Thursday, February 26, 2009

Plumbing Repair with ACE DuraFlow

One of the principal problems with galvanized steel and copper residential pipes is one shared with humans: it doesn't last forever!

No solution for humans, I'm afraid, but there are two ways to fix corroded pipes. The first, and messiest, it to rip out the old ones and replace them. This is expensive because of the new pipe, opening and repairing walls, and the labor associated with all of that.

Listening to a local home improvement show on the radio last week, I learned of a better way. It's much less intrusive and it's a green remodeling or repair method, since the old pipes don't end up in the land fill.

It's a process developed by ACE DuraFlow. Essentially, the plumbing is opened up on both ends, the pipes are cleaned out, and then the insides are epoxy-coated.

Wait, it gets better! The walls don't have to be opened up. You don't have to buy new pipe. No drywall repair. And, the metal is now isolated from water, so future corrosion is reduced, if not eliminated altogether.

I might have to get this done on my own home at some point. I already know of one cancerous pipe. That EZ Weld isn't going to last forever either...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Beware of Tainted Chinese Drywall

I ran across this story in the St. Petersburgs Times out of Florida. It seems that during 2005 and 2006, some home construction companies decided that the lower costs that globalization brings was a good thing.

They went shopping for their drywall in China, unwilling to pay for higher quality domestic building materials. This effort to cut corners has cost them dearly, and some homeowners, unfortunately. It seems they didn't catch on with the Chinese toothpaste (with antifreeze, yum) and toys (painted with lead which injured American children).

This drywall, notably manufactured by Knauf Plasterboard, Tianjin Co., emits sulfur gasses. No health risks noted yet, but that doesn't mean it's not offensive. I don't think it comes with a supply of Febreze.

The principal issue is that the gas corrodes metal. This means residential electrical wiring, some plumbing pipes, and some central air conditioner components such as copper HVAC coils. The cost-cutting move may have put a few more dollars in contractors pockets, but it really hammered homeowners already in a bad economic position.

Isn't it bad enough that Americans can't even get construction jobs anymore because state and federal officials turn a blind eye to greedy contractors hiring illegal aliens? Oh wait, how un-inclusive of me; I meant "guest workers". My bad.

So far, the main afflicted areas are Manatee, Sarasota and Lee counties, Pinellas, St. Lucie and Collier. If you own a home built during the time this drywall was installed, and it was used, you certainly have my sympathy. Si, senor. Ya me voy.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More Roofing Choices than Ever

A few months ago, Hurricane Ike passed smack dab over my house. I was up most of the night listening to the wind howl like a pack of psychotic wolves. We did alright - just lost some picket fencing.

Others were not so lucky. Down on the coast (two miles away), along Toddville Road, it was mostly devastation.

Many homes had roof damage. And yes, there are still blue FEMA tarps on homes here and there. Luckily, insurance will cover most folks. And the roofing material choices are better than ever.

Angie's List!

Metal roofs are the way to go if your pockets are deep enough. Of course, many homeowner associations (neighborhood Nazis) won't allow them. Some will though, if they're the style that look like shingles.

Shingles. They're not what they once were. Modern asphalt composition shingles are available to resist wind, fire, and hail. My favorite are architectural shingles. I had a roofing contractor that I found through Angie's List. re-roof my home with them last year.

Now, if we don't have any hurricanes for a while...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Contraband Toilets?

Yes, it's true, odd as it may sound. So many people are dissatisfied with low-flow toilets that regular tank models have become a hot commodity. They're slipped over the border from Canada to the US under the cover of darkness.

They're still legal up there. Years ago, smuggling liquor was the hot ticket, now it's commodes. It's a goofy ol' world, as John Prine reminds us.

If you've still got your old toilet, I urge you to keep it when you remodel. If it acts up, it's a snap to fix common toilet problems. Nine times out of ten, the easiest thing to do is just replace the guts with a new Fluidmaster fill valve and flapper. Under $10 at home Depot. Such a deal.

Angie's List!

Not long ago, there was a report on the radio (I listen to the radio all day as I write) about some global summit aimed at improving the availability of clean drinking water throughout the world. I recognize that it's a serious problem, but the proposed solution was kind of a head-scratcher.

They suggested switching all our toilets to waterless models. I would have thought desalination plants. But then again, I'm not a hot shot scientist. If they did ever mandate that, I'd have to become a plumber!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bi-Fold Doors and Laminate Floors

There's no denying that laminate is an increasingly popular building material. But since it's a floating floor system, it comes with its own set of challenges. The main one is that you really shouldn't do anything to impede it from floating. Obviously.

One of these challenges is when mounting the pivot bracket when installing a bi-fold door. These doors are popular for closets and in other places, like clothes washer alcoves in apartments, where every square inch of real estate must be used.

Essentially, the trick is to cut the hole in the laminate larger than it needs to be while not making it too obvious. Reader Mark Sick clued me in to how he solved this particular dilemma by using a minimalist approach using a metal sleeve from Home Depot. And he did it economically. Now that's a DIYer!

The most important consideration is to start with a door that doesn't use a guide track on the floor. Obviously, that would complicate things significantly. And as Mark pointed out to me, those tracks are the source of headaches. They are dust and dirt magnets.

I hope this post solved a challenge for you or at least entertained you. Visit my site to read more free home improvement articles and drop me an email to let me know how you solved a DIY challenge. Mail me at