Loose brick repair with epoxy

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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How to paint outlet covers

How to paint outlet covers

If you need to know how to paint outlet covers, there are right and wrong ways to do it. Can you paint outlet covers? Yes you can. Should I paint outlet covers? Painting switch plates and outlet covers frequently doesn’t work out well, but I can give you some tips to do it and get a reasonably durable paint job.

If you just slap a coat of latex wall paint on a switch plate, don’t expect it to look good for very long. Painting switch plates requires prep work, and the kind of paint you use makes a difference too.

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Fix a chipped bathtub for $5

Fix a chipped bathtub for $5

For years, I’ve wanted to repair chips in a bathtub. My bathtub. I finally found a way to do it cheaply and effectively. Here’s you can fix a chipped bathtub for $5 like I did.

At the hardware store, I spied Super Glue’s porcelain repair kit for $5. Anything like it I’ve seen was a two-part epoxy, which is tricky. Since this stuff required no mixing, and promised to clean up with nail polish remover, I thought I’d give it a try on my bathtub, which had four chips in it, the largest nearly the size of a dime.

It worked pretty well, after some experimentation.

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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? Read more

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. Read more

How to cut your water bill

I’ve talked a lot about how to cut your electric bill and how I successfully cut mine 19 percent, but I haven’t talked much about water bills. Part of it is because water is cheap in St. Louis–the two largest rivers in North America converge here–but in some parts of the country, water usage is at critical levels, so cutting your water bill could mean saving real money.

I’ll never forget a commercial I heard when I was in third grade. “Did you know that every time you flush your toilet, you use 5-7 gallons of water?” a guy said with a drawl, before urging people to flush less. Being very juvenile, I thought it was funny.

But if your house is older, your toilet may very well be trickling water all the time, literally nickel and diming your water bill continuously. You can fix that for less than $10. Read more

CFL bulbs burn out quickly? Here’s what to do.

CFL bulbs burn out quickly? Here’s what to do.

I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints about CFL bulbs lately. I’ve written about how to address premature CFL burnout before, but I guess it bears repeating. It’s a five-minute fix, usually, to get the bulbs to last a while. So here’s what to do if your CFL bulbs burn out quickly.

CFL bulbs do seem to be more sensitive to minor electrical problems than older bulbs. Fixing the tab in your light socket or replacing your light switch is often enough to make the bulbs last as long as the package said they would.

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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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