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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...
  • Degenerating water heater dip tube

    Steven from Pierrefonds, Quebec isn't getting much hot water out of his tank these days, and has little white plastic beads collecting in the strainer of his faucets. He has heard about a problem with water heater dip tubes, so he did his homework and writes: "I understand this is a common proble...
  • I have white particles in my hot water.

    Jean writes from St.Paul, Alberta: "I live in town and have municipal water. I have started getting yellow water from my hot water tank. It is not smelly, but it does have some suspended flakes. I also don't have the same volume of hot water as I previously had; yet it is still very hot. A friend...
  • Two Water Problems: Burn like sulfur smell and Milky looking water

      Burn Smell in the shower Bill from Newcastle, Ontario gets that smell in the morning and wants to know how to get rid of it. This is not a common problem, but it is certainly not unknown. It is not common because it requires a specific set of circumstances to create this problem. First it re...
  • Hot Water Tank Maintenance and Failure

    Earnie from Vancouver wants to know how can you predict the failure of your hot water tank before it fails. That is not an easy one Earnie. There are many signs that will indicate that you need to change the tank or at least do some maintenance work to keep it running, whether it is an electric ...
  • The negative side of Microban, BioFresh & other "antimicrobials"

    I just received (October 2014) an alert from Healthy Building News about additives in many building products that are supposed to kill microbes and make the house healthier.  These things are called “Antimicrobials”.  A couple of the best known trade names are Microban and BioFresh.  Little disi...
  • Speciality Ladders

    Aren’t we all tempted by all the speciality ladders we see?  Two of the ladders below I showed on my TV show a long time ago.  Checking out these ladders sent me on quite a study of ladders, and updating this article over the years shows how some things die and get reborn.  Ladders sold for home...
  • Outdoor basement stairs -- CAUTION!

    Can I cut in a door where the basement window is presently? Ed and Shirley from Dundas, Ontario want to put a door into the basement right where there is presently a window. Can they do it? If the door is the same width as the window, there will be no structural problems above. If you make the ...
  • DO I NEED AN EXHAUST FAN IN THE KITCHEN?

    An exhaust fan in the kitchen is not an absolute necessity. However, it serves two functions: it cuts down on humidity and it removes grease, smoke and odours. If none of these bother you -- and that has a great deal to do with how you like to cook -- then you can get along without one. If you k...
  • Stopping Plumbing Floods & Flood Alarms

    I like to look at history and tell stories, but if you are not the type that likes to read a lot and all you want is to control your water flow – jump down to the best plumbing flow control systems to date:  my experience with AquaTrip (from Australia and no longer available in Canada) and the ne...
  • Basement walls -- Moisture & Vapour Barriers

    Do I need to place a vapour barrier against the brick wall, then insulation and then another vapour barrier over that?  The wall does not leak and is fully underground.  Barbara THE VAPOUR BARRIER The vapour barrier is more properly called a vapour retarder. It is designed to stop moisture in t...
  • Clothes Dryer ducting: cleaning & extending & avoiding Fires

    CLEANING Be aware that a clogged clothes dryer duct will reduce the efficiency of the clothes dryer, and could start a fire. If your duct is made of ridged metal, it is rather easy to clean because you can snake brushes, even rags right through from one side to the other.  Terry commented on th...
  • REDUCING, NOT BANNING, FOSSIL FUELS IN HOME HEATING IN QUEBEC

    There is a general social consensus that we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that includes emissions from using fossil fuels in home heating.  But how to do that is becoming a confusing and potentially expensive question for thousands of homeowners.   THE MAGIC WAND OF LEGISLATION Some...
  • How do you stop mice from coming into the house?

      Susan from Calgary, Alberta has mice that just keep coming into her house. She knows where they get in and would like to block the entrance. She wonders if the foam in a can would stop them.               No. They will eat right through it. But if you mix the foam in a can, or caul...
  • Fixing a squeaky ceramic floor?

    A squeaky ceramic floor is a particularly difficult problem because you really cannot fix it from the top down, and if you don't fix it, it will eventually break the grout if not the floor tiles because of the movement of the floor. Squeaking is caused by something rubbing, often the floor board...
  • 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.   BANNING OIL HEATING If you are concerned about the move to ban h...
  • Cleaning up pet and rodent odours

       SKUNKS    Although the solution for pet urine below can help with skunks, the most efficient I have found are speciality products from a Québec company SOS ODEURS.  They have shampoos for your rugs and the fur of your pets, but they also have spray on solutions for the hard surfaces and lan...
  • Chimney inspection check list.

    From top to bottom: 1- Check the spark arrestor or rain cover, whichever you have on your chimney. Its most important function may in fact be to keep animals and birds out of your chimney. 2- The liner needs to be in good shape. Check the part that is visible from above, and occasionally have a...
  • How to check if your furnace oil tank is safe

    Underground tanks are banned Many years ago we buried oil tanks in the ground. Think a minute about how bad an idea that was. When a very old tank developed a leak, we never knew about it and it just leaked oil into the ground for years, creating quite an environmental problem. That is why it is...
  • Less pain, less cost upgrading from Win7

    Scroll down for an incredible trick to make your old computer stop that whining fan noise, or click here.   Win7 Upgrade The publicity would have you think that now that Microsoft is ending support for Win7, you must buy a new computer.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Almost all lap...
  • Floor covering in a basement

    I'm asked a lot about covering a floor in a basement. There are several considerations we need to deal with: the hard and cold concrete and maybe with levelling the floor. Of course we need to pay attention to water, either coming from outside the house or from plumbing spills inside the house si...