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218 votes
2 answers
58k 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.
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  • 3,056
134 votes
11 answers
99k views

How to prevent heavy rainwater from jumping the gutter?

During heavy rain, the water collects from my second floor roof and runs onto the first floor roof as it should. The problem is that since all this water is now concentrated from the second floor ...
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  • 1,323
127 votes
21 answers
77k 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 ...
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  • 4,530
115 votes
17 answers
134k 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?
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  • 9,367
107 votes
7 answers
629k 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 ...
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  • 6,291
96 votes
3 answers
27k views

Why does my freezer get a little warmer every 14 hours?

I equipped my fridge-freezer (Bosch KGN 33X48/13, bought around 2013) with a self-made temperature monitoring system to warn me whenever the internal temperature of the freezer rises above a certain ...
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  • 853
92 votes
18 answers
82k 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 ...
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  • 1,019
91 votes
8 answers
586k 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 ...
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  • 1,135
85 votes
13 answers
88k 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?
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  • 995
83 votes
2 answers
34k views

Why did my electrician put metal plates wherever the stud is drilled through?

My electrician put the metal plates pictured below wherever he drilled through a stud. My guess is that this strengthens the stud, because it was weakened by the holes he drilled. Studs with metal ...
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  • 4,292
82 votes
15 answers
10k 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 I ...
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80 votes
12 answers
62k 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. ...
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  • 1,455
75 votes
7 answers
500k views

Understanding US 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 ...
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  • 1,069
70 votes
14 answers
38k 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 ...
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69 votes
10 answers
109k 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?
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  • 1,095
65 votes
11 answers
155k views

If metal expands when heated, how does heating a bolt loosen it?

If you're having trouble removing a stuck bolt, common advice is to heat the bolt up. But if metal expands when heated, wouldn't heating up the bolt just make it harder to remove? How does heating ...
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  • 129k
61 votes
14 answers
533k 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 ...
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60 votes
11 answers
36k 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 ...
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  • 4,530
57 votes
11 answers
83k 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 ...
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  • 907
56 votes
14 answers
39k views

How to avoid stripping screw heads?

In at least two different contexts now (installing shower handrails, installing gate on fence) I've found myself stripping the head of the screw beyond all use. I must be doing something wrong, so ...
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  • 1,175
55 votes
77 answers
48k views

What are the tools that every Do-it-Yourselfer must own?

What are the tools that every DIY'er should have? This is a community wiki as there is no one right answer. Instructions: One item per answer (so they can be voted on - answers with multiple items ...
55 votes
7 answers
402k views

Can Romex (NM-B) cable be run through conduit?

A few days ago I asked an electrician if I could run cable through conduit - he gave me a funny look and said "No, Romex is not allowed in conduit." When I searched online, there seems to be ...
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53 votes
5 answers
212k 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 ...
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51 votes
10 answers
32k 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
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  • 1,312
51 votes
8 answers
174k views

When would one use an impact driver versus a regular drill?

Or vice-versa. As best as I can tell, the impact driver is very good for most any type of screw going through wood. When would you use a drill (with screw bit) instead?
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  • 717
50 votes
1 answer
13k views

Half my power out, but firing up an appliance turns it back on

Hoping for some much needed help. The other day my lights flickered and half the power and outlets went out in my home. They have gone and off periodically since then, spontaneously shutting off at ...
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50 votes
5 answers
373k views

When pre-drilling for screws, how do you determine the correct bit diameter?

Suppose I want to pre-drill for, say, a 5/16 screw. How do I determine the correct drill bit diameter?
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50 votes
2 answers
52k 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).
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  • 3,056
49 votes
12 answers
8k views

How can I remove a lemon from a toilet drain?

My little boy flushed a whole lemon down the toilet. It is stuck. What can I use to remove the lemon?
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47 votes
10 answers
226k 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 ...
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45 votes
8 answers
146k views

When drywalling a room, should I do the ceiling before the walls?

Is there any value in installing drywall (plasterboard) on the ceiling before the walls or does it not matter?
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  • 896
45 votes
7 answers
42k 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 ...
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  • 1,377
45 votes
8 answers
139k 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 ...
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  • 6,171
44 votes
11 answers
22k views

What are insulated screwdrivers for if you’re not supposed to work on a live circuit?

It’s not just that I’ve been told by some people to never work on a live circuit as an amateur (I know that electricians often do work on live circuits)... but the package itself containing the ...
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44 votes
10 answers
67k 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 ...
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  • 129k
44 votes
7 answers
23k 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 ...
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  • 541
44 votes
4 answers
38k views

Are there ways to determine if a wall is load bearing?

Other than looking up blue prints, which many homeowners may not have, are there ways to determine if a wall is load bearing? Methods I can think of might include: Going up in the attic to check if ...
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  • 15.5k
44 votes
7 answers
247k views

Why does this receptacle have the ground tied to the neutral?

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 ...
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44 votes
8 answers
126k 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 ...
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  • 1,069
44 votes
10 answers
611k 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 ...
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43 votes
8 answers
68k views

How can I pull a wire through a pipe that has too many turns for fish tape?

I need to replace a sump pump, but have run into a problem. The route for the cord goes through a 2" pipe with two 90 degree bends, and fish tape is ineffective. The pipe appears poorly jointed as ...
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  • 10.4k
43 votes
3 answers
161k views

What does "1 Gang", "2 Gang", and so forth 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)
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  • 717
42 votes
10 answers
20k views

Are gaps above and below framing members a concern?

I recently hired a framing crew to frame a new house. After it was done, I commissioned an independent review. The reviewer described some of the work as "shoddy," and pointed out a lot of gaps, ...
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42 votes
11 answers
17k views

Is there a way to unscrew a light bulb that has broken?

The recessed light in my bathroom broke while trying to unscrew it, and only the metal collar remains. What is the best way to get that remaining part out?
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42 votes
12 answers
7k views

Can I heat one room and cool another with an in-wall AC?

I work in a bakery. It gets warm in the summer, but not warm enough for bread to rise without extra heat. We have a 'proofer room' where the bread sits while the dough rises. The room is heated by two ...
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42 votes
7 answers
13k views

How to reinforce a joist with plumbing running through it?

After removing the sub floor in my bathroom in order to extend the sewer pipe for the toilet (it's too close to the tank-side wall), I found that the floor joists have extremely large holes cut in ...
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  • 605
41 votes
9 answers
663k 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.
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  • 5,933
41 votes
1 answer
9k views

What is this cable in my yard, why is it exposed, and what can I do about it?

UPDATE 5/25 - The electric company spliced and re-buried the cables. It's a 120V line and should have been buried at least a foot below ground. They'll come by again to locate the rest of the line ...
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  • 533
40 votes
9 answers
15k views

Is the Electrician trying to scam me?

I own a home in California and was emailed by my property manager about an electrical problem with an outlet. The outlet was fixed according to the tenant but the repair man through the manager thinks ...
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  • 401
40 votes
2 answers
15k views

Why is there a 1/4" jack in my oven?

I am in the process of replacing the controller for a jenn-air oven. Ever curious as I am, I was poking around the wiring for all the sensors and elements, tracing them out, and learning their ...
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