Sunday, August 31, 2008

Smoke Alarm 101

This post I will be going over installing smoke alarms and I why you need smoke alarms, or smoke detectors in your home. The main reason you need a smoke alarm(s) installed in your home is for your own safety of yourself, your family and your house along with all of the valuables inside. And might I mention according to the fire department it is mandatory that you have some working smoke alarms or smoke detectors in your home.

Many times smoke detectors get neglected by home owners through pure laziness or just don’t care, smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month for accuracy, you can either push the button in to see if the beeper beeps, or this is a certain smoke spray that you can spray right onto the smoke detectors itself to set off the alarm, this method will definitely let you know if you smoke alarms or detectors are working.

Why is my smoke alarm chirping?

That chirp, or beep that are you are hearing from your smoke alarm is letting you know that the battery inside is getting low and needs to be changed immediately. Don’t ignore the beep, don’t just take the battery out so the alarm will stop beeping, just replace the damn thing, do not take any chances with the safety of your home and family. There are a few types of smoke alarms out there that are powered by different means, the best types of smoke alarms in my personal opinion are the ones that are both wired and battery operated. That way if you have a power failure the smoke alarm will still be able to detect if there is a fire or not. The battery operated and battery back-up smoke alarms are use a 9-Volt battery, and it is recommended that the battery in the smoke detector is changed once a year, this way you are sure to not hear that annoying beeping and chirping sound and you will know that it has sufficient power to keep your household alert if a fire should start. The wireless smoke alarms are good for places that don't have any power that is ran into that room, and that is the only time that I would use a wireless smoke alarm.

Installing Smoke Alarms

Let me educate you on installing smoke alarms and smoke alarm placement. When installing a wired smoke alarm you are going to need 120 volts running to a junction box, in mostly every case this should have already been done when the house was built. The first thing you need to do when installing smoke alarms is to secure the power, you don’t want to risk the chance of you shocking the crap out of yourself. The new smoke alarm should come with a mounting plate and a wire harness, the mounting plate is to be connected to the junction box by a couple of screws, and the wire harness is connected to the wires by wiring nuts, then you just simply line the grooves from the back of the smoke detector with the mounting plate until its locked in place. Turn the power on and test. Every smoke alarm comes with its own set of instructions for installation so it will vary. Smoke alarm placement should be taken serious, it is not ideal to have a smoke alarm placed right next to a kitchen, if you do then the smoke alarm will be going off every time that you cook. There are range queens for this, which are similar to smoke detectors but that are mounted inside the range hood. You should have a smoke alarm in every bedroom and in every hallway for optimal smoke and fire detection. If you have any questions or concerns on smoke alarms or smoke detectors feel free to leave me a comment.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Being a Handyman Takes Time

If you are the type of person that has the "I can fix anything attitude" than you are on the right track to becoming a Handyman. Not anyone can become a handyman, to do so you must have good hand and eye coordination because a lot of tasks you will be doing around the house will require this. Say for example you are soldering a copper to copper this will require steady hand movement to keep the flame just the right distance from the point you are soldering together.

Basically the more you do a certain thing or task the better you get at it. The more mistakes you make the more you learn from your mistakes, like I have changed out a couple hundred tub stems and I have made mostly every mistake you could possibly make doing so, but I have learned and my hands on experience has taught me what to do and what not to do.

See I am currently working at an old apartment complex, and at this old apartment complex with over 500 units guess what, everything breaks, there is always something to fix, somebody is always calling a problem in, when that happens me or another one of my co-workers go and fix the problem. I have been working at this old apartment complex for a couple years, and to think that I do about 20 service requests a day, mostly all of them are different. This is the best way to learn, being a multi service tech that is constantly troubleshooting and making repairs on HVAC systems, plumbing leaks, electrical issues, drywall, appliances, carpentry, and many other things. But once you fix a certain problem so many times you become an expert at it. You could read every book in the world on HVAC trouble shooting, and after you do I would like to see you trouble shoot a faulty A/C system. Without hands on experience you aren't going to be able to fix shit. So if you want to become a jack of all trades all powerful handyman, and your willing to put time into learning become a maintenance technician at a crappy apartment complex that is old and run down, this will give you the experience that you need to become a successful handyman.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

My sink is clogged !!!!

So when you have a clogged sink what is the first thing the average home owner is going to do? They are going to the store and then they are going to buy some Draino and pour it down the drain, and then once the Draino is poured down the drain it should be unclogged right? Maybe, sometimes products like Draino work but in my honest opinion the product doesn’t do a good job.

The main reason that sink and bath drains get clogged is from excessive hair build up. If you have very little hair build up and you notice that the water is draining slower than normal then this would be the time to use a liquid type product like Drain to get rid of the hair. If your sink is draining very slowly do not bother with any products that are in liquid or rock form, they are most likely not going to work.

If you are experiencing a kitchen sink draining slow and it has a garbage disposal do not use any so-called drain buster products, it will damage your garbage disposal and will not clear up shit. If your kitchen sink is clogged and it has a garbage disposal the disposal might be jammed up. I wrote a post or two on this so look it up if you want to.

So what I recommend you should do before you go out and waste money on these drain cleaning products is first of check the P-trap under the sink. The P-trap is shaped like a J and traps stuff that shouldn’t go through the drain piping system. They are usually easily disassembled so that you can clean them out, this is a common clog problem for kitchen and bathroom sinks. So check that first, and if the P-trap or “J-Bend” is clear then the clog is further down the drain piping.

If you have a plunger it wouldn’t hurt to fill the sink up with water and start plunging away, this will sometimes push the blockage down the drain piping to where it will not clog up your drain piping. I have found this technique to work sometimes but it is not promising.

The best way in my opinion is to invest about 25-50 bucks in a good hand snake, or small auger. The snake is safe, it can be used over and over and it is the most efficient way to unclog bathroom and kitchen sinks. But take note, if the clog is after the J-Bend this is the only time you will need a snake, and this usually is not the case. 75% of the service calls that I get for clogged sinks the blockage is in the J-Bend or right above it. The other 25% I use the snake and have a good success rate. The hand snake I use is a drill and it is 25 feet long. And this has a high success rate, when the hand snake doesn’t work, I simply call a plumber. I call a plumber because I don’t pay for it, the company I work for pays the plumber. If a measly 25 foot hand snake doesn’t work this means the main drain line is clogged. The most common thing that clogs up main drain lines is baby wipes, or “wet wipes”. I will explain more in a future post about main drain lines and how to unclog them and why they get clogged. I am tired and need to sign off, until then, cheers from the Tampa Bay Handyman.

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