All posts by joe

Electrical Cord Safety

By | Electrical, Safe Practices | No Comments

I am a stickler for good extension cords. OSHA is too, urban legend says they will cut up a cord if they find one on your job sit that is frayed or dangerous in their opinion. I am constantly pointing out problems on job site with our sub-contractors but is it worthwhile? What is the worst that could happen? I suppose electrocution, or a fire. We joke that smoke is what makes electricity work, so our primary objective is to keep the smoke in the wires. Truth is that if you pick up an extension cord and it is warm…

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Electric Water Heaters

By | Electrical, Plumbing | No Comments

Electric water heaters come in many sizes and shapes. (I recently found one in a basement of a 1938 home that looks like a washing machine). Most are cylindrical. They all provide years of service and have gotten much better insulated. This alone is a good reason to replace an old one. If you get over 10 years of service you have gotten your moneys worth. The sure sign of failure is a leak, usually trouble free, they can have some tricky to diagnose issues. Gas water heaters recover quicker as a rule, be sure your heater is ample for…

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Delta Shower Valve Not Getting Hot Enough

By | Plumbing, Problem Solving | No Comments

I had 2 new Delta Shower Valves installed by my plumber and the darn things would to get hot enough. Yes there was plenty of hot water available in nearby faucets. The plumber told my client that there must be something wrong with the valve. On his return they told the client they had to put a part in backwards and that it was as good as it was going to get. Well my friends, that is not good enough for me. The plumber was fired for being an idiot. I attacked the problem knowing that there was a solution…

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Sewage Ejector Pump Problem

By | Plumbing | No Comments

I installed a sewage ejector pump in a home I remodeled for myself 15 years ago. I needed it to evacuate the basement water from the laundry and a 3/4 bath. It worked fine for all that time, then it started acting up. It was staying on and not shutting off like it should. It was getting stuck on. By the time I took the cover off everything was OK. I discovered a failed float. Changing the pump would have been far more expensive. ($375.00 ish) wholesale. I ended up lifting the pump our to make sure it was free…

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Gas Furnace Flame Sensor Fix

By | HVAC | No Comments

The flame sensor was an ingenious solution to a serious safety problem. On a gas furnace, they provide an incredible safety feature when they are working right. When they aren’t they become a menace and cause silly service calls. For some reason there seems to be a correlation between furnaces near the laundry. One fellow suggested that a particular dryer sheets seem to be the culprit. I have not made that connection but who knows. When the Furnace Just Wont Fire Up Gas furnaces got through a series of safety checks before they come on. Some more than others. The…

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Failing Exhaust Duct work

By | Fixing things, HVAC, Indoor Air Quality | No Comments

A client called to report a hot exhaust wall in their bathroom. Naturally fire and Carbon monoxide poison come to mind. The gas water heater exhaust and the 80% furnace exhausts commingle and go up and out of the home in a double walled oval exhaust flu. The home was built in the ’70s and has already had the furnace replaced once. Was it a bad install or just warn out? The thin 2 x 4 wall was hot in one spot. A thermal image was showing over 100 degrees in one spot. How were we going to see what…

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Is My House Toxic?

By | Indoor Air Quality, Problem Solving, Understanding your home | No Comments

I have always enjoyed understanding building science and have dabbled in the realm of an amateur of sorts trying to discover what is causing a home to make a resident feel ill when they are inside of it. Being a former Paramedic, I blend my knowledge into a pretty good problem solver. Yes, your home could make you sick, and even kill you if have faulty systems. The risk goes up the tighter the home is. Have You Ever Considered That Your House Could Be Making You Ill? Do you have any of these symptoms only when you are at…

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Figuring Out a Three Way Switch

By | Electrical | No Comments

Three way switches used to frighten me, they seemed so complicated. I found a great residential electrical book and redrew the diagram several times until I thought I had it figured out. Inevitably, I ended up not trusting myself and randomly switching wires around until I got it, or at least I though I did. Then I found an electrician that showed me how the big boys do it. Here is what I do now. It reminded me how Red corrected me forever when I was pronouncing Porsche wrong every other time. He said,” Joe I’m going to say this…

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Hey, Is That A Contractor In Your Pocket?

By | Problem Solving | No Comments

Technology is becoming so important. I have seen the future and it dared me to think big. It begs the question, “Is that a contractor in your pocket? Or are you just happy to see me?”. My daughter Athena lives in the Bay Area 800 miles away but she is able to get me to fix things with her technology. We fixed her dryer, a stuck oven drawer, and I was able to explain what the freezer sound was in her new apartment in 5 minutes. The other night I was able to turn power back on to a client’s…

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French Door Repair

By | Doors, Understanding your home | No Comments

I have a Peach tree French door that has been troublesome for awhile. Having them out of business has been a pain in the butt. They has some proprietary weatherstripping that is no longer available and the parts are getting harder to find. I had to replace the door lock because my dog was landing on the handle repeatedly and it eventually broke the lock internally. I turned the handle from 3:00 position to 12:00 position so he had no leverage so It should be fine. I bought standard weatherstripping and cut off a sliver and it seals well now….

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