Insulating Your Hot Water Tank / What Causes Nail Pops? / Cleaning An Old Paintbrush

In Cleaning Old Paint Brushes, Fixing Nail Pops in Walls, Insulating Hot Water Tanks, Q&A on June 12, 2012 at 9:31 am

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Can insulating your hot water tank get you into hot water?

Before you insulate your hot water tank you should check with the manufacturer, especially if your tank is newer. Some newer tanks not only don’t need to be wrapped with additional insulation, but by doing so could void the warranty.

But if your tank is older, whether it’s gas or electric, you’ll save money by wrapping it with a water jacket for about twenty dollars. If you have an electric tank, you can just buy a roll of R-13, foil-faced, fiberglass insulation. Cut lengths of the insulation to cover the circumference of the tank. The insulation can extend to the floor and use duct tape to keep it in place. Cut around the access panels to the elements as well as for the T&P valve. You can even cover the top of the tank.

If you have a gas water heater they sell pre-sized jackets, but it’s important that you do not insulate the flue pipe or even the top of the tank.  You should also keep insulation away from the T&P valve, burner and the floor.

I have a lot of nail pops in the ceiling of several rooms in my house. What causes this?

It’s common knowledge that nail pops are a result of wood shrinkage. The nail heads usually don’t loosen and pop out. Instead, the wood shrinks away from whatever is nailed to it, and the nail head stays in place.

To avoid nail pops, keep in mind that wet lumber shrinks a great deal more than dry lumber. So let lumber dry out before you begin to nail or screw it together. This is especially important when you’re building with pressure treated lumber, which usually has a high-moisture content.

Also, keep in mind that the amount of movement on the nail will be directly proportional to the length of the nail (which means the distance the nail penetrates the wood). If the nail penetrates half the thickness or width of the framing, for example, the degree of the pop at the head will be equal to the shrinkage in half that framing member. That’s why the industry developed shorter screws to replace nails in wallboard. The screw has the same holding power as the nail, but much less penetration.

Another industry development that has helped reduce nail pops is today’s wide range of construction adhesives. When you use adhesives, you reduce the number of nail or screws needed. Less nails equals less pops.

To deal with your nail pops, pull out each nail and replace it with a drywall screw. Put an additional drywall screw approximately one-inch from the original and spackle over both of them.

I have an old favorite paintbrush that is all bent out of shape. Can you share or should I say help “brush up” with one of your painting tips?

Very, clever! I guess you already know how to ‘lay it on thick’ so here’s today’s tip. If the bristles on the paintbrush that you used last time, are all bent out of shape and making the bristles on your neck stand out, out the brushes under a flow of hot water from the tap. This will soften the bristles and return them to their original shape. If you are using nylon brushes with latex paint and want to paint right away, then put the bristles under cold water for a moment to set them “back” in the correct shape.

The same procedure will also work, to a degree, with the bristle brushes used for oil-based paint. But the bristles can’t be used right away because the moisture that the bristles absorb will interfere with the oil-based properties of the paint.


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