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Latest Database Entries

  • Legality of DIY electrical and plumbing work

    NEW CONSTRUCTION In the interests of health and safety a number of trades are controlled by law, most particularly plumbing and electricity. The degree to which plumbing and electrical work are actually regulated varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For instance almost all work performed in...
  • The basics of water purification and limitations of water filters.

    The microbiologist Dr. Phillip Stuart joined me to talk about residential water filtration systems. A couple of very important things came out.   Carbon filters, like the Brita and other counter-top or end of spout filters are only designed to use with treated water systems to remove bad tas...
  • What is an Outdoor Adhesive?

    What is the difference between a glue and an adhesive? Only vocabulary. We tend to call domestic stick-um stuff 'glue' and professional stick-um stuff 'adhesive'. Often people consider thin stick-um that has no gap filling capacity to be 'glue' and thick stuff that can fill gaps to be 'adhesive'....
  • Replacing a rotting door sill.

    Jack wants to know just how a door frame is made, so that he can take his apart. The sill is rotten. Usually, but not always, the sill goes right under the vertical framing. Sometimes the vertical piece is notched into the sill. In either case, you have to either cut out all the rotten wood, or ...
  • Solidifying rotting wood in a log cabin with Epoxy.

      Wood Restoration is the process of using a very liquid penetrating epoxy mix to saturate wood, strengthening the fibers at the same time killing fungi.  This is not an epoxy adhesive, but a penetrating liquid that changes the structure of wood.  Then a thick putty like epoxy is used to fill in...
  • Rotting Wood on a Window

    Wooden window sashes tend to rot. There are special hardening and filler materials that can do a good job of restoring this wood without having to replace it -- also good for the bottom of door frames. A wood hardener is the starting point, to solidify existing soft wood and prepare the area for...
  • Kitchen Doors: Polyester or Polymer

    Although it is possible to purchase real wood doors or have them custom made, more and more kitchens have one form or another of plasticized doors, generally made of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard, compressed wood fibres) and covered with various plastics, acrylics or polymers.  Plastics were fi...
  • PAN FAN - an air filter for toilets

    Over the years I have seen and tested a large number of gadgets designed to get rid of toilet odours, from double walled ceramic toilets that had an exhaust pipe to the outdoors, to exhaust ducts that fitted under the tank and various carbon filters situated under the seat. Finally an New Zealand...
  • A gadget for watering hanging plants

    The "Rain Stick" is used to get a lot of water quickly from your bucket to a hanging plant. You put the end in a bucket of water and pull the plunger back, then lift the end up over the plant and push the plunger back out. Simple and effective, with no ladders or falling off of chairs.   That g...
  • Do they not sell drills anymore? Is an impact driver a drill?

      Drill A “drill” is defined as a spinning device that has an adjustable chuck able to clamp down onto a twist bit of just about any size.  Yes they still make them – usually called “drill/drivers”, because you can also put screw bits into them.  The simplest ones available are usually variable...
  • My bathroom vent keeps freezing.

    Keith in Ste. Agathe, Manitoba writes: "I installed a new fan in the bathroom ceiling. I ran the exhaust pipe into the attic, then on a gentle down slope to the gable end of my house. On the outside wall I installed a 3 flap door for the exhaust to come out. In the winter there is so much moistur...
  • Quebec Residential Electrical Rates and Subsidies

    Saving money on residential heating in 2022 – a look at the financial side.   Electrical Rate Structure summary:  Hydro Québec is developing various incentives for people to reduce their electrical use during peak periods in the winter.  Lowering the peaks in the demand for electricity allows f...
  • Aging brick mortar.

    Petra from Mississauga Ontario has small pocket holes in her brick mortar that is only a few years old. These are not the weep holes that she knows should be there, but just little holes probably caused by air pockets during construction. How to fill them? The easiest way to deal with very small...
  • Wood Bracing for Doors, Windows, Cupboards and Shelves

    Steel stud construction often requires wood backing for heavy objects like cupboards or sinks and you need to plan ahead to do this right.  This video shows heavy plywood backing, which works for most things.  But the same techniques can be used to insert a 2x6 or even 2x8 on the flat behind the ...
  • OVERVIEW: Lubricants: Why are there so many choices?

    Lubricants are products designed to make things slip. Sister products that have some lubrication but are specialized for other uses are penetrating oils that are used to loosen up rusted parts, drying sprays designed to remove water from electrical wires and some cleaning sprays. Although I use...
  • What are BUILDING CODES and why do I care?

      For the first time in history most Canadian National Codes are free. As of April 2019, the NRC is offering free access to the downloadable and electronic formats of the National Building Code, the National Fire Code, the National Plumbing Code, and the National Energy Code for Buildings, as w...
  • Setting Concrete Slabs Safely and Easily

    Individuals who invent things always have trouble getting them to market.  Even when they are good products they may not get enough marketing traction to make it really worthwhile.  There are many products that I have fallen in love with that have simply fallen away with time.  I have used my Sla...
  • Supporting outdoor structures

    In this 2004 HGTV episode, we collected several different viewer questions about supporting outdoor structures so we could compare one to the other.  At the bottom of this article I have added, in 2015, the Helix screw piles that may just have replaced all the rest. Elephant Feet The first vi...
  • Quebec’s Decree to ban residential oil heating -- The hard truth and your options

      (updated May 2022) Residential OIL HEATING is being phased out, but homeowners still have options that are much less expensive than going all electric.   Pour une traduction française de cet article, visitez la MaisonSaine.ca.  Confusion and Panic Ecological Reality Separating Truth from...
  • Keeping a laptop going (quietly) - from Win7 to Win11

      Ultra Soft -- the Montreal store that still solves LAPTOP problems I keep finding myself going back to the first laptop store in Montreal, now a tiny basement workshop at 16 Westminster Ave in Montreal West called UltraSoft.  After all the big stores and websites have stolen away the market f...
  • Should heating by oil be banned in Montreal?

      This letter was written to Montreal municipal officials relative to total banning of heating with oil in February of 2021.  It will give you the full ecologically valid arguments against this proposal.  In the fall of 2021 the Quebec government has decreed an end to residential heating with oi...