45 votes

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

You hire a chimney sweep to inspect (and clean) it. In some cases it may need to be completely rebuilt - in others, it may simply need cleaned and inspected, or it may need something in the middle. ...
Ecnerwal's user avatar
  • 210k
38 votes

Old ceiling light fixture with 9 wires (5 black/4 white)-how to install a new fixture?

From the looks of those pictures you won't be able to properly wire this without some major rewiring. Those wires have insulation that is cracking/ crumbling all the way up up the connectors that hold ...
JACK's user avatar
  • 79.9k
36 votes

How do I drywall when the studs are not flush?

The difference appears to be about 1/4" to 3/8". If so, I'd fur it out with some 1/4" plywood strips or some 3/8" lath strips.
JACK's user avatar
  • 79.9k
32 votes
Accepted

How do I self-repair a section of crumbling basement wall, or should I hire a professional?

It looks like a cosmetic DIY patch-job was already attempted before. The current situation is exactly how you can expect your attempt to turn out. This is a structural issue and I would hire a ...
MonkeyZeus's user avatar
  • 16.5k
31 votes
Accepted

What is this balloon with "eyes" printed on it, hanging from the eave on this house?

That is a balloon bird repellent device. It is designed to mimic the appearance of an owl to scare away smaller birds and prevent them from building nests in the eaves, or to prevent them from flying ...
nullability's user avatar
25 votes

Why does home siding not extend to the ground?

Because constant moisture, from the ground, causes many materials to rot.
Steve Wellens's user avatar
22 votes

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

Another thing to consider with a chimney that old is the distinct possibility that the bricks were laid up with a mixture of sand, horse hair and a bit of lime mixed in. It is not uncommon for a ...
Michael Karas's user avatar
  • 64.3k
19 votes

Old ceiling light fixture with 9 wires (5 black/4 white)-how to install a new fixture?

Professional Electrician here, I hate to say it, but those are fabric coated wires, they stopped being installed in new homes back in the 60's and very early 70's. Any surviving cloth wiring is way ...
ryuukei's user avatar
  • 191
15 votes

What is this pipe coming out of the basement floor?

In a basement, galvanized pipe like that could have been a pipe feeding oil from an underground tank to an oil heater that has long ago been removed and replaced with something else. I had one like ...
JRaef's user avatar
  • 14.9k
15 votes
Accepted

What is this orange yellow substance on my wooden studs inside walls?

You are looking at tree sap. It's harmless. It's dried out so if it's gonna cause you to lose sleep at night, just scrape it off with a chisel.
JACK's user avatar
  • 79.9k
13 votes

What are the dangers of hidden boxes?

I have heard and even participated in lengthy debates on this subject. The code is very clear, and the difficulty in maintenance and troubleshooting is of course easy to see. Many of the arguments go ...
batsplatsterson's user avatar
13 votes

Replacing a light switch in a 1964 house

light is controlled by an upstairs and downstairs switch. Yes, that's a three way switch - in point of fact, both will be. Be sure the breaker or fuse is off or out before working on the circuit. Pay ...
Ecnerwal's user avatar
  • 210k
12 votes

How to straighten a sagging wooden house?

The process is simple, but actually doing these things may take equipment and expertise that you lack. Find out WHY the floors are sagging. Is it due to improper foundation/footings? Is it due to ...
jwh20's user avatar
  • 23.2k
12 votes

What is this pipe coming out of the basement floor?

This could be: water waste gas oil for furnace radon system remnants (unlikely) but the earlier ones used metal pipes other The picture is pretty clear, this pipe was installed when they poured the ...
DMoore's user avatar
  • 48k
12 votes
Accepted

Anyone know what this wire sticking out of my wall is?

That’s the cable and connector used between Verizon FIOS ONTs (mounted outdoors typically) and their indoors-mounted AC-DC power supply and backup battery. The larger wires carry DC power (from either ...
nobody's user avatar
  • 6,641
10 votes

What are the dangers of hidden boxes?

The main problem here is always troubleshooting (and if you're burying boxes you might be doing other dumb electrical things). Your circuit stops working one day, so you start to look for the issue. ...
Machavity's user avatar
  • 24.6k
10 votes

How do I self-repair a section of crumbling basement wall, or should I hire a professional?

The first step of repairing a deteriorated wall is to knock loose and remove the bad materials to the solid base. However, in your case, I suspect there is nothing solid that remains, as the cracks ...
r13's user avatar
  • 3,382
9 votes
Accepted

What is this metal bar in my 1950s electrical box?

Those are the nails that fasten the box to the framing. I'd slide them free with a locking pliers, remove the box, and install modern "remodeler" boxes with flyout mounting tabs. If you trim your ...
isherwood's user avatar
  • 135k
9 votes
Accepted

Can I increase the size of my floor register to improve cooling in my bedroom?

Can you increase the size of the floor register? Almost certainly. Cutting a bigger hole and installing a bigger register will reduce the restriction, moving the pinch point upstream, probably to that ...
KMJ's user avatar
  • 11k
9 votes

What size beams do I need to lift/support my house?

I will join the chorus of people telling you not to do this, but I'll answer your question to give you an idea of what you are facing. First, I understand why you don't want to call a house moving ...
Cheery's user avatar
  • 4,878
8 votes

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

If someone offers to modernise your chimney by putting some sort of metal tube or liner inside, make sure the chimney is cleaned first and all soot is removed. If this is not done properly, you risk ...
Just Passing By's user avatar
8 votes

What is this pipe coming out of the basement floor?

I have galvanized natural gas pipe in my 1950 Metro Detroit house. If it's not oil, it could be gas going to the original furnace location. I can see a bright spot in the floor where something stood ...
Troy Foster's user avatar
8 votes

How to correctly ground BX cable in a plastic box

Use an AC/BX fitting designed for the job Fortunately, you're in luck, because there's a fitting out there designed precisely for your situation. The Arlington 38RASTG installs from the inside of the ...
ThreePhaseEel's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

Is it OK if the house's roof makes noise

Roof construction varies depending on where you live. In the north you need to build to contend with a heavy snow load so roof trusses are more numerous and stronger. Sothern climes, not so much. ...
Trevor_G's user avatar
  • 1,352
7 votes

Why does home siding not extend to the ground?

In areas where termites are active (which includes most of Colorado), any "edible" (to termites) material that is in contact with the ground gives termites an easy path to infiltrate your ...
Wayne Conrad's user avatar
7 votes

Can I simply install a higher amperage breaker on an existing circuit?

NO, you cannot exchange the breaker for a bigger one. Instead you should run a new circuit (or a few) from the panel to the fridges. Or given that you need 10 fridges you can inquire about a ...
ratchet freak's user avatar
7 votes

Can I simply install a higher amperage breaker on an existing circuit?

Breakers protect the wires they are attached to from overheating and causing your building to burn. As such, it is very rare for the wire connected between the breaker and your load (fridges) to be ...
Ecnerwal's user avatar
  • 210k
6 votes

Found Lath and Plaster wall under remodel drywall. Is it restorable?

The closeup looks like cement based backer board used to hold tile in wet/damp locations. If so, that is not original. It would be very hard to restore to lathe/plaster throughout, especially if ...
bib's user avatar
  • 33.7k
6 votes
Accepted

Why did my plaster walls stop half inch above floor and expose room to wall cavity?

Old houses that had interior plaster as a finish had what they called a plaster stop to control depth of the plaster. This was usually a strip of 3/4 wood at bottom of wall and around doors and ...
jay 's user avatar
  • 76
6 votes

How to get rid of old house smell?

Years ago, my wife and I moved into a condo that had a faint weird smell. I put charcoal into a net bag like the ones potatoes come in, and set it into the cold air return ducting at the furnace. I ...
d.george's user avatar
  • 12.4k

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