Latest Database Entries

  • Legality of DIY electrical and plumbing work

    NEW CONSTRUCTION In the interests of health and safety a number of trades are controlled by law, most particularly plumbing and electricity. The degree to which plumbing and electrical work are actually regulated varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For instance almost all work performed in...
  • How do I unfreeze a frozen hose bib?

    Nav in cold Edmonton, Alberta, writes: "We are trying to build an ice rink in the backyard. Our tap has frozen over and nothing comes out of it at all. Are they any solutions to this problem?"     The easiest way to unfreeze the hose bib is to wrap rags around it and keep pouring boiling wa...
  • Montreal is phasing out wood heating that pollutes

    Note: There is one important exception to all the pollution control described below.  The Montreal by-law states: "Authorizing the use of all solid fuel-burning devices during electricity outages that last more than three hours."  (but you must keep your fireplace and chimney clean and in good ...
  • Use food colouring in toilet tank to find flapper leaks.

    Gale from Toronto, Ontario sent us the wonderful idea of simply putting some food colouring into the toilet tank to spot flapper leaks. If the colour shows up in the bowl below, you have a leaky flapper that needs replacing.  Actually that is almost conclusive. There are two ways that water gets...
  • Can I put carpet over tiles?

    Madaline wants to put carpet over tile over parquet flooring.  The following answer also applies to vinyl over ceramic tiles. Well, aside from the floor getting so thick that doors may not open and counters will appear to be sinking into the floor, there are a couple important things to know abo...
  • The toilet just won't fill up.

    Bill from Qu'appelle Valley in Saskatchewan is trying to figure out why his toilet tank just won't fill up. The flapper is in place but the water seems to be just flowing through.  Rubber flappers do get old and need replacing. If you use a chlorine puck in the tank to help keep the bowl clean, ...
  • Noises -- sounds that tell you what is wrong with your house

    Drum Cymbal noises --> Furnace Ducting Gina in Saskatoon is complaining about drum cymbal-like crashes that happen every time her furnace goes on. This is common when you have smooth flat ductwork. The heat and pressure of the air can cause the large flat surface of sheet metal to flex eithe...
  • SHOULD I PUSH OR PULL MY CAULKING GUN?

    It's largely a matter of personal choice or habit while the video below will show you the WHY of good caulking technique.  Pushing forward forces the compound into small cracks and helps it to stick on smooth surfaces. Pulling is easier for filling large cracks, and leaves a bulge which allow...
  • EXACTLY WHAT IS POLLUTING MY HOUSE?

    Pollutants come from four main sources: 1- Your body's metabolic activities (breathing and the like): carbon dioxide, ammonia, organics, and odours. 2- Your activities within the house: -- Tobacco smoke: carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, organics, odours. -- Aerosol sprays: fluorocarbons, v...
  • MAINLINE BACKFLOW VALVE - stoping basement flooding from sewer line back-up.

    INSPECT, MAINTAIN OR INSTALL A BACKFLOW VALVE UNDER THE BASEMENT FLOOR BEFORE DOING ANY RENOVATION WORK IN A BASEMENT.  It is always easier to install while the floor is bare than after the finished floor is destroyed by a flood.   Sewage back-up through the floor drain is prevented by a thing...
  • When is the best time to walk on a roof to not damage shingles?

    Johanne from Laval, Quebec writes: "Could it be damaging to my new shingle roof to climb up on it in the winter time to install a satellite antenna? If so, what would be the ideal temperature to do work without any damage?"   Aside from slipping on ice, winter is not a bad time to walk on th...
  • Can a booster fans be used for the clothes dryer?

    There do exist in-line booster fans that can be used with clothes dryers for long duct runs. But you cannot use just any fan for this purpose. The fan motor and fan blades must be designed to handle the temperature of the dryer exhaust and prevent a build up of lint on a hot motor that could cau...
  • In-Line Exhaust Fans

      Here's an introduction to a special kind of exhaust fan -- an "In-Line" fan. This means that rather than having the motor right at the ceiling, they can be placed anywhere along the line of the ductwork. This makes their installation much more flexible, and quieter.  Equipment details can be f...
  • Clothes Dryer ducting: cleaning & extending & avoiding Fires

    CLEANING Be aware that a clogged clothes dryer duct will reduce the efficiency of the clothes dryer, and could start a fire. If your duct is made of ridged metal, it is rather easy to clean because you can snake brushes, even rags right through from one side to the other.  Terry commented on th...
  • Weather Restrictions: Asphalt Shingles

    Connect to your favourite weather forecaster and look for the following conditions:   Category: Roofing     Product: Asphalt Shingles Temperature Limitations: Use above +5 C (+40 F) for shingle installation.  Emergency repairs can be made down to -10 C (+14 F). Nailers must be adjusted in col...
  • Plunging a Clogged Sink: It's the UP stroke that counts!

      Disloving the problem If your sink is just suffering from a lot of face cream and shaving cream, the least expensive and most ecological solution is simply 1/2 cup of baking soda (try using a funnel to get it into the drain), followed immediately by a cup of vinegar.  Let it sit a few minutes...
  • Chalk line technique & eraseability.

      Chalk lines are used to draw straight lines across large surfaces from about 2 feet to over 20 feet.  But it is not always easy to see the line, especially if you are working in the sun, or your saw has a dusting action that blows the chalk away. Phil from Ottawa sent in the chalkline tip t...
  • Working with bamboo

      BAMBOO FLOORING -- LOOSING FAVOUR Bamboo flooring is beautiful and reasonably durable -- but it is falling out of favour.  Ecologically bamboo is a sustainable resource as it is a very fast growing grass, so bamboo production on a piece of land is far more profitable than growing trees on th...
  • Cleaning up pet odours

    Many odours can be eliminated by soaking the troublesome area with baking soda. One of the tricks to make the baking soda the most effective, such as to remove pet urine from a rug, is to add water to the baking soda to make a paste. Work the paste into the fibres of the rug.     Then cover it...
  • What is the best material to use to re-roof my house?

    Our camera caught Burns at the hardware store -- he is going to redo his roof and wanted to know what is the best material to use to re-roof. That that's a wide open question. And of course, there are a lot of "good" materials. Start by deciding on the "look" you want, then check that against y...
  • Pro: Water As a Tool - Sometimes a Damn Tool

    Adding water to concrete or masonry will definitely make it flow better and make it easier to work with, which is why just about everybody does it. At the same time you have all heard that this will weaken the final product and increase shrinkage, but just about everybody does it anyway. If the d...