Monday, December 8, 2008

Should you Tile over Tile that has Mold Growing Underneath it?

By Mark J. Donovan

Question: My basement got water in it and I know I have mold growing underneath it. I am in the process of putting new tile over the old tile and am wondering if this is the right thing to do. I am wondering now if I should remove the old tile before installing the new tile. Any help would be appreciated.

Answer: Mold can cause negative health effects to your family. Mold spores could cause respiratory problems, particular for those who are prone to allergies or who have asthma.

If you know you have mold growing underneath your tiled floor I would first remove the old tile, perform a little mold abatement, permanently eliminate the source of water/moisture in the basement, and then re-tile the basement floor. Readmore »»

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tips for Fixing a Squeaky Door Hinge

By Mark J. Donovan

Listed below are a few basics steps for eliminating a squeaky door hinge.

First, make sure the door hinge screws are all tight. A loose hinge could cause torque on the door hinge and hinge bolt thus causing the squeak.

Second, try a little WD-40 on the door hinges. Make sure you use the straw that comes with the can of WD-40 to focus the spray. Right after spraying the door hinge, and swinging the door open and closed a few times, wipe off any excess WD-40 with a rag.

Third, remove one hinge bolt at a time using a hammer and small, thin screwdriver. After removing a hinge bolt wipe it down with steel wool to remove any oxidation material that may be on it. Prior to reinstalling the bolt rub the hinge bolt down with a little oil (e.g. motor oil, canola oil). After oiling the hinge bolt reinstall it and repeat for the other door hinge bolts.

After reinstalling the final door hinge bolt swing the door open and closed a few times. With a little luck your squeaky door hinges are a thing of the past. Readmore »»

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fixing Nail Pops in Drywall

By Mark J. Donovan

Overtime your drywall may begin to have nail pops. When this occurs, you can easily fix them with a little joint compound and a few basic tools.

First, use a hammer and pound in the nail.

Next, hammer in another nail right next to it.

Then using all purpose joint compound and a 2” putty knife, fill in the dimple caused by the hammer.

Let the joint compound dry. If the joint compound shrunk or the area still does not look perfect then use a 3 or 4” wide drywall knife and add a thin skim coat over the nail area.

Again, let the joint compound dry and then lightly sand.

Finally touch it up with a little paint and it should be as good as new. Readmore »»

Monday, December 1, 2008

Properly Insulate Attic Door

By Mark J. Donovan

Your attic is the main source of heat loss in your home, and the attic door opening is one of the main contributors for attic heat loss.

It is important to make sure that the attic door is properly insulated and that weather stripping is applied around the opening. An attic should have at least R-30 insulation installed in it, and depending upon where you live the U.S. Department of Energy recommends an attic insulation R-value between R-38 and R-49. This includes the attic door opening.

If you use a board, such as a piece of plywood for the attic door opening, you can apply layers of rigid foam insulation to the back of it to achieve the desired R-Value. For example, rigid foam insulation has an R-value of approximately 5 per inch. By stacking three 2 inch thick sheets of rigid foam insulation on top of each other you can achieve an R-value of R-30. To laminate the sheets together you can use duct tape or some type of glue, e.g. liquid nails.

So keep your home warmer, and cooler, by properly insulating your attic door opening.

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Benefits of Cordless Screw Guns

By Mark J. Donovan

Unequivocally the cordless screw gun is the most useful tool in my toolbox. I use it for everything. Besides using my screw gun for assembling small projects, I also use it for, hanging drywall, installing decking and electrical work. Heck, I even use it for small projects like hanging pictures.

A screw gun is just one of those tools that is so versatile that everyone should own one.

What I really like about them most is that there is no cord to drag around. The model I have comes with two batteries, so I can have one charging why I’m using the other.

Second, they have an adjustable collar and clutch that stops the screw gun from overdriving screws. This is very useful when installing drywall screws where it is important to not overdrive the screw into the drywall.

Third, they support a variety of bit heads. Such as philps heads, flat heads, or square heads for installing decking screws. You can even use drill bits with them, so that the screw gun can effectively double as a drill.

And finally, what I really like about them, is I save time and wear and tear on my wrist and elbow.

Yes the screwdriver still has its place, but when you have a large project that requires a lot of screws, or just want to get the job done fast, a cordless screw gun is the ticket.

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Table Saws

By Mark J. Donovan

A table saw is an excellent tool to own for the serious carpenter or do it yourself homeowner. Some models, such as woodworker table saws are designed for permanent locations such as in as carpentry shop, whereas other models are designed for portability, job site table saw.

Table Saws are excellent for making very straight cuts and ripping lumber into multiple pieces.

They also include a couple of features and accessories that enable other types of cuts.

First the blade angle can be adjusted to make mitered cuts. In addition, the blade depth can also be adjusted.

Second, a cross cut guide allows you to make cross cuts across a piece of lumber just as you would with a circular skill saw. On some models you can adjust the cross cut guide to make angled cuts.

Finally, an adjustable fence allows you to make very straight cuts when ripping a piece of lumber.

Safety Precautions

Table saws can be very dangerous. You should always unplug the saw when making any adjustments to it. Also, always wear eye and ear protection when using one. In addition, never wear loose fitting clothes when operating a table saw, such as unbuttoned long sleeve shirt. Also, do not tamper or remove blade guard.

Finally, to avoid losing a finger when ripping small thin lumber, use a small piece of wood as a tool to push the lumber through. Some models actually provide a tool for this application.

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Expansion Tanks and Hot Water Boiler Systems

By Mark J. Donovan

Have you ever wondered what the heck that large green, grey, or blue bulbous thing is hanging off the side of your boiler system is?

Well it’s a hot water expansion tank and it plays an important role in your hot water heating system and domestic hot water system.

An expansion tank is used in closed hot water heating systems and domestic hot water systems. It is used to relieve the pressure that might build up in the hot water plumbing pipes so that they do not become damaged and begin to leak.

Excessive pressure can occur due to thermal expansion or by water hammer. Water hammer is when you turn on and off the water and would otherwise hear a bang if it was not for the expansion tank.

The expansion tank contains two chambers that are separated by a flexible rubber diaphragm. One side of the expansion tank contains air (pressurized to 12 PSI), and the other side is open to the hot water system and contains water. When the pressure in the hot water system rises the water pushes down on the diaphragm and gently squeezes the air. As a result, the pressure in the hot water system is maintained at a constant pressure as the water thermally expands or contracts, thus protecting the hot water pipes from being damaged.

If the diagraph fails the entire tank will fill up. When this situation occurs the hot water piping system is at risk of damage. Fortunately expansion tanks have a backup system, in the form of a pressure relief value, that sits just above the expansion tank. If the tank fails and the pressure gets too high in the hot water pipes, the pressure relief valve will go off. Hot water will be sprayed out of the system and may make a little mess, however it’s a much smaller problem than a cracked solder joint somewhere in the piping system.

To determine if your hot water expansion tank is working properly you can tap it and listen to hear the difference in sounds between the top portion and the bottom portion. One half should sound hollow and the second half, with the water in it, should sound like a dead thud when you tap it.

If it sounds like a dead thought both on the top and bottom chances are the diaphragm in the expansion tank has failed and it should be replaced.

You can also feel the tank as well to determine if it is working correctly. If it is warm on the upper half, and cool on the bottom half it is most likely working properly. If it is warm throughout the entire tank, chances are the tank is filled with water and needs to be checked by a plumber.

So that’s what the big green, grey, or blue tank hanging of your hot water heating system is all about.

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Zone Valves and Hot Water Heating Systems

By Mark J. Donovan

Do you have a hot water heating system? If so, have you ever wondered what those small metal boxes hanging off of your hot water piping near the boiler are? Well they are zone valves and they play an important role in your hot water heating system.

A hydronic zone valve, as it is officially is called is the mechanism in your hot water heating system that allows hot water to flow from the furnace to your zone heating elements. It is powered by a local 24V AC power supply that is usually located near the boiler.

A zone valve works in conjunction with your home’s boiler, circulator pump, and thermostat. When the thermostat sends a low voltage signal to your furnace to supply hot water to the baseboard heating elements it is actually sending a signal to the zone valve and the circulator pump. It is telling the zone valve to open up and allow hot water to flow through the heating elements. The circulating pump acts to circulate the hot water generated by the furnace, through the closed hot water heating system.

When the thermostat indicates that the particular room or heating zone is warm enough it then sends a signal back to the zone valve to turn off.

Frequently you will see multiple zone valves installed in a hot water heating system. What this means is that there are multiple heating zones within the home that are controlled by different thermostats, and thus the reason for multiple zone valves.

Sometimes a zone valve can fail and stay in a stuck on position. When this situation occurs the room, or zone, will continuously be heated. Other times the zone valve could fail to the stuck-on position. When this occurs, no hot water will flow through the heating elements. In either case a plumber should be called.

So that’s what those little metal boxes hanging off of your boiler’s piping system are all about.

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Hot Water Circulator Pumps

By Mark J. Donovan

Do you have a hot water heating system? Have you ever wondered how the hot water makes it from your home’s boiler system up to and through the heating elements? Well it is a hot water circulator pump that makes it happen.

A hot water circulator pump plays an important role in a closed hot water home heating system. It is the device that forces the hot water from the boiler up through the heating elements.

Hot water circulator pumps are centrifugal pumps that are powered by electricity. They work in conjunction with the boiler, zone valves and thermostats to provide heat to your home.

When the thermostat indicates that the room needs heat, it sends a low voltage signal to the zone valve and the hot water circulator pump to open the gates and begin sending hot water up to the heating elements.

As the water cools, after flowing through the cold heating elements, it returns to the boiler where it is then re-heated and circulated back up to the heating elements. This process continues until the thermostat sends another signal back to the zone valve and hot water circulator pump indicating the room is at the desired temperature.

Hot water circulator pumps are also used for providing on-demand domestic hot water. By continuously circulator hot water through the domestic hot water system, hot water is immediately available. This is great for having instant hot shower water and it does help in not wasting water. On the other hand, energy is wasted due to the fact that the water needs to continuously be heated.

Hot water circulator pumps are rated by their flow performance. Besides their horsepower rating, the flow performance consists of two key parameters. First is the flow rate. Basically this is how much water can be passed through the hot water circulator pump per minute or hour. The second parameter is the head pressure rating. This is a measurement of how vertically high the circulator pump can lift water. This is an important parameter when you need to have hot water pumped up two or three floors. So when your circulator pump fails, and as the case with everything, make sure to replace it with one that can handle the job for your hot water heating system.

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