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27
votes
5answers
6k views

Electric shock - was I stupid, unlucky, or a combination of both?

One of the double sockets in our garage needed replacing (damaged after a washing pole hit it) - a pretty trivial job that I'd done before. So I flipped the MCB for the ring main, used a non-contact ...
27
votes
7answers
114k views

Purpose of Fill Valve Tube Going into Overflow Drain

I can easily understand the purpose of the overflow tube itself, but why is the little black hose that comes from the fill valve placed down into the overflow tube? On my toilet, there is a strong ...
27
votes
5answers
38k views

Is it OK to borrow a ground wire from a different circuit?

I've got a circuit in the basement carrying a handful of outlets. This circuit has no ground wire. I want to add a couple of outlets and want them to be grounded. I may even want gfci outlets on ...
26
votes
12answers
5k views

Avoiding dust scattering when you drill

When I drill into concrete, stone or similar materials - a lot of dust gets scattered. I realize this might sound like a newbie/trivial question, but - how can I avoid this? Both dust getting on me, ...
26
votes
4answers
8k 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 ...
26
votes
5answers
13k views

Marijuana smoke migrating to my condo!

I just bought a condo which is a three-level townhouse and was built in 1980. I am adjacent to my neighbor and share a common wall. My neighbor, an older couple, smoke weed frequently and do not air ...
26
votes
3answers
7k views

Can you cut open a plastic junction box and just lay splices inside?

This doesn't look like it should fly to me, but the "electrician" hired by the seller of this property is arguing that this is an acceptable way to put an open splice into an box. I know this shouldn'...
26
votes
14answers
62k views

Does Pex tubing have any advantages over copper?

What are the advantages/disadvantages of Pex tubing? How does it compare to copper?
26
votes
8answers
9k views

Is twisted and taped splice on cable, objectively any less stable than wire-nuts or terminal blocks?

In Brazil, electrical connections are almost always done splicing electrical cables by twisting the strands together and insulating them with electrical tape. Here is a video showing some of the ...
26
votes
3answers
19k views

How to open a door that has the insides of a door handle inside without a door knob

Currently this is what my doorknob looks like below I was trying to change out my doorknob and left both sides inside of the room but the AC kicked on and shut the door on me and now I am stuck ...
26
votes
9answers
209k views

How do I prepare an already painted wall for new paint?

We are repainting a number of rooms in our home, do we need to put primer over the existing paint? Are there any other gotchas that we need to prepare for before repainting the walls?
26
votes
6answers
37k views

Does a refrigerator compressor need settling time after being laid on its back or side?

A friend of mine mentioned that after laying my fridge on its side or back, that I need to let it sit for several hours before plugging it in. In the discussion, he said that it was to allow the ...
26
votes
4answers
171k views

How do I properly feed coax through an outside wall?

I would like to add a new cable outlet to an outside wall and wanted to find out what kind of drill bit is needed to drill through and feed the coax cable as well as anything else to be mindful of. ...
26
votes
2answers
3k views

What is an air conditioner compressor hard start kit and how does it work?

My air conditioner compressor wasn't functioning properly recently. The compressor wouldn't start when the start relay energized. A HVAC technician diagnosed the problem nebulously as "It needs a hard ...
26
votes
5answers
42k views

Is there a trick to opening a tube of caulk?

Is there a tool especially designed for opening a tube of caulk, silicone, or construction adhesive?
26
votes
5answers
23k 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 ...
26
votes
8answers
446k 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 ...
26
votes
4answers
9k views

Why do I have voltage on a plumbing ground strap, and is it dangerous?

We have been having problems with the lights in our basement for awhile now (few weeks), sometimes they will work, other times they just won't turn on. Today I noticed a thin metal piece in the ...
26
votes
6answers
24k views

How to improve HVAC system to make upstairs rooms more comfortable?

My home was built in 1985 in the US with conventional HVAC design of that time. Wooden frame house. It has central air conditioning (ducted) and we upgraded to a natural gas furnace recently. We ...
26
votes
3answers
3k views

How did my ground and neutral become energized by a short in the buried main line?

Long post, because I'm not sure what information is critical. The ultimate question is what, if anything, I need to do to ensure there are no hazardous conditions in my home. Friday night, the ...
25
votes
11answers
28k views

Can I replace a 30A breaker with a 40A breaker for a new water heater?

I have a 30 amp circuit breaker installed for my tank type hot water heater. I would like to replace the hot water heater with a tankless hot water heater that requires a 40 amp circuit breaker. I ...
25
votes
3answers
12k views

Can anyone tell me what this little white box on my outlet is?

Recently bought a house that's about 40 years old. The previous owner was clearly very fond of doing the wiring himself and has left me some idiosyncrasies to work out. One is this box in one of my ...
25
votes
5answers
16k views

What should be done before using a fireplace that has not been used in decades?

We are moving into a house with a fire-place. The current tenants (friends of ours), have been living there just short of 2 decades, and have never used it once. The house is about 90 years old, so it ...
25
votes
5answers
154k views

What actually happens if I vary proportions of cement and sand in mortar?

When preparing cement mortar proportions of sand and cement can AFAIK be varied. I've always been using the "default recommended" 1-to-3 (one volume of cement for every three volumes of sand) ...
25
votes
4answers
10k views

While drilling into kitchen wall, hit a wire - any advice?

While fixing the extractor hood yesterday, I accidently hit a wire when drilling and exposed the copper. The wires are too tight to get some kind of a box in there and putting an electrical tape may ...
25
votes
4answers
244k 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 ...
25
votes
3answers
3k views

Why are the inside diameters of some pipe larger than the stated size?

I'm looking over some specifications for black pipe. I understand why dimensional lumber is smaller than the stated dimensions, but why would the pipe manufacturers give you more volume than what is ...
25
votes
9answers
92k views

Why do my led bulbs state: not for use in totally enclosed luminaires?

I recently bought some nice inexepensive LED bulbs but I noticed the warning states: (see image below) not for use in totally enclosed luminaires I am guessing that it gets too hot but I find it ...
25
votes
4answers
46k views

How do I remove and reinstall baseboards (Skirting Board) without damaging them?

I need to temporarily remove the baseboards in a couple rooms. I am interested in some suggestions for removing the baseboards without damaging them so they can later be reinstalled. Suggestions may ...
25
votes
3answers
97k views

How much gap to leave between basement concrete floor and bottom of drywall board?

We have a dry basement with a concrete floor. When putting on the wall boards, how much (if any) gap should there be between the concrete floor and the bottom of the board? The boards are 3/8 inch, ...
25
votes
4answers
3k views

How can it be dangerous to feed a water heater from two separate panels?

In a recent question, a user asked "Can a water heater be installed between two apartments and wired to both apartments' breaker boxes, effectively splitting the bill between the two?". One of the ...
25
votes
3answers
5k views

Diagonal brace left in the basement by builder. Can I remove it? Replace it?

I have a diagonal brace running across an interior wall in the basement, and it even goes partially into the floor concrete. Is this meant to be permanent, or was it supposed to be removed during ...
25
votes
4answers
93k views

Why are homes wired using solid wire rather than stranded?

If stranded wire can carry more power for a given wire gauge, why are homes typically wired using solid? If solid wire is less expensive to make, that provides a compelling reason why solid is used, ...
25
votes
6answers
33k views

How to prevent batteries leaking out in devices?

Is there a common method of preventing batteries from leaking out and destroying the device? Why does this happen in the first place? I have laid another head lamp to waste because it was sitting in ...
25
votes
1answer
2k views

What is this bolt in my basement floor?

In my concrete basement floor, there is a rather large bolt and washer. The washer is about 4 inches in diameter, and the bolt has a 1 inch head. What is it? All I can think of is that it's some ...
24
votes
16answers
6k views

How to dig a trench for a cable for a garden office

I'm trying to dig a trench for the electrical cable for a shed/office I'm building in my back garden. This is about 7 m long and should be 0.5 m deep. My soil seems to be about 5 cm of ...
24
votes
11answers
11k views

Is it damaging to turn off a small fridge for two days every week?

I am a student who studies in a different city than my home so I go home almost every weekend or second weekend. I recently brought a room sized fridge and to save electricity costs, whenever I go ...
24
votes
8answers
85k views

Going to be away for 4 months, should we turn off the refrigerator or leave it on with water inside?

I have found people saying it's better to leave it on with water inside because then mould will not form. Is there any other downside except for electricity bill? It's a smallish refrigerator which ...
24
votes
4answers
6k views

Why don't electrical receptacles have more than one ground?

All modern receptacles have places for additional hot/neutral wires so you can add more outlets in series, but they all have a single screw or hole for the ground wire. Why don't they have two ground ...
24
votes
11answers
13k views

Any hidden disadvantage to lever-type door latches?

I have a lever-type door knob on one of my bedrooms and I like it a lot more than the ordinary round knobs. I am considering replacing all the door knobs in the house with levers. Is there any reason ...
24
votes
9answers
9k views

Is there a freezing-water-resistant metal pipe?

I want to install a water outlet on the outside of my house for gardening etc. Outside temperatures here in Latvia fall to -25°C sometimes, so I cannot use a common water pipe; it would burst when the ...
24
votes
6answers
8k views

Can a toilet get “too old” to the point where it can never be unclogged and must be replaced?

We had an issue where a toilet that worked fine since we moved in 6 years ago recently would not flush. I took a plunger to it and snaked from the roof and it helped in that the toilet would slowly ...
24
votes
4answers
136k views

Should all Federal Pacific panels be replaced?

I understand that Federal Panel Stab Lok breakers have the potential for becoming stuck, overheating, and starting fires. My home has a Federal Pacific panel but no outward markings of being a Stab ...
24
votes
4answers
92k views

Do I really have to fasten interior-wall electrical wire to a stud to keep it from moving?

I am fresh out of cable staples and would rather not go all the way to Lowe's just to get a box. What are the implications of not fastening loose electrical wires to a stud? It's not like there's ...
24
votes
8answers
35k views

How do I run cable through my ceiling?

I have a cable that I need to run through the ceiling. I'd like to go under the floor, but I have a split level house, and this is the lower floor, so I don't believe there is room in the bottom half ...
24
votes
5answers
3k views

How do you find helpers for larger DIY projects?

Question: In cases where you have the time and skills to do a project yourself, but physically cannot without a second skilled person to help, how do you go about finding and hiring someone that is ...
24
votes
2answers
9k views

What is a tandem breaker (aka duplex, cheater, twin, double-stuff, etc.)?

I keep hearing about tandem breakers, and how they won't work with 240V loads and how they should never be used for a multi-wire branch circuit. Aside from those issues... What is a tandem breaker? ...
24
votes
8answers
138k views

How do I compensate for the sun confusing my garage door opener's sensors?

Only during summer and only when the sun is close to the horizon the light from the sun confuses my garage door opener and in order to close the door I have to hold down the wired button which is a ...
24
votes
3answers
7k views

Why should we replace smoke alarms every 10 years?

I'm having a hard time understanding a requirement to replace smoke detectors every 10 years (or whatever the manufacturer suggests). With previous generations of ionization based detectors, I ...
24
votes
3answers
24k views

Are “1/4 turn” water supply valves more reliable than “multi-turn” valves? Or vice-versa?

Aside from personal preference, is there any reason why I would want to buy a "1/4 turn" water supply valve instead of "multi-turn valves"? Is one technology/design clearly superior than the other in ...

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