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...
  • 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 sandbagging...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • The Pro Base ladder base -- the BEST self leveling feet for your outdoor ladder.

    When you need to stand a ladder on uneven ground, you always have to mess around to get something sturdy under the feet. Now there is an incredible invention from British Columbia that attaches to the bottom of any ladder. Place it on uneven ground. Step on one of the two release levers and the...
  • Radial Arm Saws

    Radial Arm Saws

  • Stopping Plumbing Floods & Flood Alarms

    I like to look at history and tell stories, but if you are not the type that likes to read a lot and all you want is to control your water flow – jump down to the best plumbing flow control system to date: the AquaTrip shut-off valve. For information on overland flooding, check out The River Is ...
  • Stopping cold air drafts from ducts to the outdoors.

    I get a lot of complaints about cold air drafts coming in through ducts connected to the outdoors. Here are some solutions.  Butterfly dampers Any exhaust vent that rises up and out will have a tendency to let cold air fall back down that duct. Quality butterfly dampers are available that have ...
  • Hot Water Tank Maintenance and Failure

    Earnie from Vancouver wants to know how can you predict the failure of your hot water tank before it fails. That is not an easy one Earnie. There are many signs that will indicate that you need to change the tank or at least do some maintenance work to keep it running, whether it is an electric ...
  • OVERVIEW: Spring Flooding of Basements

    Every spring basements get flooded with water and I get flooded with letters about basements turned into swimming pools. Although there is a lot of information on this site about the problem, let me summarize and link it together.  For solutions, see PREPARING FOR  A FLOOD The spring thaw is the...
  • Two Water Problems: Burn like sulfur smell and Milky looking water

      Burn Smell in the shower Bill from Newcastle, Ontario gets that smell in the morning and wants to know how to get rid of it. This is not a common problem, but it is certainly not unknown. It is not common because it requires a specific set of circumstances to create this problem. First it re...