Next Time Hire a Pro Vol. 10

Volume 10 of "Next Time Hire a Pro" is full of questionable designs and lackluster work. Have fun and don’t be too judgmental- you’ve probably done some stupid things too,..

Logo of a house breaking down the middle | Construction Pro Tips

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Volume 10

Handrail made from thin pieces of wood

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Quick-and-easy handrail

Three slapped-together 2x2s do not a railing make. It’s hard to say which this getup fails at more miserably—looks or safety.

Two men installing a sturdy handrail | Construction Pro Tips

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Proper handrail installation

Adding a custom-made wrought iron rail is the best way to provide a strong, safe, code-compliant handrail for your exterior stairs. After careful measuring, an ornamental iron company will weld the parts to create a perfect-fitting rail. The rail can be bolted down or set in holes that are then filled with mortar.

Poorly bonded CSST l | Construction Pro Tips

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Electrified gas line

Bonding your CSST (corrugated stainless steel tubing) to your electrical system is required by code, but what you can see above is a disaster waiting to happen. The bonding clamp may pierce a hole in the thin wall of the gas tubing, and the plastic jacket prevents an any semblance of a bonding connection.

Properly bonded CSST l | Construction Pro Tips

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How to bond CSST

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for bonding CSST. The electrical bonding jumper must be connected to a CSST transition fitting or somewhere on the rigid gas pipe. Go to for more information.

Poorly installed motion detector light l | Construction Pro Tips

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Motion detector light

Adding a motion detector light outdoors provides extra security at night. But there are right and wrong ways to do it. Nonmetallic-sheathed cable is not approved for use in wet or damp locations, outdoors or in direct sunlight. Also, and maybe more important in this installation, conductors, raceways and cables must always be protected from physical damage.

Gluing PVC Conduit | Construction Pro Tips

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The right way

The installer should have used electrical metallic tubing (Type EMT, also called thin-wall conduit) or rigid PVC conduit (Type PVC). Both are approved for use in wet outdoor locations.

Don't do this l | Construction Pro Tips

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A hair-raising switch

Adding a circuit by tapping directly into one of the cables feeding power to your breaker panel is extremely dangerous.

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When are circuit breakers necessary?

Every circuit must be protected by a circuit breaker.  Most electrical panels have spare spaces where a  breaker can be added. Connecting the hot conductor to the breaker screw protects against overloads, overheating, short circuits and ground faults that can lead to a fire.

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An epic collapse

A retaining wall that needs to hold back this many tons of soil requires a well-engineered design. Our guess is that this wall didn’t have drainage built in. It looks as though water from a big rain event, with nowhere else for it to go, may have exerted too much pressure on the back of this aging wall.

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Proper retaining wall design

A properly designed retaining wall requires a solid, level foundation, properly stepped-back blocks and backfill that drains well.

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A hair-raising switch

To meet code, switches and outlets belong inside a correctly sized electrical box. With the setup shown here, a slip of the finger could get you a nasty shock or worse.

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Where should outlets under the sink be placed?

Adding a cord to your disposer and then plugging it into a GFCI-protected outlet allows you to quickly disconnect the unit for servicing or replacement. For easy control of the disposer, wire the outlet to a switch located in a convenient location above the countertop.

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Greasy kitchen stuff

We understand that venting the range hood into a wall cabinet saved a lot of labor, but we admit that we’re puzzled by the louvers.

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Where should exhaust ducts go?

The exhaust duct from vent hoods should lead outside. In single-story homes, it’s usually easiest to go through the roof. But the vent duct can also run horizontally through an exterior wall.

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That's not how flashing works

Shingles that abut a wall do require step flashing, but the flashing isn’t installed on top. And relying on caulk to seal step flashing is a formula for disaster.

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Proper way to do step flashing

Step flashing consists of bent rectangles of metal that prevent water from entering where roofs meet walls. The flashing pieces are installed along with the shingles and must overlap one another and fit behind the siding. If the step flashing can’t be installed behind the siding, then an additional piece of counterflashing should be installed over the top edge of the step flashing.

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Trip proof fuses?

Saving a few bucks by replacing your bad air conditioner fuses with copper tubing may seem like a good idea­—that is, until you burn out your overloaded compressor. Copper tubing will complete the circuit, but it doesn’t provide the protection of a fuse.

Checking to see if fuses are burnt out with continuity tester | Construction Pro Tips

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Check if fuses are burnt out

Use a continuity tester to see if fuses are burned out. Replace spent fuses with new ones of the same amperage.