All Questions

12
votes
3answers
2k views

What are some of the best books/resources on home inspection for first time home buyers?

I'm looking at buying my first home. Considering the amount of money involved, it seems logical to make sense the inspection is solid. (I've seen a few "Holmes Inspection"s to have the reinforced.) ...
24
votes
4answers
211k views

Does a bathroom exhaust fan have to vent to the outside?

Is it normal and/or code compliant to have a bathroom exhaust fan venting to the attic? I've seen this a couple times now, and the first time I saw this I thought it was very odd. But I mentioned ...
19
votes
5answers
262k views

What is a GFI outlet used for, and where should I install them?

What purpose does a GFI serve? Where should they be used?
16
votes
5answers
71k views

What types of electrical outlets are found in a typical home in the USA?

I do not live in the USA. If I were to buy a home in the USA, what are the key facts I should know about USA household electrical supply at outlets in homes? E.g. when buying a clothes dryer or other ...
15
votes
8answers
90k views

How can I hang a shelf with no visible fasteners?

I just built a shelf for a bedroom based on instructions found at Happy at Home. Problem is: the blog doesn't explain how to hang it! Can someone help me figure out a clean way to hang this shelf ...
21
votes
4answers
25k views

What should I use to secure/organize data cable runs?

I am running Cat-6 and Coax in new construction. I am looking for advice/best practices on how to organize and secure the cables during the runs. I will be running 2 Cat-6 and 1 Coax to a single-...
16
votes
2answers
121k views

What are the pros and cons of installing a roof heating cable?

Had some roof work done last year after mother nature abused my house by way of an errant tree branch. I had always suspected my roof had poor ventilation, most notably when I wound up with a 200 lb ...
11
votes
11answers
27k views

Which material should I use for a whiteboard that would erase easily?

I saw some DIY tutorials recommending to use tileboard to make a cheap whiteboard. I had a piece lying around, and tried some dry-erase markers on it. Turns out they don't erase well at all when ...
8
votes
11answers
468k views

Why does my toilet randomly start running?

Sometimes my toilet starts running for a few seconds at a time, like it's just finishing filling up the tank. Usually this happens when the bathtub is being drained, or when I turn on the facets in ...
6
votes
4answers
136k views

How can I install a light fixture in the ceiling of a finished room?

In my dining room, I would like to install a ceiling light in the center of the room. This room is on the ground floor of a colonial two-story, so there is no attic access into the ceiling; my work ...
30
votes
5answers
115k 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
75k views

How do I adjust a door so it doesn't swing on its own?

I have a normal door, and left to its own devices it will simply rest about 20-30 degrees. It won't swing shut on its own, nor stay open on its own. It hangs a bit in the middle. Convenient enough to ...
12
votes
9answers
11k views

What are some at-home options for pest control?

I am thinking about ditching my pest guy and going straight DIY. Raid has released a new product called Raid Max Bug Barrier. Lowe's also carries a number of DIY insect treatments. I figure the ...
25
votes
8answers
422k views

How do you determine if a door is Right Handed (RH) or Left Handed (LH)?

I am replacing a few interior doors and I need to know if the existing door is Right Handed or Left Handed so I have them drilled correctly. Sounds like the acronyms for this are RH and LH. This ...
20
votes
7answers
270k views

Can I backfeed a portable generator into my house's electrical system?

Is there a safe way to power my house using a portable generator? The power rating for the generator is 6kW, and I want to run my electric water heater (4.5kW) and my refrigerator (0.5kW) and possibly ...
20
votes
20answers
170k views

What is the advantage of PEX pinch clamp vs. crimp rings?

I just saw these for the first time today at Lowe's: The advantages I can see over the crimp style are: A single tool can work with multiple PEX sizes That single tool is cheaper than a single-size ...
15
votes
8answers
9k views

Is there a wall outlet power meter that I can interface with from a computer?

I'm wondering if there is a wall outlet power meter that I can somehow interface with from a computer. I'm aware of all the google power meter products, but those are for an entire house. I'm trying ...
14
votes
15answers
3k views

What is your top tip for painting?

Simple really - add your best tips for painting (a room, that is). Ideally one tip per answer for ease of voting.
14
votes
5answers
50k views

What is the recommended way to destroy mold?

Back in the day I've heard that bleach is a good way to kill mold. The other day a home inspector suggested that Dawn dish soap actually works much better than bleach. I've heard from another home ...
13
votes
6answers
41k views

How high to raise water heater above floor?

I saw a water heater stand at Home Depot but it's about 15" high. That's a bit too high for my basement. Can I just make one with 2x4 and plywood that's only 4" tall, basically just enough to be able ...
12
votes
8answers
30k views

What is the best way to clean your clothes dryer exhaust?

My dryer exhaust goes out of my laundry room, into my attic, and runs for about 15 feet before it gets outside. Over time the lent has built up quite a bit. What is the best way to clean this? The ...
11
votes
6answers
126k views

Can I connect copper wire to aluminum wire?

I'm installing additional light bulbs in my basement. I have an older house with aluminum wiring. Can I do this: [new light bulbs]<--copper-->[old light bulb junction box]<--aluminum-->[main ...
9
votes
1answer
64k views

How many cables are you allowed to run through a single hole in a wooden floor joist?

How many cables are you allowed to run through a single hole in a wooden floor joist? For example, could I run five 12-2 cables through a 1-1/8" hole? I know they physically fit, but is there a code ...
9
votes
2answers
21k views

What are the pros and cons of soffit vents vs. roof vents?

During my latest foray into the attic, I discovered that my bathroom exhaust fans vent directly into the attic. I'm worried about moisture buildup and I'm considering routing the exhaust to an ...
8
votes
9answers
129k views

How tight should threaded brass pipe fittings be?

I'm working with 3/4" brass fittings, which seem pretty robust. Some plumbing fittings should be only finger-tight. My friend said I should use 2 wrenches to make these as tight as I can, and then ...
7
votes
2answers
10k views

How can I determine if my outlets can easily be grounded?

I'm not sure what to do here. I just moved into a building and my outlets are all 2 prong outlets. Here is what I know of for sure: All the outlets are 2 prong outlets The bathroom outlet has the red/...
5
votes
4answers
64k views

Why does it take my dryer 3 hours to dry a load of clothes?

I have a Maytag model LD69806AAE clothes dryer. Since our tenants in our town home have moved in July 2012. They have pointed out that the dryer takes about 3 hours to dry a load of clothes. The dryer ...
4
votes
1answer
254 views

Curtain drain in the crawl space - Part 2

Part 1 is done. We've dug a trench at the interior perimeter of the crawl space. It took 8 hours 3-4 people (I was working myself but not all the time) and one dump truck. Total budget was around $...
20
votes
5answers
84k views

Why does the shower get cold when I flush, and how can I prevent it?

When the shower is running and someone flushes a toilet, why does the shower get cold (or sometimes hot) in some houses, but not others? More importantly, would fixing that require replacing the ...
16
votes
3answers
56k views

Are both legs of a home's power supply equally used?

This is basically just to satisfy my curiosity. Please correct me if I'm wrong about any of this: I believe power supply to a home's main panel usually consists of: A neutral wire A hot wire 120 ...
14
votes
4answers
108k views

How do I find where mice are entering my house?

So the house I just finished remodeling, and am now living in, has a small mouse problem. We have caught a couple of mice, and suspect there may be more. Catching the mice does little good, if more ...
14
votes
8answers
105k views

Should I put a dimmer switch on a ceiling fan?

I have a ceiling fan on our bedroom's vaulted ceiling. Since we don't want 7' pull-cords, the speed is stuck at full-tilt, which is no good. The fan has separate switches on the wall for lights and ...
13
votes
8answers
39k views

How can I prevent mice from entering my house?

Every fall when the weather gets cooler it is a given that a mouse will end up in my house. I understand that this happens probably to most home owners (especially considering the number of trees I ...
12
votes
7answers
61k views

Is Switching the Neutral OK?

What’s the worst that can happen if i put a switch in the neutral instead of the phase? I just found out that 3 light bulbs sockets in my home are connected this way, it first came to my mind to ...
9
votes
1answer
142k views

Is it normal to have a light switch setup using only the hot wire?

I was changing the light switches around the house when I came upon this setup. The two switches to the right are all wired using the hot wire (black) from the two electrical wires on the back panel. ...
9
votes
5answers
16k views

Should I use a GFCI or AFCI circuit breaker with knob and tube wiring?

My American house was built in 1942, and much of the wiring is still knob-and-tube wiring (2-wire, no ground). Over the years new modern wiring has been added to the house, but we still have some KnT ...
8
votes
3answers
10k views

Can I wall-mount a TV when there is an air gap between the drywall and the wooden stud?

I'm mounting a 38lb TV (with a ~10lb mounting bracket). I located a stud, but the drywall floats an inch above it, plus the drywall itself is another 1/2 inch. So a couple 3-inch screws (and not a ...
7
votes
1answer
93k views

Why did my electric range wiring burn out at the terminal block?

Turned on our 2 year old stove (Whirlpool Gold) and heard fizzing noises, then smelled electrical burning. Went downstairs and shut off the breaker (40 amp). That was the only way to get it to stop "...
7
votes
9answers
30k views

How do I put a fluorescent light on a motion sensor?

I have a couple closets in my basement that I have outfitted with a fluorescent light attached to a motion sensor (this one). The idea was that when you open the closet door, the light comes on ...
6
votes
1answer
7k views

How do I install electrical through existing stucco (e.g. “old work”)

Is there such a thing as an "old work" stucco junction box? Rather than cutting and flashing a 4" hole for a new junction box, can I cut a 1/2 hole for the non-metallic cable, and attach some sort of ...
6
votes
2answers
476 views

How can I prevent insects from entering my house? How can I find their entry point?

We just moved into a different house. There seems to be an unusually high probability of insects entering the house compared to other houses. No infestation, but a lot of one-off incidents. The worst ...
6
votes
12answers
55k views

What goes on threads first: tape or dope?

Should the dope be applied directly to the male threads or should the tape go on first?
6
votes
6answers
16k views

Can I build a deck this low to the ground?

I want to build a deck off the back of my house. The door is near grade level, about 1' above. The grade doesn't have very large slope, so that means that the beam at the far end would be below grade: ...
5
votes
12answers
186k views

What could cause my washing machine to stop before the rinse cycle?

My washing machine will get stuck right before the rinse cycle. The washing machine will be full of water. The way to "fix it" is to twist the knob right after the "rinse" line, find the sweet spot, ...
5
votes
3answers
11k views

Extending concrete Slab

I have a 10 x 10 slab (4 inches thick) that is already in my back yard in the corner. I bought a kit to build a 10 x 10 shed on it, and then realized that would put it right up to my fence. So my ...
4
votes
2answers
12k views

Can I use the T terminal in my furnace as the C for a Wifi Thermostat?

I've read many posts on this, and believe I know what to do, but want to make sure. My furnace (a Lennox G14 Series) does not have a C terminal which needs to be connected to the C terminal in my new ...
4
votes
2answers
85k views

How do I know what size grounding conductor is required?

Is there an international standard that specifies the size of the grounding conductor to bond a metallic part of the installation to a grounding bar?. And to connect the grounding bar to the ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

How do I test circuit breakers?

Suppose I need new circuit breakers and buy some at a local shop. How do I test them to be sure they haven't been damaged on their way from factory and will do their job when time comes?
4
votes
4answers
17k views

How can I treat brick efflorescence?

I have a new brick wall but large areas are becoming covered in white salty deposits; I want these removed - how can I do it? Update Thanks Niall. Just out of interest, can acid do damage to bricks? ...
2
votes
6answers
168k views

How should I wire a ceiling fan remote where two switches are used to control the fixture?

I have 2 wall switches. 4 wires coming out of ceiling (black-hot, red-hot, white-common, bare- ground), a ceiling fan and a remote. How do I wire them and still be able to use wall switches? I can ...

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