The winter storms are kicking into full force this year and soon icicles will be everywhere. Although icicles may look attractive hanging from eaves of homes they signal a more ominous condition known as an ice dam.
Ice dams are caused by poor roof ventilation and a warm attic space, and form when melting snow on a roof runs off and refreezes at the edge of a roof. Left untreated, ice dams can cause serious damage to your home.
Heavy snowfalls bring on ice dams quickly because of the snow's insulating properties. The reason why snow is an insulator is explained along with how to prevent and repair ice dams (including the use of roof rakes) in the tutorial Ice Dams: How to Prevent & Remove Them.
Ever wonder what is hidden behind that electrical panel in your home? How do all those wires end up working anyway?
Why not take a look "under the hood" for yourself by reading the tutorial Anatomy of a Service Panel and see for yourself. It's not as complicated as you might think!
And you'll finally understand what black, white and ground wires do.
Here's a tip that can save you hundreds of dollars in service calls if your furnace fails to light:
Check your thermocouple and know how to replace it.
If the gas burner in your furnace does not turn on or your pilot light in an older furnace is out, you may find that the problem lies in a little device that controls the gas valve. In an older standing pilot furnace the device is called a thermocouple. In newer electronic ignition furnaces it is called a flame sensor. However they both perform the same basic function, and that is to control gas flow.
In the tutorial Replacing a Furnace Thermocouple or Electronic Flame Sensor I describe how to easily replace a furnace thermocouple in an older style standing pilot furnace or an electronic flame sensor in a newer style electronic ignition furnace.
Of course determining if the thermocouple or flame sensor is your problem is something you need to know how to do. I outline how to troubleshoot a standard furnace in Troubleshooting a Gas Furnace and how to troubleshoot an electronic furnace in Troubleshooting an Electronic Furnace.
A really useful website you should check out is called Armchairbuilder.com.
Although the site's main audience are folks looking to do construction on their new home or major renovation project, it has some easy to understand construction videos and useful tips applicable to home repair.
In my recent tutorial How to Install Ceramic Subway Wall Tiles as a Kitchen Backsplash, I show you how to set tile for use in a kitchen, going directly over a drywall substrate. However, if you were installing tile in an area that will get wet such as in a bathroom shower or tub surround, you would need to use a waterproof substrate called cement board such as Durock® as made by USG.
Armchairbuilder.com has a nice video series on Tile Backer Board Installation: Shower Remodel. I like the site because, as the video shows, it provides easy to understand useful take-away information.
Today is a special day when we give thanks for what we have and what it seems we tend to take for granted.
So I'd like to wish my best to you and your family this Thanksgiving.
And as a special Thanksgiving Day tip from your Home Repair guide, I'd like to suggest you pay special attention to what goes down your garbage disposal, especially avoiding potato peelings!
In the tutorial Garbage Disposal Troubleshooting I'll explain how to fix many problems you may encounter with your disposal today. I'll also give you some tips on how to avoid clogs and slow draining situations often caused by improperly putting in potato peelings or coffee grounds or eggshells.
Potato peelings should never go into your disposal. They may make it through the disposal OK, but the problem comes later on in the drain line where they become a clog forming starchy paste. Yech!
So avoid problem foods in the disposer and then feel free to grind away as you make and clean up from your holiday meal.
Installing a ceramic tile backsplash provides you countless styles and colors from which to choose. A popular and economical backsplash tile choice is the subway tile.
Many people shy away from installing their own tile work but with detailed instruction and tips you can do this job yourself saving hundreds of dollars, gaining self-satisfaction and improving your home's property value. That is, if you do it right. And that's what I intend to show you, how to do it right!
In the tutorial How to Install Ceramic Subway Wall Tiles as a Kitchen Backsplash I provide you detailed step-by-step instructions and tons of photos on how to prepare and install ceramic subway tile as a beautiful kitchen backsplash. These instructions provide all the steps you need to get your tiles laid out, cut and adhered to the wall in preparation for the next step which is final grouting.
So take a few minutes and read this tutorial. You'll want to bookmark it as a reference for detailed steps and tips on tile installation. And if you decide to use subway tile, take some time and shop around. I compared prices at Lowes and Home Depot and found a difference of about $1 per square foot, or 25%-33% between the stores. One store offered tiles made by Dal-Tile and the other offered American Olean, both excellent manufacturers so either one was a great product choice.
Water heaters love to go cold at the worst times, like Saturday night at 11 PM. Sound familiar?
When your water heater decides to stop working it's good to know how to diagnose and fix many common problems yourself. I show you how in the tutorial called Troubleshoot a Tank Type Water Heater
Whether you have a gas or electric water heater, this tutorial will help you evaluate and repair everything from your gas burner / pilot light to your anode rod.
What's an anode rod? Well in the tutorial Anatomy of a Gas Water Heater I'll graphically show you all the various components of the water heater including our friend the Anode Rod, who "sacrifices" himself for you every day!
Cold weather is becoming more common and as the cold weather approaches the dreaded "cold snap" is sure to rear its head and catch many folks unprepared. The result may have you repairing a frozen or burst water pipe.
The standard outside faucet is one of the most common victims of frozen plumbing because of the way the faucet is designed. Since frozen outside faucets and their frozen supply pipes are such common problems, cheap placebo products like the generically called a faucet sock get sold by the thousands, providing homeowners a false sense of security.
So what is the real solution to preventing frozen pipes from your outside faucet? Well, in the tutorial How to Prevent an Outside Faucet from Freezing I'll explain how the frost proof sill-cock is your best defense against a frozen faucet and frozen water supply pipe and why these silly Faucet Socks give you a false sense of security and are such a waste of money!
If you're like most folks you don't give extension cords much thought. I mean, other than not being able to find one when you need it!
With the holidays coming and Christmas tree lighting and exterior holiday lights going up, the extension cord will be called on again and again. But did you you know that the extension cord can be one of the most dangerous electrical appliances in your home?
According to the U.S. Product Safety Commission, extension cords can be dangerous because of improper use. Each year, accidents from extension cords kill around 50 people, result in injuries requiring hospital treatment to 4,000 others and also cause over 3,000 residential fires.
So I thought it would be good to review How to Select the Proper Electrical Extension Cord. Key to selecting the right cord is understanding that the capacity of an electrical extension cord to safely extend power is based on two factors, gage of the wire and length of the cord. Take a read and see how to properly select the right cord for your home use.
Can you believe how early it is now becoming dark?
In about one more month the days start getting longer again but for now short days are a sure sign of winter taking hold. So if you live in a cold climate it's time to get your home ready for winter.
In the Tutorial Easy Home Winterizing I'll walk you through an easy to implement, comprehensive winterizing checklist. From plumbing systems to your roof, we'll walk through each system and hit the major things to check before winter is fully here so you can enjoy the snow and not worry about your home.