Category Archives: DIY

Loose brick repair with epoxy

My home inspector told me about an easy, inexpensive and nearly permanent repair: Loose brick repair with epoxy. It works really well if you need to fix a loose brick in something like a fireplace or a retaining wall. Epoxy is a effective loose brick adhesive.

Epoxy works because it’s stronger than cement. And while it’s not economical to use epoxy for mortar instead of cement, in small quantities it’s cheap enough, and much quicker.

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Why accordion-style flexible drain pipe is against code

flexible drain pipe
An example of a flexible coupling

From time to time I see accordion-style flexible drain pipe (also sometimes called flexible waste pipe) in use, much like the one on the right. St. Louis County inspectors take an exceptionally dim view of these, and I always wondered what the big deal was, since literally every hardware and home-improvement store in St. Louis County sells them. Why would they sell something if it isn’t okay to use it? Continue reading Why accordion-style flexible drain pipe is against code

Enerlites HOSS: an occupancy sensor switch without ground

The Enerlites Top Greener HOSS is an occupancy sensor switch without ground wire requirements, and it’s pretty cheap too, at $12. A Lutron switch costs almost twice as much.

But the HOSS does come with some compromises. The HOSS does require a neutral (white) wire. But most switch boxes will have the whites in there and accessible, so that’s not a big deal. It’s also a bit trickier to wire than a Lutron, and it doesn’t look as nice.

That said, it’s nice to have an option for older houses that may not have a ground connection available. People in older houses need energy savings too. Continue reading Enerlites HOSS: an occupancy sensor switch without ground

Repair a dryer yourself

The other night I had a dryer go out. I had a few surprise expenses this month, so I really didn’t want to replace a dryer on top of the other things, so I looked into how to repair a dryer.

I learned quite a bit, but the most important thing was that I fixed a $200 dryer with $7.50 worth of parts, and it only took a few minutes.

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Clean your air conditioner at home

Last week I had to get an air conditioner serviced. The air conditioner was cooling fairly well, but struggling to keep up on hot days when it had kept up just fine last year. So I bit the bullet and paid $79 for a cleaning and health check. In the process I learned it’s possible to clean your air conditioner at home. And save a bundle.

I also learned is that a cleaning can make the difference between running all day and being able to maintain a comfortable temperature while cycling. So cleaning the air conditioner makes it more comfortable and more efficient, saving you money. I also learned that the most important part of the cleaning is something you can do yourself, very easily. If your air conditioner isn’t under warranty anymore, you can save the $79, which adds up.

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Install an outlet for an above range microwave

We have a house with an above range microwave, but no nearby outlet to plug it into. The previous owners simply ran an extension cord. While I’m not 100% positive this is illegal to do in my locality, the safety is questionable and it certainly goes against the manufacturer’s recommendations. My home inspector wanted me to install an outlet. Here’s how to install an outlet for an above range microwave.

Better yet, I did it over the drywall without tearing into any walls, and spending less than $20.

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Change a lawn mower blade safely and easily

I needed to change a lawn mower blade this weekend, which meant I had to remove the stubborn old blade first. That proved to be a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. I learned the secret of changing a blade without hurting myself, and without a torque wrench, even when the stubborn bolt doesn’t want to turn.

To remove and replace a lawn mower blade safely and easily, you need a length of 2×4 board long enough to stand on, a small plastic pan, the biggest socket wrench you can find, and a socket that matches the bolt on your mower. If you don’t have a socket wrench, you can use a regular crescent wrench, but you want the biggest one you can find. Longer wrenches give more leverage, and you need lots of leverage. Continue reading Change a lawn mower blade safely and easily

LED bulb garage door opener interference

While installing a new garage door opener, I found a curious statement in the manual: Don’t use LED bulbs. Why can’t you use LED bulbs in a garage door opener? Six words: LED bulb garage door opener interference. Continue reading LED bulb garage door opener interference

My recent experience with peel and stick vinyl planks

Because of my nearly-new job, I needed home-office space in a hurry and without spending a lot. A few weeks ago I spotted some peel and stick vinyl planks at my local Lowe’s store, sold under the Style Selections brand and priced at 98 or 99 cents per square foot, so I picked some up. I also installed them in my entryway.

For the money, I think they’re very good. Continue reading My recent experience with peel and stick vinyl planks

Fix a dryer that heats but won’t dry

So the dryer stopped drying a few days ago. The dryer is relatively new; I think we got it about 18 months ago to replace a dryer a friend gave me. That was a little early, given my old dryer lasted so long. I learned how to fix a dryer that heats but won’t dry.

That old dryer, by the way, was a Whirlpool that looked like it probably could remember Ronald Reagan, and maybe even Jimmy Carter. So it seemed a little odd for this new dryer (a rebadged Whirlpool from a local scratch-and-dent dealer) to develop an old-age disease this quickly.

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