I love TV commercials. I laugh at some and groan at others, but I study them to see the techniques companies use to ply their wares. One commercial in particular struck me recently. It advertises a website that claims it can save you money on car insurance. The actor says, if I recall correctly, that U.S. drivers overspend by $21 billion a year ...Read more
Q: Tim, I’ve never worked with metal joist hangers. How long have joist hangers been around? When I hold one in my hand, I question whether it’s actually strong enough to support all the weight that will be resting in it! Are they safe? Are there any best practices when it comes to using them both indoors and outdoors on decks? What about ...Read more
Q: Help me, Tim! I’m so darned frustrated! The paint on the outside of my home and shed keeps peeling. Both have wood siding. Every few years I’m out there scraping and starting over. What am I doing wrong? I follow the directions on the label of the paint can to the letter. Is it the paint? Is it something I’m doing wrong? Is it just the ...Read more
Q: Hey, Tim, I had the opportunity to tour a house under construction. All of the plumbing drain lines were in, but I also saw all sorts of other extra pipes that connected to the drain pipes and eventually combined and went up through the roof. It got me thinking. What are these pipes and why were they installed? Do I have these same pipes in ...Read more
Q: Tim, I really need your help. I just moved into my new home and have a smoking full masonry fireplace. It’s 55 inches wide and has an arched opening that’s 33.5 inches at the peak of the arch. It looks like regular brick mortar was used with the firebrick. For whatever reason, it has two flues and a damper on each one. It smokes like an ...Read more
Q: The grout line between my kitchen granite countertop and the tile backsplash has cracked for the umpteenth time. Each winter the crack appears, and each year I re-grout it hoping it will be the final time. Am I using the wrong grout? How would you repair this, and why does the crack disappear on its own in the summer? I have the same issue ...Read more
Were you one of the millions of homeowners, renters or business owners who suffered from the recent miserable polar weather in the core of the USA? The storm and low temperatures left millions without power, drinking water, food and other necessities. Frozen and burst water pipes in houses and businesses are now as plentiful as flies at a summer...Read more
Q: Tim, I’ve got a challenge for you. I live in a 100-year-old Craftsman house with gorgeous wood trim around the windows and doors. The trim is wide, and there’s a stunning head piece across the top of all windows and doors.
My problem is that I have a flat-screen TV in my den and it looks out of place. It’s so modern and I hate how it ...Read more
You may be holed up in your home as I am. Lately, I’ve been spending some time looking at the thousands of photographs I’ve shot over the past few years. When I travel and see something interesting about construction, building or historic value, I always try to capture it in a photograph or short video.
Three years ago, I made a trip back ...Read more
Last week I was downloading some photos from my fancy digital camera and I stumbled across hundreds of forgotten photos I shot while my daughter’s new home was being built on Mt. Desert Island in Downeast Maine.
I was there every day for the first few months capturing the framing of the home, as well as installing all the plumbing, radiant ...Read more
Q: I’m 23 years old and just got out of college. I bought my first small house and am about to remodel my basement. The previous owners of the house glued 2-inch thick foam insulation to the poured concrete walls. It’s got an aluminum foil face on it. Then they covered that with an open-cell foam board that’s 3/4-inch thick.
It seemed the...Read more
Q: Howdy, Tim. I discovered on AsktheBuilder.com that you’ve been a master plumber for forty years. I recently moved from a city house on a city sewer to a rural retirement home that has a septic tank. What can you tell me about septic tanks? At my last home I had clogging issues in my main drain pipe, and the drain-cleaning man said the issue...Read more