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Author Topic: Home Improvement Advice  (Read 1206 times)

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Offline RP7466Topic starter

Home Improvement Advice
« on: January 21, 2012, 07:46:20 PM »
I got good response to the furnace thread so ill open this one up to include general home improvement questions. Ironically my name is also Tim.

If anyone on E has construction experience and is willing to give some advice post your name and experience. Please refrain from posting advice you saw on DIY or Holmes on homes. TV does not count as experience.

*you are responsable for your own project and safety. This is only general advice. If you do not have the knowlege or skill to complete the project hire a licensed and insured contractor.*
« Last Edit: January 27, 2012, 11:40:40 AM by RP7466 »

Offline RP7466Topic starter

Re: Home Improvement
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2012, 07:47:45 PM »
I am a mechanical (HVAC) contractor and have some plumbing and electrical experience as well.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Home Improvement
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2012, 11:55:09 AM »
 What experience I have is self taught., Living in a 89 year old house forces you to learn all sorts of skills. And when the barn and farm equipment are nearly as old (1952 tractors), you find yourself learning quickly. It can be fun and interesting to do, just not when  you need to fix it -now-.

 The house I'm in, has old wiring and I mean old. There's no grounds and I think it was put in, in the 40's. We're looking to upgrade the wiring, but  don't have enough money to pay an electrician, so it's going piece-meal, as we can afford it. Getting the wiring, laying it and getting it all ready so when it can be replaced, it a relatively swift thing and doesn't take several days. (we have a refrigerator and a huge chest freezer full of food we don't want to lose.)
 
What's the best way to hook everything up? We know we'll need the power company to hook it up at the pole, that line was laid two years ago.

Offline Aiden

Re: Home Improvement
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2012, 12:03:38 PM »
My father is a licensed mason, I have been working with him all my life. I never needed a summer job since I worked with him.

Brick, Block, stucco, cement all fall under the stuff I can do. I prefer finishing concrete (as it pays more). I could offer advice but it could get rather technical.  XD

Offline RP7466Topic starter

Re: Home Improvement
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2012, 10:07:54 AM »
What's the best way to hook everything up? We know we'll need the power company to hook it up at the pole, that line was laid two years ago.
I learned to drive a stick on a 47 ford tractor  XD. The house i grew up in was built in 1887. hand hewn beams, field stone foundation. i remember helping my dad replace the roof we had to drill pilot holes for the nails because the wood was so hard the nails bent.

As far as the wiring. I would suggest talking to an electrician ahead of time so that you are working with him and keeping his part easy. jobs tend to go better when everyone is on the same page. Keep in mind things you may want to add, like updating your lighting. If you are taking the time to pull the wire yourself it may also be a good time to run cat 5 network cable, or clean up your TV cable. just don't run the cat 5 or TV cable to close to the electrical. electricity produces a magnetic field and will interfere with the data cable. Before you talk to the electricians get a plan together of what you want and where, and how invasive are you willing to be in the installation. Keep in mind a house as old as yours probably has plaster walls, not drywall. You can still hang drywall, just be prepared for the mess. Figure out what you want to power and get a circuit amperage, then a whole house amperage. If you are willing to take down drywall you could replace the wire and install the new boxes without ever disconnecting the existing power. I would suggest making a general plan, open up the walls and see what you have, talk to electricians, finalize the plan, place your boxes, run your wire back to where the electrician wants to put the new service panel. make sure you leave enough slack for him to work with. I would suggest letting the electrician connect the wiring to the panell as well as the panel instalation.

is your house 1 story or 2?


wire parallel
+----------------+----------------+
load              load                load
N----------------N-----------------N

 not series
+---load-----N-----------+---load------N

Some code and rules of thumb to keep in mind. Remember I live in Michigan. Even though Michigan has pretty tough building codes, your state, or city may have more strict codes than we do. So check your local code before starting work.

30 amp circuits use 10 gauge wire
20 amp circuits use 12 gauge wire
15 amp circuits use 14 gauge wire
 
don't remove more than 25% width of the material in a load bearing stud.(no bigger than a 7/8" hole through a 2x4)
no more than 40% in a non load bearing stud
wires should be secured with insulated staples
wires should be a bit loose, not pulled tight. not sloppy either
all wire connections must be accessable, and in a junction box. no boxes behind drywall.
make sure wires are protected from nails and screws by using metal plates
label the wires at the panel to make the final connection easier. and for labeling circuits on the panel door

if you have anyother questions, or i didn't cover something feel free to ask.

My father is a licensed mason, I have been working with him all my life. I never needed a summer job since I worked with him.

Brick, Block, stucco, cement all fall under the stuff I can do. I prefer finishing concrete (as it pays more). I could offer advice but it could get rather technical.  XD
Glad you posted, I've worked with concrete, but just pouring pads not finishing. I may need some advice when it comes time to level my basement floor. There is a consistant dip in the center where the floor drain is, but too much to use self leveler. So i will need to pour a substantial amount of new concrete to have a smooth level finish. will i need some sort of bonding agent between the existing concrete and the new, should i scuff the old. Any other advice would be appreciated.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2012, 02:47:02 PM by RP7466 »

Offline Aiden

Re: Home Improvement
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2012, 01:10:33 PM »
It really depends, why exactly are you seeking to level it out? Also the drain, are you planning on cancelling it?

Cement glue tends to work really well, it binds old and new concrete. Also ideally the best course is removal, pouring over a previous slab will take some time to dry and indoors will cause cracking. (depending on how many inches of concrete, the mix and if it is properly reinforced with wire mesh).

Concrete is a fickle fickle product.

Offline RP7466Topic starter

Re: Home Improvement
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2012, 02:17:29 PM »
I capped the drain already there is another one in the utility/laundry room. Ive given it a few years to see how well the basement handles water, and the one drain should be sufficient. The reason i need to level it is I'm finishing the basement. After leveling i plan on putting down Delta vapor barrier, 3/4" OSB subfloor, then carpet/wood laminate. The basement is surprisingly dry and the dip at it's deepest is about 4 inches below the highest point in the floor. Minor cracking is not an issue as long as it supports the rest of the flooring. i thought of maybe drilling through the concrete in a grid pattern and driving rebar down through the holes into the ground, then attaching mesh to the rebar to reinforce the new concrete.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2012, 02:23:56 PM by RP7466 »

Offline RP7466Topic starter

Re: Home Improvement Advice
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2012, 03:06:55 PM »
Just came home from a service call and mechanical inspection for some homeowners and saw some simple but dangerous violations that i thought I would share.

gas drier vents: Those flexable drier vents with the ribs should be avoided. In Michigan it is against code. The ribs impede the flow of exhaust gasses and catch lint. And NEVER use screws (they catch lint), use foil tape with the paper back that peels off like a sticker. Also make sure there is no part of the pipe that dips down and then up again, this also catches lint. I recommend using 4" galvanized steel pipe. Aluminum elbows can be hand crushed by an 8 year old girl. Make sure there is a screen to stop critters from getting in. I have pulled a dead opossum out of a customers vent. Animals like the warm air, crawl in, and asphixiate.

*all vents should be pitched 1/4" per foot down to the appliance and male ends of pipe should point down stream*

Furnace filters: A dirty air filter will cause a furnace to shut down. When a filter is dirty it restricts airflow accross the heat exchanger causing it to overheat. There is a teperature limit switch that will open and shut down the furnace when this happens. Along with the switch the higher temperature stresses the welds in the heat exchanger and will cause cracks, and products of combustion (carbonmonoxide) to enter the circulating air.

Gas shutoffs: The older gas shutoffs with the metal handles and nuts on the back are prone to leaking.

Use this http://www.google.com/imgres?q=gas+shutoff+valve&um=1&hl=en&sa=N&biw=1024&bih=575&tbm=isch&tbnid=CZkWQGe1b80WoM:&imgrefurl=http://www.plumbingsupply.com/gasconnectors.html&docid=JvZHynHv_GLtsM&imgurl=http://www.plumbingsupply.com/images/gas-shut-off-valve-34.jpg&w=500&h=391&ei=cYY1T6aeLcyNsAK39J2pAg&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=219&sig=113120832314598352098&page=2&tbnh=121&tbnw=131&start=10&ndsp=24&ved=1t:429,r:2,s:10&tx=68&ty=38

Not this http://www.google.com/imgres?q=gas+shutoff+valve&um=1&hl=en&sa=N&biw=1024&bih=575&tbm=isch&tbnid=IDxpaGe1ZWFKgM:&imgrefurl=http://www.axner.com/gas-shutoff-valve-114.aspx&docid=TB1tN-DSrONsGM&itg=1&imgurl=http://www.axner.com/productimages/kilns-accessories/burners-and-accessories/gas_valve_FS114.jpg&w=300&h=300&ei=cYY1T6aeLcyNsAK39J2pAg&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=296&sig=113120832314598352098&page=4&tbnh=122&tbnw=119&start=55&ndsp=24&ved=1t:429,r:21,s:55&tx=68&ty=73
« Last Edit: February 10, 2012, 03:08:24 PM by RP7466 »

Offline Avis habilis

Re: Home Improvement Advice
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2012, 03:39:26 PM »
There's a virtual lawn of moss growing on the roof of our house. I've got to get the stuff off when the snow melts; I suspect it's already acting like a sponge & letting water seep under the shingles.

I was planning on borrowing some staging & then attacking the stuff with a stiff broom. Should I try scraping it instead? Is there anything I can spray on to kill the last traces of it after I'm done?

Offline RP7466Topic starter

Re: Home Improvement Advice
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2012, 03:48:04 PM »
typically what causes moss and algae is shade and moisture. You can clean it off but if you don't address the root problem it will come back.

Do you have a lot of trees around the house?

To clean it just gently brush or rake it off. do a small spot first and figure out the condition of the shingles. Chemicals can damage the roof. If the shingles are brittle or curling you need a new roof.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2012, 03:49:05 PM by RP7466 »

Offline Avis habilis

Re: Home Improvement Advice
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2012, 12:05:52 PM »
Do you have a lot of trees around the house?

Boy do we. There's a pair of gigantic maples within say 100 feet of the house that seem to rain crap on it all spring & summer.

To clean it just gently brush or rake it off. do a small spot first and figure out the condition of the shingles. Chemicals can damage the roof. If the shingles are brittle or curling you need a new roof.

Roger that. Thanks for the tip. In that case I think I'll start at it with a plastic roof rake, the kind you shave snow buildup with (or did, back when it used to snow) then follow up with some brushing.

They're 50-year architectural shingles, so I have high hopes they'll be more or less all right under that mess.

Offline RP7466Topic starter

Re: Home Improvement Advice
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2012, 02:31:09 PM »
Sounds good, the key is to get sunlight onto the roof. I hate to mess with mature trees, they can't exactly be replaced. But a pruning may be enough to get some light through and keep the shingles from staying wet.

Glad I could help, and be careful
« Last Edit: February 13, 2012, 02:32:29 PM by RP7466 »

Offline Avis habilis

Re: Home Improvement Advice
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2012, 08:01:37 AM »
Glad I could help, and be careful

No worries on that score - it'll be tree service guys pruning those dudes, not me. Hang from a rope while hacking away with a running chain saw? No thanks!