Building Materials FAQ's (273)
I don’t have a router and router table. Can I fasten the mirror directly to the back of the frame without recessing it into a rabbit?
Yes, you can use mirror clips fasted to the back of the frame. Just be sure to select the right size clips for the thickness of your mirror.
Experts recommend having 36” on either side of the sink, with 24” as the bare minimum.
Quarter-round molding is a full quarter circle and the sides are the same length. Shoe molding, on the other hand, does not have an even length on both sides.
EPDM is a type of rubber roofing that is the most common and easiest for the do-it-yourselfer to use. Rubber roofing is a generic term that can refer to a variety of membrane roofing materials.
You may be able to paint vinyl, but check with the manufacturer. Painting may void the manufacturer’s warranty.
Yes, but you will have to temporarily remove the fixture to install the tile.
Yes, but a vinyl tile cutter you can rent is easier. Also, if you are cutting with a knife, change blades frequently to keep them sharp. A dull blade can tear the vinyl.
There are screws made especially for that purpose. You can use galvanized roofing nails, rust-resistant drywall screws or bugle-head deck screws.
Sunlight can discolor beams, so wrap them in an opaque covering, and keep them off the ground to prevent contact with moisture. In some cases, beams may be wrapped individually. Where appearance is important, you can unwrap beams after installation to avoid damage.
If the wall won’t be carrying any weight above it, you can use a light framing 2×4. The other option is a stud, which can be used for load bearing walls.
Building Materials Terms (161)
- Provides extra security to the exterior door and protects against weather and stops drafts through door openings.
- Made of solid wood or has a wood or foam hollow core inside an exterior skin of metal, aluminum or vinyl.
- Glass should be tempered to safety glass, while fiberglass screens offer durability and do not rust.
- Available in a variety of colors.
- Self-storing models store the windows and the screen at the same time, with many models allowing ventilation at the top or bottom.
- Interchangeable models have the glass and screen removable to allow ventilation through the entire opening.
- Common styles are full view, full lite, crossbuck, traditional and security.
- Typically made of cedar, although composite wood shingles are available.
- Flat shape and a smooth texture.
- Usually 1/2” thick.
- Wood shakes are similar, but have a rougher texture. They are usually 1/2” or 3/4” thick.
- More difficult to install than asphalt shingles.
- Features may include a fire-retardant coating, which only reduces, not eliminates, its flammability.
- Uses a high-speed rotating table powered by a sealed motor, it flings kitchen waste against a stationary shredder, cutter or grinder.
- This action, together with a full flow of cold running water that must be used while the disposal is operating, reduces the garbage to fine particles and flushes them down the drain to the sewage system.
- Fits standard 3-1/2″ to 4″ sink drain openings and are installed under the sink drain.
- Cold water congeals grease and prevents it from coating the drain line. Hard particles, such as bone and eggshell, actually scour the drain line as they whirl down and help keep it clean.
- One type is the Continuous-Feed disposals. Garbage can be fed while the machine is in operation. These disposals are controlled by a wall switch and operated with a continuous flow of cold water.
- A flexible splashguard at the disposal opening stops backsplash and helps to catch non-food items that may accidentally fall into the opening.
- Batch-Feed disposals grind or pulverize food waste one load at a time. The hopper is filled and cold water added. When the cover is put in place, the unit begins operating. Some models have a magnetic switch control in the cover; others require a locking turn of the cover to activate the unit. No other switch is necessary. The safer design of batch-feed disposals makes them more attractive to homeowners with children.
- A sealed motor requiring an electrical hook-up powers most garbage disposals.
- The typical disposal has an overload switch that shuts off the motor if something is jammed.
- Disposals will grind most garbage–from the sink and the dishwasher–but they are not intended for glass, crockery, leather, metal, newspaper, paper cartons, rubber or plastic.
- Lumber 1” thick and of varying widths and lengths.
- Most consumer inventories range from 1” x 1” to 1” x 12”, up to 12’ long.
- From 1” x 1” to 1” x 6”, increments increase by 1”. Then, lengths increase in 2” increments from 1” x 8” to 1” x 10” and 1” x 12”.
- Most consumer sales will be in 4’ and 6’ lengths.
- No. 4 grade pine is commonly called “garage shelving”. Many consumers use it for basements and garages where looks are not important.
- Used for a variety of jobs, most often around electrical outputs, pipe penetrations and large voids or openings where the elements can infiltrate a structure.
- It expands to fill gaps, holes and voids and is good for insulation purposes.
- It is easy to apply, cures quickly, is paintable and offers good adhesion.
- Available in different expansion rate formulas.
Electrical & Lighting Terms (80)
- Current flows through an atmosphere of inert gas and mercury vapor, producing ultraviolet energy that is invisible to the human eye. A phosphor coating on the inside of the tube transforms the ultraviolet energy into visible light.
- Fluorescent bulbs can vary from straight tubes 6″ to 96″ long to U-shaped tubes and circular tubes. Wattages for home use range from 4 to 75 watts.
- Tubes also come in a variety of diameters. Several common types are available in reduced-wattage versions that consume 15 percent to 20 percent less energy. The most common tube is the 1-1/2″ used in most bulbs from 15″ to 96″ long. The smallest diameter is 1/2″, used in low-wattage twin tube designs. The largest is 2-1/8″ used for some high-wattage, non-residential installations.
- Produce up to 105 lumens per watt, compared with a 100-watt, type A incandescent, which produces around 18 lumens per watt.
- Features include a long lamp life, relatively low brightness and low heat content and glare, compared with incandescent lamps.
- Fluorescents work well for area lighting, especially in kitchen, bath and task areas.
- Available in many shades of white and colors. Color is determined by the type of phosphor used in the bulb. Soft white fluorescent bulbs are recommended for living areas, baths and kitchens since they offer good color rendering. Warm white bulbs are good for living areas, although not in areas where color discrimination is important. Cool white bulbs are used for work areas.
- Use a ballast. Dim only with special equipment that is relatively expensive. Standard household fluorescents are also sensitive to temperature, and therefore work best indoors. High-output fluorescents are for outdoor use and commercial application.
- Ballasts have sound ratings— “A” is the quietest; “C” is the loudest. Often noise made by fluorescent fixtures can be reduced by replacing the ballast.
- Electrical connections to the bulbs are made to the bases at each end. The most common is the two-pin base, designated miniature bi-pin for small diameter bulbs, medium bi-pin for average size bulbs and the mogul bi-pin for industrial bulbs. Single-pin bases are used for instant start bulbs, and recessed double contact bases are used on rapid–start bulbs longer than 48″.
- 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.
- Fluorescent lamps require special auxiliary equipment to provide reliable starting and to assure proper electrical operation. The principle function of the ballast is to hold operating current within proper limits and to provide enough voltage to start the lamp.
- Instant-start ballasts provide sufficient voltage to start fluorescent lamps without preheating and are commonly used with single-pin lamps and some special lamp types.
- Rapid-start ballasts heat the cathodes continuously from a low-voltage transformer within the ballast. This is the most common type of ballast in use today for 40-watt lamps and for all lamps that use recessed double-contact bases.
- Reduced wattage lamps operate on most existing ballasts, which can reduce wattage 14 to 20 percent. In addition, new ballasts developed to minimize the wattage consumed by the ballast itself further reduce electrical consumption.
- Stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter.
- Also known as a GFI or ground fault interrupter
- Used to protect against ground faults, which occur when a person comes into contact with a live electrical wire. This may be caused by worn insulation on a wire or by operating a faulty appliance or power tool.
- The GFCI interrupts power quickly enough to help prevent a lethal dose of electricity.
- To turn the GFCI back on after it trips, push the reset button located in the middle of the switch.
- They can be installed as a receptacle or at the main power panel.
- Like incandescent bulbs, halogen bulbs produce light by passing current through a coiled tungsten wire. The tungsten wire is enclosed in a small quartz or high-temperature glass tube, which is then filled with gases, including a halogen gas.
- The advantages of tungsten halogen bulbs compared with standard incandescent bulbs include less loss of light over lamp life; smaller physical size for better directional light control; whiter, brighter light; more light per watt; and longer life.
- Like incandescent bulbs, halogen lights have the advantage of instant-on light. They are easy to use with dimmers for energy savings.
- Typical halogen lamps last 2,000 to 4,000 hours compared to 750 to 1,000 hours for incandescent lamps. Wattage levels for home use run from 5 watts to 500 watts.
- More energy-efficient than standard incandescent bulbs. They generate up to 30 percent more light for the same electricity.
- Halogen bulbs blacken much less than incandescent bulbs and stay brighter as they age. Because of their brilliant white light, they are excellent for use in displays.
- Be careful not to touch the glass on halogen bulbs. This can degrade their lifespan and they can also be extremely hot within seconds of being turned on.
- Styles vary widely, but the basic purpose is to hold an incandescent light bulb. Fixtures can be mounted on a stand, on the wall or on the ceiling.
- The basic wall or ceiling fixture mounts onto an electrical box. The most common type of box contains a threaded stud (or threaded rod) that attaches to the fixture with a part called a hickey. Or, instead of a threaded stud, the fixture may use a crossbar hanger.
- Various styles of lights can be used for four basic purposes: task lighting (to illuminate specific areas for activities such as reading or preparing food), ambient lighting (for general illumination of a room), accent lighting (focused, directional light generally on artwork or architectural features), and utility lighting (used to flood an area with light, often outdoors or in work areas).
- A small silver-colored cylinder found mostly in older fluorescent lamps.
- Allows the electrodes to heat up prior to the lamp starting.
- When the lamp in an older fluorescent begins to flicker, both the tube and the starter should be replaced.
- Starterless operation is achieved with instant-start and rapid-start ballast designs.
Electrical FAQ's (92)
My new light fixture is rated for 60W bulbs. Is it OK to use 75W bulbs if I want the room to be brighter?
No. This could cause a serious fire hazard, as the bulbs could get too hot and melt parts of the fixture and even catch on fire.
Yes, the most common are 25-, 34- and 40- watt bulbs.
Most estimates are 70%, which means that over the life of the bulb you can save as much as $100.
You can use a connection fitting, much the same way you would use a plumbing fitting, or you can bend the conduit with a conduit bender.
Wires have size numbers that express their diameter. These are even numbers from 0 to 18, and smaller numbers indicate larger diameters that can carry more power.
It is a non-profit organization that tests and approves electrical products. Look for “UL” labels of approval to help ensure appliances are safe.
It’s an inexpensive tool that tests for live current. It can save your life. To use a voltage tester, simply plug its leads into a receptacle, or, if the cover plate is off, touch them to the screw terminals of the device. If current is present, the tester will light.
No, if the first in the series is GFCI then all are protected.
I know there are fluorescent plant lights that stimulate plant growth, but do they make these bulbs for standard lamps?
Yes, there are incandescent models that screw in.
I’m replacing a light switch. How do I know which wire should be attached to each screw on the new light switch?
If you are replacing an existing switch, make a diagram of how the wires were attached to the old switch before you remove them. Snap a picture with your camera phone or draw a diagram. Then replace them in the same position on the new switch.
- Cools, circulates, filters and dehumidifies the air.
- Ranges in size from small units with a cooling capacity of 5,000 BTUs (enough to cool a small room) to capacities as high as 12,500 BTUs.
- It is important that you choose the right size of air conditioner. An oversize unit will cool but leave a damp and clammy feeling because of high relative humidity. An undersized unit will not operate effectively on very hot days.
- Select by BTU rating, not horsepower. BTU is the actual cooling capacity of the unit.
- Determine the efficiency of the unit by dividing the watt rating into the BTU output. The unit must have an energy efficiency rating (EER) of at least 9.7 for models under 8,000 BTU/hr and 9.8 for larger models. The most efficient models have an EER of 11 and higher. Each model should have its EER clearly marked.
- Most models should include window-mounting kits. Kits include sill brackets for extra support of the unit and side vents to ensure an airtight fit in the window.
- Make sure the unit is designed for the type of window you have. Most are designed for double-hung windows, but some are made or casement windows or for in-wall installation.
- Requires a venting system and a smoke dome or chimney, installed on the roof.
- Operate at a range of 60,000 to 90,000 BTUs and loose heat as they require the chimney damper to be open.
- Made of high-temperature, heat-resistant ceramic or cement in a variety of finishes.
- Place directly on the fire grate or lay on a flame pan covered with a bed of volcanic granules for a more realistic looking fire.
- Requires no electricity to operate.
- Fits into fireplaces with a gas hookup and can be installed into any UL-listed, solid fuel burning fireplace.
- Typically comes in electric or cordless models.
- Uses two, double-sided reciprocating blades to trim shrubs and hedges. Some models may have single-sided blades.
- Better models have vibration reduction features that ease the strain on the user.
- Blade lengths can range from 20” to 30”.
- Other features include two large ergonomic handles, a blade guard, a throttle starting lock that prevents accidental engagement of the blade and start/stop controls on the handle.
- Also known as Michigan-type peat.
- Has similar characteristics and soil benefits to Sphangnum Peat Moss.
- Includes the remains of a variety of swamp plants such as sedge grasses and reeds.
- A velvety dark brown product that does not need extensive soaking.
- Available in 25- and 50-lb. bags as well as smaller quantities.
- Not a plant food. Fertilizers must still be added.
- Typically has a 5 to 10 cu. ft. capacity.
- Tray has a deep front for added capacity and extra bracing.
- Legs and bracing are made from heavy-gauge steel.
- Wheel is typically 16” pneumatic.
- A wide rim bead around the trough adds reinforcement for heavy loads such as cement and bricks.
- Some models may offer knobby tires for added traction and longer wear.
- Used to mend or connect hose.
- Metal clincher couplings have metal cleats around a brass insert.
- Can be used on rubber or plastic hoses. To install, push the hose over the insert and pound down the cleats with a hammer or crimp with pliers to hold the hose.
- For plastic hoses, use a compression fitting with a threaded collar as it is less likely to puncture the outer covering.
- Plastic menders include a barbed tubular insert and clam shell-shaped clamps used on either plastic or rubber hose.
For a mulching or self-propelled mower, you need plenty of horsepower so look for one that has a 5 to 6 horsepower engine.
I don’t have the education to fully understand the specific chemicals used in these products, so I am not certified to make those types of recommendations. It’s best to find a pesticide that is specifically designed for your current needs.
There are basically two types: systemic and non-systemic. The systemic is absorbed by the plant and makes it poisonous. The non-systemic provides a coating on the outside of the plant.
There are many brands, but they will all harm flowers. You can try to shield the plants from overspray, but the best way is to simply pull the weeds.
For some types of guttering, there are repair tapes that quickly and easily patch holes. Or, you can patch it using cement and a patch of the same material as the gutter. For larger holes, you may want to replace the entire section of gutter.
Be sure to do it at the beginning of the grilling season. Then, it depends on how often you use it. Three times a year is probably adequate.
Some people recommend that you use a wrap to help prevent damage from a frost.
A basic gardening tool set would include a spading fork, a garden hoe, a watering can, a round-ended shovel, a bow-head garden rake and a pair of garden shears.
It might take several applications to get it right, sanding smooth between each one. Also be sure you are feathering out the seams well beyond the patch, which will help hide the patch and the seams.
Always check the paint can for specific recommendations. But for general guidelines, you want the paint to dry evenly, so try to paint in the shade and when the temperature is between 60 degrees and below 90 degrees. Also, avoid windy days because they might make the paint dry too quickly or blow debris onto your wet paint.
Hand & Power Tools FAQ's (185)
That’s common, but make sure you are using the right blade for the material you are cutting—wood, tile or metal.
I want to hang some shelves but first I want to make sure I don’t hit any electrical wiring buried in the wall with my anchors. What’s the best way to do this?
By using a stud finder with a built-in AC current detector, you can trace hot wiring behind walls to make sure you drill in the right place.
That’s common, but make sure you are using the right blade for the material you are cutting—wood, tile or metal.
Yes, they work quickly, but I don’t recommend them for do-it-yourselfers because you have to be very careful. One mistake can ruin the piece you are working on.
You can shave off the top with a block plane, which is often the right tool, when you need to trim wood but not enough to use a saw. Block planes come in a variety of sizes to fit the job.
To check it, place it on a level surface, then flip it over. Both readings should be identical.
For general use they are more than adequate, but most only offer run times of less than one hour and some corded models are more heavy duty.
Yes, one option is a product that uses a specially formulated corn derivative.
Use a nail set to sink the nail head into the molding. Then you can fill the hole with a spackling compound, sand it smooth and paint it.
Differences are primarily denoted by the type of teeth the file has. A single cut denotes a single row of chisel-cut teeth. These files are used on saw teeth and metals where a good finish is required. A double cut file is used primarily on metals where rapid stock removal is necessary and a rough cut is permissible. It has two rows of chisel-cut teeth. A curved-tooth cut features teeth that are milled in an arc. This cut is used on flat surfaces of soft metals for rapid stock removal and a fairly good finish. File teeth are further divided into four groups: coarse, bastard, second and smooth. Coarse and bastard cuts are used on heavy work, while second and smooth cuts are used for finishing or more exacting work.
Hand Tools Terms (241)
- Also known as a Rip Hammer
- Used mainly by professionals for ripping apart wooden components and demolition work.
- Should be used only with non-hardened, common or finishing nails.
- Choose weights from 20 to 32 oz. for framing and ripping.
- Available with milled or waffled faces to grip the nail head and reduce the effect of glancing blows and flying nails.
- May be solid leather for heavy-duty applications or have a leather palm.
- Durable and long lasting glove. Handles a wide variety of applications.
- Construction materials include cowskin, pigskin, goatskin and deerskin.
- Driving gloves offer dexterity when operating equipment.
- Welding gloves offer protection from heat and sparks in welding applications.
- Gunn pattern leather palm gloves offer protection from rough objects, sparks and for cushioning blows.
- Clute pattern leather palm gloves offer the best economy in leather protection.
- Enables wallpaper to adhere to wall.
- Water soluble, so cleans up with soap and water.
- Special formulas designed for boarders where vinyl to vinyl adhesion is needed.
- Some have tinting agent that ensures complete coverage.
- Be sure to check the kind of paper before you buy paste. Some coverings require wheat paste, while others use liquid vinyl adhesive or a vinyl paste.
- Also called a cabinetmaker’s clamp, it consists of two hardwood clamping jaws adjusted to the work by two opposing steel screw spindles assembled into the jaws.
- The jaws adjust to a variety of angles and come in a wide range of sizes up to 10”.
- They are used for clamping wood, metal, plastic and fabrics.
- Handscrew adaptors can be used to convert handscrews into miter clamps.
- Also available are handscrew kits so woodworkers can make their own jaws.
- Is a fine-toothed saw designed to cut metal or plastic. Hacksaws consist of a blade held in a steel frame with relatively high tension to hold the blade rigidly straight. High-tension models (with tension to 32,000 p.s.i.) are also available.
- Blades come in coarse-, medium (18 tpi), fine (24 teeth per inch and very fine-toothed (32 tpi). Regular or standard blades are used for general-purpose cutting; high-speed or bi-metal blades for cutting hard, extra-tough steel.
- Most models can be adjusted to hold various blade lengths. Some have both horizontal and vertical positions for blades. Others provide blade storage.
- A close-quarter (or utility) hacksaw holds and positions a hacksaw blade so it can be used effectively in narrow spaces and slots.
- Replacement blades include rod saw blades capable of cutting through most hard materials—spring and stainless steel, chain, brick, glass and tile.
Hardware & Fasteners Terms (109)
- Versatile fastening device.
- Made of ferrous and nonferrous wire.
- Comes in various diameters and lengths ranging from 1/32” x 1/2” to 1/4” to 18”.
- Inserts into a hole in a bolt, shaft or similar part. An eye on one end prevents the pin from going through while prongs at the other end are bent back to lock the pin in place.
- Provides mobility for heavy furniture.
- Select caster based on the weight of the piece of furniture, floor surface and the method of attaching it to the furniture.
- If casters are to be used on furniture, consider the occupied weight of the piece rather than the furniture weight alone.
- Designed to be attached to the furniture with screws or bolts.
- Has large heads and diamond points.
- Galvanized to resist corrosion.
- Barbed shank for greater holding power.
- Nails for a new roof are typically 7/8” long with 7/16” head.
- Carefully choose size to match the thickness of the roofing.
- Sealing roofing nails have a plastic or rubber washer under the nail head for watertight seal.
- Screws onto the threaded end of a bolt to help tighten the bolt.
- Most common are hex and square nuts, also called full nuts.
- Wing and knurled nuts are used where frequent adjustment or disassembly is necessary.
- The locknut type has a self-locking feature that allows it to be locked into position without additional lock washers, cotter pins or locking wire.
- Also known as lead shield.
- Used with lag and machine bolts.
- As the bolt is tightened, the cone draws up through a slotted sleeve and expands against the interior of the drilled hole with great force.
- Requires no caulking and is excellent for heavy holding of problem material such as cement, cinder blocks, hollow tile and other concrete mixes.
- Requires a large hole. Use a power drill and masonry bit.
- Use short lengths in good-grade concrete or where thickness limits the length. Use long lengths in poorer-grade concrete where extra anchorage is required.
Hardware FAQ's (78)
No. Certain plastics like polyethylene or polypropylene have a coating that can prevent the two surfaces from bonding properly. You need to use a glue with an activator as well as an adhesive. The activator will “prime” the surface and provide a better bonding surface.
It helps to tighten the grip of the nut. If the screw needs to maintain lots of torque or if it’s going to vibrate, you should consider using a lock washer.
If the board you are fastening to another is not going to bear weight, it should be a half inch longer than the board is thick. If it is going to bear weight, it should be 2-1/2 times the thickness of the material to be fastened.
I had shelf support brackets that bent because there was too much weight on it. Are there stronger ones?
Yes, there are heavier ones and some have angled pieces to support the top, which will almost triple its strength.
While you’re sharing the closet, the best way to keep the peace in the closet is to keep everything separate. Each of you should get one of the long walls, then you can decided how to divide up any of the remaining short sections.
Open time is the time it takes the glue or adhesive to start to set after it has been applied to the surface of the material.
You should use a bolt extractor kit. It has a tap and an insert with a left-hand thread so that it can be turned to remove the bolt.
Galvanized nails resist rust, and you should use them whenever you are building a project that will be exposed to the elements. Aluminum nails are rustproof, but must be thicker to prevent them from bending.
Child resistant locks on cabinets, electrical outlet covers, additional smoke alarms and gun locks are some of the products you should consider.
I’m installing some wire closet shelving as storage. Do I need to secure the brackets into wall studs?
Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but it probably depends on the total weight that you’ll be placing on the shelves. See our video Wall Hanging Basics for more information.
Heating & Cooling FAQ's (61)
A foam seal is available to go behind the switch or receptacle plate.
Clean chimneys once a year and inspect them twice a month. This is usually best performed by a professional chimney sweep. A clean metal chimney will “ping” when struck with a metal object. A dull thud indicates it is dirty.
I’ve balanced the blade, but my ceiling fan continues to wobble on the high setting. How can I fix it?
The fan is probably wobbling because the electrical box that it’s attached to isn’t secured tightly to the house’s framing members. You need to take the fan down and re-install it after securing the electrical box to a 2-by-4 brace fastened securely to the ceiling joists.
Place portable humidifiers near an inside wall, preferably facing a stairwell. Also keep the unit at least 6” from the wall for proper air circulation. Since moist, warm air rises, an upstairs floor unit will not be as effective.
Many people prefer the doorjamb weather-strips. They work on metal with screws or wood with nails. Unlike the v-strips, foam strips or felt like these can’t fall off.
Both conduct heat identically well. As a general rule, though, the thicker the metal, the longer the stove will last.
It depends on what you want to seal. Make sure the type you choose can withstand the friction, weather, temperature changes and wear and tear of the location. If it is intended to seal a door or window, make sure it will seal it well while still allowing it to open freely.
Operate the dehumidifier with doors and windows closed. Place the unit away from walls, furniture and other airflow obstructions.
A stick-on foam tape works well on aluminum, but it must be applied when the surface is warm and dry.
Yes, simply remove the old thermostat from the wall. Next, disconnect each one and mark it so you can keep track of where it was connected. Attach the new thermostat to the wall and attach the old wires.
Heating & Cooling Terms (56)
- Passes air through a filter to remove pollen, dust and other airborne allergens.
- Uses a high-efficiency-particulate-arresting (HEPA) filter.
- Often used in medicine, atomic energy and semiconductors because of their superior air-cleaning ability.
- Can trap as much as 99.97 percent of particles 0.3 microns or larger.
- Designed to trap allergy-causing pollen and mold spores, as well as filter out smoke and dust mites.
- Uses to touch up or completely refinish a stove.
- Specifically designed for wood- or coal-burning stoves and can withstand temperatures up to 1,200°F.
- Common colors include green, brown, blue, maroon and black, in gegular and metallic finishes.
- To maximize radiant heat from the stove, use a flat black paint. It will radiate 90-98 percent of radiant heat. Shiny metallic finishes are less efficient.
- Sometimes called a swamp cooler.
- Uses ice and cool water to cool and return moisture to the air.
- Ice and cool water is mounted on top of the unit. As the ice melts, cool water flows over a wicking material. A fan mounted behind the wick creates a cool moist breeze.
- Environmentally friendly as it uses little energy and contains no harmful chlorofluorocarbons.
- Crack a few windows to prevent moisture build-up on inside walls when using an evaporative cooler.
- Removes excess moisture from the air by blowing humid air over cold evaporator coils in a refrigerator system.
- Moisture collects in a pan, and the unit will automatically shut off when the pan is full.
- A humidistat controlling the dehumidifier will respond to changes in moisture content and is necessary for efficient energy consumption.
Home Security FAQ's (38)
It’s the distance from the edge of the door to the center of the hole where the deadbolt will be installed. The most common setbacks are 2-3/8″ and 2-3/4”.
Locksmiths can also re-key existing or new locks to the same key. However, they have to be the same brand and use the same key blank.
One option is to use a brass door reinforcer. This product will also increase the strength of your door.
There are two types of deadbolts: single cylinder and double cylinder. A single cylinder deadbolt must be opened with a key from the outside and a turn on the inside. If your door has a sidelight or a glass pane, I suggest a double cylinder deadbolt. With this type, an intruder can’t break the glass and reach in and unlock the bolt. This design does present a danger, however, in case of a fire, as a key has to be used to exit.
Most locks come in two sizes: 2-3/8” or 2-3/4” backset. This is how far the center of the hole is away from the edge of the door. You need to know this distance or purchase a lock that has an adjustable backset.
A traditional screen door closer may not be strong enough. However, they make heavy-duty ones that will work. They also have the advantage of staying open automatically if they are opened all the way. Some newer doors have two closures—one on top and one on bottom.
Yes, there are wireless door chimes that are fairly easy to install.
These locks provide more security as the deadbolt latch is larger and protrudes farther into the door frame. It can also be keyed on both sides for additional security.
Yes, since 1990 all garage doors are required to have an optical sensor and/or a door edge sensor that will stop or reverse the door.
I am going on vacation. Are there any easy-to-use products that will turn my lights on and off so it looks as if the house is occupied?
Yes, there are a variety of timers that simply plug in.
Home Security Terms (35)
- Consists of a metal hinge and an anchoring bolt so locks can be secured to gates, sheds and garages.
- Conceals the mounting screws when the lock is in place.
- Insert a padlock through the ring and lock to secure the hasp.
- Another type is the hasplock, which has a padlock attached to it, which makes it impossible to lose the padlock when the hasp is open.
- Provides maximum security on a door.
- Called “dead” because there are no springs to operate the bolt. It is only operated manually with a key or a thumb turn from the inside.
- The bolt locks the door to the frame and helps prevent someone from prying the door open.
- The throw is the length the bolt is extended from the lock housing.The industry standard is a 1” throw.
- Locks are designed to fit specific size holes and backsets. Backset refers to the distance between the edge of the door and the center of the handle.
- A single-cylinder deadbolt is operated with a key from the outside and with a turn button on the inside. It is used mostly with solid metal or wood doors.
- A double-cylinder deadbolt is operated with a key on both the inside and outside. It is best used on a door with glass in or around them as the style prevents someone from breaking the glass, reaching in and unlocking the door.
- Double-cylinder deadbolts can pose a danger during an emergency. If the key is missing or not readily available, people could be trapped inside a locked house. In some areas, codes may not permit this style of deadbolt.
- Detects radon, a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas formed wherever there is uranium, an element present throughout the crust of the earth. It poses little risk if it makes its way to open air, but if it seeps into a house, it can collect in hazardous concentrations.
- This detector consists of a small sheet of plastic. Alpha particles that strike the plastic cause microscopic pockmarks.
- After an exposure period, users mail the detector to a lab. The lab’s count of the pockmarks gives a direct measure of the mean radon concentration.
- Another type uses activated-charcoal granules, which trap radon gas. After an exposure time, the container is resealed and shipped back to a lab for analysis.
- Two doorknobs that can be locked from both the inside and the outside.
- One type locks from the inside by turning or depressing a small button, while a key must unlock the outside knob.
- Some models must be locked with a key on both the inside and outside.
- In other models, only the inside knob can lock or unlock both sides of the set.
- A medium security entrance-door lock.
- A quality feature on entry locksets is a deadlatch.
- Detects carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, deadly gas that poses a potentially deadly health risk to people.
- Measures the amount of carbon monoxide over time and sounds an alarm before people would experience symptoms.
- Operates on batteries or can be plugged in.
- Some models provide a running digital readout of CO levels.
- Hard-wired or plug-in models typically use some type of solid-state sensor, which purges itself and resamples the air periodically. That cycle increases the power demand.
- Battery-powered detectors typically use a passive sensor. They will operate even in case of a power failure.
- Available in combination units that have CO and smoke detectors in the same unit.
Lawn & Garden FAQ's (154)
Once a month if it receives a lot of use. Otherwise, once or twice a year.
Some of the common reasons mowers won’t start include the following:
1. It’s out of gas.
2. It’s flooded. Let it sit for an hour or two or overnight
until the strong gas smell goes away, then try again.
3. It needs a new spark plug. Check the tip of the plug for
corrosion and rust and replace it if necessary.
4. The fuel is stale. Replace with fresh fuel.
There are time released fertilizers that can last several months.
If you are using tools or equipment such as a rake, ax, shovel, lawn mower or string trimmer, you should consider a leather glove. It will offer comfort and protection, while a standard canvas or cloth glove can be your choice if all you want to do is keep your hands clean.
There is a galvanized fence that is 28” high.
There are many brands, but they will all harm flowers. You can try to shield the plants from overspray, but the best way is to simply pull the weeds.
Allow a fall of about 1-1/4” for each 20’ of guttering.
Potting soil is a mix of several ingredients, including peat moss, compost perlite and vermiculite. Some compost also contains fertilizer, which generally last for 8 to 12 weeks.
If the soil is well prepared, you can plant a flat of 36 flowers in about 30 minutes.
No. In fact, two thin coats are always better. Thick coats lead to problems such as tracking, cracking and discoloration.
Lawn and Garden Terms (144)
- Rake head is attached to the handle with a long, curved bows extending from each end of the head.
- Handles are usually 48” to 54” long.
- 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.
- The riding mower, or lawn tractor, cuts grass, but some types can also tow garden carts.
- Engines may be 13 to 25 hp.
- Heavy-duty garden tractors have the additional ability to use ground-engaging implements such as tillers, plows, snow throwers, etc.
- Some models have two or three side-by-side blades that widen the cutting path. Cutting widths can be as wide as 50”.
- Features may include automatic transmission, cruise control, reverse cutting, adjustable deck heights, the ability to turn on a tight radius, an hours meter and a cast iron front axle.
- Made from non-toxic, environmentally friendly, recycled materials that can be used indoors or outdoors.
- Like organic mulch, it inhibits weed growth while retaining soil moisture.
- Natural shape allows airflow into the ground.
- Looks like organic mulch but doesn’t rot, dissolve into the ground, wash away from rain or loose its color as easily as regular mulch.
- Available in a variety of colors.
- Sprays multiple streams of water out of openings in a spray tube that oscillates back and forth, watering a rectangular pattern.
- Used for watering medium to large areas.
- Traditional designs use curved aluminum tubes.
- Other designs use corrosion-free, molded straight tubes with jets set at progressive angles.
- Pattern adjustments are usually full sweep, left, right or center.
- Place more water at the end of the spray pattern than in the middle.
- Some models have built-in timers for automatic shutoff.
Paint & Decorating FAQ's (80)
Although it is not easy, it can be done. Apply an oven cleaner, such as Easy-Off, to the bond and let it sit for 10 to 15 minuets. The epoxy will eventually start to soften and can then be pried apart with a stiff putty knife.
Semi-gloss and higher are more durable and can be lightly scrubbed down if the walls get dirty. For large areas of wall, such as a hallway, flat or satin-based paint will better hide surface problem areas.
These are also called matte finishes and they are good for walls and ceilings in lower-traffic areas.
No, that won’t give the fence extra protection. The waterproofer must penetrate the wood to work and it can’t do that if there is already a coating on the wood.
Denatured alcohol, which can also be used in many shellac based products?
If you have a lot of scraping to do, opt for a larger one with a carbide blade. While these cost more, they will last longer and do a better job.
Different types of paint with have different amounts of solids and resins in it. Some even come with warranties from 15 years to a lifetime.
It refers to how shiny the paint is. Manufacturers use terms such as flat, satin, semi-gloss and high-gloss to describe their paint, but there are no specific industry standards.
Straight-cut paint brushes are traditional and have been used for centuries. While both provide good coverage, angled paint brushes cover a bigger surface area in one stroke. They also allow you to cut in on corners to provide a smoother, cleaner edge.
Semi-transparent stains provide a color to the wood, but still allow the texture and natural grain to show through. Solid-color stains allow the texture to show, but not the grain.
Paint & Decorating Terms (82)
- Ensures better and longer-lasting results when applied before any type of paint.
- Primers and stain-killing primer-sealers are designed to seal porous surfaces, block out stains, promote adhesion of the topcoat and hide unwanted colors.
- Improves adhesion, prevents stains on the surface from bleeding through the finish paint and seals porous surfaces.
- Priming the surface also saves paint and prevents paint resins from soaking unevenly into the substrate.
- Water-based primer-sealers bind moderately chalky surfaces and offer good adhesion to glossy surfaces and metals. They are almost odorless and clean up with soap and water.
- Oil-based primer-sealers can be used on both interior and exterior surfaces. They work well for nicotine stains and cedar bleed. They give off a low odor and clean up with mineral spirits (paint thinner).
- Acrylic block fillers should be used to prime concrete block.
- Stain-killing primer-sealers are oil-based, water-based or shellac-based. They prime virtually anything that needs painting, including metal, masonry, wood, drywall and previously painted surfaces. They are typically white-pigmented and can be tinted to match the color of the topcoat to reduce the amount of finish paint needed for the job.
- Shellac-based primer-sealers are ideal for interior woodwork and spot-priming knots on exterior wood. They are best for sealing off troublesome stains from water leaks, mildew and fire damage. They also seal off odors from smoke and pets. Clean up requires alcohol or a 1:3 solution of household ammonia in water.
- Tool used to achieve striated effect, which involves covering a wall with regular paint, applying a glaze and then running the comb through the glaze to remove glaze.
- Combing tends to darken the color of the wall and it can be done in any direction.
- Cross-hatching is when the wall is combed once straight down and once horizontally.
- Comes in water-based and oil-based formulations.
- Recommended for interior use on floors and many times wood furniture because of its excellent protection.
- Polyurethane stains are better used for interior applications for water-resistance and hard use, but do produce a rather plastic appearance. For a more natural-looking gloss, use an Alkyd for furniture and indoor architectural trim and doors.
- It is generally not recommended for outdoor use because it will yellow and crack when exposed to ultraviolet light—unless ultraviolet light absorbers are added.
- Restores hard brushes and washes away oil and latex paints as well as varnish.
- Reduces cleaning effort and helps applicators last longer.
- Most formulations will not harm either natural or nylon bristle brushes, but they can harm synthetic bristles. Synthetic brushes should be cleaned in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions.
- Safer to use and less odor than paint thinner.
- Can also be used to remove paint from hands.
- Is a blend of oils and resins that coat the surface of wood to give it a transparent, protective coating, allowing the beauty of the wood to show through.
- It can leave a gloss, semi-gloss or satin finish, depending on its formulation.
- Varnishes fall into three groups, divided by their base: alkyd, latex or phenolic.
- Phenolic varnishes of modified phenolic oils deliver the best durability, especially in exterior uses. They absorb ultraviolet light and neutralize oxidation. However, they also tend to yellow faster than other varnishes.
- Alkyd varnishes offer flexibility and hardness in both interior and exterior uses, but in exterior use they oxidize more quickly. However, they do not yellow as much as phenolics.
- Latex varnishes offer the advantages of oil-based coatings and the cleanup convenience of a water based coating. The acrylic coatings take from 30 to 90 minutes to dry and do not yellow the wood. Some acrylic-based varnishes are even durable enough for use on floors; check manufacturers’ recommendations.
- Varnishes are also typically mixed with a tung oil or linseed oil.
Plumbing FAQ's (121)
The easiest thing is to use a push fitting.
The best type of plunger to buy is one that includes a flange around the bottom. This allows the plunger to create a better seal inside the toilet. For more information on the best products to clear your toilet, watch our video “Unclogging a Toilet.”
The temperature control may be set too low. Otherwise its probably a faulty heating element or thermostat, which can be replaced.
Any fine tooth saw will work, but make sure you remove any burs.
Is it leaking from the handle or out the spout? Most faucets are washer-type, and if these are leaking from the spout, you will have to replace the washer. If the seat is corroded, you will have to dress it or replace it. If it is leaking from the handle, you may need to replace the O-rings, tighten the packing nut or replace the packing. If a disk faucet is leaking, you will need to replace the O-ring. If it is leaking from the spout, you will need to replace the disk assembly. For ball-type faucet leaks, you may need to replace the cam assembly, the seat assembly and the ball.
Try cleaning it with a cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol.
How close to the copper fitting do you need to hold the flame to get bring it up to soldering temperature?
The inner blue cone within the flame is the hottest part of the flame and should always touch the copper. When the copper starts to turn iridescent in color and gets a shiny appearance, gently touch the tip of the solder to the joint. I should melt and run into the joint.
Yes. For example, vinyl latex is good for small cracks. Acrylic latex is a little more flexible and lasts longer up to 10 or 15 years. Siliconized acrlic latex should not be confused with a pure silicone caulk, but it is a medium-performance caulk that provides some water resistance and lasts up to 25 years or more.
I need to retrofit some plumbing lines. What are the advantages of choosing plastic (CPVC) pipe over copper?
First, it’s traditionally about half the price of copper. Second, it’s not affected by the pH conditions of water or soil. Copper can fail if water or soil conditions are too acidic. Drawbacks include that CPVC expands and contracts with temperature swings and the solvent welding process does emit VOCs as it cures.
Test your toilet flapper by pouring a bit of food coloring into the tank, then check back in 15 minutes to see if the water in the bowl has changed color. If it has, then most likely your toilet flapper needs to be replaced. If this does not fix the leak, you may need to replace the entire flush valve. For more information on diagnosing a leaky toilet, watch our video “Why is My Toilet Leaking.” To learn how to change your entire flush valve, watch our video “Installing a Flush Valve.”
Plumbing Terms (100)
- Uses an overflow opening to control draining in a tub.
- The Spring type consists of an assembly controlled by a lever that moves a pop-up plug up and down. It is easiest to install, especially in retrofits.
- The Weight type consists of an assembly that controls a weight that lifts up or down out of the drain hole. It is also controlled by a lever.
- Also known as a washer-type or stem faucet.
- When the spindle is turned down, the washer or disk attached to its lower end is pressed tightly against a smoothly finished ring or ground-seat that surrounds the flow opening to shut off the water flow. If the washer and seat do not make a firm contact at all points, water will leak. This usually happens when the washer becomes worn.
- Seats in faucets that are not removable may be reground with reseating tools.
- Has a small opening on the non-pressure side to allow drainage when it is in cut-off position. Helps prevent freezing of water lines in winter.
- Also known as a bleeder valve or drainable valve.
- Comes in threaded, sweat, flare and slip joint ends. The latter two are municipal and emergency valves.
- Flat head or socket head are common residential types have a socket head that takes a 3/8″ key rod.
- Installed under sinks and tubs to route wastewater to the drain.
- Bridges the gap between the sink tailpiece and the drain line.
- The bend in the trap uses gravity to hold water and prevent sewer gas from seeping into the house.
- Attach using slip nuts
- Three configurations include: P trap, S trap and J bend.
- Most common sizes are 1-1/4” and 1-1/2”.
- Also available is a trap with flexible tubes that help in connecting misalignments of the tailpiece and the drain line.
- Available in plastic and chrome-plated brass.
- Also known as a washerless faucet.
- A single-handle faucet that uses a ball with openings in it to control hot and cold water.
- May leak either at the spigot or at the handle.
- Leaks from the handle are usually caused by improper adjusting-ring tension. To stop the leak, adjust the tension.
- Worn cam seals can also result in leaks at the handle.
- Worn spring-loaded, soft rubber seal assemblies usually cause dripping from the spigot.
Power Tools Terms (84)
- Used for jobs where great force is required such as breaking up concrete or driving heavy spikes.
- Feature long handles from 14” to 36” and heavy heads weighing from 2 lbs. to 20 lbs.
- Double-face sledgehammers feature two identical faces.
- Single-face sledgehammers have one flat face for striking and one wedge-shaped face for splitting wood.
- Most portable and lightweight table saw.
- Used for ripping wood.
- Has a circular saw blade extending up through a slot on a flat table. Motor and drive mechanism are located under the table.
- Blade can be raised, lowered or tilted depending on the cut needed.
- Power of the saw’s motor determines the thickness of material that can be cut and how efficiently the saw will perform.
- To operate, the material is fed onto the blade, unlike the miter saw where the blade moves across the material.
- The rip fence mounts on the table and adjusts to guide the material being cut.
- A common accessory is a miter gauge that allows angled cuts.
- Most models use a 10” saw blade.
- Can use gasoline or electric power.
- Chips and sheds branches up to 3” in diameter into small pieces that can be used as organic mulch.
- Uses a bag to collect chipped materials.
- Most types allow the user to rake leaves directly into the machine or feed branches into the top. Some models offer both a drop-in hopper and a dedicated chipper chute.
- Has short handles and is used for pounding hardened nails into concrete or for using with tools that drive nails and pins into concrete or brick.
- Only hammer to use with star drills, masonry nails, steel chisels and nail pullers.
- Weighs between 2 lbs. and 4 lbs.
- Larger striking surface, generous bevel and special heat-treating minimize chance of chipping the striking face.
Storage & Workshop Terms (35)
- Made of either construction-grade tubular aluminum or steel or fabricated steel.
- Most require a wooden cross-beam (Generally a 2×4 or 2×6) be added. With a metal cross-beam there is danger of ruining saw teeth.
- Most steel models have adjustable legs that fold up into the unit for easy storage.
- Plastic units generally fold flat for easy storage. Some also are equipped with a lower shelf.
- Most non-adjustable units are between 24” and 27”, which is considered a comfortable working height.
- Used to help cut exact angles for wood trim and rafters.
- Better models provide a mechanism for a backsaw.
- They are made of plastic, hardwood or aluminum.
- Some boxes feature magnetic mount guides. The magnets grasp and hold the saw to the miter box saw guide or hold the saw blade to the plane of the saw guide.
- Is available in a variety of configurations and made from a variety of materials, with steel being the most popular.
- Plastic toolboxes are available in a number of styles as well. Some are suited for light-duty use, while others are comparable to steel in quality.
- The highest quality plastic boxes are constructed of polypropylene, and some models can hold up to 75 lbs. of tools.
- Some carpenters and precision tool users use hardwood chests because the wood absorbs rust-producing condensation.
- Carpenters’ toolboxes are specially designed so carpenters can carry hand saws and framing squares in the same box with other tools.
- Tool that mounts on a workbench or table to hold work pieces securely in place between two flat jaws.
- Generally used in light-duty applications.
- Available in both stationary and swivel models to hold work at various angles and positions.
- A threaded spindle opens and closes the jaws of the vise to hold and release work piece.
- Generally has jaws ranging in length from 3″ to 8″.
- Jaw opening ranges from 4” to 12” in different models.
- Folding ladder that pulls down from attic access hole to permit entry.
- 3 sections unfold to rest on floor, then fold back up to store on top of pull-down access door. Generally made of wood or aluminum.
- 90-degree wrap-around hinges allow legs to completely fold up when not in use.
- Different models accommodate different floor-to-ceiling height ranges.
- Steps are usually double riveted for extra durability.
- Generally rated either at 250 lbs. or 300 lbs.
- Also called a combination ladder.
- 3-position, multi-lock hinges offer many different arrangements and combinations to become a step ladder, an extension ladder, a stairway ladder (modified step ladder) or a scaffold.
- No tools needed for conversion between ladder types.
- Most models extend between 12’ and 16’ and carry either a 225 lb. or a 250 lb. duty rating.