Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How to Repair Stripped Bolt Hole Threads

Angie's List!

Not many things frustrate me more than bolt hole threads when they strip out. I don't think anyone would be in disagreement with me that it always happens at exactly the wrong time. Who wants to spend an hour and a half searching for a tap and die set and then digging up a bigger bolt?

But there is good news! There is a cheap and easy DIY fix! I don't recommend doing this on your engine block, for obvious reasons, but it will work wonderfully in a number of light duty situations.

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And further good news; it doesn't require any expensive new tools either. The initial thing you'll need to do is back out the bolt. This should be easy; it's already stripped, right? You might have to use vice grips on the head and pull while turning it counter-clockwise.

Next, fill the bolt hole with a compound, either Liquid Steel or J.B. Weld. This stuff has the advantages of wood glue and finishes like metal. You've got to love the folks that invented those products!

They're so good they don't even need to hire Billy Mayes to hawk them on TV. Next, coat the bolt (preferably a new one) liberally with liquid soap, including the head.

Run the bolt back into the hole and wipe up the excess that squeezes out around the bolt head. Do this gently; remember that you're making new threads.

When the compound is dried, you're set! You can now screw or unscrew at will.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

It's Time to Monitor Concrete Slab Foundations

Angie's List!

They tell me that Summer doesn't start officially until June 21, 2009. That's also Father's Day and the Summer Solstice, so that gives us three reasons to get out and dance by the light of the moon.

Problem is, here in South Texas, we didn't get the memo about summer starting so late. It's already sliding into the 90s on a daily basis so it's a good thing that we've got a couple of other things to occupy our minds on the 21.

I ran a 5K race on Saturday and it was already hot at 7:30. I was slooow. Since the run was put on by my running club, I wasn't too embarrassed. I guess I'll just have to to train harder and prepare mentally.

As hot as it is, and as dry as it's been, the dirt around our concrete slab foundations has been getting mighty dry. That can spell trouble as far as cracking goes.

If we don't keep an eye on conditions, we stand to be in for some expensive foundation repairs. Around here, that usually means piers or pilings, sometimes something proprietary like Olshan's Cable Lock technology.

Whichever it is, it's messy and expensive.

So, what to do? The best thing is to monitor it on a daily basis and water it as needed. The best method is to run soaker hoses around the slab's perimeter and water it enough to keep the repair demons at bay.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Does Father's Day Overlap Home Improvement?

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Father's day is fast approaching. This isn't going to be another "tie and soap-on-the-rope" year is it? Why not give him what he wants? And Dads, it might be time to start dropping hints, yes? What do we want? As Tim Allen would say, "Tools!"

Tools for Father's day are practical gifts. After all, this is something that us DIY types are going to buy anyway. And ladies, what better way to give your honey-do list a well-deserved nudge? Either that or find a handyman. Here are a few categories that might bear a bit of consideration:
  • Automotive tools. That's right. In the economic recession we find ourselves mired in, we need to do all the repairs we can. Not many people are looking to purchase a new vehicle just now anyhow. Think about it; would you buy a car built by GM (Government Motors)? Or how about a Hummer now that the Chicoms have bought that division? And you thought you had lead paint woes before?
  • Hand tools. Can't have too many of these babies. Just a couple of weeks ago I had to go to Home Depot and buy a set of torx screwdrivers to tweak the door strike on my Toyota Tundra. Who doesn't find themselves needing a pair of sharp Wiss tin snips now and then?
  • Power tools. We can only do so much with hand tools, as much as we love them. Whether we're talking belt sanders, table saws, drill presses, or wood lathes, the choices are getting better and the prices are lower than ever.
Just a few home improvement tool ideas for Father's Day. You can thank me later.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Structural Integrated Panels (SIPs), Buy Radiant Barrier Foil Here!

Northern climes are now thawed out enough to break ground for new construction, I suppose. It never gets cold enough to freeze the ground here. Bottom line, it's time to build, if the construction financing is available.

One green building technology to think about is Structural Integrated Panels, or for those into acronyms, SIPs.

So what are they? They're construction sandwich modules formed of exterior panel surfaces made of Oriented Strand Board (OSB). The "meat and cheese" is rigid foam plastic insulation.

Sustainable Benefits that Lead to LEED Certification

The benefits are many. First, OSB can be made from scrap material from other woodworking processes. Waste not, want not. Next, since the sandwich panels are designed by an architect using construction software, the shapes and sizes mean that they fit together on the job site like a jigsaw puzzle.

This means faster construction. There is minimal cutting and fitting, unlike conventional stud framing. This results in less scrap to haul off to the landfill.

Finally, the insulating value is effective. All these details add up to points that contribute to LEED certification.

Finding a Building Contractor

This is one of the hardest things about building green. It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks. It's hard enough to find residential building crews that even speak English today, much less understand and accept emerging construction concepts.

The best way to proceed is to work with an architect that has a few SIPs projects under his belt and use his network of general contractors and subcontractors.

So, take this green idea and run with it!

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