for Cold Climate Housing and much more

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...
  • 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.
  • Introduction

    Most of the material in this Drywalling section was originally developed for an interactive DVD.  It was a tough marketing decision between selling DVDs or getting web sponsorship to pay for such a production but feedback from you has said that you would prefer to have access to all of this infor...
  • 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...
  • Applying Rain Screen Principles to Window and Door Installations

      THE CHALLANGE FOR INSTALLERS AND MANUFACTURERS jump to - RAIN SCREEN RESEARCH -   There are many variations on how to install a window into a wall, largely differing between new construction and renovation, but there is one almost universal principle presently in practice: Stop both the wat...
  • TIP - Loosening rusted bolts

    When it comes to loosening rusted bolts, some ways are more ecologically friendly than others. Heat Simply heating the nut will sometimes expand it before the bolt heats up, breaking the rust lock and allowing it to come off. Chemicals Lubricants and ordinary oils will not break the bonds of ...
  • A safety correction about penetrating oils and propane torches.

    David from Victoria, British Columbia is a safety officer in his workplace. Last year he saw me putting penetrating oil on a rusted nut and then heating it with a propane torch to break it loose. Bad stuff he says. Heating oils like that can be very bad for your health, as was the case of a custo...
  • 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...