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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...

    Heat pumps do not create heat. They simply pump it from one place to another, either raising the temperature or lowering it in the process. It's much like a water pump: that doesn't create water, it just move it to wherever you need it. Heat pumps are valuable because it takes less energy to move...
  • The 3-FLEX CONTROLLER -- getting the most out of every central heating system

    If you are looking at changing or upgrading your heating system – read this article.  It may introduce you to things you have never heard about and can certainly save you a lot of money while improving the comfort of your home. Enérgie ABC Hybride Inc. of Montreal has really broken the code on h...
  • Getting Generator Electricity into the Home

    During the infamous Eastern ice storm of 1998, people went running out and bought every generator available and set them up to power something in the house during the extended black-out. Many of those efforts created great problems for the utility because homeowners were often feeding electricity...

    Cliquez ici pour voir cet article en français IS THERE A FIRE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD? December 2018 - As I was walking home from the grocery store in the Montreal suburb of Longueuil in one of the first cold days of winter, I found myself choking on smoke.   I started looking around to see if the...
  • Should I change to All Electric heat?

    All-Electric heating can mean many things: baseboard heating / baseboard with split head high wall mounted non-ducted heat pumps / an electric central forced air furnace with or without a heat pump / or an electric central boiler for a hydronic system.  If you are thinking of removing your Oil o...
  • Foundation settling

    Our camera caught up with Alfred at the renovation centre and he says that he has cracks in the concrete and in the plaster. What to do? The important first step is to which one of three possibilities apply to Alfred's house: It moved once, cracked and is not moving any more; the cracks are caus...
  • How to close off a chimney temporarily

    Jacqueline from Red Deer Alberta is trying to figure out how to close up her chimney between periods of using the fireplace, given that her damper is burned out and very difficult to replace. Closing off the top of the chimney There are dampers that go on the top of the chimney and are pulled t...
  • Removing odours: cigarettes - mould - animals - cleaning up after fire or flood = Disaster Restoration

    Whether you are trying to get rid of smoke odours caused by fire or cigarettes, mold infestation, incrusted pet odours, the aftermath of a contagious disease (used to sterilize ambulances) or just preparing an apartment for rent that smells bad - read on. THE CHANGING SCIENCE This article was f...
  • Softening water -- do electronic water softeners work?

    John from Halifax wrote in asking about replacing his salt based water softener with an electronic water softener to make it easier to water his lawn.   Note 2020: I originally wrote this article in 2004 and many products have come and gone since then.  I recently received several requests to l...
  • Who Is Jon Eakes?

    It all started when his older brother and sister were really good at music and he couldn't carry a beat with the garbage can. So he holed up in the basement and built boats. The saving grace for his 12-year-old engineering talents was the discovery that wooden boats float even if they're full of ...
  • OVERVIEW: Changing the roof or roof covering on a house

    As I look at my own database, I see that I have almost 100 answers to specific questions about roofs and roofing.  Despite a good search engine, that much scattered information can get confusing.  Let me make just a couple of overview statements to help guide you in getting your existing or new r...
  • Tips for working with Steel Studs

    For extensive videos on working with steel studs, follow this link to the Learning Curve. John from Barry, Ontario was asking about using steel studs for a basement renovation. As you might expect, there are pros and cons for any building material. Steel studs are often less expensive than wood...
  • Using Resilient Channels

    Installing drywall panels onto resilient channels is one of the first lines of defense against sound transmition through walls or ceilings. Here is a summary overview of their use.  Notice there are more details in one of the videos which follow.
  • Ghosting-Dust Marks

    In some houses there are strange dark marks that seem to follow cathedral ceiling joists, or even wall studs. Paint as you like and they keep coming back. You need to know what causes these marks if you want to eliminate them.
  • Proper Metal Stud Screws

    You need special screws when you build a steel stud wall -- not just any sheet metal screw as the head thickness can cause problems with the drywall.
  • Avoiding Errors With Resilient Channels

    Here are the details on sound proofing resilient bars or channels. One of the most important details is to install these supports with the proper edge up -- and avoid short circuiting the sound path with your screws.
  • Hanging Things on Metal Studs

    We often say that heavy objects that need to be hung on the wall must be attached directly into a stud. When you have steel studs, this can require special blocking before the wall is built -- or special attachment tactics if you want to go directly into the steel stud without wood blocking.
  • Sound Proofing Layers

    There are many elements to good soundproofing. Here is a look at how these materials layer over each other.
  • Wood Bracing for Doors and Windows

    Steel stud construction often requires wood backing for heavy objects like cupboards or sinks and you need to plan ahead to do this right. Doors and windows require even more fancy work to be able to attach the wooden door frame to the steel structure level and square.
  • Working With Steel Studs

    Metal studs are straight and never shrink -- but you do need to know how to work with steel studs and how to attach drywall to steel studs if you want to avoid problems.