Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

Q&A Session for September 4, 2011

In Q&A on August 29, 2011 at 5:57 pm


At the back of my house where the electrical line comes to the house and down the siding the wiring is all frayed and bare wires are exposed. Is it my responsibility to call Edison?


While inspecting homes I find very, very frequently that the service entrance conductor (that is what the wire is called) is frayed and bare wires are exposed. Water in turn gets into the fuse or circuit breaker box. I didn’t do well in school, is it water and electricity that don’t mix?

The utility companies are responsible for the service drop, that’s the cable from the pole up to the house. Once the cable touches your house, it’s called the service entrance conductor.

Shocking, as it may seem, it is your responsibility to repair or replace that frayed electrical service.

As I said DTE maintains the meter and the service drop from the pole to the service head. Your frayed service entrance must be replaced and a licensed electrician should do it. You’re dealing with 220-volts. If you’re talking about doing it yourself, you’re talking electrocution, not just a permanent “perm” to your hair. Hire an electrician.


Where would I find the main water shut off valve for my water?


All the books tell you that the first thing to do when checking out your plumbing is to locate the main shut off valve. If a leak occurs, and you can’t isolate the problem line quickly, then you have to be able to shut off the flow of water to the entire house.

The water meter could be anywhere in your house. When inspecting houses in our area I’ve found them under sinks or basins, in the garage (worst place), in the basement under the stairs or along any of the walls. It is very important to know where it is. If you cannot locate it call the handiest person you know to help, or you can call a handyman or plumber.

Sometimes, an old valve that has remained undisturbed for years will be rusted tight in the open position. No amount of twisting on the handle will budge some of those “frozen” valves. In fact, excessive twisting with a wrench may succeed only in breaking the handle. You don’t want to discover that you have a frozen valve just when your basement is starting to fill up with water!

About the only way to deal with a stuck valve is to liberally soak the valve with a penetrating lubricant like “Liquid Wrench”. Give the valve a few raps with a hammer to help the Liquid Wrench penetrate and then leave the valve alone for a day. If this doesn’t loosen the valve, repeat the dousing and rapping. After doing this two or three times, if the valve stem is still stuck – so are you! It means you’ll probably have to replace the whole valve. In the case of houses connected to city water, this mean cutting off the water at the street. This is definitely a licensed plumber time! Speaking of time – I’m out of it!


I have an older house with harvest gold kitchen appliances. Kitchen appliances are expensive to replace. Can they be repainted?


Of course they can! Assuming the old appliances are in good working order and you just can’t stand the color or the finish is chipped and worn, try refinishing them. I’ve done it.

While a leopard can’t change its spots, you can change the color of your appliances. Paint and hardware stores carry appliance-refinishing paints. The preparation required is very extensive. You have to thoroughly clean the surfaces and buff with a number 000 steel wool, wipe down, and let it become absolutely dry. You can then paint them with excellent products like “Tough as Tile” from DIY Division of Rhodes American, or Klenks “Tub N Tile”. Both are two-part epoxy enamel finished designed for the do-it-yourselfer. Or just let your fingers do the walking through the yellow pages under “appliances – painting and refinishing”.  They are specialists who can do the job.

I’m not horsing around when I say that brings new meaning to “photo finish”.

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