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29
votes
18answers
202k views

How do I finish off a silicone sealant like a professional?

I have patched a couple of places at the base of my shower with silicone rubber sealant, using a caulking gun and it has worked well. The water no longer escapes from the shower. However, where I have ...
29
votes
4answers
2k views

If DC adapters are so prevalent, why is AC used in construction by default?

I'm not sure if there's a better place to ask this or not. Why, at least here in America, is the standard electrical system set up for alternating current (AC) rather than direct current (DC)? I'm ...
29
votes
5answers
39k views

Should I use nails or screws for hanging drywall on the ceiling?

I'm replacing water-damaged drywall on my ceiling and was considering using screws. Other than cost, is there any other reason I should use nails instead? Or am I too paranoid that nails won't have ...
29
votes
4answers
9k views

What is this vertical metal pipe in my backyard? old well? septic?

Purchased this house last week and the previous owners also did not know what it was. The pipe is heavy duty and set in concrete. There's water about halfway up the length of the pipe, but I haven't ...
29
votes
4answers
15k views

How do I build an ice rink in my backyard?

I'm considering building a small temporary ice skating rink in my backyard. I'm hoping to do this without buying many or any materials, and without causing any devastating damage to my lawn when ...
29
votes
4answers
72k views

What temperature should I set my water heater to?

When adjusting my water heater, what temperature should I set it to? Is the answer different if you have: Concerns about diseases A dishwasher Young children or elderly that can be easily burned ...
29
votes
3answers
186k views

What's the practical difference between “latex” and “acrylic” water dispersion paint?

I see lots of water dispersion paints in shops and they usually come in two flavors - "latex" and "acrylic". The application range and procedure seem the same, they are all relatively safe, don't emit ...
29
votes
6answers
5k views

How should I support this large drywall patch?

after the installation of a new water heater and a relatively extensive plumbing fix, I wanted to save a buck trying to patch the drywall myself. It's the very first time I buy a piece of drywall or ...
29
votes
9answers
561k views

What humidity should I set my dehumidifier to?

I just bought a 50 pint dehumidifier for my basement. What humidity level should I aim for? This time of year the outside humidity is very high (over 80%) and we do not have central air. Right now ...
28
votes
7answers
8k views

Why is my fire extinguisher emptied after one use?

I'm planning to make a small DIY gas tank and I saw people using old or used fire extinguishers but I don't understand why my fire extinguisher can't hold pressure after one use. I have this fire ...
28
votes
10answers
20k views

What are the most important things to check/do after buying a home?

We are in the process of purchasing a home that is over 20 years old. What are some of the most important things we should check/patch/do right away to make sure the home is running correctly and ...
28
votes
15answers
55k views

What is a humane, safe and clean way to dispose of a live mouse caught in a glue trap?

A glue trap in my garage caught a mouse. I consider it inhumane to let the mouse die in the glue trap. I am looking for a method to euthanize the mouse that meets the following requirements: Humane - ...
28
votes
2answers
2k views

What spacing difference is acceptable with a contracted tile job? [closed]

What is a reasonable difference in gaps between tiles? We just had our bathroom floor done by Lowe’s (first mistake), and I’m not happy with the outcome, AT ALL. Is this just me being picky, or should ...
28
votes
7answers
23k views

Pouring concrete, is it safe to add large rocks to increase volume?

Backround I'm going to pour some concrete to anchor a swing set. The base of the swing set that is being anchored is two 4x4s with a 2x4 footer crossed perpendicularly to the 4x4s. I have a bunch of ...
28
votes
9answers
202k views

I have a basement floor with lots of moisture, can I paint or seal it to make it waterproof?

My basement has a slight dampness issue, where if I leave things on the floor they will get wet. There are no leaks and no standing water, the moisture seems to be wicking up through the concrete. I ...
28
votes
10answers
124k views

Are toilets supposed to be caulked to the floor?

I've heard that in some cases toilets are supposed to be caulked to the floor. I replaced both toilets in the condo I moved into last week, and one was calked to the floor, and one was not. One ...
28
votes
6answers
128k views

What is the purpose of tape when taping and mudding drywall?

Sorry if this is a stupid question, but it doesn't seem immediately obvious how a thin strip of paper tape actually helps the mudding process in drywall installation except for perhaps reducing the ...
28
votes
1answer
5k views

Why does dirt kill saw blades?

What is it about dirt getting into a saw blade (as opposed to, say, sawdust, rock chips, etc (presuming the right blade is being used, of course)) that will kill a saw blade? I've seen it happen to ...
28
votes
9answers
218k views

How do I install a GFCI receptacle with two hot wires and common neutral?

In my kitchen, I want to replace a regular 120V receptacle with a GFCI-protected receptacle. The instructions describe what to do with a regular 2-wire + ground feed, with and without daisy chaining ...
27
votes
5answers
27k views

Do you really need a p-trap on bathroom sinks?

If I do away with the trap what is it going to hurt? Will something bad happen? A friend had a problem with clogs. He took his out and has had no more problems. Can you tell me why that is?
27
votes
5answers
9k views

Is it unsafe to remove one stud from a load bearing wall?

I need to cut a hole for a recessed medicine cabinet. This wall is at the end of the house. I only need to cut one stud to make a frame for the cabinet. Will this damage the integrity of the bearing ...
27
votes
13answers
5k views

Locating source of excessive energy use

Background Info: My house is all electric. Last month when I got my electric bill, I flipped. It was triple that of any month prior. Now I know the cold (heating) can affect this so I decided to ...
27
votes
7answers
12k views

Are water boilers dangerous when showering?

Where I'm from (Serbia) everybody says to turn off the water boiler (the container that heats up water and stores it for use in the bathroom and shower) when you take a shower or use the bathtub. They ...
27
votes
7answers
94k views

Extension cord and power strip safety

I've heard that there are some safety and building code issues involved with using extension cords or power strips (surge protectors) for anything other than temporary use. What are the issues, and ...
27
votes
7answers
5k views

Are soldered electrical connections code-compliant?

I was changing a switch in my house when I found a number of connections in the electrical box that were soldered rather than secured with a wire nut. The solder joints look very well done, the ...
27
votes
9answers
279k views

How much load can a (wood) board support, if it is supported only at the ends?

How much load can a board support, if it is supported only at the ends? At the moment my specific problem is hanging a tire swing between two trees, and depending on which trees I choose they could ...
27
votes
7answers
86k views

How do I rehang a wooden door with worn screw holes?

I have a wood door in one of my rooms where the top screws no longer hold the hinge to the wall because the screw holes have worn loose. I have tried slightly larger screws and filling with wood ...
27
votes
6answers
289k views

What are the pros and cons of a whole house humidifier?

In the winter, my house (~2500 sqft) becomes unbearably dry. Last winter, my wife and I used a tiny humidifier for the master bedroom to keep us from completely drying out, but since then I have been ...
27
votes
5answers
211k views

What kind of lubrication should I use for a lock?

I recently made the Yale lock on my front door much easier to open by spraying some WD-40 in there. However, I just saw this question on WD-40 not being a “true” lubricant, and wondered whether it ...
27
votes
5answers
34k 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
17answers
75k views

How do I change a light bulb I can't grip?

We have two bulbs in our house that need replacing. They appear to be PAR38 bulbs. The bulbs are both in recessed sockets. There is not enough space between the bulb and the well to get fingers ...
26
votes
12answers
570k views

How can I remove a really stuck screw?

I often come across screws that just won't budge with a manual screwdriver or even a driver bit in a drill. They are of different screw types and heads in a variety of different materials. What are ...
26
votes
14answers
56k 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
5answers
315k views

Is it ok to have mixed grounds and neutrals on bars in a breaker box?

So to continue my line of electrical questioning (and perhaps narrow down my flickering light problem), I took a look through the two panels in this house. There is a 200amp main service in the ...
26
votes
3answers
12k 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
201k 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
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
21k 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
310k views

Why Do 240V Circuits Not Require Neutral?

Someone told me that a 240V circuit does not require a neutral wire in the cable. Can anyone explain this phenomenon from the electricity perspective and generally explain why circuits do and do not ...
26
votes
4answers
8k 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
5answers
11k views

What is the best method to patch a large hole (2-3 inches) in drywall?

I have a large hole where a TV wall mount once was (I believe the hole was used to run power and coax cable to the TV). I have since moved the TV and would like to patch the hole. What is the best way ...
26
votes
6answers
19k 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
8answers
245k views

How many CFM for a range hood do I REALLY need?

I like to cook. I would like to put in a fairly powerful range (nothing huge, though; I don't need six burners and a griddle), and will need a hood that can carry smoke, heat, steam, grease, etc. from ...
25
votes
11answers
22k 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
11k 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
13k 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
147k 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) ...

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