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Sep
8
comment Is there a easy way to procure muriatic acid to “faux antique” a mirror?
Since the answer's so old I won't edit, but as a post-script, most residential-grade pH-Minus products use an "acid salt" which forms a weak acid in water; examples include sodium bisulfate. Muriatic acid is used more often in commercial-size pools like community or school pools, where the staff don't have the time to mess with several pounds of powder. It's also used for concrete surface prep (it'll eat into the surface of existing concrete, so an additional "parge coat" of concrete or thinset for various flooring options adhere better.
Sep
8
comment How do I deal with a wasp nest?
@WayfaringStranger - Ha. Yeah, any wasps that the M-80 doesn't stun are going to be pretty pissed off. They're not 100% illegal but practically any incorporated area, especially in semi-arid regions, will either ban fireworks specifically or anything more than a cigg lighter in general.
Sep
8
comment How to make 1/4 inch beveled edge on unfinished walnut countertop
Walnut isn't a very soft wood, though. My grandfather's done a lot of work with it, and I a little, and it's a true test for any woodworking tool. I would not recommend anything less than a full-size router to cut a bevel around 20 feet of walnut.
Sep
8
comment How should I go about fire proofing my garage?
Just a thought; any wood-framed structure will become fully engaged. Any "fireproofing" effort here will slow the spread of a fire originating in the garage, but it will not contain such a fire indefinitely, nor will it prevent the structure itself catching fire.
Aug
24
comment How can I safely get rid of fire ant mounds in my backyard?
If you have more than a couple of mounds in your yard I would definitely recommend calling in a pro. They can use stronger (but short-lived) stuff than the average homeowner has access to. Last time I needed mounds exterminated, the guy used a pressure sprayer with a spike, which goes down into the depths of the nest and floods the entire mound with a concentrated insecticide. Quick, extremely effective, and the agent (a pyrethroid blend) was safe to be around in a day or two and effectively gone in a week.
Aug
6
comment toilet not flushing properly flapper closing too soon
This is one possibility. Toto is one common brand designed with a second hole in the float, to let the air out once the flap reaches vertical so it will close before the entire tank empties
Apr
2
comment How do you know when you need a new water heater?
The replacement was a little more than I alluded to above, as the copper flex lines from the previous installations were soldered onto the supply pipes. I had to sweat those off, as well as a screw-type supply shutoff which I replaced with a ball valve, and then I soldered threaded garden-hose-style connectors onto the pipes with corresponding flexlines, so the next replacement won't require a blowtorch. The only thing I couldn't reconnect the way it had been was the T&P valve (which came out the top of the original tank), so I just attached a copper line that will drain to the floor.
Apr
2
comment How do you know when you need a new water heater?
As an epitaph, the inner tank of the Kenmore finally corroded through and water started leaking out the top of the tank; luckily it happened in early daylight hours so we caught it quickly (and the tank's in the garage so nothing was permanently damaged). I replaced it with a comparable-capacity Whirlpool unit.
Jan
7
comment Heater/blower always on
The remaining question I guess is where to find an exact replacement, if that's even possible. If it's not possible, the question is whether the longer delays on the new sequencer will cause any problem. What I ended up doing for now was swapping the sequencers and using the aux switch on the faulty one to control the second stage element. It's working fine for now, but if another switch on either sequencer blows I have to have a replacement.
Nov
17
comment How can I determine if my receptacles are grounded, and how can I fix it if they are not?
@BradGilbert - I would not. If a licensed electrician touches any part of a home wiring installation, everything upstream of that must be brought up to code. So, given that a GFCI requires a ground in order to function, the electrician must create a suitable ground path for at least that one receptacle. Merely labeling the outlet as being ungrounded is not kosher; the label can be removed or fade over time and then the information is lost.
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.