Next Time, Hire a Pro Vol. 7
Hire a pro
It’s true that not all homeowners can afford to hire a professional for each home repair and improvement, but not every project is DIY friendly. Sometimes calling a pro makes more sense and will save you money in the long run.
Hanging clothes from exposed wiring is a bad idea. The heavy load of clothes could pull connections loose, and the hangers could abrade the plastic insulation and expose the wire, potentially causing shocks or a fire. Instead, mount a clothes rod. The small expense in time and materials could save your house and your life.
Cave dwelling pipes
This corroded joint is likely the result of a pinhole leak in one of the joints. Water seeps out slowly and evaporates, leaving behind these deposits.
Wye is this wrong?
Connecting a trap to a vertical drain with a wye fitting and a 45-degree elbow seems like a good idea. But it’s not. As water drains down the steep slope at the wye, it can create a siphon effect such that water will be sucked out of the trap. And the empty trap will allow sewer gas to flow into your home. Check out the right way on the next page.
Note: Joining ABS (black) pipe to PVC (white) may look like a blunder, but it’s actually allowed by many local codes—as long as you use “universal” cement to glue them together. For more info on this, check out our story on joining dissimilar pipes.
The Right Way
When a trap connects to a vertical drain, install a tee fitting. A “sanitary tee” gives the waste arm a slight downward slope, enough for good flow, but not enough to create a siphon.
Dangerous water heater vent
Hot air rises. And so do hot exhaust gases from a water heater. But if an exhaust vent slopes downward, as this one does, exhaust fumes containing poisonous carbon monoxide could leak into the house with potentially lethal consequences. Check out the right way on the next page.
The right way
This vent is sloping upward until it connects to a vent pipe running up through the roof. The hot flue gas rises until it safely exits the building.
It’s hard to find anything good to say about the placement of this carbon monoxide (CO) detector. The biggest problem is that it’s not in a good location to detect carbon monoxide. It’s also in a place that’s vulnerable to damage from vacuuming, dirt or a curious child. Check out The National Fire Protection Association for more information.
Don't lean back
The bench in the photo above looks like a nice place to sit and enjoy the view, and it would prevent you from accidentally walking off the edge of the deck. But it’s not a substitute for a guardrail. More on the next page.
Guard rails are better
Codes may vary by municipality, but where the International Residential Code is in force, decks that are more than 30 in. above the ground are required to have a guardrail that measures at least 36 in. from the deck surface to the top of the guardrail. Also, the guardrail design must not allow a 4-in. sphere to fit through any opening. And finally, the guardrail must be able to withstand a concentrated 200-lb. force anywhere along the top of the rail.
Missing Cap Flashing
At first glance, this chimney-flashing job looks good. But wait! How does it keep out water? There’s a gap between the chimney and the flashing—any water running down the bricks will run right into the house.
Looks funny, works great
This air conditioner compressor covered with a plastic sandbox lid may look funny. But this is actually a good way to protect your compressor in the off-season. Covering the top keeps out debris and protects the compressor from falling branches or ice during the winter in cold climates. And the open sides allow air to circulate. The only downside of the “turtle shell” system is that it will surely blow off and should be strapped down in some way.
Actually not as good
Completely enclosing a compressor with a cover, even a purchased one like this, can trap moisture, which leads to corrosion. It also creates a perfect nesting place for mice. The simple cover in the top photo is actually much better. Most AC manufacturers don't recommend using covers like this.