Workbench Weekly eTip

Archive for November, 2008

Fittings Put an End to Banging Water Pipes

Friday, November 28th, 2008

If you have pipes that bang loudly when the washing machine finishes filling with water, this is called “water hammer” or “pipe shock.” It happens when the water-shutoff valves in the washing machine close rapidly. The flowing water slams into the valves, creating back pressure and a shock wave inside the pipes. As a result, the pipes rattle and bang.

Aside from being annoying, the banging could eventually cause a pipe to crack, work loose at a joint, or get worn from rubbing, which could create a leak. Luckily, the solution is simple.

You can buy inexpensive water-hammer arrestors at the home center or appliance store. These just screw onto the water supply spigots, and the hoses for the washer screw onto the arrestors (below).

The arrestors work like a shock absorber. The tall chamber has a piston inside that holds back a supply of air above it (illustration). The chamber below the piston fills up with water. When the water flow shuts down, back pressure pushes the piston up, absorbing the shock and preventing the shock wave in the pipe.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers

Editor, Workbench

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (10 votes, average: 3.80 out of 5)
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Choose the Right Saw to Miter Crown Molding

Friday, November 21st, 2008

To install crown molding, you have to fit the pieces together at the corners. This is usually done by mitering the ends. And you can use either a standard or a compound saw. The techniques for cutting crown are different for each saw, though, so you have to understand how each one works.

Miter Saw On a standard miter saw, the blade and motor are mounted to a table that can be rotated to the left or right. If the table is set in the middle, the blade cuts straight across the workpiece. Rotate the table, and the blade cuts the workpiece at an angle. This is a miter cut.

Compound Miter Saw A compound miter saw works the same way. But the blade assembly can also be tilted so that instead of coming down vertically, the blade comes down at an angle. This is called a bevel cut.

Cutting Crown Molding When you cut a miter and bevel together, this is called a compound miter. And that’s the type of cut needed for cutting the ends of crown molding.

This is because crown molding sits at an angle between the wall and ceiling. This is called the “spring angle,” and it’s not 45°. That means you can’t lay the molding flat on the miter saw table, set the miter angle at 45°, and get an accurate cut.

With a standard miter saw, the solution is to stand the molding on the saw table at its spring angle, as shown below left. This works very well, but it’s a little fussy to set up.

With a compound miter saw, you rotate the table to the proper miter angle, and then tilt the head to the corresponding bevel angle. Then you can lay the molding flat on the table to make the correct compound-miter cut Above right.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers

Editor, Workbench

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (11 votes, average: 4.45 out of 5)
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The Basics of Rewiring a Switch

Friday, November 14th, 2008

If you’ve never rewired a switch before, the process is easy, as long as you understand the wiring options on the new switch you are using, prepare the wires appropriately, and connect them correctly.

Before doing any electrical work, of course, shut off the power to the circuit. On a switch with screw terminals (below left), be sure to hook the black wires around the screws clockwise, so the screws grip the wires well (Photo). Wrap both bare ground wires around the green screw. (The white wires bypass the switch.)

Some switches have holes in the back that can be used instead of the screws (below right). Push the wire fully into the hole, and then pull to make sure it’s secure.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers

Editor, Workbench

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (9 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
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The Easy Way to Caulk a Tub

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Where a bathtub meets the surrounding walls, caulk prevents water from seeping into the wall and causing damage. But this caulk eventually gets hard and cracks, which can cause mold growth and other problems around your tub.

Luckily, replacing the caulk is easy. Here’s how it’s done.

First, cut out as much of the old caulk as possible using a utility knife (Fig. 1).

Next, use straight-edge razor blades to scrape away remaining residue (Fig. 2).

Note: If your tub or surround is made of fiberglass, use stiff plastic scrapers instead of razor blades to prevent scratches.

After removing the old caulk, scrub the area and let it dry before moving on.

To ensure that you’ll get a consistent application, mask the tub and walls (Fig. 3).
Squeeze a bead of caulk into the space between the tape strips. A good caulk gun makes this easier (below left). Now smooth the caulk to give it a finished appearance (Fig. 4). Wipe away excess as necessary. Then peel off the tape, and let the caulk cure.

1] Cracked or peeling caulk between a bathtub and wall needs to be repaired to prevent leaks. Use a sharp utility knife to cut out as much of the old caulk as possible.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers

Editor, Workbench

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 4.17 out of 5)
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