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...
  • History of the Robertson Screw

    If any one thing distinguishes Canadian home improvement from American home improvement, it is the Robertson (square socket) screw. In this segment, we took a look at the history of this famous Canadian invention and visited their head office and warehousing operation in Milton, Ontario. Wikipedi...
  • BP Roof Shingles -- Class Action Law Suit

    BP and IKO have had problems with some organic base (felt) asphalt impregnated shingles. There are class action suits against them in both the US and Canada. The advice from my roofing specialist: "Whoever claims they have a legitimate complaint against BP or IKO should go at it alone and not j...
  • Manufacturing Robertson Screws

    We went to the Robertson screw factory in Montreal to see in detail how a reel of wire steel gets cut and formed into many different types of screws, including the famous Robertson square socket head. They cut the wire to the length of two screws, often very different screws but the same wire si...
  • Deck Span Tables

    Decks need to be built strong enough to not fall down or have deck boards break for lack of support. In addition, although they do not need to be as solid as a floor in the house, they should not bounce like a trampoline. The structures of most decks in Canada are built with pressure treated wood...
  • What are BUILDING CODES and why do I care?

      For the first time in history most Canadian National Codes are free. As of April 2019, the NRC is offering free access to the downloadable and electronic formats of the National Building Code, the National Fire Code, the National Plumbing Code, and the National Energy Code for Buildings, as w...
  • PAN FAN - an air filter for toilets

    Over the years I have seen and tested a large number of gadgets designed to get rid of toilet odours, from double walled ceramic toilets that had an exhaust pipe to the outdoors, to exhaust ducts that fitted under the tank and various carbon filters situated under the seat. Finally an New Zealand...
  • The river is rising – preparing for a flood: OVERVIEW

    This article is about stopping water outside the house, then if necessary, controlling the situation as your basement floods.  For some very interesting water alarms, covering both plumbing and overland water,see Stopping Plumbing Floods.   SANDBAGGING The first line of defense is sandbaggin...
  • Should I change to All Electric heat?

      If you are thinking of removing your Oil or Gas furnace and replacing it with an all-electric furnace, often recommended by heating contractors, you may want to look closer at the options rather than just having a knee jerk reaction to getting rid of a fuel fired appliance.  When you have "all...
  • Transfer switch for emergency power generators.

      During the infamous Eastern ice storm of 1998, people went running out and bought every generator available and set them up to power something in the house during the extended black-out. Many of those efforts created great problems for the utility because homeowners were often feeding electric...
  • Overview - Building the base to a tiled shower.

    Most people don't realize it but glazed tiles are not completely waterproof although they are highly water resistant. The reality is that the tile and the grout are not the final line of defence against water leaking through to the ceiling below. A proper built-in shower stall starts with a tape...
  • OVERVIEW: Pyrite

      Pyrite and the damage it can cause to homes is a worrisome and expensive problem in certain areas of Quebec and is affecting property values. So just what is the problem? Pyrite is a mineral, also known as Iron Sulfide or more commonly as Fools Gold for it's looking similar to gold specs in r...
  • Speciality Ladders

    Aren’t we all tempted by all the speciality ladders we see?  Two of the ladders below I showed on my TV show a long time ago.  Checking out these ladders sent me on quite a study of ladders, and updating this article over the years shows how some things die and get reborn.  Ladders sold for home...
  • How to properly duct an exhaust fan through a roof

    This item falls under the heading of 'things that homeowners can teach their contractor'. Unfortunately too many renovators do not know that you can cause serious damage to your roof if you don't duct exhaust fans completely out of an attic. Some know, but just don't care. You cannot just leave ...
  • Scientists in Quebec take stands on both sides of the EMF debate.

    Follow this link for a background and an overview of the debate on EMF and human health. The debate is strong in Québec.  A large group of scientist and engineers worried about what they consider the unfounded public outcry against wireless progress published a letter in the newspaper LeDevoir o...
  • Epoxy wrap for a leaking pipe - Pow-R-Wrap!

    A viewer from Aurora, Ontario has a small pin hole leak in a copper pipe in the wall and wants to know if there is any way to fix it without having to tear the whole wall open and replace the pipe. There exists an epoxy wrap called "Pow-R-Wrap". You simply turn off the water to relieve the press...
  • My 20 x 20 ceiling is dipping down dangeriously.

    One viewer who caught my camera in a renovation store asked what to do about the 20 x 20 ceiling in his condo that was dipping down in the centre. A serious visible dip must be caused by someone having removed a support wall from the original construction. Each floor is designed to remain flat a...
  • HEATING SYSTEMS -- AN INTRODUCTION

    Building codes require that a heating system be able to just barely maintain a comfortable house during the coldest day of the year. Hence the size of the heating system depends not only on the size of the house but on where it is located and how well it is winterized (sealed and insulated). The ...
  • Why do I have condensation on an insulated toilet tank?

    Geoff lives in Newfoundland and is frustrated that he has condensation on his toilet tank every spring despite the fact that it is insulated. Well Geoff, the fact that you live in Newfoundland helps to answer the mystery. Any time you see condensation, on a toilet tank, a window or a beer mug, i...
  • Mysterious dark permenant stains on carpets.

    When air flows through the edges of carpets, the carpet acts as a filter and collects whatever is in the air. Hence we often find dirt streaks around heating outlets where some of the air sneaks under the grill and through the rug. Often, streaks are found near baseboards where household air flo...
  • The Business of Renovation -- Part 3 -- Seeking out the Contractor.

    Unless you have a great personal reference to a contractor, you will probably have to use the Yellow Pages, or an association list and start calling. Here are the kinds of questions to ask during that first contact on the phone. The objective here is to narrow the field to two or three contractor...