DIY Frequently Asked Questions

Building Materials FAQ's (273)

I want a countertop that has a sink molded in with no seams to caulk or get dirty.

The solid surface countertop has this type of sink and is very easy to keep clean.

What’s the best way to insulate around the air conditioner?

There is a special type of air conditioner weather strip. It consists of a rectangular polyfoam that press-fits between the top frame or lower sash and upper pane. It seals off the air spaces between the window and the air conditioner.

How many hinges do I need for my door?

Use three butt hinges for doors up to 3 feet wide, and four hinges for wider doors. You’ll also want four hinges for doors taller than 7 feet tall.

Can I paint aluminum siding?

You can paint aluminum siding. Be sure to prep it properly by sanding with a fine-grit paper and clean it. Replace dented siding or repair with filler made for metal. Also prime any bare aluminum using a metal primer.

What kind of nails should I use to install paneling?

Use panel nails that are ringshank and are color matched to the paneling you are installing. Use 1” nails if you are attaching the paneling directly to the studs. Use 1-1/2” if you are attaching the paneling through a solid backing such as drywall.

Why is there a haze on the tile after I’ve set the grout?

The haze over the tile is grout residue. You can remove it with a scouring pad and water.

What’s the advantage of ceramic tile over vinyl in my kitchen?

Ceramic tile is easy to maintain and more durable than vinyl. It will also last longer, which means it is more cost effective over the long run. Also, it is more likely to increase the value of your home.

What is the difference between regular and Type X wallboard?

To be a type X wallboard, the board must be made by adding noncombustible fibers with the gypsum. The fibers help the board to be more fire resistant during exposure to fire. To achieve a type X rating, the board must meet certain criteria for fire resistance.

What is CDX plywood?

CDX is one of the less expensive plywood you can buy. C and D refer to the grading of the front and back sides. They are rough and not meant for places where appearance matters. The X means it is rated for exterior use. However, it is only meant for limited exterior use. For permanent exterior use, use a panel with an exterior rating.

What is SPF wood?

SPF stands for Spruce-Pine-Fir. An SPF wood can be either of these species, which share similar characteristics, including high strength, lightweight and durability. They can be used for a variety of purposes, such as home building, trusses or home projects.

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Building Materials Terms (161)

Reflective Foil Insulation

  • Radiant BarrierOne type is made of foil and poly to trap air between the sheets of foil, generally using bubble pack.
  • A second type expands when installed between stud spaces. The resistance to heat flow depends on the heat flow direction. This type of insulation is most effective in reducing downward heat flow.
  • Comes in long rolls of various widths.
  • May be used in conjunction with many different building materials and cut to fit any shape.
  • Typically installed between roof rafters, floor joists or wall studs.
  • When a single reflective surface is used alone and faces an open space such as an attic, then it is called a radiant barrier.

Fiberglass Door

  • Easy to maintain and requires less time to refinish.
  • Will not rot, crack or split.
  • Comes in a variety of styles including sidelights, transoms and glass.

Door Shoe

  • Made of extruded aluminum and vinyl.
  • Attached to the bottom of a door to help form a seal between the door and the threshold.
  • Used primarily in conjunction with a smooth top aluminum threshold to form a proper seal.
  • More durable and provides a better weather seal than a door sweep.

Ridge Vent

  • Vents exhaust from the attic and extends the life of the roof.
  • Typical widths are 9” and 12”.
  • Helps keep the attic cool and reduces air conditioning costs.
  • Helps prevent ice dams.
  • Shingle-over ridge vents incorporate shingles that match the roof and are nailed over the vent.
  • Pre-drilled holes make installation easy.
  • Most types feature baffles because ridge vents without baffles can allow wind and moisture to enter the attic.

Blacktop Sealer

  • Used to maintain outdoor asphalt surfaces.
  • The ultraviolet rays of the sun damage the asphalt binder used as the paving material. The sealer protects asphalt against oil, tar and gasoline and keeps water from settling in pores.
  • Apply at 70°F or higher and require 24 to 48 hours to dry before use.
  • The coal tar type of sealer needs to be resurfaced yearly and may contain hazardous chemicals.
  • The acrylic sealer type is non-toxic and environmentally friendly.

Premixed Concrete

  • Contains all the elements needed to mix concrete except water.
  • Generally comes in 40-, 60- or 80-lb. bags.
  • Typically used for minor concrete repairs or projects such as setting a post or replacing a section of a sidewalk.

Top of Paneling

  • When paneling goes only part way up the wall, it is called wainscot.
  • The raw edge at the top is finished with this piece of molding.
  • Several styles are available, including wainscot cap, ply cap or Dado cap.

Flange

  • Connects a pipe to a wall, floor or any flat surface.
  • Flanges are threaded onto pipe and tightened. Four screw holes allow the flange rim to attach to a flat surface.
  • A Closet Flange is made to connect toilets to drain and vent systems.
  • Another type is the Offset Closet Flange that is used when the drain pipe has been incorrectly positioned.
  • The adjustable ring on some closet flanges allows for easier toilet alignment.

Silicone Rubber Adhesive

  • Ideal for strong, flexible joints on wood, dissimilar surfaces such as metal, rubber, glass, ceramics, brick, wood and polystyrene foam.

Drywall Joint Compound

  • Is used in drywall construction as a bedding compound for the joint tape and to finish seams between drywall.
  • It is available in powder or ready-mixed form and comes in quarts, gallons and 5-gallon pails. Some ready-mixed types may also be used as texture paint.
  • One pound is sufficient for four lineal yards of joint surfaces.
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Electrical & Lighting Terms (80)

Fish Tape

  • Also known as a snake.
  • Used for pulling the electrical cable or wire through the wall or through electrical conduit.
  • Often comes in lengths of 25 or 50 feet, 1/2” or 3/4” wide with a hook on one end. Also comes coiled in a case.
  • Also used to probe wall cavities to determine the best path for routing a cable.

Landscape Fixtures

  • Designed to accent or light steps and pathways. It also serves a decorative function and is relatively easy to install. Don’t install landscape lighting with extension cords, which are for temporary use only.
  • Mushroom lights, named for their sloped shades, are commonly used along pathways or in gardens. The bulb ranges from 5 watts to 60 watts, and light is reflected downward to give a soft illumination to the immediate area near the fixture. Opaque, tiered lens attachments shield light from the eyes and direct it downward.
  • Bollard lights are cylindrical in shape, with the faceted lens being part of that cylinder. The lens diffuses light in a 360° pattern to create a soft glow. Lens shields can limit lighting to a 180° range.
  • Globe lights have spherical lenses, so they cast light in all directions, providing subtle illumination that can cover a large area without glare. They are often used around outdoor living areas.
  • Deck lights are designed to fit under steps, benches and railings. They can be mounted in many other ways as well. Many other kinds of fixtures can be recessed into steps or planters to directly illuminate pathways.
  • Landscape boulders blend naturally into the environment and glow from within, casting illumination for pathways. The faux boulders contain low-voltage lamps and UL-listed components that are easy to wire, can be installed on their own system or added to an existing low-voltage system.

Extension Cord

  • Indoor extension cords come in two-wire cords in lengths from 6′ to 15′. White and brown are the basic colors.
  • Outdoor extension cords are used for outdoor power tools and exterior lighting. They come in 16/3, 14/3 and 12/3 wire, and the most common lengths are from 25′ to 100′. Heavy-duty extension cords should be used with high-wattage appliances.
  • Any UL-listed cord will carry a UL label near the female end. Many companies are now using an alternative method of labeling allowed by UL, which permits the UL markings to be molded into the cord ends. This ensures a permanent marking that cannot be provided with a label. It is important to check for this UL insignia, whether it is a label or a permanent marking. Non-listed cords can be similar in appearance to listed ones.
  • To be UL-listed for outdoor use, three-wire round cords must have connector and cap molded to the cord and a lip on the end of the connector to prevent misuse. Beginning in 1998, UL-listed outdoor cords began appearing with the “SJTW” marking on the cord, not “SJTW-A” as was previously used. For a period of time, either marking will be acceptable for outdoor use.
  • Grounding cords are available in both heavyweight and heavy-duty construction differing from standard cords, because they have three conductors instead of two and are equipped with a three-prong grounding plug and connector.
  • Step-saver cords have built-in pendant switches to control appliances and lamps across the room.
  • Wind-up reels keep tangled, foot-catching cords off the floor.

LB Fitting

  • Connects at a 90º angle.
  • Has thick gaskets to make it impervious to moisture.
  • Generally, an LB fitting is placed outside at the point where the conduit leaves the house.
  • This fitting should not be used to make wire connections.

Circuit Breaker Box

  • Also called the electrical house panel or service panel.
  • A metal cabinet used to hold a series of circuit breakers.
  • Usually found near the main service entrance of the house.

Receptacle Analyzer

  • Analyzes a receptacle to determine whether or not the wiring is sound, if it is grounded and if the receptacle is receiving power.

Outdoor Fixtures

  • Primarily serve a security function, but there are a wide variety of systems, including: high–intensity discharge (HID) systems for mercury, metal halide and high–pressure sodium light sources; incandescent and tungsten halogen fixtures; low-voltage lighting systems; and incandescent or halogen PAR spotlights and floodlights.
  • HID lighting provides considerably greater illumination than other lighting commonly available. Its cost is also higher, although operating costs for lumens output is generally less.
  • Lumens are the measurement of light output.
  • Fixtures to be used outdoors must seal moisture and dust from wiring and switches. Fixtures with photocells provide automatic activation from dusk to dawn.
  • Spotlights or floodlights are used for security. They can also be used with a colored lend as decorative lighting. Weatherproof sockets are essential because the fixture is often mounted on the ground and pointed upward. Only install when the ground is completely dry.
  • Motion lights use sensors that activate the light when they detect heat and motion up to 40 feet away. They can attach to a power pack and mount on walls or fences 6 to 8 feet above the ground.

Appliance Cords

  • Combine cord and connector. The difference between cord sets can be in type of connector and/or cord used.
  • Free-end attachment cord sets without connectors are used in re-wiring direct attachment irons, toasters and similar small appliances. They have pre-tinned ends to speed up wiring.

Conduit Fasteners

  • Use to fasten conduit to a wall or other framing member.
  • Staples can be used to fasten conduit or bare cable.
  • Straps are another type. They can be either one-hole or two-hole.
  • Generally, staples are best used inside the house, straps are best used outside.

Thermostat Cable

  • Used in low-voltage control, alarm and communication systems. Most common types are braided, twisted and plastic-jacketed types. All three use solid copper conductors and are twisted and insulated with plastic.
  • Although thermostat cable is low voltage, it carries an UL-listing for being flame-retardant, since it is installed in the wall. Wiring used in security alarm and smoke detection systems must be UL-listed.
  • Twisted cable, which has no outer braid, is used in doorbells, burglar alarms, intercom telephones and public address systems.
  • Braided cable is covered with cotton braid and is used primarily in thermostat controls and other low-voltage, remote control circuits.
  • Plastic-jacketed cable is also used in similar low-voltage applications.
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Electrical FAQ's (92)

What do the colors of the plastic insulation mean on wires?

They are designed to indicate their use, but be careful, because they are not always hooked correctly. Hot wires, those carrying current at full voltage, are usually black, red or white with black marks. Neutral wires are usually with or gray. Ground wires are usually either green or bare copper.

Is it easy to replace a faulty plug?

Yes, start by snipping off the original plug. Slide the cord into the new plug, strip the wires and connect them to the proper terminals. For lamps and small appliances there are quick connect plugs. The snipped wire is inserted and a small lever is closed which holds the wire and pierces the wire to make the connection.

Do I need a special lamp for this droplight?

I recommend a rough service bulb. These heavy-duty bulbs will take rougher treatment and water droplets.

Is it okay to use an extension cord with a fuse on it rather than a surge protector for my computer?

No, a surge protector has components that trip before a spike in electricity damages your electronic equipment.

What is the easiest way to test an outlet?

Use a receptacle analyzer. Leave the power on, but make sure nothing is plugged into any outlet on the circuit, and turn off all switches on the circuit. Now, plug the analyzer into the outlet.  A series of lights will tell you if the outlet is wired correctly and working.

I have some slots left on my circuit breaker box that do not have breakers in them. Can I add more circuits?

You need to see how many amps your box is rated for and then look at the existing circuits to see how many total amps are already being used. If you have not reached the maximum, it’s possible to add more, but its best to have a professional do the work inside the box unless you have the specific knowledge.

What tool should I use to strip the plastic sheathing off wire?

A combination wire stripper tool has openings that fit different sizes of wire. When a wire is put into the correct one and pulled it will remove the covering without damaging the wire.

The dryer plug will not fit the receptacle in our new house. How can I remedy this?

In most new homes, there should be four-prong dryer and range receptacles. If you have a three prong power cord, you will need to change it.

Should I just throw away my old recyclable batteries?

No, laws require that they be recycled. This includes Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium Ion (Li-ion) and small sealed Lead (Pb) batteries. You can look for a battery recycling seal on the rechargeable batteries found in cordless power tools, cellular and cordless telephones, laptop computers and camcorders.

How does a voltage tester work?

A non-contact voltage tester measures the difference in electrostatic charge between the person holding the tester and the tip. If you hold it near an energized cable it will sound or flash (or both). These devices, however, do have limitations, including detecting ghost voltage (or phantom voltage), which has bled over from a nearby energized cable or device. Contact testers (or continuity testers, as they are called) have probes that are inserted into the slots in a receptacle. They can also test for correct grounding to make sure the receptacle is wired correctly. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before using these products.

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Encyclopedia-Terms (0)

Reflective Foil Insulation

  • Radiant BarrierOne type is made of foil and poly to trap air between the sheets of foil, generally using bubble pack.
  • A second type expands when installed between stud spaces. The resistance to heat flow depends on the heat flow direction. This type of insulation is most effective in reducing downward heat flow.
  • Comes in long rolls of various widths.
  • May be used in conjunction with many different building materials and cut to fit any shape.
  • Typically installed between roof rafters, floor joists or wall studs.
  • When a single reflective surface is used alone and faces an open space such as an attic, then it is called a radiant barrier.

Fiberglass Door

  • Easy to maintain and requires less time to refinish.
  • Will not rot, crack or split.
  • Comes in a variety of styles including sidelights, transoms and glass.

Door Shoe

  • Made of extruded aluminum and vinyl.
  • Attached to the bottom of a door to help form a seal between the door and the threshold.
  • Used primarily in conjunction with a smooth top aluminum threshold to form a proper seal.
  • More durable and provides a better weather seal than a door sweep.

Ridge Vent

  • Vents exhaust from the attic and extends the life of the roof.
  • Typical widths are 9” and 12”.
  • Helps keep the attic cool and reduces air conditioning costs.
  • Helps prevent ice dams.
  • Shingle-over ridge vents incorporate shingles that match the roof and are nailed over the vent.
  • Pre-drilled holes make installation easy.
  • Most types feature baffles because ridge vents without baffles can allow wind and moisture to enter the attic.

Blacktop Sealer

  • Used to maintain outdoor asphalt surfaces.
  • The ultraviolet rays of the sun damage the asphalt binder used as the paving material. The sealer protects asphalt against oil, tar and gasoline and keeps water from settling in pores.
  • Apply at 70°F or higher and require 24 to 48 hours to dry before use.
  • The coal tar type of sealer needs to be resurfaced yearly and may contain hazardous chemicals.
  • The acrylic sealer type is non-toxic and environmentally friendly.

Premixed Concrete

  • Contains all the elements needed to mix concrete except water.
  • Generally comes in 40-, 60- or 80-lb. bags.
  • Typically used for minor concrete repairs or projects such as setting a post or replacing a section of a sidewalk.

Top of Paneling

  • When paneling goes only part way up the wall, it is called wainscot.
  • The raw edge at the top is finished with this piece of molding.
  • Several styles are available, including wainscot cap, ply cap or Dado cap.

Flange

  • Connects a pipe to a wall, floor or any flat surface.
  • Flanges are threaded onto pipe and tightened. Four screw holes allow the flange rim to attach to a flat surface.
  • A Closet Flange is made to connect toilets to drain and vent systems.
  • Another type is the Offset Closet Flange that is used when the drain pipe has been incorrectly positioned.
  • The adjustable ring on some closet flanges allows for easier toilet alignment.

Silicone Rubber Adhesive

  • Ideal for strong, flexible joints on wood, dissimilar surfaces such as metal, rubber, glass, ceramics, brick, wood and polystyrene foam.

Drywall Joint Compound

  • Is used in drywall construction as a bedding compound for the joint tape and to finish seams between drywall.
  • It is available in powder or ready-mixed form and comes in quarts, gallons and 5-gallon pails. Some ready-mixed types may also be used as texture paint.
  • One pound is sufficient for four lineal yards of joint surfaces.
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FAQs (0)

I want a countertop that has a sink molded in with no seams to caulk or get dirty.

The solid surface countertop has this type of sink and is very easy to keep clean.

What’s the best way to insulate around the air conditioner?

There is a special type of air conditioner weather strip. It consists of a rectangular polyfoam that press-fits between the top frame or lower sash and upper pane. It seals off the air spaces between the window and the air conditioner.

How many hinges do I need for my door?

Use three butt hinges for doors up to 3 feet wide, and four hinges for wider doors. You’ll also want four hinges for doors taller than 7 feet tall.

Can I paint aluminum siding?

You can paint aluminum siding. Be sure to prep it properly by sanding with a fine-grit paper and clean it. Replace dented siding or repair with filler made for metal. Also prime any bare aluminum using a metal primer.

What kind of nails should I use to install paneling?

Use panel nails that are ringshank and are color matched to the paneling you are installing. Use 1” nails if you are attaching the paneling directly to the studs. Use 1-1/2” if you are attaching the paneling through a solid backing such as drywall.

Why is there a haze on the tile after I’ve set the grout?

The haze over the tile is grout residue. You can remove it with a scouring pad and water.

What’s the advantage of ceramic tile over vinyl in my kitchen?

Ceramic tile is easy to maintain and more durable than vinyl. It will also last longer, which means it is more cost effective over the long run. Also, it is more likely to increase the value of your home.

What is the difference between regular and Type X wallboard?

To be a type X wallboard, the board must be made by adding noncombustible fibers with the gypsum. The fibers help the board to be more fire resistant during exposure to fire. To achieve a type X rating, the board must meet certain criteria for fire resistance.

What is CDX plywood?

CDX is one of the less expensive plywood you can buy. C and D refer to the grading of the front and back sides. They are rough and not meant for places where appearance matters. The X means it is rated for exterior use. However, it is only meant for limited exterior use. For permanent exterior use, use a panel with an exterior rating.

What is SPF wood?

SPF stands for Spruce-Pine-Fir. An SPF wood can be either of these species, which share similar characteristics, including high strength, lightweight and durability. They can be used for a variety of purposes, such as home building, trusses or home projects.

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Hand & Power Tools FAQ's (185)

I’m drilling in some wood, where I will probably hit some hidden nails. What bit should I use?

A spade bit is a good choice, because they are relatively inexpensive and you can resharpen them with a file.

I need to cut the carpet out of a room that I am remodeling. Is there a special type of utility knife designed for this?

Yes. A carpet knife is what you need. Its angled design allows you to access hard-to-reach places where a regular utility might not be able to reach.

Do I need to buy both a crosscut and rip blade?

For general use, you can buy a combination blade that incorporates the features of both rip and crosscut blades.

I’m drilling in some wood, where I will probably hit some hidden nails. What bit should I use?

A spade bit is a good choice, because they are relatively inexpensive and you can resharpen them with a file.

What is a glaziers point and glazing compound?

Glaziers points are used to secure glass in a sash prior to adding glazing compound, which is a putty used to seal windows.

Are there tree trimmers you can use from the ground?

Yes, pole tree trimmers typically extend 12’ to 20’. Shears with a pulley and rope can cut about a 1” diameter branch, and saws are used on branches up to about 6”. For these and larger branches you may want to consider a chain saw.

What is kickback?

Kickback usually occurs when the workpiece pinches the blade of the saw. In stationary power tools, the result can be that the workpiece suddenly lurches back toward the user. Power tools should come with an anti-kickback device that helps control this potentially dangerous situation.

How can I remove the molding from my wall without damaging either the drywall or the molding?

A pry bar is more efficient than a claw hammer, and its smooth base keeps it from damaging the wall.

I want to tear down an old shed in the backyard. What should I use?

A wrecking bar or crow bar, which comes in different lengths, would be a useful tool.

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Hand Tools Terms (241)

Shingler’s Hammer

  • Drives roofing nails, assures proper shingle spacing, trims composition and fiberglass shingles.
  • Typically includes slotted, replaceable cutting blade.

 

Level Head Garden Rake

  • Has a level head set close to the handle.
  • Used to break up and smooth soil after it has been spaded and cultivated.
  • Has sharp, curved steel teeth to pulverize dirt clods.
  • The straight back is good for leveling the soil for planting.

Starter Punch

• Used to make a starter mark that can be enlarged with a pin punch.

• Generally ranges in length from 4” to 7”.

 

Star (Torx®) Tip Screwdriver

  • Designed for use with star head screws and bolts to reduce slippage.
  • Tips have six lobular drive surfaces to provide additional contact surface with the screw head.
  • Vertical sides transmit torque perpendicularly to the driven element so there is no slipping or cam-out.

Wallpaper Removers

  • A liquid spray-on solution that uses enzymes to break down the paste and destroy its adhesive strength.
  • Also available in a water-based gel formulations that can be applied with a brush or roller.

Mud Pan

  • Pan for holding drywall joint compound in hand during application process.
  • Generally 12” in length with tapered sides for easily applying joint compound onto taping knife.
  • Plastic models generally have a replaceable scraping bar for cleaning excess joint compound from taping knives and trowels.
  • Galvanized steel models feature watertight seams and sheared sides.

Tiling Trowel

  • Used for spreading mortar on substrate before laying tile.
  • Includes models that make both square and “V” notches.
  • Notch sizes range from 1/8” to ¼”.

Angle Vise

  • Contains marked adjustments to permit clamping at different angles.
  • Can also be adjusted to a flat position and used as a regular vise.
  • Can be locked into any position with a thumb screw, and bolts can be tightened for permanent positioning.

Plastic Pipe Saw

  • Designed to cut PVC and ABS plastic.
  • Can also cut wood and drywall.

Carpenter’s Hatchet

  • Also called a half hatchet.
  • For general use of felling and trimming trees or notching wood.
  • Other popular hatchet models include Hunter’s Hatchets, Broad Hatchets, and Camping Hatchets.
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Hardware & Fasteners Terms (109)

Carriage Bolt

  • Has a square shoulder under the head that pulls into soft materials such as wood and prevents the bolt from turning while the nut is tightened.
  • Has coarse, partial threads and a smooth, rounded head.

 

Impact-Expansion Concrete Anchor

  • Diameter sizes range from 1/4” to 3/4” and lengths from 1-3/4” to 6”.
  • The drill size used should be the same as the anchor diameter.
  • Setting the anchor requires driving the center pin down to the top of the anchor, which expands the sides of the anchor against the walls of the hole.
  • The hole can be drilled through the item to be fastened without moving the fixture.
  • Anchor can be plated hardened steel or stainless steel.

Weldless Flat Chain

  • Commonly called sash chain.
  • Made by stamping or shaping a flat strip from metal. Strips are then formed into links and attached to each other.
  • Especially suited for use over pulleys or where chain must lie flat.
  • Weldless chain is generally recommended for light work only.

Shelf Standard

  • Pre-slotted metal strips attached to the wall, preferably into wall studs.
  • Can be attached with toggle bolts or similar fasteners approximately 16” apart.
  • If the standards are further than 16” apart, the shelves may not support heavy loads.
  • A newer variation includes a mounting rail that is fastened across the studs. The standard then clips directly into the rail or may require an adapter. Usually requires a fastener at the bottom for stability.

Elbow Catch

  • Helps the cabinet door stay shut.
  • Mounts on the door with the strike installed on the frame or on a shelf.
  • Can only be released from the inside of the cabinet and thus is used on one side of a pair of doors.

Continuous Hinge

  • Also called piano hinges.
  • Comes in sizes up to 72” long.
  • Fits along the entire length of the door.
  • Provides protection against warping.
  • Frequently used on chest lids and cabinets.

Capped Nail

  • Has a plastic or metal flat cap at the head.
  • Used for installing foam insulation to exterior surfaces.
  • Some types are made for hammering into masonry.

Screw Eye/Hook

  • A screw eye consists of screw thread at one end and a ring at the other.
  • A screw hook consists of screw thread at one end and a hook at the other.
  • Used to hang tools or utensils or for holding them together.

 

Drop-In Anchor

  • Expandable concrete anchors set in pre-drilled holes.
  • Accepts standard coarse thread bolts or threaded rod.
  • Drop-in style anchors do not require patching after sinking.
  • Comes in sizes to fit 1/4” to 3/4”.

Passing Link Welded Chain

  • Made with links sufficiently wide to permit the links to pass each other easily, keeping kinking and tangling to a minimum.
  • Used extensively on farm machinery, for a swing chain and for animal tie-out.
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Hardware FAQ's (78)

I am building a swing. What type of chain do you recommend?

Passing link allows the links to pass each other easily, which helps prevent kinking and tangling?

What are the advantages of a carriage bolt?

The square shoulder, sunk into wood, prevents the bolt from turning and the round head gives a smoother finish.

What kind of anchor should I use to attach machinery to a concrete floor?

Use a heavy expansion anchor such as a sleeve or wedge anchor.

What can I use to tighten up a sagging clothesline?

A turnbuckle installed at one end permits you to tighten the line to the desired tautness.

How many nails should I purchase?

You will need about 2-1/2 lbs. of roofing nails for each square of shingles.

How strong should the chain be I buy?

Chains are all rated to their working loads. Welded chains have links that are welded to form a continuous loop, and are the strongest. Weldless chains are formed by bending, twisting or knotting the metal to form individual loops. They are recommended for light work only.

What do the marks on the head of a bolt mean?

They represent the hardness of the bolt. No marks indicates the least hard, three marks is medium hardness and bolts with six marks are the hardest.

What kind of anchor should I use if I’m attaching conduit to a foundation wall?

Use either hammer anchors or a concrete/masonry screw.

What fixture can I use which will enable me to hang a picture straight?

For lightweight pictures, a saw-toothed hanger on picture frames will permit you to adjust the picture on the nail.

What do I need to know to buy the right type of caulk?

The type of caulk you use will depend on the following factors:

  • Where it will be applied?
  • What type of surfaces will be bonded or caulked?
  • How much stress or movement will the joint be subject to?
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Heating & Cooling FAQ's (61)

How do I attach insulation between floor joists?

Insulation must be installed with the vapor barrier facing up. This means the paper flanges cannot be used. Use insulation supports (thin metal rods) to support the insulation. You can also attach a string in a lace pattern across the bottom of the joists.

What size air filter does my furnace need?

Check labeling on or measure the existing filter. If no filter exists, measure the length and width of the space where the filter should be.

What is the difference between a stove with a catalytic combustor and a non-catalytic combustor?

A catalytic combustor stove lowers the temperature required to burn wood efficiently. The stove burns fuel slowly and also burns off smoke that would otherwise leave the chimney as wasted fuel. This type generally doesn’t need much cleaning. A non-catalytic combustor stove (a recirculating stove) uses a heavily insulated firebox that keeps the heat in and creates a more complete combustion. This type also has a secondary combustion chamber that burns off more gasses and soot.

How large of a kerosene heater should I buy?

Kerosene heaters are rated by their BTU output. Approximately 28 BTUs/hour are required to maintain one square foot of space at 70°F. Multiply this figure by the total square footage in the room you want to heat and you will have the approximate BTU rating of the heater you should buy.

Why do I need vents in my attic?

Venting protects against moisture buildup in the attic and framing materials and helps keep the home cooler. In the summer, a tremendous amount of heat can build up in the attic, which can make the air conditioning system work much harder than it needs to. Venting keeps the attic cooler because it allows that hot air a place to escape. In the winter, vapor occurs when the warm air inside the house meets the cool air outside and condenses into water droplets. Ventilation keeps this moisture from rotting insulation and framing materials.

How do I change the air filter in my furnace?

The filter generally is located as close to the blower unit as possible. It will be between the incoming ductwork and the blower. Furnaces may have a slot with a flap that closes over it. Slide the old filter out and slide the new one in the same way.

How much space should there be between the stove and surrounding objects?

There should be a 36” clearance on all sides of the stove to prevent scorching or possible fire.

Can I use an extension cord with my electric space heater?

It is best to plug your electric heater directly into a wall outlet. However, if you must use an extension cord, only use one that is heavy duty, meaning it has 14-gauge wire.

Do I have enough vents in my attic?

You should have one square foot of vent area for every 150 square feet of attic floor space. The vent manufacturer will list the vent area on the package as the FVA (free vent area). The vent area must also be split between high and low vents. If a vapor barrier is present, then the requirement changes to one square foot for every 300 square feet. Shingle manufacturers require that attics have adequate ventilation; otherwise their product warranty may be voided.

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Heating & Cooling Terms (56)

Grate

  • Holds burning logs off the hearth.
  • Prevents logs from rolling forward.
  • Using a grate and andiron allow air to circulate and feed the fire, while ashes fall away from burning logs.

Floor Fan

  • Can be moved anywhere in the home to provide air movement that will cool and circulate air.
  • Sizes are generally 10” to 12” in diameter. They can be mounted in rectangular or round, hassock-type case.
  • A hassock fan throws air outward and upward in a 360° direction.
  • A rectangular fan will tile about 170° and may be used as a table fan, throwing air outward.
  • Typically has a speed-selection control, while some may run at a fixed speed.
  • One variation is the stand-mounted fan. This type can generally be easily tilted and may be used as an exhaust fan if placed near a window.

Pleated Filter

  • A low-cost alternative to fiberglass filters, designed to protect the home’s HVAC system from dust.
  • Made of a dense and efficient cotton/polyester material.
  • The pleated design provides greater surface area to capture more particles than fiberglass filters.
  • Smaller sized particles can pass through the filter because fibers are not eletrostatically charge and the media must be woven with spaces between fibers to allow adequate airflow.
  • This type of filter should be changed every 90 days.

Andiron

  • The andiron is a pair of metal bars with decorative front shafts that hold the logs.
  • Using a grate and andiron allow air to circulate and feed the fire, while ashes fall away from burning logs.

Oscillating Fan

  • Moves back and forth in an adjustable pattern to spread air over a larger area.
  • Oscillation function can generally be switched off with the turn of a knob.
  • May be used on the floor, a table or mounted on the wall.
  • Usually does not have as high an air delivery as floor fans.
  • Typically ranges in size from 8” to 16” in diameter.
  • Tile angle varies from about 50° to 90°.

What kind of caulk should I use around window frames?

Latex caulks are good for filling these kinds of gaps. They clean up with water and most are paintable. However, they must be applied in temperatures of more than 40 degrees.

Glass Enclosure

  • Improves fireplace performance by controlling air intake, making the wood burn more slowly and retaining more heat in the firebox. Additionally, the fireplace pulls less warm air from the house.
  • Allows user to leave the fire unattended.
  • Allows a clear view of the fire while keeping smoke and sparks out of the room.
  • Most have a built-in draft at the base to direct air to the bottom of the fireplace opening. This allows the user to easily start and control the fire.
  • Mounts securely against the face of the fireplace and overlaps the opening.

Exhaust Fan

  • Used primarily to extract stale air from an attic, kitchen or bathroom.
  • Kitchen fans are installed above the kitchen range or under the range hood and prevent smoke and grease from accumulating in the kitchen and spreading throughout the house. A switch simultaneously starts the fan and opens an outside vent.
  • Bathroom fans may come with an optional light or heater and are used to expel steam and odors from the rooms.
  • Should carry certified sound ratings developed by the Home Ventilating Institute and its member manufacturers. Ratings are in steps of 0.5 sones and 10 (CFM) cubic feet per minute. Limits for sound outputs are 6.5 sones for bathroom fans and 9 sones for kitchen fans up to 500 cfm.

Warm-Mist Device

  • Uses a heating element to restore moisture to the air.
  • The water surrounding the heating element is brought to near boiling and a fan cools and distributes the moistened air, which is slightly warmer than room air.
  • This type can be used with tap water and will not cause white dust.
  • Can be noisy and consumes more energy than other types.

Fireplace Set

  • A set containing the tools usually needed around a fire.
  • Contains a stand, fire poker, ash shovel and broom.
  • Available in many different styles for a variety of décor options.
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Home Security FAQ's (38)

My dusk to dawn light doesn’t go off and remains on all day. Do I need to replace it?

First find the sensor and see if it is being obscured by something. If not, you can probably just replace this sensor.

What are the different types of smoke detectors?

Thermal smoke detectors detect heat only. Ionization smoke detectors respond particularly well to smoke caused by flaming fires. Photoelectric smoke detectors detect smoldering fires but react slowly to flaming fires.

What kind of security system do I need to protect my doors and windows?

A perimeter system protects the doors and windows while an area alarm has a motion detector that protects entire rooms.

Where should I keep a fire extinguisher in my home?

Don’t mount it too close to where a fire is likely to occur. For example, don’t keep it next to the stove. A good place is at the top of the stairs or near a workshop. In most cases, it’s a good idea to have a fire extinguisher for every 600 square feet of living space.

What can I do to add security to my door?

Consider installing a stronger strikeplate—these are larger and have much longer screws.

What is radon gas and how do I protect my family from it?

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that can collect in hazardous concentrations in areas like the basement. A radon detector in your basement will help keep your family safe.

Is there a product that makes installing a strikeplate easier?

Yes, there is an adjustable strikeplate

My smoke detector beeped last night, but there was no smoke. What is wrong with it?

This is a warning signal that the batteries are low. If your alarm is more than 10 years old, you should consider replacing it, just to make sure that you have one that is in good working order.

What is the difference between a single-cylinder and a double-cylinder deadbolt?

A single-cylinder is key operated from the outside while a double cylinder is key operated on both sides. They both have their advantages.

How long should a smoke detector last?

We recommend that you replace any smoke detector that is more than 10 years old.

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Home Security Terms (35)

Photoelectric Fire Detector

  • Uses a small lamp adjusted to direct a narrow light beam across the detection chamber. Smoke entering the chamber scatters this light beam, causing it to hit a sensor and set off the alarm.
  • Usually more sensitive to smoke from a slow, smoldering fire than an ionization detector, but reacts less quickly to flaming fires.
  • Available in both battery-operated and plug-in versions.

Trailer Lock

  • Used to secure standing trailers by rendering the towing device inoperable.
  • Locks cover or fill the coupler socket so it cannot be mounted on a ball.

Ionization Fire Detector

  • Measures the changes in electric current caused by invisible particles ionized in the heat of combustion.
  • Transforms air inside the detector into a conductor of electric current. When smoke enters the detector and impedes the flow of current, the alarm sounds.
  • Responds particularly well to the smoke caused by a flaming fire.
  • Requires little power and is effectively powered by household batteries.
  • Slower to respond to a smoldering fire.
  • Detectors are required to emit a low warning when batteries are weak.

Gun Lock

  • Fits over the trigger housing of guns to prevent firing of the weapon.
  • Some models have a sound alarm to warn that the gun is being tampered with.
  • Some have tamper-evident devices to alert owners that the gun has been disturbed.
  • Some models can lock multiple guns at once.

Home Intrusion Alarm

  • Wide variety of types available. Selection will depend on what you want to accomplish. Some feel a loud alarm at the point of entry will scare away the intruder. Others prefer a remote alarm located in a bedroom that will alert only the homeowner. Others prefer an outside alarm that will alert neighbors. Other kinds will sound an alarm and are connected directly to monitoring systems that will alert the police.
  • Simple alarms may consist of a door-locking device with a buzzer attached. When the device is tampered with or the door opened, the alarm sounds.
  • Many intrusion alarms are more elaborate and have twocomponents. A perimeter alarm detects intrusion at points of entry, such as door and windows. An area alarm detects motion inside a room.

U-Bar Lock

  • Provides maximum protection for bicycles, gates, etc.
  • Hardened steel shanks resist cutting.
  • Available in combination lock or keyed lock versions.

Keyless Entry System

  • For advanced home security and convenience.
  • Audio and visual indicators confirm the lockset is activated.
  • Uses a keypad on the door or a remote control to open the door.
  • Some models will sound an alarm after the incorrect code has been entered more than three consecutive times.
  • Anti-theft rolling code feature ensures the same code is never used twice.
  • Some systems are compatible with some garage door openers so the homeowner only needs one remote.

Cable Lock

  • Uses the combination of a lock and cable to lock and secure objects in a variety of applications.
  • Some models have a chain or cable permanently attached to a combination or keyed lock.
  • Chain or cable often has a protective plastic coating to prevent scratching.

Home Area Alarm

  • Uses either ultrasonic waves or microwaves to detect motion. When it detects motion, it triggers an alarm.
  • Generally plugs into a standard electrical outlet, so they’re easy to install.
  • Ultrasonic detector waves only go as far as the wall of the room, while microwaves penetrate walls and windows.
  • Some ultrasonic alarms use a narrow sonic beam that must be bounced off a hard surface. Here, the intruder must break the beam to be detected.
  • Other ultrasonic alarms use a wide beam that fills the room and detects motion anywhere in the trap zone.
  • The most important consideration with this type of alarm is avoiding false alarms. These can be caused by air conditioners or drapery moving above a hot air register. Better systems have built in circuitry that does not respond to these types of signals.
  • Some systems have extra repeater alarms or satellites. These can be plugged in anywhere in the home to add extra noise and relay the warning to remote rooms.

Tubular Cylinder Padlock

  • Offers many key changes by replacing the cylinder.
  • Usually used in electronic security systems, but some owners of motorcycles and expensive bikes use them as well.
  • Pins are arranged in a circle and are exposed.
  • The key is cylindrical.
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Lawn & Garden FAQ's (154)

The squirrels keep chewing through the wood around the access hole in my birdhouse. How do I prevent this?

Add a second piece of wood over the access hole before drilling the hole. This will double the thickness around the hole, which will help keep predators out.

What time of year should I plant grass seed?

As long as the soil temperature is 50 degrees for higher, you can plant seed. However, the best two times are in the spring, when the soil is moist, and in the early fall, when temperatures are still warm enough for the seed to germinate, and there is still enough time for the grass to get established before the first frost. Fall has an advantage because the new grass seedlings won’t be competing with common lawn weeds which are starting to go dormant at this time.

Which is better, rubber or vinyl hose?

Rubber hose will last longer and will not kink as easily. However, it is heavier and more cumbersome to handle.

Is there a power tool that I can use to trim evergreens with?

Yes, there are electric hedge trimmers. They come in different sizes. The larger units are more powerful, but do not buy a model that is too heavy for you to handle.

I used a shade-tolerant grass seed in a shady area, but the seeding won’t grow. What’s going on?

Make sure you keep this area well watered, and do not cut it as short as the rest of the lawn. In addition, rake the leaves in the winter. If you still have a problem, you may have to trim the branches on a tree that is blocking the light or cover the area with mulch.

What are the advantages of water-soluble fertilizers?

These dry or liquid concentrates must be diluted in water before application. They are applied with a hose-end sprayer or a watering can. They are relatively expensive, but they are easy to apply and provide even feeding. They are easy to use, especially on container plants. There is no risk of burning a plant as long as you follow label directions for dilution, and the nutrients, in solution, are available to plant roots immediately. They are less practical than the solids for large-scale use because of their greater cost and because they must be reapplied more often (their nutrients in solution leach through the root zone more rapidly).

How deep of a hole should I dig for fence posts?

Put line posts at least 24” into the ground. Gate and corner posts will carry more stress, so they should be at least 30” into the ground.

I always clean the grates on my grill, but do I need to clean my burner cover bars after each use to keep pests away?

No, just use a wire brush on them from time to time. They sit close enough to the flame from the burner that any drips from above will burn away when the grill is turned on high.

What is the difference between a standard sheet of plastic and a landscape fabric?

A landscape fabric lets water through while preventing weeds from growing. While plastic will stop weeds, it does not allow moisture penetration. Cutting small holes for your plants in weed block prevents weeds from growing in the bed, but still allows your plants to get moisture. A sheet of plastic could be used if you are trying to keep anything from growing in an area, such as under a deck.

How should I go about trimming my evergreens?

For heavier cutting, a lopping shear with more leverage will be needed. For other trees, a bypass shear provides a cleaner cut that those trees prefer.

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Lawn and Garden Terms (144)

Centipede Grass

  • Good in moderate shade and infertile soil.
  • Has few insect or disease problems.
  • A good lawn for hot areas.

Extension Ladder

  • A non-self supporting type of ladder with two similar sections that are linked with internal guides on the bottom of base section and external guides on the top.
  • Sections are pulled apart to increase length.
  • Used for working in high areas and primarily for exterior applications.
  • Available in heights ranging from 16’ to 40’.
  • Smaller extension ladders are extended manually and secured with gravity spring lock brackets
  • that rest on the selected rung.
  • Larger extension ladders are extended by means of a rope and pulley running down the side of the ladder and secured with a cleat.
  • Generally available in all aluminum and fiberglass with aluminum rungs.
  • Rungs can be round or flat and are usually serrated for enhanced slip resistance.
  • Ladder shoes pivot to allow full contact with ground. Shoes can also be turned up to penetrate soft ground for extra stability.
  • Quality classifications include consumer (household), commercial (mechanic) and industrial grades.

Pelletized Fertilizer

  • In the form of semi-rigid pellets or capsules.
  • This type does not ensure a steady release of nutrients unless slow-release sources are included in the pellets.

Household Pesticides

  • Kill or repel pests that could come inside the home.
  • Improper application can have harmful effects on families and pets.
  • One popular type is the spray or fogger. These penetrate the cracks and crevices inside the house where insects nest. Users will need to leave the house for a period of time while the chemical works.
  • When using foggers, read the warning labels regarding use around open flames. The pilot lights on gas furnaces and appliances will ignite the insecticide if it reaches a high enough concentration in the home.
  • Pest repellents keep insects and rodents from entering the home. Common examples are sprays that repel dogs and wild animals from gardens and flowerbeds, or spray-on mosquito repellents that can be used on skin or clothing.
  • Pest traps will kill or confine rodents or insects. Common examples are the mousetrap and the roach trap. Traps incorporate some type of bait.
  • Poisons are ingested directly into the pest. Keep in mind they can also be harmful to household pets or small children.
  • Be sure to read the pesticide package carefully and follow all instructions.

Trailer Cart

  • Pulls behind garden tractors and riding mowers.
  • They typically have a dumping mechanism located on the trailer towing bar or tongue. Dump by pulling a rope, releasing the body from the tongue.
  • Smaller capacity types hold 4 to 7 cu. ft.
  • Larger carts can hold from 8 to 17 cu. ft.

Pistol Nozzle

  • Gun-type hose spray accessory constructed of metal or plastic.
  • Many have adjustable spray patterns from a fine mist to a solid stream to full flow by squeezing the handle or by turning an adjusting screw or using a multi-position clip.
  • Some models have a dial control for different spray patterns.

Spike-Type Aerator

  • Cuts through hard soil to loosen and break up the dirt several inches below the surface so air and moisture can promote deep root growth.
  • Has spiked wheels that allow scrap-free transport across hard surfaces.

Long Handle Square Shovel

  • Square blade is made of steel and is forged or hot-formed to the front strap as a single unit.
  • Best used for scooping and removing materials.
  • Broader blade has a higher holding capacity.
  • The top of the blade may have a turned lip called the foot pedal.

Diamond Weave Fencing

  • Extra-strong fencing with close mesh spacing.
  • Used often in public areas because it is more expensive than ordinary fencing but lasts longer.
  • Similar in appearance to chain link fence.
  • Can be vinyl-coated or galvanized.
  • Typically available in 50’ rolls 36” or 48” high.

Bermuda Grass

  • Spreads by fast-growing surface runners during warm periods.
  • Becomes brown and dormant from first frost until late spring.
  • Not recommended for northern areas.
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Paint & Decorating FAQ's (80)

I have a painted concrete floor in my garage. Can I still apply an epoxy coating?

It depends on the shape it’s in. If it’s in good shape, you can forego the etching process, give it a good cleaning with an all-purpose cleaner and rough it up with a floor sander before apply the new epoxy finish. If it’ flaking, however, you’ll have to completely remove the old finish before applying a new one.

I’m going to be painting a table that has a gloss finish. Do I need to prepare the surface?

You should use a liquid deglosser, which works without sanding and also produces a slight tack for better adhesion of the new finish.

Should I apply a protective coating over a faux finish?

While it isn’t mandatory, it will enhance the durability. Just be sure to let the glaze dry for two days before coating.

Where do I start when painting an interior wall?

Use an angled brush to trim the perimeter of the room and around door and window frames.

How wide of a brush should I use?

The best answer is whatever you feel comfortable with. A bigger brush holds more paint and applies it more quickly, but it is also harder to control.

My garage floor has cracks. Can I still use an epoxy finish, or is it primarily for relatively new floors?

You can use an epoxy floor finish on your garage, but you must first fill all the cracks using cement crack filler or a hydraulic cement patching compound and let it set completely before starting.

How long will I have to wait between coats of paint?

While drying times can vary based on factors such as humidity, plan on waiting about four hours when you are using latex paint. If you are using oil-based paint, you will probably need to wait up to 24 hours.

Other than walls, where are faux finishes generally used?

Faux finishing is quite popular on furniture, lamps, bowls—you name it.

Should I use a brush with synthetic or natural bristles?

As a general rule, you should use a synthetic bristle brush with latex paint and a natural bristle brush with oil-base paints. However, many synthetic bristle brushes can also be used with oil base paints.

Should I buy a paint brush with angled bristles or cut square?

An angle-tipped brush allows you to put the tips of the bristles on the work at the natural angle that the brush is held. In addition, an angle-tipped brush puts slightly more bristle area on the work than a square-tipped brush of the same width.

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Paint & Decorating Terms (82)

Masonry Waterproofing Paint

  • Coating used for masonry surfaces including stucco, concrete, brick, cement, etc.
  • Most masonry paints are acrylic latex-based. Oil-based paint is not recommended for masonry because of the residual alkalinity in the masonry.
  • Most latex-based masonry paints require a special pre-treatment or bonding primer to tie down old chalk and dust before application.
  • Rough surfaces should first receive a coat of block-filler. Acrylic elastomeric coatings bridge cracks and pinholes to provide the best waterproofing.
  • Powdered cement paints, which have a shorter exterior life than latex coatings, must be mixed with water. They can be applied only over a porous masonry surface such as brick, stucco or concrete, or over surfaces that have been previously coated with this same kind of paint. For proper adhesion, the old surface must be wetted down thoroughly and the paint applied to the damp surface.
  • Masonry paint can be waterproof as well as decorative. For best color retention, coat with a good acrylic latex paint 30 days after application of waterproof masonry paint.


Paint Bucket

  • Rectangular plastic bucket used for painting.
  • Common sizes range from 1 to 5 gallons.
  • Can be equipped with accessories such as a bucket grid or screen to help clean paint from brushes and rollers when in use.
  • Generally has a handle for easy carrying.
  • Some buckets feature a lid that closes and seals paint, roller or brush inside the tray.

Paint Can Bucket Hanger

  • Provides a convenient place for paint or tools.
  • Can secure one gallon paint can to ladder for ease of painting.
  • Some models include swivel hooks that snap to the can to keep it level.
  • Other models specifically designed to attach to the frame of extension and step ladders.

Painter’s Tool

  • Also called 5-in-1, 6-in-1 or 8-in-1 Tool or a Glazier’s Tool.
  • Can be used for a variety of tasks, as a scraper, spreader, crack cleaner, roller squeegee and even a can opener.
  • Half-round cutout helps remove paint from rollers during cleaning.
  • Blade is fixed to handle.
  • Many models have ergonomic handles for enhanced comfort.

Extension Pole

  • Makes roller painting both faster and easier for hard-to-reach areas.
  • Generally range from 1′ to 16′ in length.
  • Some poles are adjustable, or telescoping, to handle a multitude of painting situations.
  • They also enable the user to stand on the floor instead of a ladder when painting high walls or ceilings.
  • Generally made of fiberglass or aluminum
  • Some include quick-release adaptors for easy tool changes.
  • Usually extends in 6” increments.

Exterior Paint

  • Like interior paint, exterior paint is available in both latex and oil-based formulations—both of which are designed to withstand wear and exposure to severe weather conditions.
  • The advantage of exterior latex paint is that it films on exterior wood allowing moisture to evaporate through the film, which helps reduce blistering.
  • The disadvantages of exterior latex paint, especially of some lower-quality products, are poorer adhesion to badly weathered or chalking surfaces and, in some cases, less effective hiding qualities.
  • The best qualities of oil-based paints are their effective penetration of the surface and excellent adhesion. Oil-based paints have advantages over latex paints in that they adhere better to chalky surfaces and they provide better results for anyone repainting a surface that already has several layers of oil-based paint.
  • Trim paints are chosen to contrast with house color. They dry quickly to a hard finish; they are primarily for use on window frames, shutters and railings. Trim paints are not recommended for large surfaces.
  • Flat finishes, which mark easily, should not be used on doors, door frames or other areas that are exposed to wear. Satin or gloss paints are recommended for these areas.
  • Major problems associated with house paints are generally due to:
    • failure to follow manufacturer’s directions
    • excessive moisture
    • painting wet surfaces
    • painting during inclement weather
    • failure to use proper primer coat
    • failure to clean the surface completely.
  • Any of these conditions can cause blistering, peeling, early fading or similar problems.

Roller Tray

  • A container that holds paint when using a paint roller.
  • Most trays have ribbed bottoms to remove excess paint from a roller cover after filling it.
  • Ladder-lock legs permit them to snap onto a stepladder.
  • A good quality tray can last indefinitely if cleaned after each use.
  • Plastic tray liners are also available.
  • Some trays features a lid that closes and seals paint, roller or brush inside the tray. This eliminates the need to clean the painting equipment after each use. It also saves paint.

Ladder Stabilizer

  • Attaches near the top of extension ladders to help stabilize the ladder and make it safer to use.
  • Most models provide a wider or more stable base and protective rubber end cap to protect the work surface.
  • Can be used on both aluminum and fiberglass extension ladders and even articulated ladders to hold ladder 10” away from the wall.
  • Some models include spring loaded locking latch for quick installation and removal.
  • Commonly used to span second story windows to center ladder when working on windows. Some models span double windows.
  • Some models also designed for use on corners.

Putty Knife

  • Putty knives range in size from 1″ to 3″. Generally, the greatest demand is for 1-1/4″ and 1-1/2″. Models with wider blades are joint taping knives.
  • Blades range from stiff to flexible for different tasks.
  • The finest quality putty knife blades are made from mirror-finished, high-carbon steel and are hardened, tempered and individually ground.
  • Used for applying putty and spackling as well as scraping paint, chipping out old putty, scraping off accumulated grease and scraping old finishes off furniture.

Roller Cover

  • Available in natural or synthetic fibers.
  • The density of the fiber determines the roller’s ability to hold paint and spread it evenly. Inexpensive rollers that become matted or fail to spread the paint will produce a mottled finish, regardless of the quality of paint used. They may also leave lint on the painted surface.
  • Mohair covers are especially good for applying enamel, while lambs wool covers are excellent for alkyd paints, but not latex.
  • Synthetic fibers make good all-purpose covers. In fact, about 95 percent of all roller covers are synthetic.
  • Smooth roller covers (with a 3/16″ or 1/4″ nap) are used for painting walls, floors and fine finishing.
  • Medium rollers covers (with a 3/8″ or 1/2″ nap) are used for for sand-textured walls.
  • Rough rollers covers (with a 3/4″ or 1″ nap) are used for light stucco walls and masonry floors.
  • Extra rough covers (with a 1-1/4″ nap) are used to paint brick, block, masonry and stucco.
  • Texture roller covers are designed specifically for the applying texture paints. Some are foam with patterns etched into the surface. Others have deep, looped material. Texture roller covers have large diameters to accommodate the heavier consistency of texture paints.
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Plumbing FAQ's (121)

My garbage disposal smells bad. What can I do?

There are garbage disposer cleaners that will eliminate this smell, or a home remedy is to grind up citrus peels in the disposer, which will also eliminate the smell.

What can I use to make sure my water pipe does not freeze?

Heat tapes have a thermostat on them so they know when to turn on and off. Simply wrap the pipe and plug them in.

Do I need plumbers putty underneath my faucet?

This is a good idea to keep moisture from getting under the faucet and into the cabinet below.

What is a check valve?

A check valve keeps water from returning to the sump pit or crawl space after the pump shuts off.

How do I test to see if water is leaking from the tank into the bowl?

After flushing the toilet, let it refill. Now put a few drops of food coloring into the tank. If the color appears in the bowl after a few minutes, there is a leak.

How do I join PVC fittings to PVC pipe?

Use a solvent welding glue, which softens the pipe and fittings so they can melt together.

I have heat tape on my water line. What type of pipe wrap should I use over the heat tape?

Use fiberglass. Don’t use foam wrap, because the heat could melt it.

Can you have a garbage disposal if you have a septic system?

Yes, in fact, many manufacturers make models specifically for homes with septic systems.

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Plumbing Terms (100)

Black Poly Pipe

  • Used for carrying low-pressure cold water. Common applications include golf course sprinklers, underground conduits or to carry corrosive liquids and gases.
  • Good chemical and crush resistance.
  • Lightweight enough to cut with an ordinary knife or a fine-toothed hacksaw blade.

Auger

  • Also known as a snake.
  • Consists of a coiled spiral cable, usually 1/4î thick and of varying lengths.
  • The most basic type has a z-shaped handle used to crank the cable as it snakes through the drain.
  • Another type uses a funnel-shaped container to store the cable and then to spin it as it works its way through the drain.
  • Professionals use an auger attached to a drill or other device that spins the cable. Usually these versions can maneuver a much longer cable.

Chain Vise

  • Helps hold pipe when cutting or reaming pipe.
  • Smaller than the yoke vise. Has a fixed lower V-shaped jaw with teeth on where the pipe is laid and a bicycle-type chain fastened to one end. When the pipe is inserted, the chain is placed over it and locked in a slot on the opposite side.

Pipe Joint Compound

  • Pipe DopeAlso known as pipe dope.
  • Thick oily paste brushed on pipe threads before joining.
  • Prevents leaks, corrosion and makes it easier to disassemble.

Water Filter

  • Used to remove bacteria and/or chemicals suspended in water to improve its taste and smell. Filters either install under the sink or at the point where the water supply enters the building (whole-house filters). Others mount on the faucet or countertop.
  • The basic types of water filtration devices are activated-carbon filters, reverse osmosis, distillation and aeration.
  • Activated-carbon filters are the least expensive water filtration devices. They can remove impurities and improve water taste and odor, but do not eliminate dissolved minerals or bacteria. One solution is to combine a carbon filter with a chlorination system.
  • Reverse-osmosis systems take out dissolved lead, mercury,cadmium and other heavy metals that are present in the water, but will not eliminate microorganisms. They are also relatively expensive.
  • Distillation removes most impurities in the water system. Distillers work slowly and must be cleaned regularly.
  • Aeration reduces, but does not necessarily eliminate, the levels of iron, chlorine and other gases in the water. It works best when combined with other treatment forms.
  • Some filters feature cartridges that can be cleaned and reused several times before replacement.
  • Filters based on ceramic technology will remove up to 100 percent of bacteria as well as chemicals, tastes and odors. Some have proven effective in removing such contaminants as algae, chlorine and detergents found in many urban water supplies.
  • Another under-sink model even reduces levels of MTBE, a gasoline additive that contaminates some wells and municipal water systems.
  • Always study information about the specific filters that you are selling.

Flux

  • Helps prevent oxidation and allows solder to flow freely.
  • Comes in both liquid and paste.
  • Necessary whenever sweating a joint.

ABS Pipe

  • Drain PipeMeans Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene.
  • Made from a thermoplastic resin. Lightweight and easier to use than metal pipe.
  • Commonly used for DWV (drain-waste-vent) applications or for underground electrical conduits.
  • Available as either solid wall or cellular core construction.

Plunger

  • Also known as a force cup or a plumber’s friend.
  • Used to clear blockages in toilets sinks and tubs.
  • Combination plungers (usually black in color) consist of two cups, one inside the other.
  • Recommend combination plungers for clearing toilets.

Reamer

  • Removes burrs from the inside of the pipe. Burrs are the flakes of metal or plastic on the outside and inside of the pipe after the pipe is cut.
  • Cone-shaped, with ratchet handles.
  • Cutting edges can be sharpened, but this is difficult and time-consuming and the small replacement cost usually makes it impractical.
  • Straight-fluted reamers have straight cutting edges. They can be used by hand or in a pipe rotating on a power drive unit.
  • Spiral-fluted reamers have spiral-shaped cutting edges. They cut more easily, save time and are often used by sheet metal workers to enlarge holes in sheet metal and conduit box outlets, as well as smoothing inside edges of pipe. They are for hand use only.

Check Valve

  • Operates automatically, permitting flow in one direction only.
  • Sometimes combined with a throttling or shut-off valve. Some communities require a check valve in cold water lines between the water heater and meter.
  • Used to prevent water pumped to an overhead tank from flowing back when the pump stops.
  • Some check valves are designed for use with vertical pipes only. Therefore, it will not work if installed upside down. The closing deviceóa disk, ball or clapperófalls shut by gravity when installed vertically.
  • Another variety is the Swing-Type check valve, which is a small, smooth swing-type gate located in the center of the valve. As water is pumped through the flow side of the valve, a gate swings open to allow water to pass. If water attempts to back up through the valve, the gate is forced shut against the pressure side of the valve.
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Power Tools Terms (84)

Power Drill

  • Available in different chuck capacities, such as 1/4″, 3/8″ or 1/2″. For example, 1/4″ means that is the largest diameter shank that will fit the chuck. The speed of the drill also increases with the size.
  • Motor load limit can be light-, medium- or heady-duty. The higher the amp rating, the more powerful the drill. Drills rated at 2 amps are generally considered light-duty drills, while 5-amp drills are considered heavy-duty.
  • Tighten the drill bit in place with a chuck. A keyed chuck uses a rotary key to tighten and loosen the chuck. A keyless chuck is operated by hand.
  • Another feature on some drills is variable speed. They allow the operator to control the drill’s revolutions per minute, usually by varying pressure on the trigger switch. Some models also allow the user to vary the torque. Higher torque is better for driving screws, and higher speed is better for drilling holes.
  • A good quality 1/4” drill can drill through concrete, metal, plastic and other materials. Better for high speed and not high torque. Better for sanding and buffing than 3/8” or 1/2” drill sizes.
  • A 3/8” drill has more speed, but less power than a 1/2” drill. They are usually built with a double-reduction gear system. Can perform most of the drilling jobs a 1/4” drill can, and can handle a larger range of drill bits.
  • A 1/2” drill has high torque and slow speed, which is ideal for making large holes in metal and wood. Best drill for use wtih hole saws.

 

Dado Head Blade

  • Consists of two kinds of blades in one assembly: two small and thicker-than-normal circular blades on the outside and blades called cutters on the inside.
  • Use to cut grooves or slots across boards.
  • Used on a table saw.
  • An alternative type is an adjustable dado, which consists of a single blade.

Compound Miter Saw

  • Uses a circular blade that is pivoted to the correct angle then dropped onto the material, which is clamped stationary on a plate.
  • In addition to a simple pivot action, the blade tilts to make compound cuts.
  • Good for cutting moldings and trim.
  • The turntable has a large compass scale that is marked in degrees to show the degree of the cut.
  • Most models tilt in only one direction, but better models tilt both to the left and to the right.

Countersink Bits

  • Used in electric drills and drill presses for fast drilling of holes in wood.
  • Bits have a forged, flat paddle with a point and cutting edges on one end.
  • Bits are heat treated and cutting angles finish ground.
  • Electricians use them for drilling clearance holes for wire in floor beams.

Cordless Saws

  • Most portable of all saws. Cordless versions of circular, sabre and reciprocating saws are available. Very popular among both professionals and DIYers.
  • Operate off of a rechargeable battery, which is available in a wide range of voltages.
  • Used for finish work and the larger capacity batteries have sufficient power for large framing or carpentry jobs.
  • Usually feature an electronic brake to stop the brake instantly and avoid accidents.

Rotary Edger

  • Comes in single- or double-wheel models.
  • In the single-wheel model, a rubber-tired wheel moves along the walk or driveway and turns a cutting blade against a cutting edge.
  • Teeth float above the bottom trench to cut grass without being clogged by stones, sticks and other debris.

Sabre Saw Blade

  • A carbon steel blade used for cutting most woods and some plastics.
  • The high-speed steel blade is used for cutting metal, fiberglass and abrasives and thin plastics.

Welder

  • For the d-i-yer who wants to experiment with welding, there are several consumer-level welding setups available.
  • Arc welders are for welding iron to thin metals up to 1/4”.
  • Wire feed welders, also known as Mig welders, are used for hobby, workshop, home and farm repairs.

Brad Point Bit

  • Used for wood drilling only.
  • Tip has a screw-type point leading the drill flute that prevents drill walking.
  • Helps prevent splintering, as the brad point is the first part of the drill to emerge, allowing the user to back the drill out of the hole and finish from the other side of the material.

Trim Saws

  • Small circular saw used to cut sheet goods, moldings and trim.
  • Designed to make straight cuts on materials that are difficult to cut with a handsaw.
  • Can make cuts on a variety of materials, and different types of materials generally require different blades.
  • Easy to handle and lightweight.
  • Some models can adapt to cut glass and ceramic tile.
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Storage & Workshop Terms (35)

Platform Ladder

  • A type of aluminum stepladder with three steps for ordinary household climbing tasks.
  • Some models feature extra wide non-slip treads for comfort during long periods of use.
  • Common step heights include 10”, 20” and 30”.
  • Most have a 200 lb. duty rating.
  • Most have a platform above the steps for resting tools and materials and a high handrail.
  • Folds easily for convenient storage.

Web Clamp

  • Also called band clamps, they apply even clamping pressure around irregular shapes or large objects to hold tight by means of a spring-loaded locking fixture.
  • Commonly used on cylinder-shapes and to hold chair legs while gluing.

Step Ladder

  • A self-supporting device used for climbing that consists of two rectangular frames hinged at the top with one side containing the rungs for climbing.
  • Non-adjustable in length and folds closed for storage.
  • Available in increments from 2’ to 12’ in height.
  • Steps are flat and riveted and are generally 3” or more in width.
  • Most models include a top plastic platform on top for storing tools or loose fasteners.
  • Available in wood, fiberglass and aluminum construction in various duty (weight) ratings, with fiberglass considered the best construction of the three.
  • Quality classifications include consumer (household), commercial (mechanic) and industrial grades

Spring Clamp

  • Similar to a clothes pin, this clamp consists of two metal jaws to which clamping pressure is applied by use of a steel spring.
  • They are designed for use with thin materials.
  • Spring clamps are versatile enough for home, hobby or professional use indoors or outdoors, holding round or odd-shaped objects.
  • They typically come with 1″, 2″ or 3″ jaw openings.

Rust Remover

  • Cuts through and dissolves rust from metal surfaces to form a metal shield that can be painted.
  • In jellied form, it clings well to vertical surfaces.
  • When brushed on, the rust dissolves quickly.
  • These products are extremely harsh on the skin; protective gloves should be worn.
  • The solution is applied with a stiff brush or aerosol spray and allowed to dry for 12 to 24 hours, depending on humidity (check manufacturer labeling and literature).

Utility Vise

  • Similar to a bench vise.
  • Generally has jaws ranging in length from 3″ to 6″.
  • Better models feature swivel bases so the vise may be turned to the best angle for each particular job.
  • Some utility vises either have cast-in pipe jaws or permit special curved-face pipe jaws to be inserted between the regular jaws to add versatility.

Degreaser

  • Is available in solid, liquid and aerosol form.
  • Used to remove dirt, oil and grease from basement and garage floors, driveways, patios and sidewalks.
  • Some formulations are made for concrete only and should not be used on blacktop surfaces.

Woodworking Vise

  • Has jaws made of wooden pads to hold work piece securely in place without marring surface of work piece.
  • Generally mounted to the side of a workbench
  • Some woodworking vises have a fast-acting screw arrangement for the rapid positioning of the movable jaw prior to clamping.
  • Smaller vises have continuous screws and are light and easy to clamp on a workbench or sawhorse.

Deglosser

  • Prepares surfaces before painting and assists paint and varnish in bonding to old finishes.
  • Available in water- or solvent-based formulations.
  • Concrete Cleaner is specifically designed to clean and degrease concrete and masonry surfaces and to prepare concrete basement floors to be painted.

Corner Clamp

  • Designed to hold miter or butt joints at a 90º angle.
  • They can be used for gluing picture frames, cabinets, molding and trim.
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