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28
votes
6answers
348k views

When should pipe dope vs thread tape be used?

For threaded plumbing connections, you typically use pipe dope or thread tape (aka teflon tape). Are there situations when one is preferred over another? Does the size of the pipe, type of pipe, part ...
28
votes
7answers
135k 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 ...
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
3answers
119k views

How to determine the type of wall on which I'm putting up a shelf?

I'd like to put up a small shelf. I have never tackled any kind of DIY project before so this is a first (I don't even have the necessary tools yet!) and I have a rather newbie question: Having read a ...
28
votes
9answers
254k 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
34k 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
16k 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
5answers
7k views

Is this 230V steampunk metal robot lamp safe?

I bough a steampunk robot lamp from ebay. It is made out of (painted) metal fittings. After receiving it, I was a little concerned regarding safety and disassembled it. The plug suggests that this is ...
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
6answers
8k views

Why has my 10 year old ceiling fan suddenly started shocking me through the fan pull chain?

My fan has been working fine for ten years now and suddenly if I’m barefoot and touch the metal pull chain it lightly shocks me, but does not if I have shoes on. Does this mean I need a new fan or is ...
27
votes
7answers
14k 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
4answers
5k views

Why does my shed door expand/shrink?

I built a shed door last summer and have had a few problems with it since. Using pressure treated outdoor timber I made a fairly simple shed door. I wood glued the long planks together and then used ...
27
votes
3answers
8k 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'...
27
votes
3answers
29k 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 ...
27
votes
5answers
12k 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 ...
27
votes
6answers
298k 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
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
5answers
44k 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
9answers
6k views

How can I lift a sunken paver in the middle of my driveway / patio / walkway / sidewalk?

I have a couple pavers that have sunk in my driveway. If this was close to the edge, I’d take up a few, re-level and replace. But this is in the middle of a large expanse of pavers. How can I pull up ...
26
votes
4answers
9k 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
18k 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
4answers
2k views

How can I get roof rain runoff into pond with an aboveground wall?

I'd like to collect rain water and have it run through a filter and then into a pond. The problem is, I can't simply run a pipe underground. \\ |\\ <-- house roof | \\ | | ...
26
votes
4answers
141k 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 ...
26
votes
5answers
162k 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) ...
26
votes
14answers
68k 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
9answers
104k 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 ...
26
votes
5answers
45k 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
9answers
216k 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
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 ...
26
votes
2answers
4k 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
54k 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
25k 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
452k 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
3answers
109k 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, ...
26
votes
1answer
3k views

How do I remove this wall plate with no visible screws?

I'm amazed how complicated this wall plate is to remove. It is made of plastic and accommodates a phone jack and a coaxial cable. Please see the images that accompany this question. I've searched it ...
26
votes
4answers
10k 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
28k 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
4answers
97k 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, ...
26
votes
1answer
4k views

Seemingly overbuilt basement wall - load bearing?

I'm doing some prep/exploratory work before I begin finishing my basement. Home was built in 1980 and has a cement block foundation. There is a seemingly random wall framed in the otherwise unfinished ...
26
votes
3answers
4k 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
34k 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
11answers
12k 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 ...
25
votes
12answers
6k 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, ...
25
votes
7answers
31k views

Why does my house heat up, even when it's cool outside?

Summary The question pretty much says it all. It's probably a ridiculously easy one to answer. It's cool outside but I know that my house is heating up because my AC kicks on periodically. I've had ...
25
votes
6answers
4k views

Is it normal to use a grinder to finish a new driveway?

Yesterday we had new concrete pads poured. We expected pour-day to be the last day. I saw them out there finishing, but when we went out that evening after everyone had left, it looked half done. ...
25
votes
3answers
13k 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
27k 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
4answers
11k 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
254k 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 ...

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