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    How to block weeds and improve your garden

    Dear Paul: I agree that plain cotton is better - for locations that are changed every year. Poly fabric is definitely less costly than landscaping fabric; however, is more porous (for weed roots) and fragile. So if you can afford landscaping fabric, that's a better choice - vs...
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    How to block weeds and improve your garden

    Here is a tip to block weeds in your flower beds - and grow better plants! The hill behind our house was a mass of weeds, nasty vines and grass. We hired a gardener to plant native, flowering plants that would attract butterflies and bees. He was an expert and picked good plants - but...
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    Best solution for holes left by re-installation of solar panels on shingled roof

    Here are some suggestions: (1) Remove / reinstall the solar panel system: Without photos it is impossible to determine if this major step would be required, but typically damaged shingles can be replaced easily - and holes can be filled (e.g. from lag bolts in the wrong location). If you have...
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    Planning to clean the interior of your car/truck? Here is a key tip

    I just finished washing the exterior and cleaning the interior of our Subaru - and used an amazing tip I found on the Web years ago. The top of the dash and rear 'tray' under the back window, plus the dash, vents and instruments, armrest pockets etc. accumulate a layer of gray dust. If you...
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    Roofed pergola plan feedback

    Sorry, but if Snoonyb is referring to my recommendations and the links to Simpson’s deck construction recommendations and products, construction engineering standards are universal, e.g. the IRC building code. Plus good designs and products work as well in Canada or Argentina as the USA. That...
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    Roofed pergola plan feedback

    Dear RGV: Thanks for the additional photos and video. First, the tripled-up joists on the sides of the deck appear to rest on a post or maybe a double/tripled ‘king’ stud at the corner of the house. This would obviously provide strong support for that side of the deck. The framing is covered...
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    Roofed pergola plan feedback

    First, thank you for the video which helps to explain the dimensions and current construction details: There is apparently no need to relocate the posts. Roughly 25% of a joist can extend beyond the supporting beam. They appear to be fine, and you can measure to confirm. The key question is...
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    Staircase in my house

    The 'risers' on the stairs should be painted a sharp color for safety, e.g. white or black, with some contrast with the treads. RE the black 'blockier look', that's obviously a personal style decision. If you have enough $$$ to change all of the railing, that's obviously your call. That...
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    Best Whole House Heat Pump???

    Yes. A range of modern heat pumps are designed for cold weather, from every major supplier, and perform well much further north than Pittsburgh. For real-world examples see:
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    Staircase in my house

    First a question: Why do you want to replace this custom railing? Based on your photos, it appears to be in good condition. Perhaps the railing needs to be refinished and the balusters need to be painted, but is there another problem? If posts are loose, for example, this can be fixed...
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    Looking for recommendations on insulating my 1,600 sqft metal building

    One more note on condensation risks with foil faced foam board and shiny bubble wrap: During a deep remodel project in Massachusetts, we stacked sheets of foil faced polyisocyanurate foam board against a wall in the basement. The next morning, there was a puddle of water under them. Puzzled...
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    Looking for recommendations on insulating my 1,600 sqft metal building

    Unfortunately, 'radiant barrier insulation' is Snake Oil for most projects. It looks cheap, quick and easy to install - but provides minimal benefit. Standard insulation is always more effective. This has been repeatedly proven by building scientists: (1) Reflectix and similar reflective /...
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    Slab leak repair vs repipe whole house

    Dear Snoony: To clarify, I did not mean replace ALL of the copper pipe in the house with PEX - but just the part that is underground or embedded in the slab. Not knowing the layout of this part of the pipe or the plumbing connections on the first floor, this might be as simple as replacing one...
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    Slab leak repair vs repipe whole house

    Sorry, but I agree with Bud. 40 year old copper pipe in or under a slab is vulnerable to corrosion. Even if you could find and fix this leak, another one will occur. Your best bet would be to run a new supply line inside your house. Do you know where the main supply line enters the house -...
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    Plumbing question

    I agree with the other replies; this is the worst example of a simple plumbing job I have ever seen! It is simple to cut standard PVC pipe to form correct connections with standard fittings - without the 'slinky flex hose' that doesn't drain well and traps debris. The 'plumber' sub was either...
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    Need Advice on Plywood and Underlayment Choices for 1967 Kitchen Reno with Ceramic Tile Installation

    First, Bill offered good advice. One key point, however: subfloors and tile floors ALWAYS move, and tile expands / contracts at a different rate than wood. So you need an 'uncoupling membrane', e.g. Schluter Ditra. See: Uncoupling (DITRA) | Schluter Ditra provides important protection...
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    Wood casement window frame with film

    Dear Jerry: As another person noted, it appears that there is rot in the window frame, where water leaked in from the outside. Plastic film on mounted on windows as an air barrier can also lead to rot because the film is typically not air-tight and condensation can form on the plastic and/or...
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    Best Whole House Heat Pump???

    Doing a Manual J and S are essential to accurately size an HVAC system! As someone noted above, many HVAC contractors, however, use their "rule of thumb" AKA "I've been doing this for X years and I know your system should be Y tons!" This typically leads to oversized units that are more...
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    Under Basement Stair Storage

    Dear Jeff: We have a small beach house in Massachusetts where every square foot of storage matters. Remodeling was like remodeling a boat, with storage built into every available space. This included the space under the stairs. There is a landing near the bottom - so not as much room as you...
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    Gutter guard systems that actually work?

    We also had a major problem with clogged gutters at our home in Massachusetts -- surrounded by pine and maple trees. Even every-year cleaning wasn't enough, which led to clogged gutters, ice dams and water damage. I did a lot of research and found the guy who invented stainless steel micromesh...