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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...
  • Vent Stack Ice Capping or Evaporation : I GET SEWER ODOURS INSIDE THE HOUSE OCCASIONALLY IN THE WINTER.

      This is one of those problems that are not dealt with seriously enough by the building officials in really cold regions.  I have opened a blog space at the bottom of this article for you to add in your case history so we can demonstrate that this is a large and continuing problem.  Take a look...
  • Replacing screens in doors and windows & New Types of Screens

    When it comes to installing screens into a screen door I have always had problems keeping the mesh straight and avoiding wrinkles in the corners when I followed the standard instructions of starting at one corner and working my way around, unless I was working with someone else to help hold it al...
  • 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...
  • Staining outdoor wood.

    Albert Bacci of the Noble House Coatings company in Toronto came to the TV studio to share his experience in applying outdoor stains. First rule, if there is mill glaze (that washer board look caused by the planing blades in the lumber mill) on the boards, you must sand them off or no stain will...
  • Making an invisible patch in a lathe and plaster wall

    To fix a bulge or hole in a lathe and plaster wall, we need to pay special attention to two things: limit the damage as we remove the loose plaster, and make sure the new plaster sticks solidly to the old lathe.   DEFINE THE PROBLEM AREA Start by using a pencil to draw a line around the entir...
  • Ridge vents for snow country

    Venting a cathedral or low slopped roof is not easy. What you need to accomplish is to have continuous air movement from the soffits up between all the roof joists and somehow out the top. That is what ridge vents were invented to do. But it must be noted that a ridge vent without good open conti...
  • Plumbing noises and Water Hammer

    Scott in Grand Falls, NF has a loud banging noise in his pipes every time he shuts off a faucet. In some plumbing systems when a faucet or an automatic valve like in a washing machine stops the water too fast, it tries to keep going and you get a banging sound throughout the house. The pipes are...
  • Tracing annoying sounds

    One homeowner had an annoying screech coming from her hydronic heating system that was hard to trace because it only happened occasionally and then usually late at night.  The servicemen could find nothing wrong, and of course it never made a screech when they were there.    RECORDING THE SOUND...
  • 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 a request from a US w...
  • Still worried about Aluminum wiring.

    Rick writes: I HAVE BEEN TO YOUR WEB SITE BUT STILL HAVE SOME QUESTIONS ON THIS TOPIC. HERE GOES: FIRST, IF THE OVERHEATING OCCURS, WHY DOESN'T THE CIRCUIT TRIP? AN ELECTRICIAN TOLD ME THAT IF I HAD A SWITCH PANEL VERSUS FUSES, THAT THIS WOULD PROTECT ME! Both fuses and circuit breakers (neither...
  • The river is rising – preparing for a flood: OVERVIEW

    This article is about stopping water outside the house, then if necessary, controlling the situation as your basement floods.  For some very interesting water alarms, covering both plumbing and overland water,see Stopping Plumbing Floods.   SANDBAGGING The first line of defense is sandbaggin...
  • How to turn on the main breaker in your electrical panel

      If for any reason you have turned OFF the main breaker of your household electrical system, do not simply turn it back ON.  In fact in many cases it will simply not turn back on, especially if you have baseboard heaters all on all over the house.  Powering the main breaker while all the circui...
  • A cat shelter in a cold climate

    Lots of CJAD listeners want to see pictures of the house of the roaming cat that has claimed me as his property.  Understand this house is a bit of an evolving concept.  It started out as an effort to help this 10-year-old cat get through the winter despite his desire to roam more than settle.  Y...
  • A toilet riser to get the toilet to wheel chair height -- the TOILEVATOR

    Here is a brilliant idea. Many people who have difficulty sitting down and getting up, as well as those who have the problem of getting in and out of wheelchairs have always had to install rather unstable special chairs on top of their toilets. Here is a toilet riser and a soil stack extension th...
  • Speciality soles and shoes -- protecting against slipping and crushing

    We can't walk on water, but we do try to walk on ice   When I first wrote this article in 2009, speciality work stores were about the only place you could buy of any these shoe spikes outside of the Internet.  In 2020 if you live where there is ice on the ground, you can find them in renovati...
  • Tri-Energy Controller -- a step further towards energy efficiency

      ABC Hybrid Inc. has really broken the code on heating comfort and economy.  Your existing furnace goes totally on or totally of according to the demand of the thermostat.  That is very much like having a stick shift car with only neutral and third gear – you would be in high gear, or out of ge...
  • Eco-Ice Grip -- Treated wood chips for slippery ice

    This is one amazing product.  Softwood wood chips with just the right mix of magnesium chloride to help the chips to melt into and stick on the ice - making the safest icy walkway I ever walked on.  This is a Swiss invention and Canadian distribution is just beginning.  See comments at the end o...
  • 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...
  • Dog/Cat doors for a snowy climate

    For a long time it has been a dream to have dog and even cat doors that would allow the pets in and out on their own without compromising the house itself in a cold snow filled climate. When a pet door doesn't work in our climate, the snow can fill the living room. All efforts seemed to fail to ...
  • Concrete and Rock demolation without explosives

      Dynamite can disturb structures a long distance away and can even open cracks to let soil gasses rise up where they did not pass before.  Dynamite cannot be used on or under a house.  Jackhammering is not only annoying but vibrations can cause secondary damage to an adjoining house.  EcoBust ...