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April 2019
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On being a Good Neighbor

The web has allowed folks who are  separated by hundreds and even thousands of miles to be neighbors. On the Internet we are next door. Because of our shared interests we form communities where we can share our experiences, point and link to folks whose experiences are worth noting, and build our communities, regardless of physical distance. Strong communities are built by good neighbors.

In scanning a blog the other day from a link that another blogger had posted, I saw an image that looked real familiar. I guess that is because of it being from one of my own my blog postings. I do my own photography, and image processing, which accounts for the raw look of a lot of the things I post here. It only took moments to discover that this was indeed my work.
Without permission, attribution or links to the source.

This is like going to your neighbor’s garage and ‘borrowing’ his tools without telling him. You may get away with this for a little while, but when your other neighbors discover this behavior, your integrity gets called into question. I don’t think that you want to be that guy.

Out here on the web it is common when using images by others to provide attribution and or links to the source of material whether it be words or images. The funniest thing about this situation is that the web is the one place where asking permission is actually easier than asking forgiveness.

Using other people’s stuff without either permission, attribution or links to the source is just wrong.

I am not mad but sad as in my 15 or so years on the web, I have had images stolen, entire postings hijacked, entire websites stolen, been hacked, had somebody take my online identity, do some real evil damage, and had just about every bad thing that can happen to you online happen to me at one time or another. When you are out here long enough, shit happens especially someone as outspoken as I am.

It is a short path from being a good neighbor to being the guy that folks avoid. Online this is even more so as the web has a memory like a herd of elephants.

As I mentioned earlier, on the web we are all next door. You have to decide what kind of neighbor you want to be.

Remodeling Don’ts – Venting

There is a lot of venting that takes place in homes. From bath fans to remove moisture, hood fans in your kitchen, attic fans to lower the temperature in your attic, venting takes place. Those of you who have gas appliances like stoves, water heaters, and furnaces may be  familiar with exhaust vents aka flues. These are important in ridding your house of byproducts of combustion. Vents and flues are made to run vertically.

A lot of these vents have standard sizes. That doesn’t mean that some folks refrain from the urge to be   ‘creative’.

Here somebody combined their bathroom vents into a plumbing vent stack. Note the elegant downward angle allowing any of the bath fans to blow sewer gas into the others.


Here is a really really dumb vent idea. This guy combined his dryer vent with the exhaust flue of his water heater. The problem here is that the dryer air can blow out the water heater flame. Filling your laundry room with gas in really not a good idea. Vent4-1

Here is a vent using a shoe box as a ‘boot’, which is the technical term for the sheet metal pieces that go from round to rectangular for attaching grilles. I don’t even want to think about what this guy used for a grill outside.

Speaking of grilles, here is somebody who has no understanding of cross ventilation, having the supply and return air grilles next to each other. That little corner gets great climate control while the rest of the room gets nothing.

Remodeling Don’ts – Plumbing

Plumbing provides you with water and gets rid of waste and smells. Joints in plumbing are the major source of leaks. This is why you try to have as few joints as possible.

This guy didn't get the memo.Waterheater-1

Routing plumbing can be a challenge. Then there is just plain stupid.Plumbingbad-1

 Cutting your floor joists is not a good idea. Especially under your bathtub.

Here is a design challenge. Keeping your toilet paper dry in the shower.

Remodeling Don’ts – Electricity

I have done a lot of remodeling over the years. I have done some crazy things like the 6 ceiling repair, the turkey feather floor,  the garbage disposal toilet adventure,(tales for another day) and some other remodeling disasters. I have seen some things that defy belief as well as gravity and or common sense.

My brother sent me a series of photos that are making the rounds, showing some really bad and some cases dangerous remodeling. I have no idea where they came from, but will be happy to credit the photographers.

Make no mistake, I have a healthy respect for electricity. If I can't find the breaker for a circuit, I will pull the main. Healthy. Probably dating back to the time I was doing a gut job and trying to remove a stand up air conditioner that had only three wires holding it in place, so I took my pliers and snipped the wires,(220V) resulting in me being blown across the floor and ruining a expensive new set of pliers. In reality the closest I like to get to electricity is the molded rubber plug that goes into the outlet.

Here are some images of really bad and dangerous electric work.
This is a main panel somebody thought would be a good place to store tools and stuff.Electricnightmare3-1
TIP: Electric Panels are for Electric things only. Period. Full Stop!

Electric junction boxes come in many sizes and styles, depending on application. There is an electrical code that lays out the maximum number of wires/conductors in a box. There are 2 main reasons.
1. Heat. Copper wire gets hot when electricity runs through it. Boxes are sized, by cubic inches, which is either marked on the box or on the label at the store. The number of wires allowed insures that there is air flow in the box, to avoid an electrical fire. Electric fires are terrifying because they will burn for a long time before you notice smoke or it breaks through your walls.
2. Space. This is related to heat above, but is far more practical in being able to physically close up the box after you have made your connections.

Here is an electric box with way too many connectors. How the hell do you find anything in this mess? Junction3-1

Here is where somebody ganged together a bunch of boxes to make a turn. Junction2-1

According to the email, the pipe next to this connection is carrying fuel oil for the heater. Electricnightmare5-1

Speaking of Plugs here is an interesting switch concept.

Maybe it was for this bath fan?

Electricity is deceptively simple on the residential front. Some boxes, some romex, devices and covers. It is not rocket science, but does require some serious thought to do right.