DIY Frequently Asked Questions

Hand Tools Terms (241)

Linemen’s Pliers

• Also called electrician’s pliers. Used by professionals engaged in electrical, communications and construction work.

• Used for cutting, holding, shaping and twisting wire.

• Heavy-duty, side-cutting pliers designed for all regular wire-cutting needs.

• Have gripping jaws in addition to cutting edges.

• High-leverage lineman’s pliers have rivet placed closer to the cutting edges to provide more leverage.

• Two head patterns are available: standard (bevel nose) and round nose, which is more streamlined.

• Sizes range from 6-1/4” to 9-1/4”.

 

Ratcheting Screwdriver

  • Features a reversible ratchet mechanism in the handle that eliminates the need to grip and re-grip during the driving process.
  • Usually comes with interchangeable tips.

 

Ratchet (Socket) Wrench

  • Available in a variety of handle shapes and lengths and used with sockets to make turning nuts and bolts easier than with a conventional wrench.
  • Available in 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″ drive sizes and are used with socket wrenches.
  • Available with a round or teardrop-shaped head and contains a reversing mechanism to facilitate tightening or loosening a fastener.
  • Popular accessories include flex handles, speeder handles, T-handles, extensions of various lengths and universal joints to work on fasteners in hard-to-reach locations.

 

Aviation Snips

  • Also called compound leverage snips.
  • Available in right-handed, left-handed or straight models corresponding to the various directions of the cut.
  • Cuts easier because of double fulcrum, compound leverage action.

 

Folding Square

  • Square that conveniently folds for easy storage.
  • Locking mechanism locks tool securely for use.
  • Angle markings from 0 to 60 degrees.
  • Often used in tiling projects.
  • Generally available in sizes ranging from 12”x12” to 48”x48”.

Plumb Bob

  • A small, tapered, pointed weight suspended from string or cord used to measure true vertical plumb or depth.
  • Commonly used in construction and framing.
  • Many chalk line reels can also be used as plumb bobs, hanging the tool from its string.

Compass or Keyhole Saw

  • Cuts curved or straight-sided holes.
  • Saw blades are narrow, tapered nearly to a point to fit into most spaces.
  • Blades come in three or four styles that can be changed to fit the job.
  • Some models have induction-hardened teeth for longer life without sharpening.
  • Keyhole saws are small compass saws with finer teeth that can cut metal.
  • Turret head keyhole blades can be rotated and locked in several positions for easier cutting in tight, awkward spots.

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.

Plier Stapler

  • Similar to a desk stapler, but is generally used in heavy-duty work.

Brick Trowel

  • Punch that is not stuck by a hammer. It has a spring-actuated internal drive that pushes the attached punch point into the material to be center punched.
  • These punches are available in different sizes and with replaceable screw-on points.
View category→

Hardware & Fasteners Terms (109)

Washer

  • Small metal circles that provide a hard surface against which you tighten a screw.
  • It matches the size of the screw it is being used with.
  • Comes in flat, countersunk or flush shapes.

 

Box Nail

  • Lighter and smaller than common nails with a larger head.
  • Used for framing and applications where shifting is minimal, such as nailing subfloor to floor joists and attaching roof base to rafters.

Butt Hinge

  • Fits between the butt of the door and the frame.
  • Only the hinge pin is exposed on the inside of the door.
  • The most common type is the loose pin hinge that has a removable pin for easy removal of the door.

Cabinet Pull

  • Used on cabinet doors and drawers.
  • Backplates are decorative and provide additional support for hollow-core doors and drawers.
  • Basic consideration when choosing will be style.
  • When replacing an old pull, remember to make sure the new knob will use or cover the holes left by the old one. Use a backplate to cover the hole if replacing a knob with a pull.
  • Pulls are generally on 3” mounting centers.

Spring Pressure Rod

  • Holds the adjustable tension rod in place when it must be mounted inside the window casing or when screws cannot be used to hold brackets.
  • Sash rods are generally used to hold the top and bottom of curtains stationary and close to the window.

Proof Coil Chain

  • The most common all-purpose chain.
  • A welded chain, which means the individual link is welded to form a continuous loop.
  • Commonly used as a log chain, tow chain, guardrail chain and switch chain.
  • Not intended for use as a sling or overhead lifting chain.

Nut

  • 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.

 

Duplex Nail

  • Has a double head to allow for easy removal in temporary construction applications.
  • Used for concrete forming and scaffolding.

Spring Hinge

  • Closes the door automatically.
  • Double acting types are commonly used on café doors that swing in both directions.

Friction Catch

  • Helps the cabinet door stay shut.
  • Operates by pressure of the catch on the strike.
  • Catch mounts on a doorframe, jamb or underside of a shelf while the strike mounts on the door so that upon closing, it is inserted into the catch.
  • Two common types are alligator and lever spring-action.
View category→

Paint & Decorating Terms (82)

Paint Brush

  • Also called a flattening brush.
  • Generally comes in 3” to 5” widths.
  • Used for painting larger surfaces, such as ceilings, floors, chimneys, etc.
  • Available in natural bristles (generally used for applying oil-based coatings) and synthetic filaments (for water-based paints).

Lacquer

  • Is available in clear or colored formulations and has a fast-drying finish.
  • Work fast with lacquers. Also you may try a 50/50 mixture of lacquer and lacquer thinner (each preferably made by the same manufacturer) to slow drying time.
  • Lacquers should be applied only to new wood or over previously lacquered surfaces. They cannot be used over old paint or varnish; the solvents will lift old finishes.
  • Lacquers are available in clear or colors. They are usually difficult to apply by brush. However, some manufacturers do offer specially formulated versions that apply more easily with a brush.
  • Lacquer thinners are required to clean tools.

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.

Crackle Paste

  • Also called aging glaze.
  • Used to create rustic, antique designs that resemble the look of cracked oil varnish.
  • Can be applied over any painted surface, including furniture, woodwork, trim, lamps and decorative accessories.
  • Sometimes comes in a three-part system, with base coat, top coat and either light or dark enhancer.

Sanding Sponge

  • A sponge coated with or made of an abrasive agent.
  • Lasts longer than sandpaper and can take the form of the item being sanded.
  • Great for sanding drywall joint compound or spackling.
  • Available in a variety of sizes and shapes for specific sanding applications.
  • Generally is coated on each side as well as edges.
  • Can be used in wet and dry sanding applications.
  • Simply wash clean for reuse.

Varnish & Enamel Brush

  • Commonly used by professional painters for applying a wide variety of paints and stains.
  • Known for holding and delivering more paint than other types of brushes.
  • Some have satin-edge finishes on bristles for enhanced performance.
  • Recommended for both interior and exterior painting.
  • Available in natural bristles (generally used for applying oil-based coatings) and synthetic filaments (for water-based paints).

Wood Hardener

  • Formulated to strengthen and reinforce decayed or rotting wood.
  • Is a liquid consolidating agent that seeps deep into soft, deteriorated wood fibers, then hardens it to restore strength and some structural integrity.
  • Depending on the strength required, the formula can be water-based, solvent-based or two-part epoxy.

Ladder Mitts

  • Are attached to the top rails of extension ladders to prevent marring of the surface the ladder is leaning on.
  • Generally made of tear-resistant and weather resistant urethane foam.

Venetian Plaster

  • Used to achieve a polished marble-like effect.
  • Gives the look and feel of natural stone.
  • Can be tinted and applied to any flat, smooth surface.
  • Surface must be primed or have a matte finish.

Sanding Screen

  • Special sanding device used for sanding drywall and plaster.
  • This abrasive screen cloth is durable and more resistant to fill from drywall compound and plaster.
  • Generally comes is 4”x11” sheets in 220 grit.
View category→

Paint & Decorating FAQ's (80)

How do I recognize a good paint?

Paint has three components: the binder, the pigment and the liquid. The best paints contain a higher volume of solid materials. Pay close attention to the solid content. For example, a $13 gallon of paint with a solid content of 19 percent might cover about 200 square feet, while a $20 gallon of paint with 41 percent solid content will cover about twice that amount. The binder is the most important factor in the durability. Some paints also have additives to enhance their performance, such as mildewcide.

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.

Do I need to stain or paint my cedar fence?

Cedar is naturally resistant to decay and when it weathers, it will turn a soft silver gray and even black in some areas. To protect its color and protect from mildew, use a penetrating stain. You can use a transparent stain, a semi-transparent stain or an opaque stain.

What type of primer should I use on ceilings?

It depends on factors such as whether or not there are stains that need attention and if you are painting the ceiling white or giving it some color. If you don’t have stains and you will be painting the ceiling white, there are specially formulated primers that go on pink or blue and turn white when dry.

What spray tip is best to use with my pressure washer when cleaning exterior siding?

Choose a tip that won’t damage the siding. A 15-degree tip is a good choice.

What is an oil-based paint?

These paints have resins and thinners in them that evaporate when the paint dries. This process forms a hard coating and provides heavier coverage on the first coat, effective penetration and excellent adhesion. They are particularly good for chalky surfaces and those that already have several layers of oil-based paint.

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.

Do I need to apply a waterproofer on top of the stain?

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.

I have textured ceilings. What nap of roller cover should I use?

It depends on how textured the ceiling is. If it’s slightly textured, a 3/8-inch or a ½-inch nap roller cover should work well. If it’s heavily textures, you might need a 5/8-inch or a ¾-inch nap.

Can I avoid scraping the peeling paint off the exterior of my home by using a pressure washer before painting?

It is not advisable. Pressure washers should only be used for removing dirt, mildew and algae that can lead to premature paint failure. Flaking paint should only be removed by scraping and sanding.

View category→

Power Tools Terms (84)

Spade Drill Bit

  • 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.

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.

Laminate Trimmer

  • A lightweight mini router.
  • Designed for trimming thin plastic countertop materials, but also useful for small routing jobs.
  • Highly portable and can be used with one hand.

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.

Planer

  • Used to square up, resize or smooth wood in width or thickness. Best for larger flat surfaces.
  • Performs the job of a hand plane, but faster and better.
  • A variation is a planer-jointer, which performs additional operations such as tapering, beveling and grooving. The planer finishes edges.

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.

Router Bit

  • Attaches to a router to create a variety of shapes and cuts.
  • Use carbide bits for cutting laminates and harder composite materials.
  • Use high speed steel bits for general purpose cutting in wood and aluminum.
  • Generally grouped into three types: grooving bits, edging bits and specialty bits.
  • The standard d-i-y bit uses a 1/4” shank.
  • Available in an anti-kick-back or chip-limiting design that helps protect the piece of work where the router is being used by preventing the bit from lurching forward and biting into the material.

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.

Jointer

  • Used to smooth the edges of wood and help remove warps.
  • Can cut flat surfaces.
  • Size is determined by length of the tool’s knives. Most common size is 6”.
  • Often combined with a planer.
View category→

Electrical & Lighting Terms (80)

Trouble Lights

  • Have a strict standard for safety. All lamps with metal guards must be permanently grounded to the guard. Some lamps have plastic guards that solve the grounding problem, reduce heat build-up and prevent scratching of painted surfaces.
  • Some models do not have built-in cords. These models attach to a user’s extension cord and are easy to store and convenient to use.
  • In all cases, handles must be tightly fitted to the cage and meet crush-resistance testing and heat-factor requirements.

Conduit Connectors

  • Used to connect lengths of conduit.
  • Can make straight or bent connections.
  • Conduit can also be bent to a 90º curve using a conduit bender.

Dimmer Switch

  • Controls the amount of current in a light circuit and allows for varying levels of light.
  • Usually may be installed in place of standard switches.
  • They are available in a variety of types, including rotary, toggle and slide.
  • Dimmers may also interfere with radios and TVs and cause the light bulb to hum. Some dimmers are manufactured with a filter that eases this problem.

Weatherproof Box

  • Also known as an outdoor box.
  • Used for exterior switches or receptacles.
  • Thicker than interior boxes and has a rubber gasket between the cover and the box to keep out water.
  • Covers are screw-on or snap-on.

Appliance Receptical

  • Used for heavy-duty plugs and appliances.
  • Contains vertical and slanted slots in various configurations.
  • Configurations are different, so make sure to bring the plug with you if you don’t know the exact configuration you need.

Flashlight

  • Available in a variety of sizes and styles. Popular features include high-intensity, adjustable spot-to-flood beams with a simple twist of the wrist.
  • Mini-flashlights operate with AA or AAA cell batteries. Standard flashlights use two 6D cell batteries.
  • Flashlights with LEDs (light emitting diodes) will last much longer than standard incandescent bulbs. LEDs do not have a filament that will burn out. Instead, they use a semiconductor material. They’ve long been used in the electronic industry, and manufacturers are new using them in consumer flashlights.

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.

Line Switch

  • Used to interrupt the flow of electricity on cords, most often for lamps and appliances.
  • A variety of styles are available, and they can operate with a toggle, rotary or push-button action.

Wall Plates

  • Also known as faceplates or covers.
  • A flat metal, plastic or wooden piece that covers the openings in the wall made by receptacles and switches.
  • The openings in the cover match the type and number or receptacles or switches being covered. Blank covers are also available.

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.
View category→

Building Materials FAQ's (273)

Can I install my own replacement windows?

Installing replacement windows is a task that most do-it-yourselfers can handle.

Do I still need to paint or treat my treated wood?

No wood is so naturally resistant to the weather as to make it maintanance-free. You should use protective finishes like water repellents to avoid damage from water and sunlight. You can also stain and paint treated wood.

Should I use fiberglass or aluminum screening?

Aluminum screening is more durable. It’s also fireproof. However, fiberglass doesn’t dent. Fiberglass is also easier to work with, but it may need to be restretched after it has been installed.

Are long pieces of lumber that are made by gluing boards together as strong as solid pieces of timer?

Lumber that is glued or laminated together is tested by the manufacturer to ensure it will withstand a certain load. If you know what your load requirements are and buy a piece rated to withstand that load, then you can be sure the laminated lumber you buy is as strong as a single piece of timber. In fact, a laminated piece, especially in longer lengths, may be easier to find. Also, thick timbers are more difficult to dry properly, while laminated pieces are made from all kiln-dried material.

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.

If the wallboard in my basement was damaged during a flood, can I simply dry it out and keep it?

No. It needs to be replaced. Wallboard damaged by floodwater is a health hazard because there may be mud and contaminants dried up inside the board.

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.

Can I install linoleum over a concrete slab or in the basement?

Linoleum must be protected from moisture in the subfloor. It is generally not recommended for concrete slabs or basement applications.

Can I install my ceiling tile the same day I purchase it?

Most manufacturers recommend you take the tile out of the package and let sit in the room where they will be installed for at least 24 hours so they can acclimate to the room’s temperature and humidity.

Can I use a power washer to clean vinyl siding?

If you use a power washer, hold the washer straight or at eye level so it can clean most effectively. Do not point the power washer upward, as water may collect behind the siding.

View category→

Hardware FAQ's (78)

I have a hole in my screen. Can I repair it or do I need to replace it?

You can patch small holes—those ¼” and 3/8”—with a small amount of household cement. This glue patch will be next to invisible. Larger holes up to about 3 inches in diameter in aluminum screen can usually be easily patched. A patch should go at least ½” to 1” larger all around the hole. These are either kits or just pieces of screen. Unravel a number of strands and then weave the strands through the screening and bend them tight. Plastic patches need a touch of household cement on the ends of the strands after they have been woven through.

How do I install a molly bolt?

Drill the proper size hole to insert the molly. Turn the screw head until you feel the molly expand and grip the drywall. Next, remove the screw for intended use. A drive-in type is available which eliminates the need for drilling a hole.

Is there a nail I can use that is less likely to split my wood?

Pointless nails protect against wood splitting, because they cut through fibers rather than following the grain of the wood.

Do you have a screw for an electrical outlet cover?

In most cases they are a 6 – 32.

How do I install a toggle bolt?

Drill proper size hole and insert bolt. Don’t forget that you have to insert bolt through the item you are fastening to the wall. Collapse the toggle and push bolt through the hole until the toggle springs open. Now, tighten the bolt to complete the anchoring.

I’m going to nail a small piece of wood to something. What should I use?

You can use small nails—called brads—but to help prevent the wood from splitting, you should pre-drill the holes.

I need to replace this bolt on my car engine, what bolt do I use?

Automotive bolts are usually a fine thread.

Are folding steel or plastic sawhorses as durable as homemade wooden ones?

Depending on the construction of the homemade ones, they are probably more durable and can be conveniently folded and stored out of the way.

View category→

Home Security FAQ's (38)

Will a door closer work on my heavy storm door?

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.

I have mis-drilled the hole for my doorknob. Is there anything I can do to cover this mistake?

One option is to use a brass door reinforcer. This product will also increase the strength of your door.

When my house was built, they did not install a doorbell. Is there an easy way to solve this?

Yes, there are wireless door chimes that are fairly easy to install.

Will any lock fit my door?

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.

What can I do to add security to my door?

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

What kind of deadbolt should I use with my 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.

Do I need a deadbolt?

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.

Is there a product that makes installing a strikeplate easier?

Yes, there is an adjustable strikeplate.

Where should I install carbon monoxide detectors in the home?

The safest recommendation is to put one in every room, but most people are not willing to do this. The simplest rule is to mount one between the bedrooms and the rest of the house, but closer to the bedrooms. If there is more than one sleeping area, each should have its own alarm. In multi-level homes, install one on each level, and if possible have them interconnected so any one unit will sound the alarm throughout the house. The basement ceiling, near the steps, is a good location for extra protection.

View category→

Storage & Workshop Terms (35)

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.

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

Tool Box

  • 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.

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.

Miter Box

  • 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.

Tool Chest

  • Stores tools as well as parts, screws, nuts, bolts and other small pieces.
  • Available in a variety of drawer configurations, with four- and six-drawer configurations being the most popular.
  • Many tool chests also come with casters or wheels for portability.

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.

C-Clamp

  • The most common type of clamp—consists of a C-shaped frame, made of either forged steel or cast iron, into which an adjustable screw is assembled to change the jaw opening.
  • The size of a C-clamp is measured by its jaw capacity—the dimension of the largest object the frame can accommodate with the screw fully extended. Most range in jaw capacity from 2” to 10”.
  • Also important is depth of throat, the distance from the center line of the screw to the inside edge of the frame. C-clamps range from 3/4″ to 14″.
  • Most have a sliding cross-pin handle or a wing nut that is used to tighten the screw.

Specialty Stationary Workbench

  • Comes with a variety of drawers, holes and pegs for tool storage.
  • Some models are equipped with vises to hold work firmly in place.
  • These units are generally expensive and can’t be easily moved around the shop.

Attic Ladder

  • 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.
View category→

FAQs (0)

Can I install my own replacement windows?

Installing replacement windows is a task that most do-it-yourselfers can handle.

Do I still need to paint or treat my treated wood?

No wood is so naturally resistant to the weather as to make it maintanance-free. You should use protective finishes like water repellents to avoid damage from water and sunlight. You can also stain and paint treated wood.

Should I use fiberglass or aluminum screening?

Aluminum screening is more durable. It’s also fireproof. However, fiberglass doesn’t dent. Fiberglass is also easier to work with, but it may need to be restretched after it has been installed.

Are long pieces of lumber that are made by gluing boards together as strong as solid pieces of timer?

Lumber that is glued or laminated together is tested by the manufacturer to ensure it will withstand a certain load. If you know what your load requirements are and buy a piece rated to withstand that load, then you can be sure the laminated lumber you buy is as strong as a single piece of timber. In fact, a laminated piece, especially in longer lengths, may be easier to find. Also, thick timbers are more difficult to dry properly, while laminated pieces are made from all kiln-dried material.

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.

If the wallboard in my basement was damaged during a flood, can I simply dry it out and keep it?

No. It needs to be replaced. Wallboard damaged by floodwater is a health hazard because there may be mud and contaminants dried up inside the board.

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.

Can I install linoleum over a concrete slab or in the basement?

Linoleum must be protected from moisture in the subfloor. It is generally not recommended for concrete slabs or basement applications.

Can I install my ceiling tile the same day I purchase it?

Most manufacturers recommend you take the tile out of the package and let sit in the room where they will be installed for at least 24 hours so they can acclimate to the room’s temperature and humidity.

Can I use a power washer to clean vinyl siding?

If you use a power washer, hold the washer straight or at eye level so it can clean most effectively. Do not point the power washer upward, as water may collect behind the siding.

View category→

Hand & Power Tools FAQ's (185)

What are some features to look for on a good planer?

Convenient features on a planer include a dust hood to collect dust, reversible knives that are often inexpensive and disposable, infeed rollers to grab stock and help feed it through the machine and preset depth stops to make it easier to set to a desired thickness.

How big of a snow blower do I need?

Most consumers buy a single-stage model, which has a rubber paddle that reaches to the ground. People with driveways that are wider than two cars may want to consider a two-stage model. These can throw snow farther, because they have an intake and an impeller that throws the snow. However, these do not always clean all the way to the surface of the drive.

What type of sandpaper should I use on metal?

For smooth finishes you should use aluminum oxide, and for extreme fineness you can use emery to create a final polish. Steel wool can be used for removing rust or smoothing surfaces between coats.

Do you have a tool for cutting lightweight metal sheeting?

Yes, they are called metal cutting snips, and they come in a variety of sizes and designs.

I’m adding an interior wall and I want to make sure the studs will be plumb. What’s the best way to do this?

You can layout the top plate of the wall (generally with studs spaced 16” on center) and then use a plumb bob to plumb down to layout the corresponding bottom plate. Then you can begin installing the studs.

I need to plane a piece of plywood. What type of plane should I use?

When using a plane on plywood, be sure to use a double-edged disposable blade. The adhesive in plywood will quickly dull a regular cutting iron.

What are the advantages of a finish sander?

Rather than orbiting, it moves the sandpaper back and forth and should be used where it is absolutely necessary that the sandpaper move in a single direction. These often use square sheets of sandpaper, which also makes it easier to get into corners.

Is there a small power saw that is good for lighter work?

Yes, there are 3½ inch saws that are designed for trim work. However, they are also good for people who don’t want to handle a large saw. They can be used to cut everything from lattice to a 2×4.

What are all the markings on my framing square used for?

They consist of rafter tables, which are used to figure lengths and cuts of rafters, and the Essex Board Measure table, which shows board measurements of almost all sizes of boards and timbers.

I want to hide the nail head in some molding that I am installing.

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.

View category→

Lawn & Garden FAQ's (154)

How much of a slope should my gutters have?

Allow a fall of about 1-1/4” for each 20’ of guttering.

Can I spray my fruit trees from the ground?

Yes, a hose-end tree sprayer will do the job, but will often end up applying the chemical to other surrounding plants and the lawn. Consider using a ladder and a regular hose-end sprayer or pump sprayer.

How can I keep rabbits out of my garden?

There is a galvanized fence that is 28” high.

What is an annual?

These plants last one season and die out.

I need a glove to work in the yard.

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.

What is an impulse sprinkler and what are its advantages?

It will water a large area, with minimum evaporation.

What is an ice dam?

An ice dam is a condition where the temperature is just below freezing and the snow has fallen on the roof. The combination of heat from the sun and the escaping building heat causes the snow above the heated space to melt. The melted snow runs down the roof until it hits the unheated eave overhang. If the weather is cold enough, the runoff freezes and forms a small ridge. As the process continues, the ridge grows. Soon, water is backed up over the house and flows under the shingles, leaking into the home.

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.

Is one thick coat of blacktop sealer just as good if not better than two thin coats?

No. In fact, two thin coats are always better. Thick coats lead to problems such as tracking, cracking and discoloration.

View category→

Encyclopedia-Terms (0)

Door Jamb Weather Strip

  • Used to seal the sides and top of a door to shut out drafts and insects.
  • Available in a variety of forms, including roll-formed and extruded aluminum with vinyl bulbs or flaps.

Toluene

  • High solvency thinner for oil based paint, lacquers, varnish and adhesives.
  • Also used to thin certain primers and topcoats.
  • Soluble in alcohol and insoluble in water.
  • Dries quickly.
  • Also used to clean tools and equipment.

Polyurethane Foam

  • 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.

Bathtub

  • The standard Drop-In tub installs within a tile or solid-surface surround within three walls of the bathroom, while the old-fashioned Clawfoot tubs are freestanding.
  • Standard size for tubs is 60″ wide, 30″ deep and 14″ high.
  • Whirlpool and deep tubs are designed for soaking and relaxation. These tubs can be separate or incorporate a shower combination.
  • Cast iron tubs are the most durable and do not stain or scratch easily.
  • Acrylic is a better insulating material so the water takes longer to cool, and its light weight and flexibility makes it a better choice for larger tubs.
  • Fiberglass tubs are easy to install, but are more apt to fade and scratch.
  • Tub and shower combinations are typically made of reinforced fiberglass with a polyester finish.

Plastic Roof Cement

  • A trowel-grade, general-use sealing compound.
  • Makes flashings, seams or patches in roofs and gutters water-repellent.

Corner Post

  • Outside corner posts provide a more finished appearance at the outside corner of adjoined walls.
  • Inside corner posts provide a more finished appearance at the inside corner of adjoined walls.

Casement Window

  • Has a single sash hinged at one side to swing open by means of a crank or lever.
  • Tends to be more weathertight than double-hung, single-hung or sliding windows.
  • Utilizes a cam-type lock to draw the sash tightly against the frame when closed.

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.

Hardboard

  • Also known as wood fiber substrate.
  • Made from wood chips that are mechanically reduced to wood fibers and then bonded together into panels through heat and pressure.
  • Panels are thin, grainless, dense, uniformly textured, strong and bone-dry.
  • Used as an exterior siding, interior paneling, as a garage door panel, perforated boards, for furniture, toys, cabinets, floor underlayment and many other items.
  • Can be sawed, shaped, routed and drilled and will accept paint and varnish.
  • Not recommended for use in areas with high temperature or humidity because warping can occur.

Batten

  • Used to conceal joints when plywood panels or boards meet.
  • Many plywood panels are v-grooved and hide the joint. If they’re not, use this trim.
View category→

Building Materials Terms (161)

Door Jamb Weather Strip

  • Used to seal the sides and top of a door to shut out drafts and insects.
  • Available in a variety of forms, including roll-formed and extruded aluminum with vinyl bulbs or flaps.

Toluene

  • High solvency thinner for oil based paint, lacquers, varnish and adhesives.
  • Also used to thin certain primers and topcoats.
  • Soluble in alcohol and insoluble in water.
  • Dries quickly.
  • Also used to clean tools and equipment.

Polyurethane Foam

  • 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.

Bathtub

  • The standard Drop-In tub installs within a tile or solid-surface surround within three walls of the bathroom, while the old-fashioned Clawfoot tubs are freestanding.
  • Standard size for tubs is 60″ wide, 30″ deep and 14″ high.
  • Whirlpool and deep tubs are designed for soaking and relaxation. These tubs can be separate or incorporate a shower combination.
  • Cast iron tubs are the most durable and do not stain or scratch easily.
  • Acrylic is a better insulating material so the water takes longer to cool, and its light weight and flexibility makes it a better choice for larger tubs.
  • Fiberglass tubs are easy to install, but are more apt to fade and scratch.
  • Tub and shower combinations are typically made of reinforced fiberglass with a polyester finish.

Plastic Roof Cement

  • A trowel-grade, general-use sealing compound.
  • Makes flashings, seams or patches in roofs and gutters water-repellent.

Corner Post

  • Outside corner posts provide a more finished appearance at the outside corner of adjoined walls.
  • Inside corner posts provide a more finished appearance at the inside corner of adjoined walls.

Casement Window

  • Has a single sash hinged at one side to swing open by means of a crank or lever.
  • Tends to be more weathertight than double-hung, single-hung or sliding windows.
  • Utilizes a cam-type lock to draw the sash tightly against the frame when closed.

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.

Hardboard

  • Also known as wood fiber substrate.
  • Made from wood chips that are mechanically reduced to wood fibers and then bonded together into panels through heat and pressure.
  • Panels are thin, grainless, dense, uniformly textured, strong and bone-dry.
  • Used as an exterior siding, interior paneling, as a garage door panel, perforated boards, for furniture, toys, cabinets, floor underlayment and many other items.
  • Can be sawed, shaped, routed and drilled and will accept paint and varnish.
  • Not recommended for use in areas with high temperature or humidity because warping can occur.

Batten

  • Used to conceal joints when plywood panels or boards meet.
  • Many plywood panels are v-grooved and hide the joint. If they’re not, use this trim.
View category→

Heating & Cooling Terms (56)

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.

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.

UV Air Cleaner

  • Uses a HEPA filter as well as ultraviolet light rays to clean air.
  • Also acts as a germ killer to remove virus, mold and bacteria from the air.
  • Some units have a pre-filter as the first line of defense against larger particles. It is the less expensive filter and extends the life of the more expensive HEPA filter.

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.

Impeller Humidifier

  • Sprays droplets of water into the air.
  • An inexpensive type of humidifier.
  • Must be used with distilled water or with demineralizing tablets in the water.

Ionizer Air Cleaner

  • Use an ionizer to clean air by charging molecules of air, which helps make indoor air more refreshing.
  • Ionizer technology in an air cleaner can also reduce static electricity and improve the filter’s efficiency.

Box Wood Stove

  • Radiates warmth through the firebox to the surrounding air.
  • Draws air for combustion through the door.
  • Door is not tightly sealed, has no damper control and releases a considerable amount of unburned gas up through the chimney.

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.

Floor-Vent Humidifier

  • Replaces standard floor vent registers.
  • Provides humidity for individual rooms without the need for a plug-in humidifier.
  • Uses a water chamber where homeowners can add water, which then passes through a wick filter and into the air when the furnace cycles on.

Fiberglass Filter

  • Designed to protect the heating and air conditioning system from large particles, heavy dust and lint.
  • Protects furnace from larger particles and lint that enter the HVAC system.
  • Most common type of filter.
  • Fibers are not dense or electrostatically charged, so they cannot attract and capture smaller-sized particles.
  • This type of filter should be changed at least once a month.
  • Most common size for all furnace/AC filters are 20”x 20”, 20”x 25”, 16”x 20”, 16”x 25” and 14”x 25″.

 

View category→

Lawn and Garden Terms (144)

Chain Link Fencing

  • Durable, trouble-free fencing that offers safety and security.
  • Another type is plastic chain link fence, available in a variety of colors, including white, orange and green.
  • Installation is difficult, so recommend a how-to booklet available from manufacturers.
  • Install using a fence stretcher.

D Handle Square Point Shovel

  • Best for removal of loose soil and handling light materials such as sand and asphalt.
  • Not for heavy digging.
  • Available in light and heavy weights.

Bow Head Garden Rake

  • 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.

Vinyl Hose

  • Most common type of hose and functions for most applications.
  • Reasonably priced.
  • The most common size garden hose sold is 5/8” and 50’.
  • The two-ply type is typically used as a promotional item and is susceptible to sun damage and deteriorates more rapidly than a rubber hose. It is lightweight and tends to kink easily.
  • The non-reinforced vinyl type is adequate for “open service” only, which means it is suitable for use with rotary or oscillating sprinklers, but is not recommended for use with any accessory featuring an integrated shut-off valve.

Sprinkler Timer

  • Attaches to a hose to control sprinkling.
  • Can be either electronic or mechanical.
  • User sets timer for the number of inches of water needed and turns off the sprinkler when the pre-set amount is reached.
  • Some timers can be pre-set to operate for a certain amount of time, regardless of the amount of water discharged.

Edging

  • Sits close to the ground to separate flowerbeds from lawn areas and keep grass roots from spreading into flower and garden beds.
  • Typically constructed of polyethylene plastic, aluminum or galvanized steel with a rolled top edge.
  • Another type is a length of scalloped wood slabs joined by wire in 3 ft. sections.
  • Some types are designed to look like stone or brick but feature poly construction that won’t chip, crack or fade.

Landscape Fabric

  • A type of ground cover used to prevent weeds from growing while allowing moisture to penetrate.
  • User cuts holes in fabric to enable plants to grow.
  • Usually covered with mulch or decorative stone when used in landscaped areas.
  • Can be used on newly seeded lawns to prevent seeds from blowing or washing away and to spur germination.
  • Can be organic or synthetic, woven or unwoven.
  • Available in various colors.
  • Sizes range from 3’ to 6’ wide to 15’ and 50’ long.

Centipede Grass

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

Cooking Grate

cooking grate

Cooking grates are used in grills. This is what the food is placed on so that it doesn’t fall into the fire/burners. Some grills have multiple shelving options for food that needs to be close to or away from the heat.

Gate Hardware

  • A variety of latches, pulls, hinges and locking bolts are designed specifically for use on gates.
  • Types of latches include sliding bolt locks, magnetic, thumb action or padlock.
  • Hinges are usually reversible for use on left or right-swinging gates.
  • They come in tee, strap and hook-and-strap configurations.
  • Anti-sag kits are available that eliminate gate sag.
  • Usually constructed of heavy-gauge steel or with a tough polymer housing that is rust-free.
  • Ornamental hardware is often finished in black. Other types may be zinc-coated.
View category→

Plumbing Terms (100)

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.

Adapter Fitting

  • Any kind of fitting that helps connect two different types of tubing, such as copper and galvanized steel, or threaded and solvent weld, or two different sizes that are usually incompatible.
  • A dielectric fitting connects pipe of dissimilar metals (such as copper and galvanized metal) to prevent corrosion in the copper pipe.
  • Two main types, reducers and bushings, are used to convert from one size to another.

Propane Fuel

  • Attaches to a propane torch.
  • Propane comes in bright blue tanks and MAPP welding gas comes in yellow tanks.
  • Propane is generally used to heat copper for flaring. However, sometimes there is water in the line that needs to be evaporated so the pipe will heat enough to sweat a joint. Use MAPP gas, but use caution as too much heat can melt the pipe.

Ball Valve

  • Uses a large lever to turn a ball that closes or opens the flow of water with one quick quarter turn.
  • Are the standard for natural and LP gas, replacing the older plug valves that were traditionally used as gas valves.
  • Available in either metal or plastic, threaded or non-threaded types.
  • Ball valves with double-stem seals provide greater durability.

Cartridge-Type Faucet

  • Also known as a washerless faucet.
  • Uses a rubber diaphragm or two metal, plastic or ceramic discs with holes that align to let the water flow or close to shut off the water flow. Ceramic plates are more difficult to damage than rubber seats, but hard water can sometimes cause problems with the ceramic cartridges, such as squeaking or sticking.
  • Single-handle faucets that use stainless steel ball design have just one moving part and are a durable alternative.
  • Reduces leakage problems that result from worn washers.
  • Easy to repair because most new models have the water-control mechanism housed in a replaceable cartridge.
  • Replacing a cartridge is an easy do-it-yourself project, compared to working on conventional faucets. Most faucets that offer this convenience are labeled “self-contained cartridge.”

Sump Pump

  • Used to discharge ground water that accumulates around a basement that is below the water line. The basement should have a drain tile around it to collect ground water and convey it to the sump in the basement.
  • A Submersible type pump is a motor and pump sealed in one unit that rests in the sump pit.
  • A Pedestal pump sits in the water, but the motor is mounted on a column above the water. They are available in automatic or manual models, either gravity-fed or self-priming operation.
  • Pump capacity is rated by gallons-per-hour pumped as well as ìliftî pressure generatedóhow high the liquid is to be pumped.Submersible Sewage and Effluent pumps are for continuous use in moving large volumes of water containing solids.
  • Some pumps have battery backup, and a combination electric and battery-powered sump pump is now available.

Closet Auger

  • Also known as a toilet auger.
  • Used for clearing toilets. Better than a regular auger because it is more rigid.
  • Consists of a short cable with a crank.
  • The handle is covered with a rubber sleeve to protect the porcelain in a toilet bowl.

Flexible Fitting

  • Short lengths of flexible and soft plastic that is very flexible and forgiving.
  • Generally used for drain fittings in repair applications or to tie into existing drainage systems.
  • Fits over an existing pipe and tightens with a clamp.

Solder

  • Used to sweat a copper fitting.
  • Forms a bond between fitting and pipe.
  • Use lead-free solder if used on potable water lines.
  • Most common type is 95-5 tin-antimony solder. The first number is the percentage of tin in the solder. The more tin, the more workable the solder.

Globe Valve

  • Used when a valve must be opened and closed frequently under high water pressure.
  • Used to control volume of flow. These valves have two chambers with a partition between them for passage of water that must change course several times from port to port.
  • Should not be used in water supply lines for occasional shut-off purposes.
  • An angle valve is similar to a globe valve, but has its ports at right angles. Install at a turn in piping to eliminate the necessity of an elbow (this is often preferred to using a globe valve and elbow).
  • An angle valve has greater water passage than a globe valve. Since there is only one change in direction of flow, there is less resistance.
  • A Connector Globe Valve uses a union fitting on one side.
View category→

Home Security Terms (35)

Combination Lock

  • User must dial a combination to open the lock.
  • Hardened solid steel alloys make better locks and shackles.

Carbon Dioxide Extinguisher

  • Extinguishes Class B and C fires.
  • Class B fires involve flammable liquids, gases and greases.
  • Class C fires involve electrical equipment or wiring where the electric non-conductivity of the extinguishing agent is important.
  • Has a limited range and is affected by draft and wind.

Pin-Tumbler Padlock

  • Provides maximum security for valuables.
  • Pin-tumbler locking mechanisms make padlocks harder for thieves to pick.
  • Tumblers with five or more pins provide the best security, while four pin is the next best.
  • Hardened solid steel and steel alloys make better locks and shackles.
  • Solid extruded brass padlocks are more resistant to rust than steel, but can be damaged more easily.

Dry-Chemical Extinguisher

  • Some types extinguish only Class B and C fires.
  • Includes sodium and potassium bicarbonate base agents.
  • Some types are marked general-purpose or multi-purpose. These types can be used on Class A, B and C fires.

Passage Lockset

  • An interior lockset used inside the home in hallways or closets between rooms where privacy is not important.
  • Has two, non-locking knobs, one on each side of the door. Some models use levers instead of knobs.
  • Available in a wide variety of styles and finishes.

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.

Foam Extinguisher

  • Extinguishes Class A and B fires.
  • Class A fires are the most common type. They involve ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber and many plastics.
  • Not effective on flammable liquids or gases escaping under pressure.

Privacy Lockset

  • An interior lockset.
  • Designed for privacy rather than for security.
  • Has a locking button on the inside knob but no key device on the outside knob.
  • Can be either a knob or a lever.
  • In an emergency, the lock can be opened from the outside by inserting a narrow object through the small hole in the outside knob and either depressing or turning the locking mechanism inside, depending on the type of lock.
  • Available in a wide variety of styles and finishes.

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.

Fire Safe

  • Protects valuables and documents exposed to fire.
  • According to UL, a fire safe should maintain an inside temperature below 350º for an hour or more.
  • The safe should also be resistant to rupture and explosion at these temperatures.
  • Some safes can be mounted in walls, floors and other areas.
View category→

Electrical FAQ's (92)

I have a circuit breaker that tripped. Is this dangerous?

Usually the problem is simply an overload and you only need to run fewer appliances on the circuit. However, if it is not overloaded and it keeps tripping, you should suspect a short. Also, look for a defective cord, socket or plug.

The tubes in my fluorescent light are graying near the ends; does this mean they are wearing out?

Working tubes usually have a gray tinge on the ends, but dark gray or black is a sign that the tube is failing.

What type of switches will I need to turn a light on from three different locations?

Two of the locations will use a three-way switch and the other location will need a four-way switch.

What does gauge mean?

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.

What are voltage testers?

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.

Can I add additional outlets to an existing circuit?

You need to figure the current circuit load in watts to see if it can handle additional use. The National Electric Code is 20 percent less than maximum. This means a 15-amp circuit has a safe capacity of 1,440 amps. A 20-amp circuit limit is 1,920 amps, a 25-amp circuit’s limit is 2,400 amps and a 30-amp circuit has a safe limit of 2,880 watts.

My fluorescent fixture does not seem to be putting out as much light as it used to. Could the tube be failing?

If the entire tube is dim, it may simply need washing. Try removing it and wiping it with a damp cloth.

How do I connect a wire to the terminal on my light switch?

Bend a stripped wire 180 degrees by bending it over the tip of needle nose pliers. Wrap the wire clockwise around the screw so that it will stay in place as you tighten the screw. Don’t over tighten and make sure there is no insulation under the terminal.

I am putting a couple of more outlets in my garage can I use 14-guage wire?

While 14-guage wire is the minimum for most houses wiring, it can only be used for 15-amp circuits. Number 12-gauge wire is recommended for general home use. There is often a chart on boxes of wire that will show you recommend gauges for specific applications.

What do the numbers mean on electrical wire?

A wire marked 14/2 means that it’s a 14-gauge wire and it contains two wires inside the insulated jacket.

View category→

Heating & Cooling FAQ's (61)

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.

What does MERV stand for?

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It basically rates the filter’s ability to trap particles from the air. The higher the MERV number, the more efficient the filter.

Can I stack insulation to get a higher R-value?

Yes. For example, two R-19 batts can be stacked on each other to create R-38 insulation. You also can add loose-fill insulation on top of a bottom layer of batts.

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.

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.

I already have some loose-fill insulation in my attic. How do I know if I need more?

Generally, if you have less than 9” of insulation on the attic floor, it needs more.

Which is better: a metal or a cast iron stove?

Both conduct heat identically well. As a general rule, though, the thicker the metal, the longer the stove will last.

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.

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.

View category→

Plumbing FAQ's (121)

What is a gasket?

It is made of rubber, plastic or paper and is the component that seals the joints in fittings and valves. It is sometimes available in liquid form.

How do I adjust toilet water level?

To adjust the water level on a toilet with modern tank components, there is a lock ring or pinch clamp that allows you to raise or lower the float on the fill valve. On toilets with older fill valves, you can simply bend the float arm down to lower the water level or up to raise it.

What is the difference between PVC and CPVC plastic pipe?

CPVC can be used on hot and cold lines, while PVC is for cold water only. PVC is usually used as a drainpipe.

Is a trap necessary under the sink?

You need a trap to shut off odor (sewer gas) from coming into the kitchen and bath area.

What does the flux do?

It cleans the surface prior to soldering. It prevents the oxidation of the metal. And it allows the solder to flow freely.

What is the correct size garbage disposer I should put under my sink?

If you are replacing an existing unit that has worked well for a number of years, the old size should work fine. Otherwise, a unit with a 1/3 horsepower motor will handle limited use once a day. A standard unit with a ½ horsepower motor will normally suffice for general use. Heavy-duty ¾ horsepower units and larger are designed for a large volume of garbage.

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.

How can I make my cultured marble sink look shiny again?

Use a polishing compound. To fill in scratches or dents, use appliance wax or car wax.

How do I replace a damaged refill valve?

Turn off the toilet’s water supply valve, flush the toilet and sponge out any remaining water in the tank. The refill valve is usually removed by turning a nut that holds it in place. When the nut is off, the refill assembly can be lifted out. Install the new assembly by following the manufacture’s directions.

Can the fittings be removed after they have been glued?

No. They are permanently joined and cannot be taken apart.

View category→