches for the correct breaker to throw.