Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

Removing Stuck Screws / Electric Water Heater Problem

In Removing Stuck Screws, Water Heater Problems on November 28, 2012 at 3:02 pm


I have a couple of screws I’ve been trying to loosen and remove, but to no avail, the only thing I have accomplished is to damage the head of the screw. I had to hacksaw them out. Any tips for next time?


You need to loosen up! If the slot on the screw is too narrow or worn you may be able to widen and reopen it by using a hacksaw.

Since heat makes metal expand, I’ve had a lot of luck by heating the head of the screws head with the tip of a soldering iron. The screw expands and when it cools back down it loosened up enough to work it free. Applying heat and letting it cool down while working the screw each time may have to be repeated a few times.

Another tip, which usually works, is by lightly hammering an old screwdriver in the slot of the stuck screw. Obviously make sure you hit the screwdriver handle square and evenly. The shock may vibrate the screw enough to loosen it.

Always make sure that the screwdriver tip fits the screw slot perfectly. Too big or too small will strip the slot.

Remove all paint or oil from the screw slot. I usually tap the screwdriver into the slot sideways knocking out the paint.

Once clean, if you can move the screw even a little bit, work it back and forth with the screwdriver, you many be able to break it free. You can get extra leverage by using a square shank screwdriver and a wrench. Put the wrench securely onto the shank, and while holding the screwdriver with one hand and on the obstinate screw, turn with the wrench.

Once a screw has been backed out a few turns but the head is starting to disintegrate, you can grip it with lock-joint pliers and unscrew it the rest of the way by turning with the pliers. Of course you’ll ruin the screw but you’ll accomplish what people are always asking you to do and that is to loosen up.

Finally, there is an excellent, inexpensive product called “Screw-Medic” from Myro, Inc. You will find it at hardware stores. It makes stripped, worn and damaged screws work like new. It works on all types of screws. You just put a drop or two of it onto the screw and somehow (don’t ask me how) it dramatically increases torque. “Screw-Medic” prevents the screwdriver from slipping off those damaged, worn and stuck screws.


I have an electric water heater but no hot water, what could be the problem? Could it be a blown fuse?


It could very possibly be because of a tripped breaker or blown fuse. It could also be a bad heating element or thermostat. First, if you have no water period, make sure it’s not turned off. Next, check around on the floor under the tank for signs of leaking because that’s always a sign of trouble. Before you get too far into it, look on the data plate and try to determine the age of the tank. If it’s older than ten years, don’t get a sentimental attachment to that hot water tank and don’t spend a lot of money repairing or replacing parts.

If you have an electric heater, check the breaker. If the breaker has tripped, reset it and see whether it trips again. If so, you may have an electrical problem. If the breaker is still open, find out whether there’s no hot water at all or only a limited amount. That’s a sign that the bottom-heating element may be worn out while the top one is still working.

Another quick test you can do is to raise the setting on the thermostat to see whether the heating element comes on. If they don’t, it may mean the thermostat is worn out. Beyond that, it’s best to call a plumber.

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Hurricane Sandy and Other Disasters

In Being Prepared for Emergencies & Other Disasters on November 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm
Dear Friends,In light of  what has been happening on the east coast and all the way to Ohio I want to remind you all that you MUST be prepared to survive for a minimum of two weeks up to a month.  Surviving means having enough food, water, medicine, flashlights, lanterns, batteries, pet food,  etc.

This is day 10 for hundreds of thousands of families that still do not have electricity, water or heat (gas).  It absolutely can happen where you and I live.  We may not have a hurricane, but severe weather, power outages, tornadoes, or earthquakes can and do happen.

If you are lucky enough to have a generator, having 5 gallons of gas will be of little value when power is out for days at a time. Be prepared with a minimum of 20 – 25 gallons of gas in 5 gallon cans treated with Stabel, a fuel additive that keeps gasoline from going bad.

If we learned nothing from hurricanes Sandy or Katrina, at least we know we have to be prepared for an extended time. I don’t believe our government is capable, in a catastrophe, of mustering enough resources to provide the services we all need and expect.  I think it is up to each and every one of us to provide for ourselves and our families.

We all watched the news and saw thousands of people waiting in lines that are miles long for food, water and gasoline.You will never see me or Barbara waiting in a line like that for anything. We have prepared for contingencies like these and we want our family and friends to also be prepared.

We are not prepping for the end of the world or to be the last man standing.  We are prepping for emergencies such as the country has been experiencing as well as Electrical Magnetic Pulses (EMP).An EMP can occur as a result of solar flares or a nuclear explosion in the air.  In either case, if large enough, an EMP can immediately destroy all electronics as well as the entire electrical grid in this country.  If that occurs, you will no longer have internet, cell phones, utilities, or commerce.

Cars built after 1997 will not be drivable due to the computerized electronics in the newer cars.

There is no doubt that eventually services will be restored, but how long will it take? Will you and your family be able to hunker down and not have to go out in the ensuing mess?  If you prepare properly, the answer is yes.On the front page of my website, I have made a list of items you need to survive. You’ll find it at www.Technihouse.com

Please read it and start preparing.

Stay safe,


Can Carpeting Be Over-Cleaned? / Window Leak Problem

In Carpeting, Leak Problems, Uncategorized, Windows on November 7, 2012 at 2:52 pm


I just read your article in the Observer and found the information very helpful.

We have a problem and hope maybe you can direct us to the proper people.  We live in a colonial, which was built in 1964 that has a gable roof.  The first floor is brick on all 4 sides and the upstairs still has its original aluminum siding.  There are 2 windows on each end of the house on the second story.  For a long time, in one of the windows facing north, the drywall is mushy around the inside of the window.  You can also see watermarks on the wood molding inside the window.  Now I noticed one of the windows on the south side of the house is getting the same way.  Our vinyl windows are about 15 years old. I showed the window company a picture of the north-facing window and he suggested maybe caulking around the window on the outside was closing up the drainage hole. But that’s not it because I checked.

We were thinking of having our original aluminum siding on the second floor replaced this spring with vinyl.  There is no insulation under the aluminum.  Our roof is about 8 years old.  Can you figure out where the moisture is coming from?  I’d appreciate any suggestions and companies that can take care of the problem.


Are the other second floor windows also poor quality 1960’s windows or have they been replaced?  I assume the North & South side windows that are leaking are on the gable ends.  If that’s true, they  “might” be leaking due to inadequate caulking around the entire window and not just from the weep holes.  It’s unlikely but a possibility. Since it is inexpensive to caulk, and if it needs caulking, do it first.  If the other second floor windows are not leaking, it could be because they have been replaced with vinyl or because they are under the eaves.

Older poor quality aluminum windows were cold and drafty.  The glass and frames are actually conductors of cold.  Because of that, many were installed with marble sills so the condensation would not damage the plaster/drywall or wood trim (sound familiar?).  The damage you are experiencing could be a result of too much moisture in the house and condensing around the windows or a leak.  In either case, I would recommend replacing those old windows, they are inefficient and costing you money.  Make sure the window company you hire wraps the exposed window opening with house wrap and sealer before they install the new windows.


I’ve heard that over-cleaning carpeting will ruin it. Is that true?


You’ll never have a “rug pulled out from under you”, if you know how to keep it clean. I don’t know where you heard that rumor. Maybe from someone who hates vacuuming? Probably my wife.

But it is almost a cliché; frequent vacuuming of your carpet prolongs its life. Depending on the traffic in your home, frequent could mean daily. It’s definitely worth the effort.

The longer the dirt collects in your carpeting the deeper it works it way into it and makes it harder to get out. Make sure you set the vacuum cleaner height adjustment to its proper level. Too high or too low will prevent the vacuum from pulling up the dirt efficiently.

Eventually, the carpeting will need to be professionally cleaned, or you can do it yourself. Here are two methods for you to consider. One method is to shampoo using a rotary machine.  This injects detergent into the carpet, the brushes loosen the soil, and then the dirty mixture is sucked up. The other method is to rent a steam cleaner (a.k.a. water extraction system). Basically, the machine forces a cleaning solution into the carpet and then immediately extracts it, pulling up the dirt along with the cleaning solution. If either method is not done properly or by an inexperienced carpet cleaning person, it could leave a residue in the carpet that will attract even more dirt or moisture, which, in turn, causes mildew and mold.

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